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For many dog owners, leaving the house can be the start of real problems. A dog might all of a sudden begin to whine, bark, run around the house or even become destructive when its owner leaves it alone. This is all the result of something called separation anxiety. Separation anxiety can be a real problem in some dogs, leading to damage at home, loss of money and emotional problems for both the dog and its owners as they try to cope.

If your dog exhibits symptoms like these whenever you leave it alone, then you need to learn a little bit more about this condition and what you can do to overcome it.

How to Help a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

Depending on your dog and its temperament, separation anxiety can be displayed in different ways. These ways include:

  • Barking, Howling and Whining
    One of the most frequent ways a dog will act out is to make a variety of noises. These can be barks, howls or whines. These noises often begin the moment you leave the house and will continue for hours and hours. Depending on where you live, this can be a nuisance for your neighbors who have to put up with it.
  • Excretion
    Another sign of separation anxiety is excretion — urinating or defecating whenever you leave the house. Obviously, this can lead to all sorts of problems as well as being incredibly inconvenient when it comes to cleaning up.
  • Destruction
    Some dogs express their anxiety by destroying whatever they come into contact with. Chewing, digging, scratching and clawing on the floors, door frames and furniture can be expensive to fix. These are signs that your dog is really suffering when you leave. Obviously, this is not healthy for the dog, but it’s also not healthy for your relationship with your dog.
  • Escaping
    For some owners, coming home to an empty house is a sure sign of separation anxiety. Not only is this frustrating, it can also be very unsafe for the dog as it runs around the neighborhood and into the streets.

How to Treat Separation Anxiety

Thankfully, there are things you can do to help get your dog to overcome its anxiety problems.

For Mild to Moderate Anxiety

If your dog only suffers from a mild case of separation anxiety, it can often be treated by simple behavior modification techniques. These include:

  • Giving your dog a treat every time you leave. This can help your dog associate your leaving with a happy occasion, and can also help it fear your leaving less.
  • Exercise your dog before you leave. This can help your dog expend some energy and help them to be more relaxed when you depart.
  • Stop treating your comings and goings like a big deal. Many owners spend a lot of time saying goodbye and hello to their dogs, turning it into a huge event. This event can be a cause of stress. Instead, act like coming and going is no big deal.
  • Leave items of clothing out that smell like you, giving your dog the feeling that you are still in the house and nearby.
  • Consider using mild, natural calming supplements. Natural remedies can help your dog handle the stress without having any adverse side effects.

For Severe Anxiety

If your dog is dealing with a severe case of separation anxiety, a more involved and long-term solution needs to be put in place. While there are medications that can help, these should be considered a last resort. Instead, most dog experts recommend a step-by-step process that helps your dog get used to the idea of your leaving.

This process works by first getting your dog used to the idea of your leaving. Pick up your keys, grab your wallet, etc. — but don’t leave the house. Hold them for a while, and then put them back. Doing this frequently will give your dog the chance to get used to the visual cues that it associates with your leaving, which will help keep the stress down.

Once you get your dog used to the pre-leaving cues, the next phase is to leave for very short trips out. Just a minute or two at first, but then gradually begin to expand the time you’re gone. Five minutes, ten minutes — just enough for your dog to start feeling anxious, but not enough to bring on a full-blown episode. As you increase the time, your dog will slowly become accustomed to the idea of you being gone.

Keep in mind, this is a long-term process that will take a while. But, in the end, it’s worth it for the peace of mind it brings your dog and your entire household.

If your pet has separation anxiety and these steps don’t help, please let us know. We can provide guidance for you as well as connect you with additional local resources and recommended trainers in our area.

If you are a pet owner, your main concern is that your pets are healthy and happy. You care about the quality of the food that you give them, that their fur is shiny and well groomed, their teeth are cleaned and that they are up to date on all necessary shots. If your pet becomes ill, it can be as scary as if a family member were sick. Let’s face it, pets are family, and you want to treat them as such. This means that you need to get them proper treatment. Home remedies or human medications can be dangerous for your pets.

