keep your pet's heart healthy

How to Keep Your Pet’s Heart Healthy

Our pets can’t tell us something is wrong. Therefore, we have to be extra observant. At times, your pet can be suffering internally, and problems can often go overlooked. Fortunately, you can implement simple routine methods to maintain your pet’s heart health and overall well-being.

Like humans, animals can experience different types of heart diseases. Some age-related or genetic heart issues cannot be prevented but can be caught early enough to be maintained, allowing your pet to live comfortably. With easily applied wellness methods, you can avoid other heart diseases from occurring.

Northside Animal Hospital in Valdosta, GA is here to provide you with some tips to prolong your pet’s life and keep them living happy and healthy.

Proper Dental Care

Dental care is a massive part of an animal’s health maintenance. Not taking adequate care of your pet’s dental health can lead to heart and liver problems. The same cultured bacteria from the infected heart valves are the same as those also found in the mouth. Excess growth of this bacteria in the mouth can eventually trickle down and accumulate in the heart, causing problems like heart disease or infection.

Luckily, administering the proper dental care for a pet is relatively simple. Some steps you can take to ensure your pet’s heart maintains optimum health through dental care include:

  • Brushing your pet’s teeth daily or weekly
  • Checking for foul-smelling breath
  • Checking for red or swollen gums
  • Any loose or missing teeth

Some signs that your pet may be experiencing oral health issues can easily be overlooked, such as bad breath or a lost tooth. By staying on top of your pet’s oral hygiene regimen and regularly checking for these signs, you can help your pet live a longer and healthier life.

Nutritious Diet

Like humans, a pet’s dietary plan changes over the years because different nutrition is necessary for different ages. Pets must maintain a healthy weight to provide optimal protection to their heart and avoid any heart problems. It is crucial to discuss with your veterinarian what specific needs your pet may require in their diet because dogs’ and cats’ dietary needs differ significantly, especially as they age.

Make sure you are not overfeeding your pet and reading the labels on your food to match the serving size according to your pet’s weight. It is also important to monitor proper hydration levels in your pet. There are many vitamins and foods that contain the nutrition necessary for maintaining your pet’s health.

For small or medium-sized dogs, consider food containing:

  • Vitamin A – for a healthy immune system
  • Vitamin C – for proper heart function and strength
  • Vitamin E – prevents damage in cells and heart disease
  • Fiber
  • Healthy grains

For adult cats, consider food containing:

  • Vitamin A – for a healthy immune system
  • Easily digestible protein
  • Taurine – for eye health and heart muscle
  • Essential fatty acids

These supplements are essential to consider when finding the right diet for your pet. There are also other activities you can implement to maintain your pet’s heart health.

Exercise

One thing that may be the easiest to implement is routine exercise for your pet’s health. Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart and overall wellness for humans and pets. To avoid your pet becoming overweight, you must make sure they are exercising regularly.

Overweight animals can suffer from more than just heart problems. They can develop cancer, bone disease, or lung disease and significantly decrease their life expectancy.

Dogs should receive at least 30 minutes of brisk activity daily, and cats should spend at least 15 minutes.

To prevent these health problems from occurring in your furry family member, please consider some of these easy methods:

  • Interactive toys and playing fetch
  • Daily walks
  • Training
  • Daycare activity (if you are unable to)

Remember to consult your veterinarian on what physical activities they believe will benefit your pet the best.

Wellness Exams

A routine wellness exam is the most important thing you can do for your pet’s heart health. Each pet is valuable to each family and should be cared for the same. Pets especially need regular checkups because they can’t voice their health concerns to us.

A yearly wellness exam can prolong your pet’s life by detecting symptoms before they arise and obtaining expert health advice. Oftentimes, your vet can provide you with heartworm medications for your dog or cat to avoid severe lung disease, heart failure, or other organ damage.

If you have any concerns about the possibility of heart disease in your pet, check for the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Fast or very slow heartbeat
  • Coughing
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Weakness

Make sure to discuss with your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet.

Promote Your Pet’s Heart Health

When it comes to promoting heart health in pets, staying informed and proactive is the first step pet owners should take. By following these tips and taking these other steps, you can keep your pet’s heart healthy for years to come and help them live a long and happy life.

Stay on top of your pet’s overall health and spot any issues before they arise with a wellness exam at our facility. Call us at 229-244-2983 or contact us to schedule an appointment!

puppy on a treadmill

Exercise Ideas for Pets During Wintertime

From a pet’s point of view from the window, winter presents plenty of possibilities for stimulating play. For many cooped up cats and dogs, they find snow and other seasonal elements to be entrancing… until they’re outside and feel the bitter cold.

But should fewer trips outside mean less exercise for your pet? No, it shouldn’t! North Jackson Animal Clinic in Stevenson, AL, explores pet exercise tips to keep your animal companion happy and healthy all winter long.

Keeping Your Furry Friend Safe & Warm If You Go Outdoors

Be Attentive to Your Dog’s Needs

There’s nothing wrong with taking your dog on a stroll when it’s on the colder side. The same goes for your outdoor cat. But when it’s bitterly cold outdoors, keep an eye out for warning signs that the weather might be too much for your pet.

