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Feline Fine - 5 habits that positively impact the health of your cat

Cats are wonderful pets; in fact, over 25% of US households share their home with a feline companion, according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association). They’re cute, cuddly, comical, and provide delightful companionship! But there are some things you will want to keep in mind to keep your cat's health in tip-top shape. Since August 22 is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day, we're sharing 5 habits that positively impact the health of your cat!

1. Feed them a healthy diet

One of the best things you can do for your cat is to feed them a healthy diet. The diet should be high in quality and be appropriate for their overall health needs. For example, we offer diets that help support dermatologic issues, weight problems, sensitive stomachs, and provide overall support for your pet at whatever life stage they are in. You will want to avoid giving your cat junk food or table scraps, which will lead to an overweight kitty and affect their health.

2. Brush their teeth

Brushing your cat's teeth is one of the easiest ways to support their health. Not only does brushing their teeth remove plaque buildup, but it also helps support healthy gums. Without brushing, periodontal disease can develop - and left to worsen, this can affect your cat's internal organs, leading to costly illnesses.

Important tip: NEVER use human toothpaste to brush your cat's teeth. There are toothpastes specifically for your feline friend, and even in flavors they'll love!

3. Provide mental stimulation

Cats have active minds and a native instinct to hunt. If these two characteristics are not addressed, you may notice destructive behaviors in your cat, or possibly even boredom or depression. Food puzzles, foraging toys (which hide food inside), scratching posts, and vertical shelving for cats to get a "birds-eye view" can go a long way in keeping their minds engaged and their bodies active and healthy!

4. Be on the lookout for behavioral and health changes

There are some signs that can indicate your cat needs attention or medical care. If your cat is showing any of these signs, bring them to see us right away:

  • Changes in activity level
  • Changes in their appetite
  • Hiding
  • Signs of pain when touched or moved
  • Weight loss

It's important to note that cats are notoriously good at hiding pain and sickness, so subtle changes can help provide insight into issues that need to be addressed.

5. Remember to schedule their yearly veterinary visit

It is important that you bring your cat in for a yearly veterinarian visit. This ensures that they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and continue to get checkups to ensure that they remain healthy.

As we briefly mentioned before, cats hide illness and pain. Annual veterinary visits provide that nose-to-tail medical insight into changes that may have occurred over the past twelve months. As your cat's veterinarian, we will check their weight, administer necessary vaccinations, complete any relevant lab work, and check the health of eyes, ears, skin, and teeth.

If your cat is a senior, more frequent visits, such as two times per year, are advised. Generally, cats become seniors around age 10, according to The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

We love seeing your cat!

All in all, there are many habits that will go a long way in keeping your cat healthy. We are here to partner with you in keeping your favorite feline happy, healthy, and part of your family for as long as possible! Give us a call to schedule your cat's annual visit today!

 

 

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Often Overlooked Summer Safety Hazards

Summer Safety Hazards

Pull out the sunglasses, ball caps, and flip-flops! Summer is in full swing. For pet owners, summer offers some of the most exciting activities to keep pets active and elated. Unfortunately, this lovely season also comes along with some less-than-fun hazards that can put a real damper on the joy of summer. While you may know not to leave your pet in the car, there are some other overlooked dangers that arise under the summer sun. Keep your pet safe by avoiding these summertime hazards:

1) The Heat + Fur Coats = Hot Dogs & Grumpy Cats

So, you know not to leave your pet in the car, but did you know that other activities can be equally as dangerous when it comes to the heat? Hikes, backyard time, and even walks can become dangerous if your pet begins to overheat. Even shade can fall short at the peak of summer.

During summer, we see a spike in heatstroke and heat exhaustion in pets. This occurs when a pet’s core body temperature becomes so high, their body’s temperature control mechanisms cannot lower their internal temperature. This can lead to organs shutting down and extreme dehydration.

If your pet begins to pant and does not seem to be able to stop, they could be overheating. If they continue to pant, call us right away.

2) Dehydration Is a Serious Health Hazard

Most pets simply do not drink enough water. This problem is compounded in the summertime when they lose additional moisture from panting. When a pet loses more water than they drink, it can lead to minor or severe dehydration.

Dogs’ and cats’ bodies are 60% water! This is the primary ingredient to cell function, organ function, and overall health.

Keep your pet hydrated on walks and while in the backyard. You can do this by putting out a few extra water bowls. Increase your pet’s overall hydration by adding water or broth to their kibble, introducing a pet water fountain, and even creating pet-friendly popsicles.

