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How to Bath your Cat and Survive Scratch-Free!

We all know that most cats like water as much as we like receiving a letter from the IRS! While they may spend hours grooming themselves to perfection, there are some circumstances that may mean that it is necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend and this usually makes bathing them unavoidable.

Cat’s can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, hissing, raising their fur and even lashing out at you. However, with some preparation and patience you can bath your cat and survive scratch-free and the secret involves not so much a bath, but a shower instead!
 

Get Organized

Just like bathing a baby; bathing a cat requires everything that you need to be within arm’s reach. You should have:
 

  • A shower or bath with a handheld shower head.

  • Several towels to clean her off and help her dry.

  • Specialist cat shampoo and conditioner. This is available from most good
     

pet stores and your veterinarian will be able to advise if there is a particular sort that would be good for your feline friend. You should never use human shampoo or conditioner as is has a different PH level to the sort suitable for cats and could damage your pet’s hair or skin.
 

Pre-bathing Prep

Before you start you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-furred breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the shower head at a medium level spray.


General Pet Safety

Keeping your pet safe is the most important part of keeping both you and your pet happy. When you first adopt a pet or new breed of pet — or even better, before you adopt them — be sure to research the basics of your pet. When you finally select a pet, talk to the shelter staff about things you might need to worry about or watch out for. Of course, you can always stop by with your pet to discuss behaviors, concerns, or anything else.

Below we've got some general notes on basic safety tips, whether indoors or outdoors. Remember that traveling —that's more than a quick jog to the park or a ride across town for a play date— may require some extra steps based on the species of your pet. Traveling at any distance can give some pets anxiety, and there's other physical safety factors to consider. Come by and talk to us about what you may need, especially if you're about to travel abroad!


Heatstroke and Your Pet

As Spring warms up into Summer and the humidity and heat start to really set in, it's good to remember that, like every other member in your family, you need to take extra care with your pet. You can become dehydrated and dangerously hot, which can result in falling unconscious at best, vital organ damage, or at its very worst, death. The same is true for your pets!

We tend to think of animals as hardier than humans, but the truth is, dogs and cats begin to experience heatstroke (hyperthermia, medically speaking) at the same internal body temperature as humans do — 104° F. Severe heatstroke begins at 105° to 106° F internally, as well. It might be more difficult for you to gauge temperature with smaller pets such as hamsters, but there's one rule of thumb to keep in mind. Always watch the heat index. Meteorologist uses the heat index value to discuss what the temperature is once humidity is applied; it's this balance of heat and humidity that are dangerous to the health of your pet and you.

If the heat index is 90° F, you need to be sure to take precautions to protect your pets. They won't be able to ask you to turn on the air conditioning or ask you for extra water, or even to tell you they're starting to feel ill. Your pets depend on you to responsibly monitor the weather and give them what they need to stay healthy and comfortable.


Flea Prevention and Care

Saving Your Pet from an Itchy Problem: Fleas

 

Every parent to a furry pet knows how much of a nuisance fleas can be. At best your pets become itchy and skittish, at worst they become miserable and lethargic. And just like ticks, fleas can be a vector for disease for your pets, or even for you! Fleas can be partly responsible for roundworms or flatworms, and can be responsible for infections including typhus, spotted fever, cat-scratch fever, or more rarely, the plague.

So what can we do? The best first step is prevention, but if that fails, there are ways to spot the beginnings of a flea infestation as well as ways to stop it in its tracks.
 

Preventing an infestation

Stop an infestation before it can start! When winter turns to spring, and the weather starts to get warm, don't wait until you can notice fleas on your pets or their playmates. You'll have a much happier home if you follow these easy steps:
 

  • Keep your home clean. Vacuum your house regularly, especially if you have deep pile rugs, and make sure your pet's favorite spaces are regularly cleaned/washed, aired out, and preferably getting plenty of sunlight.

