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Making the Most of Quarantine with Your Pets

Making the Most of Quarantine with Your Pets

While COVID-19 quarantines continue across the country, you may be spinning your wheels to stay busy, productive, and positive. Luckily, our pets provide a great deal of comfort and companionship despite the isolation and stress caused by the Novel Coronavirus. As dogs and cats get used to having you at home, you may need to add some new activities to your repertoire to help keep them busy and make the most of your time together.

If you’re up to seven walks or tried to get your cat’s attention for the fifteenth time today without success, here are some great ways to make the most of your quaran-time with your furry family.

1. Become a Busy Bee & Get Back in the Garden

It’s likely you’ve heard that yards across America will never look better than they do right now. If you haven’t taken the opportunity to enjoy the spring weather and get your hands dirty in the yard, it’s time to get started. You can even make those pet-friendly changes to maximize your pet’s enjoyment of the front or backyard.

Getting outside with your dog or cat has profoundly beneficial psychological and physical effects for you and your pet. This can be both restorative and uplifting during this tense and stressful time. The mental stimulation also adds variety in your pet’s day. And the fresh air is great for you all.

Be sure you protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and heartworms with prescription-strength prevention. These pesky and potentially disease-causing bugs love to lurk in the grass and bushes.

2. Get Fit with Fido or Toned with Your Tabby

It’s a great time to invest some time in getting in shape with your dog or cat. Add extra time to your regular walks or start a new running routine. Keep in mind, that dogs should have an hourglass shape from chest to waist to hips and not all dogs are cut out for running. We can assess your dog’s health and body weight to help determine a fitness plan and fitness goals.

While your cat could probably care less about going for a run, she may enjoy a bit of yoga. Cats and dogs both seem to love when we get down on their level and enjoy some cat-cows and downward dogs. Open the windows for a bit of fresh air and focus on a positive affirmation to make the most of a yoga practice.

3. Help Prepare Your Pet for Your Return to Work

Your current pet coworkers may be a bit fuzzier than those at the office, but they’re probably a lot needier. Your pets likely love having you home. Unfortunately, this could backfire when it comes time to return to 40 hours or more at your job.

To reduce the returning-to-work-blues and possibility of your pet developing separation anxiety, try these:

  • Stick to a schedule including mealtimes and walks
  • Try to spend some time out of the home, even if it’s just a solo-walk
  • Create some activities that encourage positive associations with your leaving like hiding treats throughout the house or giving your dog a frozen peanut-butter stuffed toy. Cats benefit from these activities, too.

4. Go Green and Make Some Up-Cycled Pet Toys

It’s probably crossed your mind that pet toys should be considered “essential,” but running an errand just to pick up a few odds and ends isn’t worth the risk. Repairing and making new pet toys is a great way to breathe new life into old toys, keep yourself busy, and reduce waste.

Try re-stuffing a de-fluffed toy and sewing the seam shut. If you don’t have batting, you can fill it with ripped or torn clothes. To help pique your cat’s interest in the new-to-mew toy, add a little catnip to the filling.

Get crafty and create brand new toys from holey socks and other household objects. Collect those extra buttons and ribbons to really jazz up your DIY project.

5. Treat Your Cat or Dog to Fresh-Baked Treats

If you’re a baker, you may have noticed grocery aisles are eerily absent of yeast, bread flour, and sugar. Luckily, these aren’t necessary when it comes to baking healthy pet treats, and treating your pet with wholesome ingredients is much better than stress-eating, right?

Use this time to explore and experiment with some new recipes. Best of all, your pets will love each and everything you make.

6. Work on Unwanted Behaviors and Learn New Tricks

There is no better time than the present to begin working on correcting those small but unwanted behaviors. From your cat sharpening her claws on the sofa to your dog pulling on the leash, you can devote a bit of quaran-time to fixing these behaviors.

Make sure your cat has plenty of options for healthy claw-sharpening. Use those newly acquired DIY skills to make a cardboard scratching post or mat.

As for your dog, you can finally take a walk without rushing and spend the necessary time it takes to stop when he or she begins to pull.

This is also a wonderful time to work on some new tricks to keep your dog or cat mentally active. Cats learn to sit pretty quickly, but can your cat master a new trick each week during quarantine? How about your dog?

If your talented pet already knows more tricks than most, remember practice makes perfect.

