You’ve probably seen or heard the term “puppy mill,” but do you know what a puppy mill actually is? If you’re considering adopting a puppy or a dog, you’ll want to avoid adopting from one, even through a third party. Here’s what you need to know about puppy mills.
What Is a Puppy Mill?
A puppy mill is defined by the ASPCA as a “large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is placed above the well-being of the animals.” These mills work toward the mass production of puppies and dogs for sale:
- On the internet
- At flea markets
- In classified ads
- In pet stores
Any dog breed of dog, including mixed breeds, can be subjected to a puppy mill environment and the resulting animal cruelty.
Many puppy mills continue to exist because new owners aren’t aware of where their puppies come from. Many trust the breeders or pet stores from which they buy and don’t second-guess the origin of their new family members. As long as the demand is there and a lack of education continues, puppy mills will be around.
Why Are Puppy Mills Bad for Dogs?
In puppy mills, dogs and puppies are viewed purely for the money they bring in. Mother dogs are kept in small, confined cages where they are bred over and over. Their puppies are sold to various locations to be sold again to families looking for new dogs. The dogs that stay in puppy mills—as well as puppies before they are sold off—live their entire lives there in squalid conditions:
- They are usually outside in cages, with little to no shelter from weather, cold, or heat.
- Many of the dogs are left to their own devices, and as a result, have to sleep in their own excrement.
- Water and food, when given, can be contaminated or inadequate. Many dogs are starving.
- Dogs are bred until they cannot produce any more puppies. Then they are destroyed.
- Dogs don’t get access to any sort of care from a veterinarian. As a result, many are injured or sick. Dogs have been found suffering from: malnutrition, rotted teeth, skin diseases, matted fur, emaciation
- Mother dogs do not have any break in between litters.
- Dogs don’t get exercise or social engagement.
Puppies from puppy mills can also have behavioral and health problems, due to their environment or breeding. With lack of engagement and socialization with people during the first few weeks of their lives, they can be shy, anxious, or aggressive.
Genetic problems and illnesses are also commonly found in puppy mill puppies, including:
- Intestinal parasites
- Canine parvovirus (parvo)
- Canine distemper
- Urinary or bladder problems
- Respiratory problems or disorders
- Kidney disease
- Eye issues
- Cleft palate
How to Avoid Adopting from a Puppy Mill
One of the best ways to avoid adopting from a puppy mill is to become educated. If you’re considering welcoming a new family member into your home, do your research first. Here are some ways to avoid puppy mills altogether:
Adopt from a Local Animal Shelter or Humane Society
One of the best ways to avoid a puppy mill is to adopt a new family member from your local animal shelter. These are dogs that are looking for homes, are often socialized, and live in adequate conditions. You won’t be supporting a puppy mill by adopting from one of these centers.
If you’d like a particular breed or designer breed, these can be found at animal shelters too! They may even have their papers. There are also many breed-specific rescue organizations, like National Greyhound Adoption Program and Beagle Freedom Project. Don’t rule out shelters and rescues even if you’re after a specific breed!
Only Work with Reputable Breeders
If you want to get your dog from a breeder, try to make sure they are reputable. Responsible breeders truly care for their dogs. They provide a healthy environment and care about the homes their puppies go to. Before adopting from a breeder, always ask to see the puppies’ parents, other dogs in the environment, and the premises your dog was living in.
Avoid Pet Stores, Classified Ads, and “Deals”
Many deals you’ll find in the local newspaper, online on various websites, or at your neighborhood flea market also fall in the too-good-to-be-true category. It’s possible many of these dogs came from poor conditions or puppy mills.
About 90% of pet stores are selling dogs from puppy mills. Some pet stores do follow “puppy-friendly” rules, which means they are selling dogs from local animal shelters or rescues, but do your research if you plan on shopping at a pet store. Look for reviews of the store, and go there yourself to see if the pets look well.
Each year approximately 2 million puppies are sold as the result of puppy mills and nearly 200,000 dogs are being kept in the 10,000 facilities around the United States purely for breeding. You can work to stop puppy mills by advocating for the animals; contacting legislators; and educating others about what they are, the problems surrounding them, and how they too can avoid puppy mills.
Are you bringing home a new family member? It’s important to have them checked by a veterinarian. They can help you identify any genetic issues, work with behavioral problems, and more. To schedule your new family member’s first appointment, reach us at 281-693-7387.
Ear infections in cats aren’t extremely common, but they do happen! If you believe your cat is suffering from one, here’s what you need to know about the signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention of cat ear infections.
What Causes Ear Infections in Cats?
Ear infections are common in people, especially children. Ear infections in cats, however, are rare. If your cat does get one, it will most likely happen in the outer ear (otitis externa) rather than the inner ear (otitis media).
A cat’s ear infection can be caused by a few different things, including:
Mites are a common cause: They’re responsible for approximately 50% of all ear infection cases in felines. The parasite is most often found in kittens, but it’s highly contagious among cats, meaning mites can quickly get around in animal shelters. This is one reason getting your new cat checked out as quickly as possible after adopting is a good idea. Another reason is that mites are so small you won’t be able to see them with the naked eye, and a vet can identify them.
An abscess caused by a bite, scratch, or other injury could result in an infection.
It may surprise you, but cats can have allergies just like humans. An allergic reaction resulting in an ear infection can be caused by food, pollen, enviornmental irritants, or another source.
