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How to Adopt a New Pet

How to Adopt a New Pet

The addition of a new pet can be very exciting! However, knowing where to find your new companion and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in making your decision.
 

Things to keep in mind

Adopting a new pet is a big decision that shouldn’t be done impulsively. Pets require time, effort, and money to be cared for and loved just like any other member of the family. Do you have a yard large enough for a goat to live comfortably? Do you have time to walk your dog more than once a day, every day? Do you have enough money to regularly buy fresh litter for your cat?

Only consider adopting a new pet once you feel confident in your ability to care for them. This includes caring for your children’s pets. Children will naturally want to participate in all the fun aspects of pet care but may have trouble consistently remembering or wanting to do the dirty work. If you won’t be able to care for your pet when your kids can’t, your pet will be the one that’s left neglected.

But we understand that sometimes life can change! If you feel that you can no longer care for your pet, contact the shelter or organization you adopted the animal from, or feel free to come in and talk to us about potential options. There are plenty of choices if you need to rehome your pet so abandonment should never have to be one.

Basic Pet Bird Care

Basic Pet Bird Care

They may not be as common as dogs and cats, but birds make very interesting and rewarding pets. As a conscientious and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are covering all aspects of your bird’s care, from her environment and nutrition to her grooming. Whether this is your first bird, or you are a more experienced aviary owner, there is always something new to learn or be refreshed on.

To help you give your feathered friend the best life possible, here is our brief guide to basic pet bird care.
 

Habitat

It goes without saying that your bird will need to live predominantly in a cage. However, as with most pets, it is important that you provide her with as much space as possible. This means buying the biggest cage you can afford and have space for. She should be able to flap her wings without hitting any of the sides and there should be at least 2-3 perches for her to fly between as well as room for plenty of toys and water and food dishes.

When choosing a cage, find one with bars that have a powder-coated finish which is easier to clean and shouldn’t rust and with bars that are close enough together to prevent her from getting her head stuck between them. Ensure it is secure and can be locked. Place her new habitat in a bright area of your home or yard, but not in direct sunlight.

You should line the bottom of the cage with newspapers, paper towels or other cage lining paper. These are the most sterile and easiest to remove on a daily basis when cleaning out her cage. Substrates like sand or wood chippings can easily grow fungus and bacteria, which could lead to your bird becoming sick.
 

Nutrition

A proper diet is essential for all species of animal including birds. The easiest way to feed your feathered pal is to use commercially formulated diets created specifically for pet birds. This ensures that she will get all of the nutrition she needs from one meal, rather than you trying to choose and balance foods.

Seasonal Care

Seasonal Care

Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a state with relatively consistent weather and temperatures and just as humans change their behavior and diet with fluctuations in temperature, so do most animals. Here are our guidelines for seasonal care for your pets.


Winter

  • If your pet usually likes to spend most of its time outdoors, be sure to bring them inside as the temperatures in your area begin to fall. If circumstances mean that your pet has to be kept outdoors, make sure that they are as warm and comfortable as possible by providing them with a dry and draft-free shelter with plenty of extra blankets. You should also regularly check their water supply to ensure that it hasn’t frozen.

 

  • If the ground is covered with snow, ice or is extremely cold, you may want to consider purchasing animal booties which are widely available from most pet stores.

 

  • Be prepared to see a change in your pet's eating habits as well. Outdoor pets tend to require extra food since they will burn extra food to help keep them warm. While indoor pets are likely to eat far less as they conserve energy by sleeping more.

 

  • Be sure to keep your pets away from antifreeze. Unfortunately, while it smells and tastes delicious to cats and dogs, even the smallest sip can be deadly. Keep pets out of garages and outbuildings and clean up any spillages as soon as they happen. Speak to your neighbors about the dangers of antifreeze ingestion and ask them to ensure that any antifreeze they have is securely stored and that they too clean up any spillages that may occur. If your pet acts as if they are drunk or begins to convulse, take them to a vet immediately.

 

  • Check under the hood of your car before starting the engine. Many cats like to sneak under the hood of a vehicle once you have gone inside to keep warm by the engine. If you are unable to open the hood, then a firm tap on it should be sufficient to wake any sleeping cat.
  • Ensure that rabbit hutches are brought inside. If this isn’t possible, put extra newspapers in the hutch for better insulation. Again, check their water source regularly to ensure that it isn’t frozen.
Training Your Pet

Training Your Pet

Once you have decided to make a new pet a part of your family, the first concern you should have is with making them comfortable. After your pet has settled into your home, a good next step would be to think about training which can help to ensure that the behaviors they exhibit are primarily desirable ones.


Training your Dog

Whilst dogs have earned a reputation as ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to their loyal and affectionate nature, they can sometimes possess frustrating habits or personality traits that make them difficult to live with, just like their human counterparts.

Training your dog will be hugely beneficial for your dog to learn to live harmoniously alongside his human family. It will strengthen his bond with your family and ensure his safety when out and about.

What is the best method to train my dog?

There are many different schools of thought concerning how to best train a dog. Some owners prefer strict training with punishments for non-compliance, whilst others prefer to praise positive behavior and ignore undesirable reactions. Studies have shown that as a general rule, the latter method works best, but however you decide to train your dog, you will need to consistently control the consequences of your dogs’ behavior in order for the training to be effective.

Since dogs cannot relate events that are separated by time, the consequences to negative behavior need to be immediate. Just as you cannot praise your dog several minutes after returning to you when called since he will not understand why he is receiving it. The easiest way to train a dog is to reward the behaviors that you like and not those that you don’t.

  • If your dog likes the reward you give them, they will be more likely to repeat that behavior so they can receive it again i.e. love, attention, and praise.

  • If they dislike the consequences, then they will do the behavior less often.


It really is that simple, but being consistent is vital to a successful training plan, otherwise, you will send mixed messages to your pet. For example, if you do not want your pet to jump on you (which they do to get your attention) then ignore them until they calm down. Once they have calmed down, be sure to praise and make a fuss over them. This will help them to learn that this is the way that you prefer them to behave. It may take several days or weeks of doing this, but your dog will soon learn the correct behavior to exhibit.

Pet Obesity

Pet Obesity

We are constantly being told that obesity levels are increasing worldwide and that we should act now in order to ensure our long term health. However, this problem doesn't just affect humans. A shocking statistic from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states that an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.
(Source: Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 2015)

Just like humans, pets who are overweight are at increased risk for a number of health problems including but not limited to:
 

  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury

  • Decreased life expectancy by up to 2.5 years

  • Heart and respiratory disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

  • Kidney disease

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Varying forms of cancer

Microchipping

Did you know that despite doing all we can to keep our pets safe, approximately one in three pets in the United States will become lost at some point during their lifetime? This is a scenario that no owner wants to think about, but by understanding that it is something that does happen, we can be better prepared. One of the best ways of doing this is by microchipping your pet.
 

Why should I microchip my pet?

 

Many owners are quite content with using collars and tags as identification for their beloved animal. While microchipping isn’t intended to replace this traditional and highly successful practice, it can complement it. Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected under your pet’s skin. Once inserted, it is impossible to locate exactly where they are, which makes them tamper-proof and accident-proof. While conventional tags and collars can be removed by thieves or can fall off, microchipping is permanent. 

Studies have shown that microchipping is also a much more effective and efficient way of reuniting pets with their owners. Since many animals look alike, ownership disputes are a fairly common occurrence in neighborhoods where there are a number of pets of the same type and breed. However, microchipping can also prove invaluable when it comes to proving who the rightful owner of your pet is. While having your details on the chip is not proof of ownership, disputes nearly always go the way of the person who is registered with the microchip provider.

Finding a Reputable Breeder

Finding a Reputable Breeder

With thousands of unwanted dogs living in shelters and desperately looking for new homes, we highly recommend that you consider adopting one of these puppies or adult dogs. You will be able to find details of your local shelters and rescue centers online. However, if your heart is set on a purebred puppy then the very first thing you should do is find a reputable breeder.

