All posts by James

And Meow, A Word About Cat Towers

Does your kitty have a cat tower? If so, that’s great! This may very well be Fluffy’s favorite piece of ‘purrniture.’ A Georgetown, IN vet discusses cat towers in this article.

Benefits of Cat Towers

Although kitties aren’t officially classed as arboreal, or tree dwelling, they certainly do enjoy trees. Fluffy uses them to sharpen her nails, escape danger, hunt birds, and get a good vantage point of her kingdom. She also sometimes just likes to hang out on them. You probably don’t have a tree in the middle of your living room, so a cat tower is the next best thing.

Refreshing An Old Cat Tower

Sometimes cats lose interest in their towers. There are some things you can do to pique your furball’s interest again. First, try cleaning it. Vacuuming might work, but if it’s really stained or worn, you may want to use a shampooer with an attachment. If the covering is beyond cleaning, redo it in carpet. You don’ t need the expensive stuff! Another thing you can try is moving it to a different spot. Sprinkling catnip around it and/or putting toys near it may also help.

Choosing Cat Towers

Kitty towers are not one-size-fits-all. You’ll want to keep your furry pal’s age, health, and purrsonality in mind when you go shopping. Kittens will appreciate towers that incorporate fun toys and offer them lots of things to climb and hang from. Adult cats may be more interested in napping, and like towers with comfy beds and lounging spots. Senior felines can’t climb as well as their younger counterparts, and will need towers with the lowest levels close to the floor. Do you have a scaredy-cat on your hands? Get something that offers your timid furball lots of enclosed hiding spots. If you have more than one cat, choose pieces that will fit all of your kitties at once.

DIY

Is a cat tower a bit too much for your budget right now? Go the DIY route. You can upcycle an old stepladder, bookshelf, or storage shelf by adding wooden planks to the steps to widen them out. Cover the whole thing in carpet or sisal rope, and tell Fluffy to stay off. She’ll immediately hop on!

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

Playing With A Senior Dog

Playing is one of the best things you can do for your canine buddy. It’s also very beneficial for senior dogs! As Fido grows older, running and jumping will help keep him strong physically. Playing also provides mental stimulation, which is great for his mind. However, there are some things to keep in mind when playing with an older dog. A local Georgetown, IN vet discusses playing with senior dogs below.

Try Different Toys

As Fido ages, he may develop issues with his vision and/or hearing. Try using toys that light up or make noise.

Short Sessions

Your furry friend won’t have as much energy or stamina as he used to. Fido may be tired out after just a few rounds of Fetch. Instead of spending long chunks of time playing with your canine pal, break doggy playtime into several short sessions. Even a few minutes of jumping and running will help!

Don’t Crowd Fido

Younger dogs often like to run and play with their buddies, which is super cute to watch. Older dogs, however, are much more fragile, and just can’t withstand roughhousing from younger pups. Play with Fido by himself or with another dog his age.

Watch The Weather

Older dogs are very sensitive to weather extremes. Don’t encourage Fido to run and play when it’s really hot out. Also, make sure your pooch always has water available.

Don’t Overdo It

Dogs love to try to please their humans. If Fido seems tired, don’t try to make him play. Just let your old buddy rest!

Check With Your Vet

As your furry buddy ages, his needs will change. Ask your vet for specific recommendations about the amount and type of play Fido needs. It’s worth noting that many dogs develop arthritis or hip dysplasia in their golden years. Don’t encourage your faithful pet to jump or to stand on his back legs. That will put a lot of stress on his hips, which can exacerbate these painful bone/joint conditions.

Offer Rewards

Keeping that cute tail going will be one of your biggest jobs as your furry pal ages. Make playtime extra fun for Fido by incorporating treats, praise, and belly rubs. Just don’t go overboard with the treats: you don’t want your pooch becoming obese!

Do you have questions about caring for your senior dog? Call us, your Georgetown, IN vet clinic, anytime!

