articles

articles

articles

Avian Vet Care

Once you have found one or more veterinarians that have the training and experience to handle birds, it is important to schedule an appointment to meet them and reassure yourself that they are the best person to support you in caring for your bird. To do this, some of the questions that you could ask include:
 

  • Are you a member of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV)? To be accredited by this association a vet needs to demonstrate a particularly high standard of care when treating pets.  

  • How long have you been treating birds? Obviously the greater the amount of experience the professional has, the more likely they are to be able to offer knowledgeable, comprehensive service. 

  • What species of birds are you familiar with? Different types of birds react differently to certain medical procedures, so you need to find a vet that is knowledgeable about specific treatments that will work for your bird. 

  • Do you offer emergency or after-hours care? Sometimes accidents and illnesses arise outside of office hours. If these are serious enough to warrant immediate medical care, you need to be sure that your vet, or an alternative specialist vet, is available. 

  • Do you offer house calls? Birds are not great travellers and the experience can make them extremely stressed. This can exacerbate whatever illness or injury is ailing them. Many specialist avian vets offer house calls for both emergencies and routine veterinary care. 

  • What costs are involved with the services you offer? Unfortunately, since birds are more specialized than other animals, the cost of caring for them can be greater. Ask your vet for information about their fees so that you can understand what costs you will be liable for, should your feathered friend become unwell.
     

With the right care both at home and from a qualified and experienced avian vet, your bird can enjoy a long, healthy and happy life with you and your family.   

Finding a Reputable Breeder

Where to start

Looking online is an obvious and tempting place to start looking for breeders, but unless they have been personally recommended or are affiliated with recognized kennel club’s then you could potentially waste time looking at unscrupulous. Instead, consider asking your local vet, visit a dog show or look online at The American Kennel Club who offer breeder referrals. Of course, there is no substitute for reliable personal recommendations either so if you know someone with a fantastic puppy, ask them which breeder they used.
 

Questions to ask the breeder

There are a number of questions that you can ask breeders which will help you identify whether they have the best interests of their animals at heart. The key things you should be asking are:


How long have they been breeding for?

Most serious breeders have been dedicated to the practice for some time, and there is a little substitute for experience. The longer someone has been breeding then the more knowledgeable they will be.


How old is the mother of the litter?

A responsible breeder will not breed an animal until it reaches full maturity, and for dogs, this should be no longer than two years old, ideally three.


How many litters do you raise per year?

Responsible breeders will ensure that female dogs are bred no more than once per year, and typically will breed no more than two, maybe three litters per year so they can ensure they have enough time to dedicate to raising them properly. Any more than that is indicative of a commercial operation or puppy farming.


Do you only breed one type of dog?

Again, breeding more than one variety of dog could be indicative of puppy farming.


Where do the puppies live?

The very best environment for a puppy to be raised in is a regular household. This ensures that they get used to regular visitors, children, and other animals, meaning that they are being socialized from birth. A puppy that is raised in a family environment is more likely to be friendly and relaxed. Puppies that have been raised isolated from humans are prone to anxiety, shyness or aggression.


How often are the puppies handled?

Again, handling is a big part of socializing your puppy and a reputable breeder should ensure that their puppies are handled regularly by a variety of people.


Can I meet the parents?

While many breeders use stud dogs meaning that the father is often not available for viewing, any reputable breeder will be able to give you plenty of information about the physical and temperamental characteristics of him, as well as full health information.

The mother should always be available for viewing alongside her puppies. While it is understandable that she may be wary, she should still be attentive and friendly towards you. The mothers’ health information should also be readily available, and you can gauge her size and temperament for an idea as to how the pups may behave in maturity.


Can I speak to people who have previously had puppies from you?

Any good breeder will be happy to provide you with references of successfully homed pups. They may even go so far as to refer you to other breeders.


Can I have copies of health clearances?

If applicable, certain breeds may be tested for specific genetic conditions and given a health clearance certificate by an independent agency such as the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. These should be made available to you. Responsible breeders will also ensure that their pups have flea prevention treatment, worm treatment, and applicable vaccinations before letting them go to their new homes.
Other signs of a good breeder:
 

  • Reputable breeders will likely ask you to sign a spay/neuter contract for your pet which promises that you will take the necessary steps to avoid breeding and subsequent addition to the huge overpopulation of dogs.

  • The environment is clean, has a neutral odor and the animals are supplied with fresh water, beds, and toys.

  • Enthusiastic breeders often participate in dog shows and competitions alongside breeding.

  • A reputable breeder will provide you with as much ongoing support as you need either by email, phone or occasionally in person. If for any reason you are unable to continue to care for the dog, a responsible breeder should always offer to take them back to ensure that they are well cared for until they can be re-homed.

  • The breeder is honest about any drawbacks of the breed you are interested in. For example, if the breed is particularly noisy, or prone to specific health problems.

  • The breeder asks you lots of questions. For a reputable and responsible breeder, the interview goes both ways. They have the pup’s best interests at heart and want to ensure that they go to loving homes that are prepared for the commitment they require. It has been known for breeders to refuse to sell pups to people that they feel cannot provide a suitable home for their animals.
     

We hope that you will find this article helpful in sourcing a reputable breeder for your family pet.

Canine Parvovirus

Diagnosis

A combination of tests are required in order to give an accurate diagnosis of Canine Parvovirus. These tests can include but are not limited to:
 

  • Biochemical profiling

  • Blood tests

  • Imaging studies including x-rays and ultrasounds

  • Physical examination

  • Urine analysis
     

You will also be asked to provide a comprehensive history of the health of your pet and the progression of any symptoms that they have displayed. You may also be asked to provide samples of other bodily fluids.
 

Treatment

There is no cure for CPV itself, but instead treatment revolves around easing symptoms and ensuring that further problems such as bacterial infections do not take hold. This is usually done in a hospital environment and may involve intravenous fluid therapy, nutrition therapy, anti-sickness medications, antibiotics and anthelmintics.

Puppies have a lower survival rate because of their underdeveloped immune systems. The survival rate for adult dogs is usually around 70%. Dogs who do not survive usually succumb to secondary bacterial infections, organ failure from severe dehydration, intestinal hemorrhages or as a result of toxins in the bloodstream.
 

Prevention is better than cure!

As with most illnesses, prevention is almost certainly better than cure. Vaccinations against CPV can be done as early as 8 weeks old and puppies should be vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks, after which they should be kept from socializing with other animals for another fortnight. After 16 weeks of age, they should be sufficiently vaccinated to have contact with other animals. If your pet is one of the higher-risk breeds your pet may require an extended initial vaccination program.

If you are re-homing an older dog then check with the shelter or current owner when it last had a CPV vaccination. If you are in any doubt at all then consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet receives the correct vaccination program for their requirements.
 

Ongoing Care

Dogs that have had CPV need to be kept in isolation for a minimum of two months after the initial recovery stage. Your pet will still have a weakened immune system and your veterinarian will be able to advise you on ways that you can boost this. Your pet will also prefer an easy to digest diet, and for its food and water to be close by. Ensure that you regularly clean all of your dogs’ equipment with non-toxic cleaner.

Unfortunately suffering from CPV does not leave your pet with immunity and there is no guarantee that it will not reoccur. Make sure your dog is vaccinated against CPV as soon as possible, and stick to a regular schedule.

Dental Hygiene and Oral Care

Anesthesia for procedures

We always recommend and utilize the use of anesthesia for all dental procedures.
There are always risks when using an anesthetic, however, these risks are outweighed by the fact that this makes all procedures safer for your pet, safer for the vet, and ensures efficacy. Attempting procedures without anesthesia can present other dangers to the animal or vet. Especially when work needs to be done under the gum line, any movement could mean harm to your pet from our dental equipment.

After all, your pet cannot have a reasoned discussion with our staff the way you can with your dentist. Procedures are likely to make them afraid, and they will probably try to get away. Animals who are in pain will act defensively and are likely to bite. Even when they're healthy, most animals cannot hold still enough or hold still long enough for procedures like X-rays to be completed correctly.

Advances in the latest anesthetics mean that for most normal procedures, your pet can go home on the very same day. Your pet may remain groggy, but behavior should return to normal the next day.
 

Procedures we offer

The procedures we use to treat your pet's mouth are very close to the procedures a dentist uses for you. An examination is performed before any procedure.

Your pet's health is as important to us as it is to you. That's why we provide a full offering of dental procedures. These include:
 

Hygiene:

  • Scaling (removal of plaque and tartar above the gum line)

  • Polishing

  • Filing

  • Cleaning plaque and tartar below the gum line

  • Examining below the gum line for signs of disease (X-ray)
     

Oral Procedures:

  • Endodontic therapy (Root canals)

  • Tooth restoration

  • Orthodontics

  • Periodontal disease treatments

  • Infection treatment
     

Surgical procedures:

  • Fracture repairs

  • Extraction of teeth or dental pulp

  • Oral cancer or cysts treatment

  • Cleft palate treatment

  • Tooth abscess treatment

Equine: Castration

Types of castration

Castration can be achieved in two ways. Which is right for your horse will be dependent on his age, size, and temperament, among other factors. Your equine veterinarian will be able to advise which is most suitable for your animal.


Open Castration

Open castrations are the most popular method of this procedure and they can be performed by an experienced and qualified equine veterinarian in the usual environment of your horse.

Depending on the size and temperament of your horse, the procedure may be carried out under heavy sedation, a local or general anesthetic.

In some cases, it is possible to castrate a horse while they are stood, but this is only undertaken in extremely laid-back and well-managed equines. During open castration, one incision is made over each testicle, but rather than being closed with sutures, they are left open so that they can drain and heal freely.


Closed Castration

Closed castrations must be performed under sterile conditions at your equine veterinarian’s surgery and under a general anesthetic. While the procedure is the same, in a closed castration the wounds are sealed using sutures. This significantly reduces the likelihood of hemorrhaging, but the wounds are unable to drain as well as those in open castrations and many horses will develop reasonable swelling at the castration site in the days or even weeks after the operation.


Recovery Period

During the recovery period, most equine specialist veterinarians will recommend that your horse gets some light exercise every day. This will encourage the wound to drain and minimize any swelling. If you have a paddock, then your horse should be left to move around as normal. However, if your horse is stabled then he should be walked out 3 or 4 times a day for at least ten minutes each time.

All horses are given post-operative antibiotics and pain relief for the procedure. Your veterinarian may provide your animal with a prescription for some follow-on pain relief as he recovers from his castration.
 

Complications

Castration should always be performed by a qualified and experienced equine veterinarian. However, any surgery carries a risk of complications. These includes:
 

  • Infections Castrations are usually carried out during spring and autumn to avoid some of the infection risk posed by flies during summer and mud during winter. Some infections can be picked up during the surgery itself, regardless of how clean the environment where the castration takes place is. Your veterinarian will ensure that maximum hygiene is achieved regardless, in the hope to minimize any infection risk.

  • Post-operative bleeding This is more common in open castrations, but can occur in either case. A little blood is usually of no concern, but if your horse experiences a constant stream of blood or you are concerned about excessive bleeding then make immediate contact with your equine veterinarian.

