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Choosing a kitten from among its siblings is such a joyful experience as you contemplate the perfect name for your new little fur baby and friend. Like with many pets, it takes a lot of time and training to make sure you and your kitten share the most wonderful life for the next fifteen or so years. One thing you are likely not thinking about is hairballs – although if you end up with a cat, you will soon learn about them!

hairballs

What are hairballs?

Hairballs are not the balls of fluff your cat’s brush accumulates after you groom it. Instead, it is the hair your cat’s tongue licks up while it is grooming itself. A cat’s tongue has a hook-like texture, almost like sandpaper, to it that makes it pick up any loose hairs on the animal’s coat. Most of the time the loose or dead hair passes through the entire digestive tract with no problems at all. The term “hairball” refers to conditions when the cat’s hair remains in the animal’s stomach, forming a ball of fur. When the cat regurgitates this hairball, it looks more like a cylinder because it had to pass through the narrow esophagus.

Are hairballs harmful?

If cats instinctively self-clean using their tongues, then of course these hairballs are not a problem right? Unfortunately, that is where matters can become complicated. Normally, hairballs would not form in a cat’s gut, but when they do it can harm them. If your cat cannot regurgitate the hairball, then the only other place for it to go is through the intestines. This is where it can cause a blockage, which will induce abdominal pain, vomiting, lack of appetite or lethargic behavior. If left untreated and the hairball remains in your cat’s stomach, it may mineralize and become hard. Mineralization is a fairly uncommon occurrence.

How are hairballs prevented?

Now that you know what hairballs are and the dangers they can pose to your furry friend, you probably would like to know what preventative measures you can take. When you consider that cat’s lick their fur to keep their coats clean, it is because there is loose fur. Brushing your cat often, even daily, will help to prevent them from licking up and swallowing excess fur. Make sure your cat’s skin and coat is well maintained with regular brushing, grooming and by applying flea or tick medicine.

Cats also lick themselves excessively when they experience anxiety. Evaluate your cat’s housing situation and make the necessary changes to prevent your cat from being on edge all the time.

What are some at-home treatments?

If you take all of these precautions against hairballs and your cat still struggles with them, then here are some at-home remedies you can try. Keep in mind, it is normal for a cat to regurgitate a hairball once a week. Some simple treatments you can try with your cat is to add a small amount of butter or oil to their food to help lubricate the hairball and allow it to pass more smoothly through the digestive tract, limiting impaction. Another trick you can try is using a treat or gel designed to help cats get rid of hairballs. There are a number of different treats you can use online or in your local pet store – feel free to ask us for a recommendation.

When should you call your veterinarian?

If you have tried everything you can think of from daily brushings to hairball preventative treats and it still has not worked, you should call your veterinarian. Your vet will determine through various methods if the vomiting, lethargic behavior or hacking is due to a hairball. These methods may include an examination, x-ray, ultrasound and blood work. The reason why these tests need done on your cat is to eliminate the chances that the abnormal behavior is not related to asthma or another gastrointestinal issue. More often than not, your cat will take a laxative (under proper supervision and care). Mineralized hairballs often will require removal through surgery.

Having a cat and the laughs, comfort and overall joy they bring far outway the risks posed by hairballs. If you are ever concerned that your cat may have a hairball stuck in their digestive tract, do not hesitate to give Longview Animal Hospital a call. Remember to watch out for a lack of appetite, lethargic behavior, abdominal pain and unproductive hacking or vomiting. Contact Longview Animal Hospital today to make your appointment.

As a caring pet owner, your dog and cat companions are an important part of your life. Watching your pet shake his or her head in distress, combined with frequent scratching, should not be taken lightly. It can be a sign of ear mites or other more serious conditions.

Ear Mites

Though ear mites aren’t necessarily life threatening, they can lead to ear disease and complications like hearing loss. Your pet’s ear health plays a vital role in the overall veterinarian care plan for your pet. If you’re not familiar with ear mites or have concerns about them with your dog or cat, we’ve answered some of the more pressing questions.

What Are Ear Mites?

First of all, ear mites are very common. They’re actually tiny parasites that take up residence inside your pet’s ear canal. Once inside the ear, the mites lay eggs and the reproduction cycle begins. An adult female ear mite continues to reproduce throughout her life, which is usually around two months.

