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The Shots Your Kitten Needs to Start Life Right!

If you’ve just brought a cat into your family, congratulations! He’s yours to cuddle and play with. But part of kitten care is keeping him safe and healthy, and that means getting him the vaccines he needs to start life right. Your furry friend needs a range of vaccinations and boosters to give him the best chance at a healthy future.

Find out which shots are important for your cat’s health, why, and when you should schedule them.

Rabies Vaccine

Rabies is a serious disease, and the vaccine is one of the most important shots for your cat. It’s required by law in many cities and towns across the United States.

Rabies can affect a wide range of animals, including humans, and it’s a fatal disease.

Signs of rabies in cats include:

  • Sudden change in behavior (usually aggressive)
  • Inability to swallow
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Change in voice
  • Sudden death

There is no cure for rabies, so vaccination is essential.

When Your Kitten Should Get the Rabies Shot

Many veterinarians suggest getting the rabies shot at about 12 weeks, but you can schedule it at 8 weeks. Your cat should receive a rabies booster shot a year later and, at most, every three years after that.

After your cat receives his vaccination, keep the paperwork on hand for easy reference.

what shots do kittens need

Feline Rhinotracheitis Vaccine

Feline rhinotracheitis, also known as the feline herpesvirus infection or feline herpes, is taken care of as part of the FVRCP combination vaccine. Herpes in cats is one of the main causes of upper respiratory infections and can also lead to conjunctivitis.

This virus appears 2 to 5 days after infection, lasts for up to 20 days, and can reactivate during stressful periods during your cat’s life. When symptoms are apparent, your cat can infect other cats.

The signs of feline herpes include:

  • Ulcers on the eyes
  • Squinting
  • Eye discharge
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Eating less
  • Lethargy

When Your Kitten Should Get the Feline Herpes Shot

Feline rhinotracheitis is particularly dangerous for kittens, but it’s unpleasant for adult cats as well and can put other felines at risk as well. The FVRCP vaccine is a three-part shot that can be administered at six weeks, though eight weeks is the recommended age. After the initial shot, your kitten will receive an additional shot every 3 to 4 weeks until he’s about 16 weeks old. He should get a booster at about one year.

Feline Calicivirus Vaccine

The ‘C’ in the FVRCP vaccine stands for feline calicivirus, also known as FVC. Another common cause of upper respiratory disease, this is an infection often found in shelters. Kittens are most likely to catch calicivirus, so vaccination is essential.

Common symptoms of this virus include:

  • Mouth ulcers
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Sneezing
  • Red and watering eyes
  • Lack of appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Arthritis
  • Fever

The calicivirus is resilient, so it can spread easily. It can be very dangerous to cats and may result in pneumonia, so care is essential if your cat catches this virus.

When Your Kitten Should Get the FVC Shot

Kittens should follow the FVRCP schedule for this disease.

Feline Panleukopenia Vaccine

The third part of the FVRCP vaccine is for feline panleukopenia, which is also known as “feline distemper” or “feline parvo.” In prior years, this virus was extremely dangerous to cats and proved fatal to many. Today it is an uncommon disease, thanks largely to the vaccine.

FP acts by attacking cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines (or fetus in the case of a pregnant cat). More common (and deadly) to young cats, symptoms of panleukopenia include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Low white blood cell counts

If your cat catches this virus, he’ll need intensive care.

When Your Kitten Should Get the Feline Parvo Shot

Kittens should follow the FVRCP schedule for this disease.

Feline Leukemia Vaccine

The feline leukemia (FeLV) vaccine is often recommended by veterinarians, but it’s not required. Indoor only cats are less likely to catch FeLV, but indoor-outdoor cats or outdoor cats can be highly susceptible. The virus is passed from cat to cat by bodily fluids, so grooming and fighting are common ways for cats to catch it.

The symptoms of feline leukemia virus include:

  • Fever
  • Inflamed gums
  • Lack of appetite and energy
  • Infections
  • Weight loss

When Your Kitten Should Get the Feline Leukemia Shot

Although this vaccine is not considered a core shot, many vets highly recommend it. Most cats that catch FeLV pass away within three years. Your kitten should receive this vaccination around 8 to 12 weeks and receive a booster about a month later.

Other Kitten Vaccinations

what shots do kittens need

There may be other vaccinations for your kitten that your veterinarian recommends—or are required by some boarding facilities—based on his environment and his health history.

Veterinarians generally only recommend the FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) vaccine for cats at high risk. Many cats can live with FIV for years with proper care, but critical signs of the disease include:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Inflammation

If your vet suggests this vaccination, your kitten will receive his first shot at about eight weeks old and then two booster shots in the next six weeks.

The chlamydophila felis shot is another vaccine that may be recommended by your vet if your new kitten lives in an area where the infection already exists. It can cause upper respiratory problems, as well as limping or a reduced appetite. The first shot can be received at nine weeks or older and requires a booster about a month later.

Bordetella is an extremely common bacteria found in kennels, so the vaccine is often required by boarding facilities. Kittens are most susceptible and will display severe symptoms, but any cat can catch this disease.

Signs include:

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing problems
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Talk to your veterinarian about this vaccine and whether or not they believe it is for your cat. If your cat requires it, he’ll need a booster shot every year.

Your kitten’s core vaccinations are essential to his health and wellness. Young cats are especially susceptible to many viruses and bacterial infections, so it’s important to talk to your vet about vaccination schedules and recommendations.

We can help you create a shot and booster schedule to make sure your furry friend gets the preventive care he needs. We’d love to meet your new family member! To schedule his first checkup or a booster shot, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.

How to Know Whether Your Cat Has an Intestinal Blockage and What To Do About It

Cats are known as curious for a reason! Sometimes get into things they’re not supposed to. While many of these items are harmless to your furry friend and/or pass through her digestive system without a problem, other items can cause intestinal blockages. But intestinal obstructions in cats aren’t only caused by foreign bodies. Sometimes they point to a larger health problem.

Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of an intestinal blockage in your cat, so you can be the best advocate for their health and safety and know exactly what to do if you suspect one.

What Causes Intestinal Blockages in Cats?

She Ate Something Odd

A common cause of intestinal blockages in cats is foreign bodies. Sometimes a cat eats something she absolutely shouldn’t—like tin foil. But other times, she might have swallowed part of her toy by accident.

Here are some things you’ll want to keep out of reach of your kitty:

  • String
  • Paper clips
  • Yarn
  • Tinsel
  • Rubber bands
  • Feathers
  • Dental floss
  • Ribbon
  • Plastic
  • Tin foil
  • Fabric
  • Needles and thread

Did your cat eat string?

She Has a Medical Condition

Blockages aren’t only caused by foreign bodies. They could be the result of another medical problem including:

  • Tumors
  • Roundworms
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Torsion
  • Narrowing of the intestine or stomach
  • Hernias
  • Another issue that involves the digestive system, stomach, or intestines

What Are the Signs of an Intestinal Blockage?

In many cases, if your cat ate a foreign object, it will pass on its own, and you will never notice there was a problem. In other cases, whether the cause is a foreign body or another medical issue, the signs of an intestinal blockage are clear, but may also be evidence of another problem.

Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Straining to go to the bathroom
  • Diarrhea
  • Not eating or not eating much
  • Lethargy
  • Behavioral changes
  • Doesn’t want to be picked up
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal pain

Sometimes the type of symptom your cat has will point to the severity of the issue. For example, constant vomiting can indicate a complete obstruction in the digestive track, while intermittent vomiting is a sign of a partial blockage. Diarrhea can happen when there is a partial block, but constipation points to a complete intestinal blockage.

When to Bring Your Cat to the Vet for an Intestinal Blockage

If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, bring your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Delaying could cause more serious problems.

If you see your cat eat something she’s not supposed to or suspect that she did, take her to your veterinarian right away. In many cases, it can be easier to get the foreign body out if it’s still in her stomach.

You may notice the foreign body in your cat’s mouth or throat, or coming out of her rectum. Do not pull on it. Items such as string might be wrapped around your cat’s tongue or intestines. Removing it incorrectly could cause harm to your cat.

How Is a Cat’s Intestinal Blockage Treated?

The treatment for your cat’s intestinal blockage depends on the cause, but also the location. First, your veterinarian will do X-rays and ultrasounds, sometimes using dye to locate the item and determine what it is. Many vets also complete blood tests and collect urine samples to ensure no other organs are affected. These tests can help you rule out other causes of blockages, like infections.

A gastric endoscopy is another tool your veterinarian may use. A small camera is directed through your cat’s digestive track. If the cause is a small foreign body, tools used in a gastric endoscopy can even allow the vet to retrieve the item without invasive surgery.

The next step is determined by the discoveries made by the X-rays, ultrasound, and endoscopy. If the item is a foreign body and found in the stomach, your vet may induce vomiting. Never try this on your cat at home. Doing it incorrectly can harm her. If the foreign object is located elsewhere in your cat’s digestive tract, your vet may want to see if it passes on its own or may suggest surgery.

If the item or problem can’t be located, exploratory surgery may be recommended to determine the exact cause. With anesthesia, your vet can find the obstruction.

If your cat’s intestinal obstruction isn’t caused by a foreign body, your vet may suggest the following:

  • Torsion – The vet will untwist the intestine and attach it to the side of the stomach to prevent the issue from reoccurring.
  • Dead or deteriorating bowels – Your vet will remove the dead or deteriorating sections and reattach the intestines that are in good condition.
  • Heartworms – Deworming medication is safe and simple.

For obstructions caused by cancer or other medical issues such as gastritis, your veterinarian will outline a specific treatment plan or other options available to you and your cat. The doctor may also have suggestions regarding diet after treatment.

cat intestinal blockage

How to Prevent Intestinal Blockages in Cats

Not all intestinal blockages in cats are preventable, as health issues such as cancer and torsion can happen at any time in a cat’s life. Other causes can be prevented!

Keep Objects Out of Reach

There are some items your cat will be very interested in, such as string. Put these items away out of reach when you are done using them.

Carefully Select Toys

Not all toys labeled as “cat toys” are safe for your furry friend. Ribbons and bells can easily detach and be swallowed. Carefully research toys and read reviews before purchasing them. Some objects may be safe for cats, such as dangling wands, but only under supervision. When not using these toys, keep them out of reach.

Keep Garbage Out of Reach

If your cat has a habit of getting into the garbage, try keeping it away from her, like in a closet or under lock to ensure she doesn’t go exploring for something she shouldn’t hve, even after you’ve thrown it away.

Keep a Clean Environment

Homes with roaches or mice put your cat’s health at risk. These animals’ waste products can provide a source for roundworm infection. Roundworm eggs can also be passed from cat to cat through their stool. Keeping a clean home and litterbox are essential to your pet’s health.

If you notice the signs of an intestinal blockage in your cat or pet, take her to your veterinarian immediately. Left untreated, it could lead to more health problems. Try to keep foreign items out of reach to reduce the chance of an intestinal obstruction, but also monitor your cats’ health and behavior for sudden changes.

Do you suspect your cat ate something she wasn’t supposed to? Is your cat having trouble going to the bathroom, or has she stopped eating? It’s time to visit your veterinarian. We offer a wide range of services to find the exact cause of the problem and have the expertise to recommend the proper treatment for your cat.

To schedule an appointment or to bring your cat in for an emergency visit, please call us at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas.

What Shots Does Your Puppy Need and Why?

You have a new puppy! You’ve given him a name, puppy-proofed the house, and introduced him to your family.

Next step: Take him to the veterinarian for his puppy shots!