Depending on their breed, dogs respond differently to chilly conditions. Dogs with shorter coats and shorter legs tend to feel the effects of the cold much quicker than long-haired, thick-coated animals

Age is another deterrent for winter walks. During their golden years, older dogs can struggle with walking on snow and ice and are more likely to fall. On freezing days, you may want to skip on the winter adventure and wait for a slightly warmer day.

If you have a cat who enjoys the outdoors, you may want to keep them indoors on those brutally cold days.

Dress Your Pet for the Weather

Humans bundle up when bracing for the bitter cold, so why shouldn’t our pets?

You may think their fur will keep them warm enough, but their fur can only protect them so much. When going on a wintertime walk, deck out your trusted companion with warm apparel. Not only will they look cute, but they’ll be better prepared for the conditions outside.

When dressing your dog up for the weather, be cautious — some dogs don’t enjoy jackets and may try to escape from them. In certain situations, this can lead to suffocation. You’ll also want to protect their paws, so consider investing in dog boots to lessen the risk for frostbite.

Keeping Your Furry Friend Active & Entertained Inside

Take Them to School

It’s not summer camp; it’s winter camp! Enroll your dog in a class at a local center as a way to make the most of the winter season.

A class will keep your dog active and also allow them the opportunity to interact with their puppy pals and develop socialization skills. There’s an array of great offerings out there for pet stimulation, including swimming, obedience, and indoor agility classes.

The Classics

It may seem obvious, but a little bit more games of fetch, cat toys, and tug of war can go a long way when it comes to boosting your pet’s activity level.

If you have a long hallway in your home, make it your designated fetch or prey-catch spot. Carve out time throughout the day to play with your dog or cat (this can be the time you’d normally be walking them if the weather wasn’t a concern.)

Tug of war is a time-tested method of bonding and livening up your dog’s life. Although dogs love tug of war, it can make some dogs more aggressive. The good news? There are ways to play tug of war that’ll ensure the session is safe and productive.

Hit the Home Gym

Cardio machines aren’t just for people anymore! Dogs, too, enjoy getting their heart rate up at the home gym. There are a multitude of terrific treadmill options with diverse features.

When shopping, consider your budget, but also what will work best for your dog’s specific needs. What is their regular activity level? Do they need to lose weight? There’s an ideal option out there that’ll ensure your pet is stimulated throughout the winter season!

Your Pet’s Health is Our Priority Year-Round!

At Jackson Animal Clinic, we believe that our role in caring for pets isn’t just about regular vet visits, but providing tips to optimize their quality of life. Many humans and pets have a hard time adjusting to winter months, but we can get through it together with creative solutions and being attentive to needs. If you have questions about our veterinary services or other ways to keep your pet active, contact us today!

happy dog and owner

National Train Your Dog Month: Best Tips & Practices

Happy National Train Your Dog Month!

While training your dog should be a consistent, lifelong responsibility, commit to making this January the month you get your canine companion refreshed and back on track to being a “good boy” / “good girl.”

At Bush Animal Clinic in Albany, GA, we celebrate all dog personalities and welcome the opportunity to help our dogs behave better for a healthier, safer, and happier life. To help you celebrate National Train Your Dog Month, we’re bringing you these effectively pawsome dog training tips and practices.

Let’s get started!

Why We Celebrate National Train Your Dog Month

Training our dogs is not only for show. The extra help can go a long way to maintain their health and well-being.

Following the holiday season, January is traditionally a peak time of year where families adopt or bring home dogs. Sadly, humans give away hundreds of dogs per year due to behavioral and training challenges.

In 2010, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers started National Train Your Dog Month to raise awareness about the significance of training, socializing, and providing our dogs with a nurturing and loving home environment.

Learning is a precious opportunity for humans to bond with their canine companions, and even just a little bit of work each day can go a long way for your dog’s well-being. Without further ado, let’s dive into the ultimutt dog training tips and tricks!

Daily Walks

A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, and if your dog tends to act out after being cooped up all day, it may be time to integrate more brisk and intentional walks into their daily routine.

Taking your dog for a walk provides them with the physical activity and mental stimulation they need for strong mental health. Bored dogs are more prone to destructive behaviors. Walking helps them release pent-up energy, burn calories, and regulate their digestive and musculoskeletal health.

It’s a good idea to take your dog for a walk before a training session. Your dog will listen and focus better when they’re already stimulated and tired.

Don’t treat your dog’s walk as a glorified potty break. Your dog loves your attention, so what better way to make an hour all about them by joining them for an adventure in the great outdoors?

Calling Your Dog to Come

Teaching your dog to come when called is essential to your dog’s safety. Otherwise known as “reliable recall”, teaching your dog to come when called can protect them from getting injured, lost, hit by a car, or engaging in abrasive behavior with other dogs and animals.

If your dog can’t go off-leash right away, that’s okay. Start small by working with your dog in a fenced-in area or with a long leash.

Treat reliable recall like a game. Let your dog run around, explore, and keep distractions to a minimum.

Anytime your dog makes eye contact with you or starts to move towards you, give them the verbal cue to come or verbally praise them using a high and positive inflection in your voice. You can also incorporate direct verbal cues to “come” and reward your pup with treats or their favorite toy.

