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How to Prevent a Pet Tick Infestation

Ticks are no joke! These parasitic insects will latch onto people and other animals and feed on their host’s blood. They often move between different types of animals in each phase of their 2-3 year lifespan. There are a few varieties of ticks, each of which tend to prefer different host animals. There are many varieties of ticks in North America, however only a handful are of serious concern to your pets. Although it’s less common than with dogs, cats are also at risk of contracting ticks and the ensuing potential diseases. For both cats and dogs, the ticks they’re most likely to encounter in BC and the West Coast of Canada are: 

  • Rocky mountain wood tick
  • Western blacklegged tick
  • Brown dog tick 

Other common ticks found in parts of Canada and North America are Lonestar ticks, Gulf coast ticks, etc. Tick species can vary widely depending on which part of the world you live in, so you should always do your research or ask your veterinarian about local species that are potential concerns for the health of your pet. Knowing more about these parasites can help you understand how to prevent a pet tick infestation from happening in the first place. 

Why you need to prevent pet tick infestations

Tick bites and infestations aren’t just an annoyance. Even one or two tick bites puts your pet at risk of contracting a tick-borne disease, some of which can be very serious or even life threatening. These diseases include: 

Lyme disease

This is the most infamous tick-borne disease and for good reason. Lyme disease originates in a tiny bacterial organism, which lives inside of the tick. When a tick carrying this bacteria bites your pet, there’s a high chance of it being passed along. Lyme disease is most likely to affect dogs and humans, and the disease can be transmitted between the two. 

Thankfully, it’s exceedingly rare for cats to contract lyme disease from a tick, but it’s still not impossible. Symptoms of lyme disease include lethargy, fever, long-lasting joint pain leading to lameness, loss of appetite, and fatigue. It can also lead to more serious issues, such as kidney or heart disease. Symptoms of lyme disease may also not present themselves for days or weeks after the initial tick-bite, making it more difficult to identify the problem. 

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a blood infection transmitted by a tick infected with a specific bacterial organism. The infected tick will bite another animal, passing the organism on and transmitting the disease. It’s most commonly seen in dogs and humans, and is very rarely seen in cats. 

This disease moves through three stages, each becoming more severe, so it can be difficult to identify. However, it’s vital to diagnose and treat ehrlichiosis as early as possible in order to protect your pet. The symptoms of the disease’s first phase, known as the acute phase, include weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, spontaneous hemorrhaging or bleeding, respiratory issues, and fever. The disease can progress all the way to much more serious problems, including major bleeding episodes, anemia, excessive swelling in the limbs, lameness, and sight problems that can include total blindness. 

Anaplasmosis

Like with other tick-borne diseases, anaplasmosis is primarily a concern for dogs, but it can also be contracted in humans and cats. This disease can come in two forms, each affecting different parts of your pet’s blood. It’s important to know that an animal can have both types of the disease at the same time, so don’t rule out one if you notice signs of the other. 

Granulocytic anaplasmosis is an infection of the white blood cells, which can lead to symptoms such as lameness, lethargy, and fever. In more serious cases, granulocytic anaplasmosis may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and coughing or other respiratory issues, but these symptoms are less common. This type of anaplasmosis can be very hard to identify, since many dogs who contract it only show vague symptoms, if any. However, if the disease is caught early enough, there’s normally a good prognosis for your pet. 

The other type of anaplasmosis is known as infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia, which affects the platelets in your dog’s blood. Less is known about this disease, but it has been found in ticks and is thought to be transmitted to dogs via bites. Like the other type of anaplasmosis, symptoms of this disease can include loss of appetite, fever, and lethargy. Unlike the other form of the disease, however, this version can also cause bruising on your dog’s gums and abdomen, as well as nosebleeds. Thankfully, the prognosis for infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia is also usually good if caught early enough. 

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever, also known as RMSF, is a serious disease caused by yet another bacteria that lives inside of some ticks. The bacteria is passed via a tick bite, and can lead to serious symptoms including fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and in some cases, heart issues, pneumonia, kidney failure, liver damage, or serious neurological problems such as seizures and a general lack of coordination. 

RMSF is primarily a concern for dogs and humans, but it is also sometimes seen in cats. If an animal successfully overcomes a RMSF infection, they’ll generally return to normal health and be immune to future infections. However, if the disease has progressed enough, it is more difficult to treat and may require your pet being hospitalized.

How to prevent tick-borne illnesses

Currently the only vaccine available for tick borne diseases is the Lyme Vaccine, however a proactive and preventive approach is needed to keep you and your pet safe. Furthermore, your dog can still bring ticks into your home, putting you, your family, and your other pets at risk. That’s why veterinarians recommend an ongoing treatment for overall pet tick prevention. 

For most of the above diseases, the tick must be attached for at least a few hours, and sometimes up to one or two days in order to transmit the bacteria. This means that there are a few tick prevention treatments that can protect both you and your pet. 

For dogs, many people choose a topical treatment that kills ticks and fleas on contact, meaning parasites don’t ever get the chance to bite your pet. This provides the best protection for your pet and minimizes the risk of them contracting a disease. You should never use flea or tick prevention medicine intended for dogs on your cat, since the chemicals in these treatments can sometimes be extremely harmful for felines. In general, always defer to your veterinarian’s advice when choosing a tick prevention treatment. 

In addition to keeping up with medications to prevent infestation, you should regularly check any pets that spend time outdoors for tick bites. Most treatments aren’t one hundred percent effective, so you should get in the habit of thoroughly and regularly checking your pet. Ticks are attracted to warm, moist areas of the body, so pay special attention to these areas: 

  • In and around the ears 
  • Around the tail 
  • Near the eyes 
  • Under your pet’s collar 
  • Under the front legs and between the back legs 
  • Between the toes 

Do everything you can to minimize your pets’ exposure to ticks in the first place. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you which species of ticks are of the most concern in your area and what kinds of places you should avoid when with your pet. 

