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Know the Signs: Heartworms

By | Pet Care | No Comments

Houston Vet with DogHeartworms are some of the great concerns for pet owners, particularly for dogs. They’re quiet killers; you may not know that your dog has them until the infection is widespread and difficult to treat. The best way to deal with heartworms is to get ahead of them; have your dog checked regularly and use medical prevention.

Yet, since the risk is always present, even if it’s low, it helps to know the signs.

Coughing and Difficulty Breathing: Heartworms don’t just attack the heart; they make their way into the lungs. They multiply there and in the veins. Any physical activity may cause coughing, or even fainting.

Weight Loss: Eating can become difficult and appetite may decrease. Thus, your pet may lose weight.

Lethargy: Your dog may seem tired more often. He may move slow and be less interested in the activities that he normally loves. Even small things suddenly become too much.

Because many of the symptoms associated with heartworms can resemble other common problems, diagnosing from home can be difficult. It is essential to see the vet if any of them appear. Other symptoms may include seizures, high blood pressure, nosebleeds, pneumonia, and more.

To diagnose, your vet will have to take blood samples to check for the antigens. Other blood tests may be necessary, as well as x-rays to view any swelling of the heart and lungs. Strange heart rhythms may be a sign, too. Your vet may want to perform multiple tests to be certain and to determine just how far the problem has progressed.

Treatment of heartworms can take a long time. Without it, they can kill. If your pet does not have protection, talk to your vet today. Come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals. Get your dog, or other pet tested, and put them on preventative medication now.

Easy Homemade Cat Treats

By | Cats | No Comments

beautiful small kittenSometimes cat treats are an extra expense. Sometimes, you just want or need something more for your cat. Whatever the reason, you can make wholesome treats that most cats will love at home.

Popsicles

When things get warm, it’s nice for your furry friend to have a cold treat, too. Making frozen goodies for your cat is easy. Just fill a small, freezable cup or ice tray with a mixture her favorite wet food and a little water, and then freeze. You can also try adding a little catnip, or other natural, edible goodies your cat loves.

Cookies

Cookies for cats are not quite like the cookies you eat. But, your cat may love a tuna-flavored, soft treat from once in a while. They’re as easy to make as the cookies you make for yourself. Just mix some tuna and egg with flour, water, and parsley or catnip. When you have a dough, dust it with flour and roll it out. Cut out bite-sized pieces and bake them at 350 degrees. You don’t have to use Tuna if your cat doesn’t like it. You can use almost any other meat she prefers.

Crunchy Treats

A good crunch is good for your cat’s teeth. With some flour, tuna (or other favorite meat), egg, catnip, and a little oil, you can bake some extra-crunchy treats your cat will love. Just mix in a processor, work into a dough, and bake at about 350 degrees until brown and crunchy.

The great thing about homemade treats is that you know precisely what your cat is eating. You can use the best of ingredients. Of course, it’s also great if you love baking in general.

We care about your pet’s health. If you want to know more about what sort of treats to feed your furry friend, contact us at Pet Vet Hospitals.

Mosquito Proofing for Outdoor Dogs

By | Dogs | No Comments

dogs, dog, petsMosquitoes are one of the worst parts of summer. Though they live year-round in most places, they appear most in the summer and everyone is searching for the perfect method to be rid of them. As you take precautions to avoid being biting this summer, don’t forget that your pets need some help, too.

Outdoor dogs, for example, are susceptible to mosquitoes all day long. While their topical medications can help prevent flea, tick, and heartworm infestations, nothing is completely foolproof. Plus, those medications don’t always stop the bites.

Protect your dog’s sleeping area.

There are plenty of options for deterring mosquitoes outside full-time. Flames and sprays are generally temporary, and there aren’t many sprays meant for dogs. There are some oil solutions, such as those with citronella, that will work in the longer term. They will still have to be replaced from time-to-time, however. But, they’re worth it if they save your dog from being bitten regularly. Remember to shield them from the rain if your dog’s main sleeping area is out in the open, and make sure your dog is not likely to chew or eat the source.

Try some natural deterrents.

If you’re a gardener, there are several plants known for deterring mosquitoes. Many of them are edible for you, too, and smell pleasant. Plant some citronella, basil, mint, and rosemary. Plant plenty of them so that they may make a difference. The effects may be mild, but some are better than none.

Remember, mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. If your dog’s water bowl is outside, don’t overfill. It’s tempting to do so because the summer heat causes the water to evaporate quickly, which leaves you to refill the water more often. However, fresh water more often is better than stagnant water that breeds mosquitoes.

Add some air circulation.