Even if your dog takes their time to come when called, you should still praise them ‒ not show your frustration.

Don’t repeat yourself if your dog doesn’t immediately come when called. There may be too many distractions, or they haven’t yet learned the skill.

Remember: It can take time for dogs to develop trust in their owners and to reliably come when called. The best way to earn their trust and build your confidence in them is to work at this skill every day and always make their training environment happy and positive.

How to Stop Dog Jumping

Even though a jumping dog can be a nuisance, it is a common behavior problem as it is a natural way for dogs to greet those they love and are excited to see. So, even if your dog is a jumper, you are not alone. And luckily, this is a behavior that is relatively easy to fix.

The first thing to stop jumping is to remove the emotional stimulation causing the behavior. Refrain from getting your dog excited when you walk through the door by changing your tone and using a quiet and low inflection in your voice.

Don’t greet your dog until they are fully calm and have all four paws on the floor. Be consistent with this. The more repetition, the more your dog will come to control their excitement and understand the proper way to greet you and others.

Establish the House Rules & Stay Consistent

Every dog owner is different when setting off-limits areas of the home or letting their canine companions up on the bed or couch.

Early on, establish what your dog can and cannot do and where they can and cannot go. Whatever you decide the house rules are with your dog, ward off any confusion and stay consistent. By doing so, your dog will come to understand and obey the rules, preventing them from getting scolded unnecessarily.

With all that said, designate a part of your home as your dog’s special area. Make this environment as calm and comfortable as possible and place their bed here or incorporate their toys and blanket. You want your dog to feel like this is their safe place. Choose a location where you can also be nearby.

Pawsome Tips & Practices for a Healthier & Happier Pup

There’s nothing better than the loving look your dog gives you when you commend them for being a “good boy” or “good girl.” As National Train Your Dog Month comes to a close, stay consistent and keep practicing these tips and tricks so you can instill healthy behavior in your dog for years to come.

If you’re struggling to train your aggressive or impulsive dog, pet anxiety may be to blame. The team at Bush Animal Clinic is happy to guide you on how to train your dog, alleviate their anxiety, and help them improve their behavior and well-being. We encourage you to contact us today if you have any questions or would like to schedule a behavior consultation with a veterinarian.

cat and dog on Christmas

Keeping Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season

Cats, dogs, and other animals are always a gift and make a welcome addition to holiday festivities.
However, it’s important not to get carried away with the seasonal merriment as some holiday traditions can be hazardous to our furry friends. Below are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the people and pets in your family have a healthy and happy holiday.

Be Aware of Decorative Items

Christmas Trees, Ornaments, Tinsel, etc.

Whether you’re a real or artificial tree family, one thing’s for certain: if you have a cat, they will likely want to climb on it. Both cats and dogs can enjoy playing with ornaments and other materials typically found on a Christmas tree. Climbing and toying with its decor can lead to the tree falling over and injuring your precious pet.

We suggest using a fishing line (or similar solution), secure your tree to a ceiling fan or door frame to prevent a fall.

In addition, you should keep your pets away from water in Christmas tree stands as it can be full of bacteria and make them sick.

Lights & Open Flames

We love (and need to) illuminate our spaces to feel the joy of the season, but if you have a puppy or kitty, you’ll want to be cautious. Baby animals are especially likely to chew on wires which can lead to electric shock.

We suggest going with lights that are low in voltage and purchasing chew-protective cords.

Seasonal Plants

Seasonal plants spread cheer, but they can also spread sickness in animals. When you think of the season, visuals of holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias may come to mind. Unfortunately, they can be the most harmful to animals. Mistletoe and holly contain toxicity level that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and death (if ingested in large amounts).

We suggest If you choose to get any of the above plants, place them somewhere where it’s inaccessible for your pet. Check out this list of safe alternatives that provide the same festive effect!

Be Mindful of Foods That Aren’t Pet-Friendly

Hanukkah Treats

Most dog-owners know that chocolate and dogs do not mix. You’ll want to be especially careful when it comes to chocolate gold coins as the foil wrapping can lead to intestinal issues when digested.

In addition, make sure sufganiyot (doughnuts) and latkes are far from your pet’s reach, as it can bring on vomiting and diarrhea. Cats and dogs have a heightened risk of getting Heinz body amnea after ingesting latkes due to a signature ingredient (onions).

Christmas Dinner

While it may only seem fair for your pet to take part in your feast, you’ll want to avoid feeding them anything containing salt, citrus, xylitol (even scraps) as it can be harmful to your animal’s health.

Want to throw your dog a bone after dinner? It may seem like a great gift, but it’s not — this can cause severe health problems.

We suggest baking some treats just for them since they can’t enjoy human food!

Here’s to the Holiday & the New Year!

Bryan-Hight Veterinary Hospital wishes you and your family a happy holiday season! We look forward to helping your pet remain healthy in 2021. Don’t forget to schedule your pet wellness in the new year!

dog grooming & bathing

Why Pets Need Regular Grooming

Grooming your pet is about more than maintaining their good looks and appearance; proper hair hygiene is essential to their physical health and overall well-being.