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who view breeding purely as a source of income and have very little concern for either the current or future welfare of their puppies. However, by asking the right questions and making some careful observations, it is possible to distinguish between them and knowledgeable and professional breeders. Here is our guide to helping you find a reputable breeder for your future pet.

Canine Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine Parvovirus, also known as CPV, is a highly contagious viral infection that can be debilitating and sometimes fatal. It has two main forms: the more common intestinal variety and the less common cardiac variety. Puppies aged between 6 weeks and 6 months old are most commonly affected, but early vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting CPV.

CPV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with household bleach being the only known way to eradicate the virus.
 

What causes CPV?

CPV is generally transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, either through inhalation or direct touch. However, CPV can also be transmitted indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog which can contain a heavy concentration of the virus. The virus can also live in the ground for up to a year where it can be brought into contact with a dog by way of shoes.

Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to CPV. These breeds include Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls, and Rottweilers. Dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not had adequate vaccinations are also more likely to contract CPV.

As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
 

Symptoms of CPV

The intestinal variety of CPV affects an animals’ ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This means that an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
The primary symptoms of intestinal CPV include but are not limited to:
 

  • Anorexia / severe weight loss

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • Coughing

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Vomiting

  • Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
     

In rare cases of CPV, a dog may exhibit symptoms consistent with hypothermia rather than a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.

Dental Hygiene and Oral Care

Dental Hygiene and Oral Care

Don't ignore your pet's bad breath! Lack of proper dental hygiene is often the cause of stinky breath, but it may also indicate other, more serious issues with your pet's health. However, we do understand how easy it is to miss as most of the problems that stem from poor hygiene occur where you can't see them - below your pet's gum line.

The first line of defense is always home care. And while some animals, such as dogs, may tolerate their owners handling their mouths and brushing their teeth, most, especially cats, will struggle or act out. This can make oral care difficult at best, and at worst, ineffective.

The best way to ensure your pet's oral health is to have regular cleanings at our office. Our veterinarian will be able to discuss with you how often you ought to come in as well as a home hygiene regimen. This will help to prevent dental issues from progressing to larger (and potentially deadly) internal issues, such as dysfunction or disease in the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs.

In the wild, hiding pain, illness, or other weaknesses are survival instincts. Many times, your pet will have the same instincts, even in the safety and comfort of your loving home, which is why keeping an eye on your pet's eating habits and behaviors is so important. However, recognizing the difference between normal changes in mood and red flags can be difficult sometimes.

What you interpret as a persistent grumpiness may actually be a sign that your pet is in pain. New irritability, shying away from being touched (especially on the face and around the mouth or throat), sluggishness, loss of appetite or difficulty eating, and lethargy are all behavioral signs which may indicate illness.

However, if you note any of the following physical changes, contact your vet immediately:

  • Red and swollen gums

  • Bleeding gums, especially when eating or when having teeth brushed

  • Swelling around the mouth

  • Oral abscesses, often appearing as swelling in the face

  • Abnormal chewing

  • Loose or missing teeth

  • Discolored teeth

  • Crusted build up at the edge of the gums

  • Persistent bad or fetid breath

  • Excessive drooling

  • Weight loss
     

Preventing oral infections and gum disease will help your pet live a longer, healthier life. And remember, caring for your pet with regular cleanings now will save you money later!

Equine: Castration

Equine: Castration

Equine castration is the most common surgical procedure performed on horses. Not only does it prevent unwanted breeding, but it can also dramatically improve the behavior and management of your horse.


When should equine castration take place?

Equine castration usually takes place in either the spring or autumn months in order to avoid bacteria-carrying flies in the summer and the mud of winter. Traditionally, castration is carried out in a horse’s yearling year, but there is no reason why the procedure cannot be undertaken at other times. The only requirement is that both testicles must have descended into the scrotum before the castration takes place. If one testicle is undescended, then waiting to castrate is usually the most viable option. However, it is possible to carry out a full castration via laparoscopy to find the retained testicle, although this does require much more surgical intervention and therefore a longer recovery period.

Your equine veterinarian will first obtain the medical history and conduct a thorough examination of your horse before performing castration. This will ensure that he is in good condition, has been dewormed regularly, his vaccinations are up to date, and he has not suffered any recent respiratory infection.

Picking Your Perfect Cat

Picking Your Perfect Cat

If you have decided that a cat is the right pet for you, you may think that the decision-making process is complete, but in fact, you are just beginning. Cats, like humans, are all very different and selecting one to suit your needs and lifestyle is vitally important as having a cat requires the commitment of your love, care, and attention for upwards of 10-15 years. Here is our guide to helping you pick your perfect cat.
 

Kitten or adult cat?

Many people instinctively choose kittens over adult cats due largely to their childlike cuteness, curiosity, and playful behavior. However, many do not realize that they need a great deal of supervision, patience, attention, and training. Leave kittens unsupervised in your living room for any period of time and you could be faced with a surprising level of destruction! It is also difficult to know exactly what personality they may develop once they outgrow their kitten traits. She may become a docile companion, or she may continue to be a mischievous and energetic ball of fur.

It is also important to remember that if you are bringing a kitten into a home with very young children, an added amount of supervision will be needed as your child may exhibit the same curious and mischievous behavior as your kitten and may not be as gentle as needed with the kitten.

By comparison, older cats may have outgrown some of that initial cuteness, but the typical behaviors that they exhibit after around the age of one will be a reliable indicator of their regular temperament.
 

Short vs long hair

Responsible pet owners should always make sure that their pets are well-groomed. In the case of long-haired animals, this can end up being a considerable commitment. Long fur needs to be brushed at least once per day in order to prevent matting. Therefore, if you decide on a long-haired cat, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient time to dedicate to daily grooming.

However, not all cats like being groomed and if your cat doesn’t, then you may have to enlist the services of a professional groomer and you will then need to factor in the cost of regular grooming appointments. But if your cat is one that loves to be pampered, then she will come running as soon as she sees her brush!
 

Personality and pure breed vs mixed breed

While purebred cats tend to conform to what is known as a ‘breed standard,’ meaning that you can predict their expected physical and behavioral characteristics based on breed type, each animal is still unique. Many people believe that purchasing a purebred feline will not only guarantee its temperament but will also ensure that it will be in good health, but sadly, this is not the case. Many purebred animals suffer from genetic health problems due to inbreeding.

It is also possible to estimate the physical and behavioral traits of mixed breed cats based on the combination of breeds used to create it. For example, combining two short-haired, highly active breeds will be extremely likely to produce another short-haired highly active cat.

As we have said, whether pure or mixed breed, each cat is unique and will require handling to suit their personality. Some are sedentary, some are active and some love to be stroked and handled while others will only come to you for petting when it suits them. If you are looking for a companion cat, then you would ideally be looking for a sedentary and tactile cat, whereas if you are looking for a cat to play with children, then you should aim for a more active breed.

Feline Distemper

Feline Distemper

What is Feline Distemper?

Feline Distemper, also known as Feline Panleukopenia and FPV, is a highly contagious viral disease that can be debilitating and even fatal. Kittens between 2 and 6 months of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, followed by pregnant and immune-compromised cats. Surviving FPV comes with immunity to any further infections by the virus.
 

What causes FPV?

The FPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the blood, feces or urine of an infected cat, but can also be spread by fleas that have been feeding on a contaminated cat. Humans can inadvertently pass FPV after handling the equipment used by contaminated cats if they do not follow proper handwashing protocols. The virus can live on surfaces for up to a year and is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with the exception of household bleach.

FPV attacks the blood cells of an infected cat, particularly those in the bone marrow and intestinal tract. If the infected cat is pregnant, the virus will also attack the stem cells of the unborn kitten. FPV makes your pet more vulnerable to other viral and bacterial diseases as well.
 