  • Clean yards fend off more than ticks. Keeping a clean yard, including mowed lawns and trimmed foliage, will drastically reduce the potential population of fleas in your outdoors. Keeping any trash, especially foods, carefully sealed for disposal will help keep away other animals that are likely to harbor fleas

  • Use flea treatments. There's a number of options for flea treatments available based on the type of pet and their age, including spot-on treatments and flea collars. Always read the instructions carefully to avoid harming your cat instead of helping them. And of course, always feel free to come in and talk to our staff about what treatments are best for your pet.

  • Consider professional pest control. This option isn't always in a pet owner's budget, and it should always be considered carefully to ensure the best health for your pets, plants, and fish. This can also help prevent other potentially nasty bugs from biting you and your animals, including mosquitoes.
     

Catching an infestation early

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, fleas find their way into our homes and onto us and our animals. Maybe it's because you live in an apartment, and they hitch a ride on your neighbor's dog. Or perhaps your selected flea treatment didn't last as long as you expected it to, or wasn't even effective at all.
 

No matter the reason, we've got a few tips on how to identify a flea infestation as early as possible. The earlier you identify it, the earlier you can get it under control!
 

  • Comb your pet regularly. You can monitor your pet's fur for fleas at multiple stages and check their skin for irritations, bite marks, or other signs of fleas, such as eggs or detritus (blackish-red "flea dirt"). You want to pay close attention to favored locations, such as the back of the head and around the ears, the armpits, or the rump. Remember: fleas will jump on and off of you and your pet, so finding signs of fleas is important, even if you do not find fleas themselves.

  • Fleas love to jump. Fleas are tiny and quick, but they usually appear in groups once the infestation has started. You'll probably be able to feel them jumping on and off of you, especially your feet and lower legs. Your pet's skin will probably also "jump," as they twitch from the movement of fleas (as opposed to being bitten).

  • Keep an eye on your pet's behavior. Are they scratching more than usual? Are they pulling their fur out? Do they have dermatitis? Are they biting at the same area over and over? These are all potential signs that fleas are present. Note: If this behavior is present, but you cannot find any other signs of fleas, bring your pet in to be checked by us. We can ensure there are no other health problems!

  • White brings fleas to light. Sometimes it can be hard to determine if the evidence you're finding is of fleas, instead of just plain dirt, especially if your pet spends a lot of time outside. Put down white paper towels when you comb your pet with the flea comb. You can check the detritus that falls off the pet onto the paper towel or is stuck on the comb to see if it's like dried blood, or if it looks like the earth around your home. Also, if you wear white socks, you'll be able to see the fleas jumping on and off of you.

  • Fleas don't just jump on you. In fact, individually they don't even spend most of their time on you or your pet. Check your pet's favorite places — the dog bed where they love to flop, the spot on the overstuffed chair where your cat loves to sun itself, or even the places in the house where they play the most. Fleas will leave behind similar detritus on your surroundings as they do on your pet.

  • Check all of your pets. If one pet is exhibiting signs of fleas, but your other pet's behavior hasn't changed and they don't scratch themselves much, that doesn't mean the fleas only want to eat one pet. There is a good likelihood you'll find evidence of fleas on both! The reason is that not all animals are allergic to flea bites.

  • Anemia is a concern. Be sure to keep an eye on your pets during regular care and grooming. Lethargy, weakness, and even pale gums can be signs that they're anemic, i.e., that a high number of fleas are sucking their blood. Be sure to come see us so we can get your pet well!


Picking your Perfect Puppy

With the World Canine Organization recognizing over 300 different breeds of dog across the globe, it can be extremely difficult to know which is right for you and your lifestyle. When deciding to bring a puppy into your home, you are making a committing to, usually, at least ten years of love, care, and attention. So ensuring that you select the right dog for you is absolutely crucial.

With this in mind, we have put together this article to look at the physical and behavioral characteristics of a few popular breeds when they are fully matured.
 

American Bulldog

Height (males): 22-28 inches Weight (males): 70-120lbs
Height (females): 20-26 inches Weight (females): 60-100lbs
Life expectancy: up to 16 years

Physical characteristics: Muscular, powerful and sturdy animals they are also surprisingly athletic. Its strong jaws and muzzle can mean it can look ‘mean’. The tail is low set, thick at the base and tapers to a point. The coat is short and smooth and comes in an array of colors.

