Cancer is a scary word, especially when it comes to our loved ones and pets. If you notice changes in your dog’s health or he’s behaving differently, it’s important to know the signs of cancer in dogs, so you can keep an eye out. Early treatment can make a big difference!
Sign #1: Abnormal Swelling
Abnormal swelling can appear just about anywhere on a dog’s body, and it can be a sign of canine cancer, especially if the swelling gets larger over time. If you notice a bump or lump on your dog that wasn’t there previously, mention it to your vet.
Sign #2: Weight Loss or Gain
If your dog isn’t dieting, sudden weight loss could signify intestinal cancer or another illness. The same goes for weight gain. If your dog is following the same diet he always has, yet seems to be gaining weight or bloating, it can point to a build up of fluid from cancer or another medical issue.
Sign #3: Abnormal Bleeding or Discharge from Openings
Another sign of canine cancer is abnormal discharge, such as pus, or bleeding from the nose, anus, or mouth. Blood at the nose could point to nose cancer, while pus or blood at the anus could point to cancer of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
Sign #4: Difficulty Going to the Bathroom
If you notice your dog is having difficulty urinating, schedule an appointment with your vet. This could be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder crystals, but it could also point to cancers in the bladder, kidneys, or urethra.
You may also notice that your dog has problems defecating. Signs of cancer in the rectum or anus include struggling to go to the bathroom, diarrhea, black, tarry stools (this indicates blood), or hardened stools.
Sign #5: Increased Drinking and Urinating
In the same vein, if you suddenly find your dog is urinating more often and drinking more water, take him to the veterinarian. Increased drinking can point to a UTI but could mean the base of the brain or adrenal gland has a slow-growing tumor.
Sign #6: A Bad Smell
Sign #7: Loss of Appetite
While loss of appetite often points to illness in dogs, older dogs—being less active—can tend to eat less than younger dogs. A sudden change in appetite or refusal to eat are what you should look out for. If you notice either of these changes in behavior, get him checked out. Nausea can also be a sign of cancer.
Sign #8: Issues Eating or Swallowing
Similar to sign number 7, your dog may want to eat but not be able to. Difficulty eating or swallowing food or water can be a sign of tooth pain, cavities, or oral or neck cancer.
Sign #9: Easily Tired or Refuses to Exercise
Dogs, as they age, of course get tired faster, but sudden or drastic changes in your dog’s energy level can point to problems. If your dog, who once loved to chase tennis balls or going for walks, gets tired after a throw or two or just refuses to play or run around, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Lethargy or depression can be major signs of illness, including cancer.
Sign #10: Sores That Refuse to Heal
Open wounds can be dangerous for dogs and lead to infection. Open sores that refuse to heal at all, even with medication, can be a sign of cancer in dogs. Red and irritated sores or lesions could point to mast cell tumors, which are a common form of skin tumor. These cancers can spread to organs or bone marrow.
Wounds are something you should regularly look for and note while grooming your pup.
Sign #11: Difficulty Breathing
If you notice your dog is suddenly struggling to breathe or wheezing, veterinary care is a must. A tumor could be putting pressure on his windpipe or lungs. Rapid breathing could also point to medical issues, like heart tumors, that require treatment.
Sign #12: Lameness or Stiffness
Senior dogs are more prone to arthritis, which affects about one in five dogs during their lives. However, sudden, persistent lameness or stiffness can be a sign of bone, nerve, or muscle cancer in dogs. You may also notice leg swelling or limping.
Sign #13: Obvious Pain
If your dog is refusing to jump, whimpers, or shows other signs of obvious pain, schedule a vet visit right away. These can be signs of arthritis and old age, but they can also point to joint problems, muscle disease, and bone cancer.
Knowing the signs of cancer in pups may help save yours. While cancer is more common in older dogs, it is not unheard of in younger ones. When grooming or playing with your dog, keep an eye out for physical and behavioral changes. If you notice any, call your veterinarian to make an appointment. Staying on top of your dog’s health and well-being means a happier life for him!
Is your dog displaying any of the warning signs of cancer? We’re here to help with diagnosis and treatment options. To schedule an appointment for your dog at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, simply call 281-693-7387.
When you think of a service animal, a dog probably comes to mind, and most likely a guide dog for the blind. While dogs and horses are the only types of service animals that are officially recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there are plenty of other animals that help humans in their daily lives. Here’s a quick rundown of four different types of service and support animals. Have you seen any of these doing work in the field?
