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Brachycephalic Syndrome

Some dogs and cats have short faces and pushed in or shortened noses. The skull has been genetically altered. Although these dogs and cats are considered to be cute, the changes in their faces can be very detrimental to their breathing.

The dog breeds affected include: Old English Bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Boxers, Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, and Shar Peis. The cat breed primarily affected is the Persian.

Dogs with brachycephalic syndrome will have all or some of the following abnormalities:

1) Stenotic nares- nostrils that are too small making it hard to breathe through the nose

2) An elongated soft palate which can block the larynx

3) A hypoplastic or very small trachea

4) Everted laryngeal saccules- swollen tissue by the vocal cords

Heartworm Disease

mosquito freeHeartworm Disease--the Heart of the Matter

As I write this article, it is still cold outside and It may seem like a strange time of the year to think about heartworm disease and the mosquitoes that spread it, but given new factors playing out with heartworm disease, it is important for us to be thinking of this disease year-round.

Hoiday Hazards

Candy cane freeTis the season….to keep your pets safe!


Top Holiday Hazards


Christmas Tree Water: This may contain fertilizers and bacteria that can upset the stomach if ingested.


Electrical Cords: Curious cats, dogs and pocket pets can nibble on the cords.  Not only can electrical cords burn tissue of the tongue and mouth, but this could also cause electrical shock, or in rare causes electrocution.


Ribbons and tinsel: This is especially hazardous to cats.  Ribbon and tinsel can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction.  One end of the ribbon can get wrapped around the tongue and the other end is swallowed.  When this happens, the intestinal tract gets bunched along the string like a curtain on a curtain rod.  Emergency surgery is required to save the animal.


Batteries: All batteries contain some type of alkaline material to aid in electrical current conduction.  When batteries are chewed, and the alkaline gel is released, this material causes cell death.  If the battery is chewed and its contents inhaled, this can damage the respiratory tract and cause difficulty breathing and poor oxygenation.  If the battery is chewed and swallowed, or if the battery is swallowed whole and then erodes in the stomach, the alkaline gel can damage the mouth and intestinal tract causing ulcers.  Small lithium batteries especially like to lodge in the esophagus and cause a perforation of the esophagus.  If your pet has swallowed a battery, call your veterinarian immediately.  The treatment options vary depending on where the battery currently is in the body, and if the battery has been chewed.  Your veterinarian will likely recommend an x-ray to determine the location of the battery and develop a treatment plan.  


Glass ornaments: Pets will occasionally eat the ornaments off of trees.  When pets eat sharp objects, we generally do not want to induce vomiting because they could lodge in the esophagus when coming back up.  Depending on what has been eaten, the pet may need to have the object surgically removed, or we may need to wait and see if the object will pass on its own.

Candy: Chocolate, in all forms, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be dangerous to cats and dogs.  Read more about chocolate toxicity here.  Also, candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be toxic.  Read more about xylitol toxicity here

How to Interpret your Pet's Lab Work

labworkAre you confused when your vet calls you to report blood work results, or when you are at home and you read a long list of letters and numbers that make little sense?

Doctors use blood work in order to diagnose illness, to monitor progress, or many times just to assess your pet's general health during their annual physical exam, or as health screening before an anesthetic procedure. Evaluating a baseline of blood work is often times the very first diagnostic tool your veterinarian will employ in the process of making a diagnosis.

Blood work can be very complex and can target specific conditions, but at the initial illness screening, or for a routine wellness check, your doctor will most likely check a complete blood count, and major internal organ values, or chemistries.

Traveling by Plane Internationally

globeWhen traveling with your pet on a plane to another country it is important to keep abreast of the often changing import requirements.  Each country has different requirements for pet travel, and those requirements can change at any time without much notice.  The best resource to use as you are getting ready for your trip to another country with your pet is the USDA website:


USDA APHIS International travel export requirements by country

Every country requires an international microchip to be placed.  If your pet does not have a microchip, your veterinarian will need to place one, and then depending on the different country requirements, they may need to do the rabies vaccine again.  The timeframe and requirements for this varies from country to country so definitely look up your final country destination rules far in advance in order to be able to get everything done in a timely manner. Depending on the country’s requirements, most need a veterinarian-signed health certificate and tapeworm treatment between one and five days before departure.  You will also need an APHIS 7001 form filled out by your veterinarian for your flight out of the United States along with a signed rabies certificate.  Lastly, you need to schedule an appointment with the USDA for the final stamp and signatures of approval after your veterinarian has done their health certificate exam and signed all the paperwork.

Here is the list of the USDA offices by state:

USDA office: phone, address, fax  

USDA searchable offices by state

For some countries, you will need to start planning your trip almost a year ahead of time to achieve the best results and meet all of the country’s requirements for entry.  You can call your veterinarian to get help in making an accurate timeline of the requirements you need to do before you leave, and you can also call any of the USDA offices who can email you the forms and regulations for each country as well.  The countries with the most rigorous requirements are ones that are “rabies-free” or have never had a reported rabies case in their country.  An updated list of those countries can be found here:

List of Rabies-Free countries

Direct flights are best to try and schedule.  A discussion about additional medications your pet may need on the flight should be had with your veterinarian. Many times the airline will not allow sedatives to be used for your pet’s safety.  It will be important to contact your airline directly and find out their specific requirements for pet travel as well.  Some airlines require a specific type of carrier, some have weight and breed restrictions, and some airlines do not allow pets at all.

Here are some helpful links for international travel with your pet:


CDC: International travel with your pet

IATA: Traveler's Pet Corner

TSA: Traveling with pets guidelines

Jet Blue: Air travel guidelines for pets

Air Canada airlines: Guidelines for traveling with pets

Delta Airlines: Pet travel domestic and international, crate guidelines and more


With enough time, preparation, and research of your final destination country, international travel with your pet can be a smooth transition.  Your veterinarian will be able to help you meet all the requirements and organize all the paperwork you will need for your travels, but it is always a good idea to do a lot of the research ahead of time, and keep in mind that rules can change.  Here at Westgate Pet Clinic, we are experts when it comes to every kind of travel with your pet and we are happy to answer questions and point you in the right direction to having a fun and care free trip with your pet!



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Minneapolis, MN 55410
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