Summer means vacation for many families, and many choose to make their pets a part of the adventure. To ensure a safe and healthy trip for your dog or cat as you travel this summer, there are important steps to follow beforehand.
How Will You Be Traveling?
Your pets can have adventures with you whether traveling by plane, boat, train or car, yet each mode of transportation will have its own set of guidelines to think about:
Air Travel – Most airlines do have accommodations for pets, both for international and domestic flights. The rules may be slightly different for each one, so it is best to contact the airline before buying your tickets to make sure that your pet will be welcome. If traveling with a cat or small dog, it is best to book a flight that allows pets in carriers to accompany you in the cabin to minimize the risk to the animal. Keep in mind that veterinarians discourage pets that have flat faces, like pugs from air travel because they are more susceptible to oxygen deprivation.
Health certificates from a vet for safe flying are required by most airlines, and you will have to provide that documentation when checking in your pet. If traveling out of the country, further veterinary documentation, as well as additional examinations, vaccinations, or blood work may be required before you takeoff. Do the research ahead of time and work with your vet to ensure that all requirements are met for your pet’s travel. You don’t want to start your journey with your pet watching you fly away.
Boat Travel – If you are booking a summer cruise, be advised that very few make reservations for pets, with the exception of service animals. You might be permitted to bring your pet along in a kennel if making an ocean crossing only. As this would cause undue strain on your pet, it is advisable to leave your pet at home, book them for boarding or make other travel arrangements.
Train Travel – Like boat travel, train travel is very restrictive for pet companions, as the length of time needed to reach your destination is much longer. Most don’t allow pets to roam freely on trains, for obvious reasons, but kennel travel may be an option. You would also have the responsibility of taking your dog out for walks at selected stops along the way.
Car Travel – Contrary to what you may think, pets traveling inside of a car should be crated and strapped in the back seat. Schedule stops along the way to let them stretch out and do their business. Don’t forget to bring along your harness or leash so that you can walk them safely. If you are driving for multiple days, it is also advisable to book your overnight hotels in advance, checking to make sure that pets are allowed.
Packing for Your Pet
Gear for your pet should be easily accessible in a travel bag that is never far from your side. Don’t forget to pack their collar and leash, vaccination records and some of their favorite treats. Always be prepared with food and lots of cold water. Pets don’t sweat like humans and over heat very easily. Depending on weather conditions, your pet my also need sun screen or booties for the hot ground.
A thorough work-up by your veterinarian before your pet’s summer adventures is essential, whether traveling nationally or internationally. It is important to make sure that they are current on all vaccinations and preventative medicines, like flea and tick control or heart worm. Your pet should be wearing their collar and identification tags at all times. Having your pet microchipped is another safety measure for identifying your pet if their tags get lost. It is important to ensure that your pets’ tags and microchip are displaying your current contact information, as well.
Even though we think of our pets as family members, it may not be in their best interest to bring them on your summer adventures. Traveling causes anxiety in most pets and in many cases they would have more fun staying at a pet hotel or having a sitter watch them while their human family has the vacation of a lifetime.
With spring in full swing, many of us start to plan for our annual allergies. With pollination beginning and new plants sprouting up, we humans gear up for our daily regimen of allergy protection techniques. But, did you know that our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies as well? Just like humans, our furry friends can suffer from food, medicinal and environmental/ seasonal allergies. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of such allergies, because if left untreated, our pets can become very ill. Dogs tend to have more issues with allergies than our feline friends, but none-the-less it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your cats, too.
Signs to Look For:
Our pets can have the usual allergy symptoms of congestion, sneezing, coughing and runny noses and eyes. In addition, your pet may begin continuously scratching themselves, or rubbing against walls, furniture and the floor. Licking and biting at their skin is also a key sign of allergies. Sometimes, scratching and biting can be associated with a severe flea allergy.
Did you know that when your dog is licking or biting at their skin, the saliva will turn their fur a reddish color? Beyond red fur, your pets’ skin can also become red and inflamed. It is important to seek out your veterinarian when this occurs. The more irritated the skin is, the more likely that infection will take place. A scaly rash can be an indicator of infection. It is also important to watch for ear infections. You should be mindful of pets shaking their head, rubbing their ears, and/or a brownish discharge inside the ears. Ear infections can even be the first allergy indicator.
Consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has allergies. Many times they are very easy to control, but once they get out of hand it can be difficult and uncomfortable for your pet to treat. Your veterinarian can recommend the most effective method to prevent and manage your pet’s allergy symptoms.
Wishing you and your furry friends a wonderful (sniffle-free) springtime!
Before you bring home a new dog or cat, there’s a lot of things to think about – where will you find your pet? Will your pet get along with your other furry companions? How will you help your pet adjust and keep them healthy? We can help you find the answers.
Know Your Family
Research different breeds and talk to your local shelter staff about what pet they would recommend to fit your personality and lifestyle. You want to give your new pet a “Forever Home”; avoid potential problems by knowing the right pet for your family. Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control and the Allen County SPCA are great resources to help you find the best pet for you. Contact them for more information today! We’ve listed their websites under Helpful Resources section.
Beware of “Free” Pets
Reputable rescues and shelters often charge a fee for adoptions because the pet is typically spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before you bring them home. Remember—When you adopt, you also open up a spot for another adoptable pet to be rescued!
Pet-Proofing Your Home
Is your home fit for a new furry friend? You’ll want to make sure a new pet will have plenty of room to thrive as well as be kept safe from any dangerous distractions. Be sure to prepare your home for your new family member before picking them up.
Regardless of the age or breed of your new pet, a visit to the veterinarian and a complete physical exam should be a top priority. Start your pet off right with vaccinations, baseline testing, and a clean bill of health. Don’t know where to start? Our hospital has a list of all area veterinarians available for free. We are open 24-hours, stop by and ask our receptionists for a copy today.
Sometimes pets get sick, and sometimes pets can get lost. Our hospital provides 24 hour emergency & critical care in those times of need. We help supplement your primary veterinarian to provide the best total care for all your furry loved ones. If you find a lost pet, we can scan for microchips and partner with Animal Care & Control to help reunite pets with their families.
The holiday season has arrived, but with all of the celebration comes possible health concerns for our furry friends. Emergency visits to the veterinarian increase during the holidays and are usually due to pets having eaten something they shouldn’t have. Below are some general tips to enjoy the holidays with your pet this year:
Make no bones about it. Meat bones can easily splinter and cause serious damage to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Make sure you have properly disposed of all of the bones and that the garbage is kept out of reach from your curious companions.
Pets aren’t for stuffing. Too many fatty, seasoned, unfamiliar foods can lead to pancreatitis and gastroenteritis in your pet. Both of these medical conditions can be painful and even life-threatening. If you decide to give your pet a bite of turkey, make sure it is boneless, lean and well-cooked to avoid salmonella bacteria.
Avoid the sweets, stick with treats. Consider all of the desserts prepared during the holidays, many of which contain chocolate and other toxic ingredients to our pets. Keep your pet’s noses out of the batter and focused on a treat of their own such as a made-for-pet chew bone or a Kong toy.
Keep out of the kitchen. Even if your pet isn’t one to snoop through the trash, the tasty smells of freshly cooked food can be very tempting, so make sure the garbage and kitchen preparations are properly tied up and covered to avoid your pet reaching any dangerous items or making a mess of the festivities.
Eat, drink, and be merry. With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, make sure your pet has fresh water, food of their own and quiet time away from the excitement to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed by the festivities.
Halloween ushers in its own brand of awesomeness in the form of pumpkins, candy, and costumes. Spider webs and creepy decorations set the stage for ghost stories and trick-or-treating. But holiday fun for humans can translate into hazards for companion animals. Halloween is the busiest time of year for the Pet Poison Helpline because companion animals often accidentally ingest Halloween candy or décor. Check out the following tips for West Hill Animal Hospital, in West Hills, CA, to help keep your furry friends safe and happy this Halloween season:
Keep your animals inside around Halloween and away from the front door during trick-or-treating. Animals can become excited or threatened by visitors, so keep them in a separate and enclosed room where they can remain calm—this also eliminates the risk that they will escape. Don’t leave dogs in the yard because they can escape or be subjected to torment by passersby. As an added precaution, make sure that your animal companions wear identification at all times. And if you’re going trick-or-treating, don’t take your animals with you.