If you’ve found a tick on your pet, you can remove it at home, or you can get your veterinarian to do it for you. Regardless of the option you choose, you should always take your pet into the vet for a full examination after finding a tick infestation or bite. Your veterinarian will perform urine and blood pathology tests, blood smear tests, and a full clinical exam to check for signs of any of the above tick-borne illnesses, which is vital in order to catch these diseases early and keep your pet safe.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Can All Dogs Swim? And Other Dog Swimming Tips Worth Knowing

Does your dog love the water? Many dogs will do anything they can to go for a swim, while many others will do everything in their power to stay dry. There’s no consensus among dogs about whether they like the water. Here’s a big question, however: can all dogs swim?

Understanding different breeds and their abilities to swim

There are a handful of dog breeds that have been selectively bred to be experts in the water. For instance, retrievers have been trained for generations to go into the water to grab birds for hunters, while dogs such as Irish Water Spaniels have developed waterproof coats so they can work in the fields. 

These breeds are generally believed to know how to swim the second they lay eyes on a body of water, and will usually be happy to do so since their physical structure is perfect for swimming. Other breeds often prefer not to swim, or simply don’t see the point. 

Some of the dogs that most love the water are:

  • Labrador retrievers
  • Toller retrievers
  • Portugese water dogs
  • Irish water spaniels
  • Poodles
  • Newfoundlands
  • Irish setters

Regardless of whether your dog likes to swim or not, you should know that with a little preparation and training, all dogs are capable of swimming. This is especially good to know in the summertime, when dogs are at a higher risk of overheating and dehydration. If you can safely get your dog accustomed to being in the water, they’ll have a good option to keep cool in the warmer months. Swimming is also great exercise for dogs, and is a fun time for everyone involved. 

So for those of us with dogs who aren’t natural swimmers, how can we safely introduce them to swimming and get them more comfortable in the water?

How to teach your dog to swim

It can be a little difficult getting your dog into the water especially if they’re not accustomed to swimming, but once you do, you’ll both be experiencing the benefits in no time. So where to begin?

There are a number of avenues you can take when teaching your dog to swim, and choosing which one to use depends mainly on your dog’s breed. While some dogs, like the ones mentioned before, are natural-born swimmers, others are just not able to excel in the water due to their biology. Bulldogs and Dachshunds, for instance, often don’t have the physical build to keep themselves afloat, and will likely need extra help with a floatation device. 

Even if your dog is meant to be a capable swimmer, each pup is a little different, and yours may not be as keen on swimming as they’re ‘supposed’ to be. Whatever the case, it’s important that you understand your dog’s lineage and capabilities, set your expectations accordingly, and don’t be disappointed if your dog still prefers dry land over water.

Invest in a life jacket for your dog

When introducing a dog to the water for the first time, it’s vital that the dog finds swimming fun and not scary. You want to do everything you can to get your dog feeling confident in the water, and one great way to do that is to ensure they can’t sink. Life jackets for dogs come in all shapes and sizes for a variety of breeds and weights. Assuming their life jacket fits well, your dog will be able to focus on the mechanics of swimming, rather than struggling to stay afloat. 

Even if your dog is a capable swimmer, a life jacket is never a bad idea. Even the strongest swimmers can get tired, and if you’ve ever thrown a ball for certain breeds, you know that many dogs will over-exert themselves to the point of danger if they’re allowed to. A life jacket allows them to not work as hard while still staying afloat, which will keep them safe as well as feeling confident.

When choosing a life jacket, ensure it’s the right size, and that it can be adjusted to fit your dog perfectly. Bright or reflective material is also a plus, since they’ll help you spot your dog in the water more easily. You should also look for a life jacket with a sturdy handle on the back. This will allow you to pull your dog out of the water if they’re struggling, guide them as they learn to swim, or even simply keep hold of them on the beach. 

Make a plan for swimming lessons

Once you have all the equipment, it’s time to figure out your method for teaching your dog to swim. Every dog is different, so you’ll know better than anyone what you need to do to keep them feeling comfortable. With that said, a good idea for all dogs is to ensure that they’re the ones to enter the water. This can be achieved by throwing a floating toy into the water, or getting in yourself and encouraging them to come out to you. When a dog enters the water on their own terms, they’ll be less likely to become afraid. Start in the shallows, and don’t try to make your dog move deeper until they seem comfortable. 

Every time your dog comes out of the water while they’re learning, you should reward them with a treat, a toy, or affection. This will help them form a positive association with swimming, and encourage them to get in the water next time.

Give your dog a demonstration

If you know anyone with a dog who’s already a confident swimmer, consider arranging a time for your dog to watch them swim. With your dog in a life jacket, they’ll be able to follow the other dog around, observing their technique and having a great time while doing it. After a few playdates in the water, your dog may feel more confident about swimming on their own.

Keep water safety in mind

Beyond the risk of drowning, there are a handful of other potential hazards for your dog in the water. 

  • Cold water. Too much exposure could lead to hypothermia, which is dangerous. 
  • Swallowing too much water. This is possible while your dog swims and grabs toys. If your dog is regularly vomiting after swimming, they’re swallowing too much. To counteract this, try to keep swimming sessions to about ten minutes, and choose a water-toy that they can easily pick up without ingesting too much water in the process, such as a flat, floating disc.

Don’t push your dog too far

Despite our best efforts, some dogs never really take to swimming. Even with all the floatation devices, training, and safety measures, some dogs simply don’t like the water. If you’ve been trying to get them interested in swimming for some time and aren’t making any progress, it may be that your dog just doesn’t like to swim. If that’s the case, don’t feel the need to continuously push them. There are still ways you can help your dog enjoy the water and keep them cool in summer.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your dog to enjoy the water in the warmer months. With some time, care, and preparation, most dogs will gradually come to love swimming. If you have more questions about how to safely teach your dog to swim, or anything else pet-related, feel free to contact us today.

The Benefits of Pet Insurance You Need to Know About

As a pet owner, you have the responsibility of the health, happiness, and overall well-being of your animal. Much like any other life partner, your duties to a pet are in sickness and in health, good times and tough times.

One important part of this responsibility is being prepared in case something happens to your pet. Perhaps your dog swallows something they weren’t supposed to, or your cat falls ill. These problems often require professional veterinary care, and depending on the necessary procedures, the costs can quickly add up. 

