All posts by James

All About the Elizabethan Collar

When a pet is recovering from a surgical incision, wound, skin infection, or some other bodily harm, there is a natural tendency to scratch, bite, lick, or chew at the site. Of course, this kind of self-traumatization extends recovery time and can even cause a pet to heal improperly! That’s where the Elizabethan collar comes in—these cone-shaped plastic devices fasten around your pet’s neck to prevent any form of self-trauma during recovery.

The Basics

The Elizabethan collar—nicknamed the E-collar and sometimes referred to as the “cone of shame”—is named after the ruffs worn by the wealthy in Elizabethan-era England. It was first patented in the United States as a protective item for pets in the late 1950s. Elizabethan collars can be used on dogs and cats alike, and are usually made of plastic but may also be made from other materials, like fabric. E-collars may fasten around a pet’s neck with string or Velcro, or they may have adjustable tabs or bands built in.

Proper Sizing

There are different sizes of Elizabethan collars, and it’s important that the proper size is given to the pet who needs it. If a collar is too tight, it could choke a pet; if it’s too loose, it could fall off and allow the pet to inflict harm on themselves.

Another important consideration is the length of the E-collar. Ideally, the end of your pet’s cone will sit near the tip of their nose, allowing them to go about their business with relative normalcy while also eliminating their ability to scratch, bite, lick, or chew themselves.

Caring for a Pet With an E-Collar

Keep a close eye on your pet whenever he or she is wearing their E-collar. It’s possible for pets to get the collar stuck between things, or your pet could manage to bite off and ingest a piece of the plastic.

When an Elizabethan collar is sized and fit properly, a pet should be able to eat and drink without a problem. That doesn’t mean that they’ll actually do it, though! If your pet refuses to eat or drink while wearing the collar, you may have to remove it for meals while making sure they don’t chew or scratch at a healing site, and then reattach the collar when they’re done. Ask your vet for further advice.

To learn more about the Elizabethan collar, call your vet’s office.

Essential Oils That Are Toxic to Pets

Essential oils have become very popular, and with good reason. They smell wonderful, and can be helpful for both cosmetic and medicinal purposes. They are also often utilized for aromatherapy and in personal care products, like soaps and lotions. However, what is good for us isn’t always good for our animal companions. In fact, some essential oils are dangerous for pets. Here, a vet offers information to help keep your pets safe.

Cats

Cats have very sensitive skin, which tends to absorb things very quickly. They are also extremely sensitive to toxins. This is because Fluffy doesn’t have essential liver enzymes that allow her to metabolize toxins. Essential oils are particularly dangerous because they are distilled, and are therefore much more potent than the plants they are derived from. Kitties are also at risk through inhaling oils via diffusers or sprays.

Never use peppermint, wintergreen, citrus oils, tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, pennyroyal, or tea tree on or near cats or their belongings.

Dogs

Many essential oils are also unsafe for dogs. The list includes cinnamon, tea tree oil, citrus oils, pennyroyal, peppermint, wintergreen, ylang ylang, pine, and sweet birch. Clove, garlic, anise, thyme, wintergreen, juniper, and horseradish are also unsafe.

It doesn’t matter whether your pooch eats the oil or gets it on his skin. Keep in mind that Fido has a very, very sensitive nose. What may smell wonderful to you can be overpowering to pets.

Tips

Since the above oils are not safe for pets, it’s best to stick with safer oils, such as lavender, frankincense, and vanilla.

However, if you do use oils that are toxic to pets, exercise caution when using them. Keep them away from your furry friend, and store them out of paws’ reach. If you want to burn oil in a diffuser, keep your pet in a separate area. Also, be sure to wash your hands after using these oils. That way, you won’t accidentally transfer any to your pet’s skin. It’s also worth noting that each pet is different. One dog may immediately react to an oil, while another may not be affected at all. Individual allergies can also play a role in whether your pet reacts to a certain oil or not.

