Gear Up For Fun With Our Pet Travel Tips

A man drives with his dog in a convertible

Summer is almost over, but have you taken a vacation yet? Whether you’re planning a long road trip or a quick weekend getaway, leaving your pet at home simply isn’t an option for many pet owners. But is your furry pal up for the challenges of travel?

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The Ins and Outs of Kennel Cough: Protecting Your Pet

Kennel cough is contagious and a threat to pet health

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… eight dogs a- coughing? If you board your pet with any frequency you probably are aware of kennel cough, a highly contagious disease that can spread rapidly in a kennel environment. If you are planning to board your pet over the holidays, or any time of year, this potentially serious illness should be on your radar.

In this modern era of vaccines and cleanliness, you might wonder why kennel cough is still so prevalent. As always, your team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care will do our best to answer your questions, and to reassure you that you the power to keep your pet well lies with you!

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Fun for All: Doggy Day Camp at Camp AMH

As you’re heading out the door to work, do you ever look back and see your dog’s face as you’re leaving? Ever have a twinge of guilt? Most of us have experienced this feeling and we know how hard it is to think about your pet at home all day without you.

Even though we all try and make sure we have plenty of entertainment for our dogs at home, boredom can bring out some undesirable behaviors in our pets, such as barking, chewing, and general destructive behavior. If this is a concern for you, it might be time to consider Doggy Day Camp.

At Animal Medical Hospital, we’re thrilled to provide Camp AMH – a day care for your dog that’s open 7 days a week. Want to learn more? We thought so! Continue…

Too Good to be True? Swoon-Worthy Pet Boarding, Camps, and Grooming Services

pet boardingYou know that unshakable feeling that you’ve forgotten something, like turning off the oven or, like the movie Home Alone, conducting a proper head count? Equally disquieting is the sense that your pet is getting into trouble in your absence or isn’t being cared for in the way they’re accustomed to at home.

Pet boarding is a necessity for owners who need to leave town, but it can be so much more than just a simple place to stay. We’re thrilled to offer a comfortable, safe environment for boarders to call home temporarily. With our add-on services and dedicated staff members, your pet’s every need is met so you can relax!

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How to Best Transport your Cat to the Vet

Dr. Bridget Andersen

How you transport your cat to the vet matters. We at Animal Medical Hospital are working to become a certified “Fear Free” hospital.   The term “Fear Free” refers to a movement within veterinary medicine that addresses the emotional welfare of our patients, and the people that love them.  This means that we are making adjustments to our lobby, exam room visits, and hospitalized stays in order to decrease fear, anxiety, and stress.  The first step to a less stressful visit to the veterinarian starts with a positive traveling experience.

  1. Purchase a carrier

    1. Select a hard sided carrier that has a top opening and a front opening.
    2. Make sure that the entire top portion of the carrier can be easily removed so that your cat can remain in the bottom portion of the carrier during the exam for security.  Clasps are preferred over screws because they take less time.
    3. The carrier should be big enough for your cat to stand and turn around but small enough to make your cat feel secure.
  2. Acclimating your cat to the carrier

    1. Keep the carrier in your cat’s environment lifelong so that it is familiar and comforting rather than an evil contraption that only comes out of hiding once a year.  If your cat already has a negative association with the carrier, try taking the top off of the carrier to allow the cat to sleep in the bottom portion.  Choose a location that your cat already prefers- elevated positions are typically most desired.
    2. Feed your cat treats in the carrier or place their food dish near the carrier to help encourage a positive association.
    3. Keep a clean towel or blanket with familiar scents (such as your own clothing) in the carrier.
    4. Consider spraying a cat appeasing pheromone such as Feliway in your cat’s carrier 15-20 minutes prior to placing your cat in the carrier.
    5. Ensure that the cat carrier is properly secured once your cat is insides (top and bottom are attached and the door is properly closed)!
  3. Prepare your vehicle

    1. Play calming music or make the car as quiet as possible.
    2. Place your cat in a carrier on the floor behind the passenger seat.
      1. Unrