Long live your feline friend!

Cats 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!

Summer 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.

 

Beat the Heat

Frying eggs on the sidewalk?  Here are some ways to help you and your pets enjoy the sun without melting!

  • It’s all about the water!  Play in the sprinkler, bust out the wading pool, or take a dip in the lake.  Always make sure your pet is supervised and rinse him/her off with clean water after swimming.
  • Enjoy a frozen treat.  Check out special doggy confections like Frosty Paws, make a giant popsicle by freezing treats or toys into a huge ice cube, or head to your local ice cream joint- many have items on the menu for dogs.
  • Pack a picnic.  Put together some of (both of your) favorite treats and find a shady spot to enjoy.  Don’t forget a bowl and fresh water for your pet.
  • Outsmart the sun.  Head out for a walk or visit the dog park before the sun fully comes up or at twilight during the coolest parts of the day.

It may be hot out there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great outdoors! If you have any questions, please give us a call!

Top Ten Signs of a Top Notch Boarding Facility

It is hard enough to leave your pooch or puss behind when you have to be away from home, let alone select somewhere for them to stay.  Ease your worries by making sure your boarding facility displays all the signs of being a quality joint.

10.  Separate lodging for cats and dogs.  Especially for cats, this can be a big deal.  Make sure the cats and dogs are not intermingled.  Bonus points if cats are kept in an area that drowns out the noise of any barking dogs.

9.  Spacious accommodations.  Take a look and see if cage sizes seem appropriate to the size of the animal it contains.  Don’t forget your pet may be staying more than a night or two.

8.  Personalized care.  Special diet requirements, medication administration, or caretaking requests should be honored (within reason of course).

7.  Opportunity for exercise.  Particularly if your pet is staying more than a few days, it is important that they are allowed the ability to stretch their legs and burn off some steam.  Even pets that don’t require much exercise (couch potato kitties, older dogs) should be offered some form of interaction on a daily basis.

6.  Caring staff.  Talk to the people that will be taking care of your pets.  Oftentimes you can get a good feel for their level of commitment to their job and to their furry guests.

5.  Willingness for you to visit.  A good facility should be willing to have you come and take a look around.  This is often the best way to get a feel for the quality of care.

4.  A plan.  A top notch facility should know their policies, have a plan in place for medical emergencies, and ask you about your desires for specific situations.

3.  Cleanliness.  Of course anywhere that houses animals is bound to have some “accidents”, but overall pet’s living conditions should be clean and smells should be minimal.

2.  Vaccination and other health requirements.  If a boarding facility doesn’t ask for your pet’s vaccine status or de-worming history, chances are they haven’t asked for anyone else’s pet’s either.  Your pet can come into contact with diseases at a place such as this, and a conscientious operation will be on top of these types of issues.

1.  A genuine interest in your pet.  This is often what separates the good from the great.  A great facility will welcome your pet with open arms and offer the same caring touch that you would at home.  The presence of a true interest in your pet is what will make you the most comfortable leaving your baby.

Be sure to consider us for boarding if you’re taking some time away. We would love to take care of your loved one, and we’re sure you’ll find we match up to all of the criteria listed above!

 

Common 4th of July Dangers for Pets

While you are enjoying fireworks, barbeques, good friends, and fun times this holiday, don’t forget to be on the lookout for the following potential hazards for your pets:

  • Neighbors & friends – Keep a close eye on your pets if you take them to parties or have people over.  Just because you realize that bratwurst might cause digestive upset for your pet doesn’t mean your neighbor does.  Also, unfamiliar visitors and crowds can make it easy for frightened or curious pets to slip out the door.  Make sure that your pet has a “safe” quiet place to retreat to and be sure it is wearing identification with current contact information.
  • Not-so-pet friendly treats – Do your best to keep your pet on its normal diet.  Extra treats and fatty food can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea at minimum, and could even result in more severe digestive problems like pancreatitis.  Some “people” treats such as alcohol, onions, chocolate, and grapes or raisins could even result in death.
  • Fireworks and other hazards – Obviously fireworks and other direct flames can be dangerous to pets.  Be sure to keep them secured and out of the way when such activities are occurring.  But did you think about the loud noises a fireworks display may cause?  Scared pets may hide or worse, try to run from the noise.  If your pet has severe anxiety related to fireworks, talk to your veterinarian about potentially using a sedative to help get them through the holiday.

For those of you who are dealing with fireworks anxiety, be sure to enter our sister hospital’s Thunder Shirt sweepstakes!

 

How prepared are you?

Disasters strike when we least expect them.  We never think it will happen to us, yet every year tornados, fires, hurricanes, and floods strike locations all over the United States.  If something like this were to affect your family, are you ready?  It is National Pet Preparedness Month, and it’s the perfect time to ask yourself the following:

  • Where would you go? Do you have a list of facilities or locations that you could take shelter at?  Where would your pets go?  Try to make a list of pet-friendly hotels, boarding facilities, or homes that would take your pet in case of an emergency.
  • What would you bring? Everyone should have an emergency preparedness kit.  Be sure to include your pets.  Keep a carrier, leash and collar, food, water, and bowls in a designated location.  Don’t forget any medications and a copy of your pet’s medical records.
  • Could your pet find you if you became separated? Keep identification tags and microchip registration information current so that your pet can find its way home should you have to part.

We all hope that we’ll never have to deal with an emergency like this, but it does happen. Being prepared will give you peace of mind, and is the best way to ensure you and your loved ones will make it through as safely as possible.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

 

The Top Summer Danger for Pets

Can you guess what it is? If you guessed leaving your pet in a parked car, you hit the nail on the head.  Even on a relatively nice day (think 85 degrees) your car’s interior can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes and 120 degrees within 30 minutes.

Take into account your dog’s lack of sweat gland and inefficient heat exchange mechanisms (panting), and your pooch can be in a pickle in no time flat.  Even leaving the windows cracked is not enough to make a huge difference.

Overheating can lead to permanent damage to major organs including the brain and may even lead to death.  If you see a pet in peril this summer, be sure to try to alert the animal’s owner.  If that is not successful, call 911. Often law enforcement or animal control can help.

As always, please contact us with any questions.

 

Springtime fun for your outdoorsy pup

Spring is here and things are warming up outside, which means there are many more opportunities for outdoor fun! Long walks, hiking trails, play groups, swimming… It gets my tail wagging just thinking about it! As with any activity that you participate in with your pup, there are tips to remember when heading into the great outdoors to keep you both safe and happy.

  1. Let your dog carry his own weight. If you have a dog that doesn’t tire easily, get him a dog backpack to help boost his workout a little. Keep in mind that if you just slap the bag on, throw in some weights, and head out for your walk, Sparky might not be too keen the next time he sees the pack come out. The key is to make it fun. Put the pack on empty the first time and let your dog walk around in it while you offer him treats. The next time keep it on a little longer. Once he seems like he’s tolerating it, try it with a couple of water bottles in it to add some weight. As soon as he’s comfortable with it, try going for a walk with it on. The extra weight should help to tire him out faster so he’ll get more out of your walk.
  2. Help your dog to play nice with others. When the weather gets warmer the number of dog bites and dog fights increase due to the number of outdoor activities available to people, dogs, and dog owners. Keep this increased number in mind if you bring your dog to a location where there is the potential for other dogs. Be sure you always ask the owner before initiating contact with a new dog. If the owner is nowhere to be found, avoid any contact with the dog as best you can. Dog parks tend to be more crowded as well, which can sometimes lead to stress and aggressive behavior. Evaluate the situation and pay attention to your pup. If he seems stressed at all, a nice long walk alone with you may be a better option that day.
  3. Is it hot enough for you? We all know that dogs need exercise for both their mental and physical well-being and that a tired dog is a happy dog is a well behaved dog. However, you do need to exercise some caution once the summer temperatures get here, particularly if your dog is older, short-nosed, or has a thick coat. During those dog days of summer, try exercising your pet early in the morning or late in the evening when things have cooled down. Remember that asphalt can get very hot and can burn your dog’s paws. If it’s too hot for you to stand barefoot on it, you shouldn’t let your dog stand on it for very long either.
  4. Learn to recognize heat stress. Heat stress is a serious medical condition that can lead to other issues such as stroke, brain damage, or even death. It’s important to learn to recognize the signs that your dog may be suffering. Remember that dogs can’t sweat the way we do. They regulate their temperature by panting and are much more susceptible to overheating than we are. Signs of heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, unsteadiness, staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red/purple tongue. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms you should apply cool (not cold) water  gradually to your dog to decrease his temperature. Make sure to move them to a cooler, shady location and remember that dogs cool themselves from the bottom up, so using cold ice packs and applying them to your dog’s head, neck, and chest will help.
  5. Cowabunga! Most dogs love to swim, but some just can’t do it and others just don’t want to. If you’re going swimming be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before making him swim. If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start off in shallow water and coax him by calling his name and encouraging him with treats or toys. Never throw your dog into the water. If you’re lucky enough to be vacationing near the ocean keep a close eye on your pal to make sure he stays safe in any strong tides. If you’re swimming in a pool make sure your dog knows where the stairs are located, and give him a good rinse once he comes out. Otherwise the chlorine will dry on his fur and it may make him sick if he licks it off later.

