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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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

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

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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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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Tips and Tricks for Walking Your Dog

The first day of autumn is bearing down on us like a teething puppy after your designer leather shoes, so get those late summer walks in while you can—preferably, with a leash in hand! Just imagine it: the bleary blink of lightning bugs, the nostalgic croon of a turtledove, the rhythmic panting of your canine companion as he paces contentedly at your side. Of course, for many people, walking the dog is a much more, shall we say, involved activity. If you’re spending your dwindling summer getting dragged down the street and clotheslining random passersby with a leash, you might want to read these handy tips, courtesy of the ASPCA:

1. Compile a Survival Kit: Okay, so you’re not venturing that far outside of your home. Even so, you and your pet will need water, some treats to encourage good behavior, and, the most important items of all, some plastic bags and a scooper. Pack some mosquito repellent for yourself, but don’t use it on your dog. A toxic ingredient called DEET could damage your dog’s nervous system; there are pet-friendly alternatives out there!

2. Wear Him Down: This one may seem counterintuitive, but your dog is far less likely to chase squirrels and bound at breakneck speeds ahead of you if you spend some of his energy first. Play some fetch, soak up the sun, then cap off the day with a relaxing walk.

3. Hop to It: Yes, appreciate the scenery, but don’t by any means drag your feet. Your dog will lose interest—quickly—and this is how you get to that point where you’re disentangling his leash from a mailbox. So step lively!

4. Protect the Public: Your dog is so excited to see this random jogger neither of you have ever met before, he could just knock her over and kiss her repeatedly. And probably, he will do just that, if you allow him. The ASPCA suggests teaching your dog the “sit” command beforehand, requiring him to sit before he can interact with a person. You—or the relieved jogger—can then lavish him with treats, of course.

The main thing to remember is that your dog is just being a dog. The desire to chase, to investigate everything from that discarded piece of gum to a total stranger’s tennis shoe, is all perfectly natural. Don’t get frustrated, and don’t let up on your training. If you remain consistent, you and your dog might soon be strolling side by side down the promenade, admiring the changing leaves.

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Filed under Dogs, Fitness, Pet Health

How to Protect Pets From Fleas and Ticks

We all suffer through it: the keening buzz, the telltale sting, the insatiable itch that sends your fingernails—or hind leg—scrambling to provide sweet, skin-raking relief. Whether you are of the two-legged or four-legged variety, we all have to weather flea and tick season. Being human means you can take preventative measures like applying bug spray or choosing not to slather yourself with perfume and tromp through the woods in your shortest shorts smelling like the world’s sweetest blood-filled eclair. Dogs and cats, however, will need a bit of help if they hope to emerge from flea and tick season with their fur still intact.

1. The Perils of Having Blood: The adverse effects of blood-sucking pests affect canine, feline, and homo sapien alike. Fleas could leave your pets with patchy pelts or scabby skin, and if they accidentally ingest a flea infected with tapeworm, they might soon be facing a new infestation. Lyme’s Disease and West Nile Virus are diseases you and your pets could contract from just one bite from the wrong bug.

2. Nip It in the Blood: The EPA is a treasure trove of preventative measures that can be taken to protect yourself and your pet. Indoors, vacuum daily in suspect areas and wash pet furniture every two to three weeks. Outdoors, keep brush and grass maintained and preferably as far from your house as possible. Interestingly, a moat of wood chips and gravel between your yard and the wood line will deter any pests hoping to turn your home into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

3. Don’t Overdo It: All joking aside, serious health complications can occur in your pet if pesticides aren’t used correctly. Elderly, pregnant, allergic, or ill pets may be particularly sensitive to pesticides, so read those instructions carefully. Don’t use pesticides meant for adult pets on the young, and don’t use cat flea preventative on a dog and vise-versa. Finally, keep a close eye on your pet after the initial administration—if he or she appears to be having a reaction, apply a mild soap and liberal amounts of water to its fur right away. You’ll want to hang onto the package too in case these side effects do occur—further instruction on how to handle the reaction or contact the manufacturer might be included.

As the EPA points out in the start of the article, pesticides may not even be required with proper prevention tactics. Keep on top of the pest problem, and you’ll be sparing yourself a host of future problems this summer!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pest Control, Pet Health

Pet Care Tips for Adopting a New Puppy or Kitten

Spring is finally here! If you’re like most people, the sudden influx of baby animals has stirred a frenzy within you to scoop up every big-eyed, wobbly-headed little creature in your path. If you’ve contracted cuteness fever this season, just remember that pets are for life, and the animal shelter is always the best place to start your search. With those things in mind, here are some ways to prepare for your new arrival!

