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“Is My Dog Blind?”: How to Tell and What It Means for You & Him

If you’ve noticed your dog moving cautiously around the house or bumping into objects that are part of his everyday life, it’s time to visit the vet. These could point to impaired vision or blindness. Blindness in dogs can happen gradually or suddenly, and it can mean a big lifestyle change for both your pooch and you. Learn about the causes of blindness, the symptoms, and what happens next for a blind dog.

What Causes Dogs to Go Blind?

There are many reasons a dog can experience worsened sight or sight loss, ranging from disease to damage to the eyes. The most common causes are:

hand pets white dog's face

– Cataracts, often caused by diabetes

– Progressive retinal atrophy

– Retinal detachment, often caused by kidney failure and the hypertension that results from it

– Glaucoma

– Suddenly acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARD)

Some breeds are more likely to develop cataracts than others. These include:

– Miniature schnauzers

– Miniature poodles

– Cocker spaniels

– Golden retrievers

– Boston terriers

– Siberian huskies

Others are more likely to develop SARDS:

– Miniature schnauzers

– Dachshunds

– Pugs

– Maltese

– Mutts in general

If a dog goes blind, it will most likely happen to him in his old age.


SARDS is especially alarming because it’s sudden blindness. If your dog could see yesterday and can’t today, he may have SARDS. The median age of dogs who develop SARDS is 8.5, and 60% to 70% of them are female. Unfortunately, the cause of sudden onset blindness isn’t yet known. Some specialists suspect an inflammatory or autoimmune culprit, or allergies.

How Loss of Vision Is Diagnosed

The first symptoms of blindness in dogs are often noticed by their owners. Forty to fifty percent of visually impaired dogs drink more water, eat more food, and urinate more. They also experience weight gain and often don’t want to play as frequently. They sleep more and might show signs of depression. You may notice your pup moving cautiously around the house and/or bumping into things in his environment. Some owners report these signs even in dogs with SARDS, where loss of sight is sudden.

For your dog to be officially diagnosed and to get the important information you need about caring for a blind dog, it’s crucial to take him to the vet. First, your vet will ask about your dog’s history, then they’ll administer vision assessments.

Your Dog’s History

These are some questions you should be prepared to answer about your dog:

– Do you think he’s partially or completely blind?

– Has the change been gradual or was it acute (He could see yesterday, and he can’t today.)?

– When did you start noticing signs of vision loss?

– If the appearance of the eyes is different, when did that happen?

– Is he on any medications?

This will help the vet understand whether the blindness might be related to an underlying condition.

Vision Assessments

There are lots of tests that help a veterinarian determine whether a dog is blind. Most are done twice—once for each eye.

– The maze test – The vet sets up a series of harmless obstacles in the room and asks you to stand on the opposite side of them from your dog, then call him. The vet will see whether your dog can make it to you on his own.

– The cotton ball test – Your vet will throw cotton balls (or something else without a scent or a noise) into your dog’s field of vision to see if he flinches or reacts.

– The menace assessment – The vet makes menacing gestures in the direction of your dog’s eyes. They are careful not to make them too close to his face, so he doesn’t feel air moving on his eyes. If your dog sees the vet’s gestures, his menace response will be to move his head or blink.

– The visual placing reaction (best for dogs that can be picked up) – The vet will hold your dog with his legs dangling and move him toward the surface of a table, as if they’re going to place your dog on it. If your dog can see, he’ll move his legs to step onto the table.

– The pupillary light reflex test – In a dim room, your vet will shine a bright light into your dog’s eyes to gauge how his pupils react. This helps reveal whether there’s a lesion.

How to Care for a Blind Dog

The diagnosis of partial or full blindness is scary, especially because most of the time, there is no treatment. If your dog has cataracts, take him to a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. This specialist may be able to perform cataract surgery and restore some sight.

If your dog’s sight loss is permanent, don’t panic! Blindness in dogs is manageable. In fact, most dogs adapt to loss of vision better than their owners expect. In a survey of 100 SARDS dog owners, just 9 reported that they thought their dogs’ quality of life was poor. In almost all cases, they said their dogs’ ability to navigate their house and yard and new places was moderate to excellent! Dogs are incredibly adaptable, and with a little help from you, a blind dog can have a very fulfilling life.

Adopt some of these changes to make your dog as comfortable and capable as possible:

– If your dog is crate-trained, take advantage of that at first—especially if he has sudden blindness to confine him in a familiar space when you’re not around. If he’s not crate-trained, use baby gates to restrict him to safe areas.

– Add bells or tags to yourself and other animals in the house, so your dog knows where you are. This can be especially helpful outside.