Even with a dedicated savings put aside, certain health issues with your pet might put you in a difficult financial situation—that’s where having pet insurance comes in.

Pet insurance is best recommended to get while the pet is young. This is to avoid any medical exclusions. While it is best to get while young, older pets can still very much benefit from pet insurance.

What is Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance is a health policy that an owner puts in place for their pet. In exchange for a monthly premium, your insurance company will provide reimbursement for a multitude of procedures and treatments at the veterinarian. While we always hope to never need to use pet insurance, it remains one of the best ways to protect the finances of an owner and the safety of the pet. 

Not every pet owner is completely prepared to foot the bill for necessary treatments. Pet insurance allows people to take the stress of finances off the mind of pet owners, allowing them to simply make the best decisions for the health of their pet.

Perhaps you’re looking into getting a pet, or you’ve recently adopted a new one, and you’re wondering if pet insurance is a worthwhile investment. If you ask us, it’s one of the most important ways you can protect your pet and yourself. With that said, here are the six biggest benefits of pet insurance and setting up a policy.

1. Save money at your veterinarian’s office

Saving money is one of the biggest reasons people choose to set up pet insurance. Depending on your policy of choice, your plan could be paying for itself in just one or two urgent visits. Although you’ll have to pay the cost of your vet visit up front, you’ll be able to get reimbursed for your portion. At the most basic level, pet insurance simply makes good financial sense.

2. Gain access to the best possible pet care

Rather than being forced to choose between the most advanced, effective treatments and your pocketbook, pet insurance gives you access to options when it comes to pet healthcare. In recent years, technology in the veterinary field has been advancing rapidly, and there are now many more options for the owners of sick or injured pets than ever before. Chemotherapy for instance is an effective way to treat cancer in pets, but it can often be very expensive for people without insurance. Having a policy in place beforehand allows you to think about what the best option for your pet would be, rather than concerning yourself about what you’ll be able to afford.

3. Pay a small, regular fee instead of saving for emergencies

It can be difficult to keep a sizable emergency fund aside in case of a health issue with your pet. Rather than saving every spare dollar in case of the worst, you can pay a small monthly premium to your insurance company in exchange for pet healthcare coverage, which opens up more financial options for you. 

4. Choose a flexible policy for your pet

Because people’s pets are so varied and unique, pet insurance offers many flexible policies for all kinds of animals, breeds, and ages. Just because your pet is older doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get pet insurance for them, and doing so will often pay off down the road. Furthermore, with lots of competition in the pet insurance market, you’ll be able to get a variety of quotes and find something affordable.

5. Gain peace of mind

The number one reason people choose to set up a pet insurance plan is for peace of mind. We know how much you love your pet and want to provide them with the best care possible. As a pet owner, you are responsible for ensuring that they’re well looked after in even the worst case scenario. Pet insurance allows you to rest easy knowing that providing your pet with the care they need won’t be an issue, regardless of the necessary treatments and procedures.

As a pet owner, you have countless duties when it comes to looking after your four-legged family member. Whether it’s taking them for exercise, feeding them right, or cleaning up after them, we perform these responsibilities as an act of love for our pets—insurance is no different. By setting up a good pet insurance policy from the outset, you can be confident in knowing that your pet will have access to the best possible care no matter what, allowing the two of you to have a long, healthy, and happy life together.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Preventive Medicine for Pets: Why We Do What We Do

At Hastings Veterinary Hospital, we are all about providing pet owners with preventive medicine. So here’s what you need to know.

What is Preventive Medicine for Pets Exactly?

There are several different forms of preventive medicine that goes into our regular veterinary care services. Examples include vaccinations, blood testing, and flea and parasite control.

Basically you’re not bringing your pet in to see the veterinarian the minute they’re sick; you’re bringing them in to the vet office before such a stressful event can take place and cause you and your pet greater anxiety.

Why Do You Practice Preventive Veterinary Medicine?

Simple: we do what we do because we care about your pets. We all have pets at Hastings Veterinary Hospital, and we treat them like family—with love and respect. So, we always treat our pet patients and their families like they’re a part of our own family too.

We don’t want our pets to get sick, or be scared, or feel anxious—we know you don’t want that either. To avoid such stress in our lives, we make sure to follow up on scheduled appointment times and pay extra attention to the details of each pet’s case during an examination. In the event a specialist is needed, we’ll make the referral for you so your pet gets the best possible care they need.

Other benefits of preventive medicine for pets include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:

  • It’s less expensive. While there are surgical procedures that do fall under the category of preventive medicine, such as spaying and neutering, these procedures are far less costly than it would be if you only take care of your pet when they are sick and need more urgent care.
  • It’s less stressful. Going back to our previous point about reducing anxiety, by practicing preventive medicine through our routine check-ups and exams, we will be able to detect underlying conditions or address future concerns before they become an even bigger problem. For example, a bump on your pet’s skin could be a flea bite, or it can mean something else; either way, by bringing your pet in for an exam, you’re also bringing your family veterinarian’s attention to their case now as opposed to later when it may be too late to prevent secondary conditions from developing. Finding out that there is a problem now and addressing it sooner than later reduces future anxieties on you and your pet going forward!
  • It’s more considerate. From your pet’s perspective, they can only do so much to communicate to you whether they are happy and healthy or sick and in need of help. It’s tougher in some cases, especially for cats, since their natural reaction to pain is to hide it from potential predators. By practicing preventive solutions in your daily pet care routine, you are in turn contributing to the reduction of their fear and anxiety surrounding veterinary services. The less stressed out you feel about going to see the vet, the less stressed out your pet will be too.
  • It’s more beneficial to you and your pet’s well-being. Stress is the number one factor in causing harm to the body in both humans and animals. Once your pet is receiving preventive medicine and care, you will see a difference in their well-being tenfold. The alternative would be having to treat conditions left undiagnosed and untreated for too long…and that’s definitely not something we recommend you doing.

How Does It Work?

All you have to do to make preventive medicine for pets work is bring your pet in for their annual checkups and routine vaccinations and deworming. It’s that easy!

Ask any and all questions you have for your vet during checkups to ensure that your pet is getting the help they need. The more educated you become on how to best care for your pet, the greater the preventive solutions will be and the happier your pet will be for it. If you’d like to continue to learn more about pet care, our blog is a good start.

