Thanksgiving Turkey Dog

You might have some ideas about what your pet is thankful for, but what do you think your vet is thankful for?  You might be surprised by how often pets and vets are thankful for the same things!

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for a big backyard to run and play in.  I’m thankful for squirrels to chase and bark at.

The Vet: I’m thankful when pets have opportunities to exercise.  Plenty of times to run and play makes for dogs that are physically and mentally healthy.  

 

The Cat: I’m thankful for long naps in my warm bed.  I’m thankful that no one disturbs me while I’m taking my nap.

The Vet: I’m thankful for cats with enough resources to have their needs met.  That means appropriate litter boxes, plenty of water sources, things to play with, and comfortable resting places.  Having adequate resources reduces a cat’s stress level, and can prevent stress related diseases such as behavioral inappropriate urination and lower urinary tract inflammation.  

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for food!  Milkbones, foods, treats, snacks, and dinner!

The Vet: I’m thankful for owners who choose healthy diets and snacks for their pets.  I’m also thankful for owners who keep their dogs and cats from eating too many of their favorites snacks.  A treat should be just that… a treat.  

 

The Cat: I’m thankful for my lovely coat, and I’m thankful for my daily hair maintenance routine.  Who needs shampoo when you have a nice rough tongue!  

The Vet: I’m thankful for cats who are able to groom themselves.  I see it as a warning sign when a cat stops grooming themselves.  It can suggest joint pain, illness, or even obesity.  

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for my daily walks, my visits to the dog park, and my social routine at Doggie Day Care.  I’m thankful for other dogs to play with, and for the ability to stretch my legs.

The Vet: I’m thankful for dogs who get to interact with other dogs and with other people.  There is a lot of benefit both mentally and physically.  This is why I recommend vaccines!  One coughing pup can be risky to everyone!  

 

The Dog: I’m thankful for my human.  I love when my human scratches my ears, rubs my belly, fills my bowl, and takes me for walks.  I’m thankful for when my human comes home and I get to wag and bark and wiggle for joy!

 

The Cat: I’m thankful for my human.  I love napping together on the couch, I love when my human fills my bowl, and I love a clean litter box!  I’m thankful when my human gives me a new box to play in, or shows me a new toy.

The Vet: I’m thankful for their humans.  I’m thankful for animals who have a forever family to love them and provide for their needs.  I’m thankful for animals who learn trust and loyalty to their people.  I’m thankful for people who are willing to care for animals in sickness.  I’m thankful for people who desire to keep their pets healthy.  I’m thankful that animals can feel loved by humans, and in return humans can feel loved by animals.  The bond between people and animals is amazing, and I’m thankful for it.  

What are all these lab tests, and why are they necessary?

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Chemistry may remind you of your least favorite subject in school, or it might sound like a science experiment.  To your veterinarian, a “Chemistry Panel” can provide a LOT of valuable information!  Here are a few common lab tests that might be recommended by your veterinarian, and why they are important to the health of your pet.  

 

  1. Chemistry Panel: this panel tells us about glucose, kidney values, liver values, protein levels, and electrolytes.

— From this, we could potentially catch diseases from diabetes to kidney disease before your pet even shows signs of illness!  image8

— Some bloodwork is useful for finding new diseases, and some bloodwork is needed for monitoring medications and chronic diseases.  

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

 

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC): this panel tells us about white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelet count.  image1

image6— from this panel we can catch infection, anemia, and other conditions.  It is also very helpful to know trends in these values from year to year!

— from this panel we can catch infection, anemia, and other conditions.  It is also very helpful to know trends in these values from year to year!

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

 

  1. Heartworm Test: this is a test for canine heartworm disease (a blood parasite)

image9— although heartworm disease is less common than some other parasitic infections, we are seeing an increasing rate of infections in our area.  image4

— Luckily, heartworms are highly preventable.  It takes 6 months from the time of the mosquito bite for the test to be positive, which is one reason why yearly heartworm testing is the best way to catch an infection.

— a heartworm test is recommended prior to starting heartworm preventative and annually to assess for prevention failure.  