Temperament: American bulldogs make extremely loyal pets that display strong protective instincts towards their families. Highly alert and great with children, they are sociable animals that need to know their place in the family hierarchy. A firm pack leader, good socialization from a young age and obedience training will make them easier to handle.


Exercise: They are relatively inactive when indoors, but need at least an average sized yard and a long daily walk.

Health: The breed is prone to hip dysplasia.
 

Alaskan Mamalute

Height (males): 24-26 inches Weight (males): 80-95lbs
Height (females): 22-24 inches Weight (females): 70-85lbs
Life expectancy: 12-16 years

Physical characteristics: The largest of the arctic dogs, the Alaskan Mamalute is a well-built animal that strongly resembles a wolf. It has a plumed tail, large thick feet with tough pads and a dense, coarse coat up to three inches in length and in an array of colors. The muzzle and legs are almost always white.

Temperament: These dogs are sociable, loyal and bright. They are better suited to older children and love to please their human family. However, because they are so friendly, they are more likely to welcome intruders than scare them, so do not make very good guard dogs! They have strong prey instincts, so they should not be around smaller animals. Strong leadership, obedience training, and proper socialization are critical as without them they can become destructive.

Exercise: Alaskan Mamalutes are very active and love the outdoors, so they are best suited to homes with large yards and an owner who can commit to long daily walks. High fences and buried fence bases are a must as they like to try and roam. They struggle with hot climates, so they will need less exercise and plenty of cool water and shade.

Health: This breed is prone to hip dysplasia, bloating, and dwarfism.
 

Bichon Frise

Height (males): 9-12 inches Weight (males): 7-12lbs
Height (females): 9-11 inches Weight (females): 7-10lbs
Life expectancy: around 15 years

Physical characteristics: A small and sturdy dog, the Bichon Frise has a short muzzle and dropped ears covered in hair. It has a thick tail that is carried over the back and a double coat of up to four inches in length that is usually a shade of white, cream, apricot or grey.

Temperament: These extremely sociable animals make ideal companions as they adore human company and love to please their owners. They are excellent with all ages of humans and other dogs and are affectionate and intelligent. As with all small dogs, there is a risk of developing small dog syndrome where the animal feels that he is the pack leader to humans. This can cause them to develop a number of behavioral problems, so ensure that steps are taken to prevent small dog syndrome from setting in by asserting yourself firmly as the pack leader.

Exercise: The Bichon Frise can happily live in an apartment provided they are given regular exercise through daily walks and play.

Health: This breed can be sensitive to flea bites, and prone to cataracts, skin and ear ailments, epilepsy, and dislocated kneecaps.
 

Boston Terrier

Height: 15-17 inches Weight: 10-25lbs
Life expectancy: approximately 15 years

Physical characteristics: Compact, square-bodied dogs with good muscle tone and erect ears; the Boston Terrier is a handsome animal. The legs are quite wide set, the tail is short, and the coat is short and fine.

Temperament: These are intelligent creatures that are easy to train and affectionate with their family. They are good with people of all ages and love to be sociable. Also at risk of developing small dog syndrome, so proper authority and obedience training is necessary to ensure that they know their place.

Exercise: Boston Terriers are suited to apartments as well as houses with yards, so long as they get regular walks and play. They are sensitive to extreme changes in weather.

Health: Their prominent eyes can be prone to injury, as well as a multitude of eye-related health problems, including glaucoma, ulcers, and cataracts. Deafness, tumors, and breathing difficulties when exerted or dealing with hot weather are also concerns.


Traveling With Your Pet

Our pets are a beloved part of our family and sometimes this means that they have to travel with us when we undertake long journeys. As a general rule cats seriously dislike traveling and are almost always better off at home in their own environment. Dogs are more amenable to traveling, but there are still a number of considerations to make to ensure that the journey is both safe and comfortable for your pet.


