All posts by James

Key Vaccinations for Dogs

One very important part of dog ownership is making sure your dog stays up to date on his vaccinations. This is actually required by law in many places, and with good reason. Vaccinations help build your pup’s immune system, protecting him from dangerous and deadly diseases. They also help curb the spread of infectious disease. Because some diseases—such as rabies—can be transmitted to people, human safety is also a factor. In this article, a vet discusses important vaccines for dogs.

Core Vaccines

There are four main vaccines, generally called core vaccines, which all dogs should have. These are canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis, and rabies. Canine parvovirus—or parvo, as it is sometimes called—is a deadly disease that affects dogs’ gastrointestinal systems. It is extremely contagious, and can be spread very easily, even without direct dog-to-dog contact. Puppies are at high risk, as are unvaccinated dogs. Distemper is another dangerous virus. It can affect dogs’ gastrointestinal, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Canine hepatitis is an acute liver infection, which is transmitted through body fluids, such as blood and saliva. The rabies vaccine is also crucial. Many people don’t realize that rabies has a 100% fatality rate in people once symptoms begin to show. It’s extremely fatal for dogs as well.

Non-Core Vaccines

In addition to the core vaccines, your vet may recommend a few other vaccines, depending on your dog’s exposure risk. These vaccines—known as non-core vaccines—include vaccines for Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Leptospira bacteria. Bordetella affects dogs’ respiratory system, and is often known as kennel cough. You may not know the term Borrelia burgdorferi, but you may be familiar with it regardless. It is the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, which, as you may know, is generally tick-borne. Leptospira bacteria causes Leptospirosis, an infectious disease that can affect both pets and people.

Vaccination Schedule

Fido’s vaccinations should start when he is about 6 to 8 weeks old. Typically, they are administered in groups, and are given every 3 to 4 weeks until puppies are about 4 months old. Once your dog is an adult, he should only need booster shots. Some of these should be given yearly, while others may only be needed every few years. Ask your vet to recommend an appointment schedule.

Please contact us with any questions or concerns about vaccinations, or about your dog’s health or care. We’re always here to help!

The Building Blocks of Your Pet’s Nutrition

Proper nutrition is a must for any healthy pet. Modern pet foods are specially formulated to give great nutrition to your companion, and there are plenty of options out there. In the end, though, your pet’s nutrition comes down to the basic building blocks—you’ll find that the nutrients that your pet needs are many of the same ones that you do! Let’s take a closer look at the building blocks of your pet’s nutrition.

Protein

Protein is essential for building all of your pet’s bodily tissues. That’s why diets made for young pets—puppy and kitten formulas—are typically very high in protein; it promotes healthy tissue and muscle development as a young pet grows. A high-protein diet might also be appropriate for a pregnant dog or cat, as they need extra protein to safely deliver their litter.

Carbohydrates

Your pet’s body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, a simple sugar that provides energy. Carbs are the “fuel” for the body’s cells—they’re what keeps your animal friend going! Foods like rice and potatoes are high in carbohydrates, and are therefore included in pet food formulas often.

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is also key for a pet’s good health. Insoluble fiber works to regulate glucose levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into your pet’s bloodstream. Fiber also helps your pet to feel full—it’s no accident that many weight-loss diets for pets are high in fiber!

Fats

Just like humans, pets need proper fats to stay healthy. It’s another important component for providing your pet with energy. The fat that your pet’s system doesn’t use for physical activity will be stored in the body to be used as a reserve.

High-energy pets will need more fat in the diet to retain high activity levels. A working ranch dog, for instance, needs more fat in their diet than an aging housecat does. Ask your veterinarian if your pet’s fat levels are appropriate for their needs.

Vitamins and Minerals

Of course, your pet also needs essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids, amino acids, and other nutrients, for proper nutrition throughout life. High-quality pet foods are made with just the right amounts of vitamins and minerals to keep your pet healthy for a lifetime.

Want to know more about your pet’s nutrition? Need a recommendation on a great diet choice? Call us today to learn more.

All About Antibiotics for Pets

Human patients commonly use antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Did you know that antibiotics are also very commonly prescribed to pets? They’re essential for helping pets with infections make full recoveries! Here’s everything you need to know about antibiotics for pets:

What Do Antibiotics Treat?

Antibiotics kill bacteria—not viruses—in or on the body. Antibiotics will never be prescribed to fight viral infections directly, although antibiotics could be used to treat a pet suffering from a virus if that pet has developed secondary bacterial infections.

How Do Antibiotics Work, Exactly?

There are multiple types of antibiotics, and they work in different ways. Some antibiotics weaken the cell wall of the bacteria until it bursts. Others stop the bacteria from multiplying, and still others interfere with bacteria cells’ capacity to repair themselves.

How Are Antibiotics Administered?