Please contact us, your vet clinic, with any questions or concerns about your pet’s care. We’re here to help!

Tips for Choosing Dog Toys

Does your canine buddy sometimes run up to you holding his favorite toy? Fido has a pretty adorable way of asking you to play with him! Playing is actually great for your pet. It keeps him active, offers him beneficial mental stimulation, and lets him spend time with his favorite human: you. However, doggy toys are not one-size-fits-all. A vet offers some tips on choosing your pup’s playthings below.

Age

One thing you’ll need to keep in mind is Fido’s age. If your furry friend is still a young puppy, he’ll need soft toys. Once the little guy starts teething, chew toys are going to be at the top of his list. When your pooch is all grown up, he will need toys that keep him active, entertained, and, hopefully, out of mischief. Treat-dispensing toys, Frisbees, and puzzle toys are all good choices for frisky adult dogs. If your canine pal is a senior, he may just want a few treat toys, or perhaps a snuggly plush toy. Toys that make noise are a great choice for older pooches that don’t see well, while light-up playthings are great for deaf dogs.

Size

Consider Fido’s breed and size. Bigger dogs can break or rip toys easily, so they need tougher, more durable playthings than a smaller pup would. Larger dogs can also choke on toys made for puppies or little pooches. Small dogs, on the other hand, can injure themselves on toys that are too big.

Lifestyle

Keep your schedule and lifestyle in mind as well. If you often play with your furry buddy at night, opt for toys that glow or light up. If Fido enjoys burying things, get durable toys that will stand up to your four-legged pirate’s treasure-hunting antics.

Safety

Always put safety first. Choose toys that are durable, and won’t easily rip or break. This is sometimes a problem with plush toys and stuffed animals. Fido could hurt himself if he swallows a squeaker or stuffing. If your canine companion has any aggressive tendencies, or is a bit rowdy, skip the rope toys and tug toys. Some dogs get a bit too into playing Tug-O-War, and can get really riled up. This can be dangerous, especially with larger dogs. Ask your vet for more information.

Please contact us, your vet clinic, for all your dog’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

Your Cat’s Body Language

If you own a cat, you know that they can sometimes be a bit aloof. One of the best ways to tell what your cat might be thinking or feeling is by studying their body language. While it’s not an exact science, there are a few traits common across most cats that are good indicators of your feline friend’s mood. Learn more below:

The Tail

Experts agree: your cat’s tail is one of the best gauges of their temperament. Most of the time, you’ll see your pet keep her tail in the “default” position when walking around; the tail will be held upright in a gentle fashion. A raised tail with a curl means your cat is feeling comfortable and playful, while wrapping the tail around your legs—or around another cat or pet in the house—is a sign of affection.

A tail that’s held rigidly straight up in the air, puffed with hair jutting out wildly, is a sign that your cat is alarmed and ready to defend herself. This tail position is likely to be accompanied by widened eyes, a hiss, and a crouched front half with claws extended. If you see this type of body language, it’s best to get out of the way!

The Eyes

As mentioned above, wide eyes mean that your cat is frightened or tense. Generally speaking, the wider your cat’s eyes are, the more anxious she is—and the more ready she is to defend herself or retreat.

Have you ever seen your cat blink slowly at you? The slow-blink is another piece of your cat’s body-language puzzle. Since closing the eyes around other pets or people is a sign of trust, the slow-blink is a way of communicating affection. Sometimes, cat owners are able to slow-blink at their cat and get a slow-blink in return… try it with your feline friend!

The Ears

When your cat is alert and focused on something, you’ll probably see the ears pointed upward and cocked forward. Pointed ears could also indicate tension or alarm. Ears that are upright but turned backward indicate that your cat is alarmed—she’s ready to bolt or defend herself if necessary.

Remember: every cat is different and might display certain body language traits that are unique to them. To learn more about your feline friend’s behavior, or to set up an appointment for an exam, call the office today.

