All posts by James

The Building Blocks of Your Pet’s Nutrition

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

Protein

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

Carbohydrates

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

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

Fats

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

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

Vitamins and Minerals

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

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

Key Vaccinations for Dogs

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

Core Vaccines

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

Non-Core Vaccines

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

Vaccination Schedule

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

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

Tips for Keeping an Indoor Cat Happy

Do you keep your cat indoors? If, so, that’s great! There are many benefits to keeping Fluffy inside. She’ll be much less likely to ingest toxic chemicals, such as fertilizer and antifreeze. You’ll also greatly reduce the risk of her getting lost, and keep her safe from cars, predators, and other hazards. Last but not least, you won’t have to deal with your pet leaving you gifts on your doorstep. However, indoor cats don’t get as much activity or stimulation as outdoor cats, so you’ll need to take some steps to keep Fluffy happy and purring. Here, a local Georgetown, IN vet discusses indoor cat care.

Safe Space

Cats may try to make us think that they are fearless and invulnerable, but at the end of the day, they’re very small, and are easily frightened. Make sure Fluffy has a hiding spot in each room. This can be a kitty tent, pet tipi, or an enclosed level of a cat tower. Even a spot behind the couch or under the bed will work.

Scratching Posts

Outdoor cats often use trees as nail-care stations. Indoor kitties, however, need something to scratch. Cat towers are great, but you can also use posts or boards.

Veterinary Care

Even if Fluffy stays indoors, she’ll still need regular veterinary care to stay healthy. Most kitties should come in at least once a year. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Entertainment

We know, Fluffy spends a rather excessive amount of time napping. However, she’ll need entertainment options to amuse herself with when she is awake. Offer your feline friend lots of toys, and play with her every day.

Kitty Garden

Give your cat a little taste of nature by setting out pet-safe plants for her to nibble on and hide behind. You can find a full list of suitable plants online at the ASPCA website here.

Vertical Space

If you don’t have a lot of floor space, consider giving Fluffy some vertical space. Get your kitty a cat tower, or put up a catwalk or some cat shelves.

Live Entertainment

Make sure your furball has at least one comfy spot where she can relax and look out the window. Our feline pals absolutely love birdwatching!

Please reach out to us, your local Georgetown, IN vet clinic, for all of your kitty’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!

Signs of Illness in Dogs

Our canine pals can be pretty expressive when they want to be. Fido doesn’t usually have too much trouble making his point when he needs a walk or wants you to play with him. However, it isn’t always as easy to know when our furry friends aren’t feeling well. In this article, a Georgetown, IN vet lists some signs of illness in dogs.

Bad Breath

Fido will probably never be known for having minty-fresh breath. However, if your pup’s breath could kill plants, he could be sick.

Skin/Coat Trouble

Skin issues, such as crusting, flaking, redness, and scabbing, are also a sign that something is wrong. Fur loss is another red flag.

Loss of Mobility

Noticeable changes in Fido’s mobility and/or range of motion can be signs of illness. This may manifest as limping, trouble climbing stairs, and/or stiffness.

Change In Appetite/Thirst

Man’s Best Friend is usually very, very enthusiastic about his dinner. If Fido has lost his appetite, he could be ill. Sudden increases in appetite can also be indicative of medical issues.

Respiratory Issues

Coughing, wheezing, and gasping are definitely warning signs in our furry buddies. Prolonged and/or unexplained panting is also a red flag, as is shortness of breath.

Sleeping Too Much

Dogs certainly love their naps. In fact, many pooches spend about half their time snoozing. However, if Fido is sleeping more than that, or if you’ve noticed a sudden increase in the amount of time your furry pal spends sleeping, he could be sick.

Change In Eye Appearance

Your four-legged friend’s eyes can tell you quite a bit how he’s feeling. Healthy dogs have clear, bright eyes. If Fido’s peepers look dry, dull, red, watery, or sunken, there may be something going on with him.

