Canine Distemper: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention

 

As soon as you bring a new pup into your life they become a top priority, and it’s up to you to learn about the canine diseases that can compromise their health and wellness. It’s especially critical to learn about highly contractible and often fatal illnesses like distemper.

What is distemper in dogs?

Distemper is a severe and often deadly viral infection that affects dogs as well as  ferrets and wild animals like foxes, skunks and raccoons. Along with parvovirus, it’s one of the most serious diseases your dog can contract. Canines of any age can get it, but puppies are particularly susceptible. The signs of distemper in older dogs are the same as in young dogs.

What causes distemper in dogs?

The cause of distemper in dogs is the paramyxovirus. This type of virus is also responsible for several other deadly animal diseases, including virulent Newcastle disease in birds and rinderpest in cattle. It typically attacks the respiratory system, but some paramyxoviruses attack the nervous system and even the reproductive system. Distemper is one of the few paramyxoviruses for which there is a vaccine.

Is distemper in dogs contagious?

Yes, it is highly contagious. Transmission of distemper in dogs can happen through direct contact with an infected animal, including from mothers to unborn puppies through the placenta. Distemper is also airborne, so when an infected dog barks or sneezes, the disease can quickly spread onto surrounding surfaces where it can be picked up—or it can be directly transmitted through the air. Wildlife can also transmit distemper to dogs.

When a dog has distemper, they can shed the virus and be contagious for months, even if they aren’t showing symptoms. Fortunately, the virus that causes distemper in dogs doesn’t last long once it’s in the environment and is easy to kill using regular disinfectants.

What are the early distemper symptoms in dogs?

Many people think of neurological distemper in dogs when they think of this illness. The initial symptoms, however, are usually more like allergies—watery or pus-filled eyes and nasal discharge. Dogs often lose their appetite, become lethargic and start running a fever. Your dog may cough, experience diarrhea or vomit. Most of these symptoms appear three to six days after infection. Getting treatment for distemper in dogs as early as possible is vital. Seek veterinary services as soon as you notice symptoms.

What other diseases look like distemper in dogs?

The symptoms of neurological distemper in dogs can be frightening and may seem specific to this disease. However, there are a few other illnesses that have similar symptoms to distemper in dogs.

Canine hepatitis, similarly to distemper, causes discharge from the eyes and nose. Leptospirosis can cause shivering and muscle tenderness, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever causes muscle pain and swelling, which can be mistaken for distemper symptoms in dogs. Lead poisoning has perhaps the most similar symptoms to distemper, and includes uncoordinated walking, tremors and seizures. Your vet will be able to tell you more about what symptoms like these can mean for your pup.

How is distemper diagnosed?

When you take your dog to the vet for any of the above symptoms, you’ll be asked questions about their medical history, vaccination history and any other clinical signs. If the disease has progressed and your dog is displaying severe distemper symptoms, your veterinarian will likely suspect it immediately.

The next step is usually a diagnostic test using a swab from the eye or nose. Blood tests are also utilized in certain cases.

How does distemper progress?

Distemper eventually causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. This causes the particularly worrying symptoms of neurological distemper in dogs, which includes circling, head tilts, paralysis, twitching and seizures.

As distemper in dogs progresses, it can cause hyperkeratosis, or “hard pad” symptoms in the nose and paw pads. Essentially, the skin thickens and hardens and can cause discomfort. Secondary infections of the lungs and gastrointestinal tract are also common because distemper compromises the immune system.

What is the prognosis for distemper in dogs?

Distemper in dogs is often fatal. Some estimates project that it is fatal for 50% of adult dogs and 80% of puppies. The survival rate, however, often depends on the particular virus strain, the care your dog receives and the strength of their immune system. This is another reason distemper is so deadly to puppies—their immune systems aren’t as developed as those of adult dogs.

Some dogs won’t ever progress to the neurological stage, and their symptoms may resolve in as little as a week. Other dogs may show signs for weeks or months.

Are there long-term effects of distemper in dogs?

If the distemper progresses to the neurological stage, there can be long-term effects. Your dog may develop permanent twitches or tremors, have recurring seizures or even lose their eyesight. Sometimes these effects don’t appear until the dog is middle-aged or older.

How do you treat distemper in dogs?

There is currently no cure for distemper. Treatment for distemper in dogs involves managing symptoms to help prevent a fatality. Your dog will need to be separated from other dogs to prevent transmission and will likely need to be hospitalized  to receive proper care.

Your vet may recommend medications to help control vomiting and diarrhea, minimize neurologic symptoms and keep your pet hydrated. There are no antibiotics for distemper in dogs, although they may be used to treat secondary infections, an often essential part of treatment.

Can you prevent distemper?

Preventing canine distemper is relatively straightforward. Get your pup vaccinated. Because the prognosis for distemper in dogs is so poor, vaccination is one of the best preventive measures you can take for them. The distemper vaccine is part of the DHPP shot, which stands for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus. It’s given in three rounds, and puppies can receive their first round as young as 6 to 8 weeks and be fully vaccinated by 16 to 18 weeks.

Until they are fully vaccinated, keep your puppy away from unknown dogs and wildlife as well as day cares, dog parks, kennels and other places where dogs gather. Read our guide, “Pet Vaccinations: Common Questions Answered by Our Trusted Veterinarian” for more information on vaccinations.