Symptoms of FPV

The primary symptoms of FPV include but are not limited to:
 

  • Anemia

  • Dehydration

  • Depression

  • Diarrhea (may be blood-stained)

  • High temperature

  • Loss of appetite

  • Rough coat

  • Vomiting
     

Other symptoms include lack of coordination, hiding away from owners, tucking feet away, or resting the chin on the floor for prolonged periods.

Avian Vet Care

Avian Vet Care

As far as pet categorizing goes, birds may be slightly more exotic than other pets, but will still make wonderful companions for people who are looking for an alternative to a furry friend. However, the physiology of a bird is very different to that of a cat or a dog. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you find your feathered friend a veterinarian who has the unique training and experience to be able to understand and manage injuries and health problems that may arise in birds.
 

Services included in avian vet care

As you might expect, the types of services that are usually included in avian vet care are very similar to those offered in standard veterinary offices. Some of the most common include:

  • Routine and comprehensive wellness examinations and assessments

  • Blood panels

  • Imaging tests including digital x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound scans

  • Preventative care

  • Fracture and beak repair

  • Behavioral consultations for undesirable behavior problems such as aggression

  • Diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions, with in-patient care if required

  • Anesthesia/sedation services
     

How to find an experienced avian vet

Locating a veterinarian that specializes in birds may not be as easy as locating a regular vet, but one good resource to consider is the Association of Avian Veterinarians, who maintain a list of vets qualified to help care for pet birds. Additionally, if you know someone who also has pet birds, you could ask them who their vet is and if they would recommend them.

First Aid for Pets

First Aid for Pets

Accidents and emergencies don't just happen to humans, and while first aid is no substitute for emergency veterinary care, basic first aid knowledge can be crucial for treating certain injuries and in preventing symptoms or situations from worsening.

In critical emergencies, opting to administer first aid before heading to your veterinarian could make the difference between the life and death of your pet.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to try and ensure the safety and well being of your pet at all times. With that in mind, here is our guide to basic first aid for pets.
 

Bleeding (Externally)

External bleeding is typically the sign of a fight with another pet or an accident, and unless it is a severe wound and/or located on the legs, it can usually be dealt with relatively quickly and simply

In order to establish the site of the injury, you may need to muzzle your pet, as they may be in some pain. Once you have located the injury, press a thick, clean gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure until the blood begins to clot. It may take a number of minutes for the clot to gain enough strength to sufficiently stop the bleeding, so instead of checking every few seconds, hold the gauze in place for at least two minutes before lifting to check if the bleeding has ceased.

If your pet has severe blood loss from the legs, use a thin strip of gauze, elastic band or similar material to create tourniquet between the wound and the body. Once it is in place, you should cover the wound with a gauze pad and continue to apply gentle pressure.

Loosen the tourniquet for about 30 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes so that you don’t cut off the circulation from the wound entirely, and get someone to drive you to an emergency veterinarian immediately as severe blood loss can be fatal.
 

Bleeding (Internally)

It may not always be possible to tell that your pet is bleeding internally, but some of the symptoms that you can look out for include:
 

  • Coughing up blood

  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum

  • Blood in urine

  • Pale gums

  • Rapid pulse rate

  • Weak pulse

  • Unconsciousness
     

If any of the above symptoms present themselves, make your pet as warm and comfortable as possible, and take them straight to your emergency veterinarian.
 

Burns

If your pet suffers from any form of burn injury, you should first muzzle your pet, then apply large quantities of ice-cold water to the affected area.

In the case of chemical burns, the water should be free-flowing in order to cleanse the skin as much as possible. Otherwise, hold an ice-cold compress to the burned area and immediately transport your pet to your emergency veterinary service.
 

Choking

Choking is just as common in pets as it is in humans, and knowing how to assist your pet if they choke could save the life of your pet. Symptoms of choking include:
 

  • Struggling to breathe

  • Pawing at the mouth and nose

  • Choking sounds

  • Excessive coughing

  • Lips or tongue turning blue
     

Since your pet will be in an extreme state of panic, it is more likely that they may accidentally bite you, so using caution, try and look into your pet's mouth to see if any blockages are immediately visible. If you can see something obstructing your pet’s airway, carefully try and remove it using tongs, pliers or tweezers, taking extreme care not to push the item further into the esophagus. If it is not easily removed, don’t spend extra time trying to reach it.

If you are unable to remove the object or your pet collapses, you should try and force air from the lungs in an attempt to push the object out from the other direction. The way you should do this is by putting both of your hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and applying short, sharp bursts of firm pressure.

Keep doing this until you manage to dislodge the foreign object or until you arrive at the emergency veterinary service.

Heartworm

Heartworm

What is Heartworm?

Heartworm is a serious illness that can cause heart failure, lung disease, organ damage and even death in dogs, cats and ferrets. Heartworm is most prevalent in pets living along the Atlantic Gulf coasts from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico as well as in those living alongside the Mississippi and its main tributaries. However, it has been found in pets in all states across America.
 

What causes Heartworm?

Heartworm is caused by parasitic worm larvae that live inside mosquitoes. When the mosquito bites an animal, it transfers some of the worm larvae into the animal where the larvae then mature, mate, and produce offspring inside its living host. The offspring produced by female adult heartworms is known as microfilariae, which lives in the host animals’ bloodstream. When a mosquito then bites an infected animal it draws microfilariae into its body where it turns it into infective larvae, beginning the cycle again.

Once an animal has been infected, it takes time for the larvae to mature into adults that are capable of reproduction. In dogs, this period is usually 6-7 months and in cats and ferrets is around 8 months. Adult heartworms look like cooked spaghetti and can range in size from 4-6 inches in males and 10-12 inches in females. The number of worms found in a pet is known as its ‘worm burden’ and can vary depending on the species of animal and the severity of the infection.
 

Heartworm in Dogs

The lifespan of heartworms within an infected dog is between 5 and 7 years with the average worm burden being 15. However, dogs have been seen with worm burdens ranging from 1 to 250.
 

Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs

The severity of symptoms of heartworm in dogs is dependent on the worm burden of the animal, how long they have been infected, and how well their body can cope with the disease. However, it is usually broken down into four stages.

Class 1: No visible symptoms or very mild symptoms, such as an intermittent cough or wheeze.

Class 2: Mild to more moderate symptoms including intermittent coughing, lethargy or breathlessness after light to moderate exercise. At this time, some heart and lung changes may be seen on x-rays.

Class 3: Symptoms will include frequent or persistent coughing, lethargy, and breathlessness after mild activity. Heart and lung changes will definitely be visible on x-rays.

Class 4: This stage is otherwise known as Caval Syndrome and is reached when an infected animal has been left untreated for an extended period of time. At this stage, the animal experiences restricted blood flow to the heart caused by a blockage of worms. Heart failure is imminent and emergency surgery to remove the worms is the only course of action. However, this comes with its own risks and most dogs with Caval Syndrome do not survive.

Bringing Your Pet Home

Bringing Your Pet Home

When it comes to bringing a new pet into your home, preparation is crucial in order for them to make a successful transition. It can take days, weeks or even months for your pet to really feel at home. Here are our top tips for helping your new pet settle in.

 

Supplies and equipment

Ensure that you have all of the supplies and equipment your new pet will need. This includes basic supplies such as a bed, water bowl, and food, as well as toys and other items to stimulate their cognitive development and keep them entertained. Remember, your pet's emotional wellbeing and mental stimulation is just as important as their physical needs.

 

Prepare any other pets in the home

Ensure that any other pets in the home are up to date with their vaccinations. Whilst shelters do their best to treat any viruses, occasionally adopted pets do bring new diseases with them that could be transmitted to existing pets in the household.

You may also have to introduce existing pets to your new pet gradually until they get used to one another.

 

Register with a Veterinarian

As soon as you bring your pet home you should register with a veterinarian and make an appointment for your pet to have a thorough health check. Ideally, this should be done within a week of their arrival. They will be able to advise you on the correct vaccine schedule for your pet and ensure that there are no underlying illnesses or concerns.