Although all cats should be indoor cats, this is even more important during the month of October—especially if you have a black cat. Black cats are often associated with dark forces and are an easy target for Halloween pranksters who commit violent acts against unsuspecting kitties.
Decorations pose a threat to dogs, cats, and other animals. Keep your animal companions away from jack-o-lanterns, candles, balloons, or other decorations that they could ingest, become tangled in, or be injured by.
One of the biggest hazards to four-legged friends during Halloween is candy. Keep candy in secure containers and in an area that your animal companions cannot gain access to. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and sugary candy can lead to pancreatitis. Raisins, certain nuts, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in some gums and candies) can also be poisonous to furry friends. Plus, animals don’t remove the wrappers from candy and may try to eat discarded wrappers—ingesting these wrappers can cause choking or life-threatening bowel obstruction.
If you think your animal companion has ingested something, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, not defecating or straining to defecate, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures. Contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.
Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian or the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680 if you suspect that your animal companion has ingested something or might be injured. Keep these numbers on hand for quicker response—the faster that you can get help, the less your animal companion will suffer and the more likely he or she will make a speedy recovery.
Humans aren’t the only ones who have been packing on the pounds in recent years. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54%, or 93 million of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Cats alone had the highest obesity rates at 21.4%, while dogs were fairing slightly better with 8.6%. So that means around 6.7 million dogs and 20 million cats are obese.
Being obese means the animal is 20% or more heavier than their ideal body weight, and 5-19% for those that are overweight. When asked by their vets, 90% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners responded that they regularly gave their pets treats. But when their vets tell them their pet is overweight, only about 17% of owners agree.
Why is this happening? The main problem is pet owners who believe feeding their pet large quantities of food and numerous treats is showing their pet love. In reality, doing so is killing their pet, for just like us obesity in pets causes various health problems and shortens their lifespan. A majority of pet food producers aren’t helping either, for they pack their products with byproducts, fillers, and non-digestible ingredients. They are even putting sugar into their treats! As an animal hospital we take obesity in pets very seriously. Our pets are unable to monitor their own health. They don’t understand what calories are or notice that they ingest too many.
There are special diets that we can order to help kick start the weight loss for those patients are severely obese. Hill’s and Royal Canin have diets for both cats and dogs. Treats at home can even be substituted with vegetables. Of course, consult with your veterinarian about dietary counseling or before changing anything in their normal diet to keep from causing gastrointestinal upsets.
Dogs and cats age more quickly than their human companions. That being said, when a pet reaches seven years old, it is considered a senior – with the same types of health risks that humans face at advanced ages. One thing that many veterinarians recommend is a senior blood panel.
There are many reasons a blood panel can be helpful. If done consistently, annual blood tests can help a veterinarian track and evaluate the overall condition of a pet’s vital organs and health. In addition, blood tests can help a veterinarian detect early signs of many serious health conditions such as: kidney disease, diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, and liver disease.
Senior profiles are more comprehensive and will provide a more thorough evaluation of your pet’s current health. These panels can also provide a good look into the body’s response to medications and anesthesia. There are different types of blood tests that can be done, all performing different functions. A CBC, complete blood cell count, looks for adequate red and white blood cell numbers and checks their present condition. The chemistry profile looks at various organ enzymes, glucose, proteins, electrolytes, and cholesterol. Finally, senior panels also look at thyroid function, making sure it is not over or under active. In addition, your veterinarian may need to check your pet’s urine for signs of disease.
Routine blood work is useful in many applications: to establish a baseline on a healthy pet to compare to later, to help diagnose a pet that is “just not right”, and in geriatric pets. Speak to your veterinarian today to see if a senior blood panel is right for your best friend – it is the best gift you can give.
Your pet ages more quickly than you do, making it essential that he/she be examined at least once a year and even more frequently as they approach their senior life stage. Often, pets begin to develop diseases common to their senior human counterparts, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, endocrine disease and cancer. These diseases can go unnoticed in their early stages, making preventive health care even more important.