If you still have any questions regarding preventive medicine as a veterinary service, we are here for you. Contact us to learn more about our practice or if you’d like to book an appointment.

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How to Keep Your Cat Happy and Safe During Christmas

Christmas is the busiest time of the year for everyone. There’s so much to do, especially if you are planning to have family and loved ones visit this year. The tree needs to be decorated, there’s planning and shopping for gifts to do, there’s food and baking to prepare for…the list goes on.

What about your pets though, particularly cats? A reality all cat owners must face is a huge number of hazards to watch out for during this busy time of the year. Luckily, we have some cat care-based solutions. These tips will help you both enjoy the holiday season without throwing an emergency trip to your veterinarian into the mix!

Problem #1: Christmas Trees

Who doesn’t love Christmas trees? They’re a classic symbol of the Christmas season. Unfortunately, your cat is also a fan of them. It’s hard to keep a cat from playing with Christmas trees and their decorations. Glass balls, garlands, beads, fake snow, ribbons, strings of Christmas lights, candy canes…you name it, it’s all hazardous for kitty. Your kitty may also get the bright idea to climb up and into the tree!

The type of tree you decide to decorate can also pose problems. If you chose to put a real tree in your home for Christmas, your kitty may want to drink the water from the tree stand which contains tree oils that are toxic to cats. Accidents such as bowel obstructions and poisoning can happen when Christmas trees and cats are mixed together, leading to an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital.

Solutions: Aside from keeping a close eye on your kitty during the day, it’s best to put up your tree in a confined room where the door can be shut. Keep your kitty distracted while the tree is being decorated by providing them with toys and even a few treats away from the excitement. You may even need to put kitty in a separate room with the door shut when it’s time to decorate. You will need to confine your kitty away from the tree whenever you are not at home or sleeping as well.

If your cat’s encounter with a Christmas tree is unavoidable, there are ways to cat-proof your tree. Try using a citrus repellant to spray on or near the tree; it can add a pleasant smell for you and keep your cat away (cats hate citrus smells!). You may need to re-apply the spray whenever necessary. If you insist on using a real tree for Christmas, find a covered tree stand to keep any kitten from drinking the water out of it or conceal your current one.

One creative solution we can offer is to vary your form of Christmas tree this year. For example, if you own a lot of books, why not make a book tree this year? There are lots of great ideas for how to make a book tree online if you don’t know already. You can set it up wherever your kitty can’t reach, leaving you ample room for decoration!

Speaking of such… let’s talk about ornaments for a minute.

Problem #2: Decorations

We’re not only talking about the ones you find on a Christmas tree, but also around the rest of the house. Tinsel is still sold in stores and used as a decoration, but it’s the number one hazard for cats! Basically, anything that glitters, glows, dangles, and spins will all convince kitty to play. Even the ribbons on top of your Christmas presents under the tree can be a choking hazard.

Solution: Plastic decorations are a good alternative to the fragile glass ones offered in stores. Any decorations that are matte, less shiny, and less than likely to dangle will also be less appealing to your cat. Be sure to fasten your decorations as securely as possible and to hang them out of kitty’s reach. When it comes to gift wrapping, it’s best to avoid adding ribbons and bows entirely. Try using a marker to write on your wrapped gifts instead of adding a tempting bow.

Problem #3: Christmas Plants

Poinsettias are another classic Christmas symbol, but did you know they’re actually highly toxic to cats? Holly, mistletoe, pine needles, amaryllis, and Christmas cactus leaves are also bad for kittens and could result in poisoning if ingested. If you see any signs of poisoning in your cat such as excessive drooling, vomiting, lethargy, breathing problems, diarrhea, or tremors, take them to your veterinarian right away!

Solution: Just like with decorations, there are plastic variations of Christmas plants that won’t bring harm to your cat, and you won’t have to give up decorating your home. If your kitty can’t reach certain areas in the home and you simply must have Christmas plants, keep them out of kitty’s reach just as you would with your regular decorations.

Problem #4: People Food

Both dogs and cats are guilty of trying to eat the same food humans do, especially roast turkey with gravy or ham. The smells are so enticing they can’t help but nibble. Unfortunately, human food is not okay for pets, and Christmas is another one of those holidays where pets may try to nibble on chocolate, much like on Halloween and Easter.

Solution: Offer your kitty some turkey or chicken-flavoured wet food that’s vet-approved instead of allowing them to eat human food (the tins wet food comes in usually contain gravy, so bonus!). Feed your kitty away from where you’re having Christmas dinner. If you have kids or are expecting children visitors, it’s a good idea to take them aside and show them exactly what they can and cannot give kittens as far as treats and food go.

We understand that these are a lot of precautions to worry about during Christmas, but don’t let this get you down! You can still have a wonderful holiday season by following our cat care advice. This is the time of the year where being with the ones you love matters the most. If you include your cat in the mix, we’re sure you won’t miss the other stuff at all!

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How to Protect Pets from Getting Lost

Every pet owner dreads the thought of their beloved fur baby getting lost or going missing, but sadly it does happen. Some cats and dogs love to dash outside if the front door is opened and escape. Others may leave beyond the fenced backyard out of curiosity’s sake. Outdoor pets are at greater risk of this scenario, but indoor pets can get lost too if you’re not careful. Whatever may happen, there’s nothing more upsetting than not knowing where your pet is and they’re lost.

We know all about having that feeling of anxiety and stress that comes with lost pets. The best way to protect your pet from that unfortunate sort of event is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are some tips on how to best protect our pets from getting lost or going missing.

1. Always Hold on to Your Record of Ownership

By holding on to the papers that certify you as a pet owner, you can ensure that if anything should happen to your pet that you have the documentation on hand when you need it. This paperwork should include an up-to-date phone number and address where you can be reached if your pet is found. 

2. Make Sure Collars are Always Worn

While some cats and dogs don’t like them, nevertheless a collar with an ID tag should be kept on your pet at all times. Wearing a collar and ID is a requirement in some housing areas, such as apartment buildings and townhouses.