There are quite a few other, less common reasons your cat could be suffering from an ear infection:
- Foreign bodies (like a blade of grass)
- Growth in the ear canal – This could be a tumor or polyp
- Buildup of wax
- Trapped water
- Reaction to medication
- Improper cleaning
- Other underlying medical conditions, such as: diabetes, autoimmune diseases (FIV), ruptured eardrum
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Cats
There are several signs of a potential ear infection in cats. The most obvious being constant head shaking, scratching, or pawing at the ear. But you should also be on the lookout for:
- A strong odor
- Hearing loss
- Loss of balance
- Discharge that could be black, yellow, or resemble coffee grounds (ear mites)
- Tilting her head
- Redness around the ear
- Uneven pupil size
- Discomfort when you scratch around her ears
- Injury due to constant scratching of her ear
If you notice your cat is shaking her head a lot, has a head tilt, paws at her ears, or causes wounds due to constant scratching, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
How Are Ear Infections in Cats Treated?
If you notice the signs of a potential ear infection in your cat, contact a veterinarian right away. Left untreated, an ear infection could lead to consequences for your pet’s hearing or even require surgery to correct.
Treatment for a feline ear infection depends on the cause of the problem. Your vet may recommend:
- A combination of these
These remedies are available as:
- Ear drops
- Oral medication
Your vet may trim some of the fur around your cat’s ear to help ensure water isn’t being trapped inside and the ear is easier to clean.
In severe cases, where your cat is suffering from chronic infections, the vet may recommend surgery. This will either remove swollen tissue that’s causing the infection or open a closed ear canal. If the veterinarian finds your cat has an inner ear infection, fluid therapy, medications, and a thorough ear cleaning that may require anesthesia might be suggested.
If the underlying cause of the infection was ear mites, and you have other felines at home, ask your veterinarian about prevention for your other cats.
Can You Prevent Ear Infections?
The best preventive care for ear infections is regularly checking the ears. Investigate for redness, discharge, and odors. A healthy ear will have minimal ear wax and appear as a pale pink. If you notice any signs of an ear infection, bring your feline friend to the veterinarian as soon as possible to get treatment before it worsens.
If your cat struggles to clean her ears, you might want to discuss options with the vet. Never use a cleaning solution or cleaning product (such as a cotton swab) on your cat without first talking to a vet.
Ear infections in cats aren’t very common, but you should still be vigilant about your cat’s ears and overall health. Mites, allergies, and other underlying conditions can cause ear problems as well as infections and discomfort for your pet. If you believe your cat has an ear infection, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you notice an odor or discharge coming from your cat’s ears, it’s time to call a veterinarian. We can help get to the bottom of the ear infection in a safe and comfortable environment, and offer treatment options. To schedule an appointment, call 281-693-7387.
Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting time for the whole family! During the excitement, don’t forget to bring your newest family member to the vet for important services that help him put his best paw forward. Find out what you can expect when you bring your puppy to the vet.
When Should Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit Be?
We recommend that you bring your puppy in for a veterinarian appointment within a week of adoption to ensure he’s in good health. Shelters and breeders usually have contracts that require you to get your puppy checked by a vet within a certain timeframe, so be sure to read the details of this paperwork before scheduling an appointment.
If your dog is showing signs of problems, bring him to a vet as soon as possible. Clinics like Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital allow for walk-ins if you’re not able to make an appointment on short notice.
Getting Ready for Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit
Your puppy’s first vet visit might sound stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! You can ask your veterinarian what you should bring to your appointment, but it’s always a good idea to have these items in preparation for a comfortable visit for both you and your pup.
A Collar and Leash
Your puppy should be getting comfortable on a leash and collar (or a harness) as soon as possible. There may be other dogs at the clinic when you visit, and you want to ensure you can keep your puppy nearby and away from trouble, especially in this new environment.
If your dog is smaller or not quite comfortable on a leash yet, you can also consider using a small dog carrier for the time being.
Medical Records and Paperwork
Whether you adopted your puppy from the shelter, a pet store, or a breeder, your dog has medical records and other relevant paperwork. This could be details about:
- His breed
- Past vaccinations
- Prior medical problems
These documents are important at your puppy’s first vet visit, so your veterinarian knows exactly what vaccines and/or treatments to schedule for your dog in the future.
Dog treats and praise are wonderful ways to get your puppy acclimated to a new environment! Visiting the veterinarian for the first time can be stressful for many pups, with loud dogs, cats, or even birds—plus all the new people! There’s a lot going on during a visit to the vet.
Your dog may also be afraid of the veterinarian or veterinary care. Dog treats will help him associate his doctor with good food. Many vets also have treats on hand, so if you forget them, we have you covered!
Questions or Concerns You Have About Your New Puppy
Puppies can be a handful, and it’s okay to have questions about their care or training, especially if you’re new to dog ownership. If you have questions or concerns about your pup’s health, dog training, breed, dog food options, or anything else, write them down and bring them to ask at your veterinary visit.
A Fecal Sample
It’s always a great idea to bring a stool sample with you to the veterinarian. This will allow the clinic to test your new family member for worms or other issues. If you’re on the fence about bringing one, call to ask before your appointment.
The cost of a puppy’s first vet visit depends on what your puppy has done during the exam. Usually the visit itself costs between $45 and $55, though this varies from doctor to doctor. Also take into account:
A fecal exam, for example, costs between $25 and $45, and a heartworm test can cost around $50.
For future visits, you may want to consider the benefits of pet insurance. It can help you cover regular visits as well as unexpected emergencies. Talk to us to learn more!
Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit – What to Expect
You have your puppy, his paperwork, your questions about his care, and a fecal sample. Now it’s time to meet the vet! The veterinarian and vet techs will complete a few different tasks during your puppy’s visit.