Not only will your vet make sure your dog is in good health, they’ll get him on a vaccination schedule, which is essential to your dog’s health, now and in the future. Many of the diseases against which vaccines protect are highly contagious and can be deadly.

Here are the shots your puppy needs, what they protect against, and when he should get them.

Rabies Vaccine

One of the most commonly known vaccine for dogs is the rabies vaccine. Required by law, it is essential to get this puppy shot and the tag and paperwork that goes along with it.

Rabies is a viral disease that can pass from animal to animal or from animal to human through a bite or through infected saliva getting into an open wound.

If your puppy doesn’t receive the rabies vaccination and contracts the disease, he could experience a failure of his central nervous system that results in:

  • Hallucinations
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Paralysis
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

An animal with rabies won’t display symptoms until two to eight weeks after being infected, and there is no cure for the disease.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Rabies Shot

Your puppy should get his first rabies shot around four to seven months old. At 12 to 16 months, he’ll need a booster shot. After that, your dog will require a rabies shot every one to three years.

Keep your pup’s up-to-date rabies vaccination paperwork in a safe place, and put his rabies tag on his collar. He’ll need proof of vaccination to play in dog parks and often to get his nails clipped.

Kennel Cough Vaccines

Aptly named, this illness can quickly spread among dogs in a kennel, boarding facility, or animal shelter if infected dogs are housed there. Kennel cough is very commonly caused by Bordetella or canine parainfluenza.

The Bordetella shot is not required, but highly recommended, especially if you’re heading to dog parks or training courses. If you plan on boarding your puppy during your vacations, this shot will most likely be required by the facility.

If your puppy contracts kennel cough, he will develop:

  • A sharp, dry cough
  • Gagging and retching
  • Loss of appetite

Kennel cough tends to be mild, but, in more severe cases, it can be dangerous.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Kennel Cough Shot

Your puppy should get the Bordetella vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks, again between 12 and 16 months, and yearly after that.

There are two strains of the canine parainfluenza vaccine. The first shot will be given when your puppy is about 7 weeks old, with a follow-up for the other strain when he is 11 weeks. The second vaccine is part of the DHPP vaccine, also known as DA2P. This is a combination vaccination that also protects your pup against canine distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. He’ll get a follow-up DHPP shot at 14 to 16 weeks, 12 to 16 months, and every year or two following.

Distemper Vaccine

As with rabies, canine distemper has no cure, which makes this puppy shot extremely important. Unlike rabies, this disease can spread through the air as well as on contact.

The signs of distemper include:

  • A high fever
  • Discharge
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Puppies and older dogs are at the most risk. Treatment tends to be supportive until distemper runs its course. Dogs with weaker immune systems may struggle to fight distemper, and symptoms may last for months even in healthy puppies. Distemper can be passed to other animals months after your pup is recovered.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Distemper Shot

Your puppy should receive his first shot between six weeks and eight weeks of age to be protected against distemper. After the initial shot, this vaccination is part of the DHPP vaccine. (See Kennel Cough Vaccines.)

puppy shots

Parvovirus Vaccine

Puppies are most prone to catching the parvovirus, also known as “parvo.”

Symptoms come on fast and include vomiting, fever, and bloody diarrhea by affecting the gastrointestinal system.

If you suspect your puppy has parvo, bring him to your veterinarian immediately. Early treatment is essential, as the illness can be fatal in under 48 hours.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Parvovirus Shot

The parvovirus vaccine is a part of DHPP, so it is included in your puppy’s core shots at 10 to 12 weeks. Follow-up vaccines should be given at ages 15 weeks, 12 to 16 months, and every 1 to 2 years following.

Hepatitis Vaccine

Also part of the DHPP vaccine is the hepatitis vaccine. There is no cure for hepatitis in dogs, but your pup can be treated until the illness passes. In more severe cases, hepatitis can be fatal or cause damage to the liver.

Canine hepatitis is also known as canine adenovirus. It begins as an upper respiratory infection and spreads to the liver, kidney, and other organs. Signs include bleeding disorders, swelling, abdominal pain, fever, and lethargy. In some cases, it could even cause the eyes to become inflamed.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Hepatitis Shot

Follow the DHPP schedule for these shots: 10 to 12 weeks, 14 to 16 weeks, and every year or two after that.

Other Dog Vaccinations

Some other diseases you should consider for good puppy health are leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and coronavirus, but these are generally considered optional vaccines.

If you decide to vaccinate your puppy for these three diseases, he should get them at 10 to 12 weeks, again at 14 to 16 weeks, another time at 12 to 16 months, and then have a booster shot every year or two after that.

Leptospirosis doesn’t always show symptoms, but it is caused by bacteria. If signs do appear, they can include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure

Antibiotics are the best treatment if your puppy isn’t vaccinated.

Lyme disease is an illness humans are very familiar with, but while we get a rash, dogs do not. Symptoms in canines include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A limp

Lyme disease can affect various parts of your pup’s body and lead to more serious problems if not treated. Antibiotics can help, although symptoms may show up again later.

Canine coronavirus (CCV) affects the intestines. It’s very contagious and may not always display symptoms. If your puppy does show signs, they may be:

  • Vomiting
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Depression

CCV isn’t necessarily dangerous, but if caught at the same time as parvo or other diseases, it can be fatal.

Are you bringing home a new puppy? Make an appointment for his puppy shots! We can help you create a custom puppy vaccination schedule for your new family member. Each puppy is different. While these are general guidelines to follow for puppy shots, it’s important to ask your veterinarian about your dog specifically. They may suggest one or two vaccines a little earlier than usual, or a little later.

These shots can help ensure your puppy’s health throughout his life and all his adventures. Reach us by calling 281-693-7387 to schedule your dog’s first vet appointment!

My Cat is Getting Old: What Do I Need to Know?