Strong winds make it harder for the little bugs to fly. If your dog’s home has a plug nearby, try an outdoor fan. It will give your dog a breeze, and help reduce the amount of biting insects for a short time.

For help surviving the summer with your pets, come to us at Pet Vet Hospitals. We can give you tips on protecting your dog.

Summer Pet Safety Tips

By | Pet Care | No Comments

bulldog lying down pantingSummer is in full swing, and like any time of the year, it has its fun elements and risks. As you enjoy your summer with your family and pets, don’t forget to implement some safety precautions to extend the fun. Your pets need your help staying safe.

Never leave a pet in the car.

Social media has made sure we know how terrible it is to leave a pet in a hot car. Even with the windows rolled down, the heat can reach fatal heights. Your pet could suffer heat exhaustion, or suffocate if the windows are rolled up, or merely cracked. Never, ever leave your pet in a hot car. If you cannot take him in with you, leave him at home where it’s cool while you run your errand.

Keep extra water out.

Water evaporates more quickly when the heat is up. Even if your pet is not outdoors, things can get a bit warmer inside, particularly if you’re trying not to overrun your air conditioner. Put some extra water out during the summer. Adding some ice to it, too, is helpful; it not only cools the water, but helps delay evaporation.

Keep pets away from outdoor cooking areas.

Fun in the sun is great for everyone, but if you’re cooking outside with people, your dog may make it a little difficult. Keep your pet away from the fire and utensils. You can do so by making sure he has plenty to occupy him. If there’s no one to play with him, make sure he has toys. Give him his own treats so that he’ll be a little less tempted to go after your food. If you must, put him away in another part of the yard, or in the house.

Add extra mosquito protection.

Mosquitoes are hard to control. Even when you make sure your pet is up to date on heartworm prevention, the mosquitoes can still bite. Add some extra defense for your pets. Try some pet-friendly mosquito spray, or place some pet-safe mosquito deterrent near your pet’s chosen areas.

Have safe fun this summer. If you need any advice, your help with your pet’s health, come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals.

Summer Heat Stress on Your Pets

By | Pet Care | No Comments

dog-237187_1280Summer is well on its way. Things are heating up, including your pets. We know how to handle the heat for ourselves, but our pets sometimes need our help. We provide for them—food, water, shelter, and comfort—and so they depend on us to keep them from being overcome by dangers like heat. As summer approaches, remember to take some extra precautions.

Have water everywhere—or, at least readily available.

Water evaporates faster when it’s hot. That means that your pet’s water bowl might need to be refilled more often. It’s a good idea to add another water bowl or two for your pet during summer to prevent dehydration, or even a little extra thirst. You can also put ice in the water. This will help keep things cool, and when the ice melts, it will replace evaporating water and keep the bowl full just a little longer. If your pet likes ice, give him or her a piece every now and then. It’s a great way to keep them occupied, cool, and hydrated. If you go out, take cool water with you, or make sure you know where water is available.

Turn on the air.

Let your pets enjoy the benefits of cooling systems you use. In severe heat, bring your pets inside where it’s cool. If your dog is outdoors, try adding an outdoor fan. Keep bedding and other things in comfortable, shaded areas; shade decreases summer temperatures significantly.

Know the signs of dehydration and heat stress.

If you’re not paying attention, dehydration and heat-related illness can seem to hit suddenly. Those signs may include:

  • Panting
  • Dizziness
  • Drooling
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Lack of Urine
  • And More

Knowing the signs can help you stop heat stress or stroke before it starts. Prepare, prevent, and treat. If you need help, come to us at Pet Vet Hospitals. We’re happy to help you and your pet get through the summer and the rest of the year, as well.

The Whining Dog

By | Dogs | No Comments

dog, dogs, allergies, petsWhile dogs can be wonderful, life-changing pets, they can also have their own quirks and problems. Many issues can be resolved with time, effort, and patience; your dog needs all of these from you in order to get better. Problems may include health or behavioral problems, or a mixture of both. Whining is something that all dogs do at some time; excessive, or constant whining, however, is stressful and could be a sign of a larger problem.

Whining is, like most other canine actions, a type of communication. Unfortunately for us, we don’t really speak a dog’s language, and so we cannot know exactly what he’s trying to say. If your dog is whining incessantly, and you’ve ruled out illness, pain, and other easily-addressed problems, it may be time to consider that the whining stems from more complex problems.

Anxiety

Does your dog pace when he whines? Does his whining increase, or become barking and howling when there’s a storm, a loud noise, or when you leave? Does he urinate and defecate on things? These are classic signs of canine anxiety and easing that anxiety can be a difficult process.