Human Medications are Bad for Pets

Pain Relief

If a pet is obviously experiencing pain, it is common for people to think that the medications that work for us will work for them as well. Please don’t administer human pain relief medications to your pet.

  • Ibuprofen: You most likely have a bottle or more of this over the counter drug in your medicine cabinet. Pets like to lick the coating off of these pills because they enjoy the taste. If ingested, these can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
  • Tramadol: This pain reliever may be prescribed for your pet, but you must be careful about how much you give them. If your pet overdoses, it may cause disorientation, shakiness.
  • Acetaminophen: This is another commonly-used over the counter drug that can have devastating effects. If ingested in any dosage, it can cause liver damage. Be sure to keep away from cats especially, as they are extremely sensitive to this medication.  

Other Medications

Pet’s can also get into other human medications (prescription and over the counter) that are sometimes left in easy to access places within your home.

  • Alprazolam: This medication is prescribed for those who suffer from anxiety and sleep disorders, and if ingested by your pet, can cause vomiting and possibly seizures. Pets will often find them on your nightstand. A large dose can cause a decrease in blood pressure as well as fatigue.

  • Adderall: This medication is used for treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, any dosage ingested by your pet can result in hyperactivity, an increase in body temperature and heart rate and can cause seizures. 

In general, keep all prescription medications and over the counter drugs out of reach from your pet. If you ever have questions on what in-home treatments would be safe to give your pet for pain or another condition, please contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital – we will be happy to assist you!

pets and apartment living

There are many things that you need to take into consideration when choosing an apartment. If you already have a pet or plan on getting one, you need to carefully review the specifics of the apartments that you are considering. You don’t want to fall in love with an apartment only to find out that your furry friend isn’t welcome. Not only do you need to find an apartment that is accepting of your pet, you also need to consider the additional challenges that you may face as you and your pet transition into apartment living.

There are many things that you need to take into consideration when you’re looking to have either a cat or dog in an apartment setting. From issues such as breed, insurance and space, you want to be sure you’re prepared.

Before you bring a pet into an apartment:

Decide on the best pet for the environment

If you’re in the market for a new pet, you need to carefully choose the one that you are going to bring into an apartment setting. Cats are usually a pretty safe bet, but if you have your heart set on a dog, but many dog breeds aren’t cut out for apartment living. Many of them simply do not do well in confined spaces.

Research the breed you’re considering. Smaller dogs are more likely to adjust easier than some larger dogs, but there are always exceptions. Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds are lazier breeds and may be just fine in a smaller environment, but many large breeds won’t be.

Look into the rules of the apartment

Many apartment complexes have rules in regards to what types of pets can be kept there. There may be restrictions in regards to size or breed. Some places will not allow pets over a certain height and you may need to measure your dog to make sure that you fit within those guidelines. Make sure to keep this in mind when investigating both pets and different apartment buildings.

Consider the fees

Moving is expensive. Along with the security deposit and moving expenses, you will probably also have to pay a monthly fee for your pet. It’s important to keep this in mind as you search for apartments and adjust your budget. This could affect which apartments you look at and which ones you may be able to afford.

Do not lie to the landlord

If the apartment you’re looking at doesn’t accept pets, don’t think you can sneak one in. It is a bad idea and has the potential to get you evicted. Instead, talk to the landlord and you may be able to get an exception. If not, you’ll want to know right away before you fall in love with the apartment and so you can make different plans.

Consider Renters’ Pet Insurance

Your pet has the potential to damage things in your new apartment. Because of this, you should look into additional insurance. You don’t want to be stuck losing your security deposit or having additional expenses when you move out in the future.

Get an apartment on the first floor

If it’s at all possible, try to get a first floor apartment. This will make it much easier for you when taking your pet outside. It will also minimize the number of people you may run into as well as confrontations with other pets.