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

 

  1. Intestinal Parasite Testing: this examines the stool for eggs from intestinal parasites.image5

image3— most intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people and to other pets, so it’s a great idea to catch infection early and treat before allowing too much opportunity for spread!  

— pets who are losing weight, having diarrhea, or vomiting may need to have a stool sample checked.

— A fresh stool sample is recommended for this test

 

  1. Urinalysis: an examination of the urine for cells, bacteria, and concentrationimage2

image7— from this test we can monitor for signs of endocrine diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and urinary tract infection. We can also monitor urine concentration.  

— A fresh urine sample is required for this test

— There are several ways to go about collecting a sample.  Your veterinarian can discuss these options with you!

 

  1. Thyroid testing: this test examines for inappropriate amount of thyroid hormone

image8— dogs are more prone to hypothyroidism, while cats are more prone to hyperthyroidism.  

— a hyperthyroid cat will lose weight rapidly, and can have secondary complications such as heart disease.

— a hypothyroid dog will gain weight, and can have secondary complications such as panting, skin disease, and muscle weakness.

— A fresh blood sample is required for this test

The tests listed above are our most frequently requested tests.  Other tests may be indicated, but are not routinely run on each patient.  Lab work can sound intimidating, but is an important part of routine health care for our cats and dogs!  

A few do’s and don’ts on enjoying the weather with you dogs.

Dog with sunglasses

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Summer Heat Guidelines:

  • Some breeds don’t tolerate the heat well
    • Thick coated breeds- collies, huskies, malamutes, newfoundlands
    • Large Breeds- great danes, rottweilers, boxers
    • Bracycephalic breeds- pugs, french bulldogs, boston terriers
  • No cars.  Period.  It’s unimaginably hot in a closed car.  Don’t be tempted, it’s not worth the risk
  • Some dogs don’t know when to quit
    • Dogs who love to please won’t quit, even when they get tired.
    • Limit exercise for those who would chase a ball until they drop
  • The pavement is HOT!  
    • If you wouldn’t walk on the pavement barefooted, your dog probably doesn’t want to either.  Pawpads can be burned by hot pavement.  
  • Give them a place away from the sun.  
    • You may like soaking in the rays, but dogs need shade and plenty of water during the heat of summer.
  • If your pet is used to air conditioning, they aren’t going to be as tolerant of the heat.  

 

Fun things to do with your pets this summer

  • Go for a swim
    • Start small.  Not all of us are natural golden retrievers!  There is nothing wrong with a few inches of water in the bottom of the kiddie pool as a starting spot.  Small plastic pools are pretty affordable, and are a great way to introduce your dog to water.  Don’t force reluctant pets.  They’ll do what they are comfortable with.dog with ball on nose
  • Learn a new trick
    • When the family is home from school, it’s a great time to learn some new tricks.  You don’t have to be outside to do some obedience training.  If you are beating the heat outside by hanging out in the air conditioning, take the opportunity to brush up on Fido’s obedience training.
  • Bobbing for treats
    • Remember that kiddie pool?  Fill with a few inches of water, and drop treats one at a time into the water.  Active dogs will enjoy fishing the treats out.  Remember not to over do it on the treats OR the water!  Yes, there is such a thing as drinking too much.  No upset bellies this summer, please!
  • Challenge your dog’s nose
    • Start small by having your dog stay, place the treat a few feet in front of them, and make them wait until you say “find it.”  Gradually move the treat further, then start hiding.  Another alternative is to play “find the treat” using three shoeboxes and a strategically placed snack.  These are good games to keep the mind occupied.    
  • Don’t fear the walk!  
    • As long as you exercise caution, walks can be a safe summer activity.  Do outdoor activities in the morning and evening, and don’t take a fast walk.  Take a nice, short stroll.  Be sure to stay off hot pavement, stay in the shade, and take some water.  

What you should know about Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

  • Symptoms
    • Bright red mucus membranes, collapse, excessive panting, vomiting, and seizures can all be signs of heat stroke.  A rectal temperature over 104 degrees after exertion is suspicious for heat exhaustion
  • What to do
    • Start cooling.  Wet paw pads with cool water, hose dog with cool water, and start a fan on the dog.  This can be life saving.  Cooling should be stopped when the pet reaches 104 degrees to avoid dropping the body temperature too low.  
    • HEAD TO THE VET RIGHT AWAY
  • Complications of heat stroke
    • Renal failure, interruptions in the ability of the blood to clot, and hypoglycemia can occur.  Unfortunately pets that suffer from heat stroke are at a very high risk of developing complications that result in death.  