Once in place, the mite population in your pet’s ear grows, typically causing severe itchiness and discomfort for your dog or cat. On occasion, ear mites migrate outside of the ear and onto the skin. The result is the same — considerable itchiness and irritation — on your pet’s skin.

Since they’re tiny parasites, it’s very difficult to see mites. They survive by feeding on dead skin. Ear mites easily spread from animal to animal by casual contact. In addition to significant ear inflammation for your dog or cat, mites can also contribute to ear infections.

It’s not typical for mites to cause problems for humans. But if you do have sensitive skin, you may experience some temporary itching if you come in contact with ear mites.

Common Symptoms of Ear Mites in Pets

One of the telltale signs of ear mites is head shaking. Your dog or cat may also spend time tilting his or her head and engage in frequent ear scratching. If you look inside the ear, you may readily see dark and crusty wax and discharge. In severe cases with significant scratching, blood blisters can appear on the ear. If the mites have spread onto other areas on your pet’s body, you may notice scratching of the irritated skin.

Puppies and kittens are more vulnerable to infestations though pets of all ages can contract mites.

Diagnosing Ear Mites

Though your pet may show signs of the common symptoms of ear mites, other ear diseases or issues can present with similar behaviors. For example, a foxtail (spear grass) seed lodged in your dog’s ear can cause many of the same symptoms — head shaking, discomfort and scratching.

To diagnose ear mites, your veterinarian will examine the ear with an instrument called an otoscope. If you’ve ever had your ears examined by your doctor, you’re familiar with this device. Your veterinarian may also decide to diagnose by a microscopic examination and collect ear discharge. On occasion to complete the examination, your veterinarian may need to sedate your pet if his or her ears are painful from the infestation.

As part of the diagnosis, your veterinarian will also get a history of your pet’s activities, such as contact with other pets who might have ear mite infestations. Pets that spend time outside, especially cats, are at a higher risk for an ear mite infestation.

Treatment of Ear Mites

Once the diagnosis is made, your veterinarian will review treatment options with you based on your pet, the severity of the infestation and your preferences. Since the mites are parasites, the products for treatment are usually insecticidal in nature. They range from topical solutions to injections. Flea medications are sometimes recommended for mite infestations on your pet’s skin.

Your veterinarian will most likely want a follow-up visit with your pet. This is to ensure that the treatment was effective. Further treatment may be necessary to completely eradicate the ear mites.

To prevent future ear mite infestations, your veterinarian may give you tips on keeping your pet’s ear canal clean. Avoiding contact with other dogs or cats with known infestations is also recommended.

When to Call Us

If you’re concerned about your pet — and you’ve noticed behaviors that might indicate ear mites — it’s important to take your dog or cat for an examination. A proper diagnosis is necessary to determine the best treatment. If you’re pet has or develops an untreated ear issue, such as an infection, it can lead to deafness or other serious complications. Proper veterinarian care can prevent more severe consequences from an ear mite infestation. For more information about ear care for your pets or to make an appointment, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. Our team of dedicated professionals would be happy to help you care for your furry friends.

When it comes to your pets, you want to provide them with the best care possible. Knowing the signs of certain medical issues will help you in determining when your pet needs care. A stroke can cause serious damage. It is caused by a blood vessel becoming blocked or narrowed. Oxygen is no longer making it to the brain, which causes brain cells to die.  By recognizing the signs of strokes in dogs and cats, you can save their life.

Recognizing Strokes in Dogs and Cats

Cats and dogs can suffer strokes just as people can. It may seem like these strokes occur less frequently, but the signs can be more difficult to pick up on. While most strokes are caused by blood clots, bacteria, tumor cells, parasites, trauma, clotting disorders or other diseases may also be to blame. 

Animals can’t tell you directly when something is bothering them. They may be experiencing symptoms of a stroke that you can’t see. They may be having problems with memory or vision. They could be dizzy, but you might not know. That’s why it’s so important to know the things to watch for that you can notice. Depending on the damage severity and part of the brain affected, there will be different neurological signs

Signs and symptoms of a stroke in animals 

Dogs

For dogs, you should look for physical symptoms such as difficulty walking, a head tilt, falling or listing to one side, seizures, abnormal eye movement and blindness. Other signs include loss of housetraining, being less aware of surroundings and a change in personality. 

Cats

Cats have pretty dramatic signs when it comes to stroke and it may be easier to notice. You should watch for trouble walking, either limping on a front leg or dragging one or both hind legs. If your cat is howling or meowing in pain, it can also be a sign of stroke.

Causes of increased risk

Some diseases can cause an increased risk of stroke. If you have a cat or dog with one of the following diseases, you should be extra observant about stroke symptoms: cancer; hypertension; cushing’s disease; hypothyroidism; heart disease; and/or bleeding disorders.

Treatment

If you suspect your pet has had a stroke, the first thing you need to do is contact our offices for an emergency appointment. The sooner a stroke is diagnosed and treated, the better off your pet will be. 

A cardiac evaluation is often one of the first tests that is administered. Many times a stroke may be confused with a fainting episode. This is called syncope and is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain as well, but usually due to heart disease. In order to make a correct diagnosis, tests may need to include a cardiac ultrasound, chest x-rays or an electrocardiogram.

If it is determined that your pet’s heart isn’t the problem, brain function will be evaluated next. To check for bleeding or brain blockages, an MRI or a CT scan may be done at a specialty hospital. To figure out the root cause of the blood flow problem, hormone level testing, blood pressure reading, urinalysis and blood work tests may be performed as well.

Once the cause of a stroke is determined, we will know how to treat it. Blood pressure stabilizers may be prescribed to fight hypertension. Your pet may be prescribed blood thinners to break up a clot or hormone therapy for hypothyroidism.

After care

As your pet recovers by restoring proper blood flow, the signs and symptoms of a stroke will usually diminish. 

It is very important to make sure to follow any instructions you are given to help your pet recover. You may also need to administer pain medication, and provide physical therapy and nutritional management as well. In the early stages of after care, your pet may also need assistance with urinating, defecating and walking.

To help your pet recover faster, make sure you’re around to help. Your pet should have a comfortable place to rest and plenty of encouragement. You should also make sure that your pet is eating and drinking appropriately. 

You will also need to help your pet get to his feet and encourage him to go outside as needed. Strenuous exercise or vigorous play should be avoided. Your pet will let you know when he is feeling well enough to play.

It can take a while to recover from a stroke. Owners need to be patient and not push their pet too hard during recovery. It can take a few weeks or more for your pet to be back to his/her normal behavior. Once your pet has recovered, make sure to still give plenty of love and encouragement. He may not be as agile as he was before the stroke and you need to keep that in mind as you resume play and a more normal schedule.

It can be terrifying when your pet goes through a major medical event. We are here to help you through the process. Contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital for support and guidance.

Keeping the Holidays Festive for all Members of the Family

The holidays should be the brightest, most joyous days of the year for all of the members of your family.  What if the needs of your furry family members or youngsters are different than the others? What if something that makes one merry makes another ill or puts him or her at risk?  This is very much the case for pets and children that might be around your home during the holiday season. Since everyone deserves the right to be safe and secure in your home, forethought and planning are essential.  Consider the following child and pet proofing tips for the holiday season as a safety check for an enjoyable, carefree celebration as this year draws to a close.

Child and Pet Proofing Tips for the Holiday Season

Protect from Poisonous Plants

Ironically, some of the plants most associated with holiday cheer and goodwill actually have hidden toxic properties. Watch out for these festive, yet foreboding, plants:

Holly stems or wreaths

While beautiful, the sharp spines of holly stems can cause serious damage to a pet’s mouth. The chemicals within the leaves are toxic, causing vomiting and diarrhea. Keep any sprigs of holly high above a pet or child’s reach.

Lilies

Though lilies appear primarily at Easter time, many homes bring them back during the Christmas season because of their beauty and religious significance. However, ingesting the stems or leaves of a lily can lead to kidney damage or in extreme cases, kidney failure. This can be devastating to a pet or young child, and can even lead to death. Seek medical care immediately if anyone in the household ingests part of a lily plant.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe symbolizes the need to get up close and exchange a holiday kiss. On the other hand, no pet or child should get too close to mistletoe. If ingested, this plant can also cause vomiting, lethargy, and fatigue, but the real danger is dehydration. If your pet or child gets into mistleto and won’t drink an ample amount of water, seek medical help.