– Get down on his level to discover and remove any dangerous obstacles, like table corners. If you can’t rearrange something, add essential oils or another scent to it, so your dog recognizes when he’s near it.

– Utilize textures! Put a carpet runner at the top of the stairs, so he knows when he’s approaching them or a mat under his food and water bowls to help him find them.

– Keep him on a leash outside, so he doesn’t wander too far away, at least until he gets used to your enclosed yard.

– If you need to introduce your pup to a new space, scatter dog food on the floor. He’ll use his nose to find it and move slowly, familiarizing himself with the area.

– Teach him important commands:

    • “Heel” keeps him from wandering away when on walks.
    • “Stop” or “wait” warns him when he’s approaching an obstacle like a table or a tree.
    • “Step (up or down)” tells him stairs are in front of him.

Don’t forget to play! Your dog may not feel like playing as often as he once did, and you might need to adapt play to include noisy toys, but no dog’s life is full without some fun.

If you think your dog is going blind, remain calm. Your dog is likely to be anxious and scared himself, so keep your voice low and your movements predictable. Reach out to your veterinarian to schedule official vision assessments. He or she will be able to give you helpful tips as well. If your dog is partially blind or still seeing, do what you can to protect and strengthen his eyes. Beta carotene is great for dogs and can be found in many foods they like, including cantaloupe and carrots. And make sure to visit the vet for routine care, so they can spot and treat illness or disease before they cause blindness.

Ready to make an appointment for your pup? Contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital today!

The Big List of Human Foods That Are Safe for Dogs & Make Healthy Treats!

When you’re eating dinner or prepping a meal in the kitchen, your dog is probably a close companion. Sometimes food gets dropped, or you have extra of one ingredient. In both situations, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s safe for your pup to munch on a human food.

There are lots of people foods that are perfectly safe for dogs to eat—most in moderation. We’ve compiled a big list of things that shouldn’t make you worry if they fall off the counter. Or get snatched by a mischievous dog!

What dogs CAN’T eat

Vet Tip: It’s fun to share food with your dog, but if you don’t want to encourage begging, be mindful of how you deliver it. Putting it in his food bowl encourages him to look for food where it belongs instead of under your feet while you cook or eat.

A Key to Nutrients

Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each benefits your pup:

Antioxidants – Protects your dog’s body from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm enzymes, DNA, and cell membranes). There is research to suggest antioxidants can improve age-related issues in older dogs. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins E and C.

Calcium – Supports teeth and bone health and helps blood clot

Fiber – Maintains a healthy gut microbiome and helps food move through the digestive tract

Lauric Acid – Helps fight bacteria and viruses; freshens breath; and clears up skin conditions like flea allergies, itchy skin, and hot spots

Magnesium – Helps contract and relax muscles and regenerate them. It’s also an important part of a properly functioning liver, heart, and digestive tract.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system

Phosphorus – Ensures healthy kidney function and helps with muscle contractions

Probiotics – Improve coat appearance and bad breath, reduce gas and allergies, and regulate bowel movements

Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin

Selenium – Helps the thyroid function properly

Vitamin A – Aids fetal development and the function of cells and the immune system

Vitamin B Maintains the digestive system and promotes healthy blood circulation


puddle of splashing milk

Dairy is generally fine for a dog unless he’s lactose intolerant. How will you know? He will vomit and/or have diarrhea after he eats a dairy product. Even if he doesn’t exhibit these symptoms, only let your dog eat dairy in small quantities. Dogs have low levels of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the sugars in milk. To avoid too much fat in his diet, stick to low- or reduced-fat dairy.

Approved foods:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Plain yogurt


  • Calcium
  • Probiotics (in yogurt with active bacteria)

Cooked Meat

Unseasoned, cooked meats are great for your dog! Trim off the fat and limit portions sizes to avoid too much of it in your dog’s diet. Fat is hard for dogs to digest and can cause pancreatitis and inflammation. Also beware of meat with high salt content, like bacon and processed ham, and remove all bones.

Approved foods:

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Turkey


  • Protein

Cooked Fish

Several varieties of seafood are tasty and safe for dogs. Be sure the fish is fully cooked to avoid feeding your pup parasites.

You can deliver the benefits of food via salmon oil or cooked fish skins mixed in with his regular food.

Approved foods:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Shrimp


  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B (in shrimp)


watermelon cubes

Lots of fruits are safe human foods for dogs. They are full of vitamins A, B, and C, along with other nutrients. Fruit can be high in sugar, so make it a special treat for your dog, and be sure to remove the core and seeds to prevent choking.