The Cost of a Free Puppy

Some honest thoughts on the cost of veterinary medicine, and how to be prepared for the costs of health care for your best friends!

dog & calculator

In my previous posts, I have given some information relevant to pet owners.  My intention has been to give information that pet owners would find useful, and interesting.  I hope that this post will be as informative as the previous posts, possibly even more so.  I’m going to tackle the sensitive subject of the cost of pet ownership.  I recently read an article from CNBC.  This article makes reference to a report from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.  This report says that an astounding 98% of people underestimate the lifetime cost of pet ownership.  As a collective whole, veterinary clinic team members recognize the financial constraints of pet owners. In order to combat this problem, we need to be prepared.  

 

What are the costs?

New Pet care– spay/neuter, puppy vaccines, microchip

Routine care– annual physical exams, annual vaccinations, heartworm preventative, flea and tick preventative, heartworm testing, and diagnostic monitoring profiles

Sick pet care– vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, mild musculoskeletal injuries

Emergency pet care– foreign body surgery, severe GI disease, hit by a car, toxin ingestion, laceration repair, bloat (GDV), anemia (low blood volume),

Orthopedic concerns ACL tear (Knee injury), fracture, neck/back injury, hip dysplasia

Chronic health concernsdiabetes, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, renal failure, heart failure, arthritis, ears

Allergies– deserving of a category to themselves!  This may involve medications, diet changes, and frequent medications for skin infections.  

— to name just a FEW!

How can we be prepared?

Certainly not all pets will develop all of these diseases, but when an emergency or a chronic illness arises, it’s good to be prepared.  

  • Understand how expensive pet ownership can be. In this way you avoid the shock of expensive veterinary bills. Small breed dogs will be with you for 13-16 years, large breed dogs from 10-12 years, and cats can be a member of the family for as long as 18-20 years.  As they age, cost of care generally increases.  
  • Do some research!  Before you buy or adopt, talk to some people who own the type of dog or cat you are interested in.  Some breeds have an increased prevalence of diseases such as allergies, back problems, diabetes, ear problems etc.  It is good to be mentally prepared for the unique challenges of the breed you select.  
  • If using a breeder, ask some questions.  Ask about the health history of the parents of the pups.  Ask about genetic disease testing such as degenerative myelopathy for corgis, collie eye anomaly for herding breeds, and OFA certification for hip dysplasia (and more!)
  • Start setting a few dollars a month away.  It’s the same concept as an emergency fund for your family, but this is for your fur kids!  
  • Pet Insurance.  It’s a confusing topic, but getting your new pet started on insurance can save you from a heartbreaking situation on down the road.  
  • Most importantly, don’t underestimate the money saving potential of good preventative care!  A few good examples- heartworm preventative is expensive, but it’s cheaper than treating a large dog for heartworm disease.  Spaying your dog can prevent uterine infections that lead to emergency surgery.  Vaccinating for parvovirus protects your dog from a disease that can lead to several days of intensive care hospitalization!  

The report from People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals also states that 93% of people said the decision to own a pet made them happier!  We know you love your pet.  We don’t really like talking about money, and we certainly don’t like asking for it.  As members of a veterinary care staff, we consider ourselves a team, and we want to include you in the team.  You, as the owner, caregiver, and all around pet parent are the most important member of the team, and we don’t want to leave you behind.  We care about each member of the family, both two legged and four legged!

 

(Reference- www.cnbc.com , Zack Guzman, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/27/how-much-does-it-cost-to-own-a-dog-7-times-more-than-you-expect.html

What dog owners should know about this mysterious, and serious, disease.image4

Blastomycosis.  Chances are, you’ve never heard of it.  

If you have heard of it, you know this little yeast organism is a foe that should not be underestimated!  

What is it?

Blastomycosis, commonly called Blasto, is a fungal organism that is found in the soil in the east-central USA.  Like most fungi, it likes cool, moist, dark conditions.  

Who can get it?  image3

People and Pets are susceptible to Blasto.  Dogs are most commonly affected, as they are the most likely to have noses down in the dirt.  However, people can pick up Blasto as well!  Fungal organisms are inhaled, and convert to the yeast form at body temperatures.  Blasto is NOT directly contagious between pets, or between pets and people.  

What does it do?

This organism has some favorite locations in the body.  

— Pulmonary: when the lungs are affected, the organism causes multiple lesions throughout the lungs.  Cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and lethargy are the most common complaints.  A severely affected patient will likely need hospitalization, treatment is long, and the prognosis is guarded.  image2

— Lymph nodes: Like pulmonary blasto, this is a severe infection requiring an extended treatment period.  Usually blasto has affected another area of the body, not just the lymph nodes.  

— Eyes: one or both eyes can be affected.  Initially, we notice inflammation and a low intraocular pressure, but the inflammation quickly progresses to glaucoma (or high pressure).  In many cases, the affected eye loses vision.  In some cases, the eye must be removed to bring comfort to the patient.

— Bone: this creative organism is well adapted to cause painful lesions in the bone.  It can look like bone cancer, so it is important to distinguish between the two.

— Skin: any non-healing wounds, draining tracts, or unexplained wounds should be suspect for blastomycosis.  

What should I look for?

Blasto has a very wide variety of clinical signs.  Coughing, fever, lethargy, inappetence, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and collapse can all be signs.  Enlargement of lymph nodes, squinting/pain in the eyes, oozing skin wounds and lameness may also be noted in some patients.  When in doubt, have your pet examined by a veterinarian.   

How is it diagnosed?

Most commonly Blasto is most commonly diagnosed by looking for a specific byproduct of the organism (antigen) in the urine.  This test is run by an outside lab.  Blasto can also be seen in needle aspirates of wounds and lesions on the skin in some cases.  X-rays should be used as a tool to evaluate lungs for lesions typical of blasto.  

How is it treated?

Treatment takes a LONG time.  The core of treatment is through use of strong anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory medications.  Each individual patient will be treated differently based on the body system that is affected by the organism.    

Pets are gaining weight.  What do we do about it?

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One source reports 30-55% of cats are obese, and 40% of dogs are overweight or obese.  According to “The State of Pet Health” a collection of data from Banfield Pet Hospital’s Nationwide, there has been a 158% increase in dogs classified as obese, and a 169% increase in cats classified as obese over the past 10 years.  That’s an enormous increase (pun intended)!

A pet is considered obese if the body weight is greater than 20% above the ideal body weight.  A pet is considered overweight if the body weight is greater than 10-19% above the ideal body weight.  Obesity is considered a chronic inflammatory disease. Adipocytes, or fat cells, actually do more than just make a pet chubby!  They release hormones that are important in maintaining a healthy body. A certain amount of fat cells are needed for regular function.  When these cells are in overabundance, they can actually end up not getting enough oxygen. This results in release of inflammatory mediators.  

Overweight pets are at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, renal disease, pancreatitis, tracheal collapse, intervertebral disc disease, cruciate ligament disease, and may have an increased risk of some cancers.

One theory is that pet owners are having a harder time recognizing an overweight pet, therefore more pets are allowed to become overweight.  Once overweight, it is much more challenging to take the weight off. Furthermore, veterinarians tend to under diagnose obesity. An annual exam is a great time to discuss your pet’s body condition with your veterinarian.

What do we do about this growing epidemic?  