Poinsettias

Poinsettias are distinctive with their deep hues of white and red. Despite their beauty, the thick sap of poinsettias is toxic. Reactions would include lack of appetite, vomiting or even depression. If ingested, restrict food and water for a couple of hours to watch for symptoms. If they persist more than a couple of hours, consult your veterinarian. 

Deck the Halls With Caution

Holidays would not be complete without the alluring lights and decorations of the season. Despite their charm, they are filled with hidden dangers for pets and young children.  Be wary of the following common decorative items, and keep them away from those that are vulnerable. In fact, consider foregoing some altogether if they cannot be well monitored:

Electric wires

Bundles of electric wire usually appear throughout the home during the holiday season. This can peak the curiosity of many animals and children. Exploration through chewing or handling inappropriately can lead to burns, electric shocks, or even fires. Unplug electric cords when not in use, and use cord protectors as well as pet-deterrent sprays, which are found at local pet stores. 

Glass decorations or ornaments

Glass decorations are beautiful and classic by nature. Their glistening effects as they catch the light can draw the attention of your furry family members and the little hands and mouths of small children. Of course, glass decorations can be easily broken. Shards of glass are very dangerous to the skin, eyes and digestive systems of those that are most vulnerable.  Keep glass decorations high above reach, or consider putting them away or replacing them with wooden or plastic decorations when entertaining around pets or children.  

Holiday trees

Be sure that any tree that is used to commemorate the season is anchored firmly.  Animals and children are naturally curious, and many will reach for the highest branches or even attempt to climb a tree. A toppled tree could cause cuts and bruises from broken decorations, or even worse if one is caught underneath its weight. Try to secure trees and large decorations with soft cords or chains against a firm wall.

Stockings

Be sure that stockings are placed out of reach from curious pets and children, especially when they are filled with treats of chocolate, perfumed lotions, glassware, and other dangerous items.

Tinsel

Strands of tinsel are attractive when woven around a tree, but can  wreak havoc on sensitive digestive systems. Consider eliminating tinsel altogether, including sharp ribbons and other long strands that could cause serious damage if swallowed.

Contact us with Questions about Child and Pet Proofing Tips for the Holiday Season

With special forethought and attention to detail, your holidays can truly be rewarding and hazard free. Be sure to monitor the status of all of your decorations throughout the season.  Pets and young children deserve special protection at this time of year. 

Remember to contact us at Longview Animal Hospital for information, guidance, and medical attention for your pets during the holidays. Our expert, compassionate team can put your mind at ease during this hectic, festive season.

A pet at home brings you unconditional love, attention and joy. A trained therapy pet is an animal that learns how to give comfort, love and affection to others. The job of a therapy pet is to provide support to individuals who need it.  The tasks range from just petting, nuzzling or staying by the individual’s side to provide support.

Now, think about how a therapy pet can change the atmosphere of the workplace. The benefits are not just for the employees but the company too. When employees are happy, it shows in their work.

Therapy Pets

Therapy Pets Reduce Stress

If work is serious all the time, employees can become stressed and unhappy. Stress and the mood of an employee can affect their work negatively. But, therapy pets can change the workplace environment by providing smiles and laughter to the people around them. Just think about it, if an employee is having a difficult day and a therapy dog comes up to them wagging its tail and nudging for someone to pet it, you can bet there will be a smile in response to this at the very least. By lightening the mood in the workplace and keeping everyone in good spirits, employees will enjoy their time at work.

Therapy Pets Provide Love and Comfort

When a therapy pet shows a person attention, it has the capacity to change the way that person is feeling (about themself and about others around them. It is proven that animals have a calming and soothing effect on people, lowering heart rate and blood pressure as well as just making people feel good.

A therapy pet can often sense when a person is in need of comfort. When that time comes, it will pay more attention to that person and stay near them. Again, receiving the necessary attention and affection can change that person’s outlook for that moment or even for the entire day. 

Therapy Pets Can Increase Morale and Work Productivity

The joy and happiness a therapy pet brings is priceless. The smiles and laughter are great rewards for your employees. However, that is not the only benefit from a therapy pet. When employees are happy, the morale in the company increases. The increase in morale translates into those employees becoming more productive. More productive employees results in higher profitability for the company (through better employee retention, less training of new people, and general increased attention to work) .

