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5 Pet Hygiene Tips

Your pet is much more than a four legged companion, they are a cherished, loved family member in your family. Just like your human family members, your pet needs to practice good hygiene. Considering your pet doesn’t have hands to do this themselves, they depend on you to keep them healthy and clean. Great hygiene practices are not only beneficial for your pet, but also your entire family as it reduces the chances of bacteria spreading in the household. Consider the following hygiene tips to keep your pet in tip top health:

Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box Daily- Not only do the smells that come out of your kitty’s litter box smell funky but it’s a breading ground for germs. Intestinal parasites like hookworms and roundworms breed quickly and thrive in litter boxes and can be transmitted to humans. Toxoplasmosis is a disease that thrives in litter boxes causing flu-like symptoms and may cause birth defects in children of pregnant women. It’s spread through cat feces and is the reason why pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter boxes. Cleaning your cat’s litter box out daily is recommended to reduce the risk of these germs and parasites from breeding.

Clean Food and Water Bowls- Pet bowls are infested with germs. When a pet drinks or eats from their bowl, the bacteria in their saliva is transmitted to the bowl. This bacteria can grow, causing illness in pets and young children who may play in the bowls. Therefore, cleaning your pet’s bowls every 1-2 days is highly recommended.

Flea and Tick Prevention- Does your pet continuously suffer from the nagging itchiness of fleas and ticks? Being diligent about flea and tick prevention will keep your pet healthy and comfortable. Fleas and ticks are pests that carry many diseases that make it easy for your pet to develop diseases if your pet is not on a monthly preventative. Bathing your pet at least once every three months is recommended for hygiene. Additionally, it’s crucial for your pet to be treated with a flea and tick preventative every month. Even missing one month’s dose is enough to cause a flare up. A flea infestation is the last thing you want in your home. Don’t forget to clean your pet’s collar and toys too!

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth- Does Fido have awful breath? It could be a sign of poor dental health. One way to combat this is to ensure you’re cleaning your pet’s teeth. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is recommended, but if that’s not possible brushing them as often as you can is still beneficial. Periodontal disease is caused by poor dental hygiene and can have serious side effects to your pet’s health. Initiating a dental care routine and maintaining it will go a long way in keeping your pet healthy.

Keep Your Pet’s Ears Clean- Clean ears are vital to pet health and must be a part of your pet’s hygiene routine. This is important to remember even if your pet is not displaying symptoms of ear issues. Signs of ear issues include rubbing or scratching at the ears as well as foul odor, redness, or discharge coming from the ears. Never use Q-tips to clean your pet’s ears as this can result in serious ear damage. Instead use cotton balls and an ear cleaning solution.

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Pet Myths Debunked

-Cats Only Purr When They Are Happy

Purring is the first sound a kitten makes at the early age of 48 hours old. Cats purr mainly at times of comfort and contentment but may also purr when in pain.

-Dogs Only Wag Their Tail When Their Happy

Dogs wag their tails for many reasons. The most common reasons a dog wags their tail is due to happiness or nervousness. Learning to read what your dog is telling you when exposed to specific environments will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with him.

-If My Dog’s Nose Is Dry, He Is Sick
This is not true. Occasional dryness is perfectly normal. When a dog sleeps his nose will become dry because he stops licking at it. This causes the flow of moisture to his nasal area to stop making it moist. Dehydration and allergies can cause a dog’s nose to become dry as well.

-Cats Always Land on Their Feet
This is not entirely 100% true. While a majority of cats in fact do land on their feet, there are many factors to consider. Specifically, the age and health of the falling cat as well as the height of the fall itself play a large factor. The older and less healthy the cat is, the least likely the chances are of the cat landing safely as their reflexes are not as quick of that of a younger, healthier cat. When cats begin to fall they shift their balance from the moment the fall begins. A cat’s body reflexively corrects its course so that his feet are in position to hit the ground first. His legs will absorb the shock of the landing. A healthy cat with quick reflexes will likely be able to land on their feet and survive a fall from 5 stories or below with minimal injury.