  1. Note your pet’s body condition, and determine if a diet is needed!  You can seek help from your veterinarian in this! (image from www.vetsupply.com)

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  1. Avoid free feeding.  Pets should get two to three meals per day.  Pets who graze are more likely to be overweight.
  2. Don’t trust the bag!  In general, pet food bags will overestimate how much food to feed per day.  This is especially true for pets who are already overweight.
  3. Cats should eat a canned food.  Feline metabolism requires a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.  Eating a dry cat food is the equivalent of a person eating only pasta and bread.  The higher moisture content of canned food is also much better for total health of the cat.  
  4. Keep snacks to a minimum, and choose treats wisely.  Remember that two bites of hamburger to a 10 pound dog is the equivalent of a person eating two cheese burgers.  Plain green beans are a good low Calorie alternative.
  5. Develop a plan. If your pet is overweight, it is important to discuss dieting with a veterinarian and develop a plan that will yield successful weight loss.  The most important thing is to cut out all treats and “extras” and to encourage appropriate exercise.
  6. If you have a young pet, start good habits early!  It’s easier to prevent obesity than to encourage your pet to lose weight.  One of the greatest spikes in weight gain happens after the spay or neuter.  Be conscious of your pet’s weight during the months that follow the neuter surgery, as a reduction in Calories may be needed!

 

Leptospirosis

Is your pet at risk?

 

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What is it?image1

Leptospirosis (lepto) is a bacterial organism.  It take a unique form, known as a spirochete.  This lovely, curly looking bacteria looks beautiful under a microscope, but causes nasty disease in our pets.

Who can get it?

Lepto is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted between people and animals.  All mammals are susceptible to lepto.  Dogs are more susceptible to infection than cats, with cats rarely being infected.  Rodents, raccoons, opossums, cattle, and horses are all possible transmitters.

How do they get it?

Lepto is transmitted most commonly through urine or through water that has been contaminated with urine.  Bite wounds and consumption of infected tissue can also lead to infection.  Most commonly the disease is spread through contamination of standing water.  Standing water provides a perfect alkaline environment for the organism to flourish.  This means pets with access to retention ponds, garden ponds, lakes etc are susceptible.  We also consider dogs who like to hunt, kill wild animals, or with exposure to fields that retain enough water to keep soil damp to be at a higher risk.    image3

What are the symptoms?

Initially loss of appetite, lethargy, and nausea may be noticed.  Fever, vomiting, joint pain, excessive drinking are noticed soon after.  This progresses to fever, kidney failure, and in some cases liver failure.  Excessive bleeding (due to low platelet count) and jaundice may also be noticed as liver failure progresses.

How is Lepto diagnosed?

Lepto is diagnosed based on clinical signs, and confirmed by a blood test.  It can be difficult to diagnose, as blood must be sent to an outside laboratory.  image4

How is this disease treated?

The bacteria itself is treated with an antibiotic that is effective against this type of bacteria.  However, very often sick pets require intensive care for several days as they combat the kidney and liver complications associated with infection.  This often requires GI protectants, IV fluids, symptomatic care for vomiting and nausea, and in severe cases plasma transfusions.

Can this disease be prevented?

There is a vaccination for Leptospirosis.  Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s risks and recommended vaccination to those at risk of exposure.  Those considered to be at high risk are pets with access to a retention pond, standing water, farm land or backyards that frequently have wet soil due to standing water, and animals who tend to hunt and kill wildlife.  Additionally, preventing standing water and discouraging rodent populations in areas that pets have access to can prevent exposure to the bacteria.

Vaccine Considerations:

The Leptospirosis vaccine has been historically thought to cause a greater incidence of vaccine reactions, which causes many veterinarians to consider it appropriate to separate this vaccine from other vaccines.  Although evidence supporting increased risk of lepto vaccine reactions as compared to other vaccines has not been supported, many veterinarians do still consider giving the lepto vaccine separate from other vaccines to be an appropriate standard of care.  image5

Can I get it?

Yes.  Although some infections in people are self limiting, infection can be severe and even fatal.  Veterinary staff are trained to take precautions to disinfect appropriately to prevent spread between pets, and also to prevent spread to humans.  Owners who have an infected pet should be careful to wear gloves when handling the pet during the shedding period!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

 

Cat with toothbrush

It sounds impossible, but you can making brushing a part of any pet’s routine care.  This includes cats!  It takes some time and some training, but for many it can be a successful routine!

 

Why is brushing important?

Brushing removes plaque from teeth, and prevents gingivitis and the buildup of tartar and calculus.  One additional, and often overlooked, benefit is that regular brushing allows concerns (such as broken teeth, painful teeth, bad breath, and tumors) to be noticed early.  Early detection leads to early treatment!