Antibiotics can take several forms. Some are administered orally in pill form to treat internal infections, while others are applied topically. These are usually in cream or ointment form, and are used to treat external infections on the outside of the body.

It’s essential to follow the label instructions properly when administering an antibiotic to your pet. Keep in mind that some antibiotics must be given on an empty stomach to prevent the medication from binding with ingredients in your pet’s food. Other antibiotics, though, must be given with meals to improve the rate of absorption. If you’re unsure whether or not your pet’s medicine should be given with food, call your veterinarian right away. Also, make sure to ask before you split or crush a pill—this could render medicine ineffective, and it could cause serious side effects in some cases.

Always finish the full regimen of antibiotics that has been prescribed to your pet, even if your companion seems to look or feel completely better before all of the pills are gone. Stopping medication before the infection is gone, or lapsing during treatment, can lead to dangerous bacterial resistance. This means that the bacteria harming your pet develops a resistance to the antibiotic, rendering the medication useless!

Is There Any Possibility of Side Effects?

It’s possible for some pets to have adverse reactions to antibiotics, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Let your vet know right away if your pet seems to be reacting poorly to their medication!

Would you like to know more about antibiotics for pets? Call your vet’s office today.

Cats With Curls

Have you ever seen a curly-haired cat? While most of our feline pals have straight fur, there are some curly kitties out there. A local vet discusses cats with curls below.

Selkirk Rex

Did you happen to notice the buzz last year when a special kitty—an orange cat with curls—caught the internet’s heart? This furball’s story dates back to 1987, when a kitty named Miss DePesto, was born in a Montana shelter. Though her siblings had straight fur, Miss DePesto had curls. Later, she was bred to a black Persian. Their kittens, who also had curls, became the original Selkirk Rex. In 1992, The International Cat Association accepted the Selkirk Rex as a breed. Six years later, the American Cat Fanciers Association added it as well. Today, the Selkirk Rex is known for being gentle, loving, and cuddly.

LaPerm

The LaPerm also traces back to the 1980s, which is rather fitting given that perms were all the rage at the time. The first LaPerm kitten was actually born hairless. However, over the next few months, her curls came in. The owner, realizing that her feline pal was quite rare, began breeding the kitten’s offspring. Today, their descendants look rather like teddy bears. These sweet, lovable kitties are often referred to as the poodle of cats. Even their whiskers are curly!

Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a British kitty, originating in Cornwall in the 1950s. These cute furballs have cream-colored coats, and actually look like lambs. Cornish Rex cats have quite tight curls, big ears, and slender bodies. Their coats are very soft, which is a good thing, because these friendly, sociable kitties absolutely love to cuddle. They have fun, affectionate personalities, and even like to play Fetch!

Devon Rex

Last but not least, we have another British feline, the Devon Rex, from Devonshire, England. The breed is traced back to a stray who gave birth to a curly kitten in the 1950s. Today’s Devon Rex kitties are all descended from that cat, whose name, ironically, was Kirlee. Playful and curious, the breed is known for being super cuddly, and forming extremely close bonds with their humans. They often like to follow and supervise their owners 24/7, and absolutely hate being ignored.

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Call us, your local vet clinic, today! We are always happy to help!

5 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Has your dog or cat been fixed yet? If not, we strongly recommend that you see to this right away. Although spay/neuter surgery should ideally be performed before your pet reaches sexual maturity, it can safely be done on adult pets as well. Making sure your furry pal has been spayed or neutered is very important! Read on as a local veterinarian lists some reasons to get your four-legged buddy fixed.

Better Behavior

Good petiquette is one of the biggest benefits to spaying or neutering your furry friend. Dogs and cats that have been fixed are typically much calmer—and therefore better behaved—than those who are intact. They’re also less likely to engage in unwanted behaviors, such as mounting and marking their territory by spraying.

Safety

Safety is another concern with intact pets. They often try to escape so they can go looking for love. This puts Fido and Fluffy at greater risk of being lost or seriously injured!

Support Animal Welfare

Pet overpopulation is a huge problem, and one of the main reasons that there are so many homeless pets out there. A single pair of cats can have 11,606,077 descendants in just nine years! We know, kittens and puppies are adorable, but there are already far too many wonderful dogs and cats in need of loving homes. Also, even if you do find great homes for your four-legged friend’s babies, there’s really no way to guarantee that their own offspring will fare so well. Making sure your pet doesn’t contribute to pet overpopulation is a great way to support good animal welfare!

Health Benefits

Did you know that spaying and neutering can prevent certain health issues? Getting your female dog or cat spayed will reduce the risk of her developing uterine infections and breast tumors, which are often malignant. Neutering male pets protects them from certain prostate problems and testicular cancer. Ask your vet for more information.

Spare Yourself The Sound Of Kitty Caterwauling

Have you ever heard the “love songs” of an amorous kitty looking for a mate? If so, you probably will agree that being spared Fluffy’s singing is reason enough to get your furball fixed!