As your cat gets older, it’s important to keep an eye on him. Cats are masters of disguise, and a slight change in behavior could point to an underlying problem in an older cat.

You can give your cat his best life through the years if you know the signs of aging in cats and the problems that can arise from the simple passage of time.

All cats should get regular check-ups with their vet, but it’s extremely important for aging cats. Your veterinarian can help catch issues early, especially if your senior is good at hiding them. Feel free to call Cinco Ranch Veterinary at 281-693-7387 to schedule your cat’s next check-up.

Sign #1: Your Cat Is Having Trouble Eating

As your cat ages, his teeth are more prone to dental disease, which can make eating difficult. Signs of a dental issue include:

How You Can Help Your Cat

Like other injuries and illnesses, cats can hide dental issues from their owners, so it’s important to regularly check your cat’s teeth or have it done by a vet, even when he’s young. It’s best to catch a dental problem before it progresses into something more serious that could require surgery or tooth removal. Brushing and specialized diets can also help prevent problems.

If your cat is already missing teeth or having other mouth issues, either from aging or dental disease, your vet may recommend a specific diet to make it easier for him to eat.

Not sure how to brush your cat’s teeth?

Sign #2: Your Cat Isn’t Coming When You Call

Cats, just like humans, are prone to changes in hearing. Becoming hard of hearing is an extremely common sign of aging in cats. Over time, your cat may experience damage to his ear or nerves, resulting in hearing loss.

Signs your senior may be going deaf include:

How You Can Help Your Cat

If your cat is going deaf or just not hearing as well as he used to, try not to sneak up or startle him. If your cat is an outdoor cat, consider keeping him inside instead, as he won’t be able to hear cars and other dangers. To keep your cat safe should he wander off, give him a microchip.

Sign #3: Your Cat Is Running into Things

Deteriorating sight is also a sign of an aging cat. Haziness and cloudiness is common in older cats and, in most cases, doesn’t affect their ability to see, but other issues like cataracts and high blood pressure should be given extra attention.

Cataracts are not extremely common in cats, even in seniors, but can occur. Look out for whitish pupils. High blood pressure, just like in humans, can lead to blindness in your cat. Unlike cataracts, it’s extremely common in cats.

How You Can Help Your Cat

One of the first things you should do if you have a cat who is blind or losing his sight is avoid adding hazards to his environment. He’s probably already comfortable in your home, so don’t move things he’ll remember the placement of, like furniture. Cats rely more on their hearing and smell than their sight, so the loss of it doesn’t mean your cat can’t live a full life; however, you should never let a blind cat outside.

If you notice your cat is having trouble seeing in the dark, take him to a vet as soon as possible. This could be a sign of high blood pressure and may be able to be treated before it worsens.

Sign #4: Your Cat Isn’t as Energetic as Before

As any pet ages, they tend to lose energy. Your cat will sleep more and play less, and that’s completely normal. If your cat becomes lethargic, however, make an appointment with your vet.

How You Can Help Your Cat

The best thing you can do for any senior cat keep them out of stressful situations. This includes big changes, new pets, and new situations. When stressed, cats can lash out at other animals, cease using the litter box, or become more aggressive overall. Ask your vet about reducing stress.

signs of aging in cats

Sign #5: Your Cat Isn’t Moving Like He Used to

Aging cats are extremely prone to arthritis. The smallest of physical changes could point to this problem, so if you notice your cat limping or grooming himself differently as he ages, take him to the vet for a check-up.

Other signs of trouble moving include no longer jumping on your bed and other furniture and simply not being able to climb into his litter box.

How You Can Help Your Cat

The symptoms of arthritis can absolutely be treated by a vet and will reduce pain and discomfort. Your veterinarian may recommend a different diet, weight loss, or medication.

Your cat may have difficulty reaching specific spots on his body when he grooms himself. Grooming your cat will prevent problems like matting.

Rearranging your home slightly will also help your feline friend. Make access to his water and food bowls, litter box(es), toys, and favorite places a little easier to reach. He’ll also appreciate a little help if they are looking to get into bed with you.

Other Signs of Aging in Cats

There are several other signs that your cat is aging that are not cause for alarm, like brittle claws and changes to his coat texture or color. If you’re concerned about a particular change, ask your vet!

Just like humans, cats change as they age. Unlike humans, cats are expert at hiding symptoms, discomfort, and pain. So you need to be the lookout! If you notice alterations in your aging cat’s behavior or physical appearance, keep an eye on them for other changes to prevent problems. If you suspect something is wrong, contact your vet.

One of the best things you can do for your aging cat is to get regular check-ups. This can help set your mind at ease and ensure your senior is getting the best care, nutrition, and attention possible as he gets older. If it’s time for your senior’s check-up or you suspect a problem, call us at 281-693-7387.

The Signs of Dog Poisoning and How to Help

There’s no doubt dogs try to get into everything and anything, which can make the thought of your dog being poisoned a realer one than you’d like it to be. If you have a curious pup, there are signs and symptoms of dog poisoning you can look out for. Here’s what you need to know!

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, seek emergency animal care immediately. If you have questions about your pet’s health or see potential signs and symptoms of poisoning in your dog, don’t hesitate to call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.

What Is Poisonous to a Dog?

Quite a few items around the house can be poisonous to a dog, if ingested. The most well-known food item is chocolate, but there are other things you should keep out of reach of your pooch, including:

  • Human medications
  • Household products and chemicals, such as antifreeze
  • Herbal products (like fish oil and others)
  • Insecticides and rodenticides
  • Various human foods (grapes, avocados, raisins, etc.)
  • Plants (tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and others)
  • Products for your lawn

This list isn’t exhaustive, so be sure to put anything that isn’t specifically made for her out of reach. If you do give your dog human food on occasion, always double-check that neither it nor any of its ingredients are poisonous. Carefully research chemicals, plants, and other items before using them in your home or yard.

