All posts by James

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. 

Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month! Lyme disease is a serious disease that can afflict both people and pets. As you may know, the disease is spread through ticks, which are unfortunately spreading throughout North America. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause some very serious—and potentially life-threatening—issues, such as kidney failure and heart trouble. A veterinarian offers some prevention tips below.

Landscaping

Ticks love to lurk in long grasses, leaf litter, and piles of debris, such as fallen branches. Mowing your lawn regularly and keeping up with landscaping will make your property less hospitable to ticks. Putting a three-foot gravel path around the edge of your property can also help. Ticks hate being exposed, and will often turn back at these borders.

Tick Check

Check Fido for ticks daily, especially if he’s been in areas that may be harboring ticks. Pay close attention to his paws, legs, belly, and ‘armpits.’ You’ll also want to check beneath your canine pal’s collar and between his toes. If you do find a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers or a tick remover. 

Parasite Control

Keeping up with Fido’s parasite control is very important! There are now many different products available. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.

No Free Lunch

Many wild animals carry deer ticks. Keep your trash secure, so it doesn’t attract rodents. If you have gardens or fruit trees, pick up fallen produce immediately. Also, use fencing to keep critters out of your garden.

Vaccines

There are vaccinations available for Lyme disease. However, these are not recommended for every dog. Ask your vet for more information.

Protect Yourself

It’s important to take precautions for yourself as well. Wear protective clothing when you go into fields or wooded areas, and check yourself thoroughly when you get back inside.

Tips

Keep in mind that not all ticks carry Lyme disease, and ticks have to be attached to your pet for 24-48 hours to transmit the disease. If your pet has been bitten, watch for signs of Lyme disease, which may not appear for a week or even longer. Some common signs are fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, and swollen joints. Fido may also act stiff and/or uncomfortable, and may limp or keep shifting his weight. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these warning signs.

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

Poison Ivy and Pets

For humans, one of the bad parts about spending time outside during warm weather is the risk of coming into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Did you know that these plants can also affect our pets? It’s not extremely common for pets to develop a reaction to poison ivy, but it’s entirely possible. Read on to find out more.

How to Spot Poison Ivy

When you know how to spot poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you can do your best to avoid it for yourself and your pet. Poison ivy and poison oak have sets of three shiny leaflets—remember the simple rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.” Poison sumac usually grows in swampy or bog-like areas, so you’re more likely to encounter it near a body of water. Sumac plants have clusters of leaflets, so the three-leaf rule doesn’t really apply.

No matter what kind of plants grow in your local area, you can try to avoid any trouble by keeping your pet away from shrubbery and thick forested areas when you’re outdoors.

Symptoms in Pets

It turns out that our pets are far less likely to experience a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac than we are, and for one simple reason. They’re covered in fur, which largely blocks the irritating agent—an oil called urushiol—from reaching their skin. It is possible, though, for your pet to develop a rash on exposed areas of skin that aren’t completely covered in fur. The main sign is, of course, a red, bumpy rash, and you’ll probably see your pet scratching or biting intensely at the itchy area. It’s possible for blisters to appear if the problem persists.

Treating Poison Ivy Rashes

If your pet suffers a rash caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you’ll want to bathe them with a pet-safe oatmeal shampoo. (Make sure not to get any in your pet’s mouth or eyes.) That is usually enough to get rid of the urushiol substance and help your pet feel more comfortable, but let your vet know if your pet is still itchy. And remember to wear gloves while bathing your pet so that you don’t get any of the irritating substance on your own skin.

If you suspect your pet is itching because of contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, let your veterinarian know. We’re always here to help! 

How to Introduce Two Dogs

At some point or another, your dog will almost certainly meet another dog. It might be because you’re adopting a second pup to add to your family, or simply because you’re passing another dog during a walk. But in either case, you’ll want to know how to introduce two dogs properly so that everything goes smoothly. Here are a few guidelines:

Take Things Slow

Rule number one: take it slow. Tossing two dogs together and hoping for the best is not a good idea—in fact, this approach could result in fighting, injury, and worse. Let the two dogs see each other from a distance and approach each other slowly.

Use Leashes

If possible, keep both dogs on leashes during initial introductions. This is essential for maintaining control over the dogs and making sure they don’t feel that they can do whatever they’d like. If you’re introducing two dogs in a controlled environment, have a family member or friend hold one dog’s leash while you hold the other. You won’t have the proper control if you attempt to hold both leashes at the same time. 

Pay Attention to Body Language

The two dogs’ body language is the best indicator of how well the first introduction is going. Paying attention to this can tell you whether the dogs should continue greeting each other or if you should separate them and try again later. 

