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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 where it may be necessary to perform a thorough cleaning of your feline friend which usually makes bathing them unavoidable.

Cats can find being bathed extremely stressful which makes them far more likely to become defensive or even aggressive, causing them to hiss, raise their fur and even lash out at you. However, with some preparation and patience, you can bathe your cat and survive scratch-free. The secret to this 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 showerhead.

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

  • Specialty cat shampoo and conditioner which is available from most pet stores. Additionally, your veterinarian will be able to tell you if there is a particular type that would be best for your feline friend. Just remember, 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 begin, you should brush your cat to remove any knots or tangles, particularly if she is a long-haired breed. Set the water temperature to warm and have it running through the showerhead 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 are 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!


Finding a Reputable Breeder

With thousands of unwanted dogs living in shelters and desperately looking for new homes, we highly recommend that you consider adopting one of these puppies or adult dogs. You will be able to find details of your local shelters and rescue centers online. However, if your heart is set on a purebred puppy then the very first thing you should do is find a reputable breeder.

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who view breeding purely as a source of income and have very little concern for either the current or future welfare of their puppies. However, by asking the right questions and making some careful observations, it is possible to distinguish between them and knowledgeable and professional breeders. Here is our guide to helping you find a reputable breeder for your future pet.


Canine Parvovirus

What is Canine Parvovirus?

Canine Parvovirus, also known as CPV, is a highly contagious viral infection that can be debilitating and sometimes fatal. It has two main forms: the more common intestinal variety and the less common cardiac variety. Puppies aged between 6 weeks and 6 months old are most commonly affected, but early vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting CPV.

CPV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with household bleach being the only known way to eradicate the virus.
 

What causes CPV?

CPV is generally transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, either through inhalation or direct touch. However, CPV can also be transmitted indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog which can contain a heavy concentration of the virus. The virus can also live in the ground for up to a year where it can be brought into contact with a dog by way of shoes.

Certain breeds of dogs are more susceptible to CPV. These breeds include Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls, and Rottweilers. Dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not had adequate vaccinations are also more likely to contract CPV.

As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
 

Symptoms of CPV

The intestinal variety of CPV affects an animals’ ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This means that an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
The primary symptoms of intestinal CPV include but are not limited to:
 

  • Anorexia / severe weight loss

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • Coughing

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Vomiting

  • Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
     

In rare cases of CPV, a dog may exhibit symptoms consistent with hypothermia rather than a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.


Dental Hygiene and Oral Care

Don't ignore your pet's bad breath! Lack of proper dental hygiene is often the cause of stinky breath, but it may also indicate other, more serious issues with your pet's health. However, we do understand how easy it is to miss as most of the problems that stem from poor hygiene occur where you can't see them - below your pet's gum line.

The first line of defense is always home care. And while some animals, such as dogs, may tolerate their owners handling their mouths and brushing their teeth, most, especially cats, will struggle or act out. This can make oral care difficult at best, and at worst, ineffective.

The best way to ensure your pet's oral health is to have regular cleanings at our office. Our veterinarian will be able to discuss with you how often you ought to come in as well as a home hygiene regimen. This will help to prevent dental issues from progressing to larger (and potentially deadly) internal issues, such as dysfunction or disease in the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs.

In the wild, hiding pain, illness, or other weaknesses are survival instincts. Many times, your pet will have the same instincts, even in the safety and comfort of your loving home, which is why keeping an eye on your pet's eating habits and behaviors is so important. However, recognizing the difference between normal changes in mood and red flags can be difficult sometimes.

What you interpret as a persistent grumpiness may actually be a sign that your pet is in pain. New irritability, shying away from being touched (especially on the face and around the mouth or throat), sluggishness, loss of appetite or difficulty eating, and lethargy are all behavioral signs which may indicate illness.

However, if you note any of the following physical changes, contact your vet immediately:

  • Red and swollen gums

  • Bleeding gums, especially when eating or when having teeth brushed

  • Swelling around the mouth

  • Oral abscesses, often appearing as swelling in the face

  • Abnormal chewing

  • Loose or missing teeth

  • Discolored teeth

  • Crusted build up at the edge of the gums

  • Persistent bad or fetid breath

  • Excessive drooling

  • Weight loss
     

Preventing oral infections and gum disease will help your pet live a longer, healthier life. And remember, caring for your pet with regular cleanings now will save you money later!


Equine: Castration

Equine castration is the most common surgical procedure performed on horses. Not only does it prevent unwanted breeding, but it can also dramatically improve the behavior and management of your horse.