Dogs are most commonly utilized as service animals. While most people think of dogs that help the blind, the jobs of canines actually vary quite a bit! There are dogs that can help with:
- Severe allergies
- High blood pressure
- Emotional support and therapy
There seems to be no end to the jobs dogs can help people with! Each dog, depending on their job, may have unique gear or vests. For instance, autism assistance dogs for young, non-verbal children, only have a vest with identifying and emergency information. A brace or mobility support dog, however, may have a special brace or harness to help their human.
What Makes Dogs Great Service Animals?
- They’re recognized by the ADA and are therefore allowed to enter stores, schools, and other facilities.
- There are several reputable organizations that train service dogs.
- Support dogs can help with a very wide variety of ailments and problems.
Are There Downsides to Dogs as Service Animals?
- Some people are allergic to dogs.
- Service dogs can be expensive – They can cost around $1,000 or more, if the owner needs more intensive tasks performed.
- They require special training and socializing obligations of the owner.
Support Dogs in the News
Dogs as support animals for PTSD is becoming more and more common. They can become lifelines for those who have served in the military. Rocky is one such service dog. He was trained by Operation K9, a non-profit organization that serves Texas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Colorado. Operation K9 matches veterans with service dogs. Each dog is trained to the standards set by Assistance Dogs International and must be able to take direction, retain training, and have a good drive to do their job properly.
Rocky found a job with veteran Bobby Galyon and has the ability to detect anxiousness, anger, and other emotions. The Gaylons credit Rocky with saving Bobby’s life.
Believe it or not, cats can absolutely be emotional support animals! Although the 2010 ADA Revised Requirements only recognize dogs and mini horses as official support animals, cats still help humans with plenty of things.
People have found that cats can help with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and loneliness. For example, if a person suffering from depression or anxiety has trouble getting out of bed to start their day, a cat can provide a soothing and calming presence and gentle responsibilities to be fulfilled daily. Smaller than dogs, quiet, and clean, they can be the perfect emotional support animal in a limited amount of space like an apartment.
Cats can also work as therapy animals. These are animals that are brought to organizations or businesses in an effort to help in an emotional or mentally beneficial way. They tend to be helpful in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and similar facilities.
What Makes Cats Great Service Animals?
- They’re an alternative to dogs if you’re not a dog person.
- They tend to be easier to care for than dogs because they don’t need as much socialization, they don’t have to be walked daily, and most don’t require you to bathe them.
- They can be happier in smaller spaces, such as apartments, than many dogs.
Are There Downsides to Cats as Service Animals?
- Some people are allergic to cats.
- They do not have the same protections as service dogs – Apartments and businesses are not required to allow your emotional support cat to stay.
- It may take time for an owner looking for an emotional support cat to find the perfect one – Personality is key!
Service Cats in the News
There are several instances of cats working as emotional support or therapy animals. Cats in nursing homes, for example, have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety while also promoting exercise and movement. A survey in Ohio found that 71% of nursing homes did have a socialization programs involving animals.
Cats can also be wonderful additions to families in times of stress. Rachael Masch, a graduate student in Arizona, has an emotional support cat named Figaro that helps with anxiety, depression, and motivation while she attends school.
3. Miniature Horses
Miniature horses are the only other animal aside from dogs that are officially recognized as service animals by the ADA. Reaching up to only 34 inches and 100 pounds, they can be considered a service animal if they:
- Are housebroken
- Are under control
- Won’t compromise safety requirements
- Can be accommodated in the facility into which they are brought
Miniature horses tend to have two jobs:
- A guide animal or
- A therapy animal
But they are also currently being trained for mobility assistance. However, since they’re so easily scared, they need quite extensive training and socialization.
What Makes Horses Great Service Animals?
- They are recognized by the ADA as official service animals.
- They provide an alternative to people who are allergic to cats or dogs.
- They have a much longer lifespan (30 years on average!) than other service animals.
Are There Downsides to Horses as Service Animals?
- Horses can be easily scared and require much more training than other animals.
- They are currently only available for the blind.
- They will not be comfortable or allowed in small spaces, such as apartments.