Some animals are also poisonous to dogs, as well as humans and other pets. Keep an eye out for brown recluse spiders, coral snakes, and other venomous animals.

Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your dog got into a chemical, food, medication, or other dangerous substance, there are signs you can look out for. Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Neurologic symptoms, like seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

A poisoned dog that doesn’t get care will likely develop more serious issues. Antifreeze and Easter lily, for instance, can lead to kidney failure. Certain medications can cause liver damage. Garlic and onion can result in bleeding and bruising. Attacks from venomous animals or consumption of poisonous plants can cause neurological problems, such as seizures and other symptoms. Suspected dog poisoning should never go untreated.

sign of poisoning in dogs

What to Do If Your Dog Is Poisoned

If you notice any of the above signs of poisoning in your dog, or you saw her eat a poisonous item, you can call Animal Poison Control for assistance at 888-426-4435, but it’s important to get her to a veterinarian immediately. Never give her medication at home or attempt to induce vomiting without being instructed to do so. In some cases, if your pet’s fur or skin came into contact with the poison, you will be able to bathe her to remove the toxin. Ask your veterinarian for advice.

Try to gather the poisonous substance and a sample of vomit, if your dog threw up, to show the vet. This can help them diagnose and treat your pet. Be careful handling other items that are poisonous to dogs, as they might be dangerous for you as well. If your dog was attacked by a venomous animal, only bring the animal in if it is already dead, and handle it with gloves and care to prevent the transmission of illness. This can help the emergency vet identify the exact species and determine treatment. Never try to catch a venomous animal.

Prevent Poisoning

There are several steps you can take to prevent your dog from being poisoned or reduce the risk. And you can always be ready if an accident happens! Take these steps to protect your dog’s health:

  • Lock up all chemicals.
  • Keep medication in child-proof containers out of reach.
  • Err on the side of caution, and do not feed your dog human food.
  • If you do feed your dog human food, double-check that it is not dangerous for them.
  • Keep hydrogen peroxide at home just in case your veterinarian advises you to induce vomiting. Never attempt this without your veterinarian saying it’s okay.
  • Research all plants before bringing them into your home or planting them in your yard.
  • Refrain from using insecticides and similar products in your home.
  • Keep dog shampoo and dish soap on hand in case of skin or fur contact.
  • Keep your dog’s medical records, microchip information, and ID in the same place to grab in case of an emergency.
  • Clean up immediately after cooking, including any possible dropped food.
  • Add your veterinarian, local emergency vet, and Animal Poison Control to your phone’s contacts.
  • Lock up the garbage.
  • Always follow the directions on medications for fleas and ticks, and others, to ensure proper use.

Prevention is key to your dog’s safety! But if an accident does happen, know the signs of dog poisoning, and take the necessary steps to help your pet. If you see your dog eat a poisonous item, don’t wait: Go to the vet. Try to remain calm, so you can help your pup as best as possible.

If you believe your dog has been poisoned or suspect she got into something dangerous, call us at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas.

How Old Will Your Cat Live? + Tips to Improve Their Lifespan

Every cat owner wishes their feline friend could be with them forever. Whether you want to ensure the best care for your aging cat or you’ve just adopted a brand-new kitten, you may find yourself wondering, “How old will my cat live?” Here’s what you need to know about your kitty’s longevity.

How Old Do Cats Live?

Most cats live an average of 15 years, but some have been known to live to 20 and older! Your cat’s lifespan depends on a couple factors:

  • Her breed
  • Her genetics
  • Her health
  • Her lifestyle

The oldest cat in the United States was from just down the street in Austin, Texas. Creme Puff was 38 years old when she died.

What About Human Years?

Many pet owners believe cats follow the rule of dogs: Each dog year is seven human years, but this isn’t the case (and it’s not entirely true for dogs either! It’s generally agreed upon that a 2-year-old cat is about 25 in human years. Each human year after that is an additional four in cat years. By that math, a 7-year-old cat is about 45 in human years.

How to Tell How Old Your Cat Is

There are a few ways to tell how old your kitty is, but the person who can give you the most accurate estimate is your vet. We generally look at your cat’s teeth. Kittens usually still have their baby teeth, but by four months, their adult teeth are coming in. They have all their adult teeth by six months, but those teeth have dulled by two years old. And tartar is evident around three to five years old.

Judging how old your cat is based on her size can be a bit difficult, as different breeds grow at different rates. One year is enough for most cats to reach their full size, but Maine coons and other large breeds may take up to four years.

Body type could give you an idea:

  • Young cats are muscular.
  • Middle-aged cats tend to be rounder.
  • Seniors have more pronounced bones.

Other ways you can determine a cat’s age is by looking at her fur, her eyes, and her behavior.

Do Indoor or Outdoor Cats Live Longer?

how old do cats live

Your cat may want to venture outside to explore or even hunt, but it’s not the best option for her longevity. A study by Purdue showed that indoor cats can live 2.5 times longer than outdoor cats and even indoor cats that are only sometimes allowed to venture outside.

Common threats include:

  • Cars
  • Other animals – Fights with other cats, dogs, raccoons, and even birds can lead to injuries, infections, and diseases.
  • Poisonous plants

Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor kitty, vaccinations can go a long way toward extending their lifespan. For outdoor cats, up-to-date shots are especially vital. They can easily contract rabies, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), or feline leukemia. Spread by fighting and sometimes just contact, these diseases could transfer to other cats or pets within your home.

We’re happy to make sure your cat and any other pets you have are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Just call us to schedule an appointment!

You Can Help Your Cat Live a Long Life!