How long is the distemper vaccine good for in dogs?

After the first round of three shots, puppies will typically need a booster shot after a year. Adult dogs should receive a DHPP booster every three years. The vaccine is very effective in preventing distemper, but you should not take your puppy out and about until they are fully vaccinated. Also keep in mind that the DHPP vaccine covers multiple diseases, so even if your pup has had distemper, they should still get the booster every three years.

Are there side effects of the distemper vaccine?

Like any vaccine, the vaccine for distemper in dogs may have side effects, including lethargy, loss of appetite, fever and swelling around the injection site. Some puppies may have an allergic reaction that can take up to 24 hours to show signs, so continuously monitor your dog after they receive a vaccination. Side effects are rare, and because distemper in dogs causes such severe health problems, the vaccine is recommended in most cases.

The bottom line is that transmission of distemper in dogs can occur easily, and this disease is often deadly with acute symptoms. On the other hand, preventing canine distemper is relatively easy and will typically cost far less than treating the disease.

Book an appointment at one of our upcoming Vetco Clinics to prevent distemper in your pet. Click the button below to find a date and time that works for you.

Blog used with permission from Vetco

What to Know About Dog Anxiety

Blog used with permission from Honest Paws

 

 

People can experience a range of anxiety symptoms – from a nervous heart flutter to a full-on panic attack. Having anxiety is one of the many ways dogs are like their pet parents. Just like us, their nervousness is normally nothing to worry about. It’s quite understandable that your pup may be a bit anxious when meeting people for the first time, or encountering a new situation.

With a little reassurance, your pooch will often quickly calm down. However, if dog anxiety is not addressed properly, or if there’s some underlying trauma at play, your pet’s anxiety could become a serious matter that takes time and energy to remedy. Read on to find out what you need to know about anxiety in dogs and how to help your pooch overcome this problem.

What is Anxiety in Dogs?

 

 

Basically, having anxiety is about being fearful or worried about something. It’s a natural emotion that helps alert us to danger, but it can be problematic in other circumstances. Dogs are pack animals and view their human family members part of their pack.

They feel safe with others around so it’s not unexpected that feelings of anxiety will surface when they’re left alone. This is called separation anxiety and is one of the typical forms of anxiety in dogs.

Our canines do best when they know what to expect. Therefore, anxiety may also become an issue if they’re dealing with a significant change in their environment, or too many changes at once. This means there can be a variety of reasons why your fur baby has developed anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety in Dogs

Some dogs have a generally calm disposition and will be less bothered by particular events than other canines might. Having said that, there are a number of common causes of anxiety in dogs. Keep in mind that there may be more than one reason for your pet’s anxiety.

Thunder

Many dogs will become anxious when they hear loud noises like thunder. Interestingly, dogs can sense a drop in barometric pressure so they may disappear when they know there’s a storm coming. You might find your pooch cowering in the bathtub or under a bed in this circumstance. Other loud noises, like fireworks, will produce the same reaction.

Crowds

Being in a crowd can be anxiety-provoking for your pooch. That’s because they don’t know what to expect in this environment. Crowds can be noisy and confining. This qualifies as an unfamiliar situation where, in your dog’s mind, anything can happen. Your pup may also worry about being separated from you.

Social

Is your dog anxious when they’re around new people or other dogs? There may be a traumatic event in their past that’s affecting their behavior.

Maybe your dog has been rescued and the full extent of their history is unknown. Canines who aren’t socialized properly may have anxiety around other dogs and humans. They’re often simply not used to being with anyone else aside from their family members.

Traveling

Despite the photos you see of dogs enjoying the breeze with their heads out the car window, not all dogs like car rides. It may cause anxiety in some dogs since they don’t know where they’re going – it could be a visit to the vet or to the boarding kennel.

Perhaps they’ve had a bad experience such as being confined in an uncomfortable space in the vehicle, or arriving at a destination that caused them anxiety.

Dog Anxiety Symptoms

Certainly, each dog is an individual and they’re apt to show different symptoms of anxiety. You may also see several of the following signs together.

In addition, some cases of anxiety will be more severe than others. And, symptoms that appear only once or twice could suggest that Rover or Rosie just didn’t get enough exercise or mental stimulation that day.

If behaviors persist or escalate to more destruction or aggression, you’re likely dealing with a case of anxiety that needs to be resolved. Plus, you don’t want your fur baby to injure themselves or others with their actions.

 

Here’s a list of dog anxiety symptoms to look out for:

  • Aggression
  • Barking
  • Compulsive or repetitive behavior
  • Depression
  • Destroying things
  • Drooling excessively
  • Ears back
  • Escaping or trying to
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Refusing food
  • Restlessness
  • Tail tucked in
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Urinating or defecating inside
  • Whining

 

Treatment Options for Dog Anxiety

Before you embark on using any treatment, it’s a good move to rule out the possibility that an underlying medical issue is causing your dog’s symptoms. Enlist the assistance of your vet to make sure your doggo is healthy. If the investigation suggests that your pup has anxiety, your veterinarian can assist you to put together an appropriate treatment plan.

This may include medications as well as some of the ideas below. Most successful plans of action will involve a number of different methods, all focused on encouraging your dog to relax. Here are some things your vet may suggest.

