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Heatstroke and Your Pet

As Spring warms up into Summer and the humidity and heat start to really set in, it's good to remember that, like every other member in your family, you need to take extra care with your pet. When the weather begins to heat up, it is easier for you to become dehydrated and dangerously overheated, which can result in falling unconscious, vital organ damage, or even death. The same is true for your pets!

We tend to think of animals as hardier than humans, but the truth is, dogs and cats begin to experience heatstroke (hyperthermia, medically speaking) at the same internal body temperature as humans do — 104° F, with severe heatstroke beginning at 105° to 106° F internally. It might be more difficult for you to gauge temperature with smaller pets such as hamsters, but there's one rule of thumb to keep in mind: always watch the heat index. Meteorologists use the heat index value to determine what the temperature is once humidity is applied and it's this balance of heat and humidity that is dangerous to the health of you and your pet.

Starting when the heat index is 90° F, you need to be sure to take precautions to protect your pets. They won't be able to ask you to turn on the air conditioning or for extra water and they won't be able to tell you when they're starting to feel ill. Your pets depend on you to responsibly monitor the weather and give them what they need to stay healthy and comfortable.


Vaccinations and Examinations

Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. While your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the frequency that your pet should be examined, most recommend either annual or bi-annual visits. Since pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans, they are considered middle-aged by the time they reach 6/7 years old and larger breeds of dogs are often considered to be seniors by the time they reach 8.
 
Typical components of a wellness examination include:

  • Checking the central nervous center

  • Checking and cleaning the ears; treating if required

  • Checking joints and mobility

  • Checking skin and condition of coat

  • Checking urinary and reproductive systems

  • Dental examination

  • Eye examination

  • Listen to the heart

  • Listen to the lungs

  • Observation of alertness and response

  • Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors

  • Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps

  • Weight check
     

Other tests that your pet may be given include:
 

  • Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)

  • Fecal testing, which allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms or whipworms.

  • Blood work which screens for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also gives the veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pet's health.


Flea Prevention and Care

Saving Your Pet from an Itchy Problem: Fleas

 

Every parent to a furry pet knows how much of a nuisance fleas can be. At best, your pets become itchy and skittish, but at worst they become miserable and lethargic. And just like ticks, fleas can be a vector for disease for you and your pets! Fleas can be partly responsible for roundworms or flatworms as well as for infections including typhus, spotted fever, cat-scratch fever, or more rarely, the plague.

So what can we do? The best first step is prevention, but if that fails, there are ways to spot the beginnings of a flea infestation as well as ways to stop it in its tracks.
 

Preventing an infestation

Stop an infestation before it can start! When winter turns to spring and the weather starts to warm up, don't wait until you notice fleas on your pets or their playmates. You'll have a much happier home if you follow these easy steps:

  • Keep your home clean. Vacuum your house regularly, especially if you have deep pile rugs, and make sure your pet's favorite spaces are regularly cleaned/washed, aired out, and preferably getting plenty of sunlight.

  • Clean yards fend off more than ticks. Keeping a clean yard, including mowed lawns and trimmed foliage, will drastically reduce the potential for fleas in your outdoor areas. Keeping any trash, especially foods, carefully sealed for disposal will help keep away other animals that are likely to harbor fleas

  • Use flea treatments. There are a number of options for flea treatments available based on the type of pet you have and their age, including spot-on treatments, oral chews, and flea collars. Always read the instructions carefully to avoid harming your pet. And of course, always feel free to come in and talk to our staff about what treatments are best for your pet.

  • Consider professional pest control. This option isn't always in a pet owner's budget, and it should always be considered carefully to ensure the best health for your pets, plants, and fish. This can also help prevent other potentially nasty bugs from biting you and your animals, including mosquitoes.
     

Catching an infestation early

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, fleas find their way into our homes and onto us and our animals. Maybe it's because you live in an apartment and they hitch a ride on your neighbor's dog, or perhaps your selected flea treatment didn't last as long as you expected it to or wasn't effective at all.
 

No matter the reason, we've got a few tips on how to identify a flea infestation as early as possible. The earlier you identify it, the earlier you can get it under control!
 

  • Comb your pet regularly. You can monitor your pet's fur for fleas at multiple stages and check their skin for irritations, bite marks, or other signs of fleas, such as eggs or detritus (blackish-red "flea dirt"). You want to pay close attention to favored locations, such as the back of the head and around the ears, the armpits, or the rump. Remember: fleas will jump on and off of you and your pet, so finding signs of fleas is important, even if you do not find fleas themselves.

  • Fleas love to jump. Fleas are tiny and quick, but they usually appear in groups once the infestation has started. You'll probably be able to feel them jumping on and off of you, especially your feet and lower legs. Your pet's skin will probably also "jump," as they twitch from the movement of fleas (as opposed to being bitten).

  • Keep an eye on your pet's behavior. Are they scratching more than usual? Are they pulling their fur out? Do they have dermatitis? Are they biting at the same area over and over? These are all potential signs that fleas are present. Note: If this behavior is present, but you cannot find any other signs of fleas, take your pet in to be checked by a veterinarian so that they can ensure there are no other health problems.

  • White brings fleas to light. Sometimes it can be hard to determine if the evidence you're finding is of fleas, instead of just plain dirt, especially if your pet spends a lot of time outside. Put down white paper towels when you comb your pet with the flea comb so that you can check the detritus that falls off the pet onto the paper towel or is stuck on the comb to see if it's like dried blood, or if it looks like the earth around your home. Also, if you wear white socks, you'll be able to see the fleas jumping on and off of you.

  • Fleas don't just jump on you. In fact, individually they don't even spend most of their time on you or your pet. Check your pet's favorite places — the dog bed where they love to flop, the spot on the overstuffed chair where your cat loves to sun itself, or even the places in the house where they play the most. Fleas will leave behind similar detritus on your surroundings as they do on your pet.

  • Check all of your pets. If one pet is exhibiting signs of fleas, but your other pet's behavior hasn't changed and they don't scratch themselves much, that doesn't mean the fleas only want to eat one pet, it might just mean that your other pet isn't allergic to flea bites. 

  • Anemia is a concern. Be sure to keep an eye on your pets during regular care and grooming. Lethargy, weakness, and even pale gums can be signs that they're anemic meaning that a high number of fleas are sucking their blood. Be sure to see your veterinarian so your pet can get well!


Picking your Perfect Puppy

With the World Canine Organization recognizing over 300 different breeds of dogs across the globe, it can be extremely difficult to know which is right for you and your lifestyle. When deciding to bring a puppy into your home, you are making a commitment to at least ten years of love, care, and attention, which is why selecting the right dog for you is absolutely crucial.

With this in mind, we have put together this article to look at the physical and behavioral characteristics of a few popular breeds.
 

American Bulldog

Height (males): 22-28 inches Weight (males): 70-120lbs
Height (females): 20-26 inches Weight (females): 60-100lbs
Life expectancy: up to 16 years

Physical characteristics: Muscular, powerful and sturdy animals that are also surprisingly athletic. With strong jaws and muzzles, they can often look ‘mean’. The tail is low set and is thick at the base and tapers to a point. The coat is short and smooth and comes in an array of colors.

Temperament: American bulldogs make extremely loyal pets that display strong protective instincts towards their families. Highly alert and great with children, they are sociable animals that need to know their place in the family hierarchy. As a firm pack leader, good socialization from a young age and obedience training will make them easier to handle.


Exercise: They are relatively inactive when indoors, but need at least an average-sized yard and a long daily walk.

Health: This breed is prone to hip dysplasia.
 

Alaskan Mamalute

Height (males): 24-26 inches Weight (males): 80-95lbs
Height (females): 22-24 inches Weight (females): 70-85lbs
Life expectancy: 12-16 years

Physical characteristics: The largest of the arctic dogs, the Alaskan Mamalute is a well-built animal that strongly resembles a wolf. It has a plumed tail, large thick feet with tough pads and a dense, coarse coat up to three inches in length. While the coat can come in an array of colors, the muzzle and legs are almost always white.

Temperament: These dogs are sociable, loyal and bright. They are better suited to older children and love to please their human family. However, because they are so friendly, they are more likely to welcome intruders than scare them and therefore do not make very good guard dogs! However, they do have strong prey instincts and should not be around smaller animals. Strong leadership, obedience training, and proper socialization are critical as without them, they can become destructive.

Exercise: Alaskan Mamalutes are very active and love the outdoors, so they are best suited to homes with large yards and an owner who can commit to long daily walks. High fences with buried bases are a must as they like to try and roam. Since they often struggle with hot climates, they will need less exercise and plenty of cool water and shade during warmer times of the year.

Health: This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, bloating, and dwarfism.
 

Bichon Frise

Height (males): 9-12 inches Weight (males): 7-12lbs
Height (females): 9-11 inches Weight (females): 7-10lbs
Life expectancy: around 15 years

Physical characteristics: A small and sturdy dog, the Bichon Frise has a short muzzle and dropped ears covered in hair. It has a thick tail that is carried over the back and a double coat of up to four inches in length that is usually a shade of white, cream, apricot or grey.

Temperament: These extremely sociable animals make ideal companions as they adore human company and love to please their owners. They are excellent with all ages of humans as well as other dogs and are affectionate and intelligent. As with all small dogs, there is a risk of developing small dog syndrome where the animal feels that he is the pack leader to his humans. This can cause them to develop a number of behavioral problems, so be sure to assert yourself firmly as the pack leader in order to prevent small dog syndrome from setting in.

Exercise: The Bichon Frise can happily live in an apartment provided they are given regular exercise through daily walks and play.

Health: This breed can be sensitive to flea bites, and is prone to cataracts, skin and ear ailments, epilepsy, and dislocated kneecaps.
 

Boston Terrier

Height: 15-17 inches Weight: 10-25lbs
Life expectancy: approximately 15 years

Physical characteristics: Compact, square-bodied dogs with good muscle tone and erect ears, the Boston Terrier is a handsome animal. The legs are quite wide set, the tail is short, and the coat is short and fine.

Temperament: These are intelligent creatures that are easy to train and are affectionate with their family. They are good with people of all ages and love socializing. They are also at risk of developing small dog syndrome, so proper authority and obedience training is necessary to ensure that they know their place.

Exercise: Boston Terriers are suited to apartments as well as houses with yards, so long as they get regular walks and play.

Health: Their prominent eyes can be prone to injury, as well as a multitude of eye-related health problems, including glaucoma, ulcers, and cataracts. Deafness, tumors, and breathing difficulties when exercising or dealing with hot weather are also concerns.


How to Help Your Pet Get More Exercise

Regular exercise is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Not only does it help with weight control, but it also keeps their joints supple and their heart healthy.

Regular exercise benefits for pets include:

  • Reduction in undesirable behaviors including chewing, barking, jumping up, and being predatory.

  • Maintaining your pet's weight.

  • Helping your dog to unwind and sleep better at night.

  • Keeping your dog healthy and mobile.

  • Reduction in constipation and digestive problems.

  • Building a rapport with your pet and gaining their trust.
     

In recent years humans have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle, and our pets are following suit. However, in order for our pets to live a long, happy and healthy life, you need to ensure that activity is worked into their daily routine. Here is our guide to helping your pet get more exercise.
 

Exercise for Dogs

Until the start of the 20th-century, dogs were primarily bred to work in a range of areas such as military, farming, search and rescue, and sensory support. Whilst some dogs still do work, the majority of them are now couch potatoes where they are provided with more than enough food and water. And since they spend the majority of their time in a confined space, their naturally active tendencies are fading as they become lazier.

Dogs who do not have enough exercise can exhibit some undesirable behaviors including:

  • Destructive: chewing, scratching and digging

  • Hyperactive: extreme excitability, jumping up, etc

  • Play biting / rough play: your dog may nip you regularly when playing

  • Investigative tendencies: this can include garbage raiding

  • Predatory: your pet may get very territorial

  • Vocalization: increased barking, whining, and other attention-seeking sounds
     

Many people believe that having access to a garden or yard counts as exercise, but unless you have the equivalent of a football field outside, then it is not enough. Also, your dog doesn’t want to exercise alone. Interaction with him is the key to getting him moving.

It doesn’t have to mean running for miles either. As long as your dog is moving and his heart rate is increasing, it counts as exercise!

However, before you start your pet off on a regular exercise routine, there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
 

  • A dog's exercise needs vary depending on their breed and size.

  • Sustained jogging or running can be problematic for larger dogs as they
    are naturally more likely to suffer from cruciate ligament injuries such as
    hip dysplasia or arthritis.

  • Sustained jogging or running is also not recommended for dogs under 18
    months of age as their bones haven’t finished growing.