We Wish You and Your Pet a Productive and Healthy Quarantine

From our entire team, we wish you and your pet a safe, healthy, and productive quarantine. We also want you to know that we’re here to keep your pet healthy. From your pet’s spring flea, tick, and heartworm prevention to helping alleviate those pesky spring allergies, let’s make this May the healthiest it can be.



Image credit: ChrisBoswell/iStock/Getty Images Plus

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Spring into Spring with These 3 Pet Safety Tips

Are you ready to hop into spring? We sure are. In spite of the uncertainties of this unprecedented time, we are happy to see so many people (distantly) uniting and finding creative ways to be the community we’re proud to serve. From treasure-hunt style Easter egg hunts to the resurgence of “Victory Gardens,” it’s heartwarming to see folks looking out for each other while staying safe and healthy.

Thankfully, at the time of this writing, it appears that companion animals are not susceptible to COVID-19, but there are still everyday health concerns to consider as the season changes. If you’re tired of being cooped up inside and ready to get some fresh air with your dog or cat, be sure they’re protected with these three spring safety tips.

1. Prevent Heartworms

Did you know April is Heartworm Awareness Month? As the weather warms and mosquitoes begin hatching, pets need heartworm prevention to stay protected.

All it takes is one mosquito bite for a pet to become infected. Heartworms grow and multiply, eventually obstructing blood flow and making it hard for pets to breathe. Even after treatment, which doesn’t currently exist for cats, heartworm disease leaves lasting internal damage and is potentially fatal, particularly for dogs.

Cats are not the “ideal” host for heartworms so while they are less likely to experience severe symptoms, significant respiratory damage is still a concern. Indoor cats aren’t afforded much protection from their lifestyle, accounting for 25% of heartworm cases, since mosquitoes can easily get into your home.

By protecting your pet with a preventative in the form of a pill, topical medication, or injection, you’re giving them the best chance to avoid a life-altering disease. We have many options available to help you protect your pet’s heart. Give us a call and we’ll help prescribe and get the medication most appropriate for your pet.

2. Check Your Pet’s ID and Microchip

Tag! You’re it! It’s time to check or order your pet’s ID tag. Not only is April Heartworm Awareness Month, but National Pet ID Week and Lost Dog Awareness Day are on the calendar.

Based on a study from the ASPCA, it’s calculated that between 11-16% of dogs and 12-18% of cats are likely to go missing at least once in five years. How much difference does a microchip make? This tiny device has a massive impact! Microchipped dogs are 2.5 times more likely to reunite with their families and cats with microchips are 20 times more likely to come home.

Next time you’re snuggled on the couch, check your pet’s tag. If the information is out-of-date, order a new one. Make sure the ring securing it to the collar is strong. Then hop online to confirm your pet’s microchip information.

3. Don’t Get Ticked Off--Prevent Lyme Disease

If you’re planning a socially-distant hike, don’t expose your trail partner to the danger of Lyme disease. It’s the most common disease transmitted by ticks, painful for pets, and easily goes undetected by pet parents.

Ticks can hide in long or short grass waiting to latch onto your dog or cat (or you!). They’re difficult to find beneath your pet’s fur and they like to attach themselves in areas that often go unnoticed, like an armpit. Finding and removing attached ticks quickly is important, as Lyme disease only has the chance to spread if they’re able to feed on your pet for more than 24 hours.

Fortunately, there are many preventative options available to fit your pet’s lifestyle and budget. Give us a call today and we’ll help you find the best option.

Spring Into Spring with Reasons to Celebrate

Despite the uncertainty surrounding us, we hope you’re taking time to disconnect from the news and enjoy the company of your pets. Your pet may not know what COVID-19 is, but they will appreciate the extra attention. Schedule screen-free bonding sessions for some peace of mind during this troubling time.

We’re doing the same and looking forward to the future. We miss our clients and want to stay connected, so please share photos of your pets at home or on outdoor adventures on our Facebook page.

Stay safe and healthy!

 

Image credit: TZ/ Pexels

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Make Your Pet’s Dental Health a Reason to Smile

Did you know that February is National Pet Dental Health Month? We love that this month is devoted to your canine’s canines, your kitty’s chompers, and your pet’s pearly whites. While your companion’s mouth may be a source of kisses and smiles, pet parents may overlook how much their pet’s dental health affects their overall well-being.

Dental disease is more common than many pet parents realize. 70% of cats and 80% of dogs suffer from some form of oral disease, and by the time they’re three, most dogs and cats will have signs of dental disease.

This Problem is More than Just Bad Breath

The latest studies link periodontal (or gum) disease in dogs and cats to shortened life spans as well as heart, lung, and kidney disease, and feline immunodeficiency virus.