Good news! There’s lots you can do to help your cat stay in the best health for as long as possible:

  • Yearly checkups (a perfect time for shots) – Your vet could catch a disease or other problem before it becomes serious.
  • Spaying or neutering – It does more than just prevent overcrowding of shelters; it reduces the risk of your pet contracting diseases or illnesses. Cats that are not spayed or neutered are more prone to uterine infections, breast tumors, testicular cancer, and ovarian cancer.
  • A healthy diet
  • Enough (fresh) water daily
  • Clean litter daily or more often
  • Using a cat carrier for travels or trips to the vet
  • Plenty of toys and scratching posts or boxes
  • Daily interactaction for bonding and stimulation
  • Regular grooming, including brushing and nail clipping
  • Keeping an eye out for small changes in your cat’s behavior – If you see any, schedule an appointment with your vet. Cats are good at hiding their symptoms, so observation is key!

A furry friend brings joy every year they’re with you, but you can give your cat her best life through each season if you know her lifespan. Whether you just adopted a new family member or you want to check the health of your older companion, bring your cat in for an appointment with us. We’ll help you understand her health and put you in the best position to give her the best care possible. Call us at 281-693-7387!

Think You Have a Sick Bird? Symptoms to Look Out For and How to Help

While it’s fairly easy to notice when your pet dog or cat isn’t acting like itself and might be feeling a bit under the weather, it can be significantly more challenging to notice the negative symptoms of birds. Not is it more difficult to spot personality changes that might indicate health problems, but your pet bird might actually try to hide its illness. Sick birds, just like many other animals of prey, actively hide signs of illness in order to protect themselves, and by the time you start noticing symptoms, they may already be pretty ill.

So pay attention to your pet bird! And take note of any of these signs that might indicate that your bird isn’t feeling well. Plus, learn how to help them feel better!

Signs of a Sick Bird

There are certain physical changes, behavioral changes, and specific activities that a bird might exhibit if it’s not feeling so great.

Digestive Changes

  • Change in the color or consistency of droppings
  • Decreased number of droppings per day
  • Blood in droppings
  • Undigested food in droppings
  • Digestive issues, like vomiting or diarrhea 

Physical Changes

  • Eye discharge and redness, especially if an eye can’t open fully
  • Flaking on the beak
  • Changes in color of the beak
  • Flaking on the feet
  • Nail abnormalities, like quickened growth
  • Swollen feet
  • Swollen joints
  • Ruffled or broken feathers
  • Dullness in the color of feathers
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth discharge
  • Lumps on the body 

Changes in Breathing

  • Breathing issues and difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Breathing with an open beak 

Behavioral Changes

  • Sudden change in appetite, either increasing or decreasing
  • Sudden change in drinking, either increasing or decreasing
  • Trouble eating or disinterest in food
  • Sudden change in personality (e.g. more aggressive than usual)
  • Lethargy and increased time spent sleeping
  • Changes in vocalization and decreased ability to “sing”
  • Overall lack of activity or motivation
  • Seizures
  • Trouble maintaining balance

Specific Activities to Note

  • Spending most of its time sitting at the bottom of its cage or low on its perch
  • Hanging off the side of the cage by its beak
  • Tucking its head under its wing
  • Walking in circles
  • Consistently drooping or elevating wings

What to Do If Your Bird Is Sick

If your pet bird is showing any of the above symptoms, it’s safe to assume that it’s sick. But what do you do if your bird isn’t feeling well?

First, assess the situation to determine whether your bird is having a medical emergency and is in need of critical care.

If your pet bird is in the following situations, reach out to your vet immediately for emergency medical care:

Excessive Bleeding

If your bird is bleeding and your efforts to stop the bleeding have been unsuccessful, you need to get your pet immediate medical attention. Since birds are small and don’t have high blood levels, excessive bleeding can severely weaken your bird and potentially lead to death.

Ingestion of Poisons

If your pet bird ingests any toxic substances or poisons, like household products, it should be seen by your vet immediately. If possible, bring whatever your bird ingested with you to the vet’s office, so they can assess the toxicity and determine the right course of action.

If your bird doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger, your vet will be able to tell you the proper steps to care for your bird.

Gasping for Breath

If your bird is visibly gasping for breath, you need to get it to a vet immediately. If there is something (like a foreign object) obstructing its ability to breath, your vet may be able to place an air sac tube and reopen the airway.

If your bird isn’t in immediate, life-threatening danger, give your vet a call and describe your bird’s symptoms. They’ll be able to recommend a course of action—which may include nutritional support, changes in temperature, and proper supportive care—to get your pet bird back to feeling its best.

sick bird

Common Bird Illnesses That Can Be Transmitted to Humans

It’s important to take notice when your bird is sick because some bird illnesses can be transmitted to humans and cause serious health problems.

One common bird illness that can be harmful to humans is Mycobacterium avium complex, more commonly known as MAC or avian tuberculosis. Avian Tuberculosis can cause your pet bird to lose weight and act depressed. If the illness is transmitted to you, it can cause digestive issues, anemia, and exhaustion.

Another illness that your pet bird could pass on to you is parrot fever. Parrot fever stems from bacteria found in the urine and feces of ill psitticine birds, which include common pet species like parrots and parakeets. These bacteria travel through the air and, when inhaled by humans, causes flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and fatigue.

To avoid catching an illness from your pet bird, make sure to monitor your bird for signs of illness. You should also always wash your hands after handling your bird or its cage.

If you suspect you might be dealing with an illness you caught from your pet, let your doctor know that your bird has been feeling under the weather, so they test you for common bird illnesses.

Watching your pet bird struggle with an illness is never easy. But now that you know how to tell whether you have a sick bird, you’ll be able to work with your vet towards getting your feathered friend back to its happy, singing self

Warning! The Dangers of a Hot Car for Animals and What You Can Do

With summer quickly approaching, you probably have barbecues, picnics, and afternoon trips to the dog park on your mind. As temperatures steadily increase and before you hop in the car with your furry friend to head out on adventures, there’s no better time to consider a serious pet safety issue: the dangers of a hot car.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, hundreds of animals pass away each year from heat exhaustion after being locked in parked cars.

