Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a State with relatively consistent weather and temperatures. Just as humans change their behavior and diet with fluctuations in temperature, so do most animals. Here are our guidelines for seasonal care for your pets.
If temperatures plummet and your pet usually likes to spend most of its time outdoors try and persuade them to stay indoors in the warm instead. If circumstances mean that your pet has to be kept outdoors then take steps to ensure that they are as warm and comfortable as possible. This means providing them with a dry and draft-free shelter with plenty of extra blankets. You should also regularly check their water supply to ensure that it hasn’t frozen.
If the ground is covered with snow, ice or just extremely cold then you may want to consider animal booties. These are widely available from most pet stores.
Be prepared to see a change in your pet's eating habits. Outdoor pets tend to require extra food. They burn this extra food to help keep them warm. Indoor pets are likely to eat far less as they conserve energy by sleeping more.
Keep your pets away from antifreeze. Unfortunately, it smells and tastes delicious to dogs and cats, but even the smallest sip can be deadly. Keep pets out of garages and outbuildings and clean up any spillages as soon as they happen. Speak to your neighbors about the dangers and ask them to ensure that any antifreeze they have is securely stored and that they too clean up any spillages that may occur. If your pet acts as if they are drunk or begins to convulse then take them to a vet immediately.
Check under the hood of your car before starting the engine. Many cats like to sneak under the hood of a vehicle once you have gone inside so that they can curl up against the warm engine. If you are unable to open the hood then a firm tap on it should be sufficient to wake any sleeping cat.
Ensure that rabbit hutches are brought inside. If this isn’t possible then ensure that you put extra newspaper in for insulation. Again, check their water source to ensure that it isn’t frozen.
Once your pet has settled into your home it is a good idea to think about training. Training your pet can help ensure that the behaviors that they exhibit are primarily desirable ones. Dogs, in particular, like to please their owners and doing so will help retain a lifelong bond between you.
Whilst dogs have earned a reputation as ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to their loyal and affectionate nature, just like the human counterparts they can sometimes possess annoying habits or personality traits that make them difficult to live with.
Training your dog will be hugely beneficial to your dog learning to live harmoniously alongside his human family. It will strengthen the bond between you and ensure his safety when out and about. Many dogs also find training to be a fun activity.
What is the best method to train my dog?
There are many different schools of thought as to how best to train a dog. Some owners prefer strict training with punishments for non-compliance, whilst others prefer to praise positive behavior and ignore undesirable reactions. Studies have shown that as a general rule the latter method works best, but however, you decide to train your dog, in order to do so effectively you need to consistently control the consequences of your dogs’ behavior.
Dogs cannot relate events that are separated by time and so the consequences to behavior need to be immediate. You cannot praise your dog several minutes after returning to you when called as he will not understand why he is receiving it. The easiest way to train a dog is to reward the behaviors that you like and not reward those that you don’t.
If your dog likes the consequence you give them they will be more likely to repeat that behavior so they get the consequence again i.e. love, attention, and praise.
If they dislike the consequences then they will do the behavior less often.
It really is that simple, but being consistent is vital otherwise you will send mixed messages to your pet. For example, if you do not want your pet to jump up at you (which they do to get your attention) then ignore them until they calm down. Praise and make a fuss of them as soon as they have returned to calm behavior. They will then learn that this is the way that you prefer them to behave. It may take several days or weeks of doing this, but your dog will soon learn the correct behavior to exhibit.
The addition of a new pet can be very exciting! However, knowing where to find your new companion and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to assist you in making your decision.
Adopting a new pet is a big decision that shouldn’t be done impulsively. Pets require time, effort, and money to be cared for and loved just like any other member of the family. Do you have a yard large enough for a goat to live comfortably? Do you have time to walk your dog more than once a day, every day? Do you have enough money to regularly buy fresh litter for your cat?
Only consider adopting a new pet once you feel confident in your ability to care for them. This includes caring for your children’s pets. Children will naturally want to participate in all the fun aspects of pet care but may have trouble consistently remembering or wanting to do the dirty work. If you won’t be able to care for your pet when your kids can’t, your pet will be the one that’s left neglected.
But we understand that sometimes life can change! If you feel that you can no longer care for your pet, contact the shelter or organization you adopted the animal from, or feel free to come in and talk to us about potential options. There are plenty of choices if you need to rehome your pet so abandonment should never have to be one.
They may not be as common as dogs and cats, but birds make very interesting and rewarding pets. As a conscientious and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to make sure you are covering all aspects of your bird’s care, from her environment and nutrition to her grooming. Whether this is your first bird, or you are a more experienced aviary owner, there is always something new to learn or be refreshed on.
To help you give your feathered friend the best life possible, here is our brief guide to basic pet bird care.
