What's up with that FACE?


Does your cat ever make that face? You know the one I’m talking about- it will appear as if Lucifurr is casually sniffing around when she looks up at you with a blank stare, mouth open, and lips curled, then immediately returns to normal?


There is a name for this phenomenon: it’s called the flehmen response, and it occurs in various species, including your domestic cats, horses, goats, elephants, hedgehogs and large felines. Flehmen is a German word that translates as “to bare the teeth” which is exactly how the expression looks.


The flehmen response is most commonly elicited by the odor of urine (i.e. a veterinary professional’s scrubs when he or she returns home…) or other pheromones. During this facial expression, the animal is essentially “smelling” through its mouth, triggering olfactory sensors on the roof of the mouth. The flehmen response is primarily used for intraspecies communication, but there is evidence that animals may respond to the urine or pheromones of other species as well.

Next time your feline friend makes this face, just know that they smell something really, really good!

Please note: if your cat has their mouth open (similar to the photo at the top of the article) for more than a few seconds, he/she may be panting, which is a medical emergency in felines. Please take your cat to a veterinarian if you notice this behavior!

Nobody loves an uncomfortable conversation about an overweight pet.

From Phys.Org, "Many veterinarians aren't comfortable talking about fat cats."

I don't think you can really point the finger at anyone here! The only solution seems to be making sure everyone understands that obesity is a legitimate and serious health concern for cats, meaning a) veterinarians and vet nurses shouldn't soft-pedal or tap-dance around that fact, because they're doing a disservice to their patients when they do, and b) cat owners should understand that when the subject is broached, it's only out of a sincere desire to ensure their pet lives as long and healthy a life as possible. 

Let's talk about canine influenza.

What is canine influenza?
The canine influenza virus is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. The virus is transmitted through aerosolized respiratory secretions from coughing, barking and sneezing and can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours. Dogs who are exposed to closely confined conditions (boarding kennels, day care settings, dog park or animal shelters/rescues) are at higher risk for infection. You may have heard canine influenza mentioned in the news recently, because a new strain of canine influenza- referred to as H3N2, as opposed to the older version of the virus, which is termed H3N8- has emerged in the last two or three years. The new virus was a bit more dangerous initially, simply because tests and vaccinations for it did not exist at the time, though they are available now. 

What are the symptoms?
The clinical signs for this illness are often mistaken for the traditional “kennel cough.” The majority of infected patients will exhibit some or all of the following symptoms: cough, lethargy, fever, nasal discharge, ocular discharge and decreased appetite. 

Map from DogFlu.com - click for more detailed information.

Is my dog at risk?
As of May 2017, canine influenza has been confirmed in 46 states and continues to spread. Although Santa Fe is not in a high-risk area, if you travel with your pets or if they are in close contact with other dogs of unknown vaccine history, we strongly urge you to consider vaccinating them against this virus. We offer a vaccination that combines both H3N2 and H3N8, so your pet will be protected against both the "old" and "new" versions of the virus.

Tell us about your pet-related tattoos.

I saw an article this week about how "dog owners are now getting their pets tattooed on them!!!" as if this was some kind of crazy thing. Maybe it is! But I think at least four Smith Vet staff members have tattoo tributes to their pets, in one way or another. I'll post pictures if any of them are willing, but I thought I would ask: Is this crazy? Do any of you have pet tribute ink you'd like to share? What are your thoughts?