CBD Oil

More and more, pet owners are discovering the benefits of CBD oil for dogs to reduce anxiety. This natural compound found in the hemp plant is extracted and made into a selection of safe pet oils and treats. If you are unfamiliar with CBD, check out this useful guide. Honest Paws CBD products are sold at all Best Friends Pet Hotel locations. The Calm line is design to help with anxiety.

 

Desensitization

There are things you can do to desensitize your dog to triggers that raise their anxiety level. For instance, if Snoopy or Stella shows signs of worry when you prepare to leave the house, pick up your keys and grab your bag like you’re heading out then put everything back again.

You can try desensitizing your canine friend to loud sounds by making quieter sounds and gradually moving up to louder sounds. As your pet gets used to these triggers, they’ll find them less anxiety-provoking.

Counter Conditioning

Counter conditioning builds on desensitization by training your doggo to judge stressors as a positive thing rather than a matter to be anxious about. Essentially, you offer your dog something good when their anxiety is triggered.

This could mean that whenever they hear thunder you give them a treat. If they have separation anxiety, when you leave the house put a food puzzle out for them to enjoy while you’re away. Your canine will start to anticipate getting something nice when these stressors happen.

Distraction

Taking your dog’s mind off whatever is causing them distress is a good move. You might try getting their attention with a treat, food puzzle, a toy, or engaging them in doing a few tricks.

The key is to have your pooch focus on something else and not on whatever is causing their anxious thoughts. Make an effort to pick a distraction that is sure to please them and mix things up as often as you have to in order to keep their attention.

Music Therapy

Some dogs enjoy a little background noise so that they don’t feel alone. Soothing music can also help calm your pooch. Would you believe that there are actually audio tracks available specifically for canines? Try a few selections and see what your pet responds to best.

Touch and Massage

You know the favorite places on your pup’s body where they enjoy your touch. Maybe an ear rub is what they respond to or they really like a back scratch. Think about how touch relaxes them. Use this to combat their anxiety and kick it up a notch with a nice doggie massage.

Training

There may be an advantage to hiring a professional dog trainer to encourage your pup to get over their anxiety. This is especially true if your pooch is showing aggression when under stress.

Look up any Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB or ACAAB) in your area to see what services they have available. This is another instance where your veterinarian may be able to advise you.

 Safety and Comfort

All dogs need comfortable safe places where they can relax and nap undisturbed. A soft pet bed and a favorite blanket can be used to bring their stress level down.

You can even buy heated pads for them to lie on to provide more comfort. Encourage your dog with praise and the odd treat when you see them taking a break in their safe space.

They’ll quickly begin to associate this with feeling protected and understand that it’s somewhere to soothe themselves when feeling anxious. A crate can also provide safety and comfort if it’s used this way.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat a dog with anxiety?

Treating dog anxiety usually involves a number of different methods such as CBD oil, counter conditioning, distraction, music therapy and more.

What are signs of anxiety in dogs?

Symptoms of dog anxiety run the gamut from changes in body language involving the ears and tail to behaviors such as whining and urinating inside.

How can I calm my dog’s anxiety naturally?

Offering nutritional supplements, providing exercise and mental stimulation, and socializing your dog are a few things you can try.

 

10 Questions And Answers About Dogs

woman with little white dog in grass

Have you ever wondered why your dog howls? Or why they bury bones in the backyard? Here are 10 questions and answers about dogs that you’ve always wanted to know!

1. Why do dogs wag their tails?

Most people have heard that dogs wag their tail when they’re happy, but this isn’t always the case. Dogs use their tails to communicate all of their emotions with humans, other dogs or even

2. Why does my dog lick me?

Dogs will often lick their owner or other people as they like the taste of their skin and as a sign of affection. For dogs, licking releases pleasurable endorphins and releases stress.

3. Why is chocolate bad for my dog?

Though chocolate is a tasty treat for humans, for dogs it is poisonous. Chocolate’s toxic component is theobromine. Dogs process theobromine very slowly, which allows for it to build up in their system to toxic levels. Different types of chocolate have different amounts of theobromine, but chocolate should always be out of reach of dogs.

4. Do dogs dream?

You may notice your dog twitching or emitting light barks in his sleep. And just like us, dogs dream and go through REM sleep, which is the cycle in which humans experience dreams. Vetstreet also found that puppies and older dogs usually dream more often than middle-aged dogs!

5. Why do dogs howl?

There are four main reasons for why dogs howl. Ancestry, communications, sickness or injury, and separation anxiety. Because dogs are related to wolves, they could still have the urge to howl. They might not even know why they’re doing it. Howling is a normal thing for dogs to do as long as it is not chronic, pervasive or invasive.

6. Why do dogs have wet noses?

Dog noses secrete a thin layer of moisture that helps to absorb scents. Then, they lick their nose, so they can essentially taste those scents. Having a wet nose is also one of the ways that dogs can regulate their body temperature.

7. Why do dogs have whiskers?

Dog whiskers have follicles at the base, which have nerves that send messages to the dog’s brain. Whiskers serve as receptors for important information, such as size, shape, and the speed of nearby objects, people, or animals.

8. Why do dogs eat grass?

Sometimes dogs will eat grass because they have an upset stomach, and sometimes they may just be craving essential nutrients that they’re not be getting in their regular diet. Generally speaking, most experts see no danger in letting your dog eat grass in small amounts (assuming there is no pesticides and chemicals in the grass). If your dog has a sudden increase in grass eating, there could be an underlying issue, that requires veterinary assistance.