Signs of a positive first meeting include relaxed body language and facial expressions, tail wagging, and play bows (when a dog puts their front end down and the hindquarters up, indicating a desire to play). On the other hand, if you see things like tense body language, tails tucked between the legs, or growling or snarling, you’ll want to separate the dogs for now. 

Moving Forward 

If you’re bringing home a second dog, give each pet their own sleeping and eating areas. Make sure to give each dog some alone time every day during the first few weeks, because two dogs who spend too much time together can become overstimulated and start exhibiting aggression and other bad behaviors. 

When your pooch meets an unfamiliar dog on the street, take things slow and maintain control over the leash at all times. If the meeting doesn’t go well, simply thank the other pet owner and move on.

Ask your veterinarian for help with dog training and socialization. We’re here for you! 

Fun Facts About Siamese Cats

April 6th is National Siamese Cat Day! Known for being charismatic and talkative, these cute cats have some very loyal fans. A vet lists some fun facts about these remarkable felines below.

What’s In A Name?

The name Siamese cat translates to wichien-matt which means “moon diamond.” That’s a purrfect moniker for these pretty cats!

History

Siamese cats originated in Thailand, which was once known as Siam. Some stories say that they were first raised by Buddhist monks. Other tales say that the first Siamese cats were adopted by royalty. There is some documentation of this: records of them being adopted by royals go far back as 1350. They were also depicted in the Tamra Maew (The Cat Book Poems) which was produced between the 14th and 18th centuries. 

Crossed Eyes and Crooked Tails

Siamese cats traditionally had crossed eyes. According to legend, a Siamese cat was given the duty of guarding a king’s goblet. Fluffy held onto it so hard that her tail bent and her eyes crossed!

Tip Of The Tail

Siamese cats have a very distinctive look, with dark tips on their paws, ears, and tails. Those tips are actually climate-controlled. The gene that causes this color results in cats having pale fur on the warmer parts of their bodies and dark fur on the cooler spots. This same gene is also responsible for Fluffy’s blue eyes.

Color Development

Siamese cats are born white. Those tips appear when they are several weeks old. Although the classic Siamese tips were dark, today breeders also allow blue, chocolate, and lilac.

Spies Like Us

Back in the 1960s, two Siamese cats actually revealed an espionage plot. The cats lived at the Dutch Embassy in Russia. When they started arching their backs and clawing at a wall, the ambassador suspected that something was up. Further investigation revealed over two dozen hidden microphones behind the wall! We hope the cats got lots of tuna and catnip.

Purrsonality

Siamese cats get very attached to their human servants, and absolutely hate being left alone. For this reason, many breeders recommend having at least one other kitty in the house.

Intelligence

Siamese cats are extremely intelligent. They can learn simple tricks, enjoy playing Fetch, and often like walking on leashes. They’re also notorious escape artists that hate being confined.

Please contact us, your vet clinic, anytime. We’re here to help!

Does Your Cat Have a Cold?

Did you know that our feline friends can get their own version of colds or flus? In many cases, cats just feel a bit stuffy and tired for a few days, and then recover on their own. However, kitty colds can develop into upper respiratory infections, or URIs. These can be extremely dangerous! Senior cats and kittens are especially at risk, because of their weaker immune systems. A vet discusses cat colds below.

Warning Signs

Keep an eye out for warning signs. Lethargy is a common one. If Fluffy is stuffed up, she may sleep even more than usual. Some other red flags include coughing, sneezing, fever, runny nose, watery eyes, reduced food and/or water intake, wheezing, and/or difficulty breathing. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

Medicine

Once Fluffy has been properly diagnosed, your vet will be able to give you specific treatment options. These may include antibiotics and/or other medications. Never give Fluffy human medications, unless your vet specifically recommends it. This applies to home remedies too. Things like garlic, whiskey, and turmeric, which are in many of Grandma’s old home remedies, might work for us but are extremely dangerous for our furry friends!

Home Care

Believe it or not, Fluffy may enjoy a bit of chicken soup. Skip the garlic, onions, rice, and pasta: warm, sodium-free chicken broth with some plain, boneless chicken (and perhaps some peas and carrots) is fine. Some kitties like having their canned food warmed up a bit. You can also put a humidifier on and/or bring your feline pal into the bathroom while you shower, so she can breathe the steam. You may want to get your cat a new bed or a comfy throw blanket to curl up in. You’ll also need to make sure your furry buddy is drinking lots of water. Of course, cuddles and ear scritches are on the agenda as well.