Blackshear Veterinary Hospital is here to help Cordele pet owners understand why pets need regular grooming and how to do it safely, properly, and effectively.

Let’s get started!

Brushing

Like humans, animals require good hygiene to help lower their risk of disease and illness. But for pets, grooming removes dead, unwanted hair and prevents their coats from matting, tangling, and accumulating bacteria, dirt, pollen, and other debris.

Brushing, in particular, also helps to distribute oil for a healthier coat. It ventilates your pet’s skin, reducing grease levels and preventing clogged pores.

Make brushing part of your pet’s weekly hygiene regimen. Brush their coat every couple of days, no matter how long or short their hair is. Familiarize your pet with their hairbrush and let them smell and observe it. Provide them with treats and use a soothing voice to keep them calm. This can make for great bonding time between you and your pet.

Most standard dog brushes will suffice; but if your dog has a thick or matted coat, you may want to use a shedding blade. There are benefits to professional grooming services; your pet’s groomer will be able to handle larger breeds and better spot abnormalities or signs of disease on their skin.

Bathing

Cats usually require a bath every four to six weeks, while dogs need a bath every couple of months. Frequent bathing can strip the natural oil from their coats, resulting in dry skin and brittle hair.

However, if you have a dog who enjoys rolling around in the mud or a cat that ventures outside for hours at a time, you may find it necessary to bathe them more often. Use only animal-safe shampoo products at bath time that are specifically made for dogs or cats. These shampoos won’t contain the harsh, irritating chemicals that are often found in human products.

When bathing your dog or cat, use lukewarm water, lather up their coat, and rinse thoroughly. Avoid coming into direct contact with their ears, eyes, and mouth.

Post-bath is a good time to clean your animal’s ears, but make it a point to clean your pet’s ears more frequently (at least once every 1-2 weeks). Preventing dirt buildup in the ears can reduce their risk for infection, and it also provides an opportunity to check their ears for signs of mites, fleas, and other problems. Your veterinary team can provide an ear cleaning solution, which you should apply with a cotton ball.

Nails & Feet

They’re easy to overlook, but it’s important to pay close attention to your pet’s paws or claws. Allowing their nails to grow too long can cause your pet discomfort and pain. It also increases their risk of broken toes and other injuries.

A general rule of thumb: If you can hear your dog’s nails tap on the floor, or if your cat’s claws get caught in the furniture, curtains, or linens, it is time for a trimming.

Monitor your pet’s feet on a daily basis for any debris that may be caught in between their toes. You should also monitor their nails and trim them every couple of weeks. Make sure you trim the hair around their toes, as well.

A lot of dogs and cats dislike having their feet touched or their nails clipped. By familiarizing them with the sound and smell of their clippers (and providing them with treats at the same time), you can normalize this grooming technique into their weekly hygiene routine.

Start small and slow. You may only be able to trim one or two toes at a time. You can save the remaining toes for the following day. While trimming their nails, use a soothing voice to calm them and provide them with their favorite toy or treats.

Dental Hygiene

Don’t forget to brush your dog or cat’s teeth!

Make sure to regularly brush your pet’s teeth with warm water or pet-friendly toothpaste (human toothpaste is toxic to animals!) In between dental checkups at the veterinarian, you can provide your dog or cat with tooth-friendly treats that naturally brush their teeth and remove plaque and tartar.

A Clean, Groomed Pet Is a Healthy Pet

Pets need regular grooming to promote healthier and happier well-being, but sometimes pet owners need a little extra assistance when it comes to getting their four-legged companions to cooperate and feel comfortable during a grooming session.

Contact Blackshear Veterinary Hospital to schedule your pet for a grooming appointment or checkup!

Halloween dog

Foods to Not Feed Feed Your Pets

Spooky season is upon us. Between the ghouls and goblins, candy and costumes – households are getting ready for trick or treating and other traditions. But if you’re a pet owner, Halloween can be frightening in more ways than one.

Halloween, while fun, can present some dangers to your pet, and we’re not talking about monsters or skeletons. We’re talking about harmful treats, foods to not feed your pets, and other hazards. Thankfully, Northside Animal Hospital in Valdosta, GA is here to help you understand potential risks your cat or dog may run into.

Dangerous Foods to Avoid

While kids love this time of year due to all the sugar and candy, (and let’s face it, adults enjoy it just as much) the treats we bring home can cause serious health problems if cats or dogs get their paws on them. We break down some of the most dangerous types of foods to not feed your pets:

Chocolate

Most pet owners know that while chocolate is delicious for us, they are toxic for dogs. It’s important to be extra cautious this time of year, as more chocolate is probably coming into the house. If eaten, chocolate can cause vomiting, seizures, and other health complications for dogs.

Raisins

Raisins and grapes are one of the most dangerous foods for cats and dogs. Eating them can cause sudden kidney failure. So if your child brings home any chocolate covered raisins from trick or treating, make sure to keep them out of sight, where your cat or dog can’t access them.

Candy Corn

If candy has one ingredient, and that one ingredient is sugar, you can bet it’s not good for your pet. Candies like candy corn and pixie sticks can cause painful stomach issues for cats and dogs and should be avoided.