9. Why do dogs chase their tails?

Also called ‘Whirling’, chasing one’s own tail is a natural behavior and a form of play for predator animals. As a puppy, chasing their tail can be a short-term cure for boredom or a way to gain attention. If your dog is chasing their tail as an adult, it may be part of a larger issue, like fleas, worms or even a behavioral problem (i.e. compulsive disorders).

10. Why do dogs bury their bones, food or other items?

Wild dogs used to bury their food to hide it and save for later so that other animals couldn’t get to it, but now that domesticated dogs have plenty of food, there are a few reasons why they’re still burying things. One reason could be instinct – Just because they’re domestic animals doesn’t mean that they lose the urge. The second reason could be that their owner is giving them too much food/toys and the dog wants to save it for later. Another reason could be that it is a game to them. If your dog wants your attention or is bored, they may steal valuable items from you (such as shoes or TV remotes) in order to get you to play with them.

Sources: Hills Pet, American Kennel Club, Cesar’s Way (Ref 1), Vetstreet, Live Science, Pet MD, Wonderopolis, and Cesar’s Way (Ref 2).

Why Does My Pet’s Breath Smell?

Dental health guidance provided by Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM

dog, vet, dental health, teeth cleaning

If you find that your dog or cat’s breath smells, it may be time to take the utmost care of your pet’s dental health.

Dental health: how important is it really?

Periodontal disease can lead to bacteria getting into your pet’s blood stream through their inflamed gums. These bacteria can wreck havoc on the body. They go to heart valves causing endocarditis and heart murmurs as well as travel to other organs seeding infection throughout the body.

Diseased teeth can lead to tooth root abscess and even infection in the jaw bone that can get so bad it can weaken the jaw bone enough to cause a fracture. All these things can be prevented with proper dental care.

Do you think it’s important now?

dog-teeth-check

Check out your pet’s teeth. If any of the following applies, your pet likely has dental disease.

1) You see brown build up on the teeth. Don’t forget to check the back teeth.

2) The gums bleed if you touch them with a cotton tip where the tooth touches the gum.

3) You touch one or more of your pet’s teeth and they move.

4) Your pet’s chew toy has spots of blood on it after chewing on it.

5) Your pet picks up a toy and drops it or doesn’t chew on the toys like before.

6) Your pet shy’s away from his head being petted when he used to enjoy it before.

7) Your pet’s breath can clear the room.

If you recognize any of these symptoms in your pet, have your pet examined by your veterinarian.

 

If your pet has mild dental tartar, you may be able to get away with just brushing the teeth with a pet approved toothpaste on a routine basis, but eventually almost all pets require a professional dental cleaning – just as you require professional dental cleanings.

If your pet already has evidence of dental disease and gingivitis, your pet requires a professional dental cleaning, or as veterinarians like to call it: a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT for short).

The sooner you get this done, the healthier your pet will be long term, and there will be decreased likelihood of needing extractions.

It is not a one and done for the life of your pet. Dental cleanings need to be done on a regular basis. The frequency depends on your pets breed, genetics, chewing habits and at-home care.

dog, teeth brushing

Brushing your pet’s teeth is easier if you start when they are young. Get them used to having your fingers in their mouth, lifting their lips and opening their mouths.

Brushing can be done with a special long handled dog toothbrush, a human tooth brush, a special designed finger cap brush or even just a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. What you use will depend upon you and the size of your pet. It is important however to only uses specialized pet toothpaste as human toothpaste is harmful to your pet.

For a DIY pet toothpaste recipe that you can make and use at home, watch this “how to” video from Best Friends Pet Hotel:

Listen to the advice of the professionals and veterinarians to tell you when it is a time for a professional cleaning.

cat, dental health, teeth brushing

In small breed dogs it can be as early as one year of age or as late as 6 years of age in a large breed dog. Cats may require their first cleaning anywhere from 1 year to 8 years; a lot depends on their chewing habits, underlying medical conditions, and at-home care. The most important factor is: don’t wait until your pet is experiencing pain, infection and complications to get it done. It is important to be proactive with dental care. Your pet will thank you.

 

pet grooming, groomer, dog
Your local Best Friends Pet Hotel offers professional teeth brushing as part of our grooming services. Visit our Grooming webpage to learn more and book an appointment. Or call your local center with any questions.

vet care, vet clinic, vaccinations, Vetco, Best Friends pet Hotel
To learn more about veterinary care and monthly vet clinics (in partnership with Vetco) at SELECT local Best Friends Pet Hotel locations, visit our Vet Care webpage. Or call your local center with any questions.

He’s Not Fat, He’s Just Fluffy | Helping Your Overweight Pet

Pets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are bigger, some are shorter, and some are just… rounder. If you are reading this, then you may have a friend (cough, cough) who might be concerned their pet is a little overweight. Maybe your friend’s vet has mentioned they are also concerned about their pet’s weight and advised that they should think about slimming down. No judgement here. But where should pet parents start when thinking about this somewhat overwhelming and common issue?

Whatever the reason, the first step when thinking about weight management is to talk honestly with your veterinarian about the signs your pet is heavier than their ideal weight. You can then make a plan to move them gently toward a weight that’s better for them in the long term. Because every pet is a little different, diagnosing a dog or cat as overweight is best done by your veterinarian, who routinely takes body condition, breed, clinical experience, the pet’s historical weight, and physical exam findings into consideration.

