All posts by James

Tips for Getting Your Dog a Squeaky Toy

Oct. 28th is Plush Animal Lovers’ Day! Does your canine buddy absolutely love his plush toys? Fido is pretty adorable when he’s running after his favorite plaything! However, there are some things to keep in mind when it comes to giving your dog squeaky toys. A local veterinarian offers some tips on choosing your pup’s toys below.

Discarding Old Toys

Generally speaking, squeaky toys are not the most long-lasting dog toys. In fact, some pooches make pretty short work of them! Pay close attention to the condition of your canine companion’s toys, and repair or toss old ones. You’ll want to distract your playful pet by giving him a new toy while you do this.

Rotate

As the saying says, variety is the spice of life. Be sure to rotate your furry pal’s toys out regularly. You may want to do this when Fido is napping or outdoors.

Cleaning

Squeaky toys tend to get crusty and gross pretty quickly. Wash your furry pal’s things regularly. Toys that are in good condition can usually be machine-washed. However, you’ll want to check the label instructions to be sure.

Prey Drive

There are some concerns about squeaking toys and prey drive. Some dogs are just hardwired to go after small critters. That squeak, to Fido, sounds like something he or his ancestors would hunt in the wild. If you know or suspect that your canine buddy has a strong prey drive, ask your vet for tips on suitable toys and play strategies.

Material

Material is also something to consider. Get into the habit of looking at labels. Opt for products that use non-toxic materials.

Squeakers

One of the big things about squeaker toys is the fact that some dogs eat the squeakers. This can actually be very dangerous! Squeakers can cause severe, and potentially fatal, intestinal blockages. If your canine pal does this, you may be better off getting him a different type of toy. If you aren’t sure how your pooch will react, supervise all play sessions carefully. 

Benefits

Squeaky toys can be useful at times. For instance, they come in very handy if you’re trying to get Fido’s attention for a photograph! Many of them can also be great for older dogs, because they’re soft on the mouth. 

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

All About Your Cat’s Whiskers

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

Whiskers Help Your Cat Navigate Her Environment

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

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

Whiskers Can Clue You In on Fluffy’s Mood

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

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

Whiskers Should Never Be Trimmed

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

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

Helping Your Cat and Dog Get Along

Do you have both a cat and a dog? In some cases, Fluffy and Fido bond very closely, and become BFFs. In other cases, they may fight like, well, cats and dogs. A local vet offers some tips on helping your furry pals make peace.

Keep Fido Active

Dogs tend to be much calmer and better behaved when they are getting enough exercise and playtime. Talk time to walk and play with Fido every day. This will help him burn off excess energy.

Don’t Just Go By Breed

Dogs’ breeds can definitely have a huge influence on their behavior. However, don’t assume it’s the biggest factor. Personality is much more important! Consider Fido’s character and history, as well as his breed.

Train Fido

Fido needs quite a bit of training to learn how to be a good boy. Teach your canine buddy to be gentle with the cat … even if Fluffy is pouncing on his tail.

Separate Spaces

One common issue here is that dogs tend to help themselves to both their food and their feline roommates’ dinners. Keep Fluffy’s food and litterbox in an area Fido can’t reach. One option is to cut a kitty door into a closet.

Proper Introductions

First impressions are a big deal to our furry friends. Take time when introducing your pets. At first, keep them separated, and just let them get used to each other’s scents. Introduce them under supervision. If they fight, separate them and start over.

Let Them Grow Up Together

This is really the best option. More often than not, cats and dogs who grow up together do just fine. They may even become playmates and napping buddies! (Plus, you’ll get some adorable photos.)

Offer Safe Spaces

Kitties often feel more secure in safe areas. Make sure that Fluffy has a spot to retreat to in every room. This doesn’t have to be fancy, just somewhere Fido can’t reach her. Vertical spaces, such as cat towers, are great for this.

Know When To Say When

Unfortunately, peace and harmony isn’t always going to happen. Squabbles can be quite dangerous, especially for the cat. If your dog is showing signs of aggression, you may need to rethink things. Ask your vet for specific advice. 

Please reach out to us, your local vet clinic, anytime. We are always here to help! 