Helping A Shelter Dog Settle In

October was Adopt A Shelter Dog Month! If you’re planning on adopting a shelter dog, you definitely have our blessing. We love seeing dogs get second chances! Going to a new home is a big deal to Fido, so you’ll want to take some steps to make the transition easy on him. Here, a Georgetown, IN vet offers some advice on helping your dog settle in.

Bringing Fido Home

Your new pup may sleep a lot at first. Being in a shelter is both scary and stressful for Man’s Best Friend! Fido may also be missing his former owner, or need to recuperate from past trauma. If possible, get him set up in a quiet back room, and just let him relax and adjust.

Petproofing

It may take time for you to get to know your canine buddy. Fido may have habits you don’t know about. For instance, he may have a penchant for chewing shoes, or have a digging habit. Make sure your home and yard are dog-safe. This entails removing or securing anything your pooch shouldn’t eat, such as toxic plants, wires and cords, plastic bags and ties, chemicals, medication, and anything small or sharp. Keep personal items, like shoes and books, out of paws’ reach. If you have a yard, make sure that your fencing is secure, so your pet can’t escape. We also recommend getting a self-latching gate.

A Safe Haven

You’ll need to do some shopping. A plush, super comfy bed is a definite must. Fido will also need toys, treats, food, dishes, a crate or carrier, grooming supplies, and waste baggies.

Routine

Dogs thrive on routine. Put Fido on a set schedule for meals, walks, and playtime. The sooner you get your furry friend started out on his new schedule, the better!

Walks

When walking your canine companion, use a good, sturdy leash, and keep a firm grip on it. Fido may bolt if something scares him, so you want to be prepared.

Tail Wags

Every dog is different. Some pups literally bounce with happiness when they realize they’ve been adopted. Others are more timid, and need time to settle in. Focus on giving your pooch great TLC and making him feel loved. Dogs can really blossom with love!

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

Tips for Eco-Friendly Dog Care

We would all like to do our part to live more sustainably and make the earth a better place to be—both for ourselves and for future generations. Did you know that there are several ways to care for your dog in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner? Here are a few tips from your local veterinarian on earth-friendly dog care.

Use Sustainable Pet Products

Purchasing planet-friendly dog products isn’t difficult, and it can make a huge impact when it comes to your pet’s environmental footprint. There are plenty of options out there: biodegradable dog poop bags that won’t take up space in landfills for decades; “green” grooming products, such as shampoos and conditioners; eco-friendly cleaners and stain removers for those accidents on the rug; and toys made from recycled materials are just a few examples.

Try Eco-Friendly Food

Choose dog food packaged in recyclable or biodegradable bags, and try finding companies that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and overall environmental impact. You can also look for foods with higher quantities of plant-based ingredients versus animal-based ingredients, since animal products generally have a much larger environmental footprint than plant-based products.

Try making your own dog treats, rather than purchasing them and contributing to plastic waste. Do some research online to find recipes for healthy homemade treats. Of course, you’ll always want to check with your veterinarian to make sure what you’re feeding Fido is safe.

The DIY Route

When it comes to dog care, there are many do-it-yourself options that save you money while proving environmentally friendly at the same time. Try making your own dog toys out of old T-shirts, or turning that stray couch cushion you were going to throw out into a dog bed. Steps like these cut down on plastic and packaging waste while reducing the impact on your wallet!

Adopt From Shelters

One of the most effective and simple ways to own a dog sustainably is to adopt them from a shelter. Getting your pup from a breeder or pet store means that you’re perpetuating the cycle of breeding, which is very unsustainable. When you adopt your dog from your local shelter, resources like food, toys, medicine, and even energy are freed up to help other animals who need them—you’re saving a life and helping the shelter to conserve its resources.

Contact your vet clinic for even more great tips. We’re here to help!