  • Brachycephalic breeds (those with short or flat noses) can struggle with
    their breathing during vigorous exercise, particularly if the temperatures
    are warm.


Ideally, you should always consult with your veterinarian before beginning an exercise regimen with your pet.
 

What sort of exercise can I do with my dog?

Almost all dogs will benefit from at least one half-hour long walk per day which would, ideally, occur at the same time every day. This helps your pet get into a routine and is beneficial for helping your dog know what time of day he will get to empty his bladder/bowels.

If your dog is sociable, you should look into a local agility group or class. These can be quite competitive and intense, but they provide a great workout for your pet and are a good way for you to make new friends too. Also, some of the activities that your pet will do are good for developing new skills. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you on how to find your nearest group.

Getting your pet active doesn't have to be complicated. For example, you can’t beat a game of fetch! Simple, effective and you don’t need to go too far. You can even play it indoors if the weather is poor, given that you have enough space.

If you live near a lake, river or beach, then take your dog swimming. It is a particularly good exercise for dogs with arthritis as it is gentle on their joints. If your dog is reluctant to get into the water, start by encouraging him to chase a ball or toy into the shallows.

Play hide and seek. It is just as important for your pet to exercise their brain as well as their body. Hide and seek is a light physical activity that stimulates your pet's cognitive abilities.

REMEMBER: never let your dog off of his leash is you are not confident that he will return to you when called.


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

Despite how careful we try to be regarding toxic substances, there are still thousands of pets every year who unfortunately suffer from the accidental ingestion of harmful substances, many of which are household poisons. Poisoning can cause extreme health problems and even death, but these can be prevented by understanding which common household toxins may harm your pet and how to poison-proof your home. This guide will also explain some of the symptoms you should look out for and what you should do if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.
 

Most Common Poisons

We have taken information from the Pet Poison Helpline website to bring you information on some of the most common poisons for cats and dogs. Please be aware that these lists are in no specific order and the toxicity levels for these poisons are variable.

Top Ten most commonly reported cat poisons:

  1. Topical spot-on insecticides
  2. Household cleaners
  3. Antidepressants
  4. Lilies
  5. Insoluble oxalate plants
  6. Human and veterinary NSAIDS
  7. Cold and flu medication (e.g. Tylenol)
  8. Glow sticks
  9. ADHD/ADD medications and amphetamines
  10. Mouse and rat poison
     

Top Ten most commonly reported dog poisons:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Mouse and rat poisons
  3. Vitamins and minerals
  4. NSAIDS
  5. Cardiac medications
  6. Cold and allergy medications
  7. Antidepressants
  8. Xylitol
  9. Acetaminophen
  10. Caffeine pills


Plants that are poisonous to pets

Although there are thousands of species of plants, there are a few that are highly toxic to pets.
This list represents some of the most poisonous plants to pets.

  1. Autumn Crocus
  2. Azalea
  3. Cyclamen
  4. Kalanchoe
  5. Lilies
  6. Oleander
  7. Dieffenbachia
  8. Daffodils
  9. Lily of the Valley
  10. Sago Palm
  11. Tulips
  12. Hyacinths

Traveling With Your Pet

Being a beloved part of our family means that our pets sometimes travel with us when we go on long journeys. As a general rule, cats typically dislike traveling and are almost always better off staying at home in their own environment. On the other hand, dogs are generally more amenable to traveling, but there are still a number of considerations to make to ensure that the journey is both safe and comfortable for your pet.


Traveling by Car

The most important thing to remember when traveling by car is to ensure that your pet is not free to roam around the vehicle. Not only could this be distracting for the driver, but your pet will not be protected in the event of a crash. You may have seen dog seat belts being sold in some pet stores and whilst they have been approved for sale, there is no reliable evidence proving them to be effective in accidents. Instead, you should secure your pet in a crate that is big enough for your pet to change position if they become uncomfortable and that has been tethered to the car by a seatbelt or other secure method.

  • Do not put animals in the front passenger seat of your vehicle. If the airbag deploys, there is a chance that your pet could be seriously injured.

  • Do not ever leave your pet alone in the car. Animal thieves frequent parking lots and service stations, looking for unattended pets to steal. Also, leaving an animal alone in a warm car can be fatal. On a day where the outside temperature is 85F, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach 120F in just 10 minutes, putting your pet at serious risk.