Signs Your Pet Might be Overweight

Without getting into specific breed characteristics, there are a few key physical traits that can give you a rough idea about your pet’s body condition. They are: prominence of their ribs, side-view shape of their belly, and the shape of their midsection when viewed from above. Your pet’s ribs should be easy to feel without pressing too hard, but not so prominent they can be individually seen from far away. When viewed from the side, your pet should have a triangular shape to their abdomen as it moves from the end of their ribs to the beginning of their hind legs. Looking from above, there should be a gently sloping hourglass shape to his or her waist that’s easily seen but not extreme. Please note that these are very general guidelines, and many breeds can be at an ideal weight even if they don’t conform to these descriptions.

Risks of Excess Weight

When pets carry extra fat, they also carry extra risk for health challenges as they progress through life. Cats are prone to type II diabetes, urinary system problems, liver problems, personal hygiene troubles, and mobility challenges associated with extra pressure on their bones and joints. Dogs are particularly prone to orthopedic problems since their skeleton is carrying around those extra pounds. Dogs are also more at risk for overheating and breathing problems than slimmer pets. In addition, that extra fat tissue can make diagnosing certain diseases and undergoing surgery more complicated for both dogs and cats. Over the years, there’s also been a debate if long-term obesity is associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. This is a very complicated topic though since genetics, environment, breed, and many other unknown factors also play a role in risk levels for cancer.

How do I Weigh My Pet

It is easier said than done. Cats are wiggly and some dogs are stubborn. To expect them to stand on a scale is not realistic. There are some simple tips that we can suggest to get an accurate weight of your pet. If you have a scale at home and can safely lift your pet, try weighing them by weighing yourself with and without your pet on your bathroom scale. First, weigh yourself alone. Then pick up your pet and step on the scale together. Simply subtract your weight from your combined weights to get your pet’s weight.

If being held is not your pet’s idea of a good time, try weighing your pet in a pet carrier and subtracting the weight of the carrier to get your pet’s weight. If this idea works, write down the weight of the carrier and any comfort items inside to speed up the process next time.

If your pet is too large, too small, or too stressed for the at-home weighing method above, consider stopping by your vet’s office to use one of their special scales. This is also a great way to help reduce vet visit anxiety as your pet will associate the vet’s office with these fun outings to get weighed.

How Can I Help with My Pet’s Weight

As our loving family members, we want to see our pets excel and live long, healthy lives. We will go through great lengths to help them. There are some simple things you can do to help your pet to reach an ideal weight:

1. Regularly Track Your Pet’s Weight

Start a journal by recording the food, treats, and supplements your pet consumes each day. This will  help you identify where extra calories might be sneaking in. Measuring any food or treats prior to feeding will make your journal more accurate.

2. Discover Indoor Activities

There are a million ways to exercise a dog (or leashed cat) outdoors, but as the weather turns frigid, you may need to consider indoor activities too. For your dog, create a fun obstacle course, in your house. and challenge your pup to work through it.

Cats are known for laying around the house. They may move from sunny spot to sunny spot, but their efforts don’t burn much in the way of calories. By stimulating a cat’s mind, you can keep them engaged and more active than they typically are. Consider building a treat (or dry kibble) puzzle for them out of common items from your home. By dispensing their food slowly to them and engaging them in play, you will build some activity into their day.

3. Seek Advice from an Experienced Pet Nutritionists

At all of our centers, nation-wide, we serve Freely kibble to our canine and feline guests. Freely is dedicated to supporting pet parents with all nutrition related concerns that impact our pet’s weight. With their experienced nutrition team, they are committed to total transparency about the protein, fiber, fat and nutrient contents of their foods. They can help you decide not only which Freely recipe is right for your pet, but how much food is the right amount to include when building your pet’s bowl. If their recipes are not the right option for your pet, they promise to give you honest recommendations for other options.

Conclusion

As you care for your pet, remember that maintaining a healthy weight is important to his health and overall well-being. Work with your veterinarian to determine an ideal weight for your pet and be diligent about tracking and monitoring his weight. By keeping your pet engaged, indoors and outdoors, you can promote an active lifestyle. Just as your pet didn’t become overweight overnight, the road to weight loss will take time. You’re on the right track!

 

About: Written with permission and use of blogs from Freelypet.com

Top 7 Cat Needs

Often referred to as “finicky felines” our cat’s needs are sometimes a bit of a mystery. They let us know when they are hungry, when they want to play and when they want to be left alone. But, what do cats really need? With the help of our Veterinary Expert and Consultant, Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM we would like to share our list of the Top 7 Cat Needs.

1. Food and Water (of course!)

Every cat needs proper nutrition and access to fresh water daily. Nutritional needs of your cat depends on its life stage and any underlying medical conditions. Work with your veterinarian to
ensure your cat is getting the proper nutrition.

2. A Safe Place

Cats need a safe place to hide and destress if needed. A stressed cat can lead to urination in inappropriate places and over self grooming. It doesn’t have to be any place fancy. Some cats
just prefer a simple cardboard box. It is important that this is their space where they won’t feel intruded upon by the dogs or small humans.

3. Play Time with You

Cats need some engagement with their owners. It can be chasing a laser pointer or a stuffed mouse. Some cats can even learn to fetch. This is important bonding time for you and your cat as well as it allows your cat to get some exercise.