Helping Cats and Toddlers Get Along

Do you have both a toddler and a cat? Kids and cats are a super cute combination! Kitties can form strong bonds with children. They also make great cuddle buddies and playmates. However, cats and toddlers don’t always understand each other very well, which can lead to friction. Here, a vet discusses helping cats and toddlers become friends.

Warning Signs

When it comes to kitties and toddlers, one common fear is that Fluffy will scratch or bite. Those little claws and teeth are sharp! However, toddlers can also injure cats. You’ll need to keep both parties safe from each other. We recommend supervising all interactions closely. If your cat shows any warning signs, like flattening her ears, immediately separate them.

Escape Routes

Toddlers often try to chase cats, which doesn’t always go over well with our feline friends. Offer Fluffy a spot to retreat to in every room. Cat trees are great for this! If possible, put one in every room. (Tip: fasten it to the wall, just in case your toddler tries to climb it.) Baby gates will work as well. Your kitty may also appreciate having a spot under a bed or behind a couch, or even a pet tent or tipi. Teach your child that Fluffy should be left alone when she’s in her hiding spot. Think of it as a kitty do-not-disturb signal.

Teaching Empathy

It’s never too early to start teaching children to treat animals gently, and with kindness and compassion. Many youngsters have learned the hard way that kitty tails aren’t toys! Take time to show your toddler how to properly pet cats. Use your hand to gently guide theirs. Talk to your furball softly as you are doing this, and let her sniff your child’s hand. With any luck, your feline pal will show her approval with purrs and cuddles. Don’t force Fluffy to submit, however: if she wants to get away, let her go.

Safety

One thing cats and toddlers have in common is that neither of them really know what is and isn’t safe to eat or play with. Fortunately, petproofing and childproofing are quite similar. Remove or secure potentially dangerous items, such as plastic bags, small or sharp objects, medicines, and toxic plants. Also, don’t let your child give Fluffy treats without supervision.

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

Small Dog Care Tips

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes. We love all of our canine patients, from big, goofy St. Bernards to small, feisty Chihuahuas. While most pooches share some common traits—such as a love for snacks and belly rubs—little dogs do have some different care needs from their larger counterparts. Here, a local Georgetown, IN vet discusses caring for small dogs.

Training

Just because Fido is small, don’t assume that he doesn’t need training. Small dogs shouldn’t be allowed to get away with bad petiquette any more than bigger ones. In fact, many small dogs can get rather bossy. Some are even quite aggressive! Teach your canine buddy basic commands, like Sit, Stay, Come, Heel, and Lay Down. This is also important for safety reasons, so you can call your pet to you, or keep him from approaching dangerous areas or other animals.

Exercise

Making sure your pooch is getting enough activity is an important part of any good dog care routine. This is much easier with small breeds. Fido will still need the activity and stimulation of daily walks, but he also gets quite a workout in just running around the house on those little legs. Be careful not to over-exert your tiny pal. These guys get tired out quickly!

Products

When choosing toys and treats for your canine friend, make sure to always pick things that were made specifically for small dogs. Products made for bigger pooches are not safe or suitable for little pups. We also recommend using a harness, rather than a leash.

Grooming

Your furry pal’s grooming needs will depend on the type and length of his coat, so you’ll want to ask your vet for specific advice. That said, it’s worth noting that many little dogs often get tearstains. This may be because they are so close to the ground that they get a lot of dust in their eyes. Use a clean, wet washcloth or cotton ball to gently clean Fido’s face.

Safety

While some small dogs seem to see themselves as much bigger than they actually are, others are very timid, and are easily scared. You may want to teach Fido that you will pick him up if he puts a paw on your leg.

Please contact us, your local Georgetown, IN vet clinic, for your little dog’s veterinary care needs. We are always happy to help!

Ginger Cat Appreciation Day

Do you have a ginger kitty? If so, you may want to get Fluffy a special treat or a new toy. Today, September 1st, is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day! A Georgetown, IN vet discusses ginger cats in this article.