Take His Vital Signs
One of the first things the vet tech or vet will do is take your puppy’s vital signs. These include:
- Checking his heart rate with a stethoscope
- Getting his weight – If your puppy is under- or overweight, they will provide nutritional and exercise advice to help get your dog on track to a healthier weight.
- Taking his temperature – A normal temperature for puppies is between 99.5° and 102.5° F degrees. Something outside those numbers could indicate an issue.
Complete a Nose-to-Tail Examination
Once the vitals are jotted down, your vet will complete an entire nose-to-tail exam of your puppy, checking his mouth and teeth to his paws to getting a good feel for his coat and skin. The vet will be looking for any obvious or not-so-obvious issues, such as:
- Fleas and ticks
- Issues with the lymph nodes
Give Vaccinations That Are Due
Depending on your puppy’s age, he may be due for vaccinations. At four months, for example, he’ll need a rabies shot. Your veterinarian will create a vaccination schedule over the next year or so to ensure he’s properly protected.
Over the next few months, you should expect your puppy to need shots for:
- Kennel cough
- Lyme disease
To learn more about the core vaccinations and boosters your puppy will need, take a look at this vaccination rundown we created for dog owners.
Scheduling Future Visits for Your Puppy
After the examination, your vet will discuss your puppy’s future visits. This could be to check on any issues found during the exam or to schedule future vaccinations and boosters. You’ll also want to talk about scheduling an appointment for a spay or neuter during this time.
In the future, your dog should have annual appointments with your veterinarian to complete any vaccinations, test for heartworm, and just ensure your family member is still in excellent health.
Scheduling your puppy’s first vet visit as soon as possible is in his best interest! It can find any health issues with your newest family member while also getting him on the right track of a healthy life ahead.
Are you adopting a puppy or a new dog? Schedule his appointment now! Our experienced veterinarians and vet techs can help ensure your visit is stress-free and comfortable for both you and your pup. To make an appointment, call us at 281-693-7387.
Did you recently adopt a kitten? Congratulations! One of the most important things about new pet ownership is scheduling their first vet visit. If your kitten is new to your household, here’s what you should expect when you bring him to the vet for the first time.
When Should You Bring Your Kitten In for a Check-Up?
Your kitten’s first vet visit should happen as soon as possible. It’s recommended that you schedule an appointment two to three days after adopting. Many shelters and breeders require you to visit a veterinarian after adopting and give you a window of seven days or fewer.
If your cat is showing signs of illness, however, an even earlier appointment may be needed. Keep an eye out for:
- Watery eyes
- Refusing to eat
- Difficulty breathing
Getting Your Kitten Ready for His First Vet Visit
There are a few things you’ll need as you get ready for your kitten’s trip to the vet!
A Cat Carrier
We never recommend carrying your cat into our office in your arms, as the waiting room often has other animals, such as dogs, that can scare or threaten your pet. Kittens can be very slippery!
Instead, choose a hard case carrier or a soft carrier. A bigger one that your cat can grow into is fine.
Whether you adopted your kitten from a shelter or a breeder, your cat most likely came with some paperwork. This usually includes:
- Any vaccinations he received
- Whether your cat was spayed or neutered
- Notes about his age
- Information about prior health issues
A Stool Sample
Some vets request that you bring a stool sample with your kitten. This may not always be required, so ask your veterinarian before you scoop some up and bring it in a sealed baggie.
Some kittens take to the vet a bit easier than others. Even if your little one is brave, cat treats can do wonders. They can help your new pet associate the vet with good things and make him less likely to become uncomfortable on later visits.
How much your kitten’s first vet visit will cost depends on what has already been completed by the shelter, store, or breeder. A checkup regularly runs about $20 to $40, but if your cat’s being tested for anything, he needs medication, or he’s getting vaccinations, the cost can be more.
If you’re curious how much a checkup for your kitten will cost, contact us for a more accurate quote.
Your Kitten’s First Exam: What to Expect
Once you’ve scheduled your kitten’s first vet appointment and have the supplies you need to get him to the office, it’s time to actually meet the vet! Your vet will perform a physical exam and tests. Here are some of the things you can expect your vet to do at your kitten’s appointment:
Take His Vitals
The first portion of the physical exam includes weighing your kitten and taking his temperature. Your vet will let you know if your cat is under or overweight and give you nutritional advice.
The normal temperature range for kittens is 101° F to 103° F. Anything outside of that range could point to a problem.
Check His Entire Body
The vet will then look over the kitten’s entire body. This includes an inspection of the:
They will feel the stomach for any abnormalities and listen to the lungs and heart.
Look for Parasites
Parasites can be a problem for kittens and cats that come from a shelter, so your vet will definitely inspect your new pet for them. Mites like to make a home within the ears, for instance, while fleas stick to the fur. Fleas often leave behind flea eggs and flea dirt (flea poop), so your vet will inspect your kitten for these signs in addition to keeping an eye out for adult fleas.
Perform a Fecal Analysis
If your vet requested that you bring in a stool sample, they’ll do a fecal analysis. This allows them to check for worms as well as other intestinal problems. If something abnormal is found, they can start treating your kitten right away.
If your cat is older than nine weeks, it’s important that your veterinarian perform blood tests to check for FeLV and FIV. FeLV is feline leukemia virus, and it’s a serious problem that negatively affects a cat’s immune system. Signs are not always obvious, so testing your new cat is a must.
FIV and FeLV are often confused for one another, but FIV is feline immunodeficiency virus. Care is important to keep your cat comfortable, so blood tests can help you know what to expect regarding your cat’s health. With proper steps, a kitten with FIV can live a normal life.