  • Swelling Some swelling after castration is completely normal, and this may increase until around five days’ post-operation when it should reach its peak. Gentle daily exercise is recommended to help minimize swelling.

  • Hernia Herniation of the abdominal contents through the wound. This is much more common in open castrations and castration of foals. However, the risk can be minimized by using the closed technique of castration instead.

  • Reaction to anesthetic The use of anesthetic always carries some risk with it, but your equine will be given a pre-anesthesia examination to ensure they are low-risk of an adverse reaction.

Picking Your Perfect Cat

Breed examples

We have put together a short table demonstrating some of the traits of popular
cat breeds to help you understand which variety may be right for you. Whilst
this table is limited, there are a number of sources online that you can use to
research your chosen breed further, or consider others that we have not
included.

We hope that you have found this article helpful and wish you every success in
picking your perfect cat.

Feline Distemper

Diagnosis

Diagnosing FPV can be tricky as many of the symptoms that present themselves can be indicative of a wide range of illnesses, such as pancreatitis or poisoning. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake a combination of tests in order to give an accurate diagnosis. These tests can include but are not limited to:
 

  • Biochemical profiling

  • Blood tests

  • Physical examination

  • Urine analysis
     

You will also be asked to provide a comprehensive history of the health of your pet and the progression of any symptoms that they have displayed. You may also be asked to provide samples of other bodily fluids.
 

Treatment

There is no cure for FPV itself, but it is possible to treat the primary and most life-threatening complication of the virus which is dehydration. Your cat will immediately begin on intravenous fluid therapy to bring their hydration levels up and restore the balance of electrolytes in their system. Antibiotics may also be prescribed in order to prevent the onset of any infections that your cat may be vulnerable to.

If treatment begins within the first 48 hours of contracting the virus, the survival rate is substantially higher.
 

Prevention is better than cure!

As with most illnesses, prevention is almost certainly better than cure. Vaccinations against FPV can begin when kittens are around 8 weeks of age. They should then receive booster vaccinations at 12 weeks and 16 weeks.

If you are re-homing an older cat, then check with the shelter or current owner when it last had an FPV vaccination. If you are in any doubt at all, then consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet receives the correct vaccination program for their requirements.
 

Ongoing Care

Cats that are recovering from FPV should be kept in isolation for several weeks with their litter tray, food, and water all nearby. Your cat will also need plenty of love and affection, so ensure that you adhere strictly to thorough hand washing protocols to avoid unintentionally spreading the virus.

Surviving the Feline Distemper means your cat will be immune if it comes into contact with the virus in the future.

Homeopathy for Animals

What happens during my pet’s first appointment?

The initial consultation will usually last around an hour and will involve you giving comprehensive information about your pet to your homeopathic doctor. You may be asked about your pet’s medical history from birth (or from as far back as your ownership goes), about his emotional wellbeing, his allergies, his eating and drinking patterns and so on.

This is necessary for your homeopathic doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis and to select the right homeopathic treatment. With more than 2500 currently on the market, it is vital that your doctor gets the correct remedy in place as soon as possible. As such, the more information that you can provide about your pet, the better!

Once your doctor has all of the information that he needs he will be able to put together a treatment plan for your pet. You will then be contacted to return to the doctor a few days later to discuss your pet’s plan and receive your supply of homeopathic remedy. You will also be given any other advice that the doctor feels may be beneficial to your pet, for example guidance on exercise or nutrition.
 

How long will it take before we can see results?

It is important to remember that homeopathy treats the root cause of the problem rather than just masking the pain and symptoms. It is also important to remember that everyone heals at different rates, and it is no different for animals. You will need to be patient and allow your pet time to heal naturally. As a general rule, the longer a problem has existed then the longer it will take to treat it.
 

How much does homeopathy cost?

While the actual homeopathic medicines are relatively inexpensive compared to controlled pharmaceutical drugs, your doctor will have to spend a number of hours creating your pet’s tailored treatment plan.

If you have been referred to homeopathy by your veterinarian, all of part of the cost of the treatment may be covered on your insurance. Please check with your insurer for more details. 

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

Ensure your kids like the species or breed of pet

Sometimes, your children may not be comfortable around certain animals and new pets. While it's important to help your child overcome certain fears and become comfortable with new experiences, it's important to remember that sometimes forcing a child to interact with an animal — especially living with a pet — is not okay. Only you, as the parent, can make that determination, and some things can go without saying. You shouldn't buy a new pet tarantula for a kid with arachnophobia.

Kids are just as likely to lash out at an animal when they're afraid. Whether it's crying or screaming, or something as physical as pushing or hitting, this can create a bad atmosphere for the pet, even ones that are gentle and like kids. Since the pet is unable to understand, this can only create a cycle of tension that will inevitably lead to an animal defending itself.


Training, training, training

Pets, especially young cats or dogs, can go through behavior training that will make them more likely to be comfortable with and behave around children. Once they've been trained, you can intercede with appropriate commands for the pet as well as the child. Sometimes, even pets that don't like kids can be trained to interact safely. This is especially good if there's a child that doesn't live with you that visits often or for long periods of time (e.g., when kids visit grandparents for the summer). Be sure to seek professional help with this. We can offer some great suggestions!

Of course, they're not the only ones that need training. Kids need training too! They're still learning the right ways to behave and the boundaries between "nice and playful" and "mean and hurtful." Without being taught, kids can't understand that they may think pulling on a pet's ears is funny (especially if the pet temporarily tolerates it) but the pet doesn't like it, making it a bad thing to do. Depending on the pet, there's also special ways you need to handle them; kids need to learn how to pick up rabbits or gerbils correctly, to wash their hands after handling certain reptiles, and not to tap on a fish tank window. Be sure to teach them when to leave your pets alone, such as when they're eating, when they're sleeping, or when they're defecating.

Below are more tips to keeping pets and kids happy and comfortable while they play:
 

  • Always supervise interactions, or have someone who understands the importance of child-animal safety supervise them. This will enable you to intervene and redirect any poor behavior as well as ensure the pet is never cornered.

  • Keep initial introductions between the child and the pet calm with you in control. This will influence their behavior and enable a pleasant hello.

  • Train animals like cats and dogs (especially if they're large) to not jump at new arrivals, especially children.

  • Use treats to reinforce positive associations and good behavior. This can be especially effective with cats.

  • Don't allow any roughhousing, especially if the pet and the child are still adjusting to each other. It can be hard to know if the pet is becoming anxious or if the child is going too far. It can also be hard to ensure your pet won't get too rough with the kid.

  • Similarly, don't let your child attempt to ride or lift large pets (e.g., dogs).

  • Learn the signs of anxiety and agitation in your pet (e.g., panting without exercise, growling, bared teeth, defensive postures) so you can tell when to separate your child from the animal.

  • Remember that any pet can act out and harm a child through scratching and biting.

  • Find ways to prevent pet toys and children toys from becoming confused in order to avoid territorialism.

  • Make sure your pet has a safe space to retreat to away from children. (This may be as simple as a dog crate or an elevated cat bed.) Being cornered or trapped will make an already anxious pet afraid and more likely to lash out.

  • Teach your child the appropriate way to approach animals, and to never try to approach or touch any animal that does not belong to your family.

Equine: Dentistry

Dental care for foals

It is important to be aware that losing baby teeth isn’t just for humans. Foals will also lose their first teeth after a few years, with adult teeth coming in behind them at around five years of age. In some instances, there can be dental problems during this transitional period including impacted teeth and infections.


Dental care for older equines

Horse’s adult teeth continue to grow for the duration of their lives. This means that they need to be worn down adequately to prevent serious dental issues from occurring. While this happens naturally in the wild, domestic horses will need to visit an experienced equine dentist for a procedure known as ‘floating’ which involves filing down the teeth manually. This procedure is usually required at least once every 12 months to ensure that your horse’s teeth are kept even and at a suitable length.


Tooth removal

Horses may lose or require teeth to be removed for a number of reasons. However, this can make it tricky for your animal to chew and eat their regular food. If your equine struggles to eat properly, is spraying or dropping food, or if you are worried that he isn’t getting the nutrition that he needs, then you should consult with your veterinarian about his diet. It may be necessary to switch to a different variety of food or way of feeding in order to keep your horse in optimum health.

Regular visits to a qualified and experienced equine dentist can help prevent painfully and debilitating dental conditions and ensure the overall health and wellbeing of your horse.

Exotic Animal Medicine

One of the main reasons that these animals are classed as exotic and should only be treated by a veterinarian with experience of the species is because their anatomy is so completely different to that of a cat or dog. In addition to this, the behavior that they might exhibit when sick or in pain, as well as the effects the illness or injury has on her body, can vary widely. For example, a vet will need specialist knowledge to diagnose and treat a bird with a fractured wing successfully. A specialist veterinarian with unique knowledge of the body and behaviors of your species of pet is necessary for an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment to be obtained. 

Equally, the medications that will be required will vary greatly compared to those drugs that would usually be administered to a canine or feline pet. Only a specialist veterinarian will have the understanding of these medications and how they should be used to treat your pet.

Exotic animals also have specific nutritional and environmental needs that vary greatly from the more basic living requirements of dogs and cats. If they are to remain healthy, they demand their owners to most closely replicate the habitat that they would live in if they were still in the wild. For example, animals that are used to hot, humid weather like lizards and snakes are best kept in vivariums that can be heated sufficiently. A specialist exotic vet will have the knowledge and experience to be able to make recommendations relating to these aspects of your pet care. 

Exotic animal medicine is a specialist area and if you have an exotic pet, you must seek out a veterinarian who has sufficient training and experience in dealing with your variety of animal if he is to get the best care possible. Ask local owners of similar animals for recommendations or go online to search out exotic vets in your area. 

Equine: Endoscopy

Why might equines require an endoscopy?

Health problems are a concern for any responsible animal owner and an endoscopy may be recommended to help with diagnosing any number of conditions. However, endoscopies are routinely used in the sale/purchase of racehorses. This is because they can accurately identify the presence of a laryngeal condition that can affect the ability of a racehorse to successfully perform.
 

Equine endoscopies and laryngeal hemiplegia

Laryngeal hemiplegia (also referred to as recurrent laryngeal neuropathy or laryngeal paralysis) is an important and not uncommon condition amongst racehorses where the nerves that supply the muscles of the larynx become diseased, impeding their ability to function correctly. This prevents the larynx from opening completely, preventing the animal from taking adequate breaths and consequently reducing its’ ability to perform at full capacity.

Racehorses with laryngeal hemiplegia make an unusual ‘whistling’ noise when they breathe, caused by the narrower airway. An endoscope inserted into the upper respiratory tract will be able to identify the condition and this examination is commonly known as ‘the wind test’. Portable endoscopes are often used at horse sales/purchases for this reason so that the buyer can be sure that their horse is in good health and will be a sound investment. Trying to race a horse that suffers from laryngeal hemiplegia would be irresponsible as it could prove to be extremely dangerous to their health as they struggle for adequate breath.

Why cats like to relax and sleep up high

Your cat may prefer small, enclosed spaces too, particularly when asleep. Again this comes from the need to feel protected. Many cats love to sleep in cardboard boxes that are enclosed on all sides as this means that they only have one point of entry to keep a sleepy eye on, reducing their vulnerability.

Once your cat does find the perfect place to sleep, she may be happy there for a while. However, in many cases you may find that she will switch spots after a few months. The exact reason for this can only be speculated – after all if you have found the perfect spot, why move? – but experts suggest that it comes from the fact that cats are extraordinarily clean creatures who severely dislike dirt and dust. Therefore, if the area in which they sleep becomes too dirty or the scent changes, your cat will probably start looking for somewhere else to sleep.

Cats sleep – a lot. In fact, most cats will sleep anything up to 16 hours per day, so make sure that your feline friend has somewhere where she feels safe and comfortable to relax and nap.

Euthanasia

What happens during the euthanasia procedure?

Understanding what happens during a euthanasia procedure before the event can be beneficial. Not only will you understand the medical process, but you can be comforted by the knowledge that your pet will be put to sleep in a completely painless and peaceful way. Your veterinarian will explain the procedure to you fully, but if you require further clarification of any elements of the process then we will be happy to provide this.

Smaller to mid-sized pets are usually placed on a table, whilst larger animals are most easily put to sleep on the floor. This also removes any discomfort your pet may feel by lifting. Ensure that you take their favorite sleeping blanket to give them added comfort during this time. A veterinary technician will usually hold your pet still to ensure that the procedure is done swiftly and smoothly. If your pet is unlikely to stay still for the procedure, then the veterinarian may give him a sedative beforehand.

Most often an IV catheter is placed into a vein the front or rear leg of your pet. This ensures that the vein does not rupture when the euthanizing drug is injected. Your veterinarian will then use this vein to inject your pet with an overdose of sodium pentobarbital or another anesthetic drug. This causes your pet to fall into unconsciousness, before slowing and then stopping the heart altogether.

Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to confirm that the heart has stopped beating. For a few minutes after the process, you may witness involuntary muscle twitching and breathing from your pet. The bladder and bowels may also release. These are perfectly normal occurrences and no cause for concern. You are then usually given the option to spend a few minutes alone with your pet.
 

Cremation or Burial

Ahead of the euthanasia process, you will be asked whether you would prefer for your pet to be cremated or prepared for burial. Cremation is very popular. You can scatter your pet's’ ashes in their favorite walking spot, keep them in an urn, or arrange for them to be made into jewelry or a paperweight.

Alternatively, you may wish to bury your pet. If you want to bury your pet at home, you should check any local ordinances for restrictions. There are also pet cemeteries located across the US and your veterinarian should be able to advise you on the cemetery closest to you.

How to Adopt a New Pet

Where to find animals you can take home

You probably know by now that buying a pet is a bad idea; you can never know for sure whether or not your pet comes from someplace like a puppy farm. That means you'll need to find a rescue group, local humane society, or an animal shelter. Of course, that means you'll also have a lot of options, especially since adoptions are often much less expensive than purchases and include a number of medical services as a part of the fee.

We can suggest local shelters or organizations, and we may even be able to let you know about any special adoption events in the area. Or, if you aren't local, simply do a Google search for your city and state with the terms "animal shelter." Municipal shelters and local welfare societies will be in your search results

Another great way to connect with local rescue groups is to head to — believe it or not — Petco or PetSmart. While both of these companies are national corporations, both have made a promise to partner with rescue organizations in order to save adoptable pets from being euthanized. You can find organization information and even meet adoptable animals in store.

If you're too impatient to head to a shelter or store, are a little more remote, or are just looking for more options, there are online services that can help you connect with pets locally and across the country. Some rescue groups are even willing to fly animals from one location to another if it means the animal will have a loving home! Here are just a few of your online options:
 


How to choose your new pet

You might already know exactly what you're looking for in a pet, and that's great! Be sure to chat with adoption staff to make sure that your expectations for what you'll need to do, how much it will cost, and how your pet will behave are realistic. After all, just because a dog is tiny enough to live in an apartment doesn't mean the dog will be quiet enough.

This is especially important if you already have pets, have children, or are adopting an older animal. Some animals are too rough to be around children, or react poorly to other animals. It isn't fair to you or your pet to put them in a situation that's going to make them uncomfortable or afraid and which may cause them to lash out.

Some sites, like the ASPCA, have suggestions on how to pick the right animal for you. That's not just about breed, it's also for helping to decide between a dog and a guinea pig. Other sites offer experts that will suggest matches based on your needs, including AdoptAPet.com. And of course, visiting pets at the local shelter or talking directly with foster-pet parents will help you know exactly what the animal needs. Some shelters or organizations may even offer home visits with the animal before adoption to make sure it's a good fit.


Actually adopting your new pet

Before adopting your pet, you'll want to make sure you're already ready to bring an animal home. You don't want to bring a cat home without a litter box, or bring back a bird with no cage for it to nest in. If you need to pet-proof your home, that should be done beforehand as well. You should also be sure you've got some free time to help your pet adjust to its new surroundings, especially if you have kids or already have pets. Once you're ready, you can contact the shelter or rescue group.

Every organization is going to have a slightly different process and price for adoption, but there is a general process that you should be prepared for.

1. Filling out an adoption application. (This may be a general form for eligibility, or may pertain to an animal in particular.)
2. Choosing your animal.
3. Filing an adoption agreement formalizing fees and declaring the health status and current vaccinations for your animal.
4. Paying adoption fees.
5. Finalized medical care for services not already rendered (e.g., spaying).
6. Transporting your animal home.

Pet Loss Support

Bereavement following Euthanasia

Following the decision to euthanize your pet, you can often feel extreme guilt, bitterness and regret and constantly ask yourself if you could have done anything more. While these are normal responses, it is important to remember that any good veterinarian will never agree to euthanize a pet if there is another viable option. If your pet has been put to eternal sleep then you should try and process that it was the kindest and most humane option for your beloved pet.

Some owners who have made the decision to euthanize may find it easier to complete all stages of grief as they will have had longer to process the decision and come to terms with it.

If you chose to be with your pet during his final moments, then this trauma can continue through the grieving period. Replaying those memories, although painful, is completely normal. If you chose not to be with your pet when he was put to sleep then you may feel an overwhelming sense of guilt. Again this is normal and part of the grieving process.

At this point your heart will very much be ruling your head, but as your grief progresses then you will be able to rationalize that whatever decisions you have made regarding your pet’s departure from this life were made because you loved him and wanted to end his suffering in the kindest, most painless and humane way possible.
 

Telling your children your pet has died

For many children, the loss of a pet will be their first experience with death and can help them learn to cope with other losses during their lifetime.

Breaking the news that your pet has died will likely be very distressing so you should try and do so in a place where your child feels safe and secure; and there are minimal distractions. What and how you tell your children will depend largely on their age and maturity level.

If you are getting ready to euthanize your pet you should consider preparing your children by explaining to them that the veterinarian did everything they could for your pet, that he wouldn’t or couldn’t get better and that it is the kindest way for your pet to die without feeling hurt or scared. You may wish to give your children the option of saying a final goodbye to their pet.

It is recommended not to use the words ‘sleep’ in any context as younger children may take this literally and become frightened of going to sleep themselves either for anesthesia in the future, or even just going to sleep at night.

If your pet’s death is unexpected then calmly and simply explain the basic details of what happened, for example "Rover’s heart was poor and couldn’t work anymore". Using words like death and dying may be a good way to explain what they are to your child. You need to make sure that they realize that your pet is unable to come back to them.

Whether your pet was euthanized or was taken from you suddenly, you should let your child’s questions guide how much information you provide them.

Can I just tell my child that their pet went away?
You could tell your child that their pet has gone away, but this isn’t advisable as they may expect their pet to return to them. Alternatively if they find out the truth this can anger or upset them.

What do I tell my child if they ask what happens after death?
Only you can decide what is appropriate to tell your children, and you may choose to answer based on your personal beliefs. However it is ok to tell your children that you don’t know and that what happens after death is a mystery.

How might my child react?
Your children may experience grief in the same way that you do. However they choose to express themselves you should try and support and understand them.

Basic Pet Bird Care

Many people mistakenly believe that birds should mainly eat nuts and seeds, but this is incorrect. Instead these should be occasional treats and not part of her regular diet. If your pet bird is unwell, your vet may recommend that she follows a very specific diet – ask your professional for more advice. 
 

Hygiene

Cleaning out your bird’s cage is essential if she is to remain healthy and happy. A daily cleaning of the cage floor and bowls is recommended. Check the paper as you replace it – any signs of blood might suggest that your bird is unwell. In addition to replacing the paper daily, you should also do a thorough clean of her cage using hot, soapy water at least once a week to keep it in optimum condition. 
 

Grooming

Yes, bird grooming really is a ‘thing’ and it is important to keep your feathered friend looking and feeling great. Ideally you should bathe your birdie at least two times a week, either using a spray bottle or by setting up a bird bath in your sink or using a shallow bowl of water. After her bath, gently towel dry her and keep her in a warm room away from draughts. She may even enjoy a gentle blow-dry – just be sure to use a warm, not hot, setting and keep her a good 12 inches back from the dryer. 

If you have a parrot, you will find that her nails need to be clipped on a fairly regularly basis to prevent them from becoming too long. Parrots also need to have their wings clipped to prevent flight and keep her safe. Consult with your specialist avian veterinarian for these services. 
 

Toys and mental stimulation

Mental stimulation is just as important for a bird as any other type of pet. Many are extremely intelligent and playful creatures, in particular parrots who are well-known for their curious and inquisitive nature. Provide a variety of toys to help keep her entertained – you can pick these up in any good pet store. You can even give her a piece of corn on the cob, or place leaves on or against the outside of the cage for her to peck at with her beak. 

Human interaction is crucial too, and your bird will love spending time bonding and playing with you. Talk to her, take her out in a secure room and enjoy games together, encouraging her to return to you with a small treat. Make a fuss of her and ensure she knows how important she is to you and your family. 

If you are considering bringing a pet bird into your family and would like further advice and guidance before you do, our team has the experience and knowledge of avian care needed to help you offer your bird a safe, comfortable and happy home. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.  

Seasonal Care

Spring

Spring is a great time of year for the whole family, but chocolate can be toxic and even deadly for animals. Dogs are most commonly affected as they are renowned for having a ‘sweet tooth’.

The most common symptoms of chocolate ingestion are seen within the first 12 hours and can include:
 

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting

  • Excitement or trembling that may be perceived as nervousness

  • Excessive thirst and occasionally excessive urination

  • Muscle spasms

  • Seizures

  • Coma (rare)

  • Death (rare but if death occurs it is usually as a result of heart rhythm abnormalities).
     

Chocolate is toxic to dogs and another animal because they are unable to break down a chemical component in it known as Theobromine effectively. If you suspect that your pet has ingested chocolate then you should immediately contact your veterinarian for advice.