When you bring a pet into an apartment:

Get your pet outside

One of the most important things you need to do when you live in an apartment with a pet, especially if you have a dog, is make sure to get him or her a good amount of exercise. Dogs tend to have a lot of energy and they may start to destroy things if they don’t get enough exercise and stimulation. Make sure your dog gets outside as much as possible because they will go stir crazy too. Ideally, they need at least two walks per day to release some energy and an additional two high-intensity exercise sessions during the week as well.

Protect the floors

It’s important to be sure to protect your floors. Your pet should have a designated area in which to play in order to minimize the damage that they may cause. Using a mat under food and water dishes will also go a long way when protecting and keeping the floor clean and free of stains.

As long as you take some consideration and planning into it, you can enjoy living in an apartment with a pet. Just make sure to read the rules and give your pet plenty of attention.

pet hair loss

Pets are an important part of the family, so when you see something going wrong, you may become concerned. One of these things may involve fur loss in either your cat or your dog. This type of problem is called alopecia and is characterized by an abnormal thinning or a complete loss of hair. There are a variety of reasons that pet hair loss may occur, so it is important to identify the specific cause in order to help your pet. Sudden changes in fur could be caused by underlying conditions that need to be treated.

Causes of pet hair loss in cats and dogs

Skin infections and parasites

Maybe you’ve noticed that your pet is scratching a lot or biting vigorously and causing hair loss. This leads to the hair being broken off or chewed. This could be due to parasitic fleas, mites or lice. The chewed skin causes an ideal location for skin infections with ringworm, yeast or bacteria. These infections themselves can also cause additional itching and more hair loss.

You may be able to identify which pest is causing the problem by looking at the location of it on your pet. Mites attack ears, eyes, elbows and mouth. Lice usually attack the back and back legs. Fleas favor the back over the hips.

Poor nutrition

Poor nutrition can cause a multitude of problems. Take a look at your pet’s diet to assess if this is what is causing your pet’s hair loss. Proper nutrition will contain nutrients that support healthy skin and hair. If there isn’t a balanced supply of these nutrients, the hair becomes dull, loosens and falls out. This type of hair loss affects the pet’s entire body, but may be the most obvious in easily worn areas and the back and hips.

Allergies

When allergies affect a human, eyes tend to water and our noses run. With pets, allergies are communicated through the skin and ears. Their skin will be itchy, so they will scratch or chew their hair. It’s important to figure out what your pet is allergic to. It could food such as grains, certain meats, milk or yeast. It could also be inhaled allergens such as smoke, perfumes or pollens. Lastly, it could be skin contact with irritating materials such as chemicals in your yard or your home. For more about pet allergies, read our article here.

Problems with organ function or blood flow

Diseases and drugs affecting the intestines, liver, kidneys and other organs can directly influence hair loss. If your pet has issues with blood not properly circulating, this can also cause hair loss. It’s important to get your pet in to see a professional so they can be treated.

Problems with hormone levels

There are many hormones that influence hair growth. Some of these include estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone, melatonin, cortisol and thyroxin. If these hormone levels are off, it can cause hair to either be too thin or too thick.

Medications

Certain medications can cause hair loss as well. If your pet is being treated with high doses or long-term medications, it can cause hair follicles to shrink and the hair to fall out. Some flea medications actually cause hair loss at the area of application and vaccines may cause this at the injection site as well. You will be able to see a difference with this type of hair loss because it will be lost at the follicle rather than being bit off by your pet.

Anxiety

If your pet has separation anxiety, they may lick patches of hair off their legs. These areas then can become infected. This is hard to cure since the pet will continue to lick the area whenever they are left alone.

What to do if your pet is experiencing hair loss

Note your pet’s behavior and hair loss

When you notice your pet experiencing significant hair loss, you should take note of any changes in your home or yard, behavior of your pet, signs of illness and location of the hair loss. These details are important to figuring out what is causing the problem. By noticing and evaluating your pet, you will better be able to help them.

