It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, that holiday known for green beer, corned beef, and cabbage. Many people choose to celebrate on March 17, whether they are Irish or not. With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Friday this year, it makes it easier to celebrate without having to worry about getting up for work the next day. If you have a pet and choose to celebrate with friends or family at home, it’s important to keep the safety tips outlined below in mind.
 
Keep Food and Drinks Away from Pets
It’s never a good idea to give table scraps to dogs and cats, but it’s especially important to avoid the practice on St. Patrick’s Day. That is because traditional Irish foods, such as sauerkraut, sausage, corned beef, and cabbage all have a high fat content that is hard for animals to digest. Too much of these types of food also increase the likelihood of your pet developing pancreatitis. Place your pet in a separate room away from guests if you don’t think they will be able to resist tossing a few table scraps your pet’s way.
 
Alcohol isn’t good for pets any day of the year. It can cause even greater stomach upset when green food coloring is added to it. If you decide to serve alcohol, keep it and any food dyes out of your pet’s reach. Any amount of alcohol, whether it’s beer or another beverage, can be toxic for dogs and cats. Let your guests know that it’s not a funny prank to give your pet any type of alcoholic beverage.
 
Anxious Pets and Kids at Parties
Some pets don’t want anything to do with visitors and that’s okay. You should never force a pet to interact with guests. If your dog or cat is on the shy side, prepare a room in advance of the party with food, water, bedding, and toys. Your pet will likely have a much more enjoyable evening passing the time alone than with strangers. 
It's also important to assess your pet’s ability to interact with children. Kids can be unpredictable and do things like try to ride a dog or pull a cat’s tail. Since you don’t know what your guests have taught their children about pets, make sure an adult supervises all interactions between the two.
 
Contact Information in Case of Emergency
Battletown Animal Clinic is open until 7 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day. You may reach us at 540-955-2171. After hours, please call Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811.
 
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Even when pet owners know that a routine check-up when their dog or cat is well can be beneficial, they often get busy and forget to schedule the appointment. At Battletown Animal Clinic, we urge you to leave yourself some type of reminder. We will also send you a postcard if it’s been a while since we have seen your pet. Veterinary studies show that keeping an annual preventive care exam schedule can help your dog or cat enjoy a longer, happier life. Isn’t that what every pet owner really wants?
 
Deciding on the Best Check-Up Schedule for Your Pet
If your adult pet between 12 months and seven years has no pressing health problems, bringing him in once a year should be sufficient. Because dogs and cats are already middle-aged by seven, we recommend bi-annual appointments starting at this age. We do additional screening for common age-related problems at six-month intervals, such as arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease. If you have a puppy or kitten under one year, schedule the first appointment as soon as possible. Dr. Henke will give you information about the first-year vaccine schedule at that time.
 
Required vaccines for dogs include canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. Cats need to be vaccinated against feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, rabies, and rhinotracheitis. Dr. Henke will also discuss optional vaccines you may wish to consider. Some factors that determine whether your pet needs a non-core vaccine include age, breed, lifestyle, and species. If you don’t plan to breed your dog or cat, we recommend spay or neuter surgery as early as six months.
 
The Typical Preventive Care Exam
The annual or bi-annual appointment is a good time to learn if you’re doing all you can to control heartworm, fleas, ticks, and other internal and external parasites. Dr. Henke checks your pet for parasites and may recommend changes to your parasite control program if necessary. Your pet also receives any vaccines or boosters he’s due for at this appointment. Some of the other things that Dr. Henke checks for specifically include:
  • Respiratory problems such as allergies, asthma, coughing, sneezing, or unusual nasal discharge
  • Eye issues such as cloudiness or discharge that could indicate a problem with vision
  • Condition of her teeth, gums, mouth, tongue, and jaws
  • Problems with the coat or skin, including pigmentation changes, anal sac formations, excess shedding, rashes, and hair loss
  • Indications of abdominal distress, such as frequent diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation
  • Condition of the ears, including whether any discharge is present or your pet appears to have difficulty hearing
  • Symptoms that could indicate bone problems, including limping or favoring one limb
Of course, this isn’t an all-inclusive list. We know every pet is unique and tailor our approach to meet his needs. Dr. Henke will order a diagnostic test if he feels that your pet shows any type of abnormality. He will contact you to let you know the results and a follow-up plan as soon as possible.
 
We look forward to seeing you and your pet at the next preventive care exam. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns in the meantime.
 
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Alarmed at the general oral health of companion animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association started National Pet Dental Health Month in February several years ago. The number of pets with periodontal disease is just one reason the AMVA started this awareness campaign. By age agree, 70 percent of cats and 80 percent of dogs have this oral health condition. Left untreated, periodontal disease can spread to other areas of a dog or cat’s body and cause an infection. Your pet can also lose teeth to periodontal disease, which makes eating and getting proper nutrients more challenging.
 