Summer

Dogs release excess heat through their paw pads and by panting. Unfortunately, animals with brachycephalic (flat) faces such as pugs and Persian cats are unable to pant as effectively due to their shortened nasal passages. This makes them more vulnerable to heatstroke and dehydration.

Dehydration is a major concern for all animals in summer. Ensure that you regularly offer plenty of cool water to your pet and that there is somewhere shady for them to rest. You should also keep them indoors during the hottest part of the day.

If you cannot place the back of your hand on to the sidewalk and hold it there for more than 5 seconds without it becoming painful then it will be too hot for your pets paws and you should avoid letting them outside until it has cooled.

Antifreeze can also leak out of overheating cars. See our advice on antifreeze in the ‘winter’ section above.

Don’t forget sunscreen! It is possible to buy specialist pet sunscreen to protect your pet from the summer sun. It is especially important to apply to pets with short fine hair and pink skin. You must never use any sunscreen that is not designed specifically to be used on animals. Speak to your veterinarian about the sunscreen that is right for your pet.

If you take your dog to a river, lake, pool or the beach to cool off then be very vigilant of their safety in the water.

Pet Obesity

How can I tell if my pet is overweight?

There are several methods that you can use to determine if your pet may be overweight or obese. These are simple physical checks that you can do in your own home.

Dogs and cats should be hourglass shaped with a clear taper at their waist. Overweight animals do not have this taper and appear more oval or egg shaped.

In a pet of a healthy weight you should be able to feel, but not see, their ribs. Visible ribs are indicative of an underweight animal. If you place your hands on either side of your pets chest and still cannot see their ribs then they are very likely to be overweight.

Animals do not usually reach major levels of obesity until they are at least 7 years old, but when they do they have noticeably large amounts of hip and neck fat, and a very large and round abdomen.

Veterinarians are also able to determine your pets’ Body Fat Index by taking a number of different measurements, and then will be able to advise you if it is within healthy parameters.

If you are at all concerned about the weight of your pet then contact your veterinarian to make an appointment to determine if your pet would benefit from a specifically tailored weight loss program.


Treatment

Just like their human friends, the key to combating obesity in pets is to decrease the number of calories being eaten and increase the amount of exercise taken. Many guidelines suggest that food is automatically reduced by 25%, however we recommend that you speak to your veterinarian who will consider your pets breed, age and general health before recommending drastic changes to their diet or lifestyle.

Your veterinarian will undertake regular monitoring of your pet during any tailored weight loss program to ensure that weight loss is steady and achieved healthily. They will also advise changes to the program if any aspects are not working as they should. Activity levels can also be monitored and increased in line with your pets’ weight loss and improving fitness.


Weight Loss Tips

 
  • Avoid giving your pets snacks from the dinner table – all those little nibbles quickly mount up to a lot of extra calories.

  • Limit treats to several times a week. The calories given as treats must be deducted from the total daily recommended calories your pet is given.

  • Follow the feeding instructions and ensure that your pet is eating the right amount of food for their current stage of life.

  • You may want to consider how many times per day you feed your pet. Sometimes splitting larger portions into smaller, more regular meals will help keep your pet feeling full and satisfied.

  • When it comes to exercise with your pet get into a routine. Whether it’s going for walks or playing with them, try and do it at the same time every day. This way your pet knows what to expect and it quickly becomes a habit for both of you!

Microchipping


What does pet microchipping involve?

 

Pet microchipping is a fast, painless process that is no different to your furbaby receiving a vaccine. The microchip itself is contained within a glass capsule no larger than a grain of rice. This is implanted under the skin, usually between your pet’s shoulder blades. Once in place, it can be left for the duration of your pet’s lifetime. 
 

Each microchip contains just two pieces of information. These are a unique reference number and the name of the microchip provider. When a lost pet is found, a veterinarian, shelter or other professional with access to an RFID scanner will be able to scan the area between the shoulder blades to check for the presence of a microchip. The scanner will activate the chip, which is otherwise dormant, and the unique number and the name of the microchip provider will be displayed on the scanner’s screen. The service scanning the animal can then contact the chip provider to obtain the personal information relating to that unique reference number which is contained on a secure database. Finally, the owner can be contacted and told that their pet has been found. 
 

Are my personal details safe?

 

Naturally, many people are concerned about the safety of their personal information. Rest assured that microchip providers invest a great deal of money and expertise into their security systems and there are protocols in place to ensure that no one can access your personal details without bypassing stringent security measures. You can also choose how much information to give your microchip provider, with many owners choosing only to divulge their name, city and contact number to minimize the risk of identity theft. 
 

Is pet microchipping safe?

 

Although there is slight risk associated with any surgically implanted device, the microchip used contains no moving parts and lies dormant until it comes into contact with an RFID scanner. Contrary to what many people believe, there is no evidence at all to support the theory that pet microchipping causes the development of any health problems at all and experts agree that the benefits of microchipping animals far outweigh the miniscule risks attached to the process. 

If you would like to arrange an appointment to get your pet microchipped, or if you have any further questions about the process, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices. 

Training Your Pet

What positive consequences should I use?

The biggest thing that your dog craves is love, attention and affection from his human family. Rewarding their good behavior with these should make your pet happy and lead to successful training. Occasional commercial dog treats can be used if necessary too.
dwd
For more information on training your dog, speak to your veterinarian who may be able to direct you to local dog or puppy training classes.


Training your Cat

Cats are naturally independent creatures that are not as inclined as dogs are to work for praise or attention. They are also harder to motivate. This does not mean that they cannot be trained, but you will need additional patience.

Just like training a dog, you should reinforce desired behavior by offering positive consequences whilst undesirable behavior should be left unrewarded. However unlike dogs that are happy to be rewarded with affection, positive consequences for cats almost always have to be food-based. Find the food treats that your kitten or cat likes best. These could be small chunks of meat, tuna or commercial cat treats.

Some people use a clicker or a pen with a clicking function to train their feline friends. Clicking at the precise moment that your cat performs desirable behavior helps them to make the association which the positive consequence then reinforces.

Bringing Your Pet Home

Toilet training

When it comes to training your pet to do their business in the correct location, patience is definitely a virtue. Be consistent and stick to a routine. If you have a dog then let them outside at the same times every day – first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after meals is a good place to start. Stay with them to bolster their confidence, but wait ‘in the wings’ until they are finished. Most kittens are trained to use the litter box before they go to their new homes. If you need to reinforce this training then place them in the litter tray after waking and meals. Using a litter box does go against a cats’ natural instinct so once they are settled you may find they prefer to do their business outdoors. With both dogs and cats, positive behavior reinforcement by way of praise, attention, affection and treats is the quickest and easiest way to get them trained.

 

Take the day off and limit visitors for a while

If you can, taking the day off to spend with your new pet is an ideal way to help them settle in to their new home. It is crucial to give you and your pet time to get to know one another without outside pressures.

Try and limit new visitors to the house to a minimum until your pet has settled in. It is most important that your pet gets to bond with you and your family first of all.

 

Prepare children

Children are naturally curious creatures and will no doubt be extremely excited by the arrival of your new pet. Explain to them that animals take some time to adjust to a new environment and may be scared, nervous and wary of them for a few days. Take the time to educate your children how to treat your pet with the care and respect that they deserve.

 

Adopting an older pet?

If you are adopting an older pet it is prudent to try and find out as much as possible about the history of the animal. You will then know what sort of temperament and behavior to expect. You will also know any considerations that you may need to make. For example some pets that have gone hungry when living with previous owners can be guarded, possessive or even aggressive at feeding times and need to be given space to eat.

 

Exercising your dog

When exercising your dog do not let him off the lead for at least the first 4 weeks. Begin training him to return to you when called by gently pulling his lead towards you.

Retractable leads are very useful for this reward his successful return with lots of praise and affection.

When you feel that your dog is ready to be let off the lead, begin in a secure fenced location until you are completely sure that he will return to you when called. Make sure he has a secure means of identification, either in the form of a collar and tag or ideally a microchip.

 

Letting your feline outside

Before you let your cat or kitten outside for the first time ensure that she has adequate identification either in the form of a collar and tag or ideally a microchip. Cats can wander quite far from home and you want to make sure you can be contacted if she gets lost.

You will need to consider your immediate environment before you let your kitten or cat outdoors. If you live near a busy road then you may wish to limit her time outdoors to quieter traffic times.

Once outside your kitten is vulnerable to diseases so you should wait until at least a week after she has finished her first course of vaccinations (approx. 13/14 weeks of age). You should also ensure that spaying or neutering has been done before letting them roam.

You can train your cat to respond to you calling her by offering praise and goodies such as tuna chunks or commercial cat treats.

Heartworm

Heartworm in Cats

Cats are naturally more resistant to heartworm and once infected the worms have a lifespan of only 2-3 years. Adult worms do not grow as long as seen in dogs, and fewer microfilariae mature into adults. Similarly there is much less microfilariae present in a feline blood stream – an average of only 20% compared to 80-90% seen in canines. Worm burdens are also much lower with an average of only 1-3 worms seen per cat.
 

Symptoms of Heartworm in Cats

Many cats are able to rid themselves of heartworm before any symptoms become evident. However some infected cats have been known to die without presenting any warning or symptoms.

Once a cat is bitten they will develop HARD – Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease. During this time your cat will experience shallow, rapid or difficult breathing along with coughing and wheezing. The symptoms are not dissimilar to that of feline asthma or bronchitis. Other symptoms that may present themselves are very non-specific such as changes in appetite, lethargy and weight loss. This makes heartworm much harder to detect in cats.
 

Heartworm in Ferrets

Ferrets are similar to dogs in that they are far more susceptible to heartworm than cats. Microfilariae levels found in the blood stream of ferrets is typically around 50-60% and they usually have low worm burdens.
 

Symptoms of Heartworm in Ferrets

Symptoms of heartworm in Ferrets are very similar to that seen in cats with respiratory difficulties and fatigue being the most prevalent indications. However like their feline counterparts, heartworm in ferrets is difficult to diagnose.
 

Diagnosis of Heartworm

How to diagnose heartworm is similar across the species.
 

Diagnosing Heartworm in Dogs

Dog suspected to be infected with heartworm are usually given an antigen test. This is a blood test that detects proteins that are released by adult female heartworms into the bloodstream of the host animal. However this test cannot usually detect infections that are less than 6/7 months old as before this time as any microfilariae may not be fully matured.

Other methods of diagnosis include imaging during which time x-rays or ultrasounds of your dog will be taken to determine if heartworms are present.

Diagnosing Heartworm in Cats and Ferrets
Heartworm is trickier to diagnose in cats and ferrets and it is necessary to use a combination of blood tests and imaging to provide an accurate diagnosis of the disease.
 

Treating Heartworm

The FDA has a number of approved heartworm treatments available for dogs, the majority of which use arsenic which is effective at killing off adult heartworms. There are also several drugs which are able to eradicate microfilariae from your pets’ blood stream.

