How responsible of a dog owner are you?

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relaxing with the dogSeptember is Responsible Pet Ownership Month. Sounds boring, right? But it’s important!

It’s easy to think of your furry friend as part of the family, one of the kids, (a holy terror… ), but it’s also easy to forget that they are totally dependent on you. For everything. So make the most of it and go above and beyond for Fido! Here are some of the topics of our fact sheets for pet owners that can help you keep on top of things.

Dog Licensing – As they say, it’s not just bling, it’s the law! All dogs three months or older must be licensed by January 1 of each year. If you’ve ever walked or driven your neighborhood calling out your lost dog’s name with the hope you’ll see him running toward you or visited your local animal shelter and registered your pet as missing, you know the importance of a dog license.

Dog Bite Prevention –  Nothing goes better together than kids and dogs but unfortunately, kids are also more likely to get bitten. Often it’s just a matter of not understanding how to interact safely with a dog, especially one that isn’t yours.
We have to be able to read body language and understand nuances that tell us what the dog might be thinking.

Preventive Care – Think your dog only needs to go to the vet when something is wrong? Think again. Prevent it from happening in the first place by scheduling regular annual appointments. Regular check ups can prevent bigger problems later which could be much more expensive.

Dental Health – Dog breath? It could be the sign of something more serious. Periodontal disease in our pets is the most common health problem that veterinarians see, yet many pet owners are still in the dark about preventing it or treating it. Don’t think that because your pet isn’t showing signs of oral discomfort that everything is fine. Untreated oral disease can be dangerous to your pet’s health and much more expensive to correct down the road than paying for preventive measures now.

Canine Influenza – Like many viruses, canine influenza is spread through respiratory secretions and contaminated surfaces of everything from food and water bowls to leashes to toys. What’s more, it can stay alive up to 48 hours on surfaces, 24 hours on clothing, and up to 12 hours on hands. If a dog comes in contact with the virus, it can be 2-4 days before it exhibits signs of feeling ill, and the dog is also most contagious during this time.

And there are many more, so check out our fact sheets for yourself and see how else you can keep your dogs happy and healthy.

Now, go ahead. Put your feet up and do a little relaxing with Rover.

A Day in the Life of Dr. Casey Kurtz: Toe Nail Trims are the Bomb!

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Toe nail trims can bring out the worst in any dog.

Toe nail trims can bring out the worst in any dog.

In my opinion, toe nail trims (TNT, for short, and yes, the acronym should be the first hint) are one of the most common and most annoying services we offer. It takes a lot more skill and patience than anyone would think. Consider how many people say, “My dog will let me do anything, except clip his nails.” Another one of my favorites remains, “Barney is so well behaved, but he doesn’t like his feet touched.” Another quick example of TNT aversion is, “Bingo has never bitten anyone, except when they tried to touch his feet.”

I have personally witnessed several frightening and surprising transformations over the years. A kind and docile Lab suddenly becomes a ferocious, semi-feral canine from the wild. A sweet and gentle Pomeranian magically obtains the strength of Samson and treats those clippers as if we were about to cut his enchanted locks. A sedate and quiet Retriever quickly flips out and gator rolls all the way to the door.

Not to discriminate, our feline patients are also subject to the transformative power of the nail clip. Just recently, we had the cutest, most adorable kitten brought in for an appointment. Everything went well, until the nail trim. She screeched and howled and hissed so loudly that I felt the need to make a disclaimer to the people in the waiting room that we were not abusing any animals in the treatment area.

Now, I am a results-driven person. I have no qualms about sweeping the floor, holding an animal, taking x-rays, or even filling medications if that needs to be done, but the one job I avoid (like cold coffee or meatloaf – I really hate meatloaf) is clipping nails. I consider myself the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. There has never been a nail trim where I didn’t cause bloodshed.

I don’t even clip my own dogs’ nails. I once made the mistake of agreeing to help my parents clip Bella’s (their dog) nails. After my mother explicitly told me she was holding Bella, my mom then let go of her and Bella bit me. Immediately following that brief act of violence (my dad now holding her), I clipped four of five nails on the first paw. Of course, on the fourth nail, I nicked a quick, and Bella went ballistic. Has anyone pricked a finger or seen a nail bleed? It’s quite a large amount of blood. Just ask my dad. He started hysterically yelling, “The blood! There is so much blood! What do we do?” He rivaled Chicken Little with the falling sky.

I learned three valuable lessons that day.  Firstly, I cannot trust my family to competently help with veterinary-related issues.  Secondly, always have some QuickStop (that powder that stops bleeding) on hand, and thirdly, even the family dogs are not immune to the TNT transformation.

I tell this story as a reminder and warning for all.  A simple toe nail trim is not so simple, and cherish those groomers and technicians who hold the mystical secrets and power of the nail trim.

Dr. Casey Kurtz, Associate Veterinarian
French Creek Veterinary Hospital
www.frenchcreekvet.com

September is Happy Cat Month!

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Tabby kittenNo grumpy cats here!

September is happy cat month, and the CATalyst Council has some great tips for keeping your cat smiling all year long.

Go to the vet! It’s no secret that cats receive significantly less veterinary care than other pets, in part because it can be such an ordeal to get them there. Cat-friendly practices can share tips with you on making the trip less stressful for you and your cat. See if there is one near you here.

Preventive care. Even cats that stay inside can wind up with parasites that are carried in accidentally by other family members. Work with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan.

Get them microchipped. If your cat would get lost, there’s no better way to make sure they get returned to you than to have them microchipped. It’s important to remember to register the microchip with the tracking company once it’s implanted, and be sure to keep your information up to date if you move or your phone number or email address change.

Play! A cat with toys is a happy cat, plus it can help keep them out of trouble. Try more than one type of toy to see which kinds are their favorites.

Get to work. Training your cat basic commands or even a few tricks can be fun and stimulating for your cat, plus your getting to spend some quality time together.

Don’t overfeed. Feline obesity is a growing problem (no pun intended), and having an overweight cat can cause health problems. Consider toys that release small bits of food as the cat plays with it, or moving their food dish so they have to use their hunting instincts to locate it.

Keep the cat carrier out. If your cat only sees the cat carrier when it’s time to go to the veterinarian, they might not look upon it fondly. Keep it out with the door open where the cat can access it at any time. Put a blanket and toys inside to encourage them to spend time in there at their leisure. Hopefully with repeated access, it won’t be so scary when it’s time to travel.

Get some fresh air. Whether you let them roam the yard while you supervise or you invest in a harness and leash for a walk, any cat will benefit from a little fresh air and exercise.

Get a scratching post. Scratch the post, not your furniture! Stretching and scratching are normal behaviors – definitely provide an appropriate place for them to do it.

Get some company. Consider going to a local shelter and adopting a buddy for your cat. Having a playmate can help keep them happy and occupied during the day, and can encouragev exercise if they like to romp around together.

There are lots of great resources available for cat owners. Here are a few that we like.