Some dogs merely need some extra training. They can learn that being calm and quiet has rewards, that an owner leaving is nothing to fear, and neither is being alone in general. They need to spend time alone regularly and get used to it, and be rewarded for doing so well.

Others may need more complex help, such as a combination of medication and training. Severe anxiety that manifests as whining could mean neurological problems. If you have tried all you know to try, it may be time to see your vet and ask about medication. Meds may help, but they won’t work alone; you’ll still have to train your dog, the medication may make it easier to do so.

If your dog’s whining is driving you crazy and you’ve done what you know to do, come see us at Pet Vet Hospitals. We may be able to help you figure out the next step.

New Cat Introductions

By | Cats | No Comments

beautiful small kittenCats make wonderful companions and adopting a new one is an exciting thing. However, if you already have a cat in the house, the excitement can quickly turn to frustration. Not all animals get along right away and that includes cats. Cats can be territorial, skittish, and may not take kindly to you bringing home another cat.

When you bring home a new cat, it’s important to consider how your current cat may feel. Never assume that just because your current feline companion is generally laid back he or she will just “go with the flow.” You may be surprised. You need to be prepared for any reaction.

A good way to go about new cat introductions is to avoid direct, face-to-face interactions for a little while. You want your cats to have time to adjust to a lot of things before meeting.

Smell: Smells have a significant impact on cats; they mark their territories with their scents in many ways—rubbing, sleeping, pawing, urinating, etc. So, a good method for allowing cats to get familiar without incidents is to allow them time to smell. Put the new cat in an area where your current cat sleeps, or eats, etc. Place your current cat in a room with the new cat’s carrier, or bedding. Give them time to smell and become comfortable.

Sight: Once you feel comfortable taking another step in the new cat introduction process, you can try placing the cats near one another, but not so close that they can get to one another if they get angry. Try putting the cats in two separate rooms that are connected by a door. In the door way, place a screen through which the cats can see, but not move. This way, they can see, hear, and smell one another, but not fight.

Eat: If the cats show any antagonism toward each other, keep them separated by the screen for a while. During this time, feed the cats at the same time. Start by placing the food bowls some distance from the screen, but where they can still see one another while they eat. Over time, move the bowls closer. After a while, you may find that they can approach one another from opposite sides of the screen and eat without fighting.

New cat introductions take time. Have patience, keep trying, and you will eventually have two cats that can live together. They may even become close. If you find the process very difficult, seek the advice of your vet, or possibly an animal behaviorist. Don’t forget to bring your cats in for checkups at Pet Vet Hospital.

Be Ready with Your Pets This Hurricane Season

By | Pet Care | No Comments

man saves his dog from a floodWith the arrival of Tropical Storm Cindy comes a reminder of the dangers that a yearly hurricane season brings. Though this season began on June 1st, it is never too soon to begin planning for this time each year, particularly if you live near the coast.

Things can occur suddenly. As you prepare yourself, your home, and other details, consider your pets. They should be a part of your plans to evacuate, or stay inside and wait out the storm. Make sure you have all travel necessities ready. If your pet needs a crate or carrier, keep it where you have easy access in a hurry. Purchase some extra pet food and other items. You can even plan for how you will pack your car so that you can do it fast.

Make sure that all vaccinations are up-to-date, as well as any other health-related details. If you have to board your pet, or you have to stay in a hotel, you will probably need evidence of your pet’s vaccines. Plus, terrible storms can cause all sorts of unexpected circumstances, like sudden separation. If you lose your pet, you want to be able to find him or her again easily. So, make sure that your pets are microchipped. Keep ID tags on your pet, or within easy reach, too.

At Pet Vet Hospitals, we cannot stress the importance of taking these precautions enough. Because of this, we are offering a discount of $5 off our microchipping procedure. All you need to do is make an appointment and mention this blog when you do so.  Pet Vet Hospitals also offers certificates as evidence of your pet’s vaccinations; these should be kept on hand with other vital information in case you need them.

Stay safe this hurricane season.

Potential Canine Flu Outbreak Means It’s Time for Vaccinations

By | Pet Care | No Comments

Vet using technologyAt Pet Vet Animal Hospitals, we know you trust us to protect your pets and we take that responsibility very seriously. As such, we feel it necessary to make you, the local dog community and dog lovers, aware of a potential life threatening, yet preventable, virus threatening your pet in our area.

During the past few years there have been outbreaks of a severe new flu virus in dogs called Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). To date, the outbreaks have primarily been in Chicago and the South East United States, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Louisiana, with North Carolina recording two deaths.  This virus is migrating west–toward us.