You should also speak to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your pet if it is not done already. There are thousands of animals in shelters across the United States that are desperate for loving homes. Limiting population growth further by having your pet spayed or neutered is the responsible course of action for any owner.

 

Establish rules and guidelines in advance

Establishing some basic house rules ahead of your pet's arrival can help create a routine that your pet will quickly adopt as his own. Knowing what to expect will also help him settle in much faster. Also, assigning specific responsibilities to family members can help them bond with your pet and take ownership of their commitment as a pet owner.

Being consistent with rules for your pet will make training them much easier. For example, do not start off by letting your pet sleep on the sofas if this is not a behavior you want to continue in the future.

6 Ways Owning a Pet is Good For Your Health

6 Ways Owning a Pet is Good For Your Health

It turns out that the benefits of owning a pet include more than just adorable cuddles and trips to the dog park. Owning a pet can also improve your overall health and wellness.

On a psychological level, pets are shown to decrease levels of depression and anxiety. And for overall health, owning a pet can decrease your blood pressure, increase your immune system, make you less likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke, and more. 
 

1. Get a Pet & Get Rid of Stress

A study in 2002 by the State University of New York at Buffalo found that having your pet around during difficult tasks helped to decrease stress. They found that having pets around helped participants stay calm and focused on the task at hand and were even more beneficial than having a close friend or family member nearby. 

Promises Treatment Centers, which helps recovering drug addicts, allows pets into their rehab facilities. The CEO of the facility believes that having your pet around makes the recovery process less stressful, making drug addicts less likely to reach for unhealthy or dangerous substances as a way to decompress. 

So, the next time you’re going through a tough time at home or work, try taking a breather and hang out with your pets. 
 

2. Own a Pet & Lower Your Blood Pressure

A study by the CDC suggests that having a dog can lower blood pressure, especially for high-risk hypertensive patients. High blood pressure is often caused by stress and when life throws you stressful curveballs, having a dog (or cat) that loves you unconditionally can help you feel at ease. It’s also thought that owning a pet gives you more opportunities to go outside and exercise, which strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure that way.
 

3. Raise a Pet and Lower Your Cholesterol 

The CDC suggests that another healthy component of owning a pet is lowering your cholesterol. Research has found that people who own pets (particularly men) have lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than those without pets. Who needs Cheerios, when you can get a dog! Like lower blood pressure, it’s not known if the pet’s presence is specifically lowering cholesterol, or if it’s caused by the lifestyle that comes with owning a pet. 

Best virtually indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers

Best virtually indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers

Chewing is a natural part of life for any dog. It helps to keep their teeth healthy and is a way for them to play and explore. Chewing can also be a sign of when they are particularly anxious or lonely. However natural it is, there is no escaping the frustration that accompanies returning home from work to find your favorite slippers, remote control or some other household object chewed beyond all recognition. Some breeds of dogs are more aggressive than others when it comes to getting their teeth into things, and even specially designed chew toys can be turned to rubber mulch in just a few days. To save you from spending heaps on toys that just won’t stand up to your dog’s teeth, we have put together this list of the best virtually indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers.
 

Jolly Pets Romp-n-Roll Ball

This ultra-durable ball has a tug-o-war rope at each end, making it good for play as well as a chew toy. Additionally, its clever design means that the
ball will float even after it has been punctured, making it perfect for water-based fun.

The Romp-n-Roll ball is available in three sizes based on the weight of your dog and ranges from 4.5” to 8” in diameter, meaning there really is one for every
chewing champion out there!

Check out their website to find where it is available near you.
 

Goughnuts

The Goughnut ring is an extremely strong rubber chew toy that was designed with safety in mind by means of a ‘chew toy safety indicator’. The concept behind the Goughnut is that when your dog chews through to the red inner layer, the toy should and will be replaced under the Goughnuts guarantee.

There are three sizes of rings available, starting at 3.75 inches and going up to 6.25 inches in diameter. There are no weak points on this toy and despite its durability, it even floats!

Find out more about the Goughnut by visiting their website.

The Importance of Pet Grooming

The Importance of Pet Grooming

While for many people the concept of grooming your pet conjures up notions of brushes and bows, it is, in fact, a vital element to their overall health and wellbeing. Regularly grooming your animal allows any underlying diseases or conditions to be caught early which means earlier and more efficient diagnosis and treatment.

If you have a puppy or a kitten, it will be important for you to begin training them to like or at least tolerate the grooming process, which will be beneficial to them as they reach maturity. This is especially true of nail clipping and ear cleaning which requires them to sit completely still for the process.

Reputable breeders will often begin grooming their litters as soon as they are old enough to help get them used to the process. However, despite training and conditioning, not all animals enjoy the grooming process and many owners find it easier to send their pet to a professional groomer instead. Even if you do opt to use a professional pet groomer, there are still a number of regular grooming techniques that you can do at home with your pet to strengthen your bond.

Here are some of the important benefits of pet grooming.

Ticks

Ticks

What are Ticks?

Ticks are arachnids that belong to the same family as spiders and mites. They are parasitic and feed on the blood of host animals. Ticks are visible to the naked eye but are only about the size of a pinhead before swelling with blood as they feast. 

Animals living in the Southern States or near heavily wooded areas will have increased exposure to ticks as they like to live in thick, long grass and will attach to host animals as they walk by. They are most active during the late spring and summer months and are not fussy about what species of animals they feed on. However, animals that spend a lot of time outdoors will be more susceptible to ticks.


Symptoms of Ticks

Animals with only a few ticks can present with little or no symptoms, which is why it is often not until there is a larger infestation or infection from the bites that signs become apparent. If and when symptoms do materialize, they can include itching, scratching and red or inflamed irritations on the skin. 

Ticks can transmit a number of diseases including Babesia, Cytauxzoonosis, Lyme disease, and Mycoplasma. Some animals can also have allergic reactions to tick bites which can result in infections. Symptoms from these reactions or diseases can include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite and pain and can last for several days or even weeks. If you are concerned that your pet has developed an illness from a tick bite, consult with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Recognizing an Ill Pet

Recognizing an Ill Pet

Just like humans, pets can have days where they feel a little lethargic or under the weather, but it is a natural instinct of an animal to try and disguise any signs of illness. They do this because in the wild, showing signs of weakness can leave them vulnerable to predators and open to attack. Unfortunately, this can make it tricky to determine if your pet is feeling a little unwell or if they are suffering from a more serious illness.

There are a number of symptoms and changes in your pets’ appearance, behavior and physical condition that you should look out for.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Abnormal vocal noises

  • Bloating of the abdomen

  • Blood in the stools or urine

  • Decreased energy or activity levels

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting

  • Discharge from the nose or eyes

  • Excessive scratching or licking of the body

  • Foul odor from ears, mouth or skin

  • Increased shedding or bald patches

  • Limping

  • Lumps or tumors

  • Persistent hiding

  • Reluctance to use stairs

  • Seizures

  • Straining or an inability to pass urine or stools
     

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, they should be checked out by a veterinarian within 24/48 hours.


Symptoms that require immediate veterinary treatment include:

  • Bloated or hardened abdomen

  • Excessive vomiting or diarrhea

  • Inability to stand up or urinate

  • Seizures


While a sick pet may require inpatient treatment from your veterinarian for several days or even weeks, they will often need continuing care to aid in their recovery when they come home. This can include administering medication, supporting physical rehabilitation, emotional care, and fulfilling any special dietary requirements.

Feeding Your Pet

Feeding Your Pet

A healthy and balanced diet is essential for a healthy and happy pet. Not only will it provide your pet with enough energy for their day to day activities, but it is also vital for proper brain function, especially for animals in the early stages of their development.

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to feeding your pet is to feed them by ‘life-stage’. Nutritional requirements differ based on the animal's species and stage of life. For example, puppies around 12 weeks of age will require around 3 meals a day and it is not until they reach around 6 months of age that this amount should be reduced. That said, your animal may prefer smaller, more frequent meals, so the key to feeding your pet properly is understanding what works best for them.
 