Most importantly, enjoy your outdoors time with your furry friend. It’s easy to have a great time if you keep these few safety tips in mind. As always, feel free to call us with any questions.

 

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

Nervous DogThis week, May 20-26, is National Dog Bite Prevention week, an event hosted by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to help educate the public about the nearly 5 million dog bites that occur every year and how they can be prevented.

Did you know that according to the AVMA:

  • 4.7 million people in this country are bitten by dogs every year
  • children are by far the most common victims
  • 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites each year
  • children are far more likely to be severely injured; approximately 400,000 receive medical attention every year
  • most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs
  • senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims

The thing about dog bites is that many, if not most, are preventable. The AVMA has created a great public health bulletin with great tips and resources for people.

Because children are most at risk for bites you should never (ever, ever, ever!) leave a small child alone with a dog. Even if your dog is the world’s biggest softy, it’s never a good idea to leave him unattended with a child. Most dog bites happen while dogs and children are left alone together, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

It is always important to remember that any dog can bite; even the most friendly and well-trained – especially if they are injured or fearful. Proper training and socialization of puppies and dogs is crucial to avoiding dog bites.

Dog Body LanguageAccording to veterinary behaviorist Sophia Yin DVM MS, “The consensus among animal behavior professionals is that the major cause of dog bites to humans is related to failure of owners and dog bite victims to recognize when dogs are fearful and know how to approach and greet dogs appropriately.”

This is why it’s so important to learn to recognize a dog’s body language. Dogs who are growling or baring their teeth are obvious dangers, but dogs who are nervous or frightened are just as likely to bite, if not more. The chart to the right offers a quick view of what to look for, but here’s a great article from the ASPCA for a more in depth description of how to interpret a dog’s body language to better be able to identify dogs who may pose a biting risk.

When approaching a dog, children (and adults) should use the acronym “WAIT” to remind themselves of proper doggie etiquette:

  • W – Wait to see if the dog looks friendly. If the dog looks afraid or angry, STOP and walk away slowly.
  • A – Ask the owner for permission to pet the dog. If the owner says no or there is no owner present, STOP and walk away slowly.
  • I – Invite the dog to come to you to sniff you. Put your hand to your side with your fingers curled in. Stand slightly sideways and dip your head down so you are not looking directly at the dog. If the dog does not come over to sniff you, STOP and do not touch him.
  • T – Touch the dog gently, petting him along his back while staying away from his head and tail.

Being respectful of a dog’s personal space is the bottom line. The more you invade that space, the more uncomfortable the dog will become and the more likely he is to bite. If we all follow these tips maybe we can stay a little safer around our best friends.

 

Keep your furry friend’s tail wagging with homemade treats!

Dog staring at treatsIt’s no secret – dogs and cats love treats! Many of the popular treats that you buy at the store are very high in fat and calories and low in nutrition though. So what’s a great way to treat your fur-baby while still being sure that the treats their eating are as nutritious as they are delicious? Make them yourself!

Making your own pet treats is fun and easy, and you can feel good about giving them to your pet. (Although you should still feed them sparingly — treats are a sometimes food, not an always food). Here are some simple recipes for pet treats that will keep your furry friend’s tail wagging.

Peanut Butter Molasses Dog Treats

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter (unsalted & sugar-free)
  • 1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Whisk the flour, oats, and baking powder together in a medium bowl
  3. Gradually stir in the milk, peanut butter, and molasses
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a soft dough forms
  5. Roll out to 1/2″ thickness and cut with a cookie cutter
  6. Bake for 20 minutes
  7. Cool completely before feeding to your pooch.

These biscuits bake up nice and hard and will last for 2 weeks in a dog treat jar and up to 4-5 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cat licking lipsSo that’s all well and good for Fido, but what about our feline friends? You can make yummy treats for them, too!

Yummy Tuna Treats

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
  • 1/2 can tuna fish
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil or cod liver oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheet
  2. In a large bowl mash the tuna into smaller pieces
  3. Add flour and milk to the tuna and mix well
  4. Add water and oil and mix some more
  5. Beat the egg in a separate dish until the egg is foamy and then add to the mix
  6. Mix everything well — the dough will be really sticky
  7. Using your fingers shape the dough into small balls, about the size of a marble and put them on the cookie sheet
  8. Bake for 20 minutes
  9. Let treats cool completely before feeding to your cat
  10. Store treats in an air tight container in the refrigerator

Bon Appetit!

If you have any questions about your pet’s nutrition, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to discuss it with you.