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What to Expect at Your Kitten’s First Vet Visit

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
  • Worms
  • Fleas
  • Sneezing
  • 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.

Paperwork 

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.

Cat Treats

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.

Payment 

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.

kittens first vet visit

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:

  • Coat
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Joints
  • Organs

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.

Draw Blood  

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:

  • Rabies
  • Feline rhinotracheitis
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline panleukopenia
  • Feline leukemia
  • Bordetella
  • FIV
  • 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.

Heartworm in Cats: Signs, Prevention, Treatment

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.

3 Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

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:

  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fainting
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Fluid in abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gagging
  • Lethargy

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)
  • Hospitalization
  • Fluids
  • Antibiotics
  • Cardiovascular drugs
  • Surgery
  • 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 preventive care for cats are available in topical and pill forms, which should be given once a month.

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 Revolution®, the preventive medicine we recommend and offer, 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.

Heartworm in Dogs: Signs & Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment

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.

3 Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

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.

heartworm in dogs

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
  • Nervousness
  • 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:

  • Roundworms
  • Fleas
  • Tapeworms
  • Hookworms

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. At Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX, we recommend and offer:

  • ProHeart® 12
  • HEARTGARD®
  • Trifexis®

Talk to us about what’s right for your dog. 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.

How to Take a Stress-Free Flight with a Cat

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’s the pet policy of the airline you’re using?

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.

Kennel 

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.

how to fly with a cat

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.

Paper Towels 

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.

How to Keep Your Cat’s Ears Clean and Why You Should

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.

Signs Your Cat Is Getting Old

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
  • Swelling
  • Sensitivity
  • Scratching or irritation
  • Odd smells
  • Discharge
  • 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 cats ears

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.

3 Ideas for the Best Valentine’s Day…with Your Dog as Your Date

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
  • Beethoven
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Frankenweenie
  • 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.

Pumpkin for your dog!

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!

valentines-day-dog

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
  • Oatmeal
  • Cinnamon
  • Flour
  • Raw beets
  • Strawberries
  • Yogurt
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Eggs

For the frosting, you should have:

  • Yogurt
  • Cornstarch
  • 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
  • Parsley
  • Egg
  • 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!

Doggy Fro-Yo 

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.

Gather together:

  • A blender
  • Low-fat, all-natural Greek yogurt
  • Banana
  • Peanut butter
  • Honey
  • 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.

My Cat Won’t Stop Licking! Why He Does It and How to Help

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.

cat excessive licking

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
  • Perfumes
  • Food
  • Fabrics

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!

How to Groom Your Dog at Home

Grooming your dog can sound like a daunting process, especially at home, but it’s an important aspect of dog ownership. If you’re ready to get in the bath with your pup, give her a new hairstyle, and/or trim her nails, these tips for grooming will help!

If you’re not comfortable grooming your dog at home, we offer professional grooming services at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX. Our experienced groomers can trim, style, cut nails, brush, bathe, clean ears, and more! To schedule your appointment, reach us at 251-693-7387.

Why Does My Dog Need to Be Groomed?

There are several reasons your dog should be groomed regularly. It’s a must for her health, well-being, and your carpets. Just what type of grooming your dog requires depends on her skin and fur, but here are some reasons it should be done:

  • Prevents matting
  • Removes dead skin
  • Distributes natural oils to keep coat and skin in good condition
  • Keeps you on the lookout for fleas, infections, and lumps and bumps that could indicate other health problems
  • Reduces stress
  • Keeps her comfortable in certain climates and temperatures
  • Helps her paws and ears stay in healthy condition
  • Reduce the amount your dog sheds

In addition to all of these, regular grooming also keeps your dog looking her best!

How Often Should I Groom My Dog? 

How often you wash and trim your pup depends on a few things:

  • Her breed
  • How much she sheds
  • Her coat
  • Her activity – Active dogs tend to get dirtier!
  • The climate in which you live – Long-haired dogs in our climate may need to be trimmed more often to stay cool.

And while you may have a long-haired dog that needs to be brushed daily, it doesn’t mean you have to go through the entire grooming process each day. Over time, you’ll learn just how often your dog needs a spa treatment.