Is brushing enough?

Most pets will need routine dental care performed by a veterinarian.  Just like humans need professional cleanings, pets also need general anesthesia to clean the plaque that lies below the gums.

What tools do you need?

A soft bristled toothbrush or a finger brush.  For small pets, a small toothbrush allows for better reach.  For some pets just using toothpaste on a gauze square is effective.  Use a pet specific toothpaste, many times these are poultry flavored or beef flavored.

 

It takes training!

You don’t just expect your dog to roll over without some training, and you can’t expect him to think brushing is fun without a little time and work!  Training isn’t just for dogs.  We can train a cat to allow tooth brushing as well!  You can do it!  Here’s a step by step!

  1. Start slow- initially just touch the brush to the lips, let him sniff it, and reward him for good behavior!  Do this for about 1 week.
  2. Next lift the lip and let your pet have a taste of the tooth paste.  Do this for about a week.  Reward good behavior with praise and a favorite treat.
  3. Put a little tooth paste on the brush, and let your pet lick the tooth paste off.  Then gently touch the teeth and with the brush, but don’t start physically brushing.  Encourage good behavior with positive rewards.  This step should also last about a week.
  4. Gently brush for a very short period of time, gradually working up to longer and more thorough sessions as your pet tolerates.  This can take 3-4 weeks depending on your pet’s tolerance!
  5. Focus on the outside surfaces of the teeth.  Don’t try to brush the inner surfaces of the teeth.

 

How Often?

Set reasonable goals.  Brush a minimum of 3 times a week for best prevention of plaque.  Brushing daily on tolerant pets is ideal.  Don’t start brushing immediately after a dental cleaning, as the teeth and gums will be sore.  You will also run the risk of disrupting sutures from any extraction sites.

Are there alternatives?

Treats and chew toys can be helpful in preventing tartar build up.  The VOHC (veterinary oral health council) has several approved products.  Treats and chews are considered to be secondary to brushing in effectiveness at preventing dental disease, but for some of our pets, these are the best option.

Things to Monitor

When brushing, you’ll have a prime seat for monitoring your pet’s oral health.  Broken teeth, worn teeth, loose teeth, or teeth with exposure of the bifurcation (where the roots split) should be seen by a veterinarian.  Lumps should be checked out as soon as possible.  Changes in breath are also a good indication that something you can’t see readily is going on in the mouth.

 

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Eat Healthy

Yeah, your pet needs a healthy lifestyle too.  A healthy body condition is very important for total body health and longevity.  Consult with a veterinarian to determine if your pet is in a healthy condition, and determine how many Calories your pet needs to consume at each meal.  Then buckle down!  Encourage light exercise and avoid table scraps.  Fatty foods such as beef, pork, chicken skin, and sweets should be avoided.  Cut back the number of treats you offer.  Substitute green beans in moderation as a healthy snack alternative.  

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Commit to Dental Health

Those pearly whites are important!  Dental disease is one of the most common ailments of both cats and dogs.  Brushing your pet’s teeth 2-3 times a week can help to prevent build up of dental calculus.  Use a VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Committee) approved toothpaste (don’t use your own toothpaste!) and gently brush the teeth and gums.  Once dental tartar has built up, there is no substitute for an anesthetized oral exam, x-rays, dental cleaning, and extraction of diseased teeth.  Talk to your veterinarian about dental health!

Remember the Preventatives

It is so easy to forget flea and tick preventatives and heartworm preventatives, however, these are one of the most important parts of keeping your pet healthy!  Pick a day of the month and consistently administer both a flea and tick preventative product AND a heartworm preventative.  Most veterinarians do recommend this be done year round!  If your pet has been off of image3heartworm preventative, it will be necessary to perform a heartworm test prior to starting preventative.  Heartworm testing requires a few drops of blood, and results are usually available within 10 minutes.  Even our feline friends benefit from monthly flea and tick preventatives.  Some products for cats are heartworm and intestinal parasite preventatives as well.  Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites are all very common in our area, and a lot of frustration can be saved by remembering the monthly preventatives.  