Tummy Upsets

While an occasional, isolated incident of vomiting or diarrhea isn’t necessarily uncommon, it’s always best to consult your vet when this happens. Frequent or excessive bouts of tummy troubles are definitely a red flag.

Behavioral Changes

Just like people, dogs don’t always feel very sociable when they are ill. Fido may seem grumpier than usual if he’s sick. He may withdraw, and isolate himself. Your canine buddy may also lose interest in playing, seem restless, and/or vocalize in a different way than usual.

As your local Georgetown, IN vet clinic, we are dedicated to offering great care. Please contact us anytime.

Grooming Your Cat

One great thing about kitties is that they are very good about keeping up with their beauty rituals. However, that doesn’t mean Fluffy can’t use a little help now and then. Here, a Georgetown, IN vet discusses grooming your cat.

Bathing

While you don’t absolutely have to bathe your cat, you can if you want to. Just make sure to check with your vet first, to make sure he or she doesn’t object. (Your cat may very well object, but that’s beside the point.) Start by putting a rubber mat down in the tub or sink. Then, fill it with a few inches of warm—not hot—water. Be sure to use a shampoo that is specifically made for kitties. Lather Fluffy up gently, taking care not to get soap in her eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. Then, rinse her gently with a sink sprayer or teapot. When you’re done, pat your furball dry with a soft towel. She’ll take it from there!

Brushing

Even if you don’t bathe your cat, she will benefit from regular brushing. This will remove dead fur, dander, and dust from her coat, which will help keep her looking and feeling great. Brushing also reduces the risk of hairballs, since you’ll be grabbing that fur with a brush before Fluffy can swallow it. (Bonus: you’ll also find less cat fur everywhere.) Pick a time when your kitty is relaxed, and start by petting her gently. Then, incorporate the brush.

Fur Cuts

Does your kitty have long hair? If so, Fluffy may benefit from having the hair around her bottom trimmed. This will stop litter and waste from getting stuck in her fur. Just be sure to use blunt-end scissors.

Eyes

You really shouldn’t need to do much to your kitty’s eyes, though you should keep them clear of ‘eye boogers.’ Just wipe them away gently with a damp cloth or cotton ball. If your pet’s eyes are often watery, red, or full of gunk, contact your vet: this can be a sign of medical issues.

Ears

To clean Fluffy’s ears, you’ll want to use a soft cotton ball and a pet ear cleaner. Gently wipe Fluffy’s ears clean. Never insert anything into your cat’s ear canal. If you see discharge, tiny black dots, or discolored wax, call your vet.

Please call us, your Georgetown, IN vet clinic, anytime. We’re here to help!

Autumn Dangers for Dogs

Fall is officially here! All of the seasons have specific hazards for pet parents to be aware of, and autumn is no different. Here, a Georgetown, IN vet discusses autumn dangers for dogs.

Lawn/Garden Chemicals

At this time of year, many people treat their lawns and gardens with pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers. Your pooch could get sick just by licking his paws after walking through an area that was recently treated. Water your property after applying chemicals, so they soak down into the earth. You may also want to wipe your pup’s paws and belly off before you bring him indoors.

Wild Animals

As the weather cools, many wild animals will be searching for spots to hibernate. This can make them rather cranky, and more aggressive than usual. When walking Fido, don’t let him sniff around anything that could be a potential den. Snakes are a particular concern here: they sometimes hide in piles of leaves.

Antifreeze

Antifreeze is extremely dangerous to Man’s Best Friend. It’s highly toxic, and is particularly concerning because many pets like the way it tastes. Clean up any spills right away. If you see stains or damp spots, put cat litter or sand over them.

Plants

Many plants that bloom in autumn are poisonous to dogs. Mushrooms are a common one. Chrysanthemums are also dangerous to pets. And, while Fido may love playing in piles of dead leaves, be careful here: they can harbor mold or bacteria.

Decorations

Autumn decorations have a special whimsical feel, but you do need to be careful with what you put out. Fido is definitely not above trying to eat a cardboard pumpkin! He could also get tangled up in lights or cords. Hang things above your pet’s height, and be sure to secure wires and cords.