The Downside to Therapy Pets at Work

There are a few reasons that could deter you from allowing therapy pets at work. The first includes the additional costs associated with pets. You will need to make sure the animal has a place to play as well as a place to rest and take a break from working. It requires walking and exercising your pet as well as proper veterinary care, checkups, diet, etc.

Another potential issue that could arise from therapy pets at work may be employees who may have allergies, or fears when dogs or cats are around. Before you decide on adopting a therapy pet, you may want to check with employees to make sure none of them have an allergy or other special considerations, and maybe allow them to be involved in the selection process. If a cat or a dog won’t work, perhaps a hamster or other smaller animal could be an alternative.

Therapy Pet Alternatives

With technology today, some businesses are looking at robotic alternatives to the traditional therapy pet. A technologically-advanced pet would eliminate many of the negatives of a live animal. For example, you would no longer need a spot for them to do their business or even eat. Because it is mechanical, you do not have the worry about triggering allergies – but you may have the need for repairs or troubleshooting if technical issues occur.

Event though artificial intelligence is growing by leaps and bounds, the reaction of people to a live animal is truly priceless. The reaction for a robotic animal is programmed and not spontaneous. A robotic animal will not have genuine emotions towards the employees that are around, and the ‘relationship’ is different.

No matter what you decide on, a live therapy pet or an electronic alternative, the point is that you are looking to change and improve the working environment for the benefit of both the company and its employees. Both will allow your employees to grow and become happier in their position at work, creating a more positive environment which increases the morale and productivity.

For more information about therapy pets, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. We can help you with information to be sure your animal is right for you and your place of business.


The immune system helps fight off diseases and infections. If your immune system is continually working, it will start to become weak and you need to give it a little help to make it strong again. The same is true for your pet’s immune system. 

Your Pet's Immunity

There are different approaches that you can take to strengthen your pet’s immunity. One approach is to use natural methods. Another method is to take supplements. Some supplements come from natural herbs and oils while other supplements come from synthetic ingredients. You can use a combination of these methods to help strengthen your pet’s immune system.

The Natural Approach 

A natural approach uses non-chemical methods to achieve an end result. Other approaches may include the use of things like herbs, oils or other supplements to improve the immune system, but those should be used only with consultation from your veterinarian professional.

Exercising

The first natural approach is to ensure that your pet has plenty of exercise. Keeping your pet active will reduce the amount of fat stored in your pet’s body. Excess fat can cause inflammation which in turn reduces the immune system. When your pet burns additional fat through exercise, there is a correlating reduction of inflammation.

The recommendation for your pet is daily exercise. Using play as your pet’s daily exercise routine can keep your pet’s interest and will make it feel less like a chore. Changing the types of exercises and games that you play together can keep both you and your pet interested.

Dietary Choices/Probiotics

While humans can choose what they eat each day, your pet relies on you completely for its food. The decisions you make about your pet’s food can affect your pet’s health. Try choosing foods with minimal preservatives and a high amount of antioxidants. Our hospital can help you choose a great food if desired.

If you want to naturally strengthen your dog’s immune system through its diet, you need to feed your pet a meat-based diet. Wet foods help digestion and reduce the amount of inflammation. When the inflammation is low, the immune system is working properly. You can check with our offices to find a solution for a good mix of foods to assure proper nutrition and minimize intestinal inflammation.

Addition of Probiotics

Adding probiotics is another way to support immune system health. Longview Animal Hospital has several options to choose from and can help you decide what to give your pet for maximum benefit. The purpose of the probiotic for your pet is the building up of the walls in the intestine which helps to fend off bacteria and other diseases. Probiotics also keeps good bacteria in the digestive system, healthy which keeps bad bacteria in check.

You should always check with us when adding supplements to your pet’s diet as you need to make sure to give the correct amount. Adding too much of a supplement to your pet’s diet can cause problems, while adding too little might not provide a benefit.

Pet Hygiene

One easy way for you to reduce the causes for a weak immune system is to monitor your environment and maintain some healthy practices. The risks for infection decrease when you consistently clean your pet’s toys. The germs from toys and other ‘chew’ items can be transmitted through your pet’s body triggering the immune system to go to work. When you keep your pet’s toys and environment clean the immune system does not have to work as hard.