You must keep the name tag’s contact information up to date too, as you would with your record of ownership. Most pet stores offer name tags and collars for purchase if you need a new one.

3. Invest in a Microchip or Tattoo

Collars are always helpful when it comes to identifying pets, but they’re not failproof solutions. A collar can fall off a pet if they get caught on something when a pet is running, or they can fall off, or you may have been trying to put it on your pet and they ran away instead. Not all pets like to wear a collar either (even though they have to!).

Ear tattoos are one way to identify a pet. They’re usually provided to kittens and puppies when they get spayed or neutered. The ear tattoo will usually consist of numbers and letters registered at your local veterinary clinic, which you can report if in the event you’re the one who found a lost pet and they have this number.

Microchips are more readily available than ever before. This form of ID is implanted into your pet’s skin. It’s less visible but it’s still an effective form of identification. If a lost pet is found without a collar, the veterinary clinic or animal shelter can scan the microchip in order to access your contact information. 

These sorts of pet identification are worth investing in if you’re ever concerned about your pet getting lost. They can speed up the process of reuniting owners with their lost pets tremendously!

4. Be Safe While Outside

No animal can resist the call of the wild outdoors, but it is our responsibility as pet owners to protect them from harm. Always keep your dog on a leash when out for a walk or when outside. Be aware of outdoor dangers such as traffic, unfamiliar animals, and anyone who doesn’t concern themselves with your pet’s best interests.

By practicing safe outdoor activities, you will not only bond with your pet but also ensure their safety and health. For more tips on staying safe, you can read our past article; if you’d like to prevent emergencies from happening at all, we have some tips about that too which you can read here.

5. Considering Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Several studies have shown that a disinterest in roaming is one of the main aftereffects of neutering or spaying pets. When a dog or cat is in heat, they’re more likely to create all sorts of problems and discomfort to their owners. This can include hyperactivity, noise, and acting inappropriately. Roaming is when a female dog in heat will leave their home in search of a temporary mate. The end result is usually a litter of puppies to worry about.

Spaying or neutering pets can not only minimize overpopulation, but also prevent your pet from getting lost or wandering away when in heat. If this is a concern for you especially, we offer this surgery at our animal hospital. For more information on spaying and neutering benefits, you may refer to our previous blog post on the subject.

We hope this article was informative and helpful to you! If you have any questions relating to lost or missing pets, please contact us.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Home Care Tips for Pets

Even though lockdown restrictions are being lifted in Canada, pet owners and their families are still required to practice safe protocols such as social distancing and self-isolation. If you own a pet and must remain in quarantine or are practicing self-isolation, you mustn’t forget to take care of your pets as well as your family and yourself! Here are some good home care tips for pets you can apply to your routine.

1. Have your vet’s contact info on hand

Post the phone number of your pet’s veterinarian on your fridge or have them on speed dial on your phone if need be. Having that kind of information on hand now is better than to struggle to look it up while there’s an emergency taking place at home.

Even if you’re self-isolating, there are ways to bring your pet to your veterinarian’s office in case an appointment is needed. Several veterinary hospitals (including ours) have set up safety protocols to avoid spreading COVID-19, and from the look of things, it’s tough to say when these protocols will be lifted even while lockdown is being released. You can view our protocols here to see what kind of precautions vets are taking right now to ensure you and your pet are kept safe.

2. Get creative with indoor games

Just because you must self-isolate does not mean your dog or cat or both still don’t need to exercise. Keeping your pets active will prevent future problems such as obesity from happening sooner than later, plus it keeps you active and going too.

Try getting creative with indoor games for you and your pets with some or all of these ideas:

  • Walk around the house together with your dog, as if you’re out on a walk. Do this as often as needed. If you have a backyard where you won’t be exposed to lots of people and you take precautions such as wearing a mask or cover-up if you’re sick, you can play with your dog outside.
  • Move around some furniture and create ramps out of books, chairs, or bulky household items, then guide your pet around and on them with a favourite toy or treats (not too many). They’ll be quite curious about this new environment and may be as eager to play as you are!
  • Try hide-and-seek with pet treats; hide them in places where your pet will have to grab, jump in and out of, or walk to get them. Empty boxes or laundry baskets are a good start for some. Be sure not to go overboard with feeding them treats though!
  • Tug-of-war is a classic, even post-COVID-19. Use any toy that is good to tug on and won’t break apart easily. Be sure to play within a wide open space and move furniture out of the way if you have to. Above all, play safe!
  • Try three cup. The objective of this game is to test your dog’s sense of smell. Get three cups and line them in a row in front of your pet. Put a treat under one of them while your dog is watching, and then give them the ok to show you which cup is the right one. When they choose right, praise them and let them have the treat. Once your pet gets the hang of it, feel free to make it more challenging by mixing the cups around after placing a treat under the correct one.

Need some more ideas? Check out our previous blog post about indoor activities for dogs. Feel free to adapt them to cats if you’re a cat owner.

3. Keep walking your pooch

Dogs still need to be walked regardless of whether or not they must stay in quarantine. Though your daily routine may have been changed by everything that is happening right now, having a schedule in place for your dog can help give your life some structure. After all, your pet needs to be cared for no matter what happens next.

Do keep walking your pooch outside, but stay safe and follow the protocols outlined in your neighbourhood, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask if you’re sick. Try to find public spaces where there aren’t a lot of people in the same area.

4. Nail trimming and grooming

Pet nails and fur never stop growing! Again, having a schedule for this sort of pet care at home can help you get back a sense of balance to your daily routine, even if it’s been radically changed.

  • Groom your pets regularly per your veterinarian’s instructions. Make sure you integrate it into part of your daily routine so you remember too. Brush your pets more often if they’re long-haired and less frequently if they’re short-haired.
  • Likewise, it’s a good idea to mark down dates when it’s best to have their nails trimmed.
  • Keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary; some symptoms of hair loss and over-scratching the ears can be red flags for problems such as ear mites or stress.

Be sure to check out some of our videos on some of our care tips for pets at home!