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3 Strange Facts About Cats

Not only do cats make loving and loyal companions, they’re also fascinating creatures. Below are three strange facts you may not know about your feline companion:

1. Relative to Their Size, Cats Have the Largest Eyes of Any Mammal

One of the many reasons cats make great hunters is their superb eyesight. Their wide eyes contain slit pupils that can open wider, close tighter, and change size more quickly than many other animals, making it possible for cats to see in varying levels of light.

2. Cats Can Smell with Their Mouths

Cats have something called the vomeronasal organ, located between the hard palate and the nasal septum. Cats open their mouths and let particles in, allowing them to be analyzed by the vomeronasal organ.

3. Cats Have Whiskers on Their Legs 

In addition to having whiskers on their chins, cheeks, and eyebrows, cats also have them on their legs. These whiskers help a cat with body awareness and navigation.

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Walk Your Pet Month

The American Veterinary Medical Association designates January as Walk Your Pet Month. Despite cold weather and the temptation to cuddle up with your pet in your warm house, it’s very important for your pet to get their daily exercise. Lack of exercise may negatively effect your pet’s health. Pets who do not receive adequate exercise are highly susceptible to obesity, diseases such as diabetes, breathing issues, and numerous other health issues. These preventative health issues will not only be stressful for both you and your pet, but will also be stressful for your wallet. Not only is exercise beneficial for your pet’s physical health but it’s also critical for their mental health. Implementing a daily routine of a walk (or another type of exercise) will become a highly anticipated highlight of their day that will positively influence their health and strengthen their relationship with you. Whether you have a dog or cat there are many ways to get their daily exercise in:

A simple 10-15 minute daily walk is the perfect amount of time to exercise your dog. Taking a quick walk around the block will not only benefit your dog’s health, but it will also benefit your relationship with him as you both bond. If weather does not permit an outside walk consider walking your dog in an indoor building or taking him to an indoor dog park. If he’s not keen on going for walks play a game of fetch with a frisbee or ball! Simply playing with your dog will not only be loads of fun for both of you but also great exercise!

If you have a cat that is trained to walk on a leash, take him for a stroll! If your kitty cat is like most, and refuses to wear a harness and be walked on a leash, check out our tips for training your cat to walk on a leash. If all else fails, do not get discouraged. Instead, consider dangling some toys in front of him to get him up and moving. Scratch posts and perches are great for getting your kitty’s exercise in as well. 

Check out your local community activities as well. Pet related activities may be right in your neighborhood. It’s also a great way to get out of the house and meet people who are just as in to their pets as you are! Get creative and have fun!

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Signs Your Dog May Have an Ear Infection

Many dogs have ear infections that go undetected. A dog’s ear canal is vertical which allows moisture as well as debris to easily become backed up in the ear canal. Extra hair, moisture, wax, allergies, ear mites, or yeast can cause a dog to have an ear infection. Ear infections can become very painful to dogs, just like they can become to humans.

How Do You Know if Your Dog is Suffering From an Ear Infection?

If you notice your dog have any of these symptoms it’s possible they may be suffering from an ear infection:

  • Odor coming from their ear
  • Hair loss near their ear
  • Loss of balance
  • Scabs on outside or inside of the ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Walking in circles
  • Swelling
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching or rubbing at their ear

What Should You Do if Your Dog is Demonstrating Any of Those Symptoms?

The first step is to take him see his veterinarian. They will examine your dog’s ear canal and ear drum. Sometimes a sample of your dog’s ear discharge may be taken to determine whether bacteria, yeast, or parasites are present.

If your dog’s veterinarian diagnoses your dog with an ear infection they will clean your dog’s ear thoroughly. While this may temporarily cause your dog some discomfort, it is vital to clearing the infection up. In addition, your dog’s veterinarian will prescribe your dog a topical or oral medicine. It’s crucial to ensure your dog receives the treatment suggested by their veterinarian to clear up any infection.

How Can You Prevent Your Dog From Having Ear Infections in the Future?

Many times the cause for an ear infection is due to the ear canal becoming moist after swimming, bathing, or grooming. The moisture remaining in your dog’s ear fuels the growth of bacteria. Ensuring your dog is dried off properly can make quite a difference. However, some dogs easily get ear infections due to allergies. Determining whether your dog is getting ear infections due to moisture or allergies will help greatly in lessening the chances of your dog obtaining an ear infection.