Service Horses in the News
It comes as a surprise to many that miniature horses can be considered service animals. However, since they’re recognized as official service animals by the ADA, they are required to have the same accommodations as service dogs, which means service miniature horses cannot be denied access to stores, malls, etc.—just like service dogs.
The addition to mini horses to the list of approved animals is recent, and Southwest announced in October of 2018 that they will be allowing the service animals aboard their aircraft.
Although birds do not officially qualify to be service animals, they can make wonderful emotional support animals. This is due to their ability to show empathy and to learn words. They’ve been known to recognize emotions and help with:
Their ability to speak can help soothe their owner through an episode, and the owner can also be comforted by the fact they can talk to their animal and have it respond. Emotional support birds tend to be easier to care for and travel with due to their size. However, it’s important to note that many birds require special care, so research is needed before getting one as a service animal.
The types of birds that are commonly emotional support pets are:
- African grey parrots
- Amazon parrots
Service Birds In the News
Birds are not always accepted as emotional support animals. Since they’re not recognized as official support animals, like dogs or miniature horses, places of businesses, schools, planes, and other facilities are not required to allow your bird in. At least one school allows them, though: Wayne State University. Their size makes them perfect for dorm living. A freshman attending the school has birds to help her feel at home, help her cope when in a dark emotional place, and keep her calm.
What Makes Birds Great Service Animals?
- They take up less room than dogs, cats, and mini horses.
- They can be easier to care for than other common service animals.
- They may allowed in apartments where emotional support horses would not be.
Are There Downsides to Birds as Service Animals?
- They can be loud.
- Birds live a long time and may even outlive their owners – Parakeets, for example, live about 5 to 10 years, but African gray parrots can live up to 60 years!
- They require extensive socialization from the owner.
Although only dogs and miniature horses can be recognized as official types of service animals by the Americans with Disabilities Act, that doesn’t mean other animals can’t help people with the stress and struggles of daily life! Dogs, cats, miniature horses, and birds can all provide humans with quality-of-life assistance, whether that be for mental or physical health.
Do you have a support dog or cat? If they’re new to your family or it’s time to schedule their annual check-up, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.
Has your dog been scratching her ears lately? It could be a sign of an ear infection. Advanced cases of ear infections in dogs can be serious, so it’s important to get care for your pup right away. Read on to find out how you can identify an ear infection in your dog, treat it, and prevent it from happening again.
What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?
There are several causes of ear infections in dogs, and it may not always be clear what initially caused the problem. Some dogs are more prone to this particular health issue because of the shape or design of their ears. Others may experience the problem be due to environmental causes.
A few of the more common causes of dog ear infections includes:
Trapped or Excess Moisture
Moisture can get trapped in your dog’s ear in a number of ways:
- Excess hair can limit air flow – This is common among cocker spaniels, poodles, and bichons frises.
- Floppy ears, like those of the basset hound, can cause moisture (or even debris) to become trapped.
- Water from the pool or lake can get stuck, attracting yeast and bacteria.
Yeast and Bacteria
Many ear infections are caused by yeast and bacteria build-up in the ear, but this is almost always due to another underlying issue, such as trapped water or moisture.
Ear mites, which are tiny creatures much like spiders, can cause quite a bit of discomfort for your pet, but if left unchecked, they can also result in ear infections. Appearing like coffee grounds, they’re much more common in puppies, but adult dogs can get them as well. Your dog can get them by socializing with other pups that already have an ear mite issue.
Just like people, dogs can be prone to allergies. Pit bulls, for example, tend to be more likely to have skin or ear infections that are related to allergies. Excess scratching and irritation from the initial allergy that causes an injury can also lead to infection.
Other Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs
A few other factors could cause your dog to develop an ear infection, including:
- Health disorders, like hypothyroidism and viruses
- Foreign bodies or objects – Grass is common, especially if your pup likes to roll around outdoors. Dogs with small ear canals or floppy ears can have more problems with debris.
- Reactions to medications
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs
There are several signs and symptoms your dog may have an ear infection or be close to developing one. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:
- Shakes her head
- Odor around the ears –
- Excess scratching or rubbing at the effected ear
- Redness inside the ear
- Lack of balance
- Scaly skin around the ear
- Pawing at the ear
If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s important to make an appointment with her veterinarian right away. It’s possible to catch the issue before it turns into an ear infection, and a visit can help identify any underlying causes of the potential infection.
How Are Dog Ear Infections Treated?
