Dickinson Animal Hospital Blog
An experience that requires time, energy, research, and ongoing participation can end up feeling like a chore, but in the case of pet ownership, the process is incredibly rewarding. Sure, it can be perceived as a “job,” but caring for a pet, looking out for their welfare, and preparing for emergencies is at the core of pet ownership. And it can certainly be a lot of fun – starting with the right approach to pet adoption.
Not a Right
Caring for an animal is a privilege. The decision to open your home and share your life with a pet must be done with the long view in mind. Many pets can live up to two decades! It’s absolutely imperative that you be prepared to provide for a pet’s needs for the length of their whole life.
There are many compelling reasons to adopt a cat, but one factor that draws in prospective owners is the idea that cats require less day-to-day care and attention. Sure, many cats might keep more to themselves than some dogs, but that doesn’t mean their health can be ignored. When you commit to a feline friend, you’re saying that cat wellness matters to you. And it matters to us, too!
We strongly advise cat owners to bring their cats in to see us twice a year for cat wellness examinations. This preventive approach allows us to remain on the forefront of your cat’s health. By taking care of any developing problems before they get out of hand, we can sustain wellness for longer periods of time.
Animals, especially dogs, are drawn to water. Be it a murky ditch, a puddle, or recreational lakes and rivers, many pets love to slurp, splash, and swim whenever water is around. Unfortunately, not all water sources are safe for fun. In fact, many water sources can shelter bacteria and parasites.
Before you head out to enjoy some splash time for your best friend, be on the lookout for the following risks so you can increase your awareness about pet water safety:
Parasites in the Murk
Some of the scariest pet-related water issues in Galveston County are a result of the water-borne parasitic infections, Enterococcus Bacteria and the ‘flesh-eating disease’ Vibrio vulnificus. Both are considered serious threats, are caused by fecal microbiota, and are often found in bracken water. Additional illnesses on the rise include giardia and leptospirosis (which is serious and can lead to liver failure). Scarier still, these are zoonotic illnesses, which means they can spread between animals and people.
Your pet may instinctively drink more water on a hot day – or not. There are several important elements that, when aligned, contribute to a fine balance of health. One of these is, of course, water consumption. As the days grow hotter, so does your pet’s internal temperature. Without paying close attention to how much water your pet is drinking, pet dehydration is a real risk.
How Much is Enough?
Water makes up 70-80% of your pet’s body mass and helps maintain cellular functions. The actual amount of water your pet needs depends on his her breed, weight, age, lifestyle, and exposure to outside elements.
We pay a great deal of attention to the possibility of a lost or missing pet during Halloween and New Year’s, but Independence Day is actually the worst holiday in this respect. It’s terrifying to lose a pet during one of the most chaotic days of the year, but that’s not the only reason July 4th pet safety is so important. Backyard BBQ’s, parades, and firework displays can all create hazardous conditions for your pet.
Because of the escape risk, microchipping your pet is one of the best things you can do this summer. If your pet already has a chip but you’ve moved or changed phone numbers, be sure to update your contact information with the chip manufacturer.
Having a pet go missing isn’t one of the most pleasant things to consider, but an estimated one in three pets go missing in their lifetimes. The reasons for this are varied; some pets are prone to wandering (especially outdoor cats and dogs) while others may just see an opportunity when a gate is left open.
The point is that escapes happen even when you take all the right precautions. This is why microchipping your pet is so important. Microchipping is one of the most effective ways you can ensure a reunion with a pet who is lost or stolen. Even better, it’s a quick and cost effective procedure that is safe for all pets.
No sound is quite as unsettling as the midnight “hack,” “gag,” or “bletch” from Fluffy the cat. Not only is the sight and sound of hairballs being coughed up disturbing, it often also seems equally distressing for our cats. So, what are these mystery lumps of fur, and are they a normal and healthy function of being a cat?
Despite their name, “hairballs” or trichobezoars are not orb shaped as the name implies. Instead, they’re typically thin and cylindrical, a shape formed by emerging through the esophagus. Hairballs are essentially wads of undigested hair along with digestive fluids, bile, and sometimes undigested food.
Gardening season is in full swing, the best time of year for those of us who enjoy enhancing our surroundings with beautiful plants and flowers. Because curiosity often leads outdoor-loving pets to nibble on the flowers and foliage of ornamental plants, care must be taken to ensure that your greenery is safe for pets.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for creating a lush and lovely pet-safe garden, and with a little planning you and your pets will soon be safely enjoying nature’s bounty!
Poisonous Plants and Bulbs
As you flip through the seed catalog or scout out your local garden center, it’s important to keep in mind which plants pose a threat to your pets. The following list includes common plants, bulbs, and flowers that can be toxic to your pet:
Mosquitos, fleas, and ticks, oh my! Besides being annoying and just plain gross, these little critters can pose some serious risks to our pets. Many parasites carry diseases that can sicken or even kill pets, and, in some instances, human members of the family can also be affected.
Thanks to our temperate winters here in the Houston area, these troublesome pests are never far from our minds, or our pets’ bodies, making year-round parasite prevention of the utmost importance. Your team at Dickinson Animal Hospital is committed to helping you find the right parasite prevention products to meet your pet’s needs all year long.
Prevention is the single most important step you can take in protecting your pet from parasites. During your pet’s wellness exam, your veterinarian will work with you to determine the correct parasite prevention protocol based on your pet’s health, lifestyle, and other factors.
The field of veterinary dentistry has made enormous strides in recent years, and the addition of exams and professional cleanings can add vitality to your pet’s overall wellness. A critical piece of the puzzle, however, is routine maintenance between cleanings. Most owners know a bit about at-home pet dental care, but Fluffy needs more than just a dental chew here and there.
Ignoring plaque and tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth can lead to significant health problems, including inflammation, infection, and eventual tooth decay and loss.
An initial indicator of dental disease is the smell of your pet’s breath. Since the majority of cats and dogs over the age of two have dental disease in one form or another, it’s important not to let this slide. Poor oral health can have surprising effects on the health of your pet’s heart, liver, and kidneys.