 

Learn New Tricks

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  Learning new tricks and obedience exercises can be a good way of bonding, and keeps our pets mentally stimulated.  For dogs, start simple and build on the tricks.  Learning good manners, such as sit and stay, is a great way to transition to some more complicated things!  Cats can learn new things too, tricks aren’t just for dogs.  If your cat isn’t one who likes to do tricks, try some “environmental enrichments” that encourage hunting behaviors.  Food puzzles, food balls, and new toys can keep your cat engaged and mentally stimulated.

 

Go for a Walkimage2

What better way to get exercise for you and for your dog?  Go for a walk, or two, or three!  Resolve to walk your pet frequently.  It’s good for you, and it’s good for the dog.  Exercise encourages healthy joints, builds muscle, is good for mental stimulation, and is good bonding time.  If leash manners are a problem, a dog obedience course may be a good learning opportunity for pets and people.  

 

Litter Box Hygiene

No Kitty New Year Resolution list is complete without making some resolutions about the all important litter box.  Resolve to have at least one litter box per cat, plus one!  No cat wants to wait in line.  Similarly, no cat wants to use a dirty bathroom.  Scoop daily, clean weekly.  This is one resolution you shouldn’t pass up!

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Healthy Ways for Pets to Enjoy the Holidays

During the holidays, there are a lot of seasonal household hazards.  Here are some safe ways you can share the holiday season… with your pets!

  • Learn a new trick!  What better way to bond with your pets than to add a fun trick to show off to the relatives.  It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
  • Family Pictures.  Sure it’s tough to get everyone to sit still, but a candid shot makes for an even better memory.  Gather the critters for that Christmas card worthy picture!
  • Matching Christmas Sweaters.  Yeah, I’m serious.  Why not let everyone experience some Christmas fashion?  Maybe let the cat sit this one out.  
  • Take a nap!  The holidays are fun for everyone, but they are also tiring!  So curl up, watch a movie, and take some time to enjoy spending time together.  

 

Holiday Safety Hazards for Pets

In the Kitchen

  • Fatty foods- it’s tempting to slip the pets a snack.  Foods that our pets aren’t used to can make them very sick.  Pancreatitis, vomiting, and diarrhea can result from eating too many table scraps.  In some cases this can be severe.  
  • Bones- bones can splinter, cause obstructions, cause GI upset, and damage the intestinal tract.  Absolutely no turkey, chicken, or pork bones for fido!
  • Garlic and Onions- in large quantities these can cause abnormalities with red blood cells.
  • Chocolate- this is no big news, but around the holidays it’s easy to forget how good fido is at using his nose!  Even wrapped gifts aren’t safe from your pup!  
  • Raisins and grapes- a friendly reminder that these snacks and ingredients in many recipes can be deadly.
  • Sugar Free candies and gums containing xylitol- possibly the most lethal on this list, xylitol is highly toxic because it causes a profound hypoglycemia.  

 

Holiday plants that can make your pet ill

  • Poinsettias – although not lethally toxic, chomping on these leaves can cause significant GI upset
  • Lilies- It’s not Easter, but it still bears consideration.  No Lilies for cats!  Even licking the pollen of the lilly from the coat is highly toxic to a cat’s kidneys.  

 

In your living room

  • Tinsel, garlands, strings, and ribbons- when swallowed, these can be very dangerous in the intestines.  Although cats are more prone to swallow these items, a curious puppy may find a ribbon interesting.
  • Christmas tree water- ick.  It sounds disgusting, but our pets don’t know any better.  GI upset may result from drinking stagnant water.
  • The Christmas tree- a falling Christmas tree isn’t a safe thing for anyone.  
  • Lights- strings of lights present quite a temptation for pets, especially a curious pup.  Remember that a damaged cord is a fire hazard as well as a risk of electrocution.

 

Other Holiday Considerations

  • Holiday Guests- guests may not be prepared for cats or puppies making a bid for freedom.  Remind your guests to watch the doors!  
  • Kids- kids may not know how to act around animals, and may provoke unexpected behavior from our pets.  The same can be said for some adults.

 

Highland Pet Hospital and Wellness Center

wishes you and your pet a very
Merry Christmas!