Ear infections in dogs can be diagnosed by a veterinarian. During the examination, your vet will ask you about any:
- Eating habits
- Grooming habits
- Recent activities
They’ll then check your dog for signs of an ear infection, including blood or swelling. They may take tissue samples to perform a culture. For extreme or chronic ear infection cases, your veterinarian might suggest X-rays or other tests. Blood tests may also be recommended to check if there are underlying issues.
The treatment your veterinarian prescribes depends on the cause of the infection. A cleaning will most likely be required, and antibiotics will be prescribed. The antibiotics may be topical, oral, drops, or a spray. Steroids, pain medication, and other ear medications may also be supplied. It’s usually recommended that you clean your dog’s ears at home before her check-up about a week later. Surgery may be required in extreme cases where the ear infection is chronic. If this is the case, your veterinarian may suggest removal of the ear canals.
Can A Dog’s Ear Infection Be Prevented?
You can absolutely take steps to prevent your dog from getting an ear infection! One grooming step that many dog owners forget or don’t realize is important is cleaning their ears. Whether you follow our step-by-step guide or bring your pup in for a grooming appointment, a thorough ear-cleaning can help keep ear infections and other issues at bay. It may also uncover other potential problems before they become more serious.
Regular veterinarian appointments are good for your pup’s ears as preventative care is always recommended, but you should also:
- Regularly check your dog’s ears for irritation.
- Take your dog to the vet if she shows any of the signs or symptoms of an ear infection.
- Avoid moisture in her ears.
- Use any prescribed cleaning solutions for your pet’s ears.
Ear infections, although common, have the potential to become serious in dogs. It’s important to treat ear irritation seriously and follow through with any medication your dog is prescribed. Ear cleaning is essential to helping your pup avoid ear infections, but if your dog shows any of the warning signs of an infection, it’s important to bring her to the vet right away.
Is your dog displaying signs of an ear infection? It’s time for a check-up! You can schedule an appointment with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX by calling 281-693-7387.
With summer in full swing, walks with your pup in sweltering temperatures can be tough for both of you. The hot pavement can hurt her paws, and without the right precautions, the temperature can lead to heat stroke in your dog—and even yourself. Learn about the warning signs of heat stroke in dogs and how to prevent it!
What Is Heat Stroke?
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two things you need to be aware of when taking your dog out in high temperatures. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat through their skin, but rather pant through their mouths or sweat through their paws to get rid of excess heat. With fewer ways to cool down than humans, they’re at a higher risk for both exhaustion or stroke.
Heat exhaustion occurs when your pup’s body temperature rises above her normal temperature, which is considered 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Over 103 degrees can be a sign of heat exhaustion and could mean your dog is on her way to heat stroke.
If your dog’s temperature reaches 106 degrees or higher, she could be at serious risk of heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause your dog’s heart to stop, result in shock, or cause organ damage like kidney failure.
That’s why it’s essential to take heat stroke precaution measures and seek treatment as soon as you see the signs of heat stroke in your dog.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
There are several signs of heat stroke in dogs, including:
Some panting is normal for dogs, but if you notice yours hyperventilating, panting constantly, or breathing faster than is usual for them, it could be a sign of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Dehydration is dangerous on its own, heat or no. The signs of dehydration in dogs are:
- Dry nose
- Sunken eyes
- Lack of urine
- Off-colored gums
As mentioned before, fever is definitely one sign of a heat stroke. Anything over 103 degrees Fahrenheit should be taken seriously. You can tell if your dog has a fever if her nose is dry and hot.
Elevated Heart Rate
A normal heart rate varies from dog to dog. Large dogs have slower heart rates, while smaller pups have higher heart rates. If it feels like your dog’s heart rate is elevated above their norm, it could be a symptom of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, especially if it’s combined with other warning signs.
If your dog is exhibiting odd, out-of-character behavior, such as not responding to your call, she could be confused. This is another sign of heat stroke.
Lethargy, Weakness, or Loss of Consciousness
Dogs that have heat stroke may:
- Be reluctant to move
- Want to nap more than is usual for them
- Have trouble standing up
If your dog collapses or loses consciousness, it could mean her heat stroke is exceptionally severe. She needs to see a veterinarian right away.