Meet the AKC’s Newest Breed: The Azawakh

The ‘puparazzi’ are all buzzing about the latest dog news: the AKC has just welcomed another new breed into their ranks. The Azawakh (pronounced Oz-a-wok) was formally inducted on January 1, 2019. This brings the total number of AKC-recognized breeds to 193, including the 2018 inductees: the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and the Grand Basset Griffon Vandeen. In this article, a local vet discusses the Azawakh.

History

The Azawakh is actually an ancient breed, having originated in West Africa. They were first bred as guard dogs, companions, and hunters by the blue-clad Tuareg nomads, who cherish and love their canine friends. Long-legged and elegant, the Azawakh is a sighthound, hunting by sight rather than scent. In fact, their name means ‘Sighthound of the free people’ in the Tuareg language. Quick and hardy, these fast pooches are renowned at hunting antelope, wild boars, hares, and other game.

Physique

The Azwakh has a unique, elegant appearance. They have long legs and a short, fine coat, which only needs occasional grooming. These lovable pooches come in all colors and color combinations, from black and brown to fawn to brindle. Sometimes, they have a black ‘mask’ on their faces, and/or white markings on their legs, chest, or tails.

Training

Azawakhs are both smart and independent, so proper training is a must. Socialization is also very important. It’s worth noting that they are quite proud, and don’t do well with negative reinforcement. To keep things positive–and keep that tail wagging–focus on rewarding Fido for being good.

Diet

The Azawakh doesn’t have any specific dietary needs, so a good, high-quality dog food will do fine. You do have to be careful not to overfeed Fido, however. These friendly pups do tend to gain weight easily, and are at risk of becoming obese. Ask your vet for specific nutritional advice, including portion sizes.

Temperament

Azawakhs are quite affectionate and lovable, and become very attached to their owners. Though they have a sweet, calm, demeanor, they are quite energetic, and need regular exercise to stay healthy. These dogs make great pets for joggers! However, you may need to urge Fido to keep moving: left alone, your canine buddy will probably opt to just take a nap.

Please feel free to contact us, your local vet clinic, for all of your furry friend’s veterinary care needs. We are dedicated to offering great care!

External Parasites That Harm Cats

If you own a cat, proper parasite control is important not only for your feline friend’s health, but for your family’s—some of these pests can be transmitted from cats to humans! External parasites live on your cat’s body and feed off of blood or tissue. Below, learn more about external pests and how to keep your cat safe from harm.

Fleas

Fleas are tiny brown-colored parasites that cause skin irritation, allergies, and even more serious problems like anemia in severe cases. To make matters worse, fleas can jump several feet, possibly jumping off of your cat and infesting surfaces, items, and other pets or family members in your home.

If you’ve noticed your cat scratching themselves more than usual, or if there are visible black particles underneath your pet’s fur (these are flea droppings!), make an appointment at the vet’s office. A flea treatment will be prescribed—shampoos, liquids or gels applied to the skin and fur, a flea collar, oral tablets, and other products are available—and your cat will be put on a flea preventative after the infestation is over.

Ticks

Ticks latch on to your cat’s skin and draw out blood, growing larger the longer they remain. They can transmit many dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks can also be brought indoors on your cat and then infest other pets or human family members. Luckily, they’re easily prevented with simple precautions; keep your cat on a high-quality flea-and-tick preventative, and check your cat’s body regularly for ticks if they venture outdoors.

Lice

Lice are another type of external parasite that can hurt your cat, although it’s a far less common problem than flea or tick infestations. These tiny parasites, like fleas, cause skin irritation and can even lead to cases of anemia without treatment. Eradication involves applying shampoos or other topical products that kill off both lice and lice eggs on your cat’s body.

Mites

There are various types of mites, including some that live normally on your cat’s skin and don’t cause any problems. When an infestation occurs, your cat will suffer from irritated skin and possible hair loss. Medications to eradicate mites will need to be given for several weeks if your cat is found to be suffering from an infestation.