5. At-home dental care and exams

Although veterinary dental care is the best kind of dental care for pets, owners can still practice good hygiene while they’re in quarantine. Check on their mouths periodically by gently lifting their upper lip to get a look at their teeth, from front to back. You can ask for your vet to provide you with pet-friendly toothpaste and a toothbrush if needed at your next appointment, or pick some up from your local pet store. Follow the instructions from your vet if you need to brush their teeth yourself.

6. Diagnosed with COVID-19? Here’s what to do

Sadly some pet owners in BC have been diagnosed with COVID-19. If you’re experiencing the symptoms such as a fever or shortness of breath, here’s what you absolutely must do:

  • Leave all pets out of your bedroom, but inside of the house to prevent exposure to others.
  • Quarantine yourself in your home for 14 days upon arriving home from traveling or upon initial detection of symptoms—your pets must do the same too.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after touching pet food and water, or your pet’s toys.
  • Wear a mask at all times to prevent spreading the disease to your pets and loved ones.
  • Do take your dog outside to the bathroom, but you absolutely should wear a mask before going outside, and wash your hands before and after your dog has done its business.

We’re here for all of your at-home pet care needs! Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

So You’re a New Pet Owner and Found a Vet…What’s Next?

If you’ve become a new pet owner, it’s now time to prepare for your very first vet visit. Your little pet will probably be nervous and you may be nervous too!

Whether you have a new puppy, a kitten, a little rabbit, or a new older pet, the worries and concerns—your pet’s and your own—are the same. How can you relieve your pet’s anxiety at being taken to these new surroundings, which will include strange animals who are also afraid, unfamiliar sounds and smells, and someone who is going to poke and prod them? What questions will you be asked? Are you doing the right things for your pet? What will the veterinarian actually do during the examination?

Don’t worry—with a little preparation, you can ease your mind and concerns for your pet. Reminding yourself that this first checkup is the key to ensuring your pet’s future health and happiness is a good start. Your veterinarian will use this visit to record all the signs of your pet’s health and wellness. These signs become the baseline against which future problems can be compared, and then quickly caught and treated if any problems are detected. The first visit allows you not only to hear what is expected in terms of vaccinations and the future care of your pet, but also to voice your own concerns and get professional advice on any issues that cause you unease as a new pet parent.

How to Prepare Yourself for Your Pet’s First Visit to the Vet

Phone the veterinarian’s office, make an appointment, and ask if you need to bring a stool sample or anything else to help your vet in the assessment of your pet’s health. Arrive early enough to fill out the registration form needed for new clients and pets, and bring any paperwork that pertains to your pet. 

  1. Bring Necessary Information
  • Be ready with basic information about yourself: your name, address, phone numbers, and place of employment. This information ensures that your vet’s office can get in touch with you regarding test results and reminders about future appointments.
  • Be ready with basic information about your pet: name, sex, how and when you acquired your pet—store, shelter, farm, gift—any medication that accompanied your pet, any medical conditions that are already present, and vaccination status.
  • You will be asked about your pet’s lifestyle: indoor or outdoor housing; the usual diet and how often your pet is fed; forms of exercise.
  1. Bring a List of Questions

After the examination, ask your vet these questions if any of these points haven’t already been covered:

  • How do I take care of my pet’s teeth? What do I do if he/she won’t let me brush their teeth?
  • How and when should I cut my pet’s nails?
  • What is the best diet and what are the food brands you recommend?
  • When is the best time to have an ID microchip inserted and how much does it cost?
  • Are there particular risks for my pet’s breed that I should be prepared to notice if a problem occurs?
  • What vaccinations does my pet need? Are there optional vaccines?
  • What is the recommended flea and parasite treatment?
  • When is the best age for spaying/neutering my pet?

The answers to a lot of these questions can be found on our veterinary blog, but you can ask your veterinarian these questions in person too!

If you have only a small budget for pet care, be sure and mention this to your vet also so that costs can be taken into consideration when your vet recommends essential care. 

  1. Take Notes 
  • Have a pen and notebook to record information about what to do in an after-hours emergency.
  • Find out if your vet responds to e-mails or phone calls, or both, and record the contact numbers.

Prepare Your Pet for His/Her First Visit to the Vet

You can’t explain what is happening or why the visit is necessary, but your pet will take cues from your own reaction to the trip and the visit. Talk to your new pet in an encouraging, soothing tone of voice and bring along items of comfort such as treats or toys. Remember that your veterinarian will be used to meeting nervous pets and their nervous new owners.

  1. Use a Carrier or a Leash 

You will need a carrier for your kitty or bunny, and a leash for your pooch or a carrier if your dog is tiny. Have the carrier ready when you bring your new pet home, and keep it with the door open in the room where your pet will spend the most time. Always have toys or treats inside it to avoid a negative association with the kennel and encourage your pet to go into it now and then. Carry your pet around in the carrier occasionally so that the actual trip to the vet won’t be frightening to them.

  1. Bring a Comfy Blanket or Towel

On your trip to the vet, put a blanket or towel in the bottom of the carrier, and carry an extra one in case it becomes soiled. Drape another towel over the top of the carrier so your pet feels protected.

  1. Carry Small Treats

Don’t feed your pet a big meal before the visit, but you can carry a number of small, favourite treats to use as rewards during the outing.

What to Expect from a Thorough Physical Examination

Your veterinarian will give your pet a “nose to toes” examination. Your veterinarian will listen to your pet’s heart to make sure it sounds normal. Your pet’s body condition will be evaluated and specific nutritional recommendations will be made if your pet is over or underweight.

Depending on the reason your pet is coming in and the symptoms they are showing, the veterinarian may do a variety of different things. A cytology may be run if they have symptoms of an infection in the ears or on the skin. There are several different eye tests that could be performed if your pet is showing discomfort, swelling, or discharge. An oral examination may also be done if the vet notices bad breath, excessive drooling, or discomfort.

Examinations are tailored to manage your pet’s stress and anxiety of being in a veterinary office setting.

Your vet will discuss vaccinations and tell you which ones are needed and which are optional, and recommend preventative measures that can be taken to protect your pet from parasite and flea infestations. Don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian anything about pet care, diet, behaviour, and training.

After this experience, your pet will probably be tired and sleepy, and you might be, too! Remember that your veterinarian is an ally in helping your new pet lead a long and healthy life with you. It’s all worth it!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.

