Catnip and Your Cat

It is an enjoyable (and often hilarious) experience to give your kitty some catnip and watch what happens.  But what is catnip?  Is it safe?  And what is it about it that makes some cats downright batty?

Catnip is an herb (Nepeta cataria) that originated in the Mediterranean but is now found throughout the U.S. and Canada.  The ingredient in catnip that exerts its power over our feline friends is called nepetalactone.  This chemical mimics natural kitty pheromones and can trigger a wide range of behaviors including sniffing, licking, head-shaking, head rubbing, and body rubbing.  The effects last about 5-15 minutes.

All cats respond differently to catnip, with about 30% not seeming to care at all.  While some cats may exhibit extreme behaviors, catnip is non-toxic and there is no reason to worry about your cat being exposed.

The Cat & Halloween

Ever wonder why the image of a black cat is so closely associated with Halloween?  Or why they are associated with evil, bad luck, and witches?

Over the years the cat’s nocturnal habits have created a mystique around them that left the human imagination running wild.  Cute, cuddly kittens by day and sneaky hunters by night, the cat’s natural behaviors left many historic observers paranoid.  Adding to the suspicions were typical cat behaviors such as batting at or looking at things unseen by people and their uncanny senses in the dark.  Observations such as these caused many theories and stories about the cat’s nature to be told.

Also, in Europe many pagan religions including witchcraft were tightly associated with animals, including cats.  During the rise of Christianity when paganism was deemed “evil” by many, cats got wrapped up in the stigmatism.  Black has also always been a color associated with the night and evil things, hence the black cat earning a bad rap.

Happy Howl-o-ween!

We all want to include our pets in the festivities of the season.  For many, this includes dressing them in the many cute costumes that are marketed for dogs and cats.  Unfortunately, sometimes the concern for safety gets lost in these good intentions.

Some pets just do not tolerate wearing costumes.  If your pet seems distressed, anxious, or upset when wearing his/her costume, it may be best to find an alternative.  Festive collars, cute bandanas, or even holiday-themed bows can be just as fun.  Also, be sure your pet’s costume allows your pet to move, sit, and breathe freely.  Never leave your pet unattended in a costume and be sure all pieces of the costume are non-toxic and do not have any choking hazards.  Find other ways to include your pets in the holiday celebrations that don’t include costume-wearing and make this Halloween as enjoyable for your them as it is for you!

National Veterinary Technician Week

This year during the week of October 14th we are celebrating an important part of your pet’s healthcare team- the veterinary technician.  Do you know what a vet tech does?

  • Veterinary technicians have completed an accredited two-year degree while veterinary technologists have completed an accredited four-year degree.
  • Vet techs have to pass an exam to earn the license and must complete continuing education requirements to maintain that license.
  • While the veterinarian diagnoses pets, prognoses their diseases, performs surgeries, and prescribes medications, a licensed vet tech can (and often does!) do everything else.
  • Veterinary technicians can earn specialties in areas such as anesthesia, dentistry, internal medicine, surgery, emergency and critical care, and many others.

Veterinary technicians are an integral part of your pet’s care.  Take this opportunity to recognize them!  Express your thanks or share your story about how a vet tech helped your pet in the comments section below.

Scaredy-Dog?

Halloween is right around the corner, but that may not be the scariest thing on your dog’s mind.  For many dogs, storms are a real and strong fear that can be very difficult to deal with.  If you have a dog who experiences thunderstorm anxiety, start by talking to your vet.  Several techniques including desensitization to sounds can help to alleviate some of the anxiety.  Some dogs respond well to conservative therapy such as a “safe” spot within the house, pheromones, or anxiety wraps.  Others dogs will require treatment with medications that may include sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs.  Your vet can help you to develop a customized program that is most likely to ensure success in helping your pet get through stormy weather.  While your dog may never like thunderstorms, it can learn to tolerate them with a well developed behavioral modification plan.

Crate Training Basics

A puppy sleeping in its crateWhen done properly, crate training is a very valuable tool that can help you and your dog enjoy each other even more.  Here are some helpful tips:

DON’T use your crate as a punishment device.  Even crate trained dogs need exercise, interaction, and training.

