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.

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!