“In my head, the sky is blue, the grass is green, and cats are orange.” ― Jim Davis, creator of Garfield

About Ginger Breeds

Ginger cats—also known as orange tabbies or sometimes marmalade kitties—are not associated with any specific breed. In fact, ginger coloring is acceptable in almost all breeds. There are four different variations of coat patterns, including the classic, mackerel, striped, and ticked patterns. As you may have noticed, our redheaded feline pals can display quite a few different hues. Some are dark red, some are more cream-colored, and others look quite orange. This is because of a specific pigment, which is called pheomelanin. And, in case you were wondering, yes, this is the same pigment that is responsible for red hair in humans.

Famous Ginger Cats

There quite a few celebrity ginger cats. Morris, the famous cat food ‘spokescat,’ is one of the first ones that comes to mind. (Note: three different kitties have played Morris, and they were all adorable. They were also all rescued from shelters!) You may also have heard of the Youtube celebrikitty, Marmalade, half of the lovable Cole and Marmalade duo. Last but certainly not least, we have Garfield, the lasagna-loving, eternally unimpressed furball that has been charming readers since 1978. Beloved worldwide, this famous cartoon kitty is known for being lazy, hating Mondays, drinking coffee, and scheming against his canine roommate, Odie. What’s not to love?

Fun Facts

Kitties all have their own adorable quirks, and ginger furballs are certainly no exception. It may interest you to know that most orange kitties—about 80 purrcent, in fact—are male. Why? No one knows! It’s just one of many of Fluffy’s adorable and mysterious quirks. Another cute thing about ginger cats? They often get freckles. Ginger cats also seem to share some purrsonality traits. While all cats are unique, with their own characters, people with ginger cats often report that their furballs are lazy, affectionate, and love to eat… just like Garfield!

Do you have questions about your ginger cat’s health or care? As your Georgetown, IN vet clinic, we’re here to help. Call us today!

Essential Oils That Are Toxic to Pets

Essential oils have become very popular, and with good reason. They smell wonderful, and can be helpful for both cosmetic and medicinal purposes. They are also often utilized for aromatherapy and in personal care products, like soaps and lotions. However, what is good for us isn’t always good for our animal companions. In fact, some essential oils are dangerous for pets. Here, a vet offers information to help keep your pets safe.

Cats

Cats have very sensitive skin, which tends to absorb things very quickly. They are also extremely sensitive to toxins. This is because Fluffy doesn’t have essential liver enzymes that allow her to metabolize toxins. Essential oils are particularly dangerous because they are distilled, and are therefore much more potent than the plants they are derived from. Kitties are also at risk through inhaling oils via diffusers or sprays.

Never use peppermint, wintergreen, citrus oils, tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, pennyroyal, or tea tree on or near cats or their belongings.

Dogs

Many essential oils are also unsafe for dogs. The list includes cinnamon, tea tree oil, citrus oils, pennyroyal, peppermint, wintergreen, ylang ylang, pine, and sweet birch. Clove, garlic, anise, thyme, wintergreen, juniper, and horseradish are also unsafe.

It doesn’t matter whether your pooch eats the oil or gets it on his skin. Keep in mind that Fido has a very, very sensitive nose. What may smell wonderful to you can be overpowering to pets.

Tips

Since the above oils are not safe for pets, it’s best to stick with safer oils, such as lavender, frankincense, and vanilla.

However, if you do use oils that are toxic to pets, exercise caution when using them. Keep them away from your furry friend, and store them out of paws’ reach. If you want to burn oil in a diffuser, keep your pet in a separate area. Also, be sure to wash your hands after using these oils. That way, you won’t accidentally transfer any to your pet’s skin. It’s also worth noting that each pet is different. One dog may immediately react to an oil, while another may not be affected at all. Individual allergies can also play a role in whether your pet reacts to a certain oil or not.