We generally recommend completing a standard grooming regimen about once a month. If you have a puppy, it’s a good idea to start getting her used to a grooming schedule early on, so she’s less anxious about the process as she grows up!

how to groom a dog

What You Need to Groom Your Dog 

Grab these items before you start!

  • Dog nail clippers – Never use human nail clippers! They’re not designed for dogs’ nails and could cause harm.
  • Scissors or dog clippers
  • Brush – If your dog has longer fur, you may need specialized tools.
  • Towels
  • Leash and collar (optional)
  • Dog shampoo
  • Treats – Give your pup treats throughout the entire grooming process to keep her comfortable and happy!

How to Groom Your Dog at Home 

Once you have your materials nearby, follow this step-by-step guide to get your dog looking its best (skipping any steps that don’t apply to your dog because of the criteria above):

Brush Her Fur 

This is the first of a few maintenance tasks you’ll need to complete before you head to the bath. A good brush-through will make bathing and trimming much easier, but also remove loose hair. Your bath drain will thank you!

If you find a tangle, try brushing it out gently. If it has become a mat, it may be best to cut it out to avoid discomfort for your dog. If you can’t cut it out without hurting your dog—or feel uncomfortable doing so, take her to a professional dog groomer.

Trim Her Nails 

Just like grooming, your dog’s nails should be trimmed once a month. If you’re not sure how to complete this task, check out our easy, step-by-step guide!

Bathe Her

Now that she’s brushed through and her nails are trimmed, it’s time to get your pup in the bath. You’ll want to have all the items you need nearby now because you don’t want to be running around the house grabbing towels with a wet dog trying to escape the tub. It’s also a good idea to have a non-slip mat or surface in your tub, so your dog is as comfortable as possible.

Once you’re ready, here’s how to give your dog a bath:

Step 1: Turn on the water from the shower head facing away from your dog at first to ensure you don’t accidentally shock or burn her with cold or hot water. The water’s temperature should be lukewarm.

(Optional Step): Consider leashing your dog to the wall with a suction cup to prevent her from moving too much.

Step 2: Run the lukewarm water over her fur and skin, avoiding her ears and head.

Step 3: Apply the dog shampoo to her fur. Start from her neck, and move downward using your hands to get it through her thick fur and to her skin.

Step 4: Use shampoo on her head, but carefully avoiding her eyes and ears. Use a towel to wipe off her face if it gets wet.

4 Great Shampoos for Dogs

Step 5: Rinse your pup with the shower head until all the dirt, shampoo, and debris leaves her fur.

Step 6: Dry your dog while she’s still in the tub to avoid a wet dog running around the house! Some dogs may require a blow dryer, but be careful to use the cool setting if you go this route. If your dog is uncomfortable with the loud noise, let her air dry after rubbing her down with towels.

Trim Your Dog 

Once your pup is dry, it’s time to start the trim! Not all dogs need to be clipped; it depends on her fur and breed. How you trim your dog also depends on your pet’s fur, but these steps can be a general guideline.

Step 1: Secure your dog. It’s essential she doesn’t move around a lot during her trim, so make sure she’s in an area where she’s comfortable, on a leash, and secure.

Step 2: Start the process at her neck, and work downward, just like bathtime, saving her legs for last.

Step 3: Brush against the direction of the fur.

Step 4: Run the scissors or clippers in the direction of the fur to trim her hair.

Use extra care around her neck, genitals, anus, tail, Achilles’ tendons, armpits, legs, and face. Be patient, and take your time to avoid accidents.

Vet Tip: We sometimes see even careful owners accidentally injuring their dogs when they attempt to trim their fur. We recommend bringing your pup in to see us for professional grooming to make sure she stays safe and gets the cut you want! 

6 Unique Dog Haircuts

Treats!

Once you’ve finished grooming your dog, treats are essential! Reward your good pup handsomely for her stellar behavior.

Why You May Want to Take Your Dog to a Professional Groomer

You can save money by grooming your dog at home, but there are real benefits to taking your dog to a professional groomer instead.