Whilst there are no treatments approved specifically for cats and ferrets infected with heartworm, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe treatments approved for other species under ‘extra label drug use’. Talk to your veterinarian to discuss the best option for your pet.

Any treatment for heartworms also poses a risk to your pet due to the toxic nature of some of the ingredients which have been known to cause life-threatening complications including blood clots. Diagnosis and treatment can also be expensive due to the number of tests and comprehensive care your pet will require.
 

Prevention is better than cure!

As with most illnesses, prevention is almost certainly better than cure. There are a number of preventative treatments available via veterinarian prescription including injections, oral tablets and topical liquids.

Pets older than 6/7 months of age should be tested for heartworm before beginning preventative treatment, whilst newborn animals can be treated right from their first vaccinations.

Speak to your veterinarian who will be happy to advise you on the best course of preventative care for your pet.
 

Are humans at risk from Heartworm?

Heartworm is spread via mosquitoes and is not contagious. In very rare cases people can get heartworm after being bitten by an infected mosquito, but we do not make natural hosts and any larvae usually die before reaching adulthood.

First Aid for Pets

Fractures

If you believe that your pet may have fractured a bone then he may be in considerable pain. Muzzle him if you can and then place your pet on a flat surface to support the fracture. Wrap a blanket or towel around him to keep him in place and then take him straight to your veterinarian. Unless you are a professional we highly recommend that you don’t try and use a DIY splint as this can cause more harm than good.
 

Heatstroke

Far too many pets, especially dogs, die from being left in cars on warm days. Even if you don’t feel that it is particularly hot outside, the heat inside a vehicle can escalate very quickly through the glass. Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle on a sunny day.

Pet’s can suffer from heatstroke extremely easily. If your pet is panting excessively then it is because he is trying to cool himself down. Here is what you should do to help him:
 

  • Move him to a cool; shaded area.

  • Put a towel into cool or cold water and then wrap it around your pet’s head and neck; taking care not to cover his eyes, nose or mouth.

  • The heat will be absorbed into the water so you should repeat this process every few minutes to ensure extremely cool water is being used.

  • If you can, use a hose so that cool water is continually running over your pet’s body. Pay special attention to the stomach and the area in between the hind legs as this is the area that retains the most heat. Use your hands to gently sweep the water away from its body.

  • Once you are satisfied your pet is cool enough to be moved, take him straight to see your emergency veterinarian.
     

Poisoning

Exposure to poison can be a common problem for pets and steps should be taken to ensure that anything containing hazardous chemicals, including human medication, should be kept in locked cupboard away from your pets.

As a general rule, anything that is toxic to human beings should also be considered to be harmful to your pet. However, there are also a variety of common food items that are hazardous to your pet. For a comprehensive list of pet poisons then we highly recommend you check out the Pet Poison Helpline website http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/.

If you believe your pet’s skin has been exposed to a toxic product such as bleach or other cleaning product then you should use the information given on the product label for what you should do if a human came into contact with the chemicals and apply the same instructions.

If you believe your pet has consumed something harmful then you should contact the Pet Poison Helpline which is open 24/7 and give them as much information as possible about your pet and the type of poison you believe he may have consumed.

You should also ensure you collect anything that your pet has vomited and seal it in a bag so that you can take it with you to your veterinarian’s office.

6 Ways Owning a Pet is Good For Your Health

4. A Happy Pet Can Boost Your Mood

The majority of overall physical health benefits of owning a pet might be a product of their mental health benefits. There’s nothing like being greeting by a happy dog after a long day. 

Pets are also often used in various forms of cognitive therapy. For instance, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, they give dogs to soldiers as a way to help with post traumatic stress disorder. Having a pet gives you something to look after, a purpose to get up in the morning, and someone that will love you unconditionally.
 

5. Pets Help You Socialize

This is geared more towards dog owners, unless you frequent cat cafes. Owning a dog can help you socialize, because they increase the likelihood that you’ll go out and do things. Something as simple as taking your dog for a walk around the neighborhood can cause you to bump into neighbors with familiar faces, who are probably excited to see your cute pupper out and about. Pets can be conversation starters, giving people a reason to talk to you on the streets. Not to mention, going to the dog park is a community experience, where you’re able to assimilate with other dog lovers.
 

6. Prevent Strokes by Stroking a Cat

According to a study by the American Stroke Association, owning a cat makes you 30% less likely to develop a stroke. In the study, they followed 4,435 participants. After taking account for factors, like smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure, the half of participants that owned cats were less likely to develop strokes. As we mentioned earlier, owning a pet reduces stress and anxiety, which in turn, protects your heart and lowers your blood pressure. It’s believed that petting a cat reduces the stress-hormone, cortisol, which lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. 

Best virtually indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers

Kong - Expreme Range

Kong are well known international dog chew manufacturers and their Extreme range is absolutely ideal for the aggressive chewer in your life! There are a number of different products in the range, but all are made from super-durable rubber and are recommended worldwide by veterinarians and dog trainers. The different designs bounce, stretch and roll, and some can even be stuffed with your dog’s favourite treat!

Check out the full selection on their website and find the perfect virtually indestructible chew toy for your canine companion.
 

Benebone Wishbone

If your dog likes to get his teeth into something tasty than a Benebone Wishbone may be the perfect chew toy for him. Made from super-strong and durable nylon, the regular Wishbone and Wishbone mini is available in three flavours – bacon, peanut butter and rotisserie chicken – and has absolutely no chemicals or artificial flavors. There is also a jumbo Wishbone and Dental Chew, and these are available in bacon flavour only.

Visit their website to find out more about the product range and find your nearest stockist.
 

West Paw Zogoflex® - Hurley

Is it a stick? Is it a bone? Is it a ball? A highly versatile dog toy, the Zogoflex® Hurley is all three and a U.S. bestseller. It is so lightweight that it floats, and yet is so tough that West Pae claim that it should last a lifetime – and if it doesn’t they will give you a free one-time replacement! Available in a variety of sizes and colors, the Hurley is BPA-free, phthalate-free and non-toxic, and you can even pop it in the dishwasher.

To find out more about the Zogoflex® Hurley and its suitability for your cheeky chewer, pop on over and visit their website.

The Importance of Pet Grooming

Brushing

Quite often misconstrued as the only part of grooming, brushing is still a huge element of the process. Regular brushing removes dirt, dandruff and dead hairs from your pet and in kittens and cats can also cut back on the number of hairballs that they ingest. It also prevents tangles and matting which can lead to pain and infections. Brushing also stimulates the natural oils in your pets’ fur, which are then spread across the coat leaving it with a glossy and healthy sheen.

When brushing your pet you will be able to do a thorough examination of its skin, identifying any issues such as ticks, fleas, bald and dry patches. Any swellings or other abnormalities will also be easier to feel.
 

Ears

Ears can be a concern for a number of different breeds who are more susceptible to infections and parasites. They should be clean and odor-free. Anything that looks red, swollen or has an unpleasant smell, plus any sign of infestation by mites or ticks, should be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
 

Eyes

Eyes can also be prone to infection if the hairs around them are not kept trimmed. They should be bright and clear. Any watery eyes or anything that looks sore should also be checked by your veterinarian.
 

Teeth

Regular teeth brushing is the only way to help combat periodontal disease, and if your pet has bad breath then it is a sure sign of a dental problem. Your vet will be happy to recommend specialist pet toothbrushes and toothpaste – just ask!
 

Bathing

Bathing your pet too often can actually have a detrimental effect on their health as it strips all of the natural oils from their skin, leaving them with dry, itchy patches which when scratched could then cause infection. That said, some washing is needed to ensure that your animal remains clean and germ free. Ask your vet what sort of bathing schedule they would recommend for your breed of dog.
 

Nail Trimming

Pets can have extremely sharp nails which, if not frequently trimmed, can cause serious injury. Regular trims can reduce the risk of injury, stops them getting caught in carpet or other upholstery, and prevents the likelihood of in-growing nails. For older pets it can also ease arthritis and other joint pain.

We hope that this article has helped highlight the importance of grooming your pet for its overall health and wellbeing.

Recognizing an Ill Pet

Medicating your Pet

Medicating your pet can be difficult if you are unfamiliar with the best ways in which to administer the drugs. Your veterinarian will explain about the dosages of any prescribed medication and will support you by demonstrating the easiest ways of administering them. Many medications can be incorporated into meal times making the process simpler and less stressful for your pet.

Ensure that your pet finished the entire course of prescribed medications. Not doing so means that the virus or infection may not be fully eradicated and your pet could become unwell again. Even if your pet looks and acts as if they are at full health, still finish all prescribed medication.

If your veterinarian has prescribed special food then be sure to feed your pet separately from any other animals in the house. Adhere strictly to the instructions given as any deviation from the plan, no matter how small, could potentially be harmful to your pet.


Ongoing Care

Your pet may need to be kept isolated from any other animals in the house. It will need a quiet environment with food and water nearby as they may be physically weak for some time. Ensure plenty of fresh water is always available.

You should also keep young children away from your recovering pet as they may not understand the space that it needs to rehabilitate fully.

Any changes or worsening of symptoms must immediately be reported to your veterinarian. They could indicate that the medication your pet has been receiving needs urgent review, or they could indicate that your pets’ illness has become more serious. Do not delay in making an appointment and explain the situation fully to the receptionist on duty.

Ticks

Checking your Pet for Ticks

Dogs and cats that spend a lot of time outdoors will be more at risk, but checking your pet carefully on a regular basis will help you prevent a tick infestation from taking root. 

Run your hands over your pets coat to check for any unusual lumps, and check carefully around the head, feet and ears as these are the preferred locations for most ticks. 


What do I do if I spot a Tick?

It is best to remove a tick as soon as you spot it. Treat the area with rubbing alcohol and remove the parasite using a pair of tweezers. Ensure that you remove all parts of the tick as it is possible for parts of it to remain embedded in your pets’ skin which would cause infection. The ticks’ blood could be infected with a number of diseases so avoid getting it on yourself or your pet.

Ticks are notoriously hard to kill and throwing it away or trying to drown it in the toilet is not always effective. Instead submerge it in a jar of rubbing alcohol to stop it from reattaching to your animal. 


Treatment for Ticks

There are many topical treatments available that both treat fleas and kill ticks whilst protecting against future infestation. Speak to your veterinarian to select the right treatment for your pet.


Prevention is better than cure!

As with most illnesses, prevention is almost certainly better than cure! Although you can speak to your veterinarian about topical treatment to protect against tick infestation, there are a number of things you can do to make your surrounding area a less hospitable environment for ticks too by ensuring that your lawn is mowed regularly and that any tall weeds are removed. 

Feeding Your Pet

Dogs

The first ingredient listed in any dog food should be a specified meat. If the first ingredient listed is a wheat, corn, meat by-product, or bone meal then this dog food should be avoided. Dogs’ teeth are primarily made up of canines which are designed for shredding meat, not grinding grains.

Dogs should be kept on the same brand and type of food as much as possible. Regularly changing them could cause him to have an upset stomach. If you do have to change, try and introduce the new food gradually so that your dog's digestive system has a chance to adjust.
 

