5 Healthy Ways to Spoil Your Dog
Our dogs provide us with joy, fun, and endless smiles. It’s no wonder that many dog owners repay that love by spoiling their pup, frequently with cookies or table scraps. While treats are great in moderation, the added calories can take a toll on your dog’s health. If you are looking for healthy ways to spoil your dog, here are our 5 favorite ways to treat your furry friend without reaching into the cookie jar.
1. Invest in Toys and Playtime
Toys and play provide your pup with long-lasting tail wags and long-term health benefits. Tugging, leaping, running, and mental stimulation are all excellent for a dog’s wellbeing. When your dog engages in play, they are building muscle tone, elevating their heart rate, and strengthening their joints. Play also reduces stress, depression, and allows your dog to exercise their brain, reducing the effects of aging.
Have an uninvited beggar at your dinner table? For simultaneous physical and mental stimulation, buy or DIY an interactive toy that hides a prize. Giving your pup one of these toys before you sit down might just keep them occupied long enough to have a humans-only meal. The Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom is an excellent interactive toy. Fill it with kibble and make your dog work for their food by pawing, chewing, and bouncing.
Go on a special adventure and add extra walks. We could all use an excuse to enjoy a bit of fresh air and time away from the house. Taking your dog on an extra walk or two every day is a great way to show them how much you care. Amp up the fun and excitement for your pooch by planning a special evening or morning hike.
Going on walks isn’t just physically healthy for your dog. Exercising their senses of smell, sight, and hearing increases their joy. Exploring new smells is like a treat without the calories.
We know it’s hot out. Don’t risk walking or hiking in high temperatures. Instead, plan a trip to the pet store. You’ll both appreciate the AC, and your dog can sniff out the perfect toy to take home.
2. Throw a Puppy Splash Party
It can be difficult to entertain your dog when it’s just too hot to walk or play outdoors. Setting up a personal water park in your yard is a great way to keep active and cool. Fill a baby pool or a water basin with your hose and add a few toys to keep your pup playing. Your dog will love the novelty of having their own splash pad, and you’ll enjoy that they’re getting exercise without the risk of heatstroke.
3. Pamper Your Best Friend with a Spa Day
You probably feel refreshed after a summer haircut and the same is true for many dogs. Pamper your pup by bringing them in to be groomed. Our full-service salon will cut nails, clean ears, brush teeth, bathe, trim, and style their coat. Your dog will know they look good when they leave feeling fresh and clean.
4. Spend Extra Quality Time with Your Pup
There’s nothing better for most dogs than being with their family. Providing them with special quality time will make them feel as special as you think they are.
Take the time to sit and pet your dog--and don’t forget to scratch their favorite parts. Put down a blanket and lie on the floor with them. Curl up and snuggle a bit. Your dog will feel like one special pooch when you physically dote on them.
Treat Your Dog to a Lifetime of Health and Joy
Spoiling your dog doesn’t have to be harmful to their health. Showing you care can be as easy as spending a few more minutes petting your pup or taking them on an extra walk.
If you have questions about healthy treats or creating a balanced lifestyle for your furry best friend, make an appointment to see us. We are happy to join in the joy of making your dog feel the best they can!
Photo Credit: Pexels
‘Tis the Sea-sun: 7 Tips for Heat Safety
It may have snuck up on you after social isolation, but as soon as you open your front door, you’ll recognize that summer is here. It’s hot - really hot - and getting hotter. From asphalt to sunburn, rising temperatures come with many safety concerns for our fur-wearing pals.
How can you prepare for a successful and safe summer with your best friend? All it takes is a little preparation and awareness.
1. Avoid Hot Asphalt
Our dogs stick by our sides, but sometimes their devotion can lead to safety issues. If your dog walks beside you on hot tar or concrete, it could cause severe burns and damage to their paws.
What can you do to prevent paw burns?
- Take walks during cooler weather in the morning and evening.
- Check the temperature of asphalt before you let your dog walk on it. If you cannot hold your hand on the surface for more than 10 seconds without feeling uncomfortable, it’s too hot for your pet.
- Check your dog’s paws before and after walks. If you find cuts, scrapes, or blisters, skip the walk to let your dog’s paws heal, and make an appointment with us to assess the damage.