3) Standing Water Is a Breeding Ground for Disease

Pets often feel compelled to drink from puddles, lakes, ponds, and containers that collect water. While this may seem natural, these water sources can be fatal or cause severe illness.

Blue-green algae often thrive in warm, standing water. Even small amounts can cause a dog to become extremely ill and possibly die. They can also become ill from licking this substance off their coats.

Leptospirosis is a bacteria that spreads through water sources. It can even be inhaled. These bacteria cause flu-like symptoms, including vomiting and diarrhea.

To discourage your pet from drinking from unknown water sources, always provide clean fresh water outdoors and on walks.

4) Skip the Buzz Cut

Many owners ask us if they should shave their dogs during summer (cat owners tend to know to ask this question for some reason). While having your dog groomed and trimmed is okay, completely shaving your dog is a no-go. Not only can buzzing off all your dog’s fur make them vulnerable to bug bites and sunburn, but it can also prevent them from being able to regulate their body temperature as well.

Instead of shaving your dog, brush them extremely well. Removing loose yet caught fur from their undercoat can increase their natural ventilation.

5) Some Dogs Can’t Swim

Who doesn’t love a cool dip in the pool during summer? Pugs for one. Actually, most brachycephalic dogs are not equipped to swim. Their short snouts make it difficult to breathe and the hazard of inhaling water becomes much more extreme for them.

Brachy breeds, along with many others, do not have the right build to stay afloat. Corgis and bulldogs both tend to struggle to keep their heads above water.

Even dogs that are built to swim may not know how to instinctively. This can lead to panic, anxiety, injury, or worse. If it’s time to teach your dog the doggy paddle, remember to start off slow and never leave your dog unattended.

Have a Sunshine-Filled, Fantastic Summer with Your Pet

As summer presses on, we hope you and your pets will enjoy all the fun in the sun you can handle. Keep in mind that back-to-school is right around the corner, so be mindful of beginning an away-from-home routine to decrease the chances of separation anxiety.

If you have questions regarding your pet’s health or think your pet may be experiencing one of these summer health hazards, do not wait to contact us. Your pet’s health, happiness, and other well-being are our top priority.

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5 Tips to Help Your Pet Adjust to Your Back to Work Schedule

It's back to work for many of us that were working from home. But what does it mean for our pets? Amidst the pandemic, our pets became accustomed to us being home for them nearly 24/7. This can make for a ruff transition for pets and their people, leading to increased cases of separation anxiety, behavior issues, and just general boredom for pets. We want to give you five tips on how to make the adjustment process easier.

1) Ease into the back-to-work transition

It will be very difficult for your pet if you are home all day one day, then abruptly change to being gone for eight or more hours per day. Gradual changes can help your pet adjust more smoothly.

Begin by leaving for short periods of time. Give your dog or cat a treat or special toy before you leave without a lot of fuss. When you return, don’t make a big deal of it. Rewarding your pet or greeting them too excitedly may make them more prone to separation anxiety or owner-return anticipation.

Consider the use of food puzzles or toys which enrich their mindsCrate training may also be beneficial to helping them feel calm and secure in your absence.

2) Exercise is good for the body and mind

Exercise and mental stimulation release positive endorphins in your pet’s brain. Exercise also helps your pet release any pent-up energy.

Schedule play and exercise into your pet’s day, especially when you come home from work. Your cat will be happy to engage in a “Welcome home!” playdate. Consider an evening walk or game of fetch in the backyard before bedtime as well!

If you’re unable to get home mid-day for a quick break, consider hiring a dog-walker for a stroll around the neighborhood.

3) Consider taking your pet to work or doggy daycare

If your workplace policy permits bringing your pet to work, consider doing so. Of course, this means that your pet will need to be well-trained and not a disruption. If this just isn't a possibility, seek out doggy daycare opportunities. Socializing with other pets and people, as well as the consistent activity and exercise will help your pet focus on fun, and not the absence of you!

4) Be mindful of changes in your pet's behavior

Are you noticing changes in your pet's behavior such as destructiveness, soiling when previously trained, or trembling/shaking? It's time to come and see us. We can help walk you through changes that may help ease this transition and "new normal" for your pet's daily routine. In addition to modifications of behavior, we can suggest calming diffusers such as Adaptil (canine) or Feliway (feline) which are synthetic pheromones to help reduce anxiety.