Cats

To cats, the odor of their food is particularly important, and they prefer their food to be around body temperature when they consume it. Glass or ceramic bowls do not absorb externals odors and are the best choice for feeding. They also like to be able to see their surroundings when they eat and not backed into a corner.

Cats naturally prefer grazing on small meals and so dry food free-feeding is often the most popular choice for mealtimes.
Protein and fats are the most palatable types of food for cats and they much prefer the texture of meat to anything else.
 

Rabbits

Rabbits need at least one bunny-sized bundle of hay every day. Accompany this with a handful of washed leafy green vegetables or herbs such as kale, lettuce, broccoli, sage, or mint. Try and offer variety to ensure your rabbit gets a good mix of nutrients.
Lawnmower clippings are NOT safe for your rabbit to eat.

When choosing pellets, opting for good quality is important. As a general rule you should feed your rabbit one eggcup of pellets per kg of your rabbit's’ weight. For example, if you rabbit weighs 1kg then you should only give them one eggcup of pellets every day.
Do not give your rabbit muesli!

Treats for rabbits should be infrequent and limited to carrots and apples.

How to Bath your Cat and Survive Scratch-Free!

The Bathing Process

While talking to your cat and offering lots of reassurance and praise, gently place her into the shower tray or bath. Using a showerhead from above is significantly less stressful for your pet as she is far more likely to be used to being rained on than she is being lowered into 4 inches of tepid water!

Hold your cat in place by her scruff, or use a harness if you think she is going to be tricky to control. Begin washing her gently using soft confident strokes. Cats are very intuitive at picking up stress, so if you seem stressed she will be on edge too, and far more likely to lash out or try to make a run for it!

Apply small amounts of shampoo – she’s probably not as dirty as you think she is! Make sure you rinse clean and then repeat with the conditioner. Take care to avoid her eyes and nose.
 

Getting Dry

Once she is clean you should towel-dry your cat as much as possible. Some cats are petrified of hair dryers. If your feline friend isn’t then you could consider trying to dry her using a low heat and speed. You may need to confine her to a carrier in order to do this. Alternatively you could leave your cat in the warm bathroom until her coat is totally dry. The important thing is to ensure that she is thoroughly dried before going into other parts of the house. Damp cats can easily become chilled which can make them unwell, or in the case of kittens, particularly low body temperatures can be life-threatening.

That’s it! The secret to bathing your car and surviving scratch-free really lies in the fact that a well-prepared shower is the very best way to get your feline companion clean.

General Pet Safety

Indoors

 
  • Use childproof latches to secure not only belongings you don't want your pets potentially destroying but also chemicals and other hazardous materials that can be dangerous for your pet to be exposed to or to ingest.

  • Similarly, ensure garbage cans and toilets are securely closed.

  • Keep electrical cords tucked away or otherwise secured so your pet cannot chew on them. This is just as important in the garage as it is behind the computer in your home office.

  • Always check places that aren't normally observed (e.g., under chairs) for items your pet could interpret as toys but present choking or ingestion hazards (e.g., kittens swallowing yarn).

  • Keep drawers closed, especially large drawers in dressers that your pet can hide inside of. Check the drawer before closing it to ensure you don't trap your pet inside.

  • Similarly, if your pets have access to the garage, ensure they aren't hiding in the engine of your vehicle. This can be deadly.

  • Ensure ventilation openings have covers. Small pets could work their way into the ventilation system, and large pets could get stuck trying.

  • Similarly, ensure there's no openings or spaces in the wall behind various appliances.

  • Research whether or not your houseplants can be poisonous to your pet. Just because they aren't poisonous to humans does not mean they won't make your pet sick!

  • Ensure that items with buttons or drawstrings, cosmetics, and medications out of reach and inside a secure cabinet.

  • Ensure your tools (e.g., hammers, screws), craft items (e.g., sewing thread or needle), and cooking utensils (e.g., knives) are put away.

  • Regularly clean pet's food and water dishes (or fountains) to prevent illness from mold and scum.

  • Regularly clean your pet's "bathroom" and restock its materials (e.g., litter). This will minimize accidents around the house.

  • Give your pet a safe space that's just for them and that they can retreat to when they're feeling uncomfortable. This can be something expensive like a cat "super highway" or something as simple as a dog bed that's out of the way.

  • Pet-proof your furniture as best as possible, and ensure you've got pet-appropriate furniture. Leather couches, for instance, won't survive for long with a new cat, and the materials under the leather can be harmful to ingest.
     

Outdoors

 
  • Ensure your yard's fence, whether physical or electrical, is in good condition and encloses your yard completely.

  • Don't let dogs or other burrowers dig out under the fence!

  • Always keep your pet in a collar and on a leash / in a body harness when walking with them in an unenclosed area. Only let a dog off its leash in an unenclosed park if it is well trained to return, and to behave around strangers.

  • When traveling in a vehicle, ensure your pet can't escape out the window. Only open the windows if they are properly restrained and never let your pet put their paws out the window. If it's a particularly long drive, be sure to have an appropriate number of stops to allow your pet to use the bathroom.

  • NEVER let your pet ride on the driver.

  • NEVER leave your pet loose or merely leashed in a truck bed while driving. This is not secure enough to protect your pet from being thrown out of the truck into traffic.

  • Ensure your species of pet is allowed at a location, or you have a secure way to safely leave them outside.

  • Always be responsible about following ordinances regarding your pet, such as disposing of dog feces correctly.

  • When enjoying non-residential locations (e.g., camping in the forest) keep your pet from interacting too closely with wildlife. It is dangerous for both your pet and the wildlife. Chat with us more specifically if you're an outdoor enthusiast and want to bring your pet into the wild often.

  • When boating, ensure there's a ramp for your animal to easily board and disembark, a pet-specific life vest, pet-safe sunscreen, a crate for your pet to feel safe in, a means to keep them from falling overboard, and a dog-pad or litter box so they can relieve themselves.

  • Be familiar with pet first aid, and always have any applicable medication on hand. First aid should always be a stop gap to help your pet until you can bring your pet to us or an emergency vet.

  • Please, never abandon your pet!

  • Be aware of your pet's needs in various weather conditions. In summer they may suffer heatstroke. In winter they may suffer lameness from ice building up between the toes or illness from chemicals like antifreeze. Thunder can cause anxiety or acting out.


Microchip your pets

Most adoptable pets have already been given a microchip if they come from a rescue group or shelter. If your pet hasn't got one, whether it's a new one or one you adopted before chipping became prevalent, you should take this extra step for your pet. It doesn't matter if your pet lives exclusively indoors or if it loves the outdoors, microchipping is essential for the safety of your pet.

Why? Because it means your pet can always find its way home to you. If your indoor cat slips past you out the door and is picked up by animal control, collar or no collar, your pet is returned to you and not sent to the municipal (not no-kill) shelter. If your outdoor dog is stuck outside when there's a weather disaster and it loses its collar, rescue personnel can eventually reunite you with them. If you lose your lizard while studying abroad, it can still be identified and returned to you. If somehow your pet is stolen, the information on your pet's microchip will help prove the pet is really yours.

Having a microchip can also help ensure you're contacted in the event of an accident involving you pet. You'll be able to participate in the health care of your pet when you might otherwise not find out they'd been hurt at all. That's a peace of mind we can all appreciate!

If you need a pet microchipped, make an appointment with our offices today.

Heatstroke and Your Pet

Prevent heatstroke before there's any problems

Animals bodies work differently than human bodies. For instance, did you know that cats and dogs only sweat through the pads on their feet? Or that its their ears that allow rabbits to dissipate heat? What keeps you cool may not help your pets to stay cool too. If you're ever unsure about how to care for your pet specifically, please feel free to ask us!

Here's some basic tips to help you help your pet avoid heatstroke:
 

  • Use an air conditioner. Because of the way your animals sweat, a fan by itself will not be enough to help them release body heat.

  • Be prepared for severe or disastrous weather that could disable power in your home. This will probably exacerbate the risk of heat stroke, as you will have a harder time providing cool water.

  • Consider using the basement when you're leaving your pet alone at home. Since it's underground, it will naturally be cooler.

  • Provide plenty of shade and ventilation. This is true while you're indoors, but it's especially important when you're outdoors. When outdoors, ensure nothing could keep your pet from reaching the shade (e.g., leash getting stuck on something).

  • Keep your pets indoors both on very hot days and during the hottest part of the day, and avoid ground that will retain heat, such as asphalt and sand.

  • NEVER leave your pet in the car unattended, no matter how quick your errand or how shady your parking spot is. Cracking the windows also is not enough to ensure the safety of your pet. This is a leading cause of hyperthermia-related pet deaths.

  • Do not muzzle larger pets, like dogs. Panting is part of their cooling process, and how they pant will help you determine how well or poorly they're reacting to the temperature.

  • Make sure your pet has easy access to water, and if you're going to be out of the house, consider using a pet fountain that will prevent spillage. Putting ice cubes in your pet's water will also help them keep their internal temperature down. Note: Older or impaired animals may drink less water than other pets; be sure you make cool water even easier to access for them.

  • Use ice packs or similar DIY options (e.g., frozen water bottles) to help your pet cool itself. For small pets, you can put this in their cage to lay against. Larger animals may need them wrapped in a towel so they can lay on top of them.

  • Apply water to keep your pets cool. This could be something small, such as misting your rabbit's ears, or something wetter, like letting your dog have a dip in the pool.

  • Give your pets cool treats, like peanut-butter Popsicles or chilled wet food.

  • Take extra care with animals that have certain high-risk factors, including heart or lung disease, obesity, or thick-hair coats.
    Symptoms
     

Early stages of overheating can be treated at home, but you should check in with us to make sure your pet isn't suffering any internal consequences. Hopefully you can catch these symptoms quickly and prevent heatstroke from progressing. Once it's moved to heatstroke, you'll need to take some immediate actions and then bring your pet to us as quickly as possible. Symptoms of overheating include:
 

  • Unusually rapid panting with the tongue hanging out.

  • Lethargy.

  • Unwillingness to move.

  • Dehydration.

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat.

  • Difficulty urinating.

  • Black or tar-like stool.

  • Vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Uncoordinated movements and muscle weakness.

  • Dizziness or stupor.

  • Glazed eyes.

  • Thick saliva.

  • Dark red or very pale discoloration of moist tissues (gums and tongue)

  • Vomiting blood.

  • Bloody stool.

  • Sudden breathing distress, possibly with fluid in the lungs.

  • Muscle tremors and seizures.

  • Shock.

  • Coma.
     

Even lizards and birds can experience heatstroke. Stiffness, discolored skin or tongue, rigidity, lethargy, and loss of appetite are a few signs these pets may be experiencing heatstroke. Be sure to talk to us about your pet specifically so you know what to watch out for.

 

Effects

Even if your pet seems better once you normalized their body temperature, they may in fact still be injured. Always bring your pets into us for assessment and treatment to prevent very serious internal problems. These may include:
 

  • Acute kidney failure.

  • Cardiac or pulmonary distress or arrest.

