Winter Pet Safety Precautions Can Really Save the Day

Practicing winter pet safety can protect pets from antifreeze poisoning and more!

Each season delivers its own set of risks to animals. From parasites to allergies, heat stroke to poisoning, the calendar year is simply full of potential threats to your pet’s welfare. It’s easy to assume that winter pet safety involves basic regard for dangerous dips in temperature, but there is more to it than that.

Like anything else, the more pet owners know about the possible pitfalls awaiting their best friends, the better. Let’s get started!

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The Power of Winter Pet Gear

Winter pet gear keeps pet safe and happy in cold weather

While we certainly can’t compete with Maine or Minnesota, our winter temperatures can feel downright frosty. We temper these seasonal dips with an insulating base layer or winter jacket that cuts the cold, wind, and rain, but animals don’t have the luxury of dressing for the weather. Sure, some pets respond in kind with a thicker undercoat, but this isn’t the case across the board. The best way to combat the bite of winter? Winter pet gear!

Assess the Situation

Larger, heavy-coated pets tolerate the cold much better than, say, any of the toy breeds. It’s never fun to shiver through the winter, especially for smaller, thinner pets with short or wiry coats. All cats and dogs can suffer from the effects of hypothermia and frostbite if left outside for too long.

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Understanding the Gigantic Pet Food Industry

Pet food fads aren't always in line with good pet nutrituonIt’s a common scenario: pet owners peruse the seemingly endless aisles of pet food not entirely sure which ones would actually benefit the health and wellness of their best friends. There’s grain-free. There’s organic. There are interesting ingredients like kangaroo, ostrich, blueberry, and artichoke (to say nothing of the ones no one can pronounce!).

The bottom line is that choosing the right pet food is fraught with confusion and even fear. Do you just want to feed your pet the best possible diet? The team at Animal Medical Hospital is here to help!

A Lay of the Land

You want to feed your pet what they need in order to have long, healthy life, but you don’t want to spend an exorbitant amount of time or money. The right food also has to satisfy your pet’s hunger so they won’t be begging you for treats or snacks in between meals. Continue…

How to Identify Pet Pain

Pet pain isn't always obvious and is often easy to ease with the help of your local veterinarian.Our pets may not walk, talk, or behave like us, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel pain in much the same way as humans. Over the past few decades, veterinary science has made tremendous strides in the areas of pet pain prevention and management.

At Animal Medical Hospital, we believe the best way to empower pet owners is through education. September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, so now is the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the issue of pet pain.

Signs of Pet Pain

Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they’re hurting. Combine this with the fact that dogs and cats are hardwired to hide signs of illness or injury, it can sometimes be extremely difficult to tell when a pet is in pain. Your pet’s regular wellness exams are a good opportunity for us to assess your pet for signs of trouble, but your observations at home are just as important. Continue…

Unleashing Outdoor Pet Fun (and Safety) This Summer

!utdoor pet fun and safety makes summer fun with petsCharlotte is known as an exceptionally dog-friendly city, which means there are loads of opportunities to have fun with your pet this season. From splashing around to lounging on a patio, the team at Animal Medical Hospital wants to share some of our suggestions for outdoor pet fun and safety.

Keeping Outdoor Pet Fun and Safety in Mind

As with all new endeavors, consider your pet’s safety from the beginning. Heading outdoors with your dog is usually about exercise, so the first step is to make sure they’re in good health. The best way to achieve this is by scheduling a preventive care exam. We can also discuss the best way to ease them into a new sport or activity.

Remember that hot weather can put your pet at risk of heatstroke. To avoid an emergency, it’s best to restrict exercise to early morning or dusk. Make sure to always provide access to plenty of fresh, cool water. If your dog sits down, seeks shade, or generally doesn’t display any interest in an activity, don’t push them to do anything. Most importantly, if your dog exhibits any signs of heatstroke, contact us immediately.   Continue…

Pet Exercise Trends That (Might) Stand the Test of Time

Pet exercise is a fun way to promote pet health

Pet Zumba or Cross Fit might sound outlandish, but exercise trends that meaningfully impact people also have the potential to affect pets. Sure, it might be awhile before we see a feline Fitbit, but with gadgets like Trakz, it’s only a matter of time. Pet exercise trends are definitely a thing, and we’re happy they play a role in helping the animals we know and love achieve optimal weight, wellness, and happiness.