Coconut Treats

The milk and coconuts used in candy may cause your pet to have an upset stomach. While your pet may like the sweet flavor, it’s important to avoid human candy with coconut in the ingredients.

Hard Candy

While they may not be considered as toxic as chocolate or raisins, hard candy presents a huge choking hazard to cats and dogs. This is especially true for lollipops, when you consider the stick could harm your pet’s stomach if ingested.

Pretzels & Chips

These goodies may not be as popular as chocolate and sugar, but if your child comes home from trick or treating with small bags of pretzels or chips, it’s important to keep them away from your pet. In this case, the issue is not so much with the food itself, but the plastic bags they’re packaged in. If eaten, these plastic bags can obstruct your pet’s intestines.

Sugar Free Candy

Pet owners may assume that sugar free candy must be better for pets than sugary treats, that’s not always the case. In fact, sugar-free candy can be even more hazardous. This is because a common alternative sweetener in these sugar free candies and gums is Xylitol. If eaten by a cat or dog, Xylitol can cause a drop in blood sugar which can cause seizures or other complications including liver damage, and even death.

If your pet eats any of these foods, call or visit Northside Animal Hospital as soon as possible. Our treatments can help prevent further complications.

Other Halloween Frights For Pets

It’s not just candy that poses risks for your furry friend during Halloween season. There are other dangers that present themselves this time of year. We explore some potential hazards to be aware of.

Costumes

It’s hard to resist dressing up your pet in an adorable costume for Halloween. While dressing up your pet is fine, there are some factors you should consider when choosing the best costume for your cat or dog.
Make sure they are comfortable in their costume. If they are not, don’t force it on them. This can cause unnecessary stress. You should also avoid masks as it can impact their vision and breathing. No matter what costume you decide on, it’s important that you keep an eye on your pet to ensure that they are not chewing off pieces.

Dyes

If you choose to ditch the clothing, and dye your pet a festive color, make sure the dye you use will not cause irritation or an allergic reaction. You also want to make sure it is non-toxic, in case your pet decides to try licking it off. Always avoid applying dye around the eye and mouth area to avoid irritation.

Decorations

Decorations are fun, but as most pet owners know, your dog or cat may be curious about them. They may explore fake spider webs, rubber spiders, fake jewelry, or old jack-o-lanterns with their mouths. It’s important to keep these decorations out of reach, so your pet cannot ingest them, causing stomach issues that could lead to an emergency trip to the vet, or even surgery.

Door Dashing

If you are expecting a lot of trick-or-treaters, it’s best to keep your cat or dog occupied in a place where they feel safe and comfortable, especially if you think the doorbell or knocking will bother them. If they get spooked or anxious, they may dash out the door as you hand out candy. It’s also a good idea to keep your pet contained in a crate during this time.

Foods to Not Feed Your Pets: It’s Not All Scary

While it may seem like there are a lot of hazards to avoid this Halloween season, the good news is, not all treats are bad! Your furry friend can still enjoy some Halloween fun. Just make sure whatever you feed them is meant for pets, not humans. If you choose to make your own pet-friendly Halloween treats, contact Northside Animal Hospital to make sure the ingredients you use are safe.

A safe pet is a happy pet, so just remember to keep their wellbeing in mind between all the Halloween fun, and there’s no need to be frightened!

kitten in a blanket

How to Prepare Pets for the Fall

The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping. It’s time to switch out your t-shirts for sweaters and your flip flops for boots. While you may be ready to sip on pumpkin spice lattes and cook hot chili and soups, there may be one member of your family who needs help transitioning to the new season – your pet!

Just like the weather, pets’ habits change from season to season. It’s important to make adjustments to their daily routines in order to make them comfortable. If you live in Albany, GA, it’s also important to prepare a plan for natural disasters. This is especially true across the South when hurricane season is in full swing.

Bush Animal Clinic has provided all the information you need to prepare pets for the fall. Let’s get started!

General Tips

The good news is, there are simple steps you can take to help your pet adjust to the changing season. And it’s more than just keeping them warm.

Groom Your Dog or Cat Appropriately

While it is true that a thick, furry coat helps your pet stay warm, it needs to be groomed properly. If your dog or cat’s fur gets matted, bacteria and other unwanted ailments can make its way into the pet’s skin, causing infections. In other words, make sure to brush your pet more frequently as the weather turns colder.

Alternatively, you can have your dog or cat groomed professionally.

Switch Up When You Walk Your Dog

Not only does the weather change with the seasons, so does the amount of sunlight. So while you may be getting up early in the summer to take your dog out in hopes of avoiding hotter temperatures, you may want to do the opposite in the fall.

In order to beat the darkness, it’s a good idea to take your dog on a later morning walk, and an earlier evening walk.

It is important to note that dogs are sensitive to schedule changes. Try transitioning to the new walk times in 15-minute intervals.

Be Careful of Snakes

Snakes don’t leave after summer is over. In fact, fall is when they get ready to hibernate and may be more likely to bite. Make sure to learn if any snakes are common in your area, so you and your pet can avoid areas where these slithering creatures are present.

Keep Your Pet Warm

You’re not the only one who needs to bundle up a little more. Your pet needs to stay warm too. If you want to prepare pets for the fall, consider purchasing cozy beds and blankets for your pets to snuggle with.