  • Blood clot dysfunction or disorder.

  • Systemic inflammatory response system.

  • Liver disease, disorder, or cell breakdown.

  • Depression or other mental changes.

  • Hydrocephalus (abnormal accumulation of fluid around the brain).

  • If left untreated, heatstroke can result in death.
     

Treatment - What you can do

You need to handle your pet carefully if you determine they have heat stroke. Making them too cold, or making them cold too quickly can cause problems. In the case of the former, it can increase the risk of shock, as well as hypothermia. The latter will cause the blood vessels to constrict, making blood flow difficult and preventing your pet from actually being able to cool down.

In the case of small pets, you want to wet their paws and ears with cool water. Wetting the fur will also help, imitating the process of sweating. It is especially important to cool small pets down slowly, otherwise there's an increased risk of life-threatening complications. Once you've brought their temperature down some, wrap them in a wet towel gently and loosely to keep cool for transport to us or an emergency vet station.


Caring for larger pets is similar. Bring your pet's body temperature down to a safe level (about 103° F) by wetting their fur with cool water; you can also use cloths wet with cool water placed in key locations such as the back of the head and the armpits. Allow them to drink or lick ice if they are thirsty, but do not give them cold water or try to force them to drink. You can use a children's re-hydration drink or add a little salt to their water to help restore minerals lost from overheating. Once they're at a normal temperature, dry your pet thoroughly to prevent hypothermia. Bring them to us or an emergency vet immediately.

If you've found your pet unconscious and unable to wake them, bathe them in cool water. Be careful not to let water get into their nose or mouth, as this can result in aspirated pneumonia. Bring them to us or an emergency vet as quickly as possible, and if you can, put a cold pack against their belly during transport. Frozen water bottles or bags of frozen vegetables can double for an ice pack.
 

Treatment - What we can do and Aftercare

Once you've brought your pet to us, we offer an array of services to meet the specific needs of your pet. These include:
 

  • Temperature regulation.

  • Respiratory aid.

  • Blood tests.

  • Clot tests.

  • Full body exam.

  • Tests for damage to internal organs.

  • Treatments based on our diagnosis.


In most cases, pets can fully recover, complication free. however, your pet may temporarily or permanently require a special diet if there are complications. Always remember, pets that have experienced heatstroke once have a greater risk of experiencing it again.

If your pet's behavior has not returned to normal in a few days (or as otherwise discussed with your vet), bring your pet back for further assessment.

Flea Prevention and Care

Putting an end to the infestation

The fleas have gotten past your defenses and into your home. What now? How do you and your pet stay healthy and put an end to your misery?

Attaining the best results is going to depend on the severity of infestation. After all, just giving your pet a shampoo treatment isn't going to help if there's already eggs, larva, and adults living in your carpet. At a certain point, a simple house spray may be enough, or a carpet treatment, or you may need both. Of course, if the infestation is very severe, you may want to talk to your vet about the risks and benefits of certain types of solutions.

Sometimes people mistake monitoring tools, like flea traps, with infestation control. Flea traps cannot treat the source of the infestation, be it your pet, your yard, or something else, and they cannot even trap the majority of fleas in your home. They also won't do anything to prevent new larva from hatching.

The first point of control should be your pet. Even if they aren't the source of an infestation, this will help mitigate discomfort and health risks. Be sure to talk to us about your options!
 

  • A once-monthly oral medication will help interfere with the early life stages of new fleas.

  • Spot-on treatment can protect your pet's entire body and kill adult fleas on contact.

  • You may want to use a flea shampoo, which will only last a couple of weeks but will immediately kill all the fleas on your pet as well as protect your pet over time.

  • In severe situations, a dip, much like a shampoo, may be required. If not used very carefully, dips can be hazardous to both you and your pet.

  • Remember to keep combing your pet. This will let you know if the selected treatment is working as expected. You should also regularly vacuum to prevent flea eggs and larva from settling in, as well as regularly clean bedding, etc.

  • However, treating your animal won't be enough. Treating your home and your yard are important steps to ensuring the fleas are gone for good. This is likely to require a combination of treatments — after all; no one treatment can cover everything. This may require a bit of spending, but it will definitely require patience. Hiring professional exterminators will work as well. They will be trained in what to look for in your yard and home, and have the tools necessary to fully treat your home.

  • Flea bombs sound like the best all around treatment because, like other bug bombs and foggers, it fills up the space of a room. It does require multiple bombs to treat multiple rooms. However, the downside is that it leaves some areas untreated (e.g., inside closets, drawers, or cabinets, or even underneath some kinds of furniture) and leaves a residue that can contaminate food.

  • Anti-flea sprays are available that can be used on carpets and furniture, and some are even multi-use sprays that can be used on your pets. (Always read the instructions! Using one that's furniture use only on your pet can make them sick!) However, the length of time these sprays last is very brief, meaning you will have to use and buy these products often.

  • Another option is carpet powders which are spread out on the floor, allowed to 'rest' like waiting for a flea bomb to completely expend itself, and then are vacuumed up. These are harder to come by, and often are not available in regular stores, but they are long-lasting and kill fleas at every life cycle. Unfortunately, you cannot spread it on furniture, and it needs to be vacuumed thoroughly.

  • When it comes to your yard, there are a few natural options that may help, but cannot be guaranteed, including using cedar chips or Pennyroyal herbs as a repellent and spraying nematodes (which do not affect humans or pets) on your yard.

  • Flea insecticides are also available for your yard. Like indoor treatments, you should always read all the instructions and follow them carefully. Remember to protect yourself with gloves and a dust mask. You'll need to cover the whole yard, so make sure your pets and/or children don't play in the area until the process is finished.
     

You should never rely on one method to kill fleas, and never only treat one area at a time. This will inevitably provide a small percentage of fleas sanctuary, which in turn will lead to a new infestation.

Picking your Perfect Puppy

Chihuahua

Height: 6-9 inches Weight (males): 2-6lbs
Life expectancy: Up to 16 years

Physical characteristics: Classified as a ‘toy-sized’ dog, it has a body that is longer than it is tall, large erect ears, and a sickle-shaped tail. Coats are normally short and come in a large range of colors.

Temperament: A good companion dog, the Chihuahua is a bright and loyal addition to any household. Small dog syndrome is a huge issue for Chihuahuas as their size means people tend to let them get away with dominant behavior, meaning that unless this is tackled firmly they are not suitable to be homed with children as they can become aggressive.

Exercise: These dogs prefer warmer weather, but are happily suited to apartment living provided they have daily exercise. Play will take care of much of their exercise requirements.

Health: This breed is prone to rheumatism, colds, and gum and eye problems. They gain weight easily and are susceptible to poison so take extra care around toxic products. Their short muzzles mean they are likely to wheeze and snore.
 

Dalmatian

Height (males): 22-24 inches Weight: 55lbs
Height (females): 20-22 inches
Life expectancy: approximately 10-12 years

Physical characteristics: Most commonly recognized by their spotted coats, a variety of colors are known, including lemon and tri-color. They are strong dogs with good muscle tone, hanging ears, and tapered tails. Puppies are born completely white and develop the spots later.

Temperament: Dalmatians have huge amounts of stamina and energy and are very bouncy although friendly pets. They enjoy playing with older children but may be too boisterous for younger family members. They require firm handling, plenty of physical and mental stimulation, and consistent training. As they age, they become more docile and easier to manage.

Exercise: Not suited to living in cold climates, these dogs require a lot of exercise. Several walks per day and access to a large yard are ideal starting points, but be prepared to put in a lot of activity with your Dalmatian.

Health: Approximately 10-12% of Dalmatians are born deaf, but it is possible to raise a deaf dog to become well adjusted. The breed is also prone to urinary stones and skin allergies.
 

Poodle (standard)

Height: 15 inches or more Weight: 45-70lbs
Life expectancy: 12-15 years

Physical characteristics: A medium to large sized dog, the standard Poodle is distinctive thanks to its curly or corded coat, high-carried tail, and low hanging ears. It will require extensive grooming to ensure the coat doesn’t become matted and dirty.

Temperament: Often considered to be a very proud, graceful, and intelligent animal that is easy to train. It is generally friendly with children and strangers and can mostly get along with other dogs.

Exercise: Poodles are relatively inactive indoors and only require a small yard provided they are given daily walks.

Health: The breed is, unfortunately subject to a number of genetic conditions, including poor eye health, allergies and skin conditions, bloating, hip dysplasia, and ear infections.

We hope that this article has given you an insight into the broad range of physical and behavioral characteristics that are present across different breeds of dog. For further breed information, we recommend visiting www.dogbreedinfo.com.

Traveling With Your Pet

Traveling by Plane

Air travel is not suitable for animals and should only be used if there are no alternatives and it is absolutely necessary. It is particularly dangerous for breeds with brachycephalic faces. This includes bulldogs, Persian cats and pugs. These breeds have an increased risk of heat stroke and oxygen deprivation due to having shortened nasal passages.

If possible you should always take your pet in the cabin with you. Most airlines will allow this for an additional fee, but there may be restrictions on pet size and the type of carrier allowed to be used. Ensure that you make all the necessary arrangements well in advance of your flight as there are also limitations as to how many animals can be taken in the cabin at one time. Speak to your airline to find out what their policy is on transporting pets.

Be prepared for security checks. Your pets’ carrier will still have to pass through security x-rays and you should be prepared to adequately restrain your pet whilst this happens.

If your pet is unable to fly in the cabin and you have no option to transport them in the cargo hold then you should be aware that many animals are lost, injured or killed when traveling this way. This is largely due to insecure crates, turbulence and rough handling, poor ventilation and extreme temperature fluctuations.

There are a number of steps that you can take to increase the chances of your pet having a safe flight in the cargo hold.
 

  • Always use direct flights where possible.

  • Always travel on the same flight as your pet where possible.

  • Carry a picture of your pet with you. If anything does happen it makes it easier to look for your pet and easier to prove that he is yours.

  • Do not feed your pet 4-6 hours before the trip to try and ensure that they do not need to evacuate their bowels mid-flight. Small amounts of water should be given to avoid dehydration.

  • Ensure that the captain and flight attendants are aware that there is at least one animal traveling in the cargo hold.

  • Ensure that your pet has identification, either by securing him with a collar and identity tag, or preferably a microchip.

  • Give your pet a thorough examination as soon as you arrive at your destination, and take him straight to a veterinarian if you are at all concerned.

  • Let your pet explore and get used to the carrier or crate in the weeks leading up to the journey.

  • Put your travel information along with your contact details on the side of the carrier or crate.

  • Try and choose flight times that will accommodate extreme temperature fluctuations. For example if traveling in summer when the weather is hot, try and travel in the evening when the temperatures decrease to a more comfortable level. If traveling in winter try and fly during the day when the temperatures are warmer.

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

Human medications poisonous to pets

According to statistics from the Pet Poison helpline, almost 50% of all calls to them are related to suspect poisoning by human medication. Here is a list of the top 10 human medicines most frequently ingested by pets.
 

  • NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin)

  • Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol)

  • Antidepressants

  • ADHD/ADD medications

  • Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g. Xanax)

  • Birth control pills

  • ACE inhibitors (e.g. Zestril, Altace)

  • Beta-Blockers

  • Thyroid hormones

  • Cholesterol lowering agents aka statins
     

Recognizing the signs of poisoning in your pet

The symptoms that your pet will display can be extremely variable depending on what type of poison they have ingested. However, there are some common signs of poisoning that you can look out for. These include:

Gastrointestinal Symptoms: diarrhea, vomiting, drooling, lack of appetite, nausea.

Internal Bleeding Symptoms: racing heart beat, pale gums, vomiting/coughing up blood, weakness/tiredness and unconsciousness.

Liver Failure Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, black tarry stools, jaundice or yellow coloring to the gums, unusual behavior, weakness and subsequent unconsciousness.

Kidney Failure Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst or urination, lack of appetite, halitosis/bad breath and decreased/no urination.

If you are at all concerned that your pet may have been poisoned then you should contact your veterinarian immediately, or alternatively call the Pet Poison Helpline on 800-213-6680.
 

Poison-proofing your home

The risk of poisoning can be dramatically reduced by poison-proofing your home. Here are some of the key steps that you can take to keep hazardous substances out of reach of your precious pets.
 

  • Keep all medications (prescription and over the counter) in a secure, higher level cupboard.

  • Keep all cleaning products in a secure cupboard, preferably also higher level.

  • Ensure that there are no pets in the room when you spray cleaning products, and leave it a good hour or two before you let your animals re-enter.

  • Close your toilet lid to prevent your pets from drinking the water.

  • If you have flowers in your backyard, ensure that they are not poisonous (the full list of poisonous plants is available on the Pet Poison Helpine website.)

  • Educate your whole family about poison safety – it can be especially tempting for young children to share their chocolate treats with their pets.
     

Educating them early about what your pet can and cannot eat will help prevent poisoning.

Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Diagnosing equine lameness

Lameness is something that can be challenging for veterinarians, particularly in the case of animals with subtle or intermittent symptoms. In the absence of an obvious external injury, your veterinarian will need to use their knowledge and skill in order to determine both the location and the extent of the problem. You will be asked to provide a thorough medical history of your horse, and your veterinarian will also likely ask about his current nutrition and exercise regime.

A hands-on examination will see your veterinarian checking the muscles, joints, tendons and bones for any evidence of swelling or heat, or any other obvious problems. Your veterinarian will also perform flexion tests which assess the capsule surrounding joints together with the associated ligaments and tendons and bone ends. To do this he will hold the limb in a fixed position for a short amount of time before releasing. When your horse moves away, your veterinarian will perform a visual analysis to check for any increased signs of lameness.

Investigative tests are common and these may include x-rays and/or ultrasound scans to obtain a clear, internal picture of your equine. These tests can pick up on problems such as fractures and damaged tendons. However, because of the wide variation of causes of lameness, in a large number of cases, it is necessary for your veterinarian to perform additional tests in order to find the area that is causing the problem. These tests, known as nerve and joint blocks, involve a numbing injection into one area of the horse at a time, usually starting with the legs. Your equine is then assessed, usually by trotting and lunging, to try and pinpoint the area of concern. Nerve and joint blocks can be relatively time-consuming as it is necessary for each area to regain feeling before moving on to the next, in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

 

Before the evaluation

Your veterinarian may have a couple of stipulations before bringing your horse in for a lameness evaluation. These may include:
 

  • That no farrier should be performed on your horse’s feet in the two weeks ahead of the lameness evaluation and that shoes should not be removed.

  • That any pain-killers are not given to your horse in the five days ahead of the evaluation.

  • That you provide any relevant task as it may be necessary to see how your horse moves under the saddle.

 

Lameness Scale

With such a large degree of lameness possible, a scale has been developed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). The criteria are as follows.

0 – Lameness is not perceptible under any circumstances
1 – Lameness is difficult to observe and is not consistently apparent, regardless of circumstances
2 – Lameness is difficult to observe at a walk or when trotting in a straight line, but consistently apparent under certain circumstances
3 – Lameness is consistently observable at a trot under all circumstances
4 – Lameness is obvious at a walk
5 – Lameness produces minimal weight bearing in motion and/or at rest or a complete inability to move

Please be aware that this is an arbitrary scale and some vets use variations that grade up to 10.

Best flea treatments for dogs and cats

Seresto™ Flea and Tick Collar for Dogs and Cats

These collars offer a much longer term solution to flea and pest problems. Unlike topical and oral treatments which typically require monthly application, the Seresto™ collars provide protection for up to 8 months. There are multiple varieties available that cater for either dogs or cats.
 

Capstar® Flea Control for Dogs and Cats

If you prefer to administer your pet’s flea treatment orally then this is a good option. It kills fleas and can be used in conjunction with other popular preventatives to help stop any future infestations. It is also safe for pets that are pregnant or nursing. There are a number of formulas available for dogs and cats. Make sure you select the right one for your pet’s weight.
 

Advantage® II for Dogs and Cats

This topical treatment uses pesticides to kill and repel a variety of pests including fleas. It is known for being incredibly fast-acting as it kills all adult fleas within 12 hours of the first application. However, some animals find that the solution irritates their skin. It comes in a selection of formulas which are based on weight.
 

Sentry Fiproguard for Cats

A very popular alternative to Frontline®, Sentry Fiproguard is an economical option for providing basic protection against fleas and other pests, and is often used by people with a large number of pets. It is also water-resistant and so will remain effective even in areas that experience high rainfall.
 

Effix for Dogs

Another topical treatment, Effix begins to eliminate fleas as quickly as six hours after application and also repels a wide variety of other pests including mosquitos, lice and ticks. It is a good all-round treatment that requires monthly application.

Vaccinations and Examinations

Vaccinations

 

When to vaccinate?

Puppies and kittens are usually protected from infectious diseases by their mother’s milk provided she has been adequately vaccinated. However this protection only lasts for a short while.

  • Puppies should be vaccinated at 8 and 10 weeks.

  • Kittens should be vaccinated at 9 and 12 weeks.

  • Boosters should be given 12 months after the date of the first vaccinations.

  • If you have an older pet then your veterinarian will be able to advise the correct vaccination protocol that you should follow.

 

Dogs

Dogs should be routinely vaccinated against:
 

  • Canine distemper

  • Canine parvovirus

  • Infectious canine hepatitis

  • Leptospirosis
     

If your dog is going to spending time in kennels then you should also enquire about getting them vaccinated against kennel cough. The vaccine is usually given via the nostrils and protects against bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus.

Dogs going abroad will also need a rabies vaccination.

 

Cats

Cats should be routinely vaccinated against:

  • Feline calicivirus

  • Feline herpes virus

  • Feline infectious enteritis

  • Feline leukemia virus
     

(Current guidelines recommend that only ‘at risk’ cats are vaccinated against feline leukemia virus. Those deemed at risk include kittens and immune-compromised cats).

 

Rabbits

Rabbits should be routinely vaccinated against:
 

  • Myxomatosis

  • Rabbit (viral) hemorrhagic disease (RHD)
     

If your pet is having single vaccines then the myxomatosis vaccine should be given from 6 weeks of age, and the RHD vaccine from 8 weeks. Single vaccines cannot be given simultaneously. After this time myxomatosis boosters should be given every 6 months.

Combined vaccines offer annual protection against both diseases and can be given from 5 weeks of age.

If you are unsure about anything to do with pet vaccines, consult your veterinarian who will be advise you on the best vaccination protocol to follow.

Canine Distemper

Diagnosis

Diagnosing CDV can be tricky, as many of the symptoms that present themselves can be indicative of a wide range of illnesses. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake a combination of tests in order to give an accurate diagnosis. These tests can include but are not limited to:
 

  • Biochemical profiling

  • Blood tests

  • Imaging studies including x-rays and ultrasounds

  • Physical examination
     

You will also be asked to provide a comprehensive history of the health of your pet and the progression of any symptoms that they have displayed. You may also be asked to provide samples of other bodily fluids.
 

Treatment

There is no cure for CDV itself, but treatment revolves around easing symptoms and ensuring that further problems like bacterial infections do not take hold. This is usually done in a hospital environment and may involve intravenous fluid therapy, anti-sickness medications, antibiotics, anti-convulsion medications, and glucocorticoid therapy.

Vaccinations against CDV are also effective in killing the virus if administered within 4 days of exposure to the virus.
Canine distemper is estimated to be fatal in around 50% of cases affecting adult dogs and around 80% of cases affecting puppies. When fatalities occur, it is usually due to damage of the central nervous system, resulting in complications.
 

Prevention is better than cure!

As with most illnesses, prevention is almost certainly better than cure. Vaccinations against CDV can be done as early as 8 weeks old and puppies should be vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks, after which they should be kept from socializing with other animals for another fortnight. After 16 weeks of age, they should be sufficiently vaccinated to have contact with other animals.

If you are re-homing an older dog, then check with the shelter or current owner about when he/she last had a CDV vaccination. If you are in any doubt at all, then consult with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet receives the correct vaccination program for their requirements.
 

Ongoing Care

Dogs that are suspected of having CDV should be isolated from any other dogs within the household, and you should ensure that your other dogs are adequately vaccinated against the disease. Your pet will need a warm, safe place to recover, with food and water located nearby. Ensure that you regularly clean all of your dogs’ equipment with a non-toxic cleaner.
Regular CDV vaccinations should help prevent further occurrences.

How to Help Your Pet Get More Exercise

Exercise for Cats

Regular exercise is just as important for cats. Whilst they were never intended to work, more and more cats are choosing to stay indoors where they are warm and comfortable rather than roaming outside.

You should try and spend at least 15 minutes each engaging your feline friend in some form of activity. Kittens and younger cats will happily play, but you mind find an older tubby tabby needs a lot of encouragement!

Activities that stimulate the natural hunting instinct in your cat are usually the best received and there are plenty of tools that you can use to get them involved. These include feathers on sticks or string, a long piece of yarn, faux mice or birds or anything that they can chase. Make sure that you put any yarn or string away after to minimize the risk of them eating it!

Another popular game is getting your cat to chase a beam of light. Use a small torch or a laser pointer. The narrower the point of light the better, as it will mimic a bug that your cat will delight in trying to hunt down.

Cat trees are also a good investment. They help your cat to work her muscles and keep her joints supple. Climbing also naturally wears down the sharpness of their claws.

Cats love sensory exploration so use open-ended cardboard boxes, long tubes, crunchy paper, bells and anything else that makes a noise to create a fun play area for them.
 

Exercise for smaller animals

When it comes to the smaller animals in your household, you will still need to give them the opportunity to use their muscles and get their heart rate up. Ensure that cages are large enough to allow plenty of movement and if possible, create a safe outdoor space for them to run around in.

Your pet retailer will be able to supply you with extended cages for climbing and accessories such as wheels which will encourage your pets to keep moving.

Online Pharmacy

Learn More

Request an
​​​​​​​Appointment

Contact Us

Quick Links