Prevention is Easier Than Treatment
Brushing your pet’s teeth daily or at least several times a week is the most important thing you can do for her oral health. Many pet owners feel so intimidated by the thought of their pet biting them during toothbrushing that they never attempt it. It might surprise you to learn that most dogs and cats will come to accept having their teeth brushed when you make it a consistent part of their daily routine. We recommend following these steps:
  • Approach your pet when he’s in a calm mood and begin massaging his cheeks for several seconds
  • Place a small dab of toothpaste on something she can lick off, such as a treat or your finger
  • Once your pet has tasted the toothpaste, put a small amount of it on a species-appropriate toothbrush and put it in his mouth
  • Allow your pet to get comfortable with the toothbrush in her mouth before you start brushing
  • Brush one tooth at a time for as long as your pet tolerates the process
  • Try to concentrate on the outer and upper molars first if your pet will only cooperative for a short time
  • Brush your pet’s teeth around the same time and in the same place each day to get him accustomed to a routine
  • Offer a lot of praise and attention for the behavior you desire and ignore unwanted behavior
  • Make it a goal to go from a few seconds to two full minutes of toothbrushing
 
Good nutrition is another important aspect of caring for your pet’s oral health. Make sure the food you buy contains few, if any, artificial fillers. Limit treats and avoid giving your pet people food, especially snack foods with high sugar content. You can give your dog a dental chew, but it shouldn’t take the place of regular brushing.
 
Symptoms of an Oral Health Problem
The symptoms listed below indicate that your pet could have an oral health issue that requires immediate attention. Please contact Battletown Animal Clinic to schedule an evaluation if you notice any of them.
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath despite your toothbrushing efforts
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Stains on the teeth that appear yellow or brown
 
Our veterinarians check your pet’s teeth, gums, and jaws at every preventive care appointment. We also recommend scheduling an appointment for at least one professional cleaning per year. Just let us know if you think your pet will be highly anxious or agitated and we can provide calming medication during the procedure.
 
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While you look forward to going on vacation, you might feel anxious about leaving your dog or cat in a boarding facility. This is especially true when your pet has never been in a group care situation. You can feel confident in your choice when you take the time to research and visit at least a few facilities.
 
Boarding Kennels Can Be a Great Choice for Substitute Care
Finding a hotel that accepts pets can be difficult. Even if you do, many pets don’t enjoy travel and let you know it through problem behavior. Leaving your dog or cat in professional care is often the best solution. Boarding kennel staff provide round-the-clock supervision and are trained to administer medication and first aid. Your pet gets plenty of time out of her kennel to socialize and exercise. Facilities that accept both dogs and cats should have separate quarters for them. 
What to Look for Before Leaving Your Pet 
 
If possible, avoid leaving your dog or cat in a boarding facility without touring it first and interviewing the staff. Be sure to observe and ask about the following when you do visit: 
  • Whether they have a regular cleaning schedule 
  • Feeding schedule your pet would follow 
  • The size of your pet’s kennel and how many other animals would be nearby 
  • Staff qualifications 
  • Whether you can bring toys or treats from home to make your pet more comfortable 
  • Whether you need to pay extra for services such as grooming 
  • How often your pet will exercise 
  • Whether the staff seems to enjoy interacting with the animals or tends to ignore them

Be sure to take notes so you can compare facilities later.
 
Preparing Your Pet to Stay at a Boarding Facility
Boarding kennels require owners to show proof of current vaccinations when booking a stay. Please contact Battletown Animal Clinic several days before you leave if your pet is behind on shots. If you plan to be gone more than a week, consider leaving your pet for an overnight stay to help prepare him for the longer duration. 
 
Pets can often sense something is happening when they see you packing your luggage. Leaving it out for a few days before your trip gives your dog or cat the chance to get more comfortable with the upcoming change in their routine. Leaving your pet with a t-shirt or something else containing your scent can help him feel more comfortable in your absence. Favorite toys can help to ease anxiety as well. Enjoy your vacation! 
 
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It’s hard to imagine life without antifreeze. It keeps your car running on cold winter days, acts as a deicing agent for windshields, and is a primary ingredient in hydraulic brake fluid. Antifreeze can also be found in things unrelated to vehicles, such as paint solvent and developing solutions for photography. As helpful as it is, antifreeze is also toxic or deadly to dogs and cats because it contains ethylene glycol. Ingesting less than a teaspoon of antifreeze can cause severe acute kidney failure in cats. For dogs, a tablespoon has the same effect.

Preventing Antifreeze Poisoning

To a thirsty dog or cat, antifreeze on the driveway looks just like water. Since you can’t always stop your car from dripping the fluid, be certain to clean up spills immediately. Also, keep your pet in the house or secured in another part of the yard if you’re going to be working on your car. You should store paint solvents and other commercial products containing ethylene glycol high on a garage shelf out of your pet’s reach.

Symptoms and Stages of Antifreeze Poisoning
Sometimes pets get into things they shouldn’t despite your best efforts. If you know or suspect that your pet drank antifreeze, look for the following symptoms and stages: 

  • Stage 1: This can occur anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours after your pet ingested ethylene glycol. His or her behavior may resemble a human with alcohol poisoning. Symptoms to watch for include excessive thirst, excessive urination, drooling, vomiting, and seizures. 
  • Stage 2: Dogs and cats who have ingested antifreeze progress to this stage within 12 to 24 hours. It may appear that your pet’s symptoms have resolved when they are getting worse instead. 
  • Stage 3: This occurs in cats within 12-24 hours and dogs within 36-72 hours. In addition to Stage 1 and Stage 2 symptoms, look for lethargy, lack of appetite, bad breath, coma, and depression.
 
Immediate Treatment is Essential
Please contact Battletown Animal Clinic at 540-955-2171 immediately during business hours. We must administer treatment within the first several hours to ensure your pet’s survival. When our clinic is closed, call Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811. Valley Veterinary treats pets on an emergency basis 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is located in Winchester, Virginia. 

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