Why Is My Cat Drooling & What Can I Do About It?

Cats don’t drool very much and when owners discover their cat drooling at all, they often worry about it. Sometimes, there is good reason to worry. It is important to note if your cat drools only now and then or if it is ongoing or excessive, in which case, it indicates a problem needing treatment.

In general, the reason for cat drooling falls into one of three categories:

  • Emotional stimulation
  • Mouth or jaw irritation, or a foreign body in the mouth or throat
  • Disease, poison, or respiratory condition

If your cat drools only once in a while, don’t worry, they’re probably fine! However, if your cat drools a lot, it means there is a problem and you need to take your cat to a veterinarian. Watch for other symptoms that accompany the drooling and report these to your veterinarian. Providing as much additional information as possible can help speed up the diagnostic process and determine the appropriate treatment needed. Remember that preventive solutions and, if needed, early treatment equals a more successful outcome.

Emotional Stimulation Can Cause Drooling

  1. Happy and Relaxed – Cat drooling often occurs when pets are happy or when they are asleep. Drooling in these cases means you have a happy cat. When being pet and cuddled, some cats show that they are relaxed and are enjoying your attention by drooling blissfully. When sleeping soundly and relaxed, they sometimes drool slightly just as humans do. Drooling will stop when the relaxation or joyful period ends.
  2. Fearful and Nervous – Some drooling occurs when cats are afraid and nervous, such as when travelling or reaching a new destination, or when a new pet is introduced into the household. After a period of drooling, some cats will vomit, especially if travelling and the motion causes nausea. Drooling will stop soon after the travelling is over or after kitty adjusts to the new surroundings, or the new situation.

Don’t worry if drooling occurs now and then under these conditions and only a small amount of saliva is produced.

A Cat Drooling Because of Irritation or Trauma Needs Attention

  1. Dental Problems or Gum Disease – Both of these conditions can cause drooling and require veterinary care and attention. If a cat has a broken tooth, cavities (known as resorptive lesions), a lot of tartar on their teeth, or is suffering from irritated gums or gum disease, your cat will drool in an attempt to remove whatever is hurting from his or her mouth. Other symptoms you may see of dental problems in cats are traces of blood in the saliva or their mouth may have an unpleasant odour, or your cat may resist or absolutely refuse to chew on their favourite hard food and treats.
  2. Jaw Trauma – If your cat has been injured by an encounter with another animal or a fall or by any accident that has caused a problem with the jaw, your cat will start drooling because it is too difficult or painful to close his or her mouth. Your cat may refuse to let you touch their jaw and face.
  3. A Foreign Body Swallowed – Occasionally a cat may accidently swallow something that gets caught in the mouth, tongue, or back of the throat such as a fish bone or sharp grass blade. Anything that causes your cat pain in the mouth or throat will cause him or her to drool in an attempt to soothe the pain or remove the foreign body.

All these problems will cause excessive and ongoing drooling, so your cat must be taken to a veterinarian to determine exactly what happened and what can be done to help.

Seek Urgent Care for Cats Drooling from Disease, Poison, or Respiratory Problems

  1. Various Diseases Cause Ongoing Cat Drooling
  • Oral Cancer – Owners should keep watch for clinical signs of cancer in cats, especially in the mouth. These signs can include drooling, bad breath, refusing to eat, dropping food from the mouth, and weight loss. Early treatment means a prolonged life.
  • Kidney Failure – This is a serious illness to which cats are prone to. Clinical signs of kidney problems are drooling, bad breath, weight loss, increased thirst, and increased urination as shown by larger than usual clumps in the litter box. Mention all these signs to your veterinarian so that tests for, and treatment of, kidney problems can begin immediately.
  1. Poison Needs Immediate Attention
  • Corrosive poisons – These are as dangerous to cats as they are to dogs. Laundry detergent and various cleaners can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, but much bigger problems in cats include burns in the mouth, tongue, esophagus, and stomach, indicated by excessive drooling. If this happens, carefully flush out the mouth of your pet with water and offer a tasty liquid like canned tuna water or milk to soothe your pet and dilute the substance. Contact an Animal Poison Control Centre and your veterinarian for advice and help.
  • Plant poisons – As with corrosive household products, some plants can cause intense burning of a cat’s mouth although they are not nearly as dangerous to a cat’s life. (An exception is the deadly Easter lily—don’t allow one in the house!) For most other plants, flush your pet’s mouth out with water and then offer some to drink. Consult a veterinarian if your cat continues to drool excessively and also vomits and refuses to eat.
  1. Respiratory Conditions
  • Some cats can contract a viral respiratory condition that leads to mouth ulcerations. The sign is the development of excessive saliva, and the pet parent can check inside their cat’s mouth and see the ulcers. The veterinarian will treat the respiratory infection as well as the cat’s sore mouth.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Drooling Too Much

Taking your cat to your veterinarian for an annual checkup can certainly reduce some of the problems that cause ongoing or excessive drooling. Keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date reduces the chances of illnesses, and having your veterinarian monitor your cat’s teeth and gums will ensure they remain healthy, which also reduces drooling problems.

An indoor cat runs less risk of encountering dangerous animals and situations that can cause poisoning, injury, or respiratory infections compared to outdoor cats.

Introduce your cat to a carrier by placing it in a room nearby with treats and toys inside. When your cat learns to go in and out, you can close the door a few times very briefly. When your cat is used to this action, you can take him or her outside in the carrier and place your cat in the car with a special treat for a little while. Eventually, you can drive around the block and then go for longer trips until your cat is used to the carrier, the car, and the traveling motion. Few cats ever enjoy traveling, but you can lessen your cat’s fear and the drooling that accompanies it.

Cats don’t drool very much or very often; therefore, if your cat starts to drool excessively, pay attention. Note all the other symptoms that are present at the same time and take your cat to a veterinarian and report them. Something is wrong and your cat is depending on you to take care of their problem.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page

House Training & Crate Training Tips for Dogs

Bringing home a new puppy or an older dog means opening up a whole new world of love, excitement, and experiences! We hope these house and crate training tips for dogs will help make life easier for everyone in your home, including your new pet.

