Monthly Archives: October 2016

Happy Safe Halloween with Your Pets

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halloween  ghost  dog trick or treatHalloween is fast approaching, and most people are gearing up to get the decorations ready, and plan the parties and trick-or-treating. Among the many amusing things people do on Halloween—and through October in general—is dress up their animals and take them out as part of the fun. As always, when you take your pet anywhere with your or engage in activity, be aware of ways to keep safe.

Candy is for People

Keep the candy away from your pets. It’s pretty common knowledge that one of the most popular types of candy—chocolate—is bad for dogs and cats. Many candies also contain artificial sweeteners that are poisonous, like xylitol. Plus, all that sugar in general isn’t good for your pet’s health.

Watch out for other trick ‘r treaters.

Just because you think your pet is adorable doesn’t mean others will be so appreciative. Halloween is also notorious for tricksters, and even some not-so-fun mayhem. Plus, you never know how your pet will react to all of the excitement. Keep a watchful eye on your pets and those with whom they come into contact to avoid incidents, and make sure they have all of their ID tags on them.

Remember fire safety.

Those lit pumpkins are creative and spooky, but remember that they can be a fire hazard. Never leave your pet alone with lit pumpkins and other lit objects. And, remember to extinguish them before you leave for a long period, or go to bed. Also, remember that pets sometimes get excited and chew on new things, like decoration cords and lights. So, be cautious as you decorate for Halloween and keep those lights out of your pets’ reach.

Don’t force the costume.

Some pets simply don’t like being dressed in costumes, and it’s not fair to force them. You wouldn’t want someone force-dressing you, so don’t put your pets through that. If they’re fighting the costume, let them win.

We’re here for you and your pet on Halloween, and any other time of the year. Enjoy the holiday, and remember to play it safe.

New Season, New Allergies for Your Pets

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British kitten in autumn park, fallen leavesSpring is not the only time for allergy flare-ups. Every season brings new potential allergens, including fall. Plants change, things change in terms of dryness or moisture, and temperatures cool. If you find yourself sneezing and coughing with itchy, watery eyes, it may not necessarily be a cold; you may have allergies. Your pet may, too.

The Signs

Your pet may show signs of allergies much like yours:

  • Watery eyes and nose.
  • Sneezing and coughing.

Pets often experience their allergy symptoms on their skin. They may scratch far more often than normal, to the point that they lose hair and develop raw skin.

The Treatments

Like us, our pets usually adapt to these seasonal allergens with a little help. For a while, they may need something to take the edge off of the symptoms and block the cause. There are a variety of options to help your pet through what we know are frustrating symptoms:

  • Calming baths for itchy skin. These should be done at regular intervals, but not too often to prevent drying out your pet’s skin.
  • Eye and ear drops.
  • Antihistamines in the form of pills, or shots for more severe cases.
  • Vet-prescribed treatments.

The Adjustments

In order to help your pet acclimate to the new season, you’ll also need to make certain they’re in the best of health. Any other infections or problems could weak their immune system and make dealing with allergies more difficult. Make sure your pet is healthy, eating well, and do your best to limit their exposure to anything that may be causing the reactions. Dust and vacuum regularly, and other cleaning methods. Keep the windows closed and keep temperatures reasonable in the home—not too hot, not too cold. Try an air filtration system, if you don’t already have one.

If you’re concerned about your pet’s fall allergies, call us at Pet Vet Hospitals. We can give you advice on how to deal with them, or prescribe something to help.

Best Behavior: What Works for Your Pet

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dogs, petsFor a while, it seemed as though Cesar Milan was the authority on dog behavior. Then, criticism arose of his “alpha dog” approach to training. There were other factors involved in the criticism, but ultimately much of it comes down to varying opinions on changing a pet’s behavior. So, if you need to train your pet, what should you do?

As long as it is humane, you should do whatever works best for you and your pet. There are plenty of options to try and it may take a little time to find out which one works for you. But, it is worth it in the long term.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a common method based on the premise that dogs and cats will remember instructions better when they are rewarded each time that they perform well. It also operates under the notion that punishment of any kind only promotes fear and does not inspire positive action.

Trainers who focus on training with this method may use verbal and hand signals, and clickers as cues, and treats and toys as rewards. When a pet does not perform properly, the trainer may ignore or re-instruct the animal in proper behavior while withholding the rewards. Some believe that this method is slower, but also believe it’s the best, safest method.

The Alpha Method

The alpha approach, made popular for many by Cesar Milan, is a more tough ownership method. It involved being more stern and only giving praise at precise moments when the animal has done something positive, and followed an order. Tools for this type of training may include:

  • Choke chains and collars.
  • Bite simulation via a hand grip.
  • Stern authoritative sounds and motions.

This approach is not generally meant to be entirely negative; positive reinforcement is to be appropriately timed and balanced with the alpha moments.

There is some tension between pet owners who use varying methods. The important thing to remember is that no two animals respond to the exact same training. Therefore, as long as the animal is not clearly being abused, it owners must have the freedom to attempt various proven methods until they find the one that suits them. Most training can be done at home, but sometimes reaching out to a professional trainer is best, as is a talk with the vet. If your pet is showing signs of behavioral issues, we can offer help at Pet Vet Hospitals.

Pumpkin and Your Pets

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beagle in pumpkinThe pumpkins are out. Whether for classic fall decorations, Halloween, or Thanksgiving, they’re everywhere. They come in their original form, in lattes, in pies, and in pumpkin-spiced everything. But, pumpkin isn’t just for décor and favorite fall treats. Your pets can enjoy some, too.

Pumpkin for pets comes in the form of natural, non-sweetened, canned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and some cooked varieties. Some pet foods, treats, and treatments also include it. It can be beneficial for:

Digestion: Pumpkin has lots of natural fiber that is safe for your pets. All natural, canned pumpkin that has no extra sugars, spices, etc., is a common way to treat mild digestive trouble, such as diarrhea. There is some available in most pet stores and pet sections of your local grocery store. Even if their aren’t showing signs of digestive trouble, a little dab of pumpkin from time-to-time with their food can help keep them regular.

Healthy Weight: Even if you’re feeding your pet a good diet full of protein and vitamins, you may need a little more to help them keep their weight under control. Pumpkin is full of fiber and low on calories. Replacing just a little of their food with some pumpkin may help them lose a little extra weight without leaving them unsatisfied. They generally like the taste, too.

Additionally, it has antioxidants that are believed to help maintain a healthy urinary tract, plus plenty of vitamins and minerals that may help fight disease and promote a healthy fur coat. Take a look at your pet store or talk to your vet about healthy pumpkin options for your pet. Not all versions of the treat are right for all pets, and some may simply not like it. If you want to supplement your dog or cat’s diet with something that provides similar benefits as pumpkin, ask us at Pet Vet Hospitals what else you can use. Otherwise, you and your pet can both enjoy some pumpkin together this fall.