2. Brush Your Dog or Cat
Fur coats and summer just don’t get along. Removing excess hair can help your pet stay cool by improving their coat’s natural ventilation. Having your pet groomed can also help cut backon unnecessarily long or dense fur.
Be careful about cutting your pet’s fur too short. If their skin becomes exposed, they risk getting sunburned. And before you grab the clippers for a shave, check with your vet to make sure it’s the right choice for your dog. Some breeds, like Chow Chows, depend on the insulation of their double coat to keep them cool.
3. Water, Water, Water!
Your pet should always have access to clean water. If they hang out in the backyard, be sure to put a water bowl in a shaded location. Add a few ice cubes to provide your pet with a way to cool off from the inside out.
Remember to bring water for both of you and take frequent breaks on walks and hikes. Keeping your dog hydrated will discourage them from drinking water that could contain bacteria and viruses.
4. Watch Out for Heatstroke
Cats and dogs can both suffer from overheating. Unlike humans, they can’t sweat and have to rely on other mechanisms to help cool off, like panting. In the summer heat, this often isn’t enough to bring their body temperature down.
If your pet heats up faster than they can cool down, they may experience heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Also known as hyperthermia, staying too hot for too long damages your pet’s body and organs and can be fatal.
Watch for the following signs:
- Shaking muscles
- Panting excessively
- Red gums and tongue
- Refusal to walk
Never leave your dog or cat locked outdoors without shade or water. If you believe your dog or cat is experiencing heatstroke or is on the verge of it, remove them from the hot environment immediately. Wrap them in a damp, lukewarm towel or place them in a room-temperature shower; do not use cold water as the sudden change could send them into shock. Then seek medical help immediately.
5. Provide a Shady Place to Relax
If your pet joins you in the yard, create an escape from the sun for them. This can be a beach umbrella, a tent, or a spot to relax under an awning. Many pets will seek out shade under bushes and brush.
6. Don’t Forget the Sunblock
This one mostly applies to dogs, unless you have a hairless cat that enjoys sunbathing. Before hiking a nature trail or going out on the boat, apply zinc-free, dog-friendly sunblock to your pup’s nose, and anywhere their fur may be thin. The same rules that apply to humans apply here, too: reapply every two hours and after swimming.
7. Adjust Your Schedule
The middle of the day can feel unbearably hot. This is the most dangerous time to leave your pet outside, walk your dog, or play fetch. Instead, embrace a new routine. Let your pet out in the morning before temperatures rise or in the evening as the mercury comes back down. This can significantly reduce the risk of heat stroke and dehydration.
Have Some Fun This Summer!
We can’t wait to hear about your summer adventures during your next appointment. We hope you have a blast this summer while staying hydrated and safe. Stay made in the shade!
Photo Credit: Pexels.
What to Do When the Booms Don't Stop
Many pet parents look forward to crossing Independence Day off of the calendar. Not because they’re not patriotic or dislike celebrating, but because thunderous booms of fireworks send their pets into a frenzy of panic.
If you can’t get your pet to come out from under the bed on the Fourth, you’re not alone. And, of course, there are those sudden and violent summer thunderstorms that make our pets shake, shiver, and hide.
Keep reading to help your pet cope and make it through summer more comfortable, confident, and cozy.
Recognizing Noise Reactivity and Noise Phobia in Your Pet
Reacting fearfully to thunderstorms and fireworks is normal for pets. It’s an instinct that would drive them to seek cover and survive in the wild. Despite domestic bliss in a happy and safe home, some dogs and cats experience what may seem like an overreaction to thunder and loud bangs. If these sounds change your pet’s ability to function, it’s likely noise phobia or noise anxiety.
What signs the signs of anxiety in pets?
- Trembling and shaking
- Excessive drooling
- Vocalizations, like whimpering or howling
- Trying to escape
What Can You Do If Your Pet Is Afraid of Loud Noises?
First, you should not ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own.
Second, it’s important to recognize that even though storms are temporary, your pet’s anxiety can have a significant and long-lasting effect on their mental and physical health.
Third, know that you’re not in it alone. We’re here to help you and your pet find comfort.
Some simple and effective ways you can help your dog or cat cope during thunderstorms and noisy events include:
- Play relaxing soundtracks designed to help dogs cope with noise fear. Here is one that many dog and cat owners use.