4. Alone Play Time

Just as kids needs some alone play time, so do cats. Cats are naturally curious and giving them some alone time allows them the freedom of mental stimulation and to do as they choose. Who are we kidding cats always do what they want!

5. Veterinary Care

Lots of people feel cats are low maintenance and therefore don’t require routine veterinary care. But proper proactive veterinary care is essential to preventing and catching illness early, ensuring you have many more healthy, active years with your furry friend.

6. A Scratching Post

Start early directing your cat where you would like him or her to scratch. This can be done by putting some cat nip in this area. Providing an approved scratching post, or comparable scratch toy/box, can prevent unwanted destruction of furniture later.

7. A Clean Litter Box

It is important to provide clean liter boxes for your cat to use for elimination. Some cats will choose to eliminate outside of the box if it is too dirty so it is important to periodically scoop them. A good rule of thumb is to have one more liter box than the number of cats that live in the home. So if you have 3 cats, you should have 4 liter boxes.

Your cat may lead a life of mystery, but certainly has seven basic needs. When these needs are met, you both can enjoy a happy life together.

Summer Pet Safety Checklist

As you and your pets enjoy all the fun and relaxation summer has to offer, we want to help you ensure your pet’s safety this summer with our Summer Pet Safety Checklist – brought to you by Best Friends Pet Hotel’s Veterinary Expert and Consultant, Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM.

1. Make sure your pet stays hydrated.

dog drinking water

Your pet should have an unlimited supply of clean, fresh water at all times but especially in the summer. A pet, who does not, could seek other water sources like a puddle or pond that can contain deadly viruses like leptospirosis or toxic blue green alga.

2. Make sure the ground is not too hot for your pet’s paws before walking or playing.

dog giving paw to human

If it is uncomfortable for you to walk barefoot on the asphalt, it is also uncomfortable for your pet. If you must walk your pet on concrete or asphalt during the summer, make sure it is early in the morning or at dusk when the surface is cooler.

Before you go, try the five second rule. Apply the back of your hand to the surface you will be walking your pet on, if it is too uncomfortable for you to hold the back of your hand firmly against it for 5 seconds, then it’s too hot for your pet.

This also applies to the concrete around your pool. If you notice your dog limping, then check the pads of the feet. If you see the skin peeling off or lifting up, please seek veterinary assistance.

3. Invest in a doggy life vest.

10 Summer Dog Safety Tips - To Beat The Heat

Speaking of pools and water. It is a great way for your pet to cool off but believe it or not, not all dogs can swim. It is good to have a properly fitting doggy life vest on your dog around the pool and especially when boating. It can literally save a life.

4. Protect your pet from fleas and ticks.

cute dog laying on trail in forest

Parasites!! Yeah, I said it! No one is a fan of fleas and ticks. Not only do they spread disease to you and your pets but also can causing itching, rashes and sores. Being on the offense is better here. Make sure you use flea and tick prevention for your pet year round. You will thank me later.

5. Protect your pet from mosquitos.

Let’s not forget our friend the mosquito. Mosquitoes transmit heart worm disease to your dog. Again being on the offense here is best medicine. Please use heartworm prevention on your pet year round. There are also products for dogs that will repel mosquitoes but that doesn’t mean you should forgo the heartworm prevention medication. It is just an added layer of protection.

6. Protect your pet from flies.

Since we are on an insect role, let’s talk about fly strike. Yes, I know it’s ugly. This is when your dog enjoys spending lots of time outside and those nasty biting flies start biting and sucking blood from your dog usually at the tip of ears causing crusts, scabs and oozing sores. Again prevention is the best medicine. If it’s fly biting season, keep your pets indoors as much as possible. There are also pet approved medications you can apply to your dog to deter the insects from biting.

7. Protect your pet from maggots.

Unfortunately, what comes after flies are maggots. Yes, you read that correctly. Flies lay these eggs in the wound of skin. When they hatch, they are maggots that feed off your pet and can cause an extensive life threatening infection. This frequently happens in long hair dogs who are accumulating feces on their fur usually because they are having bouts of diarrhea. If your pet is having loose stools, seek veterinary assistance and don’t leave your pet outside.

8. Don’t shave your pet for the summer.

dog bath soap bubbles on head

Speaking of long hair, do not shave your pet!

Yes your pet needs to be groomed to prevent matts, knots and sores but it does not need to be shaved to keep it cool in the summer. It is important to make sure your pet is brushed out by summer so that thick undercoat naturally sheds allowing your pet to keep its hair and remain cool.

Pets fur/hair also protects it from the sun. Without this protection, your dog is susceptible to sun burns. What comes after sun burn? Skin cancer. No one wants that. Once again, prevention is key.

9. Protect your pet against heatstroke.

teenage boy with adopted dog

Last but not least, heatstroke. The older or younger your pet, the more susceptible it is to heatstroke.

Pets need to be provided an environment that allows them to get cool. Pets will naturally seek out a cooler place if they are feeling too warm, like digging that hole in the cool dirt under a tree to lie in. Never, ever leave your pet in a bright sunny location for extended period of time.

