Fido and Fireworks don’t mix!

posted on June 28, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

It’s the 4th of July again, and that means increased risks for our pets.  According to the ASPCA, nearly 1 in 5 pets go missing after being scared by loud noises such as fireworks.  PetAmberAlert.com notes that 30% more pets become lost between July 4-6th than any other time of the year.  Here are some tips to make the celebrations safe for everyone!

  1. Travel safely:  If you are taking a road trip with your pet, get your pet used to carrier/crates, and seat belts/harnesses in advance.  Do not leave your pet alone in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked.
  2. Stay cool:  Dogs and cats can’t sweat, but panting can cause them to get dehydrated.  Pets can get overheated quicker, so make sure there is access to plenty of fresh water and shade.  Check asphalt with your hand before going for walks to ensure it’s not too hot, and take walks near dawn/dusk to avoid mid day heat.
  3. Avoid human foods:  Barbecues and parties will often present many tempting foods to your pet.  Some human foods are not safe for consumption-alcohol, chocolate, onion, garlic, grapes, raisins, and the sugar substitute xylitol are all toxic to pets.  Some foods can cause inflammation of the GI tract and pancreas, especially fatty foods.  Other foods can pose a GI obstruction risk-fruit pits and corn cobs are two more notable examples.
  4. Keep windows secured:  Often during the summer months we have our windows open to let in the fresh air.  Make sure screens are in place and secured to avoid falls and escapes.
  5. Check harnesses, leashes, and collars:  Longer daylight hours and warmer weather often means longer walks and more outside time.  Make sure collars and harnesses fit to prevent escape.  Make sure ID tags and microchip information are current.
  6. Keep your pets at home:  Most pets get overwhelmed at parties and firework shows, so despite how well behaved they are or how much they love people, safe at home may be the best place for them during the festivities.
  7. If you’re hosting the party, keep an eye on exits.  With multiple people going in and out, pets can get lost in the chaos.  Think about putting pets in crates or a separate room, as they will keep them safely confined as well as give them a quiet place to feel safe.  Pet sitters or boarding facilities are another option.

Overall we hope you and your pet have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Posted in: Uncategorized

Responsible Pet Ownership

posted on February 01, 2018 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

February is National Responsible Pet Owners Month.  Pets are a joy to own, but they are also a commitment.  Dogs and cats can live 10-20 years, and some pets such as birds can live even longer.  They depend upon us fully to care for them, but in return they give us unconditional love.

So what are some ways to be a responsible pet owner?

  •  Spay or neuter your pet.  Unfortunately in the U.S., there is an overpopulation of companion animals, with many dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, and other pets living in shelters and rescues.  Spaying and neutering helps prevent further overpopulation, and has some health benefits as well.
  • Get pets from reputable sources.  On a similar note, when looking to add to your family, consider rescues and shelters.  There are many pure bred rescues if you want a pure bred, and mixed breed animals often have the benefit of fewer health issues.
  • Go to the vet annually.  While your pet may not require yearly vaccinations, the physical examination is the most important part of your visit.  Pets are very good at hiding pain and problems, and going to the vet regularly may help catch issues earlier, when they are easier to prevent or treat.
  • Microchip or otherwise identify your pet.  Tags with phone numbers are important, and having a microchip with current information can help reunite with your pet should you get separated.  Make sure to keep microchip information current if you move or get a new phone number.
  • Go to training.  Training your dog helps strengthen your bond, and can help prevent or reduce behavior issues.  Things like agility can also give you both something active to do together.
  • Provide good nutrition.  Your pet needs a well balanced, nutritious diet to have a long, healthy life.  At the same time, don’t overfeed.  Obesity is a major issue affecting our pets and can cause multiple health issues.  Talk with your veterinarian about recommended foods and amounts.
  • Provide regular grooming.  Almost all dogs need their nails trimmed periodically, and most dogs need a bath every once in awhile.  Some pets require regular brushing to keeps tangles at bay, and some dogs need professional grooming to maintain a health coat and skin.
  • Hygiene is important as well.  Ears should be cleaned periodically.  Anal glands may need to be emptied on a regular basis.  Teeth should be brushed, ideally daily, with a pet tooth paste.  Regular veterinary dental care may be required as well.
  • Be prepared for emergencies.  Have a basic first aid kit handy; there are even some made specifically for pets.  Know that certain human medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) are toxic to pets.  Have emergency veterinarian contact information handy.  Keep a file of copies of bloodwork and other important health information handy in case you need to see a veterinarian other than your regular vet.
  • Have pet insurance or a savings account for your pets’ health.  There are multiple options for pet health insurance that may be able to alleviate the cost burden and financial part of making decisions in an emergency.  Having a regular savings account for your pet’s yearly care, with a buffer for emergency situations is another way to handle this.
  • Provide mental and physical stimulation.  Exercise is important for our pets, helping control weight, as well as giving a release for pent up energy that could otherwise feed unwanted behavior.  Mental stimulation such as scent training, puzzle toys, and foraging for food/treats is also important for that same reason.
  • Travel safely.  Pets should be confined when in a vehicle for their own and your safety.  There are multiple seat belt and harnesses available, as well as carriers, confinement nets, or crates.
  • Pet proof your house.  Wires and cords make tempting play toys to puppies and kittens.  Plants may pose a toxic threat.  Yards may have unforeseen escape routes or dangers.  Imagine yourself at their level and educate yourself about potential toxins to keep out of their reach.
  • Clean up after your pets.  Dogs can spread disease to other pets and humans via their feces, so if they have a bowel movement in public, be sure to clean it up.  This is also just the nice, neighborly thing to do!
  • Teach children to respect animals.  Discuss with children how to ask before going up to strange animals.  Teach them to understand basic dog and cat body language cues, and teach them how to approach and pet animals appropriately.  Supervise children and pets when they are together.  Lead by example.