Try It, Don’t Fight It

Yoga is already a huge industry, so it’s hard to imagine that it could benefit from a revamp. However, yoga with animals, such as cats, dogs, birds, goats, horses, and more, has exploded around the country. Animals bring a new sense of exploration, playfulness, and lightness to any class. In turn, pets are rewarded with a deeper connection to people. Continue…

Lifetime Health With Routine Pet Wellness Exams

pet wellness examsThe needs of a bouncy, playful, young animal are very different from an aging one, right? That’s why there are age-appropriate food options and developmentally-appropriate activities. Similarly, pet wellness exams are designed to follow – and support – an animal’s path throughout life. Their aim is to cover all relevant topics at hand, prevent disease, and nurture lifelong health and wellbeing.

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How to Celebrate the Holidays with your Pets

Dr. Schoenig

With the holiday season coming up, we all look forward to spending time with our loved ones- including our furry ones!  The holidays can be a stressful time for your pets, with travel, out-of-town guests, and their normal routine being changed, so be sure to take some time to show your fur kids some holiday love! Need ideas of how to include your pet in your holiday celebrations?  Read below!

Thanksgiving

  • Before the food marathon that is the Thanksgiving holiday, get out on the streets or the trail with your family for some exercise to make some room for that extra slice of pie! While the official Charlotte South Park race does not allow pets due to the crowds, don’t let that stop your pup from getting his or her extra energy out.  Whether you do a long run or even just a short walk in the neighborhood (don’t push your pup to do more exercise than he or she is used to; we don’t want to cause injuries and necessitate a trip to the emergency vet on Thanksgiving!), the exercise and fresh air is a great way to start the day and your dogs will love the opportunity to spend some extra time with you!
  • For our feline friends who tend to be a little less leash-friendly, providing them with a new toy to run around with may be more up their alley. The laser pointer is a great way to get them to run around too, and can provide family entertainment while you and your family rest and digest after the big meal!

Christmas

Who doesn’t love Christmas baked goodies?  Christmas cookies aren’t just for the mailman.  Take some time to bake some extra treats for your furry kids.  Bonus points for using a dog bone or fish shaped cookie cutter to make them even more enticing!

Dog Christmas Cookies

  • Ingredients
    • 5 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 tbsp peanut butter
    • 2 eggs
    • ¾ cup pumpkin puree
    • 1 tbsp water
  • Directions
    • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until dough can be formed. Add more water in small increments if needed
    • Roll out dough on a well-floured surface until about ½” thick. Cut out shapes and place on a cookie sheet
    • Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly browned

Cat Christmas Treats

  • Ingredients
    • 1 can of tuna
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 tbsp catnip
  • Directions
    • Mix ingredients until a thick mixture forms
    • Form 1/4” size balls and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
    • Bake 9-12 minutes at 350. Let cool before snack time

New Years’

When getting together your resolutions for the new year, consider making a resolution for your pet as well to keep them happy and healthy.  Some considerations…

  • Daily dental care – brushing, chews, treats. Oral health can have effects on your pet’s systemic health, as well, especially their heart!
  • Regular exercise – a 10 minute walk a day can give your personal “get healthy” resolution a boost, and that time the two of you spend together can help make your bond even stronger
  • Regular checkups with your veterinarian – just like we need to check in with our doctors every year, your fluffy child should be seen at least once (twice for our seniors) a year for a full wellness checkup. Resolve to keep up with their regular wellness visits, which may include routine bloodwork to be proactive about catching diseases early!
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What Should I Feed My Pet?

Dr. Amanda Slusky

The decision of which pet food to buy is a complex one, but remember, your veterinarian is always there to answer questions about what diet, and how much, is best for your pet. There are many factors that goes into their recommendation:

  1. Age: Age plays a huge role in determining what is the best food for your pet.
  • All puppies and kittens should be fed diets specifically developed for “growth”. Why? These little guys have greater nutrient requirements since they have so much growing to do!
  • Similarly, any dogs that are breeding, pregnant, or nursing, also have greater energy and nutrient requirements than an adult dog not used for reproduction.
  • How can you tell what life stage a food is labeled for? By law, every bag of food sold within the United States has something called an AAFCO statement. AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials, and they determine the nutritional requirements of animals. The AAFCO statement will say if the food meets nutritional levels for growth (puppies and kittens), maintenance (adult dogs), or all life stages (growth, reproduction, and maintenance).AAFCO Pet Food
  • It is also important to differentiate between foods that are “complete and balanced” from foods that are for “intermittent” or “supplemental feeding”. Pet foods that are complete and balanced have labels similar to those above and contain all your pets nutritional needs. Foods that are designed to be fed intermittently do not meet your pets nutritional needs and are meant to compliment a more balanced food. A complete and balanced diet should make up 90% of what your pet eats, with the remaining 10% coming from treats, or snacks for intermittent feeding.
  1. Species/Breed: All species have different nutrient requirements.
  • For example, did you know that cat foods are fortified with a nutrient called Taurine, because deficiencies of this nutrient can cause heart disease in cats? That is just one reason why it is so important to feed a food specifically designed for your pet’s species.
  • Even within species, different breeds of dogs have different requirements. For example, large breed puppies need lower amounts of phosphorus and calcium in their diet, otherwise they can grow too quickly and have orthopedic problems.
  • There are certain companies that make diets specifically formulated for different dog breeds. While not all breeds are represented, this is certainly a choice you can make for your pet.

 

  1. Lifestyle: The amount of food to feed varies based on the lifestyle of your individual pet.
  • Does your dog lay on the couch all day while you are at work? Does your cat keep you up all night, racing up and down the hallway? The level of activity of your pet may mean printed feeding recommendations on the side of the bag do not apply. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s body weight to make sure the amount you are feeding is correct for your pet.
  • It is recommended to measure how much you feed your pet with either an 8-ounce measuring cup, or a gram scale, to make sure you are not over-feeding or under-feeding your pet.
  1. Home Environment: Are there children, or immune-compromised family-members in your home?
  • Feeding pets a raw diet has the same inherent risk for food-borne illness that it does in people. Dogs and cats are susceptible to food poisoning from Salmonella, Campylobacter, and other pathogens just like people are.
  •  If there are children who may play in/near your pet’s food bowl, or if there are immune-suppressed people in the home who interact with a pet fed a raw diet, they are more at risk for these type of infections as well.
  1. Your Preferences: Are you someone who enjoys cooking for your pet?

In this case, maybe a commercial diet is not for you. A board-certified veterinary nutritionist can prepare a complete and balanced home-made diet, made specifically for you. See your veterinarian for recommendations if this is something you are interested in.

  1. Illness: The above pet food recommendations hold true for healthy pets.

If your pet has any kind of illness, including suspected food allergies, your veterinarian may recommend a specific therapeutic diet, meaning it requires a prescription. These diets are specially formulated to best promote the health of pets whose nutritional requirements may differ.

Keep these factors in mind, and don’t be shy about bringing up your nutrition questions at your pet’s next wellness appointment! We would love to help answer your questions!

 

For additional information, check out the AAFCO website: http://talkspetfood.aafco.org/readinglabels#adequacy

           

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4 Things to Note When Picking Treats for Your Pet


Did you know?

Pet owners spend about 2 billion dollars on treats per year!! It is difficult to pick out the right treat these days with advancements in marketing and nutrition research in pets. We are here to help you pick a good healthy nutritious treat for your pet!

What to look for in the perfect treats:

1. Nutrition.Tartar Shield

A treat that is nutritious and offers a health benefit (joint or dental treats). Avoid junk food or other options that have no nutritional value such as table scrapes, rawhides, chewy chunks, pig ears.

2. Counting the calories.

Your veterinarian can determine your pets’ daily calorie intake need, by calculating your pets RER, or Resting Energy Requirement. In active or working pets, this number will be higher; in indoor, less active pets, this number will be lower. Treats calories should be included in your pets daily RER!

Hills Treats3. Number of Treats.

Keep an eye on how many treats per day you are giving. Your veterinarian can help you determine this number.
4. Low-Calorie Treats.

If you have already reach your pets caloric intake for the day, try offering low calorie snack like baby carrots, celery, green beans, ice cubes or broccoli.  This will still allow your pet to enjoy a treat, without all the additional calories!

Let us help you find the perfect treat for your pet!

-Dr. Griffin