Methods of Feeding

A popular method of feeding is known as ‘free-feeding’. This is where a bowl of food is left out so that a pet can eat as much or as little as they want in the frequency that they prefer. This works best for dry foods since they don't spoil as quickly as the wet variety. Unfortunately, some studies show that this method can result in over-eating and subsequent pet obesity, but it may be the best option for you if you cannot stick to a feeding schedule.

Scheduled, portioned feeding requires a strict routine that you need to be able to stick to. Your pet will know when meal times are and ensure that they are ready for them, such as when cats come indoors specifically at these times. This method limits the amount that your pet eats either by portion size or by time as some pet owners prefer to give their animals a specific time frame in which they must eat. This method also works well if you have pets that require medication to be mixed with their food, or have an animal on a calorie-controlled diet.

If you are unsure which method is right for your pet, please consult with your veterinarian who will be more than happy to provide advice.
 

General Feeding Advice

Do NOT offer home-cooked meals unless specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian. Most home-cooked meals do not meet the complex nutritional needs of your pet. Instead, stick to specifically formulated pet foods.

How to Stay Safe and Have Fun When Kids and Pets Play

How to Stay Safe and Have Fun When Kids and Pets Play

Letting children, particularly young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve-wracking. The main concern is for the safety of the child as it is more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. However, kids can injure pets too, and not just that, children can antagonize a pet to the point where the animal will act out.

This is mostly due to a couple of factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are in pain. As a parent, you will need to step in and fill this fundamental gap in order for your child and your pet to be able to better understand each other.


Ensure new pets like kids

Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, be sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets, but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a new pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more stressed, and therefore more likely to hurt someone.

Equine: Dentistry

Equine: Dentistry

One of the most important parts of responsible equine ownership is caring for their teeth to ensure they are strong, clean and healthy. This is because oral health can have a significant impact on the overall wellbeing of your animal. If left untreated, dental issues can cause problems with the function of the nervous system, muscular balance, cardiovascular health, imbalance of chemicals in the body, digestive system and the structural stability of the head, neck, and tongue. Most equine dental problems begin as mild and treatable occurrences, but can rapidly increase in severity if left untreated, which is why regular check-ups by an experienced and qualified equine dentist are vital.
 

Symptoms of equine dental problems

One of the reasons that regularly scheduled check-ups are important is because many horses don’t display any clear symptoms of dental issues until they develop into major problems or begin to cause them pain. However, many responsible equine owners can tell when their horse just isn’t feeling right. If they are unable to establish what is wrong, then there is a good chance that dental problems may be to blame.

Some of the signs and symptoms of equine dental problems that you can look out for include:
 

  • Tilting the head when eating

  • Head tossing or shaking

  • Excessive saliva

  • Nasal discharge

  • Facial swelling

  • Foul breath

  • Dropping food

  • Stiffness on one side

  • Napping, bucking or rearing

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Grass packing in cheeks

  • Slow to eat

  • Dips feed or hay in drinking water

  • Nervousness or a dislike of being handled
     

In some cases, behavior changes can also be a sign of dental problems. These could be mouthing or chewing the bit, unexplained subtle lameness, resisting bridling or even rearing or bolting.

Why cats like to relax and sleep up high

Why cats like to relax and sleep up high

Cats are known for being notoriously fussy creatures. They demand attention when it suits them, but reject snuggling with their owner when it doesn’t. They are picky eaters, can appear aloof and indifferent to their owners and seem pretty happy to go it alone most of the time.

This fussy attitude often even extends to their sleeping habits, and many owners have gone out and spent a considerable amount of money to provide a large, plush and expensive cat bed, only to find that their kitty refuses to sleep in it. But is she just being fussy, or is there an ulterior motive for this behavior?

According to animal behavior experts, most cats prefer to sleep and hang out in places with good vantage points, which comes from their natural survival instincts. A high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them. Much of this instinct comes from their ancestry. Early cats were hunters that lived in the wild, and their climbing ability meant that they had somewhere to retreat to away from larger predators in addition to the capability of attacking smaller prey high up in the branches. 

Equine: Endoscopy

Equine: Endoscopy

When a person or animal is unwell, external symptoms and blood test results may only tell part of the story. Advances in medical technology mean that it is now possible to see what is actually happening inside the body. One of the procedures that is being used in humans as well as animals, including horses, is called an endoscopy.

An endoscopy can be used to view and analyze many parts of a horse including the upper respiratory tract as well as parts of the gastrointestinal, reproductive and urinary tracts in order to help veterinarians make accurate diagnoses and recommendations for treatment on a wide range of health problems.
 

Types of Endoscopy

There are two main types of endoscopies available in the equine veterinary field. They are:
 

Fiberoptic Endoscope

This is the most common type of endoscope used for investigative surgery in horses. The endoscope is made up of a bunch of optical fibers that are enclosed within a waterproof rubber tube. The tube is passed into the horse’s body either through a natural body cavity or through a surgical incision. The area is illuminated by a light source that passes through the fiber optics and then examined using an eyepiece that is attached to the external end of the fiber-optic cable.
 

Video Endoscope

This more advanced version of the endoscope has a tiny microchip video camera on the end of the scope which relays live feedback to a television screen in the room. This means that multiple people can view the feed, and it can be recorded and played back at a later time.

Euthanasia

Euthanasia

Our pets are beloved members of our family and seeing them unwell can be heartbreaking. Unfortunately, there are some illnesses that pets are unable to recover from. In the case of terminal illness and/or debilitating pain, one of the kindest things that we can do for them is to relieve them of that burden by making the difficult decision to put them to sleep.
 

How do I know if it is the right time to consider euthanasia?

Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you on when it is time to consider euthanizing your pet. However, there are some signs and symptoms to look for that would indicate that your pet is no longer experiencing a good quality of life. If you notice these, it would then be advisable to contact your veterinarian to determine if euthanasia would be the most humane course of action.
These signs include:

  • Chronic labored breathing, breathlessness and/or coughing

  • Chronic pain that cannot be controlled by medication (your veterinarian can advise if this is the case)

  • Frequent diarrhea and/or vomiting that leads to dehydration or severe weight loss

  • Inability to stand or move around

  • Disinterest in food or eating

  • Incontinent to the stage where they are frequently soiling themselves

  • No interest in communication with family members, treats, games, or other previously enjoyed activity

  • Zest for life is non-existent
     

While euthanasia is never an easy decision to make, a small benefit is that it allows family members the time to say their final goodbyes. This opportunity for final displays of love and affection with their pets helps to ease them into the grieving process. It is especially important to prepare young children as this may be their first experience of bereavement.

Many veterinarians will allow you to be present during the euthanasia procedure so that you can comfort your pet as they enter into their final journey. However, while this is a personal decision, it is not recommended that young children be present during this time.

Exotic Animal Medicine

Exotic Animal Medicine

There are a wide variety of animals that can be kept as domestic pets. While some, like cats and dogs, are fairly common, others are much less popular. In the past, an exotic animal was a species that was considered to be ‘wild’ in nature and not usually kept as a pet, but today, an exotic pet is pretty much any animal that isn’t a cat or dog, and are more commonly kept as pets than ever before.

The following animals tend to be classified as exotic animals and represent some of the more unusual pets in need of specialist veterinary care:

Amphibians - this includes frogs, newts, toads, and even salamanders.

Birds – including budgies, parrots, and birds of prey.

Crabs – in particular hermit and fiddler crabs.

Farm animals – including goats, llamas, and pigs.

Ferrets

Insects and millipedes
– including cockroaches, stick insects, praying mantis and even ants.

Rabbits

Reptiles
– such as lizards (including dragons, geckos, and chameleons), snakes, tortoises, and turtles.

Rodents – there are a huge number of animals classed as rodents including chinchillas, hamsters, rats, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

Scorpions - in particular the emperor scorpion.

Spiders – the tarantula is the most commonly kept pet spider in the world.