Dogs with good dental hygiene tend to live 2-5 years longer than those without. And cat-specific dental issues like tooth resorption are both painful and can cause long-term issues for some cats.

So, what do you need to know to keep those kitty and canine kisses fresh for years to come? Here are our top tips for keeping your pet’s teeth and mouth healthy:

1. Don’t Skip Regular Vet Visits

Early detection can make a major difference in your pet’s dental health. When gum disease and other dental issues go undetected they can cause severe pain and evolve into more serious problems.

When we examine your pet, we check their teeth to make sure they don’t have any chips, cracks, or gum issues that could lead to infection and pain. When we spot a problem before it becomes worse, it can improve your pet’s mood and quality of life. It also can save you money since treating problems once they’ve progressed tends to be more costly.

2. Recognize Signs of Gum Disease

Do you know what to look for to see if your dog or cat is developing dental issues? The most obvious and common sign of periodontal disease is bad breath. Other warning signs that your pet’s dental health could be improved include:

  • Discoloration
  • Plaque and tartar
  • Red and sore gums
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Shaking the head or side-to-side head nodding while eating (for cats)
  • Cracks or chips

If you notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see us.

3. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

We know… we know… this can feel like a serious chore, if not outright battle, with your pet. And you’re not alone if you skip this step. Only 1% of pet parents brush their pets’ teeth.

But brushing your dog or cat’s teeth can make a world of difference.

It takes 24 hours for plaque to harden, which means daily brushing gives you the opportunity to brush away plaque and tartar before it has the opportunity to stick around and cause damage.

Make brushing your pet’s teeth a habit by:

  • Creating a routine where you brush their teeth daily at a certain time
  • Start slow and desensitize your pet to having their teeth brushed
  • Find a pet-friendly toothpaste that your pet likes
  • Combine brushing with dental treats as a reward for a job well done

4. Assess Your Pet’s Diet

This one often comes as a surprise for many pet owners, but your pet’s diet has a direct effect on their dental health. It’s all about nutrition. Proper nutrition helps keep bones, teeth, and gums healthy.

If you have questions about your pet’s diet, we have answers.

5. Professional Cleanings Keep Your Pet Healthy

Getting your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned can make a world of difference. Not only will your pet’s mouth be healthier, but professional cleanings help us assess your pet’s oral health.

The mouth can be a source of lumps and bumps that can go hidden and develop into cysts and tumors. When your pet comes in for a cleaning, we can check their mouth more easily for these and other issues.

A Clean Mouth is a Healthy Mouth

We hope this post gave you ideas for keeping your pet’s mouth sparkling clean, and most importantly, how to keep your pet healthy from teeth to tail. If you have questions about your pet’s health or you want to schedule an exam or cleaning, contact us today.

 

 

Image credit: BilevichOlga | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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Sit, Stay, Read On for Tips and Tricks to Teach Your Pet

Pet Training

Are you ready to ring in the New Year with some new tricks to teach your dog or cat? Yes--cats can learn tricks, and they’re rather good at it! January is “Train Your Pet Month”. You can celebrate with your best friend by teaching them a few new moves to impress the neighbors. It’s also a great time to make an appointment with our clinic to work on breaking some bad habits if you’re concerned about new or recurring behaviors that are getting in the way of the bond you share.

Why Train Your Pet?

While performing tricks may seem like fun and games, the training that goes into your pet’s learning has value beyond itself. What are the hidden benefits of training your pet?

  • Establishing a reward-based system is foundational for training your dog or cat to come when called, which can keep them safe or help you find them when needed.
  • Training can help diminish unwanted or destructive behaviors by redirecting your pet’s energy.
  • Training strengthens your bond with your pet through trust and communication.
  • The mental stimulation and challenge of training increase your dog or cat’s mental dexterity while staving off signs of aging on the mind.
  • Your pet will enjoy more restful sleep after spending some time training.
  • Your pet will respond more compliantly when it’s time to visit us for an exam or in case of an emergency.
  • Leash training your dog will make walks more enjoyable and reduce strain on her body caused by pulling.
  • Your pet will enjoy a boost in self-confidence after learning a new trick as you shower her with praise.

Some Simple Tricks to Train Your Dog

Positive reinforcement training or reward-based training is the best method to encourage your pet’s healthy learning and encourage the desire to train more often. We recommend low-calorie treats when learning a new command since it can often take quite a few to achieve the desired outcome.