5) Be mindful of your behaviors

Returning to work has brought about many complex emotions for people, too. Some of these include: getting back into a daily routine of preparing for traffic, adjusting to a faster pace in the morning routine, and even dealing with personal feelings on the safety of returning to work can cause our own human emotions to be less consistent than usual. Our pets are highly perceptive and will pick up on this. As complex as it may be, don't make leaving the house a highly emotional experience, and similarly, be calm and collected when returning (even if you are incredibly excited to see your pet after a long day of work!).

Your Pet Will Adjust to Your Work Schedule

Major changes often go smoothest when we can ease into the transition--the same is true for our pets. So, be mindful of how your pet reacts to your absence. If all goes well, both you and your pet will be enjoying your new routine, soon. If you notice changes in your pet's behavior that you need help addressing, please give us a call. We're here to help!

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Booms, Zooms, and Commotion-Free Rooms

As summer approaches, so do the booms, blasts, and excitement that come along with this commotion-filled season. From thunderstorms to the Fourth of July, pets experience an array of experiences that can bring out their anxiety. Preparing for the noise, hustle and bustle, and celebrations can reduce your pet’s stress and prevent young pets from trauma that could lead to life-long fears. Unsure how you can prep for booms and blasts? Here are our top tips for helping your pet through the summer celebrations and downpours.

How to Help Your Pet Through Thunderstorms & Fireworks

Spring and Summer showers bring big flowers, but they can also spur thunderstorm anxiety. While anxiety from lightning and thunder mostly affects dogs, many cats also experience stress from the booms, too. If your dog is part of the 30% of dogs that are terrified of thunder or you have a scaredy-cat, you can ease their fear.

Recognizing your pet’s signs of stress and having your pet diagnosed is the first step in helping your pet. Then, prepare supplies that can reduce stress.

Signs of Stress and Anxiety in Cats and Dogs

  • Panting
  • Dilated pupils and wide eyes
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Shivering
  • Excessive grooming
  • Vocalizing
  • Refusal to eat
  • Urination
  • Restlessness
  • Supplies That Can Aid in Pet Anxiety
  • Medication and Supplements

Ask us about your pet’s anxiety. During your next appointment, let us know how your pet reacts to storms, and we will decide if your pet is a good candidate for a prescription to help them through the storms. We can also recommend supplements that provide pets with stress relief.

Pheromone Support

Many pets get a lot of relief from pheromone collars and diffusers. These products activate a part of your pet’s brain that induces a comforting sensation. The most common are Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats.

Anxiety Vests

When it comes to stress, many pets gain a sense of calm from wearing an anxiety vest. They work by hugging your pet. This pressure causes your pet’s body to release endorphins that create a calming feeling, similar to how a baby feels when swaddled.

Anxiety vests can be compression vests or weighted vests. Just be sure your pet’s vest fits them properly and doesn’t restrict their movement.

How to Calm Your Pet During Booms and Summer Celebrations

Memorial Day and the Fourth of July create the perfect storm of noise, strangers, and dangers. From hot grills to fireworks, it’s best to keep your pet in a room that’s prepped to keep your pet calm.

Create a Commotion-Free Room

  1. Choose a room that is far from the noise.
  2. Prepare the room by closing the blinds and curtains, putting down comfy bedding, playing calming music, and adding a few comfort items. If your pet is going to be in the room for a while, include a water bowl.
  3. Place a sign on the door letting guests know your pet is inside.
  4. Walk your dog or play with your cat a few hours before the excitement of fireworks or guests. This will expend some of their nervous energy and reduce the risk of needing to let your dog out.
  5. Check on your pet from time to time. Remain calm when you enter and exit the room.

For Pets That Do Not Need A Safe Room

If you plan on letting your pet roam the house during your celebrations, be sure you have them microchipped. The blast and chaos of Memorial Day and July Fourth can cause pets to dart off and become disoriented and lost. A microchip can help your pet find their way home should they become lost.

Ask guests to keep the doors closed. This can prevent a great escape. This will reduce the risk of your pet running into your grill and prevent food handouts that could be dangerous.

Celebrate the Beauty of Spring and Summer without Pet Stress

When it comes to keeping your pet calm, safe, and relaxed during summer storms and celebrations, we can certainly help. If you have questions about your pet’s anxiety, please give us a call. We are here to assist you. Whether your pet needs to be microchipped or you’re looking for assistance when it comes to anxiety solutions, your pet’s wellbeing is our top priority. Don’t wait too long. We tend to get an influx of appointments leading up to the Fourth of July.

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