Overall, there are many things that play a role into being a responsible pet owner.  These are just a few examples of things that contribute to having a healthy, happy pet for many years!

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet

posted on December 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Every December many of us start to think of the coming year and we often make resolutions for things we are going to do differently or try to achieve in the coming months.  This year, why not set a resolution for your pet or for both of you?

In America, 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are classified as overweight or obese.  So while you may make a resolution to lose weight yourself, why not include the household pets as well?  Start by using an actual measuring cup instead of “eyeballing” amounts of food, look for lower calorie foods and treats, limit overall treat intake, and try meal feeding instead of leaving food out all the time.  Contact us to learn more about how to formulate a safe weight loss plan for your pet.  We can recommend diets and calculate the amount of food you should be feeding.
Another part of weight loss is getting more active.  Things you can do with your dog to help get more activity for both of you include walking, jogging, running, hiking, and skijoring.  If one or both of you is a bit out of shape or just is not used to a lot of exercise, a slow build up to activity is recommended, as pets can get sore too!  You can also increase activity for your pet indoors-play with toys, lasers, or even use feeder toys to help stimulate both your pet’s mental and physical wellbeing.  Schedule a set play time each day or incorporate small amounts of increased activity and interaction (during commercial breaks of your favorite show perhaps).

There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this is not true.  Try having your pet learn a new trick.  Positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training are a great way to help shape behavior.  Cats can learn tricks too with the right encouragement!  Sit, lay down, shake, roll over, play dead, and high five are some popular tricks, but there are endless possibilities.  Other options include joining a training class or canine good citizen class, or look into becoming a certified therapy pet.

Vow to do a better job with your pet’s home care.  Did you know that it is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth daily?  Just like with humans, plaque (soft food particles, bacteria and debris) hardens into tartar after about 24 hours.  Use a pet safe toothpaste and lots of positive reinforcement.  Even if you can’t get daily, every little bit helps, and it gives you a chance to see inside their mouth to notice changes earlier.

Some breeds require daily or weekly hair brushing as well.  Nail trims should be performed every 4-8 weeks depending on the pet, and ears may need to be cleaned periodically also.  Getting into a routine can help the pet become more accustomed to these procedures, and again, you may spot changes earlier allowing easier treatment or even prevention of problems.

Put reminders on your calendar to do these things as well as giving monthly heartworm and flea and tick medications.  While discussing things to put on your calendar, make sure to schedule your pet’s yearly examination appointment as well.

Lastly, make yourself a reminder to update your contact information on your pet’s microchip and ID.  These items are not useful if they contain old contact information such as incorrect addresses or phone numbers that are no longer in service.  You can update microchip information through Home Again here.

We wish hope both you and your pet the best of luck in achieving your goals, and hope that you have a wonderful new year!screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-12-50-34-pm

How to have a Happy Howl-o-ween!

posted on October 03, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Halloween is supposed to be a fun time for family, but can present some safety concerns for our furry friends.  Follow the below tips to make sure your pets are safe this holiday season!

  • Make sure all pets have identification on.  Permanent identification such as a microchip is better than a collar, which could get lost.
  • Keep wires and cords for lights and decorations safely out of reach.
  • Carving pumpkins can be great fun, but skip the candles.  Pets can be curious or accidentally knock over the pumpkins which could cause them to get burned or cause damage.
  • On the subject of pumpkins, pumpkins and corn are not toxic, but ingesting them can lead to obstructions, so keep pets out of outdoor decorations.
  • Candy such as chocolate or sugar free candies can be toxic to pets, so keep out of their reach.
  • Outdoor cats should be kept inside for a few days before and after Halloween due to the high traffic.
  • Indoor pets and pets in yard should be kept away from doors and gates which could be opened by visitors allowing them to get out and even lost.
  • Unless you know your pet does very well with strange people, people in costumes, and other pets, it might be better for them to stay at home while you trick or treat.  This holiday can be very overwhelming for even the best socialized pets.
  • Fog machines can be irritating to pets’ lungs and eyes as they are closer to the ground where the smoke lingers.
  • Lastly, if you are putting your pet into costume, make sure there are no pieces that are easily chewed off, that it fits appropriately to prevent injury, and that they are supervised while wearing it.

Hopefully with these tips all can enjoy a Happy Halloween!

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Posted in: Toxicity

August 15th is Check the Chip Day!

posted on August 01, 2014 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

According to HomeAgain, 1 in 3 pets will go missing in it’s lifetime.  Without identification, up to 90% of these pets may not find their way back home.  While tags are a good idea, collars can slip off, may be taken off at certain times, or tags could be lost.  A microchip is a permanent and safe way to identify your pet.

Microchipping involves placing a small, about the size of a grain of rice, identification implant between the shoulder blades of your pet.  This microchip contains a number that is readable by scanners at veterinary clinics, impounds, rescues, and shelters.

A microchip must be registered to be useful however.  When implanted, the microchip only contains the number.  You have to contact the company to add your phone number, email, address, and/or other personal information.  This vital step allows you to be reached if your pet is found.

August 15th is check the chip day.  This day was created by a partnership between AVMA and AAHA to help remind owners of the importance of microchips.

Important things to remember to do on check the chip day (or any other day for that matter!):

  • Get your pet microchipped if they aren’t already
  • At your yearly examination, have the vet check the microchip to make sure it is still present and in working order
  • Most importantly-update your contact information with the microchip company!  Any time you move or get a new phone number or email, this information should be updated with the microchip company.

If you would like to get your pet microchipped or have further questions about the process, please call us today.