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Why Does My Dog “Kiss” Me?

Like it or not, there’s a good chance your dog isn’t shy about licking your face. Some people find this adorable, while others find these “kisses” a little gross. Either way, you’ve probably wondered why dogs display this behavior.

Below Are Four Reasons Why Dogs Choose to Use Their Slobbery Tongues:

1) As a Sensory Tool: Just like touch or smell, taste is another way to explore something. Dogs may lick someone they don’t know all that well to learn more about them.

2) To Get Attention: Dogs sometimes just want to remind their owners that they’re there and would love some attention. It’s like they’re saying “pet me, I’m cute!”

3) To Ask for Something They Want:Puppies lick their mothers prior to feeding, so some dogs might lick their humans to get something they want. These desires might include food, treats, or maybe even a walk.

4) It’s a Learned Behavior: Chances are, your dog loves you and is passing along a learned behavior from his or her canine mother. Their mom licked them and now they’re licking you. Plus, many dogs have realized that licking gets them a positive reaction, so they do it more often.

If your dog’s licking becomes excessive, this may be an obsessive-compulsive behavior. Discuss any questions or concerns with your dog’s veterinarian or an animal behaviorist.

Licking and Oral Health:

If your dog likes to lick you, certainly you’ll notice their breath. Bad breath as well as swollen or bleeding gums is an indicator of poor oral health in your dog. It’s important to remember that proper dental care for dogs is just as important as it is for humans. Your dog’s dental health is critical to their overall health. Dental issues can cause health problems in other parts of your dog’s body to occur, making it extremely important to have your dogs teeth and gums evaluated by their veterinarian at a minimum, once a year. Routine veterinarian visits evaluate your dog for early signs of health issues as well as maintain your dog’s dental hygiene.

One of the best practices you can implement for your dog’s dental health is preventative care. Brushing your dog’s teeth and providing dental chews will aide in keeping your pet healthy. While it can be challenging to do so, brushing your dog’s teeth is very effective in preventing any oral issues that may lead to greater health issues within your dog’s body. Many dogs don’t like to have their teeth brushed, yet starting this routine early on in your dog’s life will be a crucial way to avoid dental issues for your dog.

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Cold Weather and Pets

When temperatures drop, pet care needs change. Don’t miss these five winter pet safety tips:

1. Keep pets indoors: If it’s too cold outside for you, it’s too cold for your pet. Severe cold puts pets at risk for frostbite and hypothermia. If for some reason a dog must be left outside during the day, proper shelter should be provided that protects your dog from the elements. Pets are happiest and safest during the winter months when they’re indoors with their families.

2. Consider a sweater: If your dog is sick, frail, or getting older, a sweater or a jacket can sometimes be helpful with keeping in body heat when venturing outdoors for a walk. Just be sure the sweater fits well and there aren’t any dangling pieces that could be choking hazards.

3. Wipe down your dog’s paws after walks: Pets are at risk for picking up ice, rock salt, antifreeze, and other chemicals on their footpads. It’s important to wipe off your pup’s paws after walks to prevent ingestion of chemicals and to ensure footpads don’t become raw or chapped.

4. Keep a lookout for neighborhood cats: Your kitty is hopefully being kept safe and warm inside, but other cats in the neighborhood may not be so lucky. Cats often seek warmth under the hoods of cars or in wheel wells. Knock on the hood of your car before starting it to make sure no neighborhood felines are in danger.

5. Make arthritic pets comfortable: Cold temperatures can worsen joint pain for pets with arthritis. Make an appointment with your pet’s vet to discuss arthritis supplements or prescription medications for worsening pain. Also, make sure your pet has a comfortable and warm place to rest indoors, protected from any drafts.

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5 Fun Facts About Dogs

We love dogs so much and we’re sure you do too! As dog lovers, there are always exciting facts to learn about. Check out these 5 fun facts about our canine pals:

1) Puppies have 28 teeth while adult dogs have 42.

