Category Archives: Pet Care

Pets and Cold Weather

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Dog dressed with hat, scarf and sweaterThe cold weather has arrived in much of the U.S. Some people in warmer states appreciate this weather and hope for some snow. They drink warm drinks, curl up in front of the fire, and enjoy the season. Your pets enjoy some of this, too, and it’s important to remember their well-being as the temperatures drop. Just like you, animals feel the cold and can be negatively affected by it. They rely on you to help them enjoy the winter, rather than be miserable.

How much cold can your pet handle?

Each animal handles weather differently. Some pets are bred to handle cold temperatures; they may have more fat and fur protecting them. So, providing them with some extra clean bedding inside a comfy, warm house outside might be enough. Even then, however, it’s important to keep up with just how low the temperatures are dropping, and to be willing to bring them indoors when it becomes too cold. Overall, when it’s cold, it’s best to let them inside.

Keep them warm and comfy.

Wherever they are, make sure they have access to a comfortable and warm place to rest. But, when the heaters are on indoors, they also need to be able to switch to a cooler spot to avoid overheating. So, make sure they are able to be as warm or as cool as they need.

Be safe when you go outdoors.

If it’s extremely cold outside, limit your trips outdoors. If your pet needs some extra protection, try a little sweater—if your pet will allow it. Watch for signs of ice to avoid slipping, and moisture that may cause icing on your pet’s feet.

Get your pet a check-up.

The end of the year is a great time for a checkup. Not only should your pet have at least one per year, but it can help make sure there are no issues that might be aggravated by winter. It helps your pet stay healthy.

We’re here for you at Pet Vet Hospitals during all seasons. Come see us for your pet’s checkup, ask us for advice on pets and cold weather, or purchase a gift certificate for a fellow pet owner for the holidays.

What to Expect When Your Pet’s Expecting

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Depositphotos_2784082_m-2015As a pet owner, you’re responsible for a lot of your pet’s life. That means helping your cat or dog through pregnancy. If your pet is expecting, you should know what to expect and how to deal with it.

You’ll probably know that your pet is expecting, unless she spends a lot of time alone where males have access to her. Signs may be excessive weight gain, lethargy, loss of appetite, and swollen nipples. Once you know for certain that your furry friend will soon have little ones, there are some things you can do to make life easier for her and be prepared.

See the Vet

You want to make sure it’s a healthy pregnancy, so see your vet as often as may be necessary. There are potential problems, such as infections, and you want to avoid those at all costs.

Prepare Your Home

Your pet needs a clean, comfortable place to sleep throughout the pregnancy. And, of course, a safe place to give birth. This area should be protected from the weather and safe from any other potentially bothersome pets or children. There should be plenty of water and food, and any blankets should be kept as clean as reasonably possible.

When the Babies Come

Gently clean the new additions with just a bit of warm water and clean towel. Keep them warm and make sure that they’re not at risk of getting caught in blankets, or of their mother accidentally rolling over on them. Watch the mother carefully for a while to make sure she is taking to her brood. Keep the little family nice and warm, but not too hot, and out of the elements. Feed mommy good quality food, or anything suggested by your vet.

Of course, you should take everyone to see the vet as soon as possible after the birth to make sure they’re all okay. We love new puppies and kittens, and we’re happy to help you and your pets through the process of birth. Call us and Pet Vet Hospitals and let us meet the mom-to-be.

Give Thanks for Your Pets this Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Pet CelebrationThanksgiving is important to different people for varying reasons. Currently, two of the most popular reasons for partaking in the holiday are to give thanks and eat great food. As family and friends gather around the table, so do the pets. While it’s natural to want to share all of Thanksgiving with your furry family, there are some things of which you want to be aware.

Turkey, Turkey, Turkey

Sure, there’s no real harm in letting your pet indulge in some of that turkey dinner. Remember, though, to be careful about what you allow, and how much. Too much of the wrong thing, like sugars and fats, can cause an upset tummy. Don’t feed your pets anything raw, and don’t feed them sweets. Also, turkey should be thoroughly cooked to avoid illness, and free of bones. Don’t let your pets chew cooked bones; they’re more brittle and shards can choke your pet, or cause internal tears. Keep anything you offer your pet simple; nothing too rich and nothing with bones.

A Nosy Nuisance

If your pet begins to be a problem by nosing around, whining, and seeking food from the table, then give them something special of their own to pass the dinner time. A special plate of goodies is nice, but may not occupy them long enough. Consider a long-lasting, tasty chew to keep them occupied while you enjoy your feast.

There’s no likely harm in sharing some Thanksgiving potatoes, a little stuffing, and some boneless turkey with your pets, as long as your pet doesn’t have a history of sensitive stomach issues. After all, they’re part of the family. Just proceed with caution. If you want to be sure, call your vet. At Pet Vet Hospitals, we’re ready to answer any questions so that you can rest easy and enjoy your holiday.