Take your pet to the vet

A trip to the vet is the ideal way to help your pet with hair loss. Since it could be caused by many different factors, you need a professional opinion to help determine the cause. Tests may help lead to a concrete diagnosis and course of treatment.

Treat the problem

Once you determine the cause of your pet’s hair loss, you can work with your veterinarian for the best course of treatment and help your pet recover.

Hair loss in pets is a problem that needs to be addressed. Contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital so we can determine the cause of the problem together and get your pet the help they need.

life stages of a dog

They are fuzzy, they are adorable and then they grow up. No, not kids…we are talking about puppies! Buying a puppy is just the first step of a lifetime of commitment, care and joy with a dog. What can you expect to deal with through the lifetime of your dog? Keep reading to find out.

Life Stages of a Dog

Puppyhood

Puppyhood is the stage from birth to 12 months old. During this time, you can expect the most physical and mental growth. Just like a human baby, puppies need to be nurtured during their most formative early years. Any abuse or neglect during this time will definitely shape the dog for the rest of their life.

Weaning

Around three to four weeks of age, puppies will start transitioning from drinking their mother’s milk to eating solid foods. Puppies usually aren’t sold until after the weaning process, so most owners never have to think about it. Only in an emergency situation like their mother being killed or missing would you have to step in and make sure they get the milk they need.

Eating

By the time they are seven or eight weeks old, puppies should be fully switched over to solid foods. They still have special food considerations, though. Find a good brand of puppy food that your puppy likes and is good for them. Regular adult dog chow won’t have the vitamins that they need. Puppies also need to be fed several times a day depending on their age.

  • 2-3 months old = 4x a day
  • 3-6 months old = 3x a day
  • 6-12 months old = 2x a day
  • 1 year and older = 1x a day

This helps them develop healthy eating habits and gives them consistent energy.

House training

If you plan on letting your dog live inside, you will have to bear the dreaded house training stage. Some breeds and temperaments are better with house training than others. In general, be prepared for accidents in the house and some late night potty walks. Have patience with your puppy and remember that this stage won’t last forever. By the time your puppy is four to six months old they should be well capable of being house trained.

Dental care

Get your puppy started with good dental cleaning habits. Gum disease, abscesses and cavities are painful for dogs and costly for their owners. Maintain dental health with regular brushings using a doggy toothbrush or a piece of clean gauze wrapped around your finger. Never use your own toothpaste for dogs (it is poisonous to them), instead use a little baking soda and water. (And don’t forget those dental check-ups at the vets!)

Spaying and neutering

At six months old, your puppy is ready to be spayed or neutered if you so choose. These operations are very routine and prevent your dog from reproducing. It’s best to have these operations done when they are puppies to prevent issues like breast cancer and testicular disease when they get older.

Vaccines

Just like children, puppies will need several rounds of vaccinations during their first year of life. You will need to be prepared to schedule for these shots in order to keep your dog healthy. Also, many dog parks and locations require proof of shots if you want to take your dog out in public.

Adolescence

The teenage years for dogs are considered to be between six and 18 months. They are able to reproduce, unless you have them spayed or neutered, but they are still growing. The adolescence stage can vary depending on the breed of your dog. Basically, whenever they are finished growing they are considered an adult.

Exercise

Adolescent dogs need good exercise to keep them from developing bad habits. When they were smaller, they could get their exercise in smaller places like running around your house or yard. Adolescents have longer legs and need more space to exercise properly. Take your teen dog on a walk or let them run at a local, enclosed dog park. Hiking, biking and running with your dog are also wonderful ways to exercise their body and keep their mind healthy too.

Middle age

Your middle-aged dog is house trained and, with your help, has developed some healthy habits. The biggest issue for middle-aged dogs is weight gain. A healthy diet and plenty of exercise will save your dog from experiencing joint problems and other health concerns. Don’t forget to stay up to date with any vaccinations or medication they need.

Senior

Once a dog is in the last quarter of their life expectancy, they are considered a senior citizen. That age varies a lot based on their breed. For example, a Great Dane will live eight to ten years, but a chihuahua will live 15 to 17 years. A Great Dane is a senior at about eight years old, but the chihuahua won’t be a senior until about 12 years old.

Health concerns

Health issues start piling up as dogs get older. Arthritis, kidney disease and dental problems can develop quickly. It’s important to get your dog checked out regularly, and definitely get them to the vet if you notice any changes in their behavior.

Vision

As dogs age, they develop cataracts and aren’t able to see very well. Be aware that your older dog may be easily surprised by you or anyone who walks up close to them. If you know your dog’s sight is getting worse, you can clear a path or place for them so that they don’t bump into things in your house.

If you are planning on a new puppy in your household, please let us know if you have any questions. Our team will be happy to provide additional guidance on what you can expect! Receive 50% off your pet’s first physical exam with our client coupon.

emotional support pet
Pet Therapy Dog Visiting Senior Female Patient In Hospital

It is no secret that pets make us feel better when we are having a tough day. Studies have proved the positive effect that spending time with your pet can have on stress, anxiety and depression. However, there is a wide gap between needing a pet to help you get through day-to-day life and simply enjoying spending time with them. Many people who struggle with emotional disabilities like anxiety can actually be prescribed an emotional support pet as part of their treatment.

What is an emotional support pet?

An emotional support pet can be any animal, not just a dog. Dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, hedgehogs and virtually any other type of animal can be considered an emotional support pet. Legally, your pet must be prescribed to you by a licensed mental health professional to help you with a disabling mental illness. A psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist must give you a prescription to get an emotional support pet because they feel like it is necessary to help your mental condition.

Emotional support pets aren’t trained to do any specific tasks like service dogs are. They help their owner just by being near and being a normal pet. The only training that emotional support pets need to have is to be house-broken and not do anything that would disturb others (like constant barking or any aggression).

Emotional support animals vs. service animals

Service animals are specifically dogs that are trained to perform certain tasks to aid people with disabilities. Emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals since they are not trained to perform any tasks. Service dogs can help deaf or blind people by alerting them to things that they can’t see or hear or bringing certain things to them. Emotional support animals may get close to their owners when they sense anxiety, but that is something that most pets do normally and not something they had to be trained to do.

Psychiatric service dogs

Also considered a service animal, psychiatric service dogs are covered by the American Disabilities Act. They are trained to do certain jobs to help their owner cope with their mental illness. A psychiatric service dog could be trained to remind their owner to take medication or keep them in a safe place if they are in a dissociative episode. Although both an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service dog help owners that have mental or emotional disabilities, the difference is that psychiatric service dogs must be trained to do certain tasks.

Therapy dogs

Therapy dogs are similar to emotional support animals, except that they provide support to many individuals instead of just one. Therapy dogs go to schools, nursing homes and hospitals to provide therapeutic relief to people who struggle in day-to-day life. Elderly people as well as troubled children or anyone who is ill can benefit from a visit from a therapy dog. Though they have one owner, their job is to be friendly to the people they meet and offer emotional support.

Emotional support animal privileges

Service dogs are generally allowed anywhere the public is allowed, including restaurants, hotels and other places that regular pets aren’t allowed. Emotional support animals are not afforded the same privileges and are not allowed anywhere that regular pets can’t be. ESAs are not allowed to go with their owner into shopping malls or restaurants like service dogs are.

The Air Carrier Access Act does allow emotional support animals to be with their owner in the cabin of an aircraft, though they do require documentation. It is a good idea to call the airline ahead of time if you plan to bring your emotional support animal with you. Make sure you have all the paperwork they need to be able to board smoothly.

The Fair Housing Act also includes emotional support animals in its rule that people can’t be discriminated against for their disability. In other words, if you have an emotional support pet, any rules like no pets, species bans or pet size limitations don’t apply to you. You must be allowed to have your pet live with you and you don’t have to pay the pet deposit.