The saddest part of this story is that most owners don’t know the dangers of leaving an animal in a parked car during the warmer months. Most people think that animals will be fine in the car for “just a minute” and leave them, only to come back to a tragic loss.

What are the dangers of leaving your animal in a hot car?

It gets hotter (faster) than you think.

When it comes to warmer temperatures, there’s no safe amount of time to leave your animal in a parked car. Melbourne’s Metropolitan Ambulance Service conducted a study to test the changing interior temperature of a car on a summer day, with outdoor temperatures of 85 degrees.

They first brought down the interior temperature of the car with air conditioning to a cool and comfortable 68 degrees. Then they parked the car and tested the interior temperature at different intervals.

They found that the interior of the car more than doubled, to 111 degrees, in just 10 minutes. After 20 minutes it reached the deadly temperature of over 140 degrees.

Another study performed by the Louisiana Office of Public Health found that both light and dark cars parked in either direct sunlight or partial shade exceeded interior temperatures of 125 degrees in 20 minutes.

It gets significantly hotter inside a car on a warm day than you probably imagined. Even more concerning, it gets hotter faster than you probably imagined as well. Your pet can suffer from heatstroke, brain damage, and even death from exposure to rising temperatures in the time it takes you to run into the supermarket and grab groceries.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

If your pet or another animal has been exposed to dangerously high temperatures as a result of being left in the car, you’ll want to check for signs of heatstroke.

Some common symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • High body temperature
  • Excessive panting
  • Restlessness
  • Thick saliva
  • Sticky, dry, or dark/bright red tongue and gums
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Coma

What should you do if you see an animal in a parked car?

If you see an animal locked in a car on a hot day, take down the make, model, color, and license plate of the vehicle. If you’re in a commercial area, have the owner paged at the nearest buildings.

Call the authorities. Below is the animal control information for several areas around Katy, but if you’re not sure exactly which county you’re in, calling 9-1-1 is always a safe option.

Don’t leave the scene until the authorities or the owner arrive.

If the animal is in clear distress, and you feel it’s in imminent danger, you might need to take more drastic action. Find a few people to act as witnesses and testify to the necessity to take immediate action. Then take whatever steps necessary to remove the animal from the heated car, including breaking a window or windshield to get the animal to safety.

While damaging other people’s property (in this case, their car) shouldn’t be your immediate reaction, chances are they’ll be so glad you were able to save their animal that they won’t be concerned with the damage.

hot carIf they did decide to press charges, it’s unlikely that you would face a penalty. While Texas does not currently have a specific law in place to protect dogs in locked cars, the act of breaking a car window to save a dog on a hot day is covered under the Good Samaritan Act.

What do you do after you rescue an animal from a hot car?

If you’re forced to rescue an animal from a hot car, you’ll need to take immediate action to preserve the animal’s life. Get the animal into air conditioning. If you haven’t already, call animal control or the authorities, and let them know you have an emergency.

While you’re waiting for animal control, you’ll want to take action to bring the animal’s body temperature down. Give the animal water to drink, and apply cool, wet towels to its paws, chest, groin, and stomach.

If possible, you’ll also want to hose down the animal or immerse it in cool water. It’s important to use cool and not ice-cold water because using water that is too cold can cause blood vessels to constrict and can actually interfere with the animal’s cooling process.

Once you’ve made the animal as comfortable as you can, wait for animal control or the authorities to arrive; it’s important to get the animal to the vet as soon as possible to begin treatment.

Additional Tips to Protect Animals from Dangerous Summer Conditions

Hot cars aren’t the only place animals will encounter the North Texas heat. Here are some tips to make sure they stay safe throughout the long summer.

  • Consider going on walks early in the day or later in the evening, when the temperature is cooler.
  • Invest in a cooling vest or body wrap.
  • Be mindful of humidity — Many animals have trouble cooling themselves off in highly humid temperatures, so keep animals inside on humid days.
  • Always have cool water on hand, and add ice cubes on extra hot days.
  • Instead of bringing it on every adventure, opt to leave your animal at home or in boarding during the summer months — with plenty of shade, water, and air conditioning, of course).
  • Add Katy Animal Control (or your nearest facility) to your speed-dial in case of an emergency.
  • Take a pet CPR class in case you encounter an animal that has stopped breathing due to heatstroke.

The summer can be a wonderful time for you and your family, including your furry family members. Taking the necessary precautions to ensure your pet is safe from the dangers of a hot car will lead to a wonderful summer for everyone!

How Does Spaying or Neutering Your Pet Save Lives?

“Have your pets spayed or neutered!”

You’ve listened as vets say this; you’ve seen animal welfare groups advertise it; and if you’ve ever watched The Price is Right, you’ve heard Bob Barker (and Drew Carey) say this at the end of every episode.

Spaying and neutering are procedures that prevent animals from reproducing. You may know that, but do you know how the procedures work or the reasons why your pet needs to be spayed or neutered in the first place?

What is spaying/neutering?

The procedures of spaying and neutering are based on the sex of your pet. A male pet is neutered, while a female is spayed.

What’s the difference? During neutering, a surgeon removes the testicles of a male dog or cat, so it can’t sire any puppies or kittens. Spaying involves removing female reproductive organs, typically the ovaries.

The procedures are permanent birth control, and they can save lives.

An Overpopulation of Pets

Shelters across the country are overfilled with stray dogs and cats that need homes, but there aren’t enough people to care for them. Here are some shocking statistics: 7.6 million pets are put in shelters every year, and 2.7 million pets end up being euthanized. And this isn’t counting stray dogs and cats that are hungry and cold outside, without any owners to care for them!

What’s one of the biggest factors sending animals to shelters or causing them to become strays? Unplanned pregnancy.