The Houston area has had two confirmed cases of CIV in the past month.  While this does not constitute an epidemic, it is serious enough that our doctors want to address the issue before it becomes one.

This virus is especially dangerous because a sick dog can be contagious for up to four days before showing symptoms. Twenty percent of infected dogs show no symptoms at all, but can still spread the virus to others for up to a month. Simply avoiding other dogs that appear sick does not offer any protection from this virus.

Symptoms of CIV can be high fever, coughing, sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, lethargy, and loss of appetite. There are two strains of the disease: H3N8 and H3N2. Depending on the strain a dog contracts, it may need to be treated and isolated up to four weeks. The mortality rate is below 10%.

Prevention is the best way to avoid an epidemic in our community.  There is now a vaccination that is available to protect dogs from both the H3N8 and the H3N2 strains of CIV. An initial vaccine is followed in three weeks by a second booster. Both are required for proper immunity. Pet Vet Animal Hospitals and the manufacturer of the vaccine are confident of its efficacy.  Should a dog contract the virus after proper vaccination, the manufacture will cover treatment at no charge to our clients.

Ideally, all dogs should be vaccinated against CIV, however, some dogs are at a higher risk.  Pet Vet feels that it is imperative these “High Risk Dogs” be properly protected by the vaccine.

Your dog is at High Risk if they go to:

  • Day Care
  • Boarding
  • Grooming
  • Dog Parks
  • Dog Shows
  • Dog Friendly Shops and Hotels
  • Anywhere large numbers of other dogs gather.

Just as in humans’ cases, older dogs and dogs with chronic diseases should also be vaccinated since they cannot fight off the effects of the disease. Many boarding facilities now require vaccination against CIV to be admitted.  This is especially important if your family is considering boarding your dog while on a summer vacation. Keep in mind that you have to wait three weeks from the first vaccination until you receive the booster vaccine for full protection.  Plan ahead.

Bottom line, no one can predict if Houston will have an outbreak or an epidemic.  Thankfully, we have not so far, but we cannot predict if or when our luck might run out. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our pets and the pet-loving community we share. The best way to do this is to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus simply by vaccinating your dog as soon as possible.  If you have any questions regarding CIV, vaccination protocol, or you would like to make an appointment, please call us today at (281) 879-PETS.  Pet Vet Hospitals is here to protect and care for your pets!

Update – 7-28-17

New Canine Influenza Cases Identified in Southeast Harris County

An outbreak of canine influenza has been reported in Webster, Texas, located southeast of Houston. Five cases have been confirmed so far, with an additional five suspected cases awaiting laboratory confirmation.  Another 60 dogs that were exposed to the confirmed cases have presented with clinical signs of canine influenza.

TVMA is gathering additional information about the outbreak and will provide updates as that information becomes available. To obtain the latest information on confirmed cases of canine influenza, please visit Cornell University’s Canine Influenza Virus Surveillance Network’s website at: https://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/news/civchicago.cfm

For your clients interested in obtaining information regarding canine influenza, please visit:  https://www.texvetpets.org/article/how-to-protect-your-dog-from-canine-influenza/

Fostering a Pet

By | Pet Care | No Comments

dogs people connection adoptionIf you’re an animal lover with a strong need to care for pets, you may have considered fostering them. Becoming a foster parent to a pet is a wonderful and challenging undertaking. Pet fostering exists because there are simply more pets than there are homes and shelters are overflowing. Foster parents give pets a temporary home, with all the comforts and care, until a forever home can be found.

Though the home is meant to be temporary, it’s important to understand a few things before fostering.

Fostering a pet is a real commitment. Because there is always a shortage of permanent homes for pets, you never know how long you may end up having the pet in your foster home. You have to be ready for anything, including a pet that is not adopted. In a few cases, you can get financial help with care if you foster as part of a shelter, group, or system. Most of the time, however, you are required to handle those details for whatever length of time the pet is with you.

You need to be emotionally ready to foster a pet. Some people are perfectly happy with the system; they love the animals while they have them in care, and are equally happy to see them placed with a loving family. In other cases, fosters end up adopting one or more animals because they become attached, which is not necessarily a bad thing. They may even continue fostering other animals after adopting. For others, however, they quickly realize that fostering is not for them. Letting go of the animals that come into the home is simply too difficult for them.

Whatever your reasons for opening your home to foster animals, it’s a worthy consideration. You may discover that it’s your calling, or that you simply need a pet in your life. Either way, you’re helping creatures that need you. Whether you’re a fostering a pet, or you own one, bring your furry friend to Pet Vet Hospitals for all the healthcare you’ll need.