Equally important NEVER leave your dog in a car during even a warm day, let alone hot, no matter how short of time – even if the windows are cracked.

two dogs in backseat of car

The temperature inside a car dramatically elevates within a couple of minutes causing a life threatening environment for your pet.

vehicle temperatures for dogs

It is better just to leave Fido at home if you need to run errands that he can’t go inside with you.

So get out and enjoy the summer months with your pet. Just remember prevention is the best medicine.

pet dad with dog playing fetch on beach

What, How & Why of Microchipping

dog lost in woods, microchip

It happens! Your cat gets outside and runs off or your dog squeezes out of his collar and heads for the woods.

You try to catch them, but they are too fast and too determined. After calling and searching, your stomach becomes knotted up hoping for a safe return. While you can’t always prevent your pet from getting lost, you can increase the chances that you will be reunited with microchipping. When your dog is microchipped they are twice as likely to be returned home and your cat is more than 20 times more likely!

If your pet is not currently microchipped, learn more about the process and book an appointment at your local Vetco clinic to chip your pet.

What is a microchip?

microchip, dog, cat

A Microchip is an implant, about the size of a grain of rice, put under your pet’s skin. It is encoded with a unique number that is linked to all of your contact information in a secure database.

Why is microchipping important?

One in three pets will become lost at some point in their lives, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). One of the best ways to help ensure that you and your dog or cat will be reunited, if they get lost, is to make sure you have a microchip.

How is the microchip put in my pet?

microchip implanted, injection, dog, veterinarian

Implanting the device is actually a very simple process and can easily be done during a Vetco clinic appointment. It doesn’t even require anesthesia!

Using a hypodermic needle, similar to the kind that is used to give vaccines, the licensed Vetco veterinarian “injects” the microchip under your pet’s skin (usually between the shoulder blades). Your pet may feel a moment of discomfort but a little moment of ‘ouch’ is far better than being separated from you forever.

How does the microchip work if my pet gets lost?

Let’s say your pet goes exploring without your permission. Maybe their collar gets snagged and comes off, so they no longer have their ID. Your pet then gets picked up and dropped off at a shelter or local vet’s office, where they’re scanned for a microchip. The scan reveals your pet’s identification number and its associated registry. The vet or shelter contacts the registry, who reaches out to you to tell you where to find your pet.
That’s why it is so crucial that you register your pet’s microchip. The chip itself only transmits an ID number. It’s up to you and your vet’s office to connect that ID number to your personal information so the registry can reach you if your pet gets lost.

Do I need to microchip my pet if they wear a collar?

Yes. Collars can get loose and come off when a pet gets lost, especially if they wear a breakaway collar. Additionally, the engraving on ID tags can wear down over time, making it difficult for anyone to read them. Microchips and a collar with an ID tag are not mutually exclusive—your pet needs both.

Does the microchip track my pet’s location?

A microchip is not a GPS tracker and will not tell you where to find your pet if they get lost. A GPS microchip would need to be powered and charged making it difficult to maintain.

 

microchipping, cat, home

What should I do if my pet has a microchip from a previous home?

If you think your pet may already have a microchip from a previous pet parent, ask one of the Vetco vets to scan for the microchip. The vet can give you the microchip’s ID number and registry information. You’ll then need to contact the registry to change your pet’s contact information.

Is it possible for a microchip to fall out?

Within 24 hours of being microchipped, your pet’s tissue will bond to the chip, which usually prevents it from moving around. In rare cases the chip may migrate under the skin, but it will not fall out.

veterinarian checking chip under pet's / dog's skin

Once my pet is microchipped is there any maintenance?

Your pet’s microchip should last throughout their life and not require any maintenance. The only things you need to do are register the microchip and update your account whenever you move or get a new phone number. That is the very best way to help ensure your dog or cat is reunited with you if they ever go missing.

Is it expensive to have my pet microchipped?

Vetco clinic licensed veterinarian with dog

The cost of microchipping is minimal compared to the lifetime protection that you are giving your pet. When you purchase a microchip at a Vetco Clinic, you receive the following FREE Pet Protection Services from 24PetWatch:

  • The ability to report a lost or found pet online anytime at mypethealth.com
  • A complimentary basic online profile with your contact information and the ability to update your contact information online
  • Timely and convenient automated lost-pet service calls and emails

 

Book your Vetco clinic appointment today at Best Friends Pet Hotel, and get your pet microchipped!

 

Sources:

https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/c/microchip
https://info.bestfriendspetcare.com/blog/2015/06/is-your-pet-microchipped
https://preview.hs-sites.com/_hcms/preview/content/5289668080?portalId=2411678&_preview=true&from_buffer=false&preview_key=diNHAYdC&

How to Prevent Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm disease in pets is precisely what it sounds like; worms that infest the heart and pulmonary arteries.

heartworm disease pets

The mode of transmission of this disease is the mosquito. No dog or cat is safe from heartworm disease. In fact, a pet can become infected with heartworms anywhere and at any time. Infections have been reported in all 50 states.

Mosquitoes are more prevalent in the spring and summer, but the disease can be contracted at any time of year. Amazingly, it only takes a single bite from an infected mosquito to infect a pet.

Although heartworm disease is more common in dogs, it is much more deadly to cats. Heartworm disease can cause illness and can even result in death.

