All posts by James

4 Steps to Protect Your Pet Against Rabies

Just the word “rabies” tends to conjure up some frightening images in the mind’s eye. And because rabies is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans, it’s particularly dangerous. Luckily, rabies has been all but eliminated in the United States and many other parts of the world thanks to modern vaccination and wild animal control measures. Still, you’ll want to take the proper precautions to make sure your pet stays safe. Here’s how: 

Vaccinate your pet.

Your pet’s core vaccination group should include the rabies vaccine. This is his or her first line of defense against the rabies virus. Puppies and kittens as young as three months old or so can receive the rabies vaccination, and they’ll probably need a few follow-up booster shots before receiving additional rabies vaccines every three years or so. 

If your pet is in need of the rabies vaccination, or if you’re unsure whether or not your pet has already received this vaccine, call your vet’s office for help. 

Supervise while outdoors.

The rabies virus is spread through the bite of another infected animal. So, it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet outdoors in order to stop them from encountering any wild animals, like raccoons or opossums. Keep your pet on a leash when you go on walks, and don’t let them stray too far. If you live in a wooded area or anywhere that wild animals may pass through, don’t let your pet outside unsupervised. 

Spay and neuter.

You may be surprised to learn that having your pet spayed or neutered is a good way to prevent the risk of the rabies virus. That’s because spaying and neutering reduces your pet’s urge to wander in order to find a mate. Not only will you avoid the hassle and heartache of a lost pet, you don’t have to worry about them coming in contact with a wild animal that could potentially be rabid. 

Watch for signs of illness. 

Symptoms of rabies include lethargy, loss of appetite, light and touch sensitivity, fever, and uncharacteristic aggressive behavior. Seizures and paralysis can occur if the disease progresses. Tell your veterinary professional immediately if you see these signs. 

All things considered, the risk of rabies is very low for your pet. But make sure to take the right steps to keep it that way. Call your vet’s office for help! 

Choosing the Right Collar for Your Dog

If you’ve recently adopted a new dog, one of the first things you’ll need to purchase for your pet is a collar. Every dog needs a good collar, and it’s up to you to find the right one. The question is, how do you know what to choose? There are certainly a lot of options out there. Read on to find out more about choosing the right collar for your canine companion. 

The Importance of the Collar

Your dog’s collar is important for their safety. First of all, it’s what attaches the leash to your dog, giving you control over your pooch’s movements and preventing them from darting away from you, perhaps into the street or toward another animal. Even the most well-trained dogs should wear a collar and leash while going on walks outdoors, just to be safe.

Collars also provide a place to house your dog’s ID tags. These small items are crucial for getting your pet returned to you in case they run away or get lost. Most vets recommend using collar tags and a microchip implant in tandem for maximum identification potential. 

Types of Collars

There are all sorts of different collar types out there. Most common is the standard flat collar, which is usually made of nylon but could also be crafted from leather or other materials. There are also Martingale collars, also known as limited-slip collars, which are useful for dogs with slender necks like Greyhounds and Whippets. Martingale collars tighten if your dog gets too close to slipping out of their collar. 

There are also various types of training collars, which might be needed depending on your dog’s behavior. There are choke collars, prong collars, spray collars, shock collars, and more. Be sure to check with your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer before using a collar of this type on your dog. 

Sizing and Fit

Here’s the general rule of thumb to follow: you should easily be able to fit two fingers between your dog’s collar and their neck. If you can’t, it’s too tight! Remember that a collar that fits a puppy will be too small by the time they’ve grown larger. Be sure to check the fit of your dog’s collar frequently to make sure they’re comfortable.

You’re not alone in the search for the perfect collar. Contact your vet’s office for advice on the best choice for your dog. 

Understanding the Puppy Teething Process

Aside from protecting the sofa legs from your puppy’s incessant chewing, there’s not a whole lot to do while your new pet is going through the teething process. Knowing the details of teething is a good idea, though. That way, you know what your puppy is going through and when, and you can let your vet know right away if something seems amiss. 

Newborn Puppies

Just like human babies, puppies are born with no teeth. They don’t need them at this stage, after all—your puppy will suckle milk from their mother if the mother is around, or they’ll need to be hand-fed from a bottle if the mother isn’t available. 

2-3 Weeks of Age

Around two or three weeks of age, your puppy’s first baby teeth will start coming out of the gums. The smaller front teeth, called the incisors, are usually the first to appear. The canine teeth will follow—these are the four long fangs. Your puppy’s premolars are the last to appear, and they come in behind the canines near the back of the mouth. When it’s all said and done, your puppy will have 28 baby teeth, which are known medically as the deciduous teeth and are often referred to as the “milk teeth.” 