A letter from a psychiatrist or psychologist stating your need for an emotional support animal is commonly known as an ESA letter. Getting a legitimate ESA letter can improve your life and your pets’ life dramatically if you know that you need an emotional support animal. If you have an ESA letter, your pet can live with you regardless of your landlord’s rules and you don’t have to pay a pet deposit. You can also bring your pet with you when you fly and you don’t have to pay any pet fees. It is important to take an ESA letter very seriously. You shouldn’t try to get a letter just for convenience or to avoid paying fees because it makes it harder for people who truly have emotional issues to be taken seriously.

If you have any questions about care for your Emotional Support Pet, please contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. We will be happy to provide additional guidance.

Protect Your Furniture from Your Cat

If you have a cat, then you know they love nothing more than to sink their claws into something and give it a good scratch. The problem is that too often they turn their attention on something valuable — a piece of furniture, for example. Left unchecked, it won’t take long for that expensive piece to become nothing more than one big shredded mess. So, how can you get your cat to stop scratching your furniture? Since declawing your cat is not an option, we’re going to look at several other ways you can protect your furniture from the sharp menace of your cat’s claws.

Protect Your Furniture from Your Cat

1) Buy a Scratching Post

The most obvious solution is to give your cat something else to scratch. You have to understand that scratching is not just something your cat is doing on a whim. Sharpening those claws is a biological imperative that has developed over millions of years of evolution; you’re not going to be able to break your cat of this habit anytime soon. So, giving your cat another option can sometimes fill this need. Scratching posts come in all shapes and sizes to fit your home and your budget, and many of them even come up with extras, such as catnip, to encourage your cat to focus on the post instead of your favorite couch.

2) Make Your Furniture Less Appealing

The scratching might be a biological imperative, but the decision to do it on your furniture isn’t. Instead, that’s simply a result of two factors: convenience and preference. The furniture is convenient simply because it’s there. It’s preferred, however, because of its soft texture. This texture allows the cat to really sink its claws in the material and give it a good scratch. Many cat owners have reported that they have found that one way to fix this is to change the surface of the furniture. This doesn’t mean literally taking off the upholstery and replacing it with wood or anything, though. You can just cover up the furniture with a material that’s less pleasant for a cat, like plastic or aluminum foil. Your cat will not enjoy scratching these, so they will leave your furniture aloe.

3) Spray with Water

As we know, cats are not usually fond of getting wet. This is why many cat owners have learned the value of keeping a spray bottle handy. Whenever your cat goes somewhere or does something that isn’t allowed, a few squirts and often the cat decides it isn’t worth the hassle. Some cats have even been known to learn from this and give up the action altogether, although that certainly isn’t true for all of them (as cats are famous for their stubbornness!)

4) Use Citrus

Another way you can protect your furniture from your cat is to make your furniture less desirable is to use a citrus spray. Any cat owner will tell you that cats are not fans of citrus-based smells, such as orange or lemon. It’s easy to find sprayable versions of these scents — put them in a spray bottle just like you would water, and then give your furniture a light dousing of this scent. This doesn’t work 100% of the time, but often cats will be repulsed by the smell and go somewhere else.

5) Pheromone Sprays

In addition to water or citrus scents, another sprayable option is pheromones. These sorts of sprays work on a chemical level to actually change a cat’s mood. Often, a cat will scratch due to nerves. Maybe there’s a new animal in the household, or you’ve rearranged your furniture or done something else to upset your feline. Cats do not like change very well, and they will sometimes take out these nerves by scratching. Spraying pheromones can help calm your cat’s nerves and reduce the urge to scratch.

6) Train Your Cat

A final option is to actually train your cat to avoid scratching the furniture. While many think that cats are untrainable, this isn’t true. However, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process, and it involves more than just having a spray bottle and a loud voice. We can’t go into all of the things you need to know about training your cat here, but there are cat-training guides available online if you want to try this option. (Click here for a series of articles on cat training from Hill’s.)