Please contact us, your vet clinic, with any questions or concerns about your pet’s care. We’re here to help!

All About the Elizabethan Collar

When a pet is recovering from a surgical incision, wound, skin infection, or some other bodily harm, there is a natural tendency to scratch, bite, lick, or chew at the site. Of course, this kind of self-traumatization extends recovery time and can even cause a pet to heal improperly! That’s where the Elizabethan collar comes in—these cone-shaped plastic devices fasten around your pet’s neck to prevent any form of self-trauma during recovery.

The Basics

The Elizabethan collar—nicknamed the E-collar and sometimes referred to as the “cone of shame”—is named after the ruffs worn by the wealthy in Elizabethan-era England. It was first patented in the United States as a protective item for pets in the late 1950s. Elizabethan collars can be used on dogs and cats alike, and are usually made of plastic but may also be made from other materials, like fabric. E-collars may fasten around a pet’s neck with string or Velcro, or they may have adjustable tabs or bands built in.

Proper Sizing

There are different sizes of Elizabethan collars, and it’s important that the proper size is given to the pet who needs it. If a collar is too tight, it could choke a pet; if it’s too loose, it could fall off and allow the pet to inflict harm on themselves.

Another important consideration is the length of the E-collar. Ideally, the end of your pet’s cone will sit near the tip of their nose, allowing them to go about their business with relative normalcy while also eliminating their ability to scratch, bite, lick, or chew themselves.

Caring for a Pet With an E-Collar

Keep a close eye on your pet whenever he or she is wearing their E-collar. It’s possible for pets to get the collar stuck between things, or your pet could manage to bite off and ingest a piece of the plastic.

When an Elizabethan collar is sized and fit properly, a pet should be able to eat and drink without a problem. That doesn’t mean that they’ll actually do it, though! If your pet refuses to eat or drink while wearing the collar, you may have to remove it for meals while making sure they don’t chew or scratch at a healing site, and then reattach the collar when they’re done. Ask your vet for further advice.

To learn more about the Elizabethan collar, call your vet’s office.

Your Cat’s Body Language

If you own a cat, you know that they can sometimes be a bit aloof. One of the best ways to tell what your cat might be thinking or feeling is by studying their body language. While it’s not an exact science, there are a few traits common across most cats that are good indicators of your feline friend’s mood. Learn more below:

The Tail

Experts agree: your cat’s tail is one of the best gauges of their temperament. Most of the time, you’ll see your pet keep her tail in the “default” position when walking around; the tail will be held upright in a gentle fashion. A raised tail with a curl means your cat is feeling comfortable and playful, while wrapping the tail around your legs—or around another cat or pet in the house—is a sign of affection.

A tail that’s held rigidly straight up in the air, puffed with hair jutting out wildly, is a sign that your cat is alarmed and ready to defend herself. This tail position is likely to be accompanied by widened eyes, a hiss, and a crouched front half with claws extended. If you see this type of body language, it’s best to get out of the way!

The Eyes

As mentioned above, wide eyes mean that your cat is frightened or tense. Generally speaking, the wider your cat’s eyes are, the more anxious she is—and the more ready she is to defend herself or retreat.

Have you ever seen your cat blink slowly at you? The slow-blink is another piece of your cat’s body-language puzzle. Since closing the eyes around other pets or people is a sign of trust, the slow-blink is a way of communicating affection. Sometimes, cat owners are able to slow-blink at their cat and get a slow-blink in return… try it with your feline friend!

The Ears

When your cat is alert and focused on something, you’ll probably see the ears pointed upward and cocked forward. Pointed ears could also indicate tension or alarm. Ears that are upright but turned backward indicate that your cat is alarmed—she’s ready to bolt or defend herself if necessary.

Remember: every cat is different and might display certain body language traits that are unique to them. To learn more about your feline friend’s behavior, or to set up an appointment for an exam, call the office today.