Other Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
Some other signs of heat stroke in dogs are:
- Excessive drooling, especially if it’s thicker or stickier than normal
- Muscle tremors
- Blood in stool
- Glazed eyes
Other Potential Heat Problems in Dogs
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke aren’t the only things you need to keep an eye on with your dog in hot weather. You should also be aware of these two potential problems:
- Skin fold pyoderma
- Paw pad burns
Skin Fold Pyoderma
Skin fold pyoderma is a dog heat rash that can affect canines with skin folds due to weight problems or genetics. The rubbing of their skin folds in hot or humid weather can cause the issue, which is both a rash and an infection. Itchy and uncomfortable, skin fold pyoderma can be treated with medicated shampoo. However, a visit to your vet is recommended, as your dog may need to be on antibiotics to treat the resulting infection, or you may be advised to use medicated wipes.
Paw Pad Burns
Before taking your dog for a walk out on hard ground, such as asphalt or concrete, put your hand on the ground. If you can’t keep your hand there longer than five seconds, it is too hot to walk your dog on. Doing so could result in paw pad burns and severe damage to your pup’s feet.
Instead, take your dog out on grass or dirt, or consider having her wear booties if she is comfortable with them.
Treatment of Heat Stroke
If you believe your dog is overheating or suffering from heat stroke, you should absolutely get her to a cooler place immediately. This can be shade, indoors, or your vehicle with the air conditioner on. As soon as possible, take her temperature with a rectal thermometer. If it is above 106 degrees or she is unconscious, take her to a veterinarian right away. You can call ahead to ensure the vet is ready for you when you arrive, as your pup needs immediate care.
Follow these steps to help her cool down:
- Place wet cloths on her armpits, ears, paws, on her neck, and between her legs – Use lukewarm or cool water. Do not use cold water.
- Give her small amounts of lukewarm or cool water to drink if she is conscious.
- Encourage her to wade into a pool or shallow lake – Stay close and keep an eye on her in the water.
- Place your dog in front of a fan.
If your dog’s temperature is higher than 103 degrees Fahrenheit but below 106, monitor her to decide whether to take a trip to the vet. Every few minutes, check her temperature while applying cool towels and offering water. You should continue to monitor her even when her temperature goes back down to 103 degrees.
Vet Note: Whenever you’re concerned with your dog’s health, don’t hesitate to visit your vet. They can make sure everything is okay and give you advice about how to handle the problem. They can also confirm no heat stroke damage was done.
Preventing Heat Stroke
There are several ways to prevent heat stroke and even heat exhaustion before it becomes serious in dogs:
Limit Outdoor Exercise in Hot Temperatures
If it’s hot outside, limit your dog’s outdoor exercise. She may be sad about it, but it will be best for her health. Let her outside in the early morning or early evening when temperatures are at their lowest.
Or she could go for a swim or play in a sprinkler. Always make sure she has access to drinking water and shade when outdoors.
Do Not Leave Her in Your Car
Temperatures in a parked vehicle can become very dangerous very fast, especially for dogs. Never leave your pet in the car, even if you think it will be just a few minutes. Even when the temperature outside is only 70 degrees, it doesn’t take long for it to reach 120 degrees in a vehicle.
Know If Your Dog Is At Risk
Some dogs are at higher risk than others for heat stroke, including:
- Thick- or long-haired breeds
- Brachycephalic breeds
- Other breeds with short noses or flat faces
- Young dogs
- Old dogs
- Dogs with medical conditions, such as heart problems
- Overweight dogs
Knowing the signs of heat stroke in dogs—and even the symptoms of heat exhaustion—may help you save your dog’s life one day. Prevention is key to stopping heat stroke from happening to your pup, so always take the necessary precautions before heading out for your daily walk or exercise. Extra water, an eye on the temperature, and the right planning in case of an emergency can make all the difference.
If your dog is experiencing heat stroke, get her to the veterinarian right away. We’re here to help. If you believe your dog’s temperature is elevated or she’s showing other signs of heat stroke, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.
When giving your dog a bath, it’s important not to get soap or water in his ears, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid cleaning your dog’s ears altogether! In fact, they need regular care. Here’s a rundown of how to clean your dog’s ears and why it’s so important.
Why Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
When most dog owners imagine grooming their pups, they think about trimming and cleaning up the coat, but a dog’s ears should not be forgotten. They need regular cleaning, and some dogs require more care than others.