- Create a safe place that your pet can retreat to when booms and blast begin. Introduce your pet to their retreat before the chaos of fireworks or a storm. Provide pillows, comfort items, close the blinds, soft lighting, and calming music to help them regain their composure and feel comfortable.
- Try a pheromone diffuser: Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats.
- Buy a compression vest like the Thundershirt
- Get a prescription for anxiety
A cacophony outside isn’t the only cause of unease: 88% of dogs that experience noise fear also experience separation anxiety. If your dog is one of them, ask us about the Calmer Canine Assisi Loop.
Don’t Let the Booms and Blasts Paralyze Your Pet.
If these options don’t offer your pet any comfort, it’s a good time to give us a call. It’s not easy to counter the fight-or-flight response in an animal, and you don’t have to do it alone. We’re experienced with helping pets and their owners find solutions that work and are committed to finding the right approach for your furry friend.
Photo Credit: Pexels.
6 Summer Safety Tips to Keep Your Pet Made in the Shade
We bet you’re looking forward to the sunshine, fresh air, and fun of the summer season. This year may be a little different, but we have some tips to help keep your pets safe no matter what this summer may bring.
1. Microchips Are a Must
As we prepare for the Fourth of July, shelters prepare for a massive influx of pets. Why? July 5th is the busiest day of the year for them. As the fireworks light up the sky, many pets panic, escape from their homes, and become lost and disoriented.
Don’t let your pet be one of many that don’t find their way home. Microchips improve the chances of your reunion with your lost pet more than any other method. It’s simple, fast, and affordable. If you’re one of the many who adopted a new puppy or kitten this spring, ask your vet about microchips at their next exam. If your pet’s already chipped, make sure their information is up-to-date.
2. Make a Plan For Missing Pets
Between family cookouts in the backyard and the blasts and booms of firework displays, you can reduce the risk of your pet going missing by asking all guests and family members to shut doors and gates. Go one step further and keep your dog or cat safe in a bedroom while guests are over.
Be sure to have a current picture of your pet, both printed and on your phone. If your pet goes missing, start searching nearby your house and expand outward. Ask anyone you come across if they’ve seen your pet. After an hour of looking, begin checking social media (like your town’s Facebook group), Nextdoor, and your local shelter. Post large signs and check the shelter daily.
3. Don’t Let Your Dog Get Hooked on Fishing
Whether you’re an angler or are walking where others fish, stay vigilant and keep your dog out of the water. Old tackle can get caught up in reeds and rocks and wind up in your pup’s paw (or worse).
Reconsider if you are bringing your dog on your fishing trip. While you may enjoy your dog’s company, it may not be worth the risk of heatstroke, getting hooked, or your dog drinking too much lake water.
If you decide to bring your dog, remain aware of their location at all times, especially when casting or reeling in a fish. Bring fresh water for them to drink, so they’re not tempted to lap up lake water. And bring a first aid kit - which you already had anyway, right?
In case of emergency, have our number saved in your phone. If your dog gets hooked, do not try to remove it - its barb could do further damage, or your panicked dog may bite. Isolate the area where your dog is hooked and do not let them chew or paw at it. Wrap them in a towel or blanket if you can and call us on your way.
4.Keep Your Hot Dog or Cat Cool
Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are real summer concerns. If your pet overheats, it can lead to permanent organ damage and even death. To prevent your pet from heatstroke, remember to:
- Provide plenty of fresh, cool water
- Provide shade with a beach umbrella or tent
- Let your dog or cat inside promptly if they’re waiting at the door
- Never leave your pet in the car
- Bring water on walks and choose a shady route
- Don’t go on walks in the middle of the day--the morning and evening are cooler
- Test the temperature of asphalt and gravel to avoid damaging your pet’s sensitive paws
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, do not douse them in cold water, which can send them into shock. Instead, wrap a room-temperature towel around them and bring them in immediately.
5. Protect Your First Mate
Are you planning a day on the lake with your dog? Keep your co-captain safe with a life vest, first aid kit, plenty of water, and shade. Don’t let your dog jump off the boat, but be prepared if they do. Know how you will get them back on board since dogs often can’t climb ladders. Keep your boat trip short and schedule it for the morning or evening to avoid the hottest times of the day.