Not only should you keep the toys clean but also consider washing your pet. (Some pets need bathing more than others, so this is an individual choice.) Set a regular bath or grooming schedule for your pet. Keeping your pet clean gets rid of all the allergens and dirt and helps to keep germs to a minimum. Reducing the things that can cause the immune system to work harder will help keep your pet healthier.

These are just a few easy ways you can help to improve your pet’s immune system. As always, you can Contact our Team at Longview Animal Hospital for any guidance and questions.

Cats and humans have very distinct personality types. Some personalities get along better with others. So when you are looking for a cat, you will want to make sure its personality is compatible with your own and other cats you may have in your house. If the personalities do not match, you may put unwanted stress on the animals in your home causing unwanted behaviors like not using a litter box, scratching furniture, biting, hissing or even becoming less social.

Agreeable Personalities

An agreeable personality is one that goes with the flow and gets along with everyone. This type likes to be around others and is very friendly. This personality is the social butterfly and is always communicating. 

A cat with an agreeable personality will want to be around people and seek attention and affection. The cat with the agreeable personality is willing to give affection as well. In fact an agreeable cat will tend to give more affection than most. It will want to play and interact with its owner.

An agreeable cat is great for those that are also outgoing and love companionship. This type of cat is also good for those that tend to be quiet and shy because it may help to break them out of their shell. The agreeable cat is best for a home with multiple cats because they will adapt to the situation and get along with the others.

Dominant Personalities

A dominant personality is one that takes charge. They like being the boss. This personality is demanding and controlling. Everything is about them. These personalities require a lot of attention because when they want something, they expect it right away.

A cat with a dominant personality will need to be in a single cat home. You will need to make sure to pay attention to the cat when it wants something so it will not become spiteful. If the cat does not get what it wants, it can start to cause damage to furniture or exhibit other negative behaviors.

A dominant cat and a dominant human will not work because both of them want control. Stress and tension will develop because both will fight to be the ‘king of the castle’. 

Extroverted Personalities

The extroverted personality is outgoing and likes a challenge. You need to keep them busy because they get bored easily. They are full of energy and need to keep going to work it off. When they become bored, they may get destructive. Providing them with toys and other stimulation helps to keep them out of trouble.

You can pair a cat with an extroverted personality with an agreeable type. This pairing will give the extrovert a playmate to keep it busy and the agreeable one will go with the flow. 

Impulsive Personalities

An impulsive personality is one that is unpredictable. They will not react the same way twice to the same situation. The cat with the impulsive personality is having a hard time dealing with environmental stress. The environmental stress can be caused by a number of different factors – things like loud noises, yelling or not keeping to a schedule. 

If you have an impulsive cat, you will not want to bring home another cat. Changing your cat’s environment could cause your cat to act out. An impulsive cat requires consistency in its schedule. The schedule allows the cat to know and understand what to expect.

Neurotic Personalities

The personality of a neurotic cat is more of a loner. It is timid and shy and will likely avoid people and other animals. A neurotic cat will not show affection because of its cautious nature. If you are not looking for the cuddly cat and can handle one that is more independent, you may want to consider one with a neurotic personality.

A neurotic cat will require some special attention to the surroundings in your home. For example, you will want to provide extra hiding spaces for them. The extra hiding spaces will allow them to go to a safe place where no one can find them. 

If you are shy or timid, a cat with the same type of personality will not cause you to have to change your living style. The cat will hide and most likely only come out when you are not around. As the cat becomes more comfortable with its new surroundings, the cat will start to come around more. Do not worry, it will take some time.

A neurotic cat will do best when it is the only cat in the house. If you have multiple cats, getting a cat that is timid and shy will not work well because they will not assert themselves to get food or water.

Which Cat Personality Lives in Your Home?

All cats can display combinations of the above personalities at some time or another, depending on the situation, but usually there is one type that is clearly more apparent or dominant than any others. A cat that is not a good fit in your household will be clear in a fairly short amount of time. Knowing what kind of personality your cat has will help you to understand better and make necessary accommodations within your home, with your family and with other pets in your household.

If you have questions about your cat’s behavior, and ways to eliminate stress for your pet, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. We are happy to help.