1. Make certain you don’t adopt puppies or kittens before they are properly weaned and socialized. Healthypet.com says the optimal period to adopt is 10-16 weeks after birth for kittens and 7-10 weeks for puppies.

2. Keep up on those vaccinations! Kittens and puppies will receive vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until they are at least six months of age, at which point they will start receiving booster shots.

3. Take care to puppy/kitty-proof your home beforehand. Keep toxic plants, chemicals, and any cables out of their reach (see healthypet.com for a list of poisonous plants). To prevent your little adventurer from taking a nasty fall, block off any precarious ledges.

4. Purchase foods that are formulated to meet the developmental needs of kittens and puppies. You can start mixing adult food into their usual blend at about six months of age (or later, for cats).

5. Purina says the key to training a kitten or puppy is mainly to reinforce positive behavior. Ignore or disapprove firmly of bad behavior, but never strike your kitten or puppy.

6. Want to know how to get your kitten or puppy to come when called? Only use its name in pleasurable settings such as meal time. Don’t shout its name to reprimand it, and it will always come running.

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Spring Grooming Tips for Your Pet

Whether it means fishing winter muck out of the gutters or just finally hefting your Christmas decorations into the garage, spring cleaning is a great way to revitalize your home, syncing your inside world with the freshness of the outside. But did you know that pets need to be spring cleaned too?

Referred to as “blowing the coat,” many pets undergo an intense but completely normal shed as the days grow longer and warmer. Here are some ways to facilitate the process until it’s finally over—and keep your home hair-free in the interim.

1. Shedding is natural, but patchy and excessive hair loss is not. If your pet is scratching or biting aggressively at her coat, get her to a vet to determine the real problem. It could be allergies, stress, fleas, or any other number of things.

2. Grooming should be a year-round occurrence, not just a one-time event to tack onto the spring cleaning list. According to TerrificPets.com, a lack of grooming can lead to mats, which are painful and may cause infection.

3. My Pet Naturally Clean suggests either brushing your pet until the winter coat is completely effaced or bathing first, brushing after, and bathing once more to coax out a stubborn undercoat. Take care not to over-bathe—this can irritate your pet’s skin.

4. Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids can be supplemented into your pet’s diet to create a healthy coat and speed up the shed, suggests TerrificPets.com. A combination of a bristle brush and a slick brush will make quick work of a short-haired dog’s—or cat’s!—coat; use a shedding rake for long-haired dogs.

5. Finally, if your furniture and carpet are to withstand this flurry of fur, you can use a “damp sponge” or “high-density foam” to pick hair up off surfaces. My Pet Naturally Clean praises these mechanisms for being reusable and more effective than costly alternatives.

Cleaning hair off each individual surface can be tedious work, and you no doubt have plenty of other chores on your to-do list. That’s why you should utilize pet accessories like the furniture covers to keep sofas, chairs, and loveseats hair-and-hassle-free. Pet covers are washable, freeing you to do other things…like finally taking down those Christmas lights.

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Filed under Dogs, Grooming, pet, Pet Furniture Covers, Pet Health, TOC Products, Touch of Class Products

Pet Vaccinations

More and more, pet vaccinations are being seen as unnecessary. Animals have survived for years without human intervention, so why start now? Aren’t vaccinations just another way to glean money out of owner’s pockets? In these penny-pinching times, these are legitimate concerns. But vaccinating now could mean avoiding costly operations down the road. Moreover, your pet is a domesticated animal, not a feral one, and depends upon you, her human companion, for survival. Here are the basics of feline and canine vaccination (other pets also require vaccinations; consult your veterinarian for a vaccination schedule):

  1. Vaccines introduce a weaker form of a disease into your pet’s immune system, prepping it for stronger forms of the disease it might encounter later.
  2. Side effects are always a possibility but are rarely lethal. Your pet may be experiencing a side effect if he is running a fever, is vomiting, or has diarrhea.
  3. Don’t miss these! “Core” vaccinations are the standard for all cats and dogs.
    Examples: parvovirus vaccine (for dogs), panleukopenia vaccine (for cats)
  4. “Non-core” vaccinations are not always crucial to your pet’s health and can be skipped (just ask your vet first!)
    Examples: Canine Parainfluenza vaccine (for dogs), Bordetella bronciseptica vaccine

Vaccinations aren’t fun for your pet or your wallet, but they go a long way toward keeping her healthy and safe. Check with your vet to see if there are any non-core vaccinations you can shave off the roster. A few less expenses couldn’t be bad for your health either!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pet Health