When should equine castration take place?

Equine castration usually takes place in either the spring or autumn months in order to avoid bacteria-carrying flies in the summer and the mud of winter. Traditionally, castration is carried out in a horse’s yearling year, but there is no reason why the procedure cannot be undertaken at other times. The only requirement is that both testicles must have descended into the scrotum before the castration takes place. If one testicle is undescended, then waiting to castrate is usually the most viable option. However, it is possible to carry out a full castration via laparoscopy to find the retained testicle, although this does require much more surgical intervention and therefore a longer recovery period.

Your equine veterinarian will first obtain the medical history and conduct a thorough examination of your horse before performing castration. This will ensure that he is in good condition, has been dewormed regularly, his vaccinations are up to date, and he has not suffered any recent respiratory infection.


Feline Distemper

What is Feline Distemper?

Feline Distemper, also known as Feline Panleukopenia and FPV, is a highly contagious viral disease that can be debilitating and even fatal. Kittens between 2 and 6 months of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, followed by pregnant and immune-compromised cats. Surviving FPV comes with immunity to any further infections by the virus.
 

What causes FPV?

The FPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the blood, feces or urine of an infected cat, but can also be spread by fleas that have been feeding on a contaminated cat. Humans can inadvertently pass FPV after handling the equipment used by contaminated cats if they do not follow proper handwashing protocols. The virus can live on surfaces for up to a year and is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with the exception of household bleach.

FPV attacks the blood cells of an infected cat, particularly those in the bone marrow and intestinal tract. If the infected cat is pregnant, the virus will also attack the stem cells of the unborn kitten. FPV makes your pet more vulnerable to other viral and bacterial diseases as well.
 

Symptoms of FPV

The primary symptoms of FPV include but are not limited to:
 

  • Anemia

  • Dehydration

  • Depression

  • Diarrhea (may be blood-stained)

  • High temperature

  • Loss of appetite

  • Rough coat

  • Vomiting
     

Other symptoms include lack of coordination, hiding away from owners, tucking feet away, or resting the chin on the floor for prolonged periods.


Picking Your Perfect Cat

If you have decided that a cat is the right pet for you, you may think that the decision-making process is complete, but in fact, you are just beginning. Cats, like humans, are all very different and selecting one to suit your needs and lifestyle is vitally important as having a cat requires the commitment of your love, care, and attention for upwards of 10-15 years. Here is our guide to helping you pick your perfect cat.
 

Kitten or adult cat?

Many people instinctively choose kittens over adult cats due largely to their childlike cuteness, curiosity, and playful behavior. However, many do not realize that they need a great deal of supervision, patience, attention, and training. Leave kittens unsupervised in your living room for any period of time and you could be faced with a surprising level of destruction! It is also difficult to know exactly what personality they may develop once they outgrow their kitten traits. She may become a docile companion, or she may continue to be a mischievous and energetic ball of fur.

It is also important to remember that if you are bringing a kitten into a home with very young children, an added amount of supervision will be needed as your child may exhibit the same curious and mischievous behavior as your kitten and may not be as gentle as needed with the kitten.

By comparison, older cats may have outgrown some of that initial cuteness, but the typical behaviors that they exhibit after around the age of one will be a reliable indicator of their regular temperament.
 

Short vs long hair

Responsible pet owners should always make sure that their pets are well-groomed. In the case of long-haired animals, this can end up being a considerable commitment. Long fur needs to be brushed at least once per day in order to prevent matting. Therefore, if you decide on a long-haired cat, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient time to dedicate to daily grooming.

However, not all cats like being groomed and if your cat doesn’t, then you may have to enlist the services of a professional groomer and you will then need to factor in the cost of regular grooming appointments. But if your cat is one that loves to be pampered, then she will come running as soon as she sees her brush!
 

Personality and pure breed vs mixed breed

While purebred cats tend to conform to what is known as a ‘breed standard,’ meaning that you can predict their expected physical and behavioral characteristics based on breed type, each animal is still unique. Many people believe that purchasing a purebred feline will not only guarantee its temperament but will also ensure that it will be in good health, but sadly, this is not the case. Many purebred animals suffer from genetic health problems due to inbreeding.

It is also possible to estimate the physical and behavioral traits of mixed breed cats based on the combination of breeds used to create it. For example, combining two short-haired, highly active breeds will be extremely likely to produce another short-haired highly active cat.

As we have said, whether pure or mixed breed, each cat is unique and will require handling to suit their personality. Some are sedentary, some are active and some love to be stroked and handled while others will only come to you for petting when it suits them. If you are looking for a companion cat, then you would ideally be looking for a sedentary and tactile cat, whereas if you are looking for a cat to play with children, then you should aim for a more active breed.