Approved foods:

  • Watermelon – Chewing on the rind can cause an upset stomach, so toss that part in the trash.
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin – Read our blog post on how to get pumpkin into your dog in fun, new ways here.


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin C
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants
  • Fiber
  • High water content

Vet Tip: Apple skins can help clean residue off your dog’s teeth, freshening his breath!


Some grains, like oatmeal, are excellent sources of soluble fiber, which can keep your dog regular. Others, like bread, are safe for your dog to eat but don’t provide nutritional value. Bread is also full of calories and carbohydrates, which are best kept to a minimum in your dog’s diet.

Approved Foods:

  • Bread
  • Cooked oatmeal – Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.


  • Fiber


many cashews

Some nuts are safe foods for dogs, but almost all are high in fat, so they should be given in moderation.

Approved Foods:

  • Coconut – Dogs can eat the raw coconut fruit (outside the shell), coconut oil, and coconut milk.
  • Cashews


  • Calcium
  • Antioxidants
  • Magnesium
  • Protein
  • Lauric acid

Other Delicious Things

There are many other people foods that are both safe and delicious for dogs! Here are the benefits of a few of the most common:

Cooked Eggs

Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients to your pup, like:

  • Protein
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B


Honey is okay for dogs to eat, but it can also be applied topically to help ease burns and superficial cuts!


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C (and D, E, and K!)
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants

Peanut Butter

bowl of peanut butter with spoon

Peanut butter is really nutritious for dogs, and it’s fun too! Put it in a Kong, let your dog lick the spoon, or use it to deliver medicine. Aim for raw, unsalted peanut butter, and never give your dog the sugar-free version. It contains xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.


  • Protein
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Heart-healthy fats


When you’re putting a bowl into the microwave for movie night, it can be tempting to slip your pup a piece. That’s okay if the popcorn is unsalted and doesn’t have added sugar or salt. Make sure there are no rogue un-popped kernels; they can be choking hazards.


  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

Feeding your dog new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And many of these make healthy meal replacements if you’ve run out of dog food. In almost all cases, your dog’s regular, commercial dog food gives him all the vitamins and minerals he needs, so supplementing with human food isn’t necessary. If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food above is okay for your dog, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!

5 Fun, Easy Halloween Costumes for Your Dog!

If you’re taking your pup to a costume contest, a Halloween party or parade, out trick-or-treating, or just for a walk around the neighborhood on October 31st, try out one of these dog Halloween costumes. From unique to classic, you’ll find something that fits his personality.

1. A Hotdog

Say “hot dog,” and people won’t know whether you’re talking about the delicacy at an Astros game or a real dog, panting in the Texas heat! Why not combine both of these fan favorites in a costume that’s as cute as it is classic?


Match Your Dog

Complete the hot dog theme by stepping out with your dog dressed as a vendor!

To make the costume yourself, you’ll need:

  • 1 shallow box
  • Bright red acrylic paint
  • Black acrylic paint
  • White acrylic paint
  • A large flat paintbrush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Burlap ribbon
  • Thumbtacks
  • A tape measure
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Props like ketchup and mustard bottles and an apron


2. A Taco

Maybe hotdogs aren’t your favorite, but you never miss Taco Tuesday. This costume is perfect—complete with lettuce, ground beef, tomatoes, and cheese!


Match Your Dog

What pairs nicely with tacos? Tequila! Dress yourself up in a white or gold dress, drawing or stamping a Patrόn emblem on the front. Don’t forget the yellow or green ribbon around your neck!

And if you have a partner or friend, a couples costume can easily be part of the delicious mix. A few pieces of green felt can be easily fashioned into a sash across your body that looks just like a lime slice.


3. A Businessman

If you’ve always felt your dog was smarter than people gave him credit for, don’t pass on this cute little business suit, complete with navy jacket, crisp white button-down, and striking red tie. All he’ll need is a briefcase!


DIY Dog Businessman

This DIY dog costume has all the important elements of a wear-to-work outfit, so it will look like your furry friend is ready to take on whatever Monday throws at him.

It requires some sewing skills, but the elements are so simple, it’s likely to be comfortable for your pup and an outfit you can break out year after year—or any time he needs formal wear.

To make the costume yourself, you’ll need:

  • A sewing machine
  • An iron
  • Straight pins
  • A stitch ripper
  • Hook and loop tape (Velcro®)
  • Scissors
  • An old dress shirt
  • A child’s clip-on tie
  • Matching thread


4. A Lion

senior dog in felt lion mane

Credit: HGTV

This is such a classic costume that it’s hard to pass by. Your little beast will look fierce with a brown or a brown and black mane (and those adorable ears too). Just make sure he doesn’t get too hot, and if he’s uncomfortable with fabric covering his ears, opt for a different Halloween costume.