Homeopathy for Animals

Homeopathy for Animals

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the theory that by using the correct natural substances, the body can heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are used by more than 200 million people around the globe to treat a wide range of conditions.

The underlying principle is that the same substance that causes symptoms when given in a large dose, could also cure those symptoms if administered in a small dose. The trick is to find the remedy that best matches the symptoms.

Holistic medicines are derived from entirely natural substances such as minerals, plants and animal matter which stimulate the immune system and promote natural self-healing.
 

Is homeopathy safe for my pet?

While omeopathic remedies are completely natural and safe for the majority of humans and pets, your veterinarian will be able to advise you if there is any reason why homeopathy may not be suitable for your pet.

Homeopathy in animals has had so many success stories that an increasing number of veterinarians are studying, gaining qualifications in, and practicing the principles.
 

What conditions can homeopathic remedies help to treat?

Homeopathy has had proven results in an extensive range of chronic and acute conditions including:
 

  • Digestive and endocrine diseases

  • Fleas, skin and coat disorders

  • Heart and kidney diseases

  • Bone and joint disorders

  • Ears, eyes, nose and mouth problems

  • Immune system disorders

  • Respiratory disease

  • Mood and behavior problems

  • Reproductive system problems

  • Viruses and acute infections

  • Healing and recovery

Heatstroke and Your Pet

Heatstroke and Your Pet

As Spring warms up into Summer and the humidity and heat start to really set in, it's good to remember that, like every other member in your family, you need to take extra care with your pet. When the weather begins to heat up, it is easier for you to become dehydrated and dangerously overheated, which can result in falling unconscious, vital organ damage, or even death. The same is true for your pets!

We tend to think of animals as hardier than humans, but the truth is, dogs and cats begin to experience heatstroke (hyperthermia, medically speaking) at the same internal body temperature as humans do — 104° F, with severe heatstroke beginning at 105° to 106° F internally. It might be more difficult for you to gauge temperature with smaller pets such as hamsters, but there's one rule of thumb to keep in mind: always watch the heat index. Meteorologists use the heat index value to determine what the temperature is once humidity is applied and it's this balance of heat and humidity that is dangerous to the health of you and your pet.

Starting when the heat index is 90° F, you need to be sure to take precautions to protect your pets. They won't be able to ask you to turn on the air conditioning or for extra water and they won't be able to tell you when they're starting to feel ill. Your pets depend on you to responsibly monitor the weather and give them what they need to stay healthy and comfortable.

Vaccinations and Examinations

Vaccinations and Examinations

Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. While your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the frequency that your pet should be examined, most recommend either annual or bi-annual visits. Since pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans, they are considered middle-aged by the time they reach 6/7 years old and larger breeds of dogs are often considered to be seniors by the time they reach 8.
 
Typical components of a wellness examination include:

  • Checking the central nervous center

  • Checking and cleaning the ears; treating if required

  • Checking joints and mobility

  • Checking skin and condition of coat

  • Checking urinary and reproductive systems

  • Dental examination

  • Eye examination

  • Listen to the heart

  • Listen to the lungs

  • Observation of alertness and response

  • Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors

  • Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps

  • Weight check
     

Other tests that your pet may be given include:
 

  • Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)

  • Fecal testing, which allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms or whipworms.

  • Blood work which screens for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also gives the veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pet's health.

Flea Prevention and Care

Flea Prevention and Care

Saving Your Pet from an Itchy Problem: Fleas

 

Every parent to a furry pet knows how much of a nuisance fleas can be. At best, your pets become itchy and skittish, but at worst they become miserable and lethargic. And just like ticks, fleas can be a vector for disease for you and your pets! Fleas can be partly responsible for roundworms or flatworms as well as for infections including typhus, spotted fever, cat-scratch fever, or more rarely, the plague.

So what can we do? The best first step is prevention, but if that fails, there are ways to spot the beginnings of a flea infestation as well as ways to stop it in its tracks.
 

Preventing an infestation

Stop an infestation before it can start! When winter turns to spring and the weather starts to warm up, don't wait until you notice fleas on your pets or their playmates. You'll have a much happier home if you follow these easy steps:

  • Keep your home clean. Vacuum your house regularly, especially if you have deep pile rugs, and make sure your pet's favorite spaces are regularly cleaned/washed, aired out, and preferably getting plenty of sunlight.

  • Clean yards fend off more than ticks. Keeping a clean yard, including mowed lawns and trimmed foliage, will drastically reduce the potential for fleas in your outdoor areas. Keeping any trash, especially foods, carefully sealed for disposal will help keep away other animals that are likely to harbor fleas

  • Use flea treatments. There are a number of options for flea treatments available based on the type of pet you have and their age, including spot-on treatments, oral chews, and flea collars. Always read the instructions carefully to avoid harming your pet. And of course, always feel free to come in and talk to our staff about what treatments are best for your pet.

  • Consider professional pest control. This option isn't always in a pet owner's budget, and it should always be considered carefully to ensure the best health for your pets, plants, and fish. This can also help prevent other potentially nasty bugs from biting you and your animals, including mosquitoes.
     

Catching an infestation early

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, fleas find their way into our homes and onto us and our animals. Maybe it's because you live in an apartment and they hitch a ride on your neighbor's dog, or perhaps your selected flea treatment didn't last as long as you expected it to or wasn't effective at all.
 

No matter the reason, we've got a few tips on how to identify a flea infestation as early as possible. The earlier you identify it, the earlier you can get it under control!
 

  • Comb your pet regularly. You can monitor your pet's fur for fleas at multiple stages and check their skin for irritations, bite marks, or other signs of fleas, such as eggs or detritus (blackish-red "flea dirt"). You want to pay close attention to favored locations, such as the back of the head and around the ears, the armpits, or the rump. Remember: fleas will jump on and off of you and your pet, so finding signs of fleas is important, even if you do not find fleas themselves.

  • Fleas love to jump. Fleas are tiny and quick, but they usually appear in groups once the infestation has started. You'll probably be able to feel them jumping on and off of you, especially your feet and lower legs. Your pet's skin will probably also "jump," as they twitch from the movement of fleas (as opposed to being bitten).

  • Keep an eye on your pet's behavior. Are they scratching more than usual? Are they pulling their fur out? Do they have dermatitis? Are they biting at the same area over and over? These are all potential signs that fleas are present. Note: If this behavior is present, but you cannot find any other signs of fleas, take your pet in to be checked by a veterinarian so that they can ensure there are no other health problems.

  • White brings fleas to light. Sometimes it can be hard to determine if the evidence you're finding is of fleas, instead of just plain dirt, especially if your pet spends a lot of time outside. Put down white paper towels when you comb your pet with the flea comb so that you can check the detritus that falls off the pet onto the paper towel or is stuck on the comb to see if it's like dried blood, or if it looks like the earth around your home. Also, if you wear white socks, you'll be able to see the fleas jumping on and off of you.

  • Fleas don't just jump on you. In fact, individually they don't even spend most of their time on you or your pet. Check your pet's favorite places — the dog bed where they love to flop, the spot on the overstuffed chair where your cat loves to sun itself, or even the places in the house where they play the most. Fleas will leave behind similar detritus on your surroundings as they do on your pet.

  • Check all of your pets. If one pet is exhibiting signs of fleas, but your other pet's behavior hasn't changed and they don't scratch themselves much, that doesn't mean the fleas only want to eat one pet, it might just mean that your other pet isn't allergic to flea bites. 

  • Anemia is a concern. Be sure to keep an eye on your pets during regular care and grooming. Lethargy, weakness, and even pale gums can be signs that they're anemic meaning that a high number of fleas are sucking their blood. Be sure to see your veterinarian so your pet can get well!

Picking your Perfect Puppy

Picking your Perfect Puppy

With the World Canine Organization recognizing over 300 different breeds of dogs across the globe, it can be extremely difficult to know which is right for you and your lifestyle. When deciding to bring a puppy into your home, you are making a commitment to at least ten years of love, care, and attention, which is why selecting the right dog for you is absolutely crucial.