Avian Vet Care

As far as pet categorizing goes, birds may be slightly more exotic than other pets, but will still make wonderful companions for people who are looking for an alternative to a furry friend. However, the physiology of a bird is very different to that of a cat or a dog. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you find your feathered friend a veterinarian who has the unique training and experience to be able to understand and manage injuries and health problems that may arise in birds.
 

Services included in avian vet care

As you might expect, the types of services that are usually included in avian vet care are very similar to those offered in standard veterinary offices. Some of the most common include:

  • Routine and comprehensive wellness examinations and assessments

  • Blood panels

  • Imaging tests including digital x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound scans

  • Preventative care

  • Fracture and beak repair

  • Behavioral consultations for undesirable behavior problems such as aggression

  • Diagnosing and treating a wide range of medical conditions, with in-patient care if required

  • Anesthesia/sedation services
     

How to find an experienced avian vet

Locating a veterinarian that specializes in birds may not be as easy as locating a regular vet, but one good resource to consider is the Association of Avian Veterinarians, who maintain a list of vets qualified to help care for pet birds. Additionally, if you know someone who also has pet birds, you could ask them who their vet is and if they would recommend them.


First Aid for Pets

Accidents and emergencies don't just happen to humans, and while first aid is no substitute for emergency veterinary care, basic first aid knowledge can be crucial for treating certain injuries and in preventing symptoms or situations from worsening.

In critical emergencies, opting to administer first aid before heading to your veterinarian could make the difference between the life and death of your pet.
As a pet owner, it is your responsibility to try and ensure the safety and well being of your pet at all times. With that in mind, here is our guide to basic first aid for pets.
 

Bleeding (Externally)

External bleeding is typically the sign of a fight with another pet or an accident, and unless it is a severe wound and/or located on the legs, it can usually be dealt with relatively quickly and simply

In order to establish the site of the injury, you may need to muzzle your pet, as they may be in some pain. Once you have located the injury, press a thick, clean gauze pad over the wound and apply pressure until the blood begins to clot. It may take a number of minutes for the clot to gain enough strength to sufficiently stop the bleeding, so instead of checking every few seconds, hold the gauze in place for at least two minutes before lifting to check if the bleeding has ceased.

If your pet has severe blood loss from the legs, use a thin strip of gauze, elastic band or similar material to create tourniquet between the wound and the body. Once it is in place, you should cover the wound with a gauze pad and continue to apply gentle pressure.

Loosen the tourniquet for about 30 seconds every 15 to 20 minutes so that you don’t cut off the circulation from the wound entirely, and get someone to drive you to an emergency veterinarian immediately as severe blood loss can be fatal.
 

Bleeding (Internally)

It may not always be possible to tell that your pet is bleeding internally, but some of the symptoms that you can look out for include:
 

  • Coughing up blood

  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum

  • Blood in urine

  • Pale gums

  • Rapid pulse rate

  • Weak pulse

  • Unconsciousness
     

If any of the above symptoms present themselves, make your pet as warm and comfortable as possible, and take them straight to your emergency veterinarian.
 

Burns

If your pet suffers from any form of burn injury, you should first muzzle your pet, then apply large quantities of ice-cold water to the affected area.

In the case of chemical burns, the water should be free-flowing in order to cleanse the skin as much as possible. Otherwise, hold an ice-cold compress to the burned area and immediately transport your pet to your emergency veterinary service.
 

Choking

Choking is just as common in pets as it is in humans, and knowing how to assist your pet if they choke could save the life of your pet. Symptoms of choking include:
 

  • Struggling to breathe

  • Pawing at the mouth and nose

  • Choking sounds

  • Excessive coughing

  • Lips or tongue turning blue
     

Since your pet will be in an extreme state of panic, it is more likely that they may accidentally bite you, so using caution, try and look into your pet's mouth to see if any blockages are immediately visible. If you can see something obstructing your pet’s airway, carefully try and remove it using tongs, pliers or tweezers, taking extreme care not to push the item further into the esophagus. If it is not easily removed, don’t spend extra time trying to reach it.

If you are unable to remove the object or your pet collapses, you should try and force air from the lungs in an attempt to push the object out from the other direction. The way you should do this is by putting both of your hands on the side of your pet’s rib cage and applying short, sharp bursts of firm pressure.

Keep doing this until you manage to dislodge the foreign object or until you arrive at the emergency veterinary service.