6 Weeks of Age

By the time your puppy is about six weeks old, all 28 baby teeth will probably have come in. Around this time, your pup will be in the process of getting weaned off of the mother’s milk or formula, and they’ll begin eating solid puppy food. 

3-4 Months of Age

Around the 12- to 16-week mark, your puppy’s baby teeth will start falling out. The adult teeth come in and simply push the deciduous teeth out of the way, so you may occasionally see a baby tooth on the floor or by your puppy’s water or food bowls. Most often, though, your pup simply swallows the baby teeth as they come out, which is perfectly normal. 

6 Months and Older

By the time your dog is six months old, all 28 baby teeth will likely be gone, replaced by 42 adult teeth. Your puppy will now have molars in addition to premolars, which are the largest teeth at the back of the mouth that help with chewing and mashing food. 

Do you have questions about your puppy’s teething? We’re here to help. Call your vet clinic today.

Spotlight on Skijoring

Do you enjoy skiing? Is your canine buddy super active and athletic? If so, you may be able to take him out on the trail with you. No, we’re not suggesting strapping skis on Fido. Instead, you may want to train him in skiijouring.  A local vet offers some tips on this below.

Basics

Skijoring originated in Scandinavia. The word itself actually translates into ‘ski driving’ in Norwegian. Though it’s now mostly practiced as a sport, it originated as a means of transportation. Basically, the skier skis, providing much of his momentum. His (or her) canine companion runs in front of him, wearing a sled dog harness, which is connected to the skier’s harness .

Racing

If you discover that you and your furry friend really love this sport, you may want to consider racing. Skijoring races are much shorter than most sledding competitions, and are rarely longer than about 15 miles. You will need to build up Fido’s endurance, but not to the extent an Alaskan sled race would require.

Doggy Requirements

Needless to say, skijoring isn’t going to be a good option for a Chihuahua. However, it’s fine for many dogs that are over about 40 pounds. Some of the pooches that enjoy this winter doggy sport include Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Border Collies, and, of course, snow dog breeds, like huskies. Of course, you’ll need to consider your pet’s temperament. If you plan to race, it’s important that he get along with other dogs. This activity is best suited for obedient, active pups that absolutely love to run. Fido also needs to stop running on command. (This one may take a few pooches out of the picture.)

Gear

You’ll need to pick up a few things, but your shopping list won’t be too extensive. You can likely get decent harnesses and collars you need for under $100. You’ll need skis and a harness for yourself, and a harness for Fido. You may also need some basic winter gear, like warm gloves and clothes, as well as cross-country skis and poles.

Training

Skijoring comes naturally to many of our canine pals, as many dogs naturally like to run and pull things. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right for every pooch. Consult your vet before getting started.

Please reach out with any questions or concerns about your dog’s health or care. We are always happy to help!

Is Your Cat Licking Herself Too Much?

If you own a cat, you’ll notice that she licks herself frequently. Cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves by licking, so this behavior in and of itself isn’t abnormal. But it’s possible for a cat to lick herself too much—this is known in the veterinary world as overgrooming. Read on to find out more from your local veterinarian. 

What Counts as Overgrooming?

Since cats spend somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of their day grooming themselves, it’s often hard to tell what might be considered overgrooming. That’s why it’s important to look for additional signs of a problem aside from the licking itself. 

You might notice Fluffy licking and chewing intently at a particular area, or you may spot significant hair loss or even bald patches around the body. If you’ve noticed these signs plus more hairballs and loose fur lying around your home recently, you could have a case of overgrooming on your hands. It’s time to check in with your vet.

What’s the Cause?

There are many possible causes of overgrooming in cats. Cases are generally categorized into one of two camps: medical or behavioral. Medical cases are caused by some kind of underlying medical problem—allergies, parasitic infestation, skin infection, physical injury, or even neurological conditions could be to blame. 

A behavioral-based case of overgrooming is caused by something like stress and anxiety. That’s right, your feline friend could be stressed at home and taking her anxieties out on her own fur. It’s hard to believe considering your cat’s pampered life, we know, but it’s not uncommon!

How is Overgrooming Treated?

If a medical issue is found to be the cause of your cat’s excessive licking, it must be dealt with before the overgrooming behavior will stop. In the case of a skin infection, for example, antibiotics can be prescribed. Work closely with your veterinarian to get your cat back to full health so the overgrooming ceases.

When a cat is overgrooming because of a behavioral problem like anxiety, it’s helpful to determine the cause. Fluffy might be stressed because of a recent move, a change in the household like a new pet, or even a dirty litter box. The help of a professional feline behaviorist might be needed, and pheromones and anxiety medications can be prescribed if necessary.  

