Just like humans, pets can have days where they feel a little lethargic or under the weather, but it is a natural instinct of an animal to try and disguise any signs of illness. They do this because in the wild, showing signs of weakness can leave 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 should 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
If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, they 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
While a sick pet may require inpatient treatment from your veterinarian for several days or even weeks, they will often need continuing care to aid in 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 where it may be necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend which usually makes bathing them unavoidable.
Cats can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, causing them to hiss, raise their fur and even lash out at you. However, with some preparation and patience, you can bathe your cat and survive scratch-free. The secret to this 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.
Specialty cat shampoo and conditioner which is available from most pet stores. Additionally, your veterinarian will be able to tell you if there is a particular type that would be best for your feline friend. Just remember, 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 begin, you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-haired breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the showerhead at a medium level spray.
Accidents and emergencies don't just happen to humans, and while first aid is no substitute for emergency veterinary care, basic first aid knowledge can be crucial for treating certain injuries and in 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.
External bleeding is typically the sign of a fight with another pet or an accident, and unless it is a severe wound and/or located on the legs, it can usually be dealt with relatively quickly and simply
In order to establish the site of the injury, you may need to muzzle your pet, as they may be in some pain. Once you have located the injury, press a thick, clean gauze pad over the wound and apply 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 to check if the bleeding has ceased.
If your pet has severe blood loss from the legs, use a thin strip of gauze, elastic band or similar material to create tourniquet between the wound and the body. Once it is in place, you should cover the wound with a gauze pad and continue to apply gentle pressure.
Loosen the tourniquet for about 30 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes so that you don’t cut off the circulation from the wound entirely, and get someone to drive you to an emergency veterinarian immediately as severe blood loss can be fatal.
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, make your pet as warm and comfortable as possible, and take them straight to your emergency veterinarian.
If your pet suffers from any form of burn injury, you should first muzzle your pet, then apply large quantities of ice-cold water to the affected area.
In the case of chemical burns, the water should be free-flowing in order to cleanse 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 they choke could save the life of your pet. Symptoms of choking include:
Struggling to breathe
Pawing at the mouth and nose
Lips or tongue turning blue
Since your pet will be in an extreme state of panic, it is more likely that they may accidentally bite you, so using caution, try and look into your pet's mouth to see if any blockages are immediately visible. If you can see something obstructing your pet’s airway, 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, don’t spend extra time trying to reach it.
If you are unable to remove the object 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.
Canine Parvovirus, also known as CPV, is a highly contagious viral infection that can be debilitating and sometimes fatal. It has two main forms: the more common intestinal variety and the less common cardiac variety. Puppies aged between 6 weeks and 6 months old are most commonly affected, but early vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting CPV.
CPV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with household bleach being the only known way to eradicate the virus.
CPV is generally transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, either through inhalation or direct touch. However, CPV can also be transmitted indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog which can contain a heavy concentration of the virus. The virus can also live in the ground for up to a year where it can be brought into contact with a dog by way of shoes.
Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to CPV. These breeds include Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls, and Rottweilers. Dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not had adequate vaccinations are also more likely to contract CPV.
As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
The intestinal variety of CPV affects an animals’ ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This means that an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
The primary symptoms of intestinal CPV include but are not limited to:
Anorexia / severe weight loss
Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched
Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
In rare cases of CPV, a dog may exhibit symptoms consistent with hypothermia rather than a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.
Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a state with relatively consistent weather and temperatures and 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
It turns out that the benefits of owning a pet include more than just adorable cuddles and trips to the dog park. Owning a pet can also improve your overall health and wellness.
On a psychological level, pets are shown to decrease levels of depression and anxiety. And for overall health, owning a pet can decrease your blood pressure, increase your immune system, make you less likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke, and more.
A study in 2002 by the State University of New York at Buffalo found that having your pet around during difficult tasks helped to decrease stress. They found that having pets around helped participants stay calm and focused on the task at hand and were even more beneficial than having a close friend or family member nearby.
Promises Treatment Centers, which helps recovering drug addicts, allows pets into their rehab facilities. The CEO of the facility believes that having your pet around makes the recovery process less stressful, making drug addicts less likely to reach for unhealthy or dangerous substances as a way to decompress.
So, the next time you’re going through a tough time at home or work, try taking a breather and hang out with your pets.
A study by the CDC suggests that having a dog can lower blood pressure, especially for high-risk hypertensive patients. High blood pressure is often caused by stress and when life throws you stressful curveballs, having a dog (or cat) that loves you unconditionally can help you feel at ease. It’s also thought that owning a pet gives you more opportunities to go outside and exercise, which strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure that way.
The CDC suggests that another healthy component of owning a pet is lowering your cholesterol. Research has found that people who own pets (particularly men) have lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides than those without pets. Who needs Cheerios, when you can get a dog! Like lower blood pressure, it’s not known if the pet’s presence is specifically lowering cholesterol, or if it’s caused by the lifestyle that comes with owning a pet.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Heartworm is a serious illness that can cause heart failure, lung disease, organ damage and even death in dogs, cats and ferrets. Heartworm is most prevalent in pets living along the Atlantic Gulf coasts from New Jersey to the Gulf of Mexico as well as in those living alongside the Mississippi and its main tributaries. However, it has been found in pets in all states across America.
Heartworm is caused by parasitic worm larvae that live inside mosquitoes. When the mosquito bites an animal, it transfers some of the worm larvae into the animal where the larvae then mature, mate, and produce offspring inside its living host. The offspring produced by female adult heartworms is known as microfilariae, which lives in the host animals’ bloodstream. When a mosquito then bites an infected animal it draws microfilariae into its body where it turns it into infective larvae, beginning the cycle again.
Once an animal has been infected, it takes time for the larvae to mature into adults that are capable of reproduction. In dogs, this period is usually 6-7 months and in cats and ferrets is around 8 months. Adult heartworms look like cooked spaghetti and can range in size from 4-6 inches in males and 10-12 inches in females. The number of worms found in a pet is known as its ‘worm burden’ and can vary depending on the species of animal and the severity of the infection.
The lifespan of heartworms within an infected dog is between 5 and 7 years with the average worm burden being 15. However, dogs have been seen with worm burdens ranging from 1 to 250.
The severity of symptoms of heartworm in dogs is dependent on the worm burden of the animal, how long they have been infected, and how well their body can cope with the disease. However, it is usually broken down into four stages.
Class 1: No visible symptoms or very mild symptoms, such as an intermittent cough or wheeze.
Class 2: Mild to more moderate symptoms including intermittent coughing, lethargy or breathlessness after light to moderate exercise. At this time, some heart and lung changes may be seen on x-rays.
Class 3: Symptoms will include frequent or persistent coughing, lethargy, and breathlessness after mild activity. Heart and lung changes will definitely be visible on x-rays.
Class 4: This stage is otherwise known as Caval Syndrome and is reached when an infected animal has been left untreated for an extended period of time. At this stage, the animal experiences restricted blood flow to the heart caused by a blockage of worms. Heart failure is imminent and emergency surgery to remove the worms is the only course of action. However, this comes with its own risks and most dogs with Caval Syndrome do not survive.