Your Kitten May Need Vaccinations
If your kitten is old enough, he may be able to get his first shots during his first vet visit! The first rabies shot, for example, can be given between 8 and 12 weeks old. If your cat is not quite ready for his vaccinations, it’s important to schedule appointments for later dates for:
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline panleukopenia
- Feline leukemia
- Chlamydophilia felis
Not all kittens need all the above shots, so talk to your veterinarian to work out a vaccination schedule based on their recommendations. Vaccinations can help keep serious diseases at bay.
Schedule a Follow-Up Visit
It’s always a good idea to schedule a follow-up visit for your kitten after he’s completed his first visit to the vet, especially if your little one needs vaccinations or to be spayed or neutered. After the initial visits, your new family member should see the veterinarian at least once a year to ensure his health is in good shape.
A kitten’s first trip to the vet doesn’t have to be scary! Having the right materials on hand can make the trip comfortable for both you and your new pet. If you have adopted a new kitten, never skip the first vet appointment. It’s a vital step in ensuring your little family member lives a long and healthy life.
Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital looks forward to meeting the two of you! To schedule an appointment, call 281-693-7387.
While heartworm is more common in dogs than cats, cat owners should still be vigilant about this parasite. It’s often mistaken for other ailments, so knowing what to be aware of can get your cat much needed treatment before she gets sick. Here’s what you need to know about heartworm in cats, the signs and symptoms, and what you should do if you believe your cat has heartworms.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms, also known as dirofilaria immitis, are parasites. When an animal is affected, heartworms tend to make their home in the heart and lungs. They can grow to be a foot long. A heartworm’s favorite host is the dog and similar animals like the fox, coyote, and wolf. But they don’t just stick to canines. It is possible for cats to be infected by this parasite as well.
Thankfully, most heartworms don’t make it to adulthood in cats. Felines are more resistant to the parasite, so heartworms have a hard time surviving. If parasites manage to live into adulthood, there will probably only be one to three at a time in the cat’s heart or lungs, compared to a dog, which can host hundreds.
Unfortunately, fewer worms make the issue more difficult to diagnose. More likely causes of health issues in cats get investigated first. That’s a problem because even immature worms can cause severe health issues for infected cats, including heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).
What Causes Heartworm Disease in Cats?
Heartworms are transferred from animal to animal through mosquitoes. After feeding on an infected animal, a mosquito carries the larvae in its body, where it develops over a two-week period. When it’s ready, the larvae enters an animal through the bite of the infected mosquito, where it is left to start its six-month cycle to adult heartworm. It’s important to note that heartworms are not contagious and can’t be passed from cat to cat or from dog to cat.
The parasite can be found throughout the United States and is much more common in an area that is home to a lot of mosquitoes. It used to be the case that heartworm wasn’t found in all 50 states, but due to urbanization and irrigation, this is no longer true. If you have seen mosquitoes, your pets can be susceptible to catching the parasite.
What Are the Symptoms of a Heartworm Infection?
In cats, symptoms of heartworm aren’t always obvious. There could be no signs, or there could be several. It depends on the cat as well as the stages and locations of the worms.
Here are some signs of heartworm to be on the lookout for:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty walking
- Fluid in abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
Sadly, in some cases, there will be no signs until a cat collapses or dies from the parasite.
How Can Heartworms in Cats Be Treated?
Your vet can test for heartworm in your cat by taking a blood sample and use a combination of heartworm antibody and antigen tests. If heartworm proteins are found, they will request more tests, such as complete blood counts, X-rays, and ultrasounds.
There is no straightforward treatment for heartworm in cats and no standard cure. The medications used to cure heartworm disease in dogs can be fatal to cats, so should never be used. Instead, veterinarians often take a monitoring approach, with support.
The first step after a heartworm diagnosis is to stabilize your cat. Often, heartworm in a feline clears up on its own with proper care and nursing. Damage can be left behind when they’re gone, so monitoring is important. If worms were found in your cat’s lungs, your vet will most likely suggest regular chest x-rays.
Other treatment options include:
- Prednisolone (medication to reduce inflammation)
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Oxygen therapy
It can take two to three years for the worms to complete their lifespan. Regular checkups and medication can help minimize symptoms during this time period. If heartworms are resolved, your veterinarian will probably recommend that your cat come in for continued checkups. This is to keep an eye on any damage the parasite might have done to her heart or lungs.
Heartworms Can Be Prevented
Since there is no standard cure for heartworms in cats, prevention is absolutely necessary. Even indoor cats can come in contact with mosquitoes.
Monthly heartworm preventive medications are a great way to keep the worms at bay. Even if your cat was previously diagnosed with the parasite, these medications can prevent a new infection. Heartworm preventative care for cats are available in topical and pill forms, which should be given once a month. Injectable medication may also be available through your veterinarian. These need to be administered every six months.
If you give your cat heartworm prevention medication, timing is essential. Missing a dose or administering one late could leave your pet open to infection. Kittens can be started on heartworm preventative as early as eight weeks, though dosage will change with their body weight.
Both indoor and outdoor cats can get heartworm! If you think your cat contracted the parasite or you would like to talk about preventative measures, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Give us a call at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy TX.
Hearing the diagnosis of “heartworms” can be scary for a dog owner. It’s important to be educated on the disease, the signs and symptoms, treatment options, and understand how to prevent heartworms in your pup. Find out what heartworms are and how you can keep your dog safe!
