Category Archives: Pet Health

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

April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Heartworm Awareness Month? Now is a great time to brush up on your knowledge and make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to protect your dog or cat.

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Heartworms are parasites that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of affected pets; heartworm disease can cause severe damage to pets’ organs. Though rates of infection vary from year to year, heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states, and both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk. Remember that prevention and early treatment are best!

What can you do?

The AHS recommends that you “Think 12”:

1) Get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm.

2) Give your pet heartworm preventative 12 months a year.

Be sure to administer the heartworm preventative strictly on schedule, according to the preventative type; failure to do so may allow immature larvae to molt into the adult stage. According to WebMD: Pet Health, if your dog gets heartworms and is treated for them, he can still get them again, so prevention is important.

To learn more about heartworm prevention and treatment, visit the American Heartworm Society and PetMD.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pet Health

How to Protect Your Pets During Flea and Tick Season

Ah, the delight of spring and summer months. You might be eager to dive into those carefree, halcyon days, but you’ll forgive your pet if he’s quite not ready to share in your enthusiasm. If he could talk, he’d probably tell you that he dreads the warm-weather flea and tick frenzy: the itching, the irritation, and, worst of all, possible infection or illness. Keep your beloved pet from becoming parasites’ most appealing, furry snack with the help of flea and tick preventatives and treatments.

Proceed with Care
Consult your veterinarian to determine the safest option for your pet, and always follow the label instructions carefully. Monitor your pet after administering a flea or tick control product, especially if it’s a new addition to your arsenal. According to the AVMA, you should be on the lookout for these negative reactions: anxiousness, excessive itching or scratching, skin redness or swelling, vomiting, or abnormal behavior. If your pet has a bad reaction, immediately contact a veterinarian.

Keep in mind that many flea and tick control products are not intended for the youngest puppies and kittens, nor elderly cats and dogs. In addition, not all products are safe for underweight, sick, medicated, pregnant, or nursing animals. If you have both a dog and a cat, resist the temptation to give them the same medication, unless the product is formulated specifically for both cats and dogs. Finally, know the weight of your pet, and pay careful attention to the dosage level.

Choices, Choices
Lost in a jumble of choices? PetMD outlines the differences:

1) Spot-ons refer to medications that are applied directly to the pet’s skin. The active ingredients will be released over several weeks’ time. Spot-ons are convenient to use, but you must exercise care: Seclude your dog from other pets and from children until the treatment has dried fully. Wear gloves, or wash your hands with soap and warm water after applying the medication.

2) Oral medications provide a simple alternative to topical treatments. Some will work to kill adult fleas and can treat sudden outbreaks and infestations.

3) Sprays and powders are inexpensive ways of controlling fleas and ticks. A powder is rubbed into the pet’s fur. Read all labels carefully, and monitor your pet for side effects.

4) Shampoos typically kill adult fleas on contact; however, they won’t usually stop an infestation or keep the fleas from returning.

5) Dips are concentrated liquids that are applied to the pet’s skin and left to dry. Dips should only be used on healthy, adult pets. Keep the dip away from your pet’s eyes and mouth, and take care to protect your eyes and skin.

6) Flea collars repel fleas and sometimes ticks with a concentrated chemical. Monitor your pet for irritation or hair loss.

Keeping It Simple
If you’re looking for gentle ways to protect your pet during flea and tick season, consider some simple and natural home remedies. For a healthy, adult dog, PetMD suggests rubbing a freshly squeezed orange or lemon onto his fur, or bathing him with a gentle shampoo or citrus-based dish liquid. Tenacious though they may be, fleas are repelled by citrus. Another alternative is to apply rose geranium oil, a natural repellant, to your dog’s collar. PetMD cautions pet owners that this solution is for dogs only – not cats, who may have an adverse reaction to essential oils.

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Filed under Pet Health