 

Pet Claw Clipping

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close up of dog nail trimmingMany of us have let our pets’ claws grow a bit too long, trimming them only when it clearly becomes a noticeable problem for us. Maybe we wait until we receive one too many scratches by accident, or their claws begin to catch on things. Yes, it’s not always so terrible; after all, we do get them trimmed, eventually. However, it could be more problematic than you may think.

Long, catching claws can be torn.

If your pet’s claws become too long, they’re more likely to be hooked on things. The more this happens, the more the chance that they’ll pull, break the claw, and injure the claw and the toe. They may even break a toe.

Long claws can cause foot pain and growth problems.

Over time, claws that are too long force your pet to walk differently. This can cause your pet foot pain and distort the foot’s shape. These results are particularly bad for older pets at risk of arthritis.

Scratches are a problem, too.

Claws get dirty, it’s natural. So, scratches from your pet’s claws can cause infections. Even if you keep things clean, there’s no way to be 100 percent certain you can prevent an infection, particularly in children.

Clip carefully.

It’s not always easy to clip a pet claw. Pets may struggle and increase the chance of clipping too close to the quick. Generally, you want to cut enough so that you cannot hear the pet’s claws on the floor. Where to cut, precisely, can be hard to see on pets with dark claws.

Talk to your vet. At Pet Vet Hospitals, we offer pet claw clipping services for those who struggle with the task. In fact, the service is free with some other services. Overall, it is quick and cheap, and well worth the money for some.

 

More than Ear Mites

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dogs, dog, petsAs a pet owner, you have probably heard of ear mites. They are nasty, frustrating little problems that, if left unchecked, can spread and cause serious problems. However, they are not the only things with which you should be concerned. Checking your pet’s ears regularly is something you should do to prevent or control a myriad of issues.

Keep an eye out for excess dirt, wax, and discharge.

A little wax is normal and you’ll no doubt see some as you clean your pet’s ears—which you should do at least once weekly. However, excessive wax or anything else that oozes and seems to be too much for normal wax should be examined more carefully. There are many potential problem signs:

  • Strange smells
  • Excessive scratching
  • Too much shaking
  • Head tilting
  • Discharge or excessive wax
  • Signs of pain

These could be signs of a number of potential issues:

  • Ear allergies
  • Ear mites, parasites, and other critters
  • Bacterial infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Ear injury
  • Excess moisture

Clean and inspect regularly.

Ear problems are some of the most common problems that veterinarians see. They’re particularly common for pets with sagging sears, like basset hounds. The first thing you can do to prevent is clean your pet’s ears regularly and gently with appropriate wipes, and keep them dry. Generally, over-the-counter ear wipes are fine for one-a-week cleanings. If you want to be sure, ask your vet. Your pet’s doctor can prescribe or recommend something to help.

Your vet will always check your pet’s ears during a check-up, but a lot can happen between visits. So, inspect them yourself. Become accustomed to what the ears should look like so you catch problems early. If you’re concerned, see your vet. Contact us and we’ll take a look for you, and perform any other exam you need at Pet Vet Hospitals.

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.

Leash Laws: Know Pet Ownership Laws

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dog-237187_1280Pets are available everywhere; they’re up for adoption, for purchase, and for free. We’re so accustomed to being able to simply go pick up a pet and take it home, and do little else, that it’s easy to forget there are laws and regulations out there for pet owners. It is unfortunate that it’s so easy to have a pet without obeying these rules, because they exist for many reasons—in particular, to protect pets, their owners, and others.

State-by-State, City-by-City

Pet ownership laws vary everywhere. All states have their ordinances, and cities might have some additional stipulations. Of course, ultimately, any federal regulations supersede a state’s decision. These ordinances cover a wide variety of potential safety and health risks, and their preventions, such as:

  • Consistent, mandatory vaccinations.
  • Rabid animals, or animals with other diseases that are potentially dangerous for humans.
  • Animals off-leash.
  • Animal bites and attacks.
  • Pet licenses.
  • The number of pets owned.

How to Know Pet Ownership Laws

These issues often do not come up until an incident occurs, and so it is easy to let the details of following licensing, vaccinations, and other ordinances slide; sometimes people forget, and sometimes they believe that nothing will happen to them or their pet.

It is not worth the risk.

The best thing to do is to research your state and local pet ownership laws well before getting a pet. It is very easy in the current information age; just go online to your state and city’s official websites. Then, once you know all your pet ownership laws, do not wait to apply the rules to your pet and life:

  • Get your pet licensed if necessary.
  • Microchip them.
  • Begin and maintain all vaccinations.
  • Save for medical expenses, and consider pet insurance.
  • Make a habit of all other regulations for daily care (keeping the dog on a leash, picking up after pets, etc.).

If you live in the Houston area, we can advise you a great deal on the local laws regarding pet care. Bring your pet in for vaccinations and more, and let us help you remain a law-abiding pet owner.