The good news is that this disease is essentially 100% preventable!

heartworm disease dog cat

In dogs, heartworms reside in the heart and surrounding blood vessels. This causes injury to the tissues which results in heart failure and pulmonary disease. In some cases, the worms can cause an embolus, or blockage, of other large vessels causing other organs to become affected. Severe and untreated cases can be fatal. Signs of heartworm disease in dogs are a deep cough, fatigue, lethargy, labored breathing, weight loss and distention of the abdomen.

While cats are less susceptible to heartworm infection, their body is much more sensitive to it. Cats can become severely ill or even die from only a small infection. Cats with heartworm disease may experience coughing, gagging, respiratory difficulty, lethargy, weight loss and even sudden death.

If a pet owner notices any of these signs, they should seek veterinary attention immediately. Many times, heartworm disease will produce no clinical signs, which is why prevention and regular screening is crucial.

Though heartworm disease is devastating, it is preventable. Here are the two simple steps to prevent heartworm disease in your dog or cat:

Step 1: Get your pet tested.

heartworm blood test cat

The first step to protecting a pet against heartworm disease is to get your pet tested. A simple blood test can reveal if a pet has been exposed to heartworm infection. Should a pet test positive for heartworm infection, additional diagnostics, such as radiographs or ultrasound, may be recommended by the veterinarian to determine the extent of the disease process.

Book your Vetco® heartworm test today.

Step 2: Administer preventative medicine.

heartworm preventative medicine chews dog

The next step to protecting a pet against heartworm disease is preventative medicine. On a pet to pet basis, the veterinarian will recommend an oral, topical or injectable preventative. Many of these preventative medications also protect pets against intestinal parasites. In most cases, a pet should be protected with medication year round.

So what if a pet does test positive for heartworm infection?

Unfortunately at this time, there is no safe cure for cats due to the serious side effects, such as blood clots, it produces. Instead, cats are usually limited to supportive care such as cage rest, oxygen therapy, and steroids. However, some cases of heartworm disease in cats can resolve on their own.

In dogs, newer and safer products have become available in recent years that are very effective in eliminating heartworm infection. Although, treatment of heartworm infection can produce side effects which makes follow-up visits to the veterinarian and close monitoring of the pet vital.

Source: Vetco® https://www.vetcoclinics.com/resource-center/heartworm-information

 

Get your pet tested for heartworm at one of our monthly vet clinics in partnership with Vetco®.

Click here to learn about Best Friends Pet Hotel’s veterinary care and vet clinics (in partnership with Vetco®); see our clinic schedule; and make an appointment.

vet care, vet clinic, vaccinations, Vetco, Best Friends pet Hotel

Dog Exercise: Common Questions Answered by Our Trusted Veterinarian

Answers to commonly asked questions regarding dog exercise and enrichment, provided by Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM

dog running trail

 

1. How often should I walk my dog?

dog leash in mouth, ready for walk

This depends on your dog. The breed of your dog, age, weather outside, and any underlying medical conditions affect the amount of exercise your dog should receive. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you to make sure your dog gets the proper amount.

 

2. How does a dog benefit from going on walks?

dog exercise walk

Dogs like people require mental and physical stimulation to live the fullest happiest life possible. Dogs who going on walks increase their physical health as well as their mental health. Exploring new areas and new smells stimulates the mind. Getting the heart pumping and blood flowing stimulates the body to function better and longer. You, the pet parent, also receive these added benefits as well. Also dogs who get mental and physical exercise tend to be less destructive and anxious in the home.

 

3. I have a yard, can I just let my dog go into he back yard rather then go on a walk?

dog exercise, walk

Even a yard that is fenced in is not 100% safe. Unwanted wild life can get into the yard causing harm to your pet. Your pet may also eat something without your knowledge. Though a yard is great, it is always a good idea to supervise your pet. Plus going on a walk together increases your bond with your pet.

 

4. Is it important for dogs to run off leash? Why or why not?

dog exercise, trail

This depends on your dog, its breed, age, and any underlying health conditions. There are certain breeds at certain ages that require more exercise than a human can keep up with on a leash. It is however always important to make sure that your dog is well trained to follow off leash commands and it is done in a safe environment following all local laws.

 

5. Is it important for dogs to play with other dogs?

dogs playing with toy

Dogs are pack animals and enjoy the company of other dogs. It is an important part of their socialization skills. Dogs who play together should be closely supervised, up to date on their vaccinations, and temperament compatible.

 

6. Does playing with other dogs eliminate unwanted behavior at home?

dog resting bed after exercise

Physical activity tires the body and the mind. It can prevent unwanted behavior that results from boredom. It is also an important way that dogs learn to socialize and understand social cues from other dogs.

 

7. My dog has not been in daycare or has been out of daycare for a few months. How do I ease the transition for him to go back to daycare?

Best Friends Pet Hotel Doggy Day Camp dogs
Doggy Day Camp friends at Best Friends Pet Hotel

This is where bringing your dog to a day care facility that has trained staff and you trust is very important. If your dog has never been to a daycare before the staff should do a temperament test on your dog to ensure he is put into a play circle that will work. It is also important that they gradually introduce your dog to one dog at a time. It can be overwhelming for a dog to be introduced to a pack of unknown dogs running at him. If your dog has just been out of daycare for a few months, the transition back should still be gradual but it will be much easier and quicker.

 

Doggy Day Camp at Best Friends Pet Hotel
To learn more about Doggy Day Camp at your local Best Friends Pet Hotel or to book a reservation, visit our Doggy Day Camp page. Or call your local center.

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