Depending on your dog’s type of fur, it may also be worth it to buy a dog coat to protect it from the chill and rain.

Plan for Your Changing Schedule

For many households, your schedule changes with the fall season. Kids are back to school, you may be spending less time outside, and your family activities may change. This can affect your pets.

Consider making time before and after you leave for school or work to give your dog or cat some special attention. Also, plan fun weekend activities that you can include your pet in.

Prepping Your Pet for Hurricane Season

When living in the South, households must prepare for hurricane season. Putting a plan in place is difficult enough when it’s just you and your family. Preparing your pet comes with its own set of challenges. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to keep your furry friend safe.

Stock Up Beforehand

In addition to packing up supplies for you and your family, make sure you are equipped with plenty of supplies for your pet as well. This includes:

  • Food & Water
  • Water Bowls
  • Toys & Treats
  • Litter Box
  • Pet Bed
  • Leash
  • Collar
  • Blankets
  • Pet Medical Records
  • Medications

Have An Evacuation Plan

Having an evacuation plan ahead of time is extremely important to keep safe during a hurricane. Make sure you have all the proper supplies for you and your pet ready to go. Also, make sure you are evacuating somewhere that is pet-friendly, so you know your cat or dog can stay with you.

Microchip Your Pet

If you haven’t already, it is important to microchip your pet. In the event that your dog or cat gets lost during a storm, a microchip makes it much easier for you to locate them.

Keep Your Pet on a Leash

Once a hurricane makes landfall, make sure to keep your pet on a leash, or contained in a carrier with a collar and ID tag. It is likely that your pet will be scared and anxious, so speak to them in a calm tone of voice.

Even after the hurricane is over, keep your pet contained on a leash or in a carrier until you are sure the area is safe.

Understanding How to Prepare Pets for the Fall

Fall is a great time to take advantage of the outdoors alongside your four-legged companion. By taking simple but necessary steps to prepare your pet for colder months, it helps you and your pet enjoy this time of year safely and comfortably.

Have a question about how to prepare pets for the fall? The experts at Bush Animal Clinic are here to help!

puppy scratching

Common Reasons Your Dog Has Itchy Skin

Every dog has itchy skin from time to time; behind their ears, on their sides, and they’ll even roll around on their backs or brush up against furniture to relieve themselves.

But when the occasional scratch becomes frequent and excessive, it can be harmful and uncomfortable to any dog, no matter their breed or size.

There are many causes of itchy skin in dogs. Some may be environmental while others may be due to infection, immunity, and health conditions.

If your dog has itchy skin, here are some possible causes ﹣ and what you can do about it.

Reasons Why Your Dog Has Itchy Skin

Allergies

Like humans, a dog’s immune system can react to dust, pollen, and other allergens in the environment. Your dog may have seasonal allergies if they develop skin changes and excessive scratching during certain times of the year.

Dogs can also develop food sensitivities and allergies to ingredients in their diet. A dog with food allergies is more likely to scratch their ears and their paws. Food allergies in dogs are often accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues.

Fleas

Scratching accompanied by licking and biting are the telltale signs of a dog with fleas. Fleas are external parasites that can take up residency on your dog’s skin. It’s common for dogs to be allergic to flea saliva, making a dog’s skin uncomfortably itchy.

If your dog has fleas, their gums may become pale or they can develop fur loss as the result of severe itching. Fleabites can cause redness, inflammation, and scabs. Dogs with fleas will also bite or scratch the base of their tail, and you may even be able to spot fleas or flea dirt, as well.

Parasites

Fleas aren’t the only parasites that can cause itchy skin in dogs. Mites and ticks can also cause adverse skin reactions in dogs, resulting in scratching, hives, bumps, and redness. Severe skin reactions to mites and ticks can also cause excessive licking and biting, fur loss, and lesions.

Untreated parasitic infestation can cause worsening symptoms, leading to infected lesions and even tapeworms, while untreated tick bites can cause Lyme disease.

Dry Skin

Dry skin in dogs may not always be attributed to fleas or allergies. Cold weather, dry air, pesticides, and harsh soaps can cause dry skin and other symptoms, including:

  • Dandruff
  • Flaking
  • Oily fur
  • Scaling
  • Scabs
  • Redness

Some breeds, including hairless dogs and large breeds, are prone to certain skin conditions that can result in dry, flaky skin.

Dry skin can also be indicative of cancer, hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalances, and other conditions. If your dog develops dry skin or any of the other symptoms discussed, your veterinarian can help you narrow down the causes.

Behavior-Based

Your dog may excessively scratch themselves out of habit or because of boredom or anxiety. If you can rule out other causes, your dog may be scratching themselves because they’re cooped up and need stimulating activity.

Tips to Prevent Itchy Skin

Flea & Parasite Prevention

Flea and tick prevention products can protect your dog. These products are available as topical treatments or as oral medications. Talk to your veterinarian about which preventative medication is best for your dog. You should also talk to your veterinarian about heartworm prevention!

Veterinary Treatment

If your dog has fleas, ticks, or mites, it’s important to seek veterinary treatment for them right away. Your veterinarian will need to examine your dog and run blood, urine, or skin tests to diagnose and determine the right course of treatment.