2) Dog’s sense of smell is more accurate than humans. In fact, it’s 1,000 to 10 million times more distinct than human’s. Depending on the breed, a dog has between 125 million to 300 million scent glands. To put this in perspective, humans only have 5 million scent glands.

3) Puppies are born deaf as their ear canals are closed. However, as they grow and develop their hearing, they quickly surpass human’s hearing abilities. Dogs are able to hear higher pitched sounds. In fact, dogs detect a frequency range of 67 to 45,000 hertz/cycles per second, whereas humans can only detect 64 to 23,000 hertz.

4) Dog’s vision allows them to see in the dark. Their larger pupils let in more light and the center of their retina has more light sensitive cells. In addition, the tapetum is a mirror like structure towards the back of a dog’s eye that reflects light, allowing the retina the ability to register light that has entered the eye. The tapetum is also the reason why dog’s eyes glow at night.

5) Dog’s only have sweat glands on their paws between their paw pads. This is why they pant to cool down. This is important to remember as dogs are susceptible to overheating in warm weather and the proper precautions must be taken to prevent overheating.

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Remember the Three C’s of Christmas

Christmas trees, Christmas candy, and Christmas candles are the three C’s of Christmas that can mean danger for your pets.

Christmas tree safety includes:

  • Only using plain water in your tree stand. Some commercial preparations include ingredients like aspirin, which can potentially be dangerous for pets.
  • Place any delicate glass ornaments high up on your tree – the ornament glass is often very thin and sharp when broken.
  • Make sure your tree is very stable as to not topple over on curious pets. Add a tie from the wall or ceiling if necessary.
  • Avoid tinsel, which can “pleat up” in your pet’s intestines and require emergency surgery if ingested.
  • Avoid food decorations like popcorn because they attract pets to the tree.

Christmas candy safety means:

  • Keep all chocolate candy safely away from pets. Chocolate has caffeine and theobromine, which makes it toxic to four-legged friends.
    Too much sugar is not good for your pets, so stick to cat or dog treats specifically made for pets.
  • Some holiday candies include liquors which can be hazardous for pets.
  • Do not put candy ornaments on the tree where pets have easy access.

Christmas candle safety means:

  • Never leaving lit candles unobserved – they can easily be knocked over by an inquisitive dog or flicked by a cat’s tail.
  • Some holiday candles have scents and/or flavors that are attractive to pets – stomach upsets or toxicities can result from your pet eating or chewing on them.
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Think Twice Before Feeding Your Dog Ham

If you’re like most people, you will be having a nice Christmas meal and there’s no doubt your dog will be included. Letting your four legged pal have a taste of dog friendly food on a special occasion is not a big deal, but sometimes accidents do happen and your dog may ingest some non-dog friendly foods. Ham is a commonly served food for Christmas dinner, but it’s best to not allow your dog to have any or eat any leftover table scraps.

Ham has a high sodium and fat content. While us humans are able to process ham, it’s not so simple for dogs. Sodium can be toxic to dogs leading to lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. In large quantities it can cause kidney damage and even possibly lead to death. Too much fat can lead to pancreatitis. The pancreas releases enzymes that aid in digestion, and when the organ is working normally, the enzymes are only active when they reach the small intestine. In a dog suffering from pancreatitis, the enzymes are active when they’re released which causes inflammation and damage to the pancreas as well as all surround tissue and organs. This is extremely painful for your pooch and can be life threatening.

It may be difficult to say “no” to your dog’s adorable face, but your dog is better off not having any ham at all. Having some special treats just for your dog is a great alternative.  The major cause of pancreatitis in dogs is due to receiving a large helping of food with high amounts of fat in one sitting. Ham is a great example of this. What should you do if your dog has helped themselves to some ham or accidentally got their paws on some? Keep an eye on him or her and call the Veterinarian if any combination of these symptoms are shown:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Hunched Back
  • Fever

Pancreatitis is a very serious, potentially life threatening condition. Quick action and professional treatment will be key in helping your dog.A Veterinarian will be able to diagnose your dog based off his or her medical history, blood tests that measure pancreatic enzymes, as well as by a physical exam of the stomach, gums, or heart. If your dog is diagnosed with Pancreatitis, treatment may include IV fluid therapy, monitoring, as well as medication.

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