6. Just Keep Swimming (Safely)
Not all dogs know how to or have the ability to swim. When teaching a dog to swim, go slow and let them test the water at their own pace. Never force a dog beyond where they have a footing. Watch for signs of panic and your dog not being able to keep their head above water.
Breeds with short snouts, i.e., brachycephalic dogs like pugs and bulldogs, should stay onshore. Some dogs just aren’t built to float, so it’s always best to outfit your dog in a life vest just in case.
Stay Safe This Summer-Pet Emergies Can Be a Real Bummer
From the rivers to the parks, keep your pet safe, cool, and comfortable. There are so many great things to do around the Berryville area, and we hope you make the most of them this summer.
If you need to make an appointment for flea, tick, and heartworm prevention, now is a great time to do so. We’re also ready if your pet needs a microchip. Schedule your appointment today.
Image credit: Pexels.
COVID-19 and Your Pet: Where Do We Go from Here?
After several long and stressful months, many pet owners are struggling with returning to a “normal” life. With unanswered questions about pets carrying the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and Fourth of July celebrations right around the corner, it’s overwhelming to navigate moving forward.
While we cannot predict the future, we hope that talking about what we know will help ease your concerns about COVID-19 and your furry family members.
Can My Pet Contract COVID-19 and Spread It?
The CDC states that the risk of pets contracting and spreading SARS-CoV-2 is very low. A handful of cats and dogs in the U.S. were diagnosed with COVID-19 and were traced to infected owners. There have been no reported cases of pets spreading the virus.
From the FDA, “[T]here is no evidence that viruses, including the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people from the skin, fur or hair of pets.” They go on to explain that animals can carry germs, and you should always wash your hands before and after interacting with a pet.
As we continue to learn about COVID-19, the information may change. Still, it appears that your pet poses little to no risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Frequent hand washing remains the best way to avoid an infection.
What Can Pet Parents Do Moving Forward?
As social distancing guidelines change, you can prepare to keep yourself, your family, and your pet safe and healthy.
Bring Your Pet in for a Checkup and Vaccinations
We continue to take precautions to protect everyone that enters our clinic, and your pet’s health and wellbeing haven’t taken a vacation just because of COVID-19. If your pet is due for their annual exam or vaccinations, now is the time to make an appointment. As social distancing guidelines change, you will appreciate knowing that your pet’s health and wellbeing is taken care of.
Continue to Steer Clear of Crowds
Even though recreation areas, dog parks, and businesses are re-opening, you will still want to avoid large crowds. You’ve probably experienced strangers petting your dog without permission, which can expose you and your pet to germs and viruses if they get too close.
According to CDC guidelines, continue to keep your distance from other people and limit contact between strangers and your pets. Fortunately, most leashes are 4’-6’ long, so use that as a handy visual tool.
Provide Your Pet with Plenty of Indoor and At-Home Play Opportunities
The CDC recommends keeping your cat indoors, so if they’re used to going outside, they may be a bit restless. Dogs that frequent parks will likely feel more bored than usual without the socialization and exercise.
To give them relief, provide them with new toys, playtime in the backyard, and mental stimulation. Puzzle toys and feeders are an excellent choice for cats and dogs or try scent games to liven up the afternoon. If your dog’s “sit” is a little rusty, try 10-15 minutes of training a day to keep their skills and their brain sharp.
Run out of ideas? Try YouTube for training and DIY toys.
Plan for Prescription and Pet Supply Delivery
Even with face masks, shopping leaves many feeling nervous and vulnerable. Signing up for automatic delivery of your pet’s prescriptions and supplies can take some of the worries away. The last thing you need is to get caught off-guard if restrictions are tightened again, or supplies run out.
Stay Positive and Active
Whether you’re still working from home or back at the office, plan for a little extra time to spend with your pet. Quality time and bonding have a positive effect on the mental health of humans and animals. You can and should still walk your dog. For your cat, open the windows when the weather is beautiful and join them in bird watching.
Things Are Looking Up-Let’s Keep It That Way
As the clouds part, it’s essential to keep our eyes on the future and continue to do what we can to stay safe and healthy. Per the CDC, social distancing applies to the whole family, including your pets.
As ever, we are committed to your family’s health and safety. Don’t hesitate to call or make an appointment if your pet needs an exam, you have questions about their health, or if they need medical attention. We are here for you and your pet.
Image credit: Pexels.