Preventing Colds

As the saying says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. First and foremost, keep up with Fluffy’s vaccinations, such as the vaccine for feline calicivirus. Keep in mind that cats can still spread the virus after they have recovered. Keeping your kitty indoors will reduce the odds of her coming into contact with infected felines.

Do you have questions about cat colds? Contact us, your local vet clinic, today!

The Benefits of Antioxidants for Dogs

You’ve definitely heard of antioxidants before. They’re found in many human foods and offer us many health benefits. The question is, do antioxidants offer those same benefits for our canine companions?

The answer is yes—antioxidants are important for keeping your pup happy and healthy throughout their life. Let’s take a look at some of the major benefits of antioxidants for dogs.

They Keep Food Fresh

Antioxidants do just what their name suggests: battle oxidation. Oxidation occurs when food is exposed to oxygen, which will break down the food’s cells over time and spoil it. It’s the same reason that fruit goes brown if it’s out for too long. Dog food is no different. By including antioxidants in dog food, manufacturers can keep their product safe for consumption for extended periods of time.

At home, you can also take steps to keep your dog’s food fresh by keeping it away from heat, light, and moisture. Storing your dog’s kibble in a cool, dry, dark place is your best bet.

They Boost Your Dog’s Health

Antioxidants do more than just protect your dog’s food—they’re also beneficial for your dog’s health. Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals in your pet’s body. Free radicals are naturally occurring agents that contain oxygen, and they damage both healthy and unhealthy cells that already exist in your dog’s body. Antioxidants help to keep free radicals at bay, keeping your dog’s cells healthier for longer and stopping the degeneration of tissues.

Other benefits include increased immune system function, better vision (thanks to antioxidants like leutine and zeanxathin), and even increased exercise tolerance.  Antioxidants also protect the heart and circulatory system from free radicals, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. Even cancer can be made less likely thanks to the power of antioxidants.

They Combat the Effects of Aging

Antioxidants may be especially important for our older animal companions. The older your dog gets, the more that his or her cells suffer small amounts of damage to their structure. That means that the cells, and the organs that they make up, don’t function as well as your dog ages. Since antioxidants combat that cell damage, they’re vital for maintaining your dog’s bodily systems as they continue to enter their golden years.

Want to learn more about the role antioxidants play in your dog’s nutrition and wellness? Need a dietary recommendation? Contact your vet for help.

Can My Pets Be Allergic to Each Other?

As you probably know, your dog or cat can be allergic to many things. Dust, dirt, fleas, mold, pollen, ingredients in their food, certain materials like rubber or plastic… the list goes on and on. But can dogs and cats themselves can be allergic to each other? And if they are, what do you do about it?

Can Dogs and Cats Be Allergic to Each Other?

Yes, dogs and cats can be allergic to each other. It’s possible for dogs to be allergic to cats and vice versa, and it’s also possible for dogs to be allergic to other dogs and for cats to be allergic to other cats.

Pet-to-pet allergies aren’t diagnosed nearly as often as allergies to the substances mentioned above—mold, pollen, food ingredients like pork or soy, etc.—are, but they’re entirely possible. Many people make the mistake of thinking that it’s a dog or cat’s hair itself that causes allergies, but it’s actually the proteins found in pet dander, saliva, and urine. Those proteins cause allergic reactions in humans who suffer from pet allergies, and they’re also the root cause of pet-to-pet allergies.

What are the Signs of a Pet-to-Pet Allergic Reaction?

Pet-to-pet allergic reactions closely mirror the signs of allergic reactions to other substances. Primarily, you’ll notice your pet scratching themselves—that’s because pets that suffer from allergies have an abnormal skin barrier that lets environmental allergens like dust, dirt, and dander be absorbed more easily. The skin responds by releasing histamine, which causes a feeling of itching.

Aside from intense scratching, a pet experiencing an allergic reaction may display signs like sneezing, runny nose or eyes, puffy or red eyes, and red, irritated skin. You might notice bald patches or even skin trauma, caused by your pet scratching themselves to try and find relief.

What Do I Do to Solve the Problem?

If you suspect your pet is experiencing an allergic reaction, whether it’s to another pet in the house or any other substance, call your veterinarian. Tests can be performed to confirm the presence of allergies. From there, allergy medications may be prescribed, or your veterinarian will offer advice on using air purifiers and bathing your pet(s) with medicated shampoo to lessen your allergic pet’s exposure to allergens. Don’t worry—there are many options before it comes to giving up one of your pets!

To learn more, contact your vet’s office today.