DO put your crate in an area where your family spends a lot of time.  Dogs are pack animals and want to be included in the action.

DON’T leave your pet’s harness or collar on while it is in the crate.

DO praise your dog for going into the crate.  Feed him/her meals inside and provide safe toys.

DO start by asking your dog to stay in the crate for only short periods of time while you are home.

DON’T leave your dog crated for too long.  For puppies under 7 months of age, a good rule of thumb is no more than the number of hours equaling the dog’s age plus one.  (So a 4 month old puppy can be crated up to 5 hours).

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Adopt a Pet, Gain a Friend

A dog with its paws against a fenceDid you know that 6-8 million pets end up in shelters every year?  And that half of those are typically not ever adopted?  Most of these pets end up in this sad situation through no fault of their own.  “Moving” and “landlord issues” are the most common reasons given when a pet is relinquished.  This means that your local shelter and rescue groups are filled with loving, family-friendly pets that just want to find a forever home.

When you adopt a pet, it typically is less costly than purchasing one or even getting one for “free”.  These pets often are fully vaccinated, dewormed, microchipped, and spayed/neutered.  A shelter or rescue can even help you to choose the right pet for your family.

By adopting a pet, you are doing your part to help the pet overpopulation problem.  So spread the word!  Tell us about your pet adoption experience!

Cataracts and Your Pet

A pug panting happilyCataracts are, unfortunately, one of the most common eye problems in pets.  They are opacities in the lens of the eye and can affect any age, species, or breed.  Most cataracts are inherited, but pets with diabetes, trauma to the eye, or other ocular inflammatory diseases can also develop them.

Some cataracts can result in complete blindness.  Many pets do well without any type of treatment, however others develop problems such as glaucoma secondary to the cataracts.  Others may suffer decreased quality of life related to blindness.

There is no way to reverse cataracts, however a surgical procedure can be performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist in which the affected lens is removed.  This procedure, which is quite delicate, involves extensive aftercare.  In the carefully selected patient, however, it can almost completely restore vision.  Consultation with an ophthalmologist can help determine whether your pet might be a good candidate for surgery.

Long live your feline friend!

A cat sitting in the sinkCats are pretty self-sufficient, right?  While this is true, it reality we can do a lot to extend the length and quality of our cat’s life.  Paying attention to the following can really do a lot to add years to your time together:

  • Keep your cat indoors if at all possible.  Disease, parasites, predators, and man-made dangers such as cars lurk outside for even the savviest of kitties.
  • Follow veterinary care recommendations.  Routine examinations, vaccinations, parasite prevention, and dental care are important.  We have your cat’s best interest at heart and knows that including these types of things into your care routine is vital to your cat’s well being.
  • Provide an enriching environment.  Cats are naturally curious, and the indoors can get boring.  Interactive toys and climbing equipment are enjoyed.  Also, dedicated playtime that utilizes your cat’s hunting instincts is important.  Lure toys, laser pointers, and other cat-specific toys are great for this.
  • Emphasize good nutrition.  Provide fresh, clean water and a quality, balanced diet for your cat.  Consult with your veterinarian if you think your cat is under- or over-weight.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment for your cat to be seen, give us call!

Party Animal!

A dog watching their human eatSummer is the season of parties- graduations, barbeques, family reunions.  Your pet is part of the family, and it is only natural to want to include him/her in the celebrations.  You probably know to keep your pet away from open flames, fireworks, chocolate, and bones.  Here are a few lesser known (but just as dangerous!) hazards to keep your party animal away from:

  • Corn cobs- These tasty castaways are very likely to become lodged in the intestine as they make their way through the digestive tract.
  • Fruit pits (like peaches)-  These are also likely to become lodged in the digestive tract.  Believe it or not, cats are as likely to be affected by this type of foreign body as dogs!
  • Skewers- These throwaways once held tasty treats, but now they are more likely to puncture your pet’s esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.
  • Foil, plastic wrap, and string- These may be garbage to you, but they taste like dinner to your pet.  Be sure your garbage is not accessible to Fido and Fluffy.
  • Gravel or dirt- Grease and/or meat drippings can make these normally non-edible items extra tasty.  Eating these in large amounts can cause your pet problems!

Please contact us if you have any questions.