Are you ready to make an appointment for your pet? Contact us, your vet clinic, anytime. We offer excellent veterinary care.

Teaching Your Puppy His Name

If you’ve recently adopted a puppy or plan on getting one soon, one of the first orders of business will be teaching young Fido his name. It’s the foundation of your relationship and the starting point for all other training. Use the following tips to successfully teach your puppy his name:

Choosing a Name

First, set yourself up for success by choosing a great name for your pup. Try to pick a name with two or more syllables, rather than a single-syllable name; it’s easier for your puppy to distinguish and understand, and it won’t sound like any single-syllable commands such as “sit,” “stay,” or “down.”

Another naming tip: don’t use nicknames (“Bud” instead of “Buddy”, for example) when training your puppy, as this could confuse him. Consistency is key!

Training

Begin by simply saying your puppy’s name. Speak clearly and firmly, but use a pleasant tone of voice throughout the whole process. When your puppy looks at you, reward him with a treat. Allow your puppy to look away, then repeat the above process. Offer a treat as soon as he looks—this is reinforcing the notion that looking at you upon hearing his name results in a reward.

Repeat this process a few times, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want your puppy to lose interest and make things harder on yourself. Try breaking up name-training into a few short sessions per day, and try training in different rooms of the home so that your puppy doesn’t start to associate his name with one particular area. It won’t be long before your puppy has learned his name successfully!

Avoiding Negative Reinforcement

Many puppy owners make the mistake of accidentally providing negative reinforcement. This might occur, for example, when your puppy has an accident in your home. Your instinct is probably to yell “Fido, no!” or “Bad dog, Fido!” but this could backfire. It’s associating your puppy’s name with a negative scenario, which could lead to behavior and training problems in the future. When your puppy misbehaves, leave his name out of your reprimand. Simply say “No!” in a firm, authoritative voice without adding your pup’s name.

Do you need help with your puppy’s training or behavior? Does your pet need his initial veterinary examination or vaccinations? We’re here to help with all of your puppy’s care needs. Set up an appointment here at the clinic today.

Common Wintertime Pet Toxins

Now that winter is upon us, it’s time to think about what substances can harm your pet during the colder months. There are several wintertime toxins that can prove harmful for your animal companion! Let’s take a look at some of the most common so that you can keep your pet safe.

Antifreeze

Antifreeze is used in car engines to keep them running properly. Unfortunately, many types of antifreeze contain ethylene glycol, a toxic alcoholic substance that can harm pets in very small amounts. Even worse, antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that can attract pets! Use antifreeze carefully, and clean up spills right away. Store it in a safe place where pets can’t reach.

Ice Melt

Your pet might encounter ice melt while walking outside, or they may come across a container of it inside your home. Most ice melts are made with sodium chloride, which can lead to an upset stomach and skin irritation in small amounts, and serious cases of poisoning in larger doses. Avoid ice patches outdoors whenever you can, and store ice melt carefully.

Human Medications

When cold and flu season hits, you and members of your family might start taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, which is an NSAID. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are very dangerous for pets! Too much of an NSAID can cause damage to the intestinal wall and reduce blood flow to the kidneys, leading to serious health issues.

Other human medicines, like cough syrup, prescription drugs, and more, can also cause harm. Keep your medicine cabinet shut tightly at all times.

Pesticides and Rodenticides

The chilly weather outside lures pests like insects and small rodents indoors, where you might fend them off by using pesticide or rodenticide products. Remember that these products can poison a pet who comes into contact with them! Use pet-safe varieties whenever possible, or consider non-toxic alternatives like traps, always placed carefully where pets won’t reach.

Plants

Plenty of plants that might be in or around your home during the wintertime can prove toxic to pets. The list includes lilies, mistletoe, holly, daffodils, Amaryllis, a variety of aloe plants, Autumn crocus, and Christmas cactus, among others. Poinsettias can cause minor mouth or stomach irritation, drooling, or vomiting in some cases.

Call your vet’s office today to learn more about winter pet toxins. We’re here to help with all of your pet-care needs!

Cold-Weather Clothing for Your Dog

When the temperatures drop and snow and ice start to appear outside, it’s important to keep your dog’s well-being in mind. For many dogs, winter clothing can help them stay comfortable throughout the cold season! Learn more about cold-weather clothing for dogs in this article from your veterinary professional.

Does My Dog Need Winter Clothing?

Many dogs will benefit from a layer of clothing in the wintertime, especially when they head outdoors. For dogs with thin or short coats of fur, a coat can help keep the body warm, and boots will help protect the sensitive paw pads from cold surfaces, dangerous road salt, and ice-melt products. Outer layers are also a good choice for senior dogs with more fragile immune systems, and they’re absolutely essential for hairless breeds like the Chinese Crested and the Mexican Hairless.