Traveling by Car

The most important thing to remember is to ensure that your pet is not free to roam around the vehicle. Not only could this be distracting for the driver, but your pet will not be protected in the event of a crash. You may have seen dog seat belts being sold in some pet stores. Whilst they have been approved for sale, there is no reliable evidence proving them to be effective in accidents. Instead you should secure your pet in a crate that has been tethered to the car by a seatbelt or other secure method. Ensure that crate is big enough for your pet to change position if they become uncomfortable.
 

  • Do not put animals in the front passenger seat of your vehicle. If the airbag deploys then there is a chance that your pet could be seriously injured.

  • Do not ever leave your pet alone in the car. Animal thieves frequent parking lots and service stations looking for unattended pets to steal. Also leaving an animal alone in a warm car can be fatal. On a day where the outside temperature is 85F, the temperature inside your vehicle can reach 120F in just 10 minutes putting your pet at serious risk.

  • Do not allow your pet to stick his head outside a moving vehicle. Doing so risks injury or sickness by fast-moving air forcing itself into your pets’ lungs.

  • Never transport your pet in the back of an open pick-up truck.

  • Make plenty of bathroom breaks. This will also allow your pet to stretch their legs and have a drink.

  • As a general rule, if you wouldn’t allow your child to do it then do not allow your pet to do it either!


Equine: Lameness Evaluation

Lameness is one of the most prevalent problems presented to equine veterinarians. The term is used to describe an abnormal gait or stance due to the animal feeling pain or experiencing a restriction in the normal range of movement caused by underlying mechanical or neurological problems. The pain or restriction can originate from any part of the body such as the hoof, the leg or neck. The degree of severity can vary from a mild change in gait to completely preventing the horse from using or bearing weight on the affected limb. Unfortunately, lameness is the primary reason that older horses are put down.
 

Why might my horse be lame?

There are many reasons why a horse can become lame, but some of the most common reasons include:
 

  • Abscesses or bruises in the hoof

  • Back and neck problems

  • Degenerative joint diseases

  • Fractures

  • Laminitis – inflammation of the soft tissue structures which attach the pedal bone to the hoof wall

  • Ligament injuries

  • Tendon damage


Best flea treatments for dogs and cats

As pet owners you will know that unfortunately, fleas are an extremely common and annoying occurrence and it is important to treat your dogs and cats for worms and fleas on a regular basis. However, with 95% of flea and egg larvae living in your environment rather than on your pet, it is equally if not more important to treat your home too, otherwise the infestation will return time and time again.
 

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

It is not uncommon to be able to spot fleas jumping off and on your pet’s body, but they are very small and very fast. They are flat-bodied, dark brown or black in color (unless they are full of blood in which case they can be lighter) and usually less than an eighth of an inch big. However, typical behavioral symptoms include restlessness, and chewing, scratching or licking certain parts of his body more often than usual. If you suspect that your dog or cat has fleas, you can check his skin and coat for signs of them or ‘flea dirt’ which looks like regular dirt but is actually flea faeces. If you aren’t sure if it is actual dirt rather than flea dirt, put some on a paper towel and add some water. If it is flea dirt, then it will turn a reddish brown as it will contain blood that the flea has ingested and then excreted.
 

Finding the right treatment

With so many different flea treatments available on the market, finding the right one can be tricky. We have put together this list of some of the best and most effective flea treatments for dogs and cats to get you started, but discovering which works best for you and your pets may require some trial and error.
 

Frontline® Flea Spray for Dogs and Cats

Frontline® sprays do not contain the potentially toxic insecticides found in many pet store sprays, and this one is a one-stop-shop for any household that has both cats and dogs. It is also safe to use if you have kittens or puppies in your property, and is water-resistant so it is still effective even if you like in an area with a high rainfall.
 

Frontline® Plus for Dogs and Cats

A topical version of Frontline®, this formula will repel fleas and other pests at all life stages for a full 30 days. This helps to prevent re-infestation and keep your home clear of fleas for a month at a time. Like other Frontline® products, it is free of potentially harmful insecticides and water-resistant.


Vaccinations and Examinations

Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the frequency that your pet should be examined, but most recommend either annual or six-monthly visits. This is because pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans and so by the time they reach 6/7 years old they are considered middle-aged. Larger breeds of dogs are often considered to be seniors by the time they reach 8.