As you can see, your furniture doesn’t have to suffer at the expense of your cat’s urges. There are several things you can do to discourage them from scratching your favorite chair — and if one of these options doesn’t work, there’s always the next option on the list. This might take a little time, but once you find the right solution, your furniture will thank you for it!

Pet Vaccinations

Pet Vaccinations

Today we’re going to take on a hot-button issue: pet vaccinations. Many pet owners who keep their animal exclusively indoors (particularly cats) find it difficult to understand why they still need to get their pets vaccinated and treated for parasites every so often. After all, if you take them for their early-life shots to prevent puppy and kitten illnesses, shouldn’t that take care of them for the rest of their life?

Regular vaccinations can seem like a cash grab on the part of your local veterinary clinic, especially if you vaccinate and deworm on their recommended timetable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are several excellent reasons why vaccinating your pet and getting anti-parasite treatments regularly is still critical to keeping your furry friend in the best of health.

Indoor Cats and Dogs Get Outside

Indoor pets eventually get outside. It’s inevitable even if you are extremely careful. Pet owners with  small breed dog living in a high rise still need to vaccinate their pets. Once outside, there is still a chance your dog or cat could be exposed to other pets infected or infested with disease and parasites, food with parasites, and disease bearing insects. Even mosquitoes and houseflies carry blood borne parasites and both canine and feline diseases. To keep your pet safe and healthy, you need to make sure their pet vaccinations and parasite treatments are up to date.

Lost Pets End Up At Shelters

Unless you have an expensive GPS tracker on your indoor pet at all times (an unlikely scenario), there is little you can do if they get out except wait for them to come back for food. If they get picked up by a kind stranger, they will more than likely be taken to the nearest animal shelter. Hopefully you’ve had your pet microchipped with your contact information (always a good idea), but if you haven’t you may find yourself calling shelters daily to see if anyone found your pet and brought them in.

Your cat or dog may only be at the shelter for a short time before you are contacted, but they are still exposed to potential carriers of disease and parasites while they are there. Not keeping their vaccinations up to date means they could contract either a serious illness or pick up parasites from another animal.

Life Changes For You and Your Pet

Relationships end, people move, and pets go where their owners go. Your adorable kitten who has lived indoors may become an outdoor cat after a move. The same can be said of your dog, as they may be spending more time outdoors if your lifestyle changes or you move to a home with room to run. Keeping their vaccinations and parasite prevention up to date ensures they are prepared for environmental changes no matter where life takes you.

Research Shows Stress Can Cause Latent Disease Flare-Ups

There are diseases that dogs and cats can contract after unexpected contact at any age, though some diseases lie dormant for years and do not present symptoms for a long time. Some diseases can even be contracted while your pet is in utero, and there is no way to know when the disease will manifest.

It is possible that if your pet experiences a trauma or an increase in stress due to moving or rehoming, these dormant diseases can manifest without warning, causing potentially debilitating or life threatening illness. While vaccines can’t eliminate the disease altogether, keeping your pet vaccinated helps prevent your cat or dog from developing symptoms even after experiencing stress or trauma.

Rabies Vaccines Are Required By Law In Some Areas

The likelihood of a rabid animal getting into your home is actually greater than you might think. Bats carrying rabies can gain access to your home through crawl spaces, attics, open windows, and even sliding doors. There are documented cases of raccoons and bats with rabies getting into homes and biting indoor pets.

Due to the increased risk of contracting rabies, many communities, cities and states have laws on the books requiring regular rabies vaccinations for all pets regardless of where they live or how they are kept. Even if you plan on keeping your pet indoors at all times, you may still be required at minimum to keep your pet’s rabies vaccine up to date.