House Training Your Dog Requires Consistency and Encouragement

Puppies and older dogs are happiest when they know exactly what their owners require of them, which means it’s a good idea to plan out a schedule. By nature dogs tend to try very hard to please you, so they may soon enough catch on to the times you expect them to eat, play, sleep, and go outside to relieve themselves or go out for a walk. If you are careful to stick to the scheduled times, all while taking your dog’s age and size into consideration and using patience and rewards, you can teach your brand new member of the family what is expected of him or her in a few weeks or months.

When your dog is fully house trained, life will be happier and easier for everyone. In some cases though, the training process will usually take four to six months and occasionally up to a year before full training status can be accomplished.

When to Start House Training

For puppies you can start house training when they are between 12 and 16 weeks old. A general rule of thumb is that puppies can control their bladders for one hour for every month of age, which means three-month-old puppies should be able to hold in their urine for three hours. Smaller breeds have smaller bladders and can’t control them as long as bigger breeds can, however, so keep this in mind as well.

If you’ve adopted an adult dog or a senior, there’s a chance they may have learned bad habits from an earlier living situation before coming to your home. If this is the case, you may have to spend some time helping your new pet unlearn their bad habits by starting basic training all over again, just as if they were young puppies. Be prepared.

Space

Confine your puppy to a particular space and routine while house training.

  • A puppy (or an older pooch) should be kept in a large crate, or in a particular room where there is no carpet, or on a leash near you where you can keep an eye on your new family member. You can spread paper in one area (use several layers) of a room, but make sure your dog has space left to play, sleep, and eat in the room.
  • When taken outside, your dog should be on a leash and taken to the same spot for elimination each time.
  • As your dog learns that outside is where elimination is supposed to occur, you can give your best friend a little more freedom to move around in the house.

Times of the Day

Always take a puppy outside first thing in the morning and again 30 minutes later, and continue with 30-minute intervals all day.

  • When your new puppy grows up a little, you can extend their schedule to two-hour intervals.
  • Also, remember to take your pet outside after meals, after naps, after playtime, before being left alone, and at night just before bed.

Mealtimes

Offer food to your dog on a regular schedule, which may be three or four times a day when the puppy is really young and small, and remove any leftover food after mealtime.

  • Remove the water bowl about two hours before bedtime to lessen the chances that your pooch will need to go outside in the middle of the night—most dogs can sleep through the night. If you do have to take your dog outside, turn on very few lights, don’t talk, don’t play, and put him or her back to bed as soon as you return inside.
  • If dogs are fed at the same time each day, it is likely that they also need to eliminate at the same time each day, which can speed up the house training process.

Outdoor Trips

For any walks or trips outside, use a leash and take your puppy to the same spot each time if they need to eliminate. The scent will help remind your puppy of what is expected.

  • Use the same word or phrase each time the puppy is eliminating so that the word or words become a signal to them of what to do.
  • Give your dog praise and a reward as soon as their business is finished—not after you go back inside the house. That’s too long for dogs to wait to be able to associate the reward with the action. Also, be careful not to give rewards before they’ve finished or they may be so happy that they stop and don’t remember to finish until they are back inside.
  • During house training time, don’t take your dog for a walk until the job has been done in the regular spot. This will help reinforce the training.

In the Event of Accidents

Expect accidents to happen from time to time while house training your dog. Watch for the signs—barking, squatting, circling, or scratching at the door—that your dog needs to go outside.

  • If your puppy starts to eliminate in the house, interrupt the act by quickly and firmly saying, “Outside”—without yelling or threatening them—and immediately take your dog outside to finish. Never be upset or angry at them, and don’t ever rub your puppy’s nose in the spot or they may become scared to eliminate in your presence. When you go back inside, clean it up.
  • If you discover an area in the house that has been soiled, it’s too late to do anything but clean it up and make sure there is no lingering odor that may encourage further accidents. Again, never ever force your dog to smell the spot as punishment or yell at them after the fact; not only is this unnecessary but your dog won’t understand why you’re angry, they’ll only understand that you are angry. This, in turn, can cause a dog to distrust and dislike you as their owner. Always be gentle when house training, even if an accident occurs.

How to Make Crate Training a Happy Experience

Crates are great for keeping your dog safe and confined when they’re young and before being house trained. Crates are also useful when transporting your dog in the car or anywhere a dog isn’t free to run. Buy a crate big enough to allow your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down in.

The main rule when crate training is to make sure the crate is associated with happy experiences and is viewed as a “safe, comfortable place” by your dog. Take your time and don’t expect miracles overnight.

6 Steps for Crate Training:

  1. Place the crate, door open, in the room with your pup, and put a toy and blanket inside. After your dog is used to having it in the room, place a treat inside and wait for puppy to go inside and explore. You may have to wait a few days.
  1. Put the dinner bowl near the crate and after a few days, put it inside. If your puppy enters freely and is comfortable, gradually move the food bowl to the back of the crate; if not so comfortable, put it right inside the door and move it back over a longer number of days.
  1. After a few days, close the door while puppy is eating and open it as soon as the meal is finished. Start leaving your dog inside for a minute or two after the meal is finished and then longer, but open the door immediately if there is any indication of unhappiness or unease. It means you should leave puppy inside for shorter intervals. Start over.
  1. If your puppy starts to cry or whine, don’t open the door until the whining stops or that becomes the way your dog trains you! You mustn’t let that happen. Pet your dog and offer a treat. Open the door while your dog is eating the treat.
  1. As before, gradually increase the time your dog is left inside when you are home and in the room, and then leave the room for a few minutes and then for longer periods. In time, you can coax your puppy inside with a treat and a command like, “crate time,” and leave him or her there for a few hours.
  1. If you want to crate train your puppy at night, keep the crate inside or near your bedroom so your pet doesn’t feel alone and abandoned. Over a period of weeks, you can move the crate further and further away until it is in the location you prefer.

House training and crate training are important responsibilities of dog owners. It is always best for you and your pet to work with a certified dog trainer. When you have accomplished these tasks and your dog is house trained and crate trained, you can rest easy knowing you have a very happy and well-adjusted dog!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Hospital and a clickable link back to this page.