Category Archives: Pet Health

September Is Animal Pain Awareness Month

Undoubtedly, your pet has come up with all kinds of ways to “tell” you when he’s hungry or needs attention—but how does he express pain? September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to review some of the signs that your pet may be in pain. Remember to spread the knowledge, and to always consult your veterinarian if you notice these symptoms. He or she can recommend the best treatment options.

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management has compiled a list of common signs that your pet may be in pain. We’ve listed a few below. View the full list here.

Some common signs of pain in dogs:

  • Decreased social interaction
  • Whimpering
  • Howling or growling
  • Aggression
  • Refusal to move
  • Decreased appetite

Some common signs of pain in cats:

  • Reduced activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hiding
  • Lack of agility
  • Stops grooming
  • Weight loss

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pet Health

Back-to-School Pet Safety Tips

Are you caught up in the chaos of buying school supplies, planning new schedules, and tackling to-do lists? Keep in mind that this time of year can be a big change for your pet too. Keep your pet safe and healthy during back-to-school time with these suggestions from the ASPCA and PetMD.

1. Keep backpacks out of pets’ reach
If possible, designate an area for children to place their backpacks that is out of the way of pets. Keep school supplies such as pencils, glue sticks, markers, and scissors away from those curious four-legged furballs. Other potential hazards include batteries and medications.

2. Likewise, stash those lunch bags
Remember to keep non-human food away from pets. Don’t let your pet sniff his way into a lunchbox containing grapes, raisins, chocolate, or gum (click here for the ASPCA’s full list of people-only food).

3. Gradually increase your separation time
Slowly let your pet acclimate to more “alone” time, rather than suddenly changing his schedule and leaving him without his buddies for an entire school day. Keep your departure and return low-key, and teach children to do the same. If you remain calm, there’s a better chance your pet will too.

4. Reduce stress and boredom by providing mental stimulation
Leave a safe, sturdy puzzle toy with your dog to keep his mind active. Toys that allow your pet to chew and lick can provide stress relief.

5. Don’t neglect your pet when you are home
Fit in aerobic exercise for your dog or play with your cat each day, preferably before you leave. It’s a great time for you to bond together; plus, if he’s tired, it can help him relax while you’re away. If mornings are too hectic, make sure your pet has some evening exercise to relieve pent-up energy.

6. Consult a veterinarian if needed
If your pet’s separation anxiety is severe, don’t punish your pet. Talk to your veterinarian to determine possible underlying causes and treatment options.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, pet, Pet Health, Pet Safety

It’s National Specially-Abled Pets Day!

A special-needs pet is one with a physical disability, a chronic injury, or emotional/behavioral issues. Today, we celebrate special-needs pets and encourage animal lovers with plenty of compassion, time, and energy to consider adopting one. Here are a few points to ponder from Vetstreet:

1. First, research.
If there’s a special-needs pet that has captured your heart, be sure to research its issues thoroughly beforehand so you understand the care that is required. Talk to veterinarians, specialists, and owners of similar special-needs pets so that you can make the best choice for both of you, instead of a spur-of-the-moment decision.

2. Consider the financial commitment.
Be sure that you have the financial resources to properly care for a special-needs pet. Again, research the expenses associated with your prospective pet’s condition, including food, grooming, medical care, and special equipment.

3. Remember the time and energy involved.
You might not be bringing home a frisky puppy that’s going to romp all over the house, but a special-needs pet still requires your time and energy. Be sure that you have the patience to handle its physical limitations or extra needs, and that everyone in your family does as well.

4. Make sure you’re up to it, physically.
Not all special-needs pets are physically demanding, but be sure you have the strength and capability to care for one that is.

As long as you’re fully prepared to welcome a special-needs pet into your home and to accept the responsibilities involved, you can enjoy a loving, caring relationship with your new furry friend!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, pet, Pet Adoption, Pet Health

March Is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month

Are you starting to get the “spring cleaning itch” but feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect? Why not start by making sure that potentially harmful foods, medicines, and household chemicals are out of the reach of your pet? After all, spring with your pet should be a happy time!

Recommended by PetMD and the ASPCA, here are just a few steps you can take to protect your pet:

1. Keep pet medications and human medications stored separately so there’s little chance of a mix-up.

2. Take the time to read the label carefully before giving your pet medicine.

3. Keep medications locked in cabinets, rather than on the counter or table.

4. Review the ASPCA’s list of “people foods” that can be toxic to pets. Make sure these items are kept away from your pet.

5. Make sure household cleaners, paint, automotive fluids, and even cosmetic items like nail polish remover are not accessible to your pet.

6. Be aware of which plants can be dangerous to your pet, including household plants, seasonal decorations, and lawn and garden greenery.

7. Research safer insecticide alternatives. Read the labels of lawn and garden products to determine if they are toxic to pets, and follow instructions carefully. Store these products out of the reach of pets.

8. Keep pets out of garbage cans and compost bins. Ensure that your garbage can is tamper-proof and that your pet can’t open it.

9. If you must use a rodenticide, follow instructions carefully and make sure your pet cannot reach the treated area. Properly dispose of dead rodents before your pet can get to them.

10. Know the symptoms of pet poisoning. Have a plan in case of accidental poisoning, and be ready to act fast. Keep your veterinarian’s information and other emergency numbers, like a pet poison hotline, readily accessible.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pet Health, Pet Safety

10 Ways to Comfort and Care for a Senior Pet

Is your pet in its golden years? You two have been through a lot together, and now you want to ensure that your pet is as comfortable and happy as possible. Or perhaps you’ve recently welcomed an older pet into your home – high-paw for you! The most important thing you can do for your senior pet is to schedule regular vet visits. Here are other ideas from PetMD and the AVMA.

1. Exercise

Keep your pet at a healthy weight, improve his mood, and stave off arthritis with exercise. PetMD recommends starting with walks of 10-15 minutes each, then gradually increasing the length. Keep in mind that regular, low-impact exercise is what your pet needs in his golden years, rather than strenuous activity. Consult your veterinarian if your pet has difficulty exercising.

2. Cushioned bedding

Has it been awhile since you updated your pet’s bedding? Remember that elderly pets may need extra or special bedding to cushion their achy joints. Consider an orthopedic pet bed to help soothe your pet’s aches, and make sure he can get in and out of it easily.

3. Heated bedding

While you’re on the search for new pet bedding, what about a pet bed that’s heated? A cozy, gently heated pet bed can provide therapeutic relief for achy elderly pets, or simply a warm place to nestle in during the winter. If an entirely new pet bed is not in your budget, consider a bed warmer, which is placed in the existing pet bed for toasty comfort.

4. Dental care

Take care of your pet’s chompers! If you brush your pet’s teeth regularly, keep up the good work. And if you’ve fallen behind, start with a vet exam and professional cleaning. If your pet can’t stand brushing, consider dental treats and toys.

5. High-quality diet

Feed your dog or cat healthy, nutrient-rich meals that are appropriate for his age and lifestyle. Consult your veterinarian about your pet’s dietary needs and stick to the plan, be it a low-sodium diet or one lower in calories.

6. Mental stimulation

Keep your pet’s mind sharp and prevent boredom with mental stimulation. Teach your pet new, low-impact tricks and engage him in interactive play. If he’s friendly and socialized, let him explore new places where pets are allowed. Stimulate his mind with new toys and food puzzles. Consider replacing old, hard toys with softer yet durable alternatives that are kinder to sensitive teeth and gums.

7. Physical contact

A little affection goes a long way! Boost your pet’s mood and increase the bond between pet and owner with physical contact. In addition to pats, snuggles, and belly rubs, remember to groom your pet to keep him looking and feeling his best.

8. Sweater or coat

Have you long-scoffed at dogs in clothes? Certainly, some breeds tolerate the cold better than others, and canine attire is not right for every dog. But senior pets can struggle with cold temperatures in drafty homes or during short trips outdoors. If your pet can tolerate clothing, he might be more comfortable with that extra insulating layer provided by a sweater or coat. Choose attire that’s easy to wash, and avoid itchy fabrics and ill-fitting garments; make sure your pet can move comfortably and won’t trip.

9. Easy accessibility

Find little ways to make everyday life easier on your senior pet. If she has difficulty climbing onto couches or beds (assuming she’s allowed) or into a vehicle, consider pet stairs or a pet ramp. Even something as simple as moving your cat’s litter box to an easy-to-access area can be helpful.

10. Carpeting over slippery floors

A young, acrobatic pet might rebound quickly from a slip or skid, but don’t expect the same from your senior pet. For him, a fall can be serious and reduce his quality of life. So take some precautionary measures, and add traction to slippery floors with rugs or carpeting. If this isn’t an option, consider outfitting him in non-slip dog socks that have a gripper surface on the bottom.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Fitness, Pet Beds, Pet Health, Pet Safety

Pet Safety: Avoiding Autumn Seasonal Hazards

Does it feel like languid summer where you live, or is there a cool fall nip in the air? Perhaps you and your pet are taking advantage of the break in the heat to get active outdoors, or maybe you’re curled up inside, indulging in a new season of television. Autumn poses its particular challenges to pets, just like any season, but with a few precautions, you’ll still have plenty of fall fun. Take a look at these reminders from PetMD and the ASPCA.

Dwindling Daylight

If only fall didn’t come with fewer hours of daylight! Take care when walking your pet, keeping in mind that the reduced light makes it more difficult for drivers to see the two of you. Wear reflective gear and bring along a flashlight; you might even consider a light-up collar for your pet. Ensure that your pet’s tag and/or microchip information is up to date.

School Supplies

You might feel like your dog needs a refresher on what he learned in obedience school, but he certainly doesn’t need any school supplies! Keep glue sticks, markers, and other school supplies out of pets’ reach. Even an item with low toxicity can be harmful in other ways (as a choking hazard or the cause of a blockage).

Antifreeze

Don’t let your pet be lured by the sweet taste of antifreeze. This temptation is extremely toxic to pets, even in small amounts. Check your car for leaks, clean up spills immediately, and keep your pet away from areas where antifreeze is stored. Seek veterinary attention if your pet ingests it.

Rodenticides

Likewise, rodenticides are toxic to pets and should be used with extreme caution. Place them in an area that is completely inaccessible to pets.

Mushrooms

Most mushrooms are not harmful to your pet, but a small percentage of them are toxic. It’s best to remove them from your yard and to keep your curious pet away from an area where mushrooms are growing. Consult your veterinarian immediately if your pet ingests a wild mushroom.

Fleas and Ticks

Just because temperatures dip doesn’t mean it’s safe to stop your pet’s preventative medication. In most areas, autumn is one of the worst seasons for fleas and ticks. Consult your veterinarian, who will probably suggest that you continue your pet’s flea and tick preventatives year round. Follow label instructions carefully, and use only the dosage that is appropriate for your pet.

Cold Weather

Be aware of cold snaps and drops in nighttime temperatures. Ensure outdoor pets have adequate food, water, and shelter. If you take your indoor pet outside, keep in mind that he may not be able to withstand cooler temperatures for long periods of time.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pest Control, pet, Pet Health, Pet Owner Gifts

It’s National Pet Week!

National Pet Week was created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the AVMA Auxiliary. Celebrated each year during the first full week of May, National Pet Week encourages pet owners to take steps to keep their pets happy and healthy. In honor of the 35th anniversary of this special week, the AVMA is highlighting seven essential actions to improve the welfare of pets. Click here to learn more!

Sunday:
Choose well and commit for life.
Monday:
Socialize now. New doesn’t have to be scary.
Tuesday:
Exercise body. Exercise mind.
Wednesday:
Love your pet? See your vet!
Thursday:
Pet population control: Know your role.
Friday:
Emergencies happen. Be prepared.
Saturday:
Give your pet a lifetime of love.

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Filed under Dogs, pet, Pet Health