It’s important to note that some breeds are, in fact, built for the cold, harsh conditions of winter. The Siberian Husky and the Saint Bernard are just two examples; these dogs may actually become dangerously overheated if forced to wear extra clothing!

What Kind of Clothing Should I Get My Dog?

Jackets, coats, and parkas are best for dogs who frequently venture outdoors, especially when it’s snowing. Sweaters may hold moisture when they get wet, making a dog very uncomfortable and potentially even contributing to deadly hypothermia—it’s best to have your dog wear a sweater indoors, then switch to a coat when it’s time to head out. Boots are a good idea for most dogs, except those who have evolved to grow heavy fur on the paws to help protect the paw pads.

How Do I Get the Fit Right?

Jackets, sweaters, parkas, snowsuits, boots, and other winter clothing may come in small, medium, or large sizes, or garments may be designated with a weight range to suit particular sizes of dogs. Choose the closest fit that is applicable to your pet—you don’t want to dress your dog in clothing that’s too tight or too loose, as either scenario can make a dog uncomfortable and anxious. Do your best to choose garments that fit your dog snugly, but still allow plenty of movement with no restriction. If you’re handy with a needle and thread, you can even customize your pooch’s clothing for a perfect fit!

Wondering what type of winter clothing will best suit your dog? Call your vet’s office today!

Cats and Toxoplasmosis

Have you ever heard that handling litterboxes is dangerous for pregnant women? It’s true that everyone, especially pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, should take precautions against toxoplasmosis, which can be transmitted by cats. A local vet discusses toxoplasmosis below.

What Is Toxoplasmosis?

First, it’s important to understand that not all cats have toxoplasmosis. Cats can contract it by eating rodents, birds, or other small animals infected by the parasite Toxoplasma. The parasite can then be transmitted through cats’ feces for up to three weeks after infection. Cat feces containing the Toxoplasma parasite can pose serious risks to unborn children.

Toxoplasmosis can also be contracted from raw food, sand, or garden soil that has been contaminated by the Toxoplasma parasite.

Prevention

Washing your hands thoroughly will greatly reduce the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. Wash your hands after handling the litterbox. Follow food safety guidelines for proper cooking and handling of raw meat and fresh produce. Wear gloves when gardening, and wash your hands afterwards.

Ideally, pregnant women should avoid changing litterboxes. If that’s not possible, the CDC recommends pregnant women wear disposable gloves while changing cat litter and wash hands thoroughly immediately afterwards. Cat litter should be changed daily since the Toxoplasma parasite only becomes infectious one to five days after it’s shed in feces. Keep your cat indoors to reduce its exposure to parasite-carrying animals. For any questions about your health and toxoplasmosis, consult your healthcare provider.

Don’t Give Fluffy Away

There’s no need to give up your cat if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant! Kitties are not only wonderful and loving pets; they may actually be beneficial to children. Our feline pals soothe kids in troubled times, provide children with unconditional love, and make great playmates and cuddle buddies! Some studies show that having pets can even boost kids’ immune systems.

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Contact us, your vet clinic, today!

5 Health Benefits of Owning Pets

Pets provide years of unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship. Did you know that owning a pet can also improve your personal health? There are multiple ways that pets are good for us, both physically and mentally! Learn more below from your veterinarian.

Lowered Stress Levels

Did you know that people who own pets tend to be less stressed than those who don’t? This may be because of pets’ unique capacity for constant, unwavering companionship—the value of having a loving companion to come home to on a daily basis should not be underestimated! A gentle nudge or loving bark from your animal companion can make all the difference during a difficult day.

Great Exercise

For many, owning a pet means that they’re getting regular exercise. This is especially true for dog owners, although some cats can go for walks outdoors as well. (Always be sure to use a specialized feline harness and leash!) Walking and playing with your pet doesn’t just keep your animal friend fit—it helps you burn calories and stay physically active on a regular basis.

Improved Heart Health

Studies have demonstrated that pet owners tend to have better heart health than those who don’t own an animal companion. This is likely due to a combination of the above factors of lowered stress and regular exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even list lowered blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels as some of the health benefits of owning a pet! Plus, people who have already suffered a heart attack tend to live longer if they own a pet, compared to heart-attack survivors who don’t own pets.

Better Mood

Let’s face it: playing or relaxing with a furry friend simply tends to put you in a better mood. Spending time with animal companions can lead to the release of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals in the brain that cause feelings of pleasure. Our pets can quite literally put us in a better frame of mind!

Increased Socialization

People who own pets tend to be less lonely—not just because they have an animal companion by their side, but because of the opportunities that pet ownership provides to meet and talk with other people. Pets can be particularly helpful for extremely shy individuals or for those who live alone.

Want to know more about the many wonderful ways pets can improve your health? Contact your vet clinic today!