DIY Lion

If you have brown felt lying around, use it to craft a lion’s mane without going to the store or clicking “Add to Cart.” Old or young, any pup is sure to look ferocious (and adorable) in this DIY Halloween costume.

You’ll need:

  • 4 to 8 pieces of lion-colored felt
  • 1 package snap tape
  • Scissors
  • A hot glue gun and glue sticks


Match Your Dog

Everyone will recognize the sight of a ringmaster with his lion. The basic elements of a ringmaster costume are a red jacket with a white shirt underneath, a black bowtie, a black top hat, and gold elements in the right places. It’s a costume that can work for men, women, and children.



BONUS: If you or your little one own the iconic yellow dress Belle wears in The Beauty & the Beast, get it out of the closet! Your dog in his lion’s mane would make the perfect Beast.

5. A Jester

boxer in colorful jester hat

Credit: HGTV

This simple costume is wonderful for a goofy, class-clown-of-a-dog. Don’t pass up the opportunity to embrace his true colors!

To make it yourself, you’ll need:

  • A printer
  • A sewing machine
  • An iron
  • Fiberfill
  • Hook and loop tape (Velcro)
  • Felt in 8 different colors
  • Red thread
  • Red felt
  • 11 jingle bells


Match Your Dog

Grab a crown or tiara, a long purple robe (Even a blanket would do.), and your most regal jewelry to dress up as the king or queen to your jester pup!

Tips for Making Sure Your Dog Stays Comfortable on Halloween

Each of these costumes for dogs is so cute, you might be tempted to put your pup in something he’s not entirely comfortable with. Both of you will have a much more enjoyable Halloween if he’s relaxed and not itchy, anxious, or in pain.


  • Costumes with potentially hazardous add-ons, especially if your dog likes to chew – For example, the jingle bells on the jester costume are best if you can trust your pup to leave them alone.
  • Fabrics and outfits that are too hot – Keep an eye on the weather for the day you plan to dress your dog up, and scale back the costume—or skip it altogether—if your dog runs the risk of overheating.
  • Costumes that don’t fit properly – Pay attention to sizing charts, and measure your dog before you buy or DIY.

Halloween is so much fun. Make it even better by sharing it with your dog! Choose from these dog Halloween costume ideas, and he’ll accompany you on your October 31st adventures in style.

7+ Human Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs

Whether you’re an experienced dog owner or you’re enjoying life with your very first dog, you may be wondering, “Is there anything I shouldn’t feed my pup?” This is urgent if he just grabbed something off your dinner plate! Learn what dogs absolutely should not be allowed to eat.

What dogs CAN eat

1. Alcohol

Alcohol, in its various forms, can be quite dangerous to a dog. Giving your dog even a sip of your liquor, wine, or beer is a big no, as the ethanol in the drink can lead to serious health complications. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your drink at dinner. It can be found in many other products, including:

  • Syrups
  • Rum-soaked cakes
  • Yeast bread dough (raw bread)

Since dogs are smaller than humans and not used to consuming alcohol, they can become intoxicated much quicker than a human would.

Symptoms of alcohol ingestion include:

  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Panting
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Difficulty breathing

Left unchecked, alcohol intoxication in dogs can lead to organ failure or death. With prompt and appropriate care from a vet, a dog that has ingested alcohol can recover. Make sure to tell the veterinarian how much your dog drank and the strength of the drink she had.

2. Chocolate 

Probably the most well-known people food that dogs shouldn’t eat, chocolate is dangerous because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. A substance found in cacao seeds, theobromine is easy for humans to digest, but this isn’t the case for dogs. They process the component much more slowly than we do, which allows it to build up to toxic levels.

Symptoms of chocolate ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Unusual heart rhythm
  • Tremors
  • Panting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal discomfort

The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, but in large amounts, chocolate can lead to heart attacks or seizures in dogs.

black pug looks across table at pie

3. Caffeine

Another methylxanthine—like chocolate—caffeine is bad for your dog’s health. Under no conditions should she have access to coffee, tea, sodas, or other caffeine beverages or items. If your dog drinks caffeine, she may show similar symptoms to those of chocolate.

4. Candy 

Although you may want to share a treat with your dog from time to time, candy is not the way to do it. (May we suggest a pumpkin dog treat instead?) Many candy, gum, and baked goods contain xylitol. This substance is a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it can also make an appearance in products like toothpaste, mouthwash, and vitamins.