Your veterinarian may prescribe oral medications, antibiotics, or topical treatments to eliminate the infestation. Steroid medications may also be administered to help relieve your dog’s symptoms.

Food Changes

Common allergens can include wheat, beef, egg, lamb, or soy. Talk to your veterinarian about testing your dog for food allergens. Your veterinarian can also make recommendations for dog food, dietary supplements, and how to wean your dog off their current food. The goal is to eliminate allergens and maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Lots of Attention, Love, & Be Proactive

Playtime and love are the best preventative measures against scratching and itchy skin, especially if your dog is prone to boredom and anxiety.

Regular grooming and bathing can help you keep an eye on your dog’s skin and fur. Give your dog a bath once or twice a month (and no more, unless your dog enjoys rolling in the mud). Be sure to use gentle shampoos without perfumes. An oatmeal-based shampoo is best, especially if your dog is prone to scratching.

You should also check your dog’s skin and fur after playing outside or walking through wooded areas. This will help you detect ticks and mites before they become a real problem.

Put an End to Itchy Skin Once & for All

Excessive scratching and itchy skin can affect your dog’s physical and emotional health. If you’re located in Bainbridge, GA, and suspect your dog has an underlying cause to their itchy skin, Bryan-Hight Veterinary Hospital is here to help.

Get in touch with us to schedule an evaluation with one of our veterinarians. For more pet-related health news and information, stay tuned to our blog!

dog hiding under bed

Does Your Pet Have Anxiety? Here’s How You Can Help!

Here’s How You Can Help!

Everyone has experienced some form of anxiety in 2020. As we navigate our nervousness, us pet-owners need to keep a close eye on our animals to monitor their stress, too. Since dogs and cats cannot request medication or schedule a therapy appointment, it is the pet-owners’ responsibility to identify, prevent, and treat animal anxiety.

”I Take Great Care of My Pet, What Do They Have to Worry About?”

You may think that our furry-friends live worry-free lives, but this isn’t true; animals have sophisticated minds and experience emotions similar to humans.

Certain breeds of dogs, including border-collie, greyhound, and labrador retrievers are prone to generalized anxiety. In this case, there isn’t a specific root of the problem, and symptoms may be harder to recognize — but you can still refer to the treatment and prevention methods below to help them!

Here are a few potential triggers for pet anxiety:

Separation: Does your usually relaxed pet go off the rails when they’re left without you or your family? They likely have separation anxiety.
Fear: Animals have phobias just like people do. Odd atmospheres, alarming noises, and unusual visuals (like a strange hat) can easily spark an anxious episode.
Age: As they get older, pets may begin to develop cognitive dysfunction. This can lead to confusion and anxiety.
Their Past: Sheltered or rescued animals may be anxious because they once lived in unpredictable or unusual circumstances, or worse, were victims of neglect or abuse.

Signs

Now that we understand some causes of your pet’s anxiety, let’s talk about how this anxiety can manifest.

Symptoms to be on the lookout for include:

  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Destructive behavior
  • Repetitive or compulsive behaviors
  • Drooling
  • Pacing & Restlessness
  • Frequent barking, howling or meowing
  • Self-harm

There are also less noticeable things to pick up on, including lip licking and paw lifting.

Unfortunately, a major indication of pet anxiety is urinating and defecation in the house or somewhere they’re not supposed to. This is common — instead of getting angry with them, treat their anxiety!

Prevention & Treatment

Anxiety doesn’t have to be a prevalent problem for your pet. There’s a great deal we can do to help our companions cope!

Stopping Your Pet’s Anxiety From Becoming a Persistent Problem

Professional Obedience Training: An excellent resource, professional obedience training lays the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy and happy habits.
A Nutrient-Rich Diet and a Regular Exercise Routine: Like people, getting active and eating healthy food has a positive impact on our pet’s mental health.
Make Sure You’re Giving Them Enough Love: For most cats and dogs, physical affection is key in connecting with their human friends. If you leave them for an extended period, remember to give them the time and attention they deserve!
Shield Them From Triggers: For pets with particular triggers, if what they fear is out of sight, it is likely out of mind. Monitor their situations and keep them away from stressful environments or objects.

Medications & Supplements

A health concern like any other, if your pet is suffering from anxiety, a medicinal approach may be the best course of action. From organic over-the-counter options to prescription medications, below are just a few suggested medications:

Alprazolam: A sedative, Alprazolam (Xanax) should be used sparingly to calm your pet before a stressful situation (like a visit to the vet, or a road trip).
Sertraline: Great for general anxiety and anxiety-related behavioral issues, Sertraline is an SSRI that will give your pet a needed dose of serotonin.

Other Options

In addition to medication, there are other ways to help your pet relax:

Calming Clothing: An anxiety jacket is inexpensive, effective, and functions like a constant reassuring hug!
Aromatherapy: Essential oils is a beneficial way of keeping your pet’s nerves in check.