Learn more about overgrooming in cats by contacting your vet’s office. We’re here for you!

Why Do Cats Like to Sleep So Much?

Cats come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and personalities, but they share one thing in common: they love sleeping. In fact, cats sleep on average around 15 hours per day, and can even sleep up to 20 hours in a single 24-hour period. That’s a lot of slumber for your feline friend! You might wonder why your cat rests so much—read on to find out more about your cat’s sleeping habits.

Why Cats Sleep So Much

Your cat’s physiology has evolved from the great feline predators of the wild, like lions and panthers. This means that stalking and hunting instincts are hardwired into your domesticated feline, and it’s these instincts that are the root cause of your cat’s excessive sleep needs.

The act of hunting takes a tremendous amount of energy for your cat, and she sleeps so much in order to conserve energy for the hunt. That’s why domesticated house cats and giant cats in the wild both tend to sleep a lot, especially during the day—they’re saving up their energy for the coming hunt, whether they’re chasing antelope or just stalking a cat toy under the dining room table.

Fluffy’s Sleeping Cycle

It turns out that cats go back and forth between a dozing state and a deep sleep while they’re sleeping. The dozing period lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a half hour, and your cat remains semi-alert during this time and tends to position herself so that she can easily hop up and move quickly if necessary. The deep sleep portion of the cycle, on the other hand, lasts only about five minutes or so before your cat re-enters the dozing period. This back-and-forth continues the entire time your cat is resting. 

Your Cat’s Schedule

Cats are classified as crepuscular, which is a term in zoology referring to animals (or insects) that are most active between dusk and dawn. This explains why Fluffy tends to get more active in the evening hours and in the early morning hours. Yes, it’s annoying to have your cat’s antics wake you up at five in the morning, but it’s simply built into your pet’s biology! Throughout the middle part of the day, of course, you’ll usually find your cat napping peacefully. 

Do you want to learn more about your cat’s sleeping habits? Do you think Fluffy’s sleep schedule seems off? Contact us to learn more.

All About Your Cat’s Whiskers

Cats come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but whiskers are one thing that every cat has in common. They’re much more than decorative long hairs sprouting from Fluffy’s snout, too—your pet’s whiskers are essential for all sorts of daily functions. Read on as your local veterinarian tells you more about these important sensory tools.  

Whiskers Help Your Cat Navigate Her Environment

Your cat’s whiskers are rooted more deeply into the skin than her normal hairs, and there is a follicle full of nerves at the base of each one. This makes them extremely sensitive. You might be surprised to learn that whiskers are found on more areas of the body than the snout. They also sprout from the chin, ears, eyebrow area, and even the forelegs.

Your cat uses her whiskers to determine the location, size, and texture of objects in her environment, and she can use them to detect changes in air currents. All of this sensory information helps to paint a clear picture of your cat’s surroundings, even if it’s pitch black. Fluffy also uses this information to determine whether or not she can fit into tight spaces, as the whiskers along the nose are about the length of her body’s width.

Whiskers Can Clue You In on Fluffy’s Mood

Did you know that your cat’s whiskers can give you some insight into how she’s feeling? When the whiskers are pulled back tightly across the face, your cat is feeling alarmed or threatened. (This whisker position might be accompanied by wide eyes, raised ears, and a puffed tail.) When the whiskers are relaxed and pointing sideways away from the face area, as they are most of the time, it means your cat is content.

Try to get a good look at your pet’s whiskers the next time she hears a strange sound or the bark of a neighbor’s dog. They’ll probably be adjusted a bit from their normal position.

Whiskers Should Never Be Trimmed

Cats do shed whiskers occasionally, but you should never attempt to cut or trim them yourself. If you do, you’re removing crucial sensory information that your cat needs, and she could experience dizziness, confusion, and disorientation. It would be like suddenly removing your sense of touch or sight—you wouldn’t like it, either.

Does your cat need veterinary care? That’s where we come in. Make an appointment at the office today.

What to Make of Your Dog’s Howling

Have you ever heard your dog howl? It’s something that many of our canine friends do, especially certain breeds like Beagles, Bloodhounds, Coonhounds, Foxhounds, Alaskan Malamutes, Dachshunds, and Huskies. But what’s behind this unique behavior? Read on to learn more about your dog’s howling and whether or not it’s a cause for concern.

When Howling is Normal

Your dog’s ancient ancestor, the wild wolf, used howling as a way of communicating with other pack members and warning other animals to stay away from their territory. So, most of the time, your dog’s howling is an instinctual behavior related to communication. Your pup is a pack animal, after all.