They Have Experience

Professional dog groomers have all the experience and tools they need on hand to get your dog looking her best. This is great to rely on if you’re not comfortable trimming your pup or she’s anxious about the process. Groomers know how to handle anxious dogs.

They Know What to Look for Regarding Your Dog’s Health 

Ticks and fleas can be visible to dog owners most of the time, but having a professional groomer go over your dog’s fur and skin can help detect problems before they get worse. Groomers are trained to look for:

  • Dry skin
  • Injuries
  • Ear and eye problems
  • Fleas and ticks
  • Hot spots
  • Other irritations

They Bond with Your Dog 

Because of their extensive experience, dog groomers know how to bond with all kinds of dogs. When your pup builds a relationship with her groomer, she may look forward to a trip to the groomer!

It Saves You Time and Effort 

There’s no doubt grooming your dog can take quite a bit of time and energy. Between prepping her, getting the bath ready, and cleaning up, it can be a several-hour affair. Dropping your dog off at the groomer’s frees up your day!

They Can Give Your Dog a Great Look 

Professional groomers also have the experience to give your dog a great look. If you’re after a special look or want to have your pup comfortable during the hot summer, your groomer knows exactly how to achieve that trim or style.

Grooming at home can be quite the process, but it can also be a great bonding activity for you and your pet! If you or your dog is anxious about any part of the process, you can always do what you can at home, then have a professional groomer finish up. Whatever you decide, bathtime, trims, and nail clips are essential to your dog’s overall health and well-being, so don’t skip them!

Ready to meet our professional groomers? They can maintain your pet’s style, give her a haircut, get rid of those nasty mats, or just trim her nails. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 281-693-7387.

Do Dogs Need Sweaters? How to Keep Your Pal Warm in Cold Weather

As cold weather slowly arrives around Katy, you bundle up. But what about your dog? Should she be bundling up too? If you’re curious whether a sweater would do any good, read on! For many pups, a sweater or coat is more than just a fashion statement.

Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Many dogs have fur long enough to protect them from low temperatures. Other types of dog could use a little help! If your dog fits into one of the categories below, it may be time to do some clothes shopping.

1. She’s a Puppy

A puppy absolutely should wear a coat in cold weather. Since she’s so close to the ground, the extra protection can help them keep comfortable as they play outside or go through potty training.

2 Easy Ways to Potty Train Your Puppy

Also, if you have a puppy that will need a sweater later in life, puppyhood is the right time to start training them to be comfortable in clothing.

2. She’s a Smaller Breed or Has Shorter Legs 

Just like puppies, smaller breeds sit close to the ground and can benefit from sweaters. If your dog is a small, miniature, or toy breed, she generally won’t be able to retain enough body heat to keep comfortable during the colder months, especially if she also has shorter hair.

These small breeds are just a few examples:

  • Chihuahua
  • French bulldog
  • Toy terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Corgi
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hound

3. She Has Short Hair

Even larger pups that are short haired or groomed to have short hair, like poodles, can benefit from sweaters in the wintertime. Without the long fur, they have a hard time retaining heat.

do dogs need sweaters

4. She’s a Senior

Senior dogs, just like humans, tend to get colder more easily, and are more prone to problems like arthritis that can be made worse by the cold.

5. She Has a Medical Condition 

If your dog is ill or has a weak immune system, put her in a sweater or coat before she heads outside. Even young dogs with medical issues benefit from the extra layer!

6. She Recently Had Surgery

Recent surgery could make your dog susceptible to other illnesses. If she dog an operation, talk to your vet about post-op care to see if she needs a sweater on colder days.

When Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Bundle her up when:

  • It’s 45 degrees or colder outside, especially if she’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes
  • It snows
  • You’re inside and you don’t like to run the heater often

How to Find the Perfect Outer Layer!

When looking for the perfect sweater or jacket for your dog, fashion is fun, but keep substance in mind too!

Look for the Optimal Material

Dog coats and sweaters come in a variety of materials, and what works for one dog may not be best for another.

Wool, for example, can be wonderful for very low temperatures, but your pup may find the material itchy. In this area, a better choice is probably a mix between wool, cotton, and acrylic. A poncho is a good choice if it’ cold and raining or snowing and your dog doesn’t need something extra heavy. Fleece is also an option.