If your pet isn’t as food motivated as you wish she could be, try high-value treats like those with fish or peanut butter.

1. “Come”

Recall or teaching your dog to come when you call her helps keep her safe. The last thing you want is your dog to ignore you and continue running head-on into a dangerous situation. If your dog or puppy doesn’t know this trick, it should be a priority for you.

  • With your dog on her normal leash (4-foot or 6-foot), let her become distracted or interested in something that she can walk toward.
  • Once her attention is focused away from you, call her by saying “Come” and her name while you jog backward. Keep your tone positive and excited. As she’s walking toward you, slow down, and when she reaches you give her a treat.
  • Repeat this and after she has it down pat, ask her to come then sit, then give her the treat.
  • After you’ve practiced this for a few sessions, you can begin using a longer rope or line. Try a 15 or 20-foot rope.
  • Let your dog gain more and more distance as you call her to come and give her a treat. You can even get one of your kids to walk across her line of vision. Remember to only treat her after she’s come all the way to you and sat down.
  • Eventually, continue working on this trick but in a fenced-in yard.

Coming when called will be one of the most useful behaviors your dog learns. It can also lose its appeal and your dog’s compliance if your dog always receives a response she perceives as negative. For example, if she knows she’s going to get leashed and brought home from the oh-so-fun park, it becomes much easier to ignore her name being called and keeping playing. So, continue to practice this one with treats from time to time even after she comes without a reward to prevent desensitization to “come” over time.

2. Shake Hands

This one comes in handy when we need to trim your pup’s nails or check her paws for cracks or burrs. It’s also pretty easy.

  • Let your pup smell the treat. Then, while your dog is seated, lightly touch or tap your dog’s paw. Be soft and gentle.
  • If your dog picks up her paw, put your hand beneath and lift slightly. Immediately say “shake” and give her praise and the treat.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. Move your hand a little further away and try saying “shake” with your hand outstretched, waiting for hers. When she places her paw on your palm, praise and treat her like the rock star she is.

3. Give Me a Smooch or “Kiss”

This one may seem cutesy, and it is, but it’s super simple. All it takes is a few treats and the desire to receive a sweet smooch from your pooch.

  • Start by letting your dog smell the treat. If she already knows how to sit, give her this command followed by the treat.
  • After she smells the treat, place the treat on your cheek and when your pup leans in to lap it up, say “kiss” and let her take the treat.
  • After a few rounds of this, try pointing to your cheek while saying “kiss,” and if she gives you a lick, give her a treat. And don’t forget to blush.

4. Spin

People find this one quite impressive, and your pup can enjoy a bit of the dizzy-spins. To teach your dog to spin:

  • Let her smell the treat and continue to hold it near her nose.
  • When she begins to move forward to take the treat, move your hand away from her nose and toward her tail, this will cause her to spin in a tight circle.
  • Once she’s made a complete circle, say “spin,” praise and reward her.

Two Simple Tricks to Teach Your Cat

Cats also benefit from learning tricks. And they tend to learn really quickly. When preparing to train your cat, choose a calm, quiet area of your home and place your kitty on the edge of a surface like a sofa or bed, facing you.

If you haven’t trained your kitty, here are two tricks to get you started (spoiler: they’ll sound familiar):

1. Sit, Kitty

  • Let your kitty smell her treat. The stinkier the better, usually! Then slowly move the treat above her nose and backward toward her ears and shoulders.
  • Your cat should naturally lower her bottom while keeping her nose pointed at the treat.
  • As soon as her bottom is down, reward her with the treat.
  • After repeating this a few times, begin saying “sit” simultaneously while treating her.
  • After a few training sessions of 5-10 minutes, she will begin sitting on command.

2. Shake

After your cat learns “sit,”’ move onto teaching her this classic trick.

  • Gently touch your kitty’s paw to encourage her to lift it up. If she doesn’t lift her paw, gently lift it yourself.
  • When she does lift her paw, slip your hand underneath and give her a treat.
  • After a few repetitions, begin saying “shake” to build the connection with the command.

Have Fun and Train On!

For better success in your training sessions, give your pet breaks every 10-15 minutes, keep training sessions short, and be consistent. You’ll find these commands can help you with some of your pet parent duties and give your pet the challenge she needs to rest well and feel accomplished.

For any questions you may have, whether what type of treats to use, questions about weight gain during training, or appropriate training for your pet’s life stage, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

 

 

Image credit: ChristinLola / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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