It goes without saying that your bird will need to live predominantly in a cage. However, as with most pets, it is important that you provide her with as much space as possible. This means buying the biggest cage you can afford and have space for. She should be able to flap her wings without hitting any of the sides and there should be at least 2-3 perches for her to fly between as well as room for plenty of toys and water and food dishes.
When choosing a cage, find one with bars that have a powder-coated finish which is easier to clean and shouldn’t rust and with bars that are close enough together to prevent her from getting her head stuck between them. Ensure it is secure and can be locked. Place her new habitat in a bright area of your home or yard, but not in direct sunlight.
You should line the bottom of the cage with newspapers, paper towels or other cage lining paper. These are the most sterile and easiest to remove on a daily basis when cleaning out her cage. Substrates like sand or wood chippings can easily grow fungus and bacteria, which could lead to your bird becoming sick.
A proper diet is essential for all species of animal including birds. The easiest way to feed your feathered pal is to use commercially formulated diets created specifically for pet birds. This ensures that she will get all of the nutrition she needs from one meal, rather than you trying to choose and balance foods.
Accidents and emergencies aren’t just for humans. While first aid is no substitute for emergency veterinary care,
it is important for treating certain injuries and preventing symptoms or situations from worsening.
In critical emergencies opting to administer first aid before heading to your veterinarian could make the difference between the life and death of your pet.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to try and ensure the safety and well being of your pet at all times. With that in mind, here is our guide to basic first aid for pets.
Usually the sign of a fight with another pet or an accident, external bleeding can be dealt with relatively quickly and simply unless it is severe and/or located on the legs.
You may need to muzzle your pet to establish the site of injury as he may be in some pain. Once you have located it, press a thick; clean gauze pad over the wound, applying pressure until the blood begins to clot. It may take a number of minutes for the clot to gain enough strength to sufficiently stop the bleeding, so instead of checking every few seconds, hold the gauze in place for at least two minutes before lifting it to check if the bleeding has ceased.
If your pet has severe blood loss from the legs then you should use a thin strip of gauze, elastic band or similar to create tourniquet between the wound and the body. Once it is in place you should cover it with a gauze pad and keep gentle pressure on the wound.
Loosen the tourniquet for around half a minute every 15 to 20 minutes so that you don’t cut the circulation off from the wound entirely, and get someone to drive you to an emergency veterinarian immediately as severe blood loss can be deadly for any pet.
It may not always be possible to tell that your pet is bleeding internally, but some of the symptoms that you can look out for include:
Coughing up blood
Bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum
Blood in urine
Rapid pulse rate
If any of the above symptoms present themselves then you should make your pet as warm and
comfortable as possible and take him immediately to your emergency veterinarian.
If your pet suffers from any form of burn injury then you should muzzle him before applying large quantities of ice-cold water to the affected area.
In the case of chemical burns then the water should be free-flowing; cleansing the skin as much as possible. Otherwise, hold an ice-cold compress to the burned area and immediately transport your pet to your emergency veterinary service.
Choking is just as common in pets as it is in humans, and knowing how to assist your pet if he chokes could save his life. Symptoms of choking include:
Struggling to breathe
Pawing at the mouth and nose
Lips or tongue turning blue
Your pet will be in an extreme state of panic and is more likely to accidentally bite you, so using caution you should try and look into his mouth and see if any blockages are immediately visible. If you can see something obstructing your pet’s airway you should carefully try and remove it using tongs, pliers or tweezers, taking extreme care not to push the item further into the esophagus. If it is not easily removed then don’t spend time repeatedly trying to reach it.
If you are unable to remove it or your pet collapses you should try and force air from the lungs in an attempt to push the object out from the other direction. The way you should do this is by putting both of your hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and applying short sharp bursts of firm pressure.
Keep doing this until you manage to dislodge the foreign object or until you arrive at the emergency veterinary service.
Just like humans, pets can have days where they feel a little lethargic and under the weather, but it is the natural instinct of an animal to try and disguise any signs of illness. They do this in the wild as showing weakness leaves them vulnerable to predators and open to attack. Unfortunately, this can make it tricky to determine if your pet is feeling a little unwell or if they are suffering from a more serious illness.
There are a number of symptoms and changes in your pets’ appearance, behavior and physical condition that you can look out for. These include but are not limited to:
Abnormal vocal noises
Bloating of the abdomen
Blood in the stools or urine
Decreased energy or activity levels
Diarrhea and/or vomiting
Discharge from the nose or eyes
Excessive scratching or licking of the body
Foul odor from ears, mouth or skin
Increased shedding or bald patches
Lumps or tumors
Reluctance to use stairs
Straining or an inability to pass urine or stools
Any of the above symptoms should be checked out by a veterinarian within 24/48 hours.
Symptoms that require immediate veterinary treatment include:
Bloated or hardened abdomen
Excessive vomiting or diarrhea
Inability to stand up or urinate
Whilst a sick pet may require inpatient treatment in care in your veterinary surgery for days or even weeks, you will need to continue providing them with care and compassion to aid their recovery when they come home. This can include administering medication, supporting physical rehabilitation, emotional care, and fulfilling any special dietary requirements.