No matter what type of sweater or coat you choose, observe your dog to make sure she’s comfortable in it!

Vet Tip: Invest in outerwear that’s easy to clean. There’s no doubt your pup will get it messy!

Make Sure It Fits Well

While you might want to bundle up to the point that you can barely move in your winter clothing, that’s not the best for your pup. To ensure her sweater fits your dog properly, check around her collar and chest. You should be able to fit two fingers between the coat and the dog.

Chose a coat that covers her stomach but leaves room for her tail and allows her to go to the bathroom. A coat that works for a female dog may not work for a male pup.

Avoid Dog Sweaters with Sleeves

Sweaters and coats with sleeves are cute, but they’re very rarely practical. They can restrict your dog’s movement and make her uncomfortable. Whichever sweater you choose, make sure your pooch can move normally.

Try It on At the Store

Dog coats and sweaters have sizes (extra small, small, large, and extra large), but these are general guidelines. If you’re buying clothes at a pet store, ask if your pup can try the sweater on before you purchase it.

What If My Dog Doesn’t Want to Wear a Sweater?

If your dog isn’t used to a sweater, she may be reluctant to put on clothing, no matter how warm it keeps her. As with most dog behavior, training can do great things! The earlier you start, the easier it will be for your dog to get comfortable. Follow these steps, and make sure you have treats on hand for every step of the process!

Step 1: Show your dog her sweater, allowing her to sniff it. Repeat this for a few days.

Step 2: Rub the sweater on her fur gently to get her accustomed to the texture. Repeat for a few days, holding the sweater against her fur for longer each time.

Step 3: Put the sweater on your dog for short periods of time. After each success (and treat), put the sweater on for longer.

Even with training, not all dogs respond positively to clothing. If she refuses to wear a sweater or jacket or refuses to move once it’s on, limit her time outside in cold weather with it on to just a few minutes.

Sweaters look great on dogs, but they also serve an important purpose! If your dog needs a coat, do your shopping for the perfect fit before winter arrives, or put it on her Christmas list. She’ll be cozy and fashionable!

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Where & How to Find a Puppy!

Are you thinking about bringing a new family member home? If you’re considering a puppy, you may be wondering where you can find the perfect one! Here’s how to select the right pup for your family.

What Adopting a Puppy Means

If you’re still in the early stages of considering adding a puppy to your family, there are a few things you should consider, especially if this will be your first dog or pet. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have time to care for and entertain a dog?
  • Will he be home alone a lot?
  • Do you have the time and patience needed to train a puppy?
  • Do you have the finances to support a new family member?
  • Who will take care of your dog if you go on vacation?
  • Are you prepared to care for your puppy for its entire life? (Some dogs can live up to 18 years!)
  • Is your whole family on board? (It’s often not advisable to give a puppy or another pet as a present. Find out why here.)
  • Are you prepared for all the challenges that come with owning a dog? (Bathroom accidents, medical emergencies in the middle of the night, old age, and more)

Consider This Before Adopting a Puppy

Selecting the right dog for your family is a process. Your living situation could affect the type of dog you bring home. Here are some things to ask yourself before finding a puppy:

Where Do You Live?

While you may not consider it important at first, where you live can absolutely affect your adoption decisions. Apartments, for example, may not be best for a more active dog, and they may not be big enough for larger breeds. If you want a puppy that needs a lot of exercise, like a border collie, a yard with room to run around is best!

Apartment complexes and home insurance companies may also restrict the breeds you can bring home. Some dog breeds that are generally prohibited include:

There may be others that are blacklisted.

Do You Have Kids?

Some dogs can be great with children; others not so much. It’s important to pick a dog that gets along with the whole family. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and beagles are three great examples of puppies that are generally wonderful with kids due to their laid-back natures.

Other breeds are fantastic in other family situations, but may not be happiest with children around. Dalmatians, for example, can be jumpy and need calm. Chow chows can have a quick temper and may to bite when upset or riled up.