Partners in Protecting Your Pet’s Mental Health

Northside Animal Hospital in Valdosta, GA, is here to help ensure that your pet experiences an enjoyable and worry-free life! If you believe your animal is suffering from anxiety, contact us and we can start discussing ways to soothe your pet!

puppy vaccinations

Puppy Vaccinations: Here’s What to Know

Congrats on the new addition to your family! Getting a puppy is an exciting (and sometimes challenging) time. Whether you are a first-time puppy owner or have had dogs all your life, you want to make sure you give your puppy the start they deserve. An important part of laying the foundation for a healthy, happy life is making sure they get the appropriate puppy vaccinations.

When Does My Puppy Receive Particular Vaccines?

There is not one set schedule for puppy vaccinations. Which vaccines your dog should receive depends on their individual risk factors. That said, here is a general timeline for when your puppy should receive their vaccines.

6 to 8 weeks of age: DHPP Optional: Bordetella.
10-12 weeks of age: DHPP Optional: Coronavirus
14-16 weeks of age: DHPP. Optional: Lyme & Coronavirus.
18-20 weeks of age: DHPP Optional: Lyme & Coronavirus
12-16 months: DHPP, rabies Optional: Coronavirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, Lyme disease

Your veterinarian will work with you to determine the appropriate vaccine schedule for your puppy.

What Types of Vaccinations Does My Puppy Need?

Like human babies, puppies will need to see their vet several times in their first year of life. During these visits, your vet will monitor your puppy’s growth and administer vaccinations. To learn more about recommended and optional vaccines, please refer to the information below.

Recommended Puppy Vaccinations

The recommended vaccination schedule for puppies includes vaccines for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus (DHPP), and rabies.

Canine Distemper

Distemper is a severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that affects the gastrointestinal (GI), respiratory, and nervous systems of dogs, skunks, raccoons, and other animals. It is spread through sneezing or coughing, but can also be transmitted through shared food or water bowls. Symptoms include discharges from the eyes and nose, coughing, vomiting, fever, seizures, diarrhea, twitching, and paralysis.

There is no cure for distemper, and it is often fatal, but if the animal survives the symptoms, the virus can last for months.

Canine Hepatitis

Canine hepatitis is another highly contagious viral infection. It affects the liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen, and eyes. This disease is not related to the human form of hepatitis. The symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion to vomiting, stomach enlargement, jaundice, and pain around the liver. Many dogs can make a recovery for mild cases, but in severe cases, it can be fatal. There is no cure for canine hepatitis, but the symptoms are treatable.

Canine Parainfluenza

This is one of several viruses that can contribute to kennel cough. Symptoms are usually mild unless it is combined with another virus or Bordetella bacteria. It is transmitted by nasal discharge and saliva. Parainfluenza causes a dry hacking cough and watery nasal discharge, but if left untreated, it can cause pneumonia or even death.

Parvovirus

This is another highly contagious virus that affects all dogs; however, unvaccinated dogs and puppies less than four months of age are at the highest risk to contract it. Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal system, resulting in a loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, or severe, bloody diarrhea. Receiving prompt veterinary attention is crucial as hydration can come on rapidly and be fatal within a 48-72 hour period. There is no cure, so keeping the dog hydrated and controlling secondary symptoms will keep them going until the dog’s immune system beats the virus.

Rabies

Rabies vaccinations are required by the State of Georgia for all dogs three months of age or older. It is a viral disease that invades the central nervous system, resulting in headaches, hallucinations, anxiety, fear of water, excessive drooling, paralysis, and death. The most common method of transmission is through a rabid animal bite. It is essential to receive treatment within hours of transmission; otherwise, it is likely to be fatal.

Optional Vaccinations

The vaccine types listed below are optional and dependent on your lifestyle and dog’s particular needs.

Bordetella Bronchiseptica

The Bordetella Bronchiseptica vaccine is recommended if you plan on boarding your puppy in the future, attending training classes, or enrolling your dog in dog daycare. For many facilities, proof of vaccination is a requirement.

This is a highly infectious bacteria that causes severe coughing, whooping, and vomiting. In rare cases, it can cause seizures and death. This bacteria is the primary cause of kennel cough.

Coronavirus

Canine coronavirus is not the same virus that causes COVID-19 in people. There is no evidence that COVID-19 is a health threat to dogs. That said, canine coronavirus usually affects a dog’s gastrointestinal system, although it can cause respiratory infections. Common symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting. There is no cure for canine coronavirus, but it helps to keep a dog hydrated, warm, and comfortable.

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is another bacterial disease that is found worldwide in soil and water. Some dogs may show no symptoms at all. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be spread from animals to people. Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, stiffness, muscle pain, severe weakness, lethargy, and more. Antibiotics are effective at treating this, but the sooner treatment is administered, the better.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is an infectious, tick-borne disease caused by spirochete bacteria. An infected dog often shows symptoms, including limping, swollen lymph nodes, raised temperature, and reduced appetite. This disease can affect the heart, kidney, and joints and lead to neurological disorders if left untreated. When diagnosed early, antibiotics are beneficial, but relapses can occur months or years later.

Helping Your Pet Live Longer, Healthier & Happier

Puppy vaccinations are an essential part of giving your dog a long, happy, and healthy life. Our team is eager to help you. If you still have questions about vaccinations, give Bush Animal Clinic a call at 229-439-7073 today!