To learn more about keeping your cat—and family—safe from parasites, call your vet’s office today!

Caring For Your Pet as They Age

While the exact age that your pet is considered “old” can vary depending on species, size, and breed, one thing is for sure: our animal companions need our love and care as they get older! As your pet enters their senior years, there are several things you can do to make sure that they stay happy and healthy.

Frequent Veterinary Visits

One of the best ways to make sure your senior pet stays in good shape is by having them examined at the veterinarian’s office regularly. This way, health concerns can be found early and treated quickly. Plus, your vet can offer tips on continuing to keep your aging pet in good health as time goes on.

Senior Nutrition

Senior pets’ nutritional needs are different than those of younger animals. Older pets might need diets that are easier to digest, and they often benefit from diets with specially formulated nutrient levels or anti-aging properties. Ask your veterinarian if your pet is ready to be given a senior formula, and ask for tips on transitioning your pet from the old diet to the new.

Preventative Care

Just because your pet has gotten older doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t need preventative care! Vaccinations and pest-control medications are just as important now as they ever have been—since older pets’ immune systems tend to be weaker than those of younger pets, a serious disease or a pest infestation can sideline your aging pet’s health before you know it. Consult your vet right away if your pet needs vaccinations or parasite control medicines.

Appropriate Exercise

Exercise is important for your pet’s health throughout life, but it’s especially critical in the senior years. Light exercise helps your pet’s entire body remain more mobile, and it helps keep muscle mass at appropriate levels and also avoids dangerous obesity. Ask your veterinarian what kind of exercise will keep your pet’s body in great shape without over-exerting them.

Mental Stimulation

Keeping your pet stimulated mentally is another key step for maintaining good health in the senior years. Many older companions begin to suffer from cognitive dysfunction—think of it as your pet’s version of Alzheimer’s disease—and mental stimulation can help to avoid it for as long as possible. Play with your pet regularly, and try puzzle toys to give the mind a good workout.

For more tips, contact your vet’s office. We’re here to help!

Cinco De Meow

Did you know there’s a cute kitty holiday coming up? You may know of May 5th as Cinco de Mayo. The official holiday commemorates Mexico’s victory over Napoleon during the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. However, for our feline friends, it’s now also Cinco de Meow! Every year, we’re seeing more and more animal shelters and charities celebrate the day by offering adoption events. It’s always a good time to help and/or adopt kitties in need. We love seeing cats go to great homes, so we are more than happy to support this great cause. Read on as a local vet discusses this new holiday.

How To Help

There are far too many kitties in shelters, who desperately need good homes. If you are ready to adopt a new cat, this is a great time to do that! Just make sure that you are ready to commit to caring for Fluffy for her entire life. Adopting a pet is a serious, long-term commitment!

Other Ways To Help

Even if you aren’t quite ready to adopt a kitty just yet, you can still help other pets in need. Donations of money or supplies are always welcome. If you are willing to make a bigger commitment, you may want to consider fostering. This isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great way to help our feline pals. Ask your local shelter or animal charity for more information. You can also just share posts about kitties that need good homes. Every little bit helps!

Purrito

While this is a great time to help cats that need homes, there’s no reason you can’t spoil your own feline buddy a bit. Give Fluffy some fish tacos by offering her some plain whitefish with a little spinach and some cilantro. (Your cat probably won’t mind if you skip the actual tacos.) You can also turn your furball into a purrito by making her a little kitty tunnel out of a paper grocery bag. Or, get her a cute pet tent. Your feline buddy will also be pleased with toys, treats, kitty furniture, and, of course, attention. Take time to play with your furry friend, and let her snooze on your lap if she wants!

Please contact us, your local vet clinic, for all of your cat’s veterinary care needs. We are dedicated to offering great veterinary care.

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.