Typical components of a wellness examination include:
 

  • Checking the central nervous center

  • Checking and cleaning the ears, treating if required

  • Checking joints and mobility

  • Checking skin and condition of coat

  • Checking urinary and reproductive systems

  • Dental examination

  • Eye examination

  • Listen to the heart

  • Listen to the lungs

  • Observation of alertness and response

  • Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors

  • Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps

  • Weight check
     

Other tests that your pet may be given include:
 

  • Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)

  • Fecal testing. This allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.

  • Blood work. Blood tests screen for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also allows a veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pets’ health.


How to Help Your Pet Get More Exercise

Regular exercise is just as important for pets as it is for human beings. Not only does it help keep their weight under control, but it keeps their joints supple and their heart healthy. Regular exercise benefits for pets include: Reduction in undesirable behaviors including chewing, barking, jumping up, and being predatory.
 

  • Maintaining your pets’ weight.

  • Helping your dog to unwind and sleep better at night.

  • Keeping your dog healthy and mobile.

  • Reduction in constipation and digestive problems.

  • Building a rapport with your pet and gaining their trust.
     

In recent years humans have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle, and our pets are following suit. However in order for our pets to live a long, happy and healthy life you need to ensure that activity is worked into their routine. Here is our guide to helping your pet get more exercise.
 

Exercise for Dogs

Until the start of the 20 th century dogs were primarily bred to work in a range of areas, for example military, farming, search and rescue and sensory support. Whilst some dogs still do work, the majority of them are now couch potatoes where they are provided with food and water and spend the majority of their time in a confined space. Their naturally active tendencies are fading and they are becoming lazy.

Dogs who do not have enough exercise can exhibit some undesirable behavior including:
 

  • Destructive: chewing, scratching and digging

  • Hyperactive: extreme excitability, jumping up etc

  • Play biting / rough play: your dog may nip you regularly when playing

  • Investigative tendencies: this can include garbage raiding

  • Predatory: your pet may get very territorial

  • Vocalization: increased barking, whining and other attention seeking sounds
     

Many people believe that access to a garden or yard counts as exercise, but unless you have the equivalent of a football field outside then it is not enough. Your dog will also doesn’t want to exercise alone. Interaction with him is the key to getting him moving.

It doesn’t have to mean running for miles either. As long as your dog is moving and his heart rate is increasing then it counts as exercise!

However before you start your pet off on a regular exercise routine there are a few things that you should take into consideration.
 

  • Dogs exercise needs vary depending on their breed and size.

  • Sustained jogging or running can be problematic for larger dogs as they
    are naturally more likely to suffer from cruciate ligament injuries such as
    hip dysplasia or arthritis.

  • Sustained jogging or running is also not recommended for dogs under 18
    months of age as their bones haven’t finished growing.

  • Brachycephalic breeds (those with short or flat noses) can struggle with
    their breathing during vigorous exercise, particularly if the temperatures
    are warm.


Ideally you should always consult with your veterinarian before beginning any regular exercise with your pet.
 

What sort of exercise can I do with my dog?

Almost all dogs will benefit from at least one half hour long walk per day. Ideally try and take him at the same time every day. This helps your pet to get into a routine and is also beneficial for helping your dog know what time of day he will get to empty his bladder/bowels.

If your dog is sociable then look into a local agility group or class. These can be quite competitive and intense but they provide a great workout for your pet and are a good way for you to make new friends too. Some of the activities that your pet will do are good for developing new skills too. Your veterinarian should be able to advise you how to find your nearest group.

You can’t beat a game of fetch. Simple, effective and you don’t need to go too far. If the weather is poor then you can even play it indoors if you have enough space.

If you live near a lake, river or beach then take your dog swimming. It is particularly good exercise for dogs with arthritis as it is gentle on their joints. If your dog is reluctant to get into the water, start by encouraging him to chase a ball or toy into the shallows.

Play hide and seek. It is just as important for your pet to exercise their brain as well as their body. Hide and seek is a light physical activity that stimulates your pets cognitive abilities.

REMEMBER: never let your dog off of his leash is you are not confident that he will return to you when called.