  • Do not allow your pet to stick his head outside a moving vehicle. Doing so risks injury or sickness by fast-moving air forcing itself into your pet's lungs.

  • Never transport your pet in the back of an open pick-up truck.

  • Make plenty of bathroom breaks. This will also allow your pet to stretch their legs and have a drink.

  • As a general rule, if you wouldn’t allow your child to do it, do not allow your pet to do it either!


Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Lameness is one of the most prevalent problems presented to equine veterinarians. The term is used to describe an abnormal gait or stance due to the animal feeling pain or experiencing a restriction in the normal range of movement caused by underlying mechanical or neurological problems. The pain or restriction can originate from any part of the body such as the hoof, the leg or neck. The degree of severity can vary from a mild change in gait to completely preventing the horse from using or bearing weight on the affected limb. Unfortunately, lameness is the primary reason that older horses are put down.
 

Why might my horse be lame?

There are many reasons why a horse can become lame,
but some of the most common reasons include:

  • Abscesses or bruises in the hoof

  • Back and neck problems

  • Degenerative joint diseases

  • Fractures

  • Laminitis – inflammation of the soft tissue structures which attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall

  • Ligament injuries

  • Tendon damage


Best flea treatments for dogs and cats

As a pet owner, you know that unfortunately, fleas are an extremely common and annoying occurrence. You probably also know how important it is to treat your dogs and cats for worms and fleas on a regular basis. However, with 95% of flea and egg larvae living in your environment rather than on your pet, it is equally, if not more important, to treat your home too, otherwise, the infestation will return time and time again.
 

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

It is not uncommon to be able to spot fleas jumping on and off of your pet’s body, but they are very small and very fast. They are flat-bodied, dark brown or black in color (unless they are full of blood in which case they can be a lighter color) and are usually less than an eighth of an inch big. Typical behavioral symptoms that your pet might display include restlessness and chewing, scratching or licking certain parts of their body more often than usual. If you suspect that your pet has fleas, you can check their skin and coat for signs of the fleas themselves or for ‘flea dirt’ which looks like regular dirt but is actually flea feces. If you aren’t sure if it is actual dirt rather than flea dirt, put some on a paper towel and add water. If it is flea dirt, then it will turn a reddish-brown color as it will contain blood that the flea has ingested and then excreted.
 

Finding the right treatment

With so many different flea treatments available on the market, finding the right one can be tricky which is why we have put together this list of some of the best and most effective flea treatments for dogs and cats to get you started. However, discovering which products will work best for you and your pets may require some trial and error.
 

Frontline® Flea Spray for Dogs and Cats

Frontline® sprays do not contain the potentially toxic insecticides found in many pet store sprays and is a one-stop-shop for any household that has both cats and dogs. It is also safe to use if you have kittens or puppies on your property and is water-resistant, so it is still effective even if you like in an area with high rainfall.
 

Frontline® Plus for Dogs and Cats

A topical version of Frontline®, this formula will repel fleas and other pests at all life stages for a full 30 days. This helps to prevent re-infestation and keeps your home clear of fleas for a month at a time. Like other Frontline® products, it is free of potentially harmful insecticides and is water-resistant.


Canine Distemper

What is Canine Distemper?

Also known as CDV, Canine Distemper is a highly contagious viral illness that can be debilitating and even fatal. It not only affects dogs, but can also be seen in certain species of wildlife, including foxes, skunks, and wolves. Puppies and non-immunized dogs are most commonly affected, but pets on immune-suppressing medications may also be vulnerable.

CDV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products, and household bleach is the only known way to eradicate it.
 

What causes CDV?

The CDV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal via bodily fluids such as saliva from coughs or sneezes which is why inhalation is the most common way it enters a new dog's system. CDV attacks the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system.

The virus does not live long once outside the body, so indirect contact is extremely rare.
As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
 

Symptoms of CDV

The primary symptoms of CDV include, but are not limited to:
 

  • Coughing

  • Diarrhea

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Nasal discharge

  • Reduced appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Watery or pus-like discharge from the eyes
     

Once the virus reaches the central nervous system (CNS), it can cause twitching, seizures, and partial or total paralysis. This causes irreparable damage to a dog’s nervous system, often resulting in death.


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