Unlike most humans, the majority of cats and dogs have more than one baby at a time. Both dogs and cats typically have four to six babies per litter. So many puppies or kittens at once can be hard for owners to care for properly. If an owner can’t find any new caretakers for the babies, they’re often sent to a shelter or, unfortunately, put out on the streets to fend for themselves.

spaying or neuteringMaybe you think overpopulation of animals isn’t your problem. Consider this: A feral animal could behave aggressively toward your pet and possibly hurt it.

What about un-sprayed/un-neutered pets that never go outside? All it takes is for your cat or dog to leave the house once for it to find a companion and become pregnant.

Spaying or neutering prevents unplanned litters, thus reducing the number of stray dogs and cats that could end up suffering all their lives before they’re put down or die of natural or unnatural causes.

What about birth control?

Humans take contraceptives to lower the chances of pregnancy before they’re ready. If you want your pet to avoid planned litters, is there pet contraception?

The good news: There is birth control for dogs and cats. Just like a human, your pet can take a pill or have a shot to temporary stop the heat cycle of female dogs.

The bad news? Pet birth control is still in its infancy and can carry some dangerous side-effects. Both dogs and cats can get diabetes or liver disease and weight gain from pet contraception. Until safer contraceptive medications are developed, spaying and neutering are still the best options.

What are the health benefits of spaying/neutering?

Spaying and neutering offer their share of health benefits. Dogs and cats that have the procedures may end up living a few years longer! With pet life expectancy so short, gaining a few more years with Fido or Fluffy is a good thing. One of the reasons for the life extension is that spaying and neutering can prevent certain cancers, like ovarian and testicular cancers.

Spaying and neutering also prevents heat cycles. Has a dog ever humped your leg? That dog wasn’t neutered. Removing the heat cycle prevents more than just awkward situations. A dog in heat may be less aware of its surroundings and could end up in the middle of traffic without realizing it!

Your dog or cat is also likely to be better behaved. A neutered dog that has been sterilized will have less of a chance of experiencing aggressive behaviors.

Spaying and neutering truly can help save lives.

Spaying/Neutering Myths Debunked

Myth #1: It’s too expensive.

The procedure does cost money. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, you need to consider the cost when looking at your budget. Still, spaying/neutering can be affordable, and, in some cases, the cost is already included in the pet’s adoption fee.

Here’s a page from the ASPCA that will allow you to find an affordable clinic near you that can spay or neuter your pet.

Plus, caring for a litter costs way more and for much longer!

Myth #2: It’s painful for your pet.

Like any operation, there may be some pain, but vets are well-equipped with pain medications to make the operation as easy as possible.

Myth #3: There are adverse side-effects.

Any operation has a slight risk of complications, but these procedures have few side effects. Perhaps the biggest issue may be that the pet will have some weight gain at first. However, adjusting your pet’s diet and exercise regimen should fix that.

What should you do?

If your pet isn’t spayed or neutered, doing the procedure may help save its life and reduce the stray pet population. As always, talk to your vet about any concerns you have. Vets like those at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital will be able to tell you when your pet is ready to be spayed or neutered and answer all of the questions you have.

How to Keep Outdoor Cats Safe and Warm in the Winter

Right now the U.S. is feeling Old Man Winter’s breath. Even the East Coast, which had spring-like temperatures during the Christmas season, is breaking out the jackets and gloves. While people take care of themselves, many forget about an important winter preparation: bringing their cats indoors.

“If you’re cold, they’re cold. Bring them inside.” If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen a few images suggesting cat owners bring their cats (and other pets) inside, even if their felines are normally outdoors.

Can’t cats handle the cold?

Cat, SnowSome people may think that cats are designed to handle the cold. After all, most have fluffy coats, and their ancestors braved the elements for thousands of years before domestication.

There’s some truth to those ideas. Cats do have a tolerance for the cold, but they have their limits. Once the temperature is below freezing (under 32 degrees F or 0 degrees C,) cats can get frostbite and hypothermia, in addition to feeling uncomfortable due to the cold.

As a cat lover, what can you do to keep Fluffy warm? Here are a few options.

Bring your cat inside.

The simplest solution is to keep your cat indoors when temperatures are below freezing. If you normally don’t have cats in your home, consider making an exception when it’s freezing.

Of course, prepare your home before you let kitty in. Make sure you have:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Cat toys
  • A litter box
  • A cozy heater or fireplace

Your feline will be snug and cozy inside your home.

But what if you can’t have a cat indoors?

Build an outdoor shelter.

Not everyone can have cats inside. If there’s an enforced no-pet policy in your rental home, or if someone is allergic to cats, it may be difficult inviting a cat into your home.

With that said, you can buy or build an outdoor shelter for your kitty to keep it warm. Even if you’re not a cat owner, if your neighborhood has strays and feral cats, an outdoor shelter can keep them snug and safe. This may prevent cats from resorting to dangerous locations for shelter, such as in your car.

There are outdoors shelters you can purchase online or at pet stores. For instance, this shelter comes heated, so your kitty can stay almost as snug as it would if it was indoors.

You can build your own shelter as well. Some choose to build shelters from scratch, while others make them from household objects, such as storage bins.

When choosing or building your shelter, smaller (but still comfortable) is better. A small shelter packs heat better than a bigger one.

Fill your shelter with a few pillows or some straw. Avoid blankets, towels, or newspaper, as they can absorb kitty’s body heat.

Finally, your cat will need plenty of food and water to stay warm. When building your shelter, put some food and water nearby. Don’t put it inside the shelter, as spilled water could freeze. Refill the water and food you put nearby as needed.

Bottom line: Outdoor cats need to be kept warm!

Make sure you check the forecast, and prepare adequately. If you have a cat that loves to be outside, keep it inside when it’s too cold outdoors. Just as you love a warm home this winter, so do cats! Show them you care by letting them inside or creating a snug shelter from the cold.



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