Xylitol is harmful to dogs because it causes an insulin release that can lead to hypoglycemia and liver failure. Always avoid feeding your dog sweets or snacks that contain xylitol.

Symptoms of candy or xylitol ingestion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

If you believe your dog has eaten a product or snack that contains xylitol, it’s important to bring her to a veterinarian immediately. A 10 pound dog only needs to eat one sugar-free piece of gum for a toxic dose of xylitol. Life-threatening low blood sugar levels can occur in less than 15 minutes.

5. Grapes and Raisins 

Grapes and raisins may not jump immediately into your mind toxic to dogs, but some pets can develop kidney disease from eating them. It’s unclear why grapes and raisins are dangerous to dogs and why some dogs are unaffected by the food while others have serious side effects. But it’s never worth the risk to find out if your pet is one of those that won’t be affected by eating grapes!

Symptoms of grape or raisin ingestion in dogs includes:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased urination and, later, decreased urination

If your dog has eaten one of these two foods, she will need to see a veterinarian. If left untreated, the symptoms can lead to long-term kidney disease or kidney failure.

6. Mushrooms 

Just like with humans, mushrooms can be toxic for dogs. The number of toxic mushrooms found in the wild are small, but it can be difficult to identify which are safe and which aren’t.

Symptoms in dogs vary depending on the type of mushroom eaten, but they could include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Aggression
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney Failure

A dog that has eaten toxic mushrooms may experience symptoms within the first 30 minutes; other signs will not appear for 24 hours. If you dog ate a wild mushroom, always err on the side of caution and bring her to a vet right away, along with any remains of the mushroom for identification.

7. Onions and Garlic 

Although a meal almost always benefits from some onions and garlic, a dog’s health doesn’t. All types of garlic and onions, including shallots and scallions, are toxic to pets. The compounds found in the food can do damage to red blood cells and cause other issues, including gastroenteritis and anemia.

Signs your dog ate something from the onion family aren’t always obvious and may not appear for a few days. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse

Garlic is particularly dangerous to pets; it is five times as potent as onions. Also note that some breeds may be more susceptible to onion poisoning than others.

Other Foods Dogs Shouldn’t Eat 

There are quite a few other foods and snacks that are harmful to dogs:

If you believe your dog has eaten one of these products or another food that may be dangerous to her, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note what she ate, how much, and when. This will help your vet craft a plan of action for your pet’s health.

Prevention is the best approach! Ensure the foods that dogs should never eat are kept out of your pet’s reach, garbage bags are closed up securely, and you always clean up after cooking.

Do you believe your dog ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to a veterinarian right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.

13 Signs of Cancer in Dogs

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.

While you groom your dog is a great time to check for this sign of cancer, especially as your dog ages. Run your hands over his body and legs, in his ears, and between his paw pads.

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

If, no matter how many times you wash your dog, there is a bad smell emanating from him, take him in for a checkup. Anal, nose, and oral cancer can all give off offensive odors.

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.

old golden retriever laying in grass with stick in mouth

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.

Does My Dog Have an Ear Infection?

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 

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
  • Wax

white dog ears from the back

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 –
  • Sensitivity
  • Pain
  • Excess scratching or rubbing at the effected ear
  • Discharge
  • Redness inside the ear
  • Lack of balance
  • Swelling
  • 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:

  • Allergies
  • Eating habits
  • Medications
  • 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.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion and Stroke in Dogs

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:

Excessive Panting

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
  • Exhaustion
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lack of urine
  • Off-colored gums
  • Dizziness


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.

black dog sitting in black swing on playground

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
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • 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
    • Pugs
    • Bulldogs
    • 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.

How to Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean & Why It’s Important

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
  • Discharge
  • Excess scratching at the ears
  • Sensitivity
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Masses around the ear

Do you know the signs of ear infections?

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
  • Allergies
  • 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
  • Towel
  • Tweezers
  • Treats as rewards
  • Any medication your vet has prescribed

how to clean dog ears

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Step 1:

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.

Step 2:

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.

Step 3:

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..

Step 4:

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!

Step 5:

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.

Step 6:

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.

Step 7:

Repeat with the other ear.

Step 8:

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.

Puppy Mills: What They Are & How to Avoid Adopting from One

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
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye issues
  • Cleft palate

How to Avoid Adopting from a Puppy Mill

what is 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!

5 Questions to Ask to Find a Reputable Shelter

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.

How to Find a Responsible Dog Breeder

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.

What to Expect at Your Puppy’s First Vet Visit

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

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!

puppy first vet visit

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
  • Worms

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:

  • Rabies
  • Kennel cough
  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Coronavirus
  • 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.



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