What to Make of Your Dog’s Howling

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

When Howling is Normal

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

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

When Howling is Bad

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

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

What to Do if Fido Won’t Stop Howling

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

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

Choosing the Purrfect Cat Carrier

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

Size

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

Material

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

Cardboard

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

Tips

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

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

Is Fido Color Blind? Understanding Your Dog’s Eyesight

One of the best parts of dog ownership is seeing your canine friend stare up at you lovingly, waiting patiently for a belly rub or a treat. Have you ever wondered exactly how they see you? Your dog’s eyesight is different than your own—better in some ways and worse in others. But do dogs see entirely in black and white, or do they perceive color in some way?

Are Dogs Color Blind?

One of the most prevalent myths about our canine companions is that they’re entirely color blind, seeing only in black, white, and shades of gray. It turns out that this isn’t true.

Dogs actually perceive the world much like color blind humans. They see some colors better than others, and different hues of the same color can be difficult to differentiate.

How Are Dog Eyes and Human Eyes Different?

Your dog’s eyes share many of the same components that your human eyes have, including the optic nerve, a retina, and rods and cones that help to process light in order to see colors. So why is there a difference in the way that humans and dogs perceive color?

The answer lies in the cones, which are light-sensing cells in the eye. Human eyes are trichromatic, which means that there are three types of cones in the eye. Each of those three types serves to process different colors on the spectrum: red, blue, and green.

Dog eyes, however, are dichromatic. This means that they only have two types of cones, one to see blues and the other to see a shade that falls somewhere between what a human would perceive as red and green. So, dogs have what we would call a type of red-green color blindness.

How Does My Dog Perceive Color?

What does all of this mean for how your dog actually sees the world? Fido’s eyes are best at picking up yellows and blues. Since your dog’s eyes take these colors in together, they see the world mostly in dark and light yellows, grayish yellow shades, and grayish browns, in addition to dark and light blue shades. This might explain why your pup likes yellow tennis balls so much—the ball probably shows up quite vibrantly against what your dog perceives as a dull background of green grass.

For more insights into your dog’s health and behavior, call the office today!

Craft for Your Local Shelters Day

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

Rope Toy

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

Catnip Mice

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

Kitty Tent

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

Cat Tower

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

Crafts For Smaller Pets

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

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

How Your Dog Cools Himself Down

The human body cools itself down during hot weather or vigorous exercise using one method: sweating. As the sweat on your skin evaporates, it cools you down. But your dog, of course, is covered in fur. So how do our canine companions’ bodies cool themselves in the summer months?

Panting

Panting is your dog’s primary way of cooling off. When your pup pants, moisture starts to evaporate from their tongue, as well as from the nasal passages and the lining of the lungs. Then, the air produced by panting passes over these moist tissues, effectively lowering your dog’s body temperature. It’s actually very similar to the way sweat evaporates off of our skin to cool us down!

Vasodilation

Have you ever noticed your dog’s face get a bit flushed and wrinkly when they’ve exercised in hot weather? That’s because of something called vasodilation. Vasodilation means that your dog’s blood vessels expand, or dilate. When Fido gets hot, blood vessels around the body expand and bring warm blood closer to the skin’s surface, where it cools down. Then, that cooler blood cycles back to the heart to lower your dog’s internal temperature.

Sweat Glands

Although dogs don’t sweat the way humans do, they do possess sweat glands. In fact, they have two types.

Merocrine glands are located in your dog’s paw pads, and start producing sweat when your dog gets hot in order to cool the body down. If these glands were located around the body, the sweat they produce would simply be absorbed by the fur, rendering it useless—that’s why they’re located in the paw pads.

Apocrine glands are located all over your dog’s body, but they don’t produce sweat in order to regulate body temperature. Instead, they release pheromones that dogs use to identify one another.

Keeping Fido Cool

No matter how your dog keeps himself cool, it’s your job to make sure he doesn’t overheat. Don’t leave your pet outdoors in hot, humid weather for long periods of time —bring him indoors frequently so he can cool off. And make sure that your pooch has plenty of fresh water to drink at all times. Water is essential for cooling the body down and preventing dangerous dehydration in hot weather!

Would you like more tips for keeping your dog safe this summer? Give us a call today—we’re here to help. 