With this in mind, we have put together this article to look at the physical and behavioral characteristics of a few popular breeds.
 

American Bulldog

Height (males): 22-28 inches Weight (males): 70-120lbs
Height (females): 20-26 inches Weight (females): 60-100lbs
Life expectancy: up to 16 years

Physical characteristics: Muscular, powerful and sturdy animals that are also surprisingly athletic. With strong jaws and muzzles, they can often look ‘mean’. The tail is low set and is thick at the base and tapers to a point. The coat is short and smooth and comes in an array of colors.

Temperament: American bulldogs make extremely loyal pets that display strong protective instincts towards their families. Highly alert and great with children, they are sociable animals that need to know their place in the family hierarchy. As a firm pack leader, good socialization from a young age and obedience training will make them easier to handle.


Exercise: They are relatively inactive when indoors, but need at least an average-sized yard and a long daily walk.

Health: This breed is prone to hip dysplasia.
 

Alaskan Mamalute

Height (males): 24-26 inches Weight (males): 80-95lbs
Height (females): 22-24 inches Weight (females): 70-85lbs
Life expectancy: 12-16 years

Physical characteristics: The largest of the arctic dogs, the Alaskan Mamalute is a well-built animal that strongly resembles a wolf. It has a plumed tail, large thick feet with tough pads and a dense, coarse coat up to three inches in length. While the coat can come in an array of colors, the muzzle and legs are almost always white.

Temperament: These dogs are sociable, loyal and bright. They are better suited to older children and love to please their human family. However, because they are so friendly, they are more likely to welcome intruders than scare them and therefore do not make very good guard dogs! However, they do have strong prey instincts and should not be around smaller animals. Strong leadership, obedience training, and proper socialization are critical as without them, they can become destructive.

Exercise: Alaskan Mamalutes are very active and love the outdoors, so they are best suited to homes with large yards and an owner who can commit to long daily walks. High fences with buried bases are a must as they like to try and roam. Since they often struggle with hot climates, they will need less exercise and plenty of cool water and shade during warmer times of the year.

Health: This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, bloating, and dwarfism.
 

Bichon Frise

Height (males): 9-12 inches Weight (males): 7-12lbs
Height (females): 9-11 inches Weight (females): 7-10lbs
Life expectancy: around 15 years

Physical characteristics: A small and sturdy dog, the Bichon Frise has a short muzzle and dropped ears covered in hair. It has a thick tail that is carried over the back and a double coat of up to four inches in length that is usually a shade of white, cream, apricot or grey.

Temperament: These extremely sociable animals make ideal companions as they adore human company and love to please their owners. They are excellent with all ages of humans as well as other dogs and are affectionate and intelligent. As with all small dogs, there is a risk of developing small dog syndrome where the animal feels that he is the pack leader to his humans. This can cause them to develop a number of behavioral problems, so be sure to assert yourself firmly as the pack leader in order to prevent small dog syndrome from setting in.

Exercise: The Bichon Frise can happily live in an apartment provided they are given regular exercise through daily walks and play.

Health: This breed can be sensitive to flea bites, and is prone to cataracts, skin and ear ailments, epilepsy, and dislocated kneecaps.
 

Boston Terrier

Height: 15-17 inches Weight: 10-25lbs
Life expectancy: approximately 15 years

Physical characteristics: Compact, square-bodied dogs with good muscle tone and erect ears, the Boston Terrier is a handsome animal. The legs are quite wide set, the tail is short, and the coat is short and fine.

Temperament: These are intelligent creatures that are easy to train and are affectionate with their family. They are good with people of all ages and love socializing. They are also at risk of developing small dog syndrome, so proper authority and obedience training is necessary to ensure that they know their place.

Exercise: Boston Terriers are suited to apartments as well as houses with yards, so long as they get regular walks and play.

Health: Their prominent eyes can be prone to injury, as well as a multitude of eye-related health problems, including glaucoma, ulcers, and cataracts. Deafness, tumors, and breathing difficulties when exercising or dealing with hot weather are also concerns.

How to Help Your Pet Get More Exercise

How to Help Your Pet Get More Exercise

Regular exercise is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Not only does it help with weight control, but it also keeps their joints supple and their heart healthy.

Regular exercise benefits for pets include:

  • Reduction in undesirable behaviors including chewing, barking, jumping up, and being predatory.

  • Maintaining your pet's weight.

  • Helping your dog to unwind and sleep better at night.

  • Keeping your dog healthy and mobile.

  • Reduction in constipation and digestive problems.

  • Building a rapport with your pet and gaining their trust.
     

In recent years humans have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle, and our pets are following suit. However, in order for our pets to live a long, happy and healthy life, you need to ensure that activity is worked into their daily routine. Here is our guide to helping your pet get more exercise.
 

Exercise for Dogs

Until the start of the 20th-century, dogs were primarily bred to work in a range of areas such as military, farming, search and rescue, and sensory support. Whilst some dogs still do work, the majority of them are now couch potatoes where they are provided with more than enough food and water. And since they spend the majority of their time in a confined space, their naturally active tendencies are fading as they become lazier.

Dogs who do not have enough exercise can exhibit some undesirable behaviors including:

  • Destructive: chewing, scratching and digging

  • Hyperactive: extreme excitability, jumping up, etc

  • Play biting / rough play: your dog may nip you regularly when playing

  • Investigative tendencies: this can include garbage raiding

  • Predatory: your pet may get very territorial

  • Vocalization: increased barking, whining, and other attention-seeking sounds
     

Many people believe that having access to a garden or yard counts as exercise, but unless you have the equivalent of a football field outside, then it is not enough. Also, your dog doesn’t want to exercise alone. Interaction with him is the key to getting him moving.

It doesn’t have to mean running for miles either. As long as your dog is moving and his heart rate is increasing, it counts as exercise!

However, before you start your pet off on a regular exercise routine, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
 

  • A dog's exercise needs vary depending on their breed and size.

  • Sustained jogging or running can be problematic for larger dogs as they
    are naturally more likely to suffer from cruciate ligament injuries such as
    hip dysplasia or arthritis.

  • Sustained jogging or running is also not recommended for dogs under 18
    months of age as their bones haven’t finished growing.

  • Brachycephalic breeds (those with short or flat noses) can struggle with
    their breathing during vigorous exercise, particularly if the temperatures
    are warm.


Ideally, you should always consult with your veterinarian before beginning an exercise regimen with your pet.
 

What sort of exercise can I do with my dog?

Almost all dogs will benefit from at least one half-hour long walk per day which would, ideally, occur at the same time every day. This helps your pet get into a routine and is beneficial for helping your dog know what time of day he will get to empty his bladder/bowels.

If your dog is sociable, you should look into a local agility group or class. These can be quite competitive and intense, but they provide a great workout for your pet and are a good way for you to make new friends too. Also, some of the activities that your pet will do are good for developing new skills. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on how to find your nearest group.

Getting your pet active doesn't have to be complicated. For example, you can’t beat a game of fetch! Simple, effective and you don’t need to go too far. You can even play it indoors if the weather is poor, given that you have enough space.

If you live near a lake, river or beach, then take your dog swimming. It is a particularly good exercise for dogs with arthritis as it is gentle on their joints. If your dog is reluctant to get into the water, start by encouraging him to chase a ball or toy into the shallows.

Play hide and seek. It is just as important for your pet to exercise their brain as well as their body. Hide and seek is a light physical activity that stimulates your pet's cognitive abilities.

REMEMBER: never let your dog off of his leash is you are not confident that he will return to you when called.

Poison Guide: What to do if you think your pet has been poisoned

Poison Guide: What to do if you think your pet has been poisoned

Despite how careful we try to be regarding toxic substances, there are still thousands of pets every year who unfortunately suffer from the accidental ingestion of harmful substances, many of which are household poisons. Poisoning can cause extreme health problems and even death, but these can be prevented by understanding which common household toxins may harm your pet and how to poison-proof your home. This guide will also explain some of the symptoms you should look out for and what you should do if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.
 