Whether you just got a new indoor pet or you’ve had one for a while, make sure they are up to date on their vaccines. Living indoors does not guarantee protection from parasites and disease, so take your indoor pet to your local veterinary clinic and get their vaccines up to date as soon as possible if you haven’t done so already. If you have any questions about pet vaccinations, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital today. We are happy to help you.

Pet First Aid Basics

Everyone that cares about their pet hates to see them sick or hurting. But, even worse than your pet being hurt is you not knowing what to do about it. What would you do if your pet fell down the stairs and started limping? What would you do if your pet got into your cleaning supplies and chewed into several bottles? All of these scenarios are very possible but yet many pet owners aren’t prepared with a pet first aid kit and a plan. Keep reading for some valuable tips to help you prepare for the common first aid most pets need.

Create your first aid kit

Having a complete pet first aid kit is the first step to being prepared for your pet’s injuries and illnesses. Without a good kit, you will be rushing around trying to find things while your pet is suffering. Here are the basics, though you may need more, or less, depending on your particular pet:

  • Medical records
  • Regular vet phone number
  • Emergency vet phone number
  • Animal Poison Control hot line: 888-426-4435
  • Gauze, non-stick bandages, towels and strips of cloth to control bleeding
  • Tape to secure bandages (don’t use band-aids on pets)
  • Milk of magnesia to absorb poison
  • Digital fever thermometer (since regular ones don’t go high enough for pets
  • Eye dropper (or large syringe without needle)
  • Muzzle
  • Leash
  • Stretcher

Administering first aid to your pet

Virtually every pet owner will face a situation at some time where their pet is hurt or sick. How you handle it will determine a lot for the health of your pet and your own safety as well. When the moment comes, keep these things in mind.

  • Any animal in pain is unpredictable. Even if you have had your pet for many years, do not trust them to not bite or scratch because if they are in pain they will do abnormal things.
  • Do not try to hug your pet. Even though that may be your first instinct, it may hurt them and cause them to bite or become more agitated. Keep your face out of biting range at all times.
  • When you are examining your pet, keep it slow and gentle. Stop if you notice that they are in pain or start to get upset when you touch a certain area.
  • Make sure your vet knows you are coming and will have a place ready for you. You don’t want to rush to the vet only to have to wait in the waiting room or in your car with a sick or injured pet.
  • If your pet is not vomiting, it is a good idea to put a muzzle on them to decrease the chance of you and anyone else being bitten.
  • You can wrap cats and small dogs in a towel to restrain them if a muzzle isn’t appropriate.
  • NEVER muzzle your pet if it is vomiting and ALWAYS make sure your pet can breathe.
  • If your pet has a broken bone, try to stabilize the injury by splinting or bandaging before you move them.
  • Keep your injured pet confined while you travel to prevent further injury. Put them in a pet crate or a makeshift stretcher out of a sled or board.

If your pet has been poisoned

Follow the instructions on the bottle of any toxic product (like cleaning supplies) if your pet has gotten the product in their eyes or on their skin. Often, the instructions say to rinse thoroughly with water or wash with soap and water which is what you should do for your pet immediately.

If your pet has consumed something toxic, you need to call the Animal Poison Control Center hot line immediately. If you don’t know what they consumed, but they are having seizures, going unconscious or struggling to breathe, you should still call your vet or the poison hot line since it is likely that they have swallowed something they shouldn’t have.

You should have this information available:

  • Breed, sex, age, weight and species
  • Symptoms
  • What they consumed
  • How much they consumed
  • How long ago they consumed it
  • Have the package to show ingredients

Find any material that your pet vomited or chewed up and seal it in a plastic bag. You need to take it with you when you go to the vet so they can have a better idea of what they ingested.

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Remember that first aid is not a substitute for veterinary care. First aid can save your pet’s life or decrease the chances of more injuries but it should always be followed up by a check up by a veterinarian. If you think your pet may have been poisoned or broken a leg, always follow through and get them thoroughly checked even if they seem to be better after some first aid. Contact Longview Animal Hospital with any questions you may have about your pet’s health or injuries.