On the other hand, it’s important to note your kids’ ages and personalities. Younger children may not understand completely how to care for a young dog, especially smaller breeds like the chihuahua, and could accidentally hurt your new puppy.

Do You Have Other Pets?

You may already have furry family members. Don’t forget about them when choosing a dog! If you have a cat, basset hounds, beagles, and papillons are great examples of breeds that get along with others. Bluetick coonhounds and whippets, though, have a strong prey drive and can pose a risk to cats, kittens, and other small animals.

Some dog breeds also get along with dogs better than others. Golden retrievers, Corgis, and Irish setters generally make wonderful companions for dogs.

How Much Attention Can You Give Your Dog?

Your new puppy will need—and demand—your attention. If you work a full-time job, you’ll want a dog that is okay being alone most of the day. When you get home, how much patience or energy will you have to spend with your new family member?

Consider these things when it comes to your spare time:

  • How much grooming will the puppy need? – Some dogs, especially with longer fur, need more grooming than others. You’ll need to dedicate time each week to this task.
  • How much energy does the dog have? – Adopt a dog that matches your energy level. If you like sitting around doing nothing, find a pup that shares this interest.
  • How much time do you have for training? – A well-trained puppy grows into a well-trained dog, and remember: Some dogs learn faster than others!

find a puppy

How to Find a Puppy

Now that you’ve asked yourself those questions and have an idea what you’re looking for, it’s time to find your puppy! Here are some places you can look for your newest family member:

Local Shelters and Animal Rescues

One of the best places to find your new puppy is at a local rescue or shelter. They always have dogs that are looking for homes and often have puppies. And don’t think you can’t find purebred dog at a shelter. You’ll be surprised! Often, you can also put in a request for a particular dog, and the shelter will call you when one arrives.

If you’re not sure which dog is right for you, ask the workers. They spend so much time with the animals that they usually get to know their personalities inside and out! They will likely be able to help you find a great fit if you tell them about your:

  • Living situation
  • Family
  • Needs and wants
  • Lifestyle

Adoption Red Flags

Pet Store

Many pet stores carry puppies, but it’s important to do your research into selecting a store. Some buy from puppy mills, which may mean health problems for your new pet and is potentially supporting unethical breeding practices.

If you find the pet store gets their dogs and other pets from reputable sources, you may just find your new family member there!

Professional Breeders

There are hundreds of professional dog breeders. From goldendoodles to German shepherds, it’s possible to find the exact breed to fit your lifestyle, family, home, and needs.

Much like pet stores, the key is finding a reputable and professional breeder. Do research into the breeds that pique your interest, and check official websites regarding those dogs. They will often supply the contact information of established and trustworthy breeders to ensure you bring a well-bred and healthy puppy home. The American Kennel Club, for instance, has its Breeder Referral Search here.

There are several red flags to keep an eye out for when searching for a dog from a breeder:

You’re not allowed to see his parents This could mean the dog is being sold secondhand, the parents have health issues, or the mother is constantly pregnant.

The breeder won’t meet you at their home This could mean they’re from a puppy mill and not a reputable breeder.

They offer three or more breeds Many breeders only focus on one or two breeds. If the breeder you’re looking into focuses on several, it could point to a puppy mill.

There’s no contract Generally, breeders care about what happens to their puppies when they leave their care. A contract includes paperwork that states the new owner will spay or neuter their new family member, care for the puppy, and return the dog if they decide he is not for them.

The breeder promises the dog is “perfect” There is no way to tell for sure that a puppy is absolutely free from genetic issues or will have a specific temperament. If a breeder makes extreme or excessive promises, it could point to problems.

Finding your puppy is an exciting and wonderful time. Knowing what to look for and how to find it makes the start of this new relationship even better! Ask yourself the important questions to narrow down the right breed for you and your family. Once you know what will fit your needs, it’s time to start your search. Whether you’re getting your puppy from a shelter, a breeder, or a pet store, the time you take now will help ensure you select a healthy and well-cared-for dog.

If you’re bringing home a new puppy, a check-up is always recommended—and we’d love to meet him! To schedule your pup’s first appointments and get him on a vaccination schedule, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.

The shots your puppy needs