The age at which a pet reaches the senior life stage varies breed and lifestyle. Additional annual screening for diseases and other age related problems should begin at age seven for most cats and small to medium sized dogs. Large and giant breed dogs should be screened starting at age five or six. Wellness testing helps to establish healthy baseline values and identify problems early, rather than waiting for obvious signs of illness. It is recommended for all senior animals as well as any pet exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:
Changes in your pets mobility
Noticeable weight loss or gain
Loss of appetite
Diarrhea or vomiting
Lumps, bumps or irritation to their skin
Issues with their teeth
Issues with their ears or shaking of head
These behaviors may reveal that further, more specific tests may be needed. Family Pet Clinic in North Richland Hills, TX recommends blood work and a urinalysis yearly to all of our senior pets. It helps to show slight changes in the tests to catch illnesses earlier.
Remember that with your at home observations and yearly tests can prevent or slow down the progression of some diseases. If your older pet is exhibiting any of the above listed behavioral changes, you are the first with a voice to help them find relief.
There is much talk today about having your pet spayed or neutered. Why should you as a pet owner consider this for your pet? Scientific studies have shown that spaying/neutering has many different benefits. It can help decrease your pet’s risk of cancer, reduce the occurrence of several disruptive behaviors and may even help your pet live longer. One benefit that is extremely important in females is the reduced risk of pyometra.
Pyometra is an infection within the uterus. This infection occurs due to the hormonal changes within an intact female. When the female is in heat, her body undergoes several changes to create an environment that is optimal for pregnancy. Her uterus will not allow white blood cells to enter to ensure that sperm is not killed by these white blood cells. She will also start secreting progesterone to increase the lining of the uterus so it could potentially support fetal development if she does become pregnant.
If the female does not become pregnant, she will start a new heat cycle. Over time as she keeps going through these cycles, her uterine lining will become much thicker and may eventually start making cysts. These cysts may start secreting a fluid that is a perfect environment for bacterial growth. Bacteria are able to enter the uterus when the female is in heat. During heat, the cervix (which acts like a gate to the uterus) is not tightly closed. The bacteria is then able to slip through the cervix and into the uterus, thus starting an infection.
Pyometra can make your female dog or cat very ill. This can also be very painful to your animal. If you spay your pet early enough you can prevent this horrible infection from ever occurring. A spay is an ovariohysterectomy which means that the uterus and ovaries are surgically removed, including the environment in which the pyometra causing bacteria thrive. In conclusion, eliminating the occurrence of pyometra is one of the many benefits to having your pet spayed.
Most pet owners are aware of heartworm disease, the clinical symptoms, and how we can prevent this process from occurring in our four legged canine family members. However, many cat owners still remain unaware of the serious nature of the disease and the huge risk that it presents to their feline companions. Feline heartworm disease manifests itself differently, although it can be just as life threatening in cats as in dogs. According to Memorial Cat Hospital in Houston, TX, prevention is simple, and yet many feline owners remain unaware of the importance of monthly prevention in their pets. Unlike dogs, there is no treatment for eliminating heartworm disease in cats, making prevention all the more critical.
Although outdoor cats are at greater risk of being infected, a relatively high percentage of cats considered by their owners to be totally indoor pets also become infected. Overall, the distribution of feline heartworm infection in the United States seems to parallel that of dogs but with lower total numbers. There is no predictable age in cats to become infected with heartworms. Cases have been reported in cats from nine months to 17 years of age, the average being four years at diagnosis.
Heartworms do not need to develop into adults to cause significant disease and illness in cats. Much of the clinical symptoms seen with Feline Heartworm Disease is caused by the microfilaria migrating through the lung tissue on the way to the cat’s heart. Heartworm disease in felines affects the cat’s pulmonary system, not the heart, as in canine patients. Newly developing worms and the subsequent death of most of these same worms can result in acute pulmonary inflammation response and lung injury. This initial phase is often misdiagnosed as asthma or allergic bronchitis but in actuality is part of a syndrome now known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).
Monthly heartworm prevention is a simple, easy step that you as an owner need to take to keep your kitty happy and healthy for life! If you have additional questions or need more information, please take the time to discuss with your veterinarian today!
To learn more about Feline Heartworm Disease and prevention of this insidious disease in our kitties, please visit The American Heartworm Society. Or, watch this informative video which explains heartworm disease in feline patients very well, and be sure to protect your furry feline friend.