Candy

Candy is also dangerous to your furry best friend! Many sweets, such as chocolate, raisins, nuts, and anything containing xylitol, are toxic to Fido. Hard candies are also unsafe, as they present serious choking risks.

Weather

Fido may have a fur coat, but he isn’t immune to cold weather. Limit your pet’s outdoor time on cold days, and make sure he has a warm bed. If your pooch has thin fur, get him some doggy clothes for frigid days.

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

Taking Good Care of Your Cat’s Skin

Skin problems are relatively common among our feline friends. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep your cat’s skin in good shape throughout your pet’s life. That means a pristine coat of fur and a happy, healthy pet! Here are five quick tips for taking good care of your cat’s skin:

Weekly Inspection

Sit down with your cat about once a week to give her coat and skin a thorough inspection. Run your hands through Fluffy’s coat and take note of any bumps, abrasions, bald patches, scratches, or anything else that seems abnormal. If you think you’ve found something that warrants a professional check-up, call your vet’s office right away.

Quality Diet

One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your cat’s skin healthy is by feeding her a high-quality diet that is well-suited for her age. A balanced, nutritionally complete food choice will provide your cat with all of the necessary nutrients to keep the skin—not to mention other body systems—healthy. Consult your veterinarian if you would like a recommendation on a great diet choice.

Dietary Supplements

For some cats, dietary supplements can help the skin and fur stay healthy and moisturized. Omega-3 fatty acids, certain oils, and other products may be used. As a general rule, don’t give your cat a dietary supplement without approval from your veterinarian.

Brushing

Although your cat is an excellent self-groomer, it doesn’t hurt to give them a little help. Running a brush through your cat’s fur on a regular basis is a great way to help keep the skin healthy—brushing removes grime and dirt from underneath the coat, and it helps to spread your cat’s natural skin oils through the fur to give it a healthy shine. Plus, brushing reduces the amount of hair that your cat ingests while grooming herself; this means fewer unsightly hairballs for you to clean up!

Bathing

Cats typically don’t need bathed very often, but the occasional bath is a great way to make sure that Fluffy’s skin and coat stay clean. Always make sure to use a shampoo formulated specifically for cats, as human shampoos or shampoos made for other animals may irritate your cat’s skin. Ask your vet for advice on how frequently you should bathe your cat.

Would you like more insight into your cat’s skin health or grooming needs? Give us a call today!

5 Reasons Your Dog May Be Barking

Is your canine buddy on the talkative side? Just like people, dogs all have their own personalities. Some pooches are usually quiet, and only bark to let you know there’s someone at the door. Others will speak up about, well, pretty much everything, from the moth in the kitchen to the neighbor trimming his yard. Why does Fido talk so much? A vet offers a few possible reasons below.

Loneliness

Dogs are very sociable, and are happiest when they are with their ‘pack.’ If Fido spends a lot of time by himself, he may be lonely. It’s also possible that your furry buddy is trying to let you know where he is. When you leave your canine friend home alone, try turning a TV or radio on for him. The sound of voices and music may soothe him.

Boredom

Boredom is another possible reason for Fido to speak up. Dogs are very intelligent, and will get uneasy and restless with nothing to do. Provide your four-legged buddy with lots of fun toys, and make sure he is getting enough exercise and playtime.

Curiosity

Dogs often bark when they are curious about something. If your furry friend is usually quiet, but suddenly has become quite talkative, he may be excited or curious about something. It may be the squirrel next door, the neighbor’s new lawn ornament, or a stray cat. Curious barking isn’t always a bad thing: pups also bark when something is wrong, such as a fire or intruder.

Discomfort

Our canine friends also bark to indicate that they are distressed or uncomfortable. Fido may bark if he is hot, cold, or in pain. He may also speak up if he’s confined to a kennel or specific room. Make sure your pooch is comfortable, getting good food and regular veterinary care, and not spending too much time in a crate or on a run. Keeping up with your dog’s grooming and parasite control is also important.