Caring for a pet that is either going blind or is already blind requires additional care and attention. This can come in many ways – from helping your pet around the house, to feeding practices and the way you use treats. Owners of a visually impaired pet need to take steps to make sure that their pet feels comfortable and is not experiencing pain.

Knowing the Signs of Visual Impairment

If your pet is starting to act differently, you need to look at everything that is going on with them – their eating, playing and normal routines. Look for changes like the following:

  • Your pet’s eyes becoming cloudy or red.
  • Your pet now startles easily.
  • Your pet is getting clumsier.
  • Your pet is having trouble finding toys.
  • Your pet’s energy is declining.
  • You notice that your pet is having pain in the eyes.

These signs are all the things that start happening when your pet is becoming visually impaired or is already blind. If you have a pet that is showing those signs, you need to bring it in for an appointment for confirmation of the blindness.

Tips for Caring for a Blind Pet 

When you are caring for a blind pet, you need to make sure it feels comfortable and safe. Things that you will need to do to help care for your pet can range from creating a safe place to talking to your pet more.

Creating a Safe Place

The first thing you will want to do for your blind pet is to create a safe place. This means that you will want to provide a specific area for your pet to go to when it feels afraid or just needs a place to rest. This area will give your pet comfort and safety.

Talking to Your Pet More Often

The sound of your voice will help to calm your blind pet, so keep the conversation going and speak often. Your voice will also help your pet to know where it is and where you are. You will also want to talk with your pet before you start touching it. Letting your pet know where you are and what you are doing beforehand will keep them from getting startled.

The Importance of a Consistent Routine

When you have a pet that is visually impaired or blind, you want to keep a routine that is as consistent as possible. Routines will reduce the stress that your pet feels. You will want to take them on the same walking routes and visit the same parks. Another thing you will want to do for your blind pet is not move the furniture in your house or apartment. Changing your furniture will only confuse your pet and cause them stress.

Identifying Your Blind Pet

It is important to let others know that your pet is blind. When you take your pet out, make sure you put some type of clothing that says “I’m blind”. You will need to explain to the others that your pet is blind and that your pet can be startled easily. They will need to know that they need to talk to your pet before touching it. Another identifier that you need for your pet is a tag that goes on its collar stating that he or she is blind.

Location Cues

A location cue is something that tells your pet where it is in your home. For example, you place a carpet runner at the front door. You will place only that carpet at the front door. This carpet helps your pet get its bearings back if they pet get confused. You will want to place different location cues throughout the house for your pet. One thing you need to make sure of is that each of the cues is different.

Safety-proofing Your Home

Another important thing you need to consider is your pet’s safety in your home. Think through everything and every place within your home. Don’t overlook anything. You might even get down on your hands and knees and crawl around. You will need to look for things that could fall if your blind pet bumps into it, furniture that might have sharp corners, and places where your pet might trip or fall. Think of making your house safe like if you had a toddler – put cushioned protectors on sharp corners and baby gates at any stairs.

Remember, caring for a blind pet requires more attention to the environment around it. The most important thing you need to do is make your furry companion feel comfortable and loved.   If you have questions or concerns about caring for a visually impaired or blind pet, please reach out to us at Longview Animal Hospital. Our team is here to help you!

Happy Howl-O-Ween!

This program will be run entirely through our Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/LongviewAnimalHospital/), so make sure to follow us there!

Last Year’s Winners

2018 Winners Pictured Above – Rory, Yuki and Lily!

HOW IT WORKS

Post your photos to our page (*instructions below) starting today  (10/1) and we will add them (within 24 hrs) to our 2019 Howl-O-Ween Costume “Album”.  Once added, you can share with friends and family to build likes and comments.  Submissions must be made prior to 5pm on October 30th.  Votes will be tallied and winners will be announced on October 31, 2019.  The images with the most likes will be selected as our top three winners.  Note: Contest winners must reside with their pets within our business operating region (throughout East Texas).

Voting will take place on images in the official 2019 Contest Album  LINKED HERE  between October 1 and October 30 (5pm CST) – 1 like/per person = 1 vote.

Winners (top 3 of those with the most likes) will be announced on our Facebook Page before 5pm CST on October 31.

PRIZES

1st Prize: $50 gift card for use at Longview Animal Hospital and a Pawsitively Awesome Pet Gift Basket!