One normal reason for a dog to howl is because they’re responding to stimuli in their environment, such as an ambulance siren in the distance or the mailman approaching your front door. Or, Fido might howl when they’ve found something exciting, like a bone they buried in the flowerbeds last summer. It’s also possible that your dog howls to “warn” other people or animals away from their territory, just as wild wolves might do.

When Howling is Bad

Although howling is a perfectly normal dog behavior most of the time, there are reasons why it might be a bad thing. One is stress and anxiety—separation anxiety in dogs is common and often causes loud vocalizations, including howling. If your dog has separation anxiety, he or she will probably exhibit other signs when they’re left alone, like eliminating in the house and destroying furniture or other property.

It’s also possible that your dog is howling as a response to pain, perhaps caused by a physical injury or a medical problem like arthritis or dental disease. This is especially likely if you see other signs of pain accompanying the howling, like sensitivity to touch, unusually aggressive behavior, or excessive panting. And if your dog never howled before, but has suddenly started, pain could be the cause.

What to Do if Fido Won’t Stop Howling

If you can’t get your dog to stop howling, pay a visit to the vet’s office. First, you’ll want to have any medical concerns dealt with if they’re present. If howling is purely a behavioral issue, your dog might need training or even anxiety medication. Your vet can help.

Set up an appointment at our office if you’re concerned about your dog’s health or behavior. We’re always here for you!

Choosing the Purrfect Cat Carrier

Does your cat enjoy riding around? Chances are, the answer to that question is no. Most of our feline patients absolutely despise car rides! However, sooner or later, Fluffy will need to be transported. When she does, she should always be in a carrier. But what do you look for when picking a carrier? A veterinarian offers some suggestions below.

Size

Usually, when it comes to animal housing or cages, bigger is better. That isn’t the case here, however. You don’t want to go too big. Cats can tumble around too much in large carriers. Plus, they tend to feel safest in small spaces. Of course, if the carrier is too small, your furry friend may feel trapped and frightened. As a rule of thumb, the carrier should be about 1.5 times Fluffy’s size. Your kitty should be able to sit up, turn around, and sleep in various positions, without tripping over her dishes.

Material

Hard and soft carriers both have their own pros and cons. Nylon ones are lightweight, attractive, and easy to store. However, they do sag, and won’t really protect Fluffy from being jostled. They also don’t provide any real protection in case of an accident. Plastic ones aren’t as pretty, but they are both durable and easy to clean. You may find a carrier that opens from the top a bit easier to manage.

Cardboard

You can also find cardboard box carriers. These should really be considered one-time use carriers. Shelters often provide these for people to bring kitties home in. They will also work in an emergency. However, they don’t last long, fall apart if they get wet, and are easy to get out of.

Tips

Helping your feline pal form a positive impression of her carrier will definitely make things easier for you. Add some comfy bedding and some toys to the carrier, and offer Fluffy treats, praise, and catnip in it. You may want to leave it out between uses. If your kitty only sees the carrier before she goes for a dreaded car ride, she may bolt for cover as soon as she spots it!

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

Craft for Your Local Shelters Day

Do you like making things? Are you an animal lover? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then put a pawprint on your calendar for July 21st. It’s National Craft for Your Local Shelters Day! This is a great way to do something to help the sweet dogs and cats that are languishing in shelters, desperately hoping someone will adopt them. It can also be a great rainy-day project for kids! Read on as a vet lists some things that you can make for your shelter.

Rope Toy

Many dogs love playing Tug O War! It only takes a few minutes to turn old tee shirts or towels into rope toys for shelter pups. Cut the cloth into thin strips, and braid them together. Use different colors to make them look nice. Then, braid the braids together, and tie the whole thing off with a big knot. You can also incorporate a tennis ball for extra tail wags.

Catnip Mice

Get a big bag of loose catnip, and some material. If you want to go all-out, you can make these into mice. But here’s a secret: kitties really don’t care if their toys are actually shaped like mice. You can also just make squares, and stuff those. They’re purrfect either way!

Kitty Tent

You can make a kitty tent out of an old tee shirt and a wire hanger in just a few minutes. You’ll make the neck into the ‘door’ and use the hanger as support. This one is great for timid cats, who feel safer in enclosed spaces.

Cat Tower

Get an old step ladder, and attach some smooth boards onto the steps to widen them out into kitty platforms. Make sure there are no sharp edges or splinters sticking out. Then, cover the whole thing in carpet or sisal rope. Done!

Crafts For Smaller Pets

There are also plenty of bunnies, birds, and pocket pets in shelters. Little pets need love too! You can make toys for these smaller animals, using things like paper cardboard tubes, popsicle sticks, shoeboxes, and even plain paper. For example, you can turn an old toilet-paper tube into a little ball by cutting it into rings and reassembling it. Look online for more ideas and instructions.

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