If you believe your dog may be suffering from heartworms, make an appointment to see a veterinarian right away. Testing and preventative medication can help ensure the parasites don’t take hold. To schedule testing for your dog, call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX at 281-693-7387.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms are a very serious parasite for many animals. They’re found often in dogs and similar animals like wolves, coyotes, and foxes. The parasites are worms that can reach up to a foot long and generally live in the animal’s heart, hence the name. They can also be found in the lungs and blood vessels.
After only a year of being infected, dogs can have between 15 (the average) and hundreds of these parasites living in their body. Over time, they cause damage to the organs they call home. If left untreated, heartworms can continue to grow over seven years. They constantly produce offspring during that time.
If heartworms aren’t discovered and treated, they can lead to heart failure and death in dogs.
What Causes Heartworms in Dogs?
Heartworm is not contagious from dog to dog. The parasite is carried by mosquitoes. After biting an animal infected with heartworm, mosquitoes carry the blood and baby worms to the next animal they bite. Over the next six months, the worms will mature inside the animal.
The heartworm parasite can be found in all 50 states in the U.S. Previously, where mosquitoes were scarce, they weren’t a problem for dog owners, but because of variations in climate and other human developments, heartworm can now be found everywhere in the United States, including Texas.
It’s rare for humans to contract heartworms from mosquitoes, as it usually can’t complete its life cycle, but it does happen from time to time.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm?
When a dog first contracts heartworm, there will be very few, if any, symptoms. As the worms mature over time, signs of heartworm disease will become more apparent. The symptoms tend to be more obvious in more active dogs, so heartworm isn’t always clear in lazier pups.
If you notice any of these warning signs, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian:
- Persistent cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Fatigue (especially after exercise)
- Decreased or loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Reluctance to exercise
- Swollen belly
If a dog is infected with large numbers of worms, more serious symptoms may develop, including:
- Labored breathing
- Bloody or dark urine
- Pale gums
- Heart failure
These signs are indicative of caval syndrome, which is caused by heartworms blocking blood flow. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to get her to a veterinarian right away, as surgery must be done quickly.
How Can Heartworms Be Treated?
The first step to uncovering heartworms is a simple blood test. Your dog should have a heartworm test annually to ensure she hasn’t contracted the parasite. It can be done during a routine visit with your veterinarian. Even if your dog is on heartworm preventative medication, this important test shouldn’t be skipped.
If your dog tests positive for heartworms, they are treatable. Your veterinarian will first perform additional tests to confirm she indeed has heartworms. These tests include ultrasounds, radiographs, and others.
If heartworms are present, you should limit your pup’s exercise routine, as activity can cause damage to the infected organs. Your veterinarian then may suggest various treatment options for your dog’s heartworm. Immiticide is the drug often recommended to kill the worms, as long as they’re not extremely serious. Antibiotics, steroids, and other medication may also be given along with immiticide. In more severe cases, surgery to remove the worms may be necessary.
Can Heartworm in Dogs Be Prevented?
Heartworm disease in dogs can absolutely be prevented, and steps should be taken to restrict your pet’s chances of contracting the parasite. Yearly testing and preventative medications are two musts to keep your dog safe. The name of the preventative heartworm medicine is chemoprophylaxis. It also fights against:
Chemoprophylaxis comes in chewable, topical, and injectable forms.
Heartworm preventatives should always be given to your dog on time, every time. A missed or late dose—even by a couple of days—can leave your dog open to heartworm infection. Some are monthly heartworm preventives, while others are every six months. Speak with your veterinarian to come up with a schedule that will ensure your dog is protected year-round.
Heartworms are an extremely serious parasite for dogs, and prevention is important in the fight against them. Talk to your veterinarian about prevention techniques, and if you suspect your dog may have heartworms, bring her in for an appointment for testing as soon as possible.
Cinco Ranch Vet can help. Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment, arrange for testing and treatment of heartworm disease, or discuss preventative options.
Traveling can be exhausting when you’re on your own, but traveling with a cat can be a bit more stressful. But sometimes you need—or want—to fly with your furry friend! Here’s how to get to your destination, stress-free.
General Rules for Flying with Cats
Each airline is different when it comes to pet requirements, so planning ahead is the first step to reducing stress when flying with a cat. These are some general rules of flying with pets:
- Many airlines do not allow pets if you are making a connection.
- Most airlines restrict your flights to 12 hours or less if you are bringing a cat.
- Some airlines don’t allow you to fly internationally.
- Snub-nosed cats, such as the Persian, are generally not allowed to fly.
- Kittens should be about 8 to 12 weeks old, but some airlines ask that they be older.
- Each airline has restrictions on kennel size.
- You may be allowed to bring two cats in one carrier as carry-on luggage.
- Some destinations bar pets or have very specific guidelines about bringing them in. Check with your destination to ensure everything is in order before you fly.
Checking In with Your Airline
Although airlines all have the same job, they don’t all have the same rules, especially when it comes to pets. If you’re looking to fly with your cat, carefully review all airline pet policies before purchasing tickets. This list provides links to the major airline companies in the United States and their individual pet policies:
It’s always important to notify the airline as soon as you know you’ll be traveling with your cat. Many planes restrict the total number of animals that can fly on a single flight, so you want to book your spot before the flight fills up. Fees and documentation may be required by the airline.
If your flight isn’t on one of the airlines above, you can find their pet policies by Googling the name of the company along with the phrase “pet policies.” If you can’t locate the information online, call their customer service directly.
What to Bring on a Flight with Your Cat
Have these on hand when you’re getting ready to check in:
Documentation and Vet Records
It’s always a good idea to have your cat’s vet records when you travel with him, especially a record of his rabies vaccination. In some cases, this documentation is required by the airline or your final destination. It may also come in handy if your cat has a medical emergency during your trip.
A proper kennel is absolutely required to bring your cat with you on a trip. In addition to being properly ventilated, the kennel must meet the size requirements of the airline and allow your cat to move comfortably inside it. If you’re planning on bringing your feline friend as carry-on luggage, his carrier has to be able to fit under the seat in front of you.
Each airline’s kennel size requirements are different, so it’s important to review its pet policy to determine what you need. In the case of Delta and JetBlue, you can buy properly sized kennels straight from the airline.
In addition to size restrictions, there may also be weight restrictions. For cats, you won’t run into this issue often, but it’s good to double-check. If you have a particularly heavy cat, you may have trouble with American Airlines, which requires the kennel and pet to weigh less than 20 pounds.
To determine kennel size, first consider if you will be bringing your cat as carry-on or checking him.
Food, Water, and Treats
It’s likely your cat will get hungry on his trip, so food, water, and treats are a must. Pack enough for both before your flight and when you land.
Vet Tip: Cats should be fed within four hours of check-in, but not within four hours of take-off to help avoid kennel accidents.
Even if you followed the food and water rule, you may run into an accident with your cat mid-flight. If he happens to go to the bathroom or throw up in his kennel, having paper towels on hand will allow you to clean it up right away.
Lowering Your Cat’s Stress
Cats can be naturally anxious and skittish, so flying can be a bit much for them. Preparation can help ease their fears, so take these important steps before you get in the air.
Try to Take Your Cat Onboard as Carry-On
In most cases, as long as you book your cat’s spot early enough, you should have no problem bringing him as carry-on luggage. This allows him to be by your feet for the duration of the flight. This method of flying is less stressful on cats than flying cargo.
Gather the Items You and Your Cat Need
If your cat is wary of his kennel, take it out a few days before take-off, so he has a chance to become more accustomed to it. Keep the door open, and place treats inside to make it a little more enticing.
Gather your documentation, your cat’s ticket, his food, and other supplies, so you’re not scrambling with them and a potentially frightened cat when it’s time to head out the door.
Visit the Vet
It’s always a good idea for a cat to get a checkup well before his flight. While you may want to fly with your feline, it’s important to know when it’s not a good idea. For severely anxious kitties, the flight may be too much, causing stress-related reactions, including vomiting. Cats with health issues or trouble breathing should also stay on the ground. Your vet can make a final recommendation.
Some airlines and destinations also require recent vet records.
The first step to flying stress-free with your cat is preparation. Never skip a visit to the vet’s office. Your veterinarian can clear your cat to fly while also giving you documents that may be required by the airline or your final destination.
If your cat needs to stay home, consider boarding him in a comfortable, reliable facility or leaving him with a family member.
Ready to make an appointment for a pre-flight checkup? Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.
Cats, for the most part, groom themselves, so for many cat owners, grooming isn’t something that comes to mind when they think of regular cat care. But cleaning your cat’s ears may be one aspect of the grooming process you want to reconsider. Here’s why it’s so important and how you can do it yourself!
Why Do My Cat’s Ears Need to Be Cleaned?
Cats generally do a good job of cleaning their own ears, but sometimes they need help. Older cats have trouble reaching certain spots of their body, which may include the top of their head, so the assistance can be appreciated. Other cats may not have learned proper grooming as kittens and could neglect to clean their ears. Some kitties need extra assistance with ear cleaning if they suffer from ear problems.
Even if your cat is young, healthy, and has no problem grooming, checking her ears and doing the occasional clean can help you spot issues before they come serious and prevent others from occurring.
What to Look for While Cleaning Your Cat’s Ears
Cleaning your cat’s ears is an excellent opportunity to check that they are in good health. If you notice any problems or anything unusual, call your veterinarian right away.
These are some things you should be on the lookout for:
- Ear pain
- Scratching or irritation
- Odd smells
- Masses around the ear
- Excessive head shaking
- Ear obstructions
- Scabs around the ear
These signs and symptoms could point to issues like ear mites, an ear infection, or something else. Your vet can diagnose and treat the issue.
How Often to Clean Your Cat’s Ears
Unless your vet recommends doing it more or less frequently, you can tackle this task about once a month.
What You Need to Clean Cat Ears
You don’t need much to clean your cat’s ears!
- Cat ear-cleaning solution as recommended by your veterinarian – You can purchase this through your veterinarian or at a pet store. It should be stored at room temperature.
- Cotton balls – Have these ready if you plan to clean the outside of your cat’s ears.
- A towel – This is useful to wrap your pet in, so he’s more comfortable with the process. Alternatively, you can recruit a second person to hold your cat still.
- Treats – These are never a bad idea!
Vet Tip: Never use Q-tips® on the inside of your cat’s ears. Just like for humans, they can cause more issues for your cat or damage his eardrum.
How to Clean Your Cat’s Ears
Cleaning your furry friend’s ears can be a quick process, but it’s a good idea to do it while he’s sleepy or feeling extra affectionate. Many animals are not fans of having their ear’s touched, and cats are no exception.
The environment where you do it should be quiet and away from other animals and disturbances, like noisy children.
When you’re ready to get started, here is how to approach this task:
Make Sure You Need to Clean the Ear
First, check if your cat’s ears are in need of cleaning. You don’t need any supplies for this: Just hold the tip of the ear, and turn the ear flap so you can see into the ear canal. Pale pink is the sign of a clean ear. If you see earwax, debris, or dirt, it may be time to apply cleaner.
Hold Your Cat Still
Whether with a helper or a towel, it’s important to hold your cat still before you get started. Don’t grip too tightly, as this could cause stress. Instead, lightly hold him down or wrap him tightly—like a burrito—in the towel to prevent escape and ensure he remains still.
If your cat is visibly uncomfortable or fighting, try another time.
Apply the Ear Cleaner, and Massage The Ear
Once your cat is settled, it’s time to apply the ear cleaner. Do one ear at a time, follow the directions on the cleaning solution, and always use the recommended dose. Once the ear drops are in, gently massage your cat’s ear for about 30 seconds.
Close Your Mouth!
When you’ve finished cleaning your cat’s ears, let him go, and close your mouth and eyes. Cats tend to shake when they’re released. You don’t want any of the cleaner getting in your eyes or mouth!
Clean His Outer Ears
After you’ve applied the droplets, it’s time to clean the outside of your feline’s ears. You may want to complete this task right after applying your cat’s internal cleaner or at another time altogether. It depends on how your cat handled the first steps of the process.
Using a cotton ball, gently clean your cat’s ears, pulling away any debris, dirt, and ear wax.
Give Him Treats
After a job well done, treats are always deserved. This positive encouragement can make the next ear cleaning much easier as your cat starts to associate it with treats.
Why You May Want to Take Your Cat to a Professional Groomer
While grooming your cat’s ears is generally a simple process, you may want to consider taking him to a professional groomer instead. Schedule an appointment if your cat:
- Has had serious problems with ear mites, ear infections, or other ear-related issues in the past
- Has the tendency to not groom himself
- Displays skin or fur problems
- Gets violent or visibly stressed during the ear-cleaning process
Professional groomers are trained to look for health problems, even in your cat’s ears. They’re also comfortable working with cats that are anxious or stressed and know how to soothe them. If your furry friend doesn’t enjoy ear-cleaning sessions with you, you don’t want them associating that fear and stress with your company.
Cats are generally great self-groomers, but sometimes they need a bit of assistance. If you’d rather not tackle this grooming process yourself, get in touch with one of Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospitals professional groomers! Each is trained to care for your pet, look for potential health problems, and send him home to you looking his best. Call 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment.
Think you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day? If you have a dog, you sure do! Leave your plans for a sad V-Day behind, and choose one of these ways to spend the day with your best furry friend.
1. Spend the Day Together at Home
Who says you have to go out to have a great time? Spending the day indoors with your pup can be wonderful. It gives you both a chance to relax and de-stress. And if your dog tends to be a “lazier” breed, this is just what she’s looking for.
Not sure what to do all day? Try one of these!
Binge-Watch Some Themed Programming
There are plenty of shows about love and dogs out there! You and your dog could spend Valentine’s Day curled up on the couch watching a few of your favorite movies or shows. Or try a few you’ve never seen before! Lady and the Tramp is the ultimate pick for Valentine’s Day, but after you finish that flick, this list should keep the day going strong:
- Fox and the Hound
- All Dogs Go to Heaven
- Isle of Dogs
- 101 Dalmatians
- Turner & Hooch
- Dogs (Netflix documentary)
Just make sure to have the popcorn and treats handy before you start!
Cook a Meal for Two
While you make your Valentine’s Day dinner, whip up something special for your furry friend! Check out our list of people foods that are also safe for dogs here.
2. Share Delicious Treats
Your dog is sure to love that meal for two, but she also won’t say no to special treats. These Valentine’s-themed recipes to go along with your own box of candy is sure to keep you both happy.
Vet Note: Chocolate is dangerous for dogs, so stick to the foods above if you want to make yours happy!
Red Velvet Pupcakes
This recipe on Rover will have your dog head over paws in love with you! Made with beets, have these items on hand before you get started:
- 2 baking sheets
- A pastry bag with an open star or French tip
- A food processor
- Mini muffin pans
You’ll also need these ingredients for the muffins themselves:
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Raw beets
- Unsweetened applesauce
For the frosting, you should have:
- Frozen strawberries
- Reduced fat cream cheese
This recipe is perfectly decadent for Valentine’s Day!
Heart-Shaped Chicken Dog Treats
For something a bit easier, but just as delicious, you’ll need:
- Cooked and mashed rice
- Rice flour
- Diced chicken
- A heart mold
- Blender (if you choose to freeze them)
You can make these chicken treats in either the oven or the freezer—or make both if you have enough heart molds!
Another super simple Valentine’s Day dog treat is doggy fro-yo bites. You can use a heart mold for these as well, so you really stick to the holiday theme.
- A blender
- Low-fat, all-natural Greek yogurt
- Peanut butter
- A baking sheet
Check out the full recipe right here.
3. Go Out on the Town
Sitting inside not for you or your pup? If you’d rather head out, there are plenty of fun ways you two can spend Valentine’s Day out on the town. You may be having such a great time, you want to do all four of these!
Head to the Dog Park
Nothing says, “I love you” to your pup like heading to the dog park for the day! It gives her a chance to relax, run around, and have some fun.
Take a Hike
If your town doesn’t have a dog park, don’t worry. You can spend V-Day in the woods or fields together, just the two of you. Our area has plenty of dog-friendly trails for you two to choose from on Valentine’s Day. Check them out here!
Visit the Pet Store
There are plenty of pet stores that allow your pets inside, and your dog may love a trip to one. Let her choose out a new dog toy or treat to bring home for the evening. It’s also the perfect chance to pick up those dog products you’ve been putting off.
Don’t Leave the Backyard
If you want to be outside, but don’t want to make a full day of it (or spend your Valentine’s evening cleaning up muddy dog prints from the dog park), your backyard is a great option. Whether you play tag around the shed or spend the day throwing tennis balls, your dog is sure to love the extra time with you.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be that “lonely holiday” you dread. It’s a wonderful chance to lavish your best furry friend with some extra love and attention. Whether you spend the day with your dog inside on the couch watching movies and making treats, or you head out to the dog park, this year’s Valentine’s Day is sure to be a hit for you both.
Your cat licking himself is a normal part of grooming, but if he’s constantly cleaning or is licking the same spot over and over, it could point to a bigger problem. Find out why this behavior is so bad for your cat and how you can help him.
Why Excessive Licking Is Bad for Your Cat
Grooming is an absolutely normal behavior for a cat, and it’s a must for his overall health. If he crosses over into excessive grooming, it could become a serious issue for him, causing hair loss or skin irritation, and making him more susceptible to injuries.
The abnormal behavior almost always points to another, underlying issue, which can sometimes be serious. It’s important to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible to help your cat overcome his licking obsession.
There are several reasons a cat may excessively lick his fur or skin. Some are easier to treat than others, but a vet can diagnose the underlying problem.
Cause #1: Fleas
Fleas and other parasites are no fun for your furry friend and can be tough to get rid of if allowed to get out of control. One sign your cat may have fleas is excessive or frantic licking because these parasites can cause itchiness, swollen spots, and other irritations from their bites.
There are other signs of a flea infestation. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
- Flea dirt – This is actually flea poop. You can find it by looking for brown or black flakes in your cat’s fur or on spots where he spends time laying or sitting.
- Flea eggs – They look like white circles, and, just like flea dirt, you can find them in the fur or on the floor.
- Sneezing – Some cats are allergic to flea saliva!
- Constant scratching
- Restlessness or lethargy
- Hair loss
- Small black or red insects on your cat – These are the fleas!
How to Help Your Cat
You can help control your cat’s obsessive licking due to fleas by controlling the fleas themselves. Allowing a flea infestation to continue can result in even more issues for your cat, such as worms or anemia. It’s important to get control of the parasites as quickly as you discover them.
If you notice any of the signs above, use a flea comb on your cat. Running it through his fur can help you find flea eggs, flea dirt, and even the fleas themselves, so you can confirm the problem.
If you discover there are fleas, there are plenty of options regarding medication and relief for your pet. Some topical medicines will provide month long relief and prevention, while others may be shorter and only work for 24 hours. There are also soaps and other products you can use to prevent fleas from living on your cat or in your home. Talk to your veterinarian about the best options.
Cause #2: Stress or a Compulsive Personality
Some cats require more exercise than others. Other cats become anxious easily. Stress, boredom, and compulsiveness can all result in excessive licking for your kitty. Causes of stress or anxiety include:
- Lack of exercise
- Lack of interaction
- Changes in the environment – Such as a move or a new baby
How to Help Your Cat
When the underlying cause of excessive grooming is stress, boredom, or a compulsive personality, the remedy depends on the exact issue. If he’s bored and licking (psychogenic alopecia):
- Extend playtime
- Purchase new toys
- Add a cat tree to the window
- Get puzzle toys that keep him entertained and rewarded with treats
If your cat is home alone most of the time, you may also want to consider adding another pet to the family. Loneliness can result in boredom and compulsive behaviors. Before you do, weigh the situation carefully, and make sure a new pet is the right solution for your whole family and your current cat. A new family member could cause the stress to get worse.
To ease stress, make sure your cat is comfortable and loved. If there are changes occurring, like a move or a new baby, calm your cat with treats. There are also calming products available, like special treats and scents, that can help a cat that’s feeling stress or dealing with changes at home. Your vet can direct you to their recommendations.
Cause #3: Environmental or Food Allergies
Just like people, cats can have allergies! Their skin can get itchy, resulting in obsessive licking. Your cat could be allergic to something in his diet or something within the home. Common allergens are:
- Prescriptions medications
- Cleaning products
How to Help Your Cat
First, to stop your cat’s excessive licking from allergies, you need to find the root cause. If food is the suspect, cut that food out of his diet for six weeks. It may take some trial and error to find the culprit. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how to approach your cat’s new diet.
Some cats are affected by their environments. Cleaning your home regularly (with tolerable cleaning products), vacuuming, dusting, and changing your HVAC’s air filter can help.
Cause #4: An Underlying Health Problem
Excessive licking can point to a number of other health problems, from dry skin to pain. For example, cold weather in winter can result in dry, irritated skin (just like for people!), or the area may be causing your cat some discomfort from another health issue, like cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).
How to Help Your Cat
If the cause of your cat’s licking isn’t obvious, like fleas, take him to a vet. Health issues like cystitis can be life-threatening if not treated, while other problems—like wounds—can become worse without medication.
Generally, if your cat is licking himself excessively, it’s a good idea to bring him to your vet. Your veterinarian can talk to you about your cat’s behaviors and help you pinpoint the exact cause of the issue. They may recommend behavior changes or medication, like steroids, antibiotics, topical solutions, or antihistamines, to help control the discomfort. No matter the cause, seeing a veterinarian could finally help your cat find relief from the constant itchiness.
If your cat is displaying symptoms like excessive licking, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to rule out any serious causes. You can get to the bottom of this compulsive behavior by visiting Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX. Give us a call at 281-593-7387 to schedule an appointment!