National Garfield Day

June 19th is National Garfield Day! This grumpy orange feline has won the hearts of millions with his sarcastic, unimpressed ‘purrsonality.’ A vet discusses this lasagna-loving furball below.

History

Were you wondering why June 19th is National Garfield Day? It’s his birthday! Back in 1978, a little orange ball of cynicism was born in the kitchen of Mamma Leoni’s Italian Restaurant, where he immediately developed a lifelong lasagna craving. In fact, the kitten ate so much that the owner of the restaurant, faced with going out of business, had to sell the food-loving feline to a pet store. Fortunately, cartoonist (and lifelong nerd) Jon Arbuckle saved the day by adopting Garfield. The rest, as they say, is history.  

Friends And Enemies

Although Garfield has always been the star of the show, he’s had a variety of co-stars over the years. This list includes Arlene, his crush; Odie, Jon’s slobbery, eternally gullible dog; a mouse named Floyd; Nermal, the World’s Cutest Kitten; Pooky, his beloved teddy bear; and, of course, his vet, Liz, with whom Jon is hopelessly in love. This fluffy (okay, he’s really just fat) orange furball also has a few enemies. Given the option, Garfield would probably list Nermal and Odie as his main nemeses. However, he’s also found himself at odds with trees, raisins, the occasional spider, screen doors, several dogs, and, of course, every Monday ever.

Rising Star

Garfield was a worldwide sensation by the early 80’s. He soon made the leap from comic strips to TV, starring in such classics as The Garfield Show, Garfield Originals, and Garfield’s Halloween, to name just a few. He released his first book, Garfield at Large, in 1980, and made the leap to the silver screen in 2004 with Garfield: The Movie. The flabby tabby has been voiced by the esteemed actor Bill Murray, and was once the subject of the biggest Macy’s parade float ever. In the ‘90s, he got his own amusement park ride at Kennywood in West Miffin, PA. In 2011, he even launched his own musical! Currently, the lovably lazy kitty holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s most syndicated comic strip. Not bad for a cat that spends most of his time sleeping!

Is your cat obese, lazy, and/or orange? Does your feline buddy torment innocent house spiders or love cuddling teddy bears? Reach out to us, your pet clinic! 

You Can Catch These Diseases From Your Dog

As you know, your dog is susceptible to various diseases and infections. Have you ever wondered whether or not you could potentially catch any of those illnesses from your pooch? It’s a scary thought. And it’s true—it is possible for dogs to transmit certain illnesses to humans. The diseases in question are known as zoonotic diseases.

Read on as your local veterinarian tells you more about zoonotic diseases and how to make sure both your dog and your family members stay safe.

What Diseases Can I Catch From My Dog?

You’ve almost certainly heard of the most infamous of all zoonotic diseases: rabies. It can prove deadly in both dogs and humans! Diseases like Ehrlichiosis, salmonella, leptospirosis, giardiasis, Lyme disease, campylobacteriosis, brucellosis, and ringworm can also be transmitted from a dog to a human. And while rare, it’s entirely possible for parasites like hookworms, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and more to be contracted by a human from a dog.

Are Certain People at a Higher Risk?

Yes, certain people are at a higher risk than others of contracting a zoonotic disease from a dog. The group includes elderly individuals, young children, pregnant women, individuals undergoing chemotherapy or other radiation-related treatments, and anyone with a compromised immune system. But even these people can usually have pets without worrying, assuming they follow a few basic protocols (more on that below).

It’s important to understand that an average healthy adult is not at a high risk of contracting an illness from their dog—it’s very unlikely assuming that the individual practices basic hygiene. And thanks to modern veterinary methods like vaccination and pest-control products, the risk is even lower.

How Do I Prevent the Problem?

Make sure that you and all members of your family practice basic hygiene when it comes to pets: wash your hands on a regular basis and avoid direct physical contact with your dog’s feces. Try to wash your dog’s food and water dishes, bed, and toys regularly so that any germs are destroyed. And last but not least, keep your canine companion on year-round preventative medications to ward off fleas, ticks, and worms, and make sure Fido is up to date on essential vaccinations to prevent disease. These basic steps all but ensure that any zoonotic diseases won’t be transmitted to human family members.  

Does your dog need vaccinations or pest-control medicine? Call today to make an appointment.