We all know that most cats like water as much as we like receiving a letter from the IRS! While they may spend hours grooming themselves to perfection, there are some circumstances that may mean that it is necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend and this usually makes bathing them unavoidable.
Cat’s can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, hissing, raising their fur and even lashing out at you. However, with some preparation and patience, you can bath your cat and survive scratch-free and the secret involves not so much a bath, but a shower instead!
Just like bathing a baby; bathing a cat requires everything that you need to be within arm’s reach. You should have:
A shower or bath with a handheld showerhead.
Several towels to clean her off and help her dry.
Specialist cat shampoo and conditioner. This is available from most good
pet stores and your veterinarian will be able to advise if there is a particular sort that would be good for your feline friend. You should never use human shampoo or conditioner as is has a different PH level to the sort suitable for cats and could damage your pet’s hair or skin.
Before you start you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-furred breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the showerhead at a medium level spray.
Don't ignore your pet's bad breath! Dental hygiene is often the cause of stinky breath, and it may indicate other important problems with your pet's health. We understand how easy it is to miss. Many of the problems that stem from poor hygiene occur where you can't see them - below your pet's gum line.
The first line of defense is always home care. But while some animals (especially dogs) tolerate their owners handling their mouths and brushing their teeth, most (especially cats) will struggle or act out. That can always make oral care difficult at best, and ineffective at worst.
The best way to ensure your pet's oral health is to have regular cleanings at our office. Discuss how often you ought to come in as well as a home hygiene regimen with your vet. This will also prevent dental issues from progressing to larger (and potentially deadly) internal issues, such as dysfunction or disease in the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs.
In the wild, hiding pain, illness, or other weaknesses are survival instincts. Many times, your pet will have the same instincts, even in the safety and comfort of your loving home, so always keep an eye on your pet's eating habits and behaviors. Recognizing the difference between normal changes in mood and red flags can be difficult sometimes.
What you interpret as a persistent grumpiness may actually be a sign that your pet is in pain.
New irritability, shying away from being touched (especially on the face and around the mouth or throat), sluggishness, loss of appetite or difficulty eating, and lethargy are all behavioral signs which may indicate illness.
However, if you note any of the following physical changes, contact your vet immediately:
Red and swollen gums
Bleeding gums, especially when eating or when having teeth brushed
Swelling around the mouth
Loose or missing teeth
Crusted build up at the edge of the gums
Persistent bad or fetid breath
Remember, preventing oral infections and disease will help your pet live a longer, healthier life. Furthermore, caring for your pet with regular cleanings now will save you money later. In 2013, VPI Pet Insurance priced the cost of treatment for dental diseases at more than $530 on average. Our prices for regular cleanings are much less than that!
Also known as FPV and Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that can be debilitating and even fatal. Kittens aged between 2 and 6 months are the most vulnerable to the disease, followed by pregnant and immune-compromised cats. Surviving FPV comes with immunity to any further infections by the virus.
The FPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the blood, feces or urine of an infected cat. It can also be spread by fleas that have been feeding on a contaminated cat. Humans can inadvertently pass FPV after handling the equipment used by contaminated cats if they do not follow proper handwashing protocols. The virus can live on surfaces for up to a year and is resistant to the majority of cleaning products except for household bleach.
FPV attacks the blood cells of an infected cat and in particular those in the bone marrow and intestinal tract. If the infected cat is pregnant, the virus will also attack the stem cells of the unborn kitten. Additionally, FPV makes your pet more vulnerable to other viral and bacterial diseases.
The primary symptoms of FPV include but are not limited to:
Diarrhea (may be blood-stained)
Loss of appetite
Other symptoms include lack of coordination, hiding away from owners, tucking feet away, or resting the chin on the floor for prolonged periods.
Birds may be slightly more exotic as pets go, but they are still wonderful companions for people who are looking for an alternative to a furry friend. However, the physiology of a bird is very different to that of a cat, dog or other mammals. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you register your feathered friend with a veterinarian who has the unique training and experience to be able to understand and manage injuries and health problems that may arise in birds.
As you might expect, the types of services that are usually included in avian vet care are very similar to those offered in standard veterinary offices that deal with less exotic pets. Some of the most common include:
Routine and comprehensive wellness examinations and assessments
Imaging tests including digital x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound scans
Fracture and beak repair
Behavioral consultations for undesirable behavior problems such as aggression
Diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions, with in-patient care if required
Locating a veterinarian that specializes in birds will almost certainly not be as easy as locating a regular vet. One good resource to consider is the Association of Avian Veterinarians, who maintain a list of vets qualified to help care for pet birds. If you know someone who also has pet birds, you could ask them who their vet is and if they would recommend them.