2nd Prize: $30 gift card for use at Longview Animal Hospital and a large bag of Hills Science Diet  pet food.

3rd Prize: $20 gift card for use at Longview Animal Hospital.

INSTRUCTIONS – HOW TO ENTER

Make sure you “Like”/”Follow” the Longview Animal Hospital Facebook Page  at https://www.facebook.com/LongviewAnimalHospital/

Message us through Facebook with your photo (this is different from last year).

In your message content, please include:

Happy Howl-O-Ween!  followed by: Pet’s Name, Age & Breed (if known), Costume description and any additional information you would like to share about the photo.

(We will attempt to tag your profile when we upload the image and info to our album so that you can share the link directly with friends. If you are not listed as ‘liking’ the page, or if your privacy settings don’t allow, we won’t be able to do this. You will still be able to share the post from our album.  If we are unable to tag you, we will message you a reply to let you know it is online.)
Remember, the earlier in the month you send us your photo, the more time you will have to share and accumulate likes!  

Thank you!  We look forward to seeing your pictures – good luck to all and Happy Howl-O-Ween!

View Official Contest Rules Page

Having a pet is a great responsibility. You need to make sure your pet is healthy and happy. When your pet is younger, it is full of energy. As your pet gets older you need to change how you care for it. The simplest things can become challenging for your senior pet. The things that you need to consider for your aging pet is food, exercise, health and basic needs.

As your pet gets older, you will start to see signs. These signs may include walking slower, trouble getting up, not eating bones or hard food, urinary problems or trouble getting in and out of a car. You need to look for the signs in your aging pet so you can make the necessary changes to make your pet happier.

Adjusting Diet for Senior Pets

As your pet becomes older, it may have trouble eating the harder foods. One of the problems with a senior pet is its teeth become softer and more brittle. Continuing to feed your pet hard food may cause broken teeth or pain when eating. You can help your pet by changing to a softer food. You may decide to purchase the pre-packaged soft foods or you may want to make the soft food yourself. If you chose to make the food yourself, you need to be conscious of your pet’s nutrition. You must make sure your pet is getting all the nutrients it needs.

A Different Type of Exercise

A younger pet can run, jump and play for long periods of time. The energy seems never ending. But with an older pet you need to be aware of the limitations. These limitations may not only be physical but also relate to your pet’s endurance. Your pet may only last for a few minutes before becoming exhausted. Remember not to push your pet to continue to play. If it keeps trying to sit or lie down while playing, have some down time. You might want to structure your pet’s exercise time in small increments but more often. Instead of playing for a half hour or more like when it was younger, do five minutes at a time with a ten minute break in between exercises. 

Another thing is if you and your pet ran together, you need to change that run to a walk. You need to keep an eye on how well your pet is walking. As it ages walking long distances may become an issue and your pet may start limping or just stop walking. If you notice your pet having difficulties walking, reduce the length of the walk and increase the frequency. For example, in the past you would walk around the block twice but now you just walk to the corner and back in the morning and evening. More frequent, shorter walks still allow your pet to get its exercise but also give them a needed break in between.

Health Consciousness

Just like humans, when your pet gets older, they may have health issues like loss of hearing or vision, blood sugar problems and heart conditions. Some of these conditions require medications while others require adjustments to your living arrangements.

If your senior pet is having trouble seeing, it will start bumping into furniture or tripping over things while walking. You can help protect your pet by making sure area rugs or runners are secure, steps have gates, sharp corners have covers and there are no slippery walkways. If hearing is the problem, make sure you are constantly talking to your pet. This gives your pet an idea where you are and help to assure that you do not startle him or her.

Another health concern may include your pet’s hygiene. As your pet becomes older, they may develop bad breath or other odors. To keep your pet healthy, you need to begin brushing its teeth more frequently and adding more baths to keep him or her clean. If you increase the number of baths, you will want to pay attention to your pet’s skin condition as well so you do not dry it out. You want to use a very mild soap or shampoo.

Changes in Basic Needs

A senior pet has different basic need requirements. These basic needs change from the ability to go up and down stairs to needing a ramp. Your pet may require urination pads in the house because he or she can no longer wait as long to go outside. 

Other Articles from our Blog that you may find helpful:

For more information about senior pets and their care, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital. We are here to help you with the best care possible for your aging pet.