Most Common Poisons

We have taken information from the Pet Poison Helpline website to bring you information on some of the most common poisons for cats and dogs. Please be aware that these lists are in no specific order and the toxicity levels for these poisons are variable.

Top Ten most commonly reported cat poisons:

  1. Topical spot-on insecticides
  2. Household cleaners
  3. Antidepressants
  4. Lilies
  5. Insoluble oxalate plants
  6. Human and veterinary NSAIDS
  7. Cold and flu medication (e.g. Tylenol)
  8. Glow sticks
  9. ADHD/ADD medications and amphetamines
  10. Mouse and rat poison
     

Top Ten most commonly reported dog poisons:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Mouse and rat poisons
  3. Vitamins and minerals
  4. NSAIDS
  5. Cardiac medications
  6. Cold and allergy medications
  7. Antidepressants
  8. Xylitol
  9. Acetaminophen
  10. Caffeine pills


Plants that are poisonous to pets

Although there are thousands of species of plants, there are a few that are highly toxic to pets.
This list represents some of the most poisonous plants to pets.

  1. Autumn Crocus
  2. Azalea
  3. Cyclamen
  4. Kalanchoe
  5. Lilies
  6. Oleander
  7. Dieffenbachia
  8. Daffodils
  9. Lily of the Valley
  10. Sago Palm
  11. Tulips
  12. Hyacinths
Traveling With Your Pet

Traveling With Your Pet

Being a beloved part of our family means that our pets sometimes travel with us when we go on long journeys. As a general rule, cats typically dislike traveling and are almost always better off staying at home in their own environment. On the other hand, dogs are generally more amenable to traveling, but there are still a number of considerations to make to ensure that the journey is both safe and comfortable for your pet.


Traveling by Car

The most important thing to remember when traveling by car is to ensure that your pet is not free to roam around the vehicle. Not only could this be distracting for the driver, but your pet will not be protected in the event of a crash. You may have seen dog seat belts being sold in some pet stores and whilst they have been approved for sale, there is no reliable evidence proving them to be effective in accidents. Instead, you should secure your pet in a crate that is big enough for your pet to change position if they become uncomfortable and that has been tethered to the car by a seatbelt or other secure method.

  • Do not put animals in the front passenger seat of your vehicle. If the airbag deploys, there is a chance that your pet could be seriously injured.

  • Do not ever leave your pet alone in the car. Animal thieves frequent parking lots and service stations, looking for unattended pets to steal. Also, leaving an animal alone in a warm car can be fatal. On a day where the outside temperature is 85F, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach 120F in just 10 minutes, putting your pet at serious risk.

  • Do not allow your pet to stick his head outside a moving vehicle. Doing so risks injury or sickness by fast-moving air forcing itself into your pet's lungs.

  • Never transport your pet in the back of an open pick-up truck.

  • Make plenty of bathroom breaks. This will also allow your pet to stretch their legs and have a drink.

  • As a general rule, if you wouldn’t allow your child to do it, do not allow your pet to do it either!

Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Lameness is one of the most prevalent problems presented to equine veterinarians. The term is used to describe an abnormal gait or stance due to the animal feeling pain or experiencing a restriction in the normal range of movement caused by underlying mechanical or neurological problems. The pain or restriction can originate from any part of the body such as the hoof, the leg or neck. The degree of severity can vary from a mild change in gait to completely preventing the horse from using or bearing weight on the affected limb. Unfortunately, lameness is the primary reason that older horses are put down.
 

Why might my horse be lame?

There are many reasons why a horse can become lame,
but some of the most common reasons include:

  • Abscesses or bruises in the hoof

  • Back and neck problems

  • Degenerative joint diseases

  • Fractures

  • Laminitis – inflammation of the soft tissue structures which attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall

  • Ligament injuries

  • Tendon damage

Best flea treatments for dogs and cats

Best flea treatments for dogs and cats

As a pet owner, you know that unfortunately, fleas are an extremely common and annoying occurrence. You probably also know how important it is to treat your dogs and cats for worms and fleas on a regular basis. However, with 95% of flea and egg larvae living in your environment rather than on your pet, it is equally, if not more important, to treat your home too, otherwise, the infestation will return time and time again.
 

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

It is not uncommon to be able to spot fleas jumping on and off of your pet’s body, but they are very small and very fast. They are flat-bodied, dark brown or black in color (unless they are full of blood in which case they can be a lighter color) and are usually less than an eighth of an inch big. Typical behavioral symptoms that your pet might display include restlessness and chewing, scratching or licking certain parts of their body more often than usual. If you suspect that your pet has fleas, you can check their skin and coat for signs of the fleas themselves or for ‘flea dirt’ which looks like regular dirt but is actually flea feces. If you aren’t sure if it is actual dirt rather than flea dirt, put some on a paper towel and add water. If it is flea dirt, then it will turn a reddish-brown color as it will contain blood that the flea has ingested and then excreted.
 

Finding the right treatment

With so many different flea treatments available on the market, finding the right one can be tricky which is why we have put together this list of some of the best and most effective flea treatments for dogs and cats to get you started. However, discovering which products will work best for you and your pets may require some trial and error.
 

Frontline® Flea Spray for Dogs and Cats

Frontline® sprays do not contain the potentially toxic insecticides found in many pet store sprays and is a one-stop-shop for any household that has both cats and dogs. It is also safe to use if you have kittens or puppies on your property and is water-resistant, so it is still effective even if you like in an area with high rainfall.
 

Frontline® Plus for Dogs and Cats

A topical version of Frontline®, this formula will repel fleas and other pests at all life stages for a full 30 days. This helps to prevent re-infestation and keeps your home clear of fleas for a month at a time. Like other Frontline® products, it is free of potentially harmful insecticides and is water-resistant.

Canine Distemper

Canine Distemper

What is Canine Distemper?

Also known as CDV, Canine Distemper is a highly contagious viral illness that can be debilitating and even fatal. It not only affects dogs, but can also be seen in certain species of wildlife, including foxes, skunks, and wolves. Puppies and non-immunized dogs are most commonly affected, but pets on immune-suppressing medications may also be vulnerable.

CDV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products, and household bleach is the only known way to eradicate it.
 

What causes CDV?

The CDV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal via bodily fluids such as saliva from coughs or sneezes which is why inhalation is the most common way it enters a new dog's system. CDV attacks the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system.

The virus does not live long once outside the body, so indirect contact is extremely rare.
As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
 

Symptoms of CDV

The primary symptoms of CDV include, but are not limited to:
 

  • Coughing

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Nasal discharge

  • Reduced appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Watery or pus-like discharge from the eyes
     

Once the virus reaches the central nervous system (CNS), it can cause twitching, seizures, and partial or total paralysis. This causes irreparable damage to a dog’s nervous system, often resulting in death.

How to Bath your Cat and Survive Scratch-Free!

How to Bath your Cat and Survive Scratch-Free!

We all know that most cats like water as much as we like receiving a letter from the IRS! While they may spend hours grooming themselves to perfection, there are some circumstances where it may be necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend which usually makes bathing them unavoidable.

Cats can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, causing them to hiss, raise their fur and even lash out at you. However, with some preparation and patience, you can bathe your cat and survive scratch-free. The secret to this involves not so much a bath, but a shower instead!
 

Get Organized

Just like bathing a baby; bathing a cat requires everything that you need to be within arm’s reach.

You should have:

  • A shower or bath with a handheld showerhead.

  • Several towels to clean her off and help her dry.

  • Specialty cat shampoo and conditioner which is available from most pet stores. Additionally, your veterinarian will be able to tell you if there is a particular type that would be best for your feline friend. Just remember, you should never use human shampoo or conditioner as is has a different PH level to the sort suitable for cats and could damage your pet’s hair or skin.
     

Pre-bathing Prep

Before you begin, you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-haired breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the showerhead at a medium level spray.