Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cat Friendly Practice

Cat Friendly

  Everyone knows that we are crazy cat people.  We admit it.  Dr. Scarlett, in particular, loves the felines and has 5 of her own (including Charlie).  Jamie has 2 sweet and lovable kitties, Natasha has the famous Ming Ming and I have recently adopted my very first cat ever, Obi Wan, which has been an adventure for him, as well as for me and my dog!

  We can’t believe that it has taken us this long to apply for Cat Friendly Practice certification through the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), but we finally did.

  It is a process that starts with Dr. Scarlett joining the AAFP (I know, seems like she could RUN it, right??).  Then we had to fill out a checklist of all the ways in which we are cat friendly, including having a cat-specific exam room, using Feliway (a synthetic feline pheromone) in areas where cats are examined or hospitalized, practicing cat-friendly handling and restraint, and demonstrating the staff’s feline knowledge base.

    We sent in our application last week, and though we haven’t heard back yet, we are hoping for a Gold Standard status, which would make us one of only 3 clinics in Madison to have earned this highest rating.

    Being a cat friendly practice isn’t all about just loving cats and wanting to cuddle them all day long.  It is about making each visit as calm, comfortable and stress-free as possible for cats as well as their owners, so that we can see our feline patients at least once every year.

  Why no “Dog Friendly Practice certification” you ask?  Because people generally acknowledge the need for annual examinations and vaccinations for dogs, and dogs are generally pretty happy to come to the vet (they are often more food-motivated than cats and we have yummy treats!)

  Annual physical exams for cats are very important to identify potential illnesses or injuries as early as possible.  Pets benefit from preventative health care just like we do!

  Stay tuned in February for another installment all about the feline physical exam.  It may look like Dr. Scarlett is just petting your cat while making small talk with you, but you’ll be surprised how much she learns from her exam and discussion with you!

To learn more about Cat-Friendly Certification, please go to:

American Association of Feline Practitioners

Raw food diets–are they a good choice?

“Raw” foods: uncooked, unprocessed, organic grains, fruits and vegetables, are advocated for good health.  I think there are a lot of good things to be said about adopting a healthier diet for ourselves.  And certainly we want to feed our pets a healthy diet, too.  Many people recommend feeding raw food–raw meat and bones, to dogs and cats for best health.  But that kind of raw food is NOT the best choice for a number of reasons.  I’d like to go over some of the myths and concerns about raw food diets in the next several articles.

Advocates of a raw meat diet for pets say that the benefits are proven.  This just isn’t true.  There are no scientific studies done that show any benefits of feeding a raw food diet.  You can find testimonials from people who say a raw food diet gave their dog a shiny coat or a small stool because the diets are generally high in fat and digestibility.  But these same properties can be achieved with commercial cooked diets without the risks of raw meat.  It may take some trial and error to find the best commercial food for your dog or cat, including trying both dry and canned, but with all the foods available, there should be at least one that is great for your pet.

Raw meat can easily be contaminated with E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and other bacteria.  These bacteria can cause disease in your dog or cat, yourself, your children, and anyone who might be in contact with your pet or your pet’s food or food bowl.  We all know how sick people can get from contaminated meat and food products.  It is very important to cook meats thoroughly to kill bacteria.  Freezing meat will NOT kill most of these bacteria.

In the next installment, I’ll discuss other myths you might have heard about feeding raw meat.

Resolve to Get (Your Pet) In Shape!

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?  You know what I’m going to ask next: how about for your pets?  Is Sophie almost as wide as she is long?  Is it hard to feel ribs on Riley through the fat layer?  Even one or two extra pounds can be too much on a cat or dog.  Obesity is an extremely common problem in pets (some estimates say that more than half the pets in America are overweight), as it is in people, and can lead to a multitude of problems, disease and disorders.Fat cat

The following is a list of some possible problems overweight and obese pets may have to face:

Diabetes mellitus

Heart disease

Kidney disease

Arthritis or other bone or joint diseases

Respiratory compromise

Hepatic lipidosis– “When an overweight cat goes off food or partially off food because of illness or psychological stress, body fat is mobilized to provide calories. Unfortunately, the cat’s liver was not designed to process a large amount of body fat. The liver becomes infiltrated with fat and then fails. A stress that might have been relatively minor, such as a cold, becomes a life-threatening disaster.”1

And finally. . .

Reduced life span– “A study of age-matched Labrador retrievers found that dogs kept on the slender side of normal lived a median of 2.5 years longer than their overweight counterparts.”  2.5 years.

“A common justification for over-feeding treats is that a pet deserves a higher quality of life as a trade off for longevity. While this might on some level makes sense (after all, a pet munching on a treat is certainly getting a great deal of satisfaction from doing so), the other consequences do not make for higher life quality in the big picture.”

If the pet cannot heartily enjoy playtime, or even a quick walk outside without breathing difficulty- is that a good quality of life?  Extra inches of fat surrounding the ribs makes it hard for them to take deep breaths and fully inflate their lungs, resulting in shortness of breath and coughing after even the lightest exercise- sometimes just getting up from a resting position.

And speaking of getting up from a resting position- extra weight puts more strain on the joints, including elbows, knees, hips and the vertebrae in the back and neck.  The extra stress on the joints causes them to degenerate, which results in pain and increases the risk of injury such as ruptured ligaments in the knee, ruptured discs in the neck or back, or fractured bonesFat dog. All of these (possibly preventable) injuries could require surgical correction, which requires anesthesia, which is inherently riskier in the overweight patient and will cost you thousands of dollars and months of your pet’s life spent recovering.

Luckily, all of that pain, stress and financial burden can be avoided!  You can feed your pet less food and treats (including human food), saving you money and keeping her at a healthy weight, and consequently enjoying the extra months spent NOT helping her recover from surgery and all the extra years you will have with her!

Our pets can’t make themselves fat- they don’t fill their own bowls and they can’t open bags of treats- we are responsible.

Are you frightened at the possibility of your pet needing surgery as a result of being overweight?  Bring her in for an exam so we can catch any potential problems as early as possible!

Are you unsure whether your pet is at a healthy weight or tipping the scale a little too far?  Bring him in!  We will get an accurate weight and measure various parts of his body to get a detailed picture of his overall body condition . . . and determine once and for all if he really is just “big-boned.”  Don’t worry- we’ll be honest!

1 All quoted selections from

Calling all Golden Retrievers!!

golden_retriever_puppy-wideDo you own a Golden Retriever under the age of 2 years?  Consider enrolling your dog in the Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.  They are enrolling 3000 Golden Retrievers in the United States and will follow them for 10-14 years to learn how to better prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases.

I have two patients already enrolled and would love to have more!  (Because who doesn’t like Golden Retriever puppies?)  To find out more or to register, please visit  Then call Four Lakes Vet to set up your first appointment!  Golden Retrievers and dogs everywhere (along with their human families) will thank you for it!