Genetics

Some breeds are simply more talkative than others. Your furry pal may simply be chatty by nature!

Tips

Never punish Fido for speaking: this may only make matters worse. That said, you can teach your pet not to bark as much. Ask your vet or a professional trainer for more information.

Please contact us, your pet hospital, anytime. We’re happy to help!

Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Cats

As you may have noticed, cats are very, very good at getting comfortable. However, while Fluffy can certainly manage to sleep in some very awkward positions, she isn’t quite as good at cooling herself off. In fact, hot weather can be very dangerous to our feline buddies! Fluffy has a fur coat on, and really doesn’t have any effective ways to cool herself down if she overheats. Read on as a local vet lists some signs of heat exhaustion in cats.

Restlessness

One early sign of overheating in kitties is restlessness. If Fluffy is pacing, or keeps moving from spot to spot, she may be getting too hot.

Panting

Panting is definitely a sign that your furry pal is uncomfortably hot. Panting doesn’t cool cats off the way it does dogs, so kitties rarely pant unless they are overheating.

Sweaty Paws

Did you know that cats only sweat through their paw pads? If your kitty’s paws are sweaty, she may be dangerously hot.

Drooling

Drooling is another red flag to watch for. Most cats don’t drool much, if at all, unless they are too hot.

Excessive Grooming

Another thing Fluffy may do to try and cool herself off is groom herself excessively. If your furry buddy seems to be obsessively grooming herself on a hot day, she may be overheating.

Stumbling

Cats with heat exhaustion often lose their coordination. Fluffy may stumble or stagger as she walks.

Shallow Breathing

Shallow breathing is another red flag, and is definitely something to take very seriously.

Lethargy

We know, cats love doing as little as possible. However, if your feline pal seems lethargic, she may be sick from the heat.

Unusual Vocalizations

Cats are all unique, and some have some very unusual voices. What you want to watch for are vocalizations that are abnormal for your pet. If Fluffy is meowing more or less than usual, or if her voice sounds raspy or cracked, the heat may be too much for her.

If you see any of these symptoms in your kitty, take immediate steps to cool Fluffy off. You can give her some water, wrap her in a cool towel, or hold her in front of an open freezer. Call your vet for further instructions as you are doing this.

Please contact us, your pet hospital, with any questions about cat care. We’re here to help!

Choosing a Pet Sitter

Are you considering hiring a pet sitter to look after your animal companion while you’re away from home? There are many great reasons to hire a sitter—your pet will be able to remain in comfortable, familiar surrounds until you’re back home, and a sitter can even take care of grooming appointments or veterinary visits while you’re away. Since you’re giving a sitter access to not only your pet, but your home as well, it’s important to choose someone you’re comfortable with! Use these tips to do just that:

Referrals

One of the best ways to find a pet sitter that you’re happy with is to ask for referrals. Talk to your family members, friends, neighbors, or coworkers to see if they’ve had good experiences with a particular pet sitter that they would recommend to you. It’s also a great idea to ask your veterinarian—they may know of a great pet-sitting service in your area. Lastly, checking online reviews is a good way of getting a feel for a particular sitter.

Qualifications

It’s important that you meet your potential pet sitter before your travels; get to know them, and allow them to get to know your pet. Ask about the sitter’s qualifications—has he or she cared for your type of pet before? Have they completed training in pet behavior or medical care? You may feel much more comfortable hiring a sitter with special qualifications in pet first-aid or emergency care. Don’t be afraid to ask the sitter for a list of references that you can contact to find out about past sitting experiences.

You can also take this time to explain to the sitter any special needs or preferences your pet may have. You’ll also want to outline how many visits the sitter will be making per day, and what visits will include (walks, grooming, etc.). Finally, a discussion of service fees should be had to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Communication

Don’t forget to determine how and when your pet sitter will communicate with you while you’re away on your travels. Many pet sitters will be happy to call you every day, or send you photos or videos of your pet so that you can make sure they’re doing well. Steps like these go a long way toward putting pet owners’ minds at ease!

For more advice on pet sitters, contact your vet’s office.