One of the main reasons to clean your dog’s ears is to keep ear infections at bay. Whether caused by moisture or debris, ear infections are no fun. By cleaning your dog’s ears regularly, you can keep cut down on excess ear wax, clear out any debris, and check for ear mites. If left unchecked, ear infections can take hold. Signs of infection include:
- Odor around the ears
- Excess scratching at the ears
- Masses around the ear
How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
The frequency with which you should clean your dog’s ears depends entirely on your own dog! Some breeds, like poodles and bichons frises, are more prone to ear infections due to the hair inside their ear canals. This limits air flow, increasing the moisture trapped inside, and can lead to infections. Floppy-eared dogs, such as basset hounds and Labrador retrievers, are also more likely to develop infection because of lack of airflow.
Most dogs’ ears need to be cleaned just once a month, but if you have one of the dogs above, his ears may need cleaning once a week. If you’re not sure, speak with your veterinarian. Ask your veterinarian for advice on how often your pup needs this care, as it varies from dog to dog.
Other factors that can require you to clean your dog’s ears regularly or could lead to infection include:
- Debris – Dogs that like to roll around in grass can easily get pieces of it, leaves, or other debris stuck in their ears.
- Ear mites
- Moisture – This provides the perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.
What You Need to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
You can absolutely clean your dog’s ears at home! But if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always bring your pet to a groomer.
If you plan on cleaning your dog’s ears yourself, you’ll need a few supplies before you get started. Make sure you have them on-hand before getting down to business with your pup. You don’t want to find halfway through that you forgot something!
- Cotton balls, gauze, or pads – Do not use cotton swabs as this could push debris or wax into the ears.
- Vet-approved ear cleaner
- Treats as rewards
- Any medication your vet has prescribed
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Have your dog sit somewhere he’s comfortable. The bathtub can be the perfect spot to prevent ear cleanser from getting on the floor, but some dogs don’t like the tub. If that won’t work, put a towel on the floor, or take him outside.
Hold the ear up and check for excess hair. Some dogs are more prone than others to excess hair, so keep an eye on it, as this hair can trap moisture and lead to ear infections. If you’re unsure if your dog has too much hair in their ear or not, ask your groomer or veterinarian. This may need to be removed with tweezers before you move to the next step.
Still holding the ear up, carefully squirt the ear solution inside per its instructions. Do not allow the tip of the applicator to touch their ear..
Gently and carefully massage the base of your dog’s ears for 20 to 30 seconds. You will hear a squishing sound—this is normal!
Allow your dog to shake. Use the towel to clean up any spilled cleaning solution or to hold over your pup’s head while he shakes his ears.
Use the cotton ball, pad, or gauze to carefully wipe the ear canal and outer ear. Do not use anything inside the ear. Stick to the part of the ear you can see.
Repeat with the other ear.
If your dog has any prescribed medication from the veterinarian, you can administer this after you have cleaned the ears. Make sure you follow the instructions on the prescription for application and dosage.
Tips to Make the Process Less Stressful
Cleaning your dog’s ears, especially if he’s not comfortable, can be stressful for everyone involved. These tips can make it easier for both of you:
- Be generous with treats to help your pup associate ear cleaning with good things.
- Start cleaning when your dog is young, if possible – It’s easier to get a puppy used to ear cleaning than an older dog.
- Be generous when using the cleaning solution to ensure it’s cleaning the entire ear.
- Inspect your dog’s ears regularly for excess hair, ear wax, mites, or other issues, so you can identify when a cleaning is needed.
You May Want to Take Your Dog to a Groomer
Some dogs don’t like their ears touched, especially when they’re older and not used to the ear-cleaning process. If this is the case with your pup or you don’t feel entirely comfortable administering the solution, a groomer can absolutely help.
A typical grooming session at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital includes a bubble bath, brush-out, nail trimming, and ear cleaning. This can be perfect if your dog is not a huge fan of having his ears cleaned. Our team is experienced and trained to identify any more serious issues with the ears, such as infections, ear mites, or trapped debris.
Cleaning your dog’s ears may feel like a chore, but it’s one your dog’s health relies on. Making it a regular occurrence will ensure your family member’s ears are comfortable and healthy, all while keeping ear infections at bay.
If you believe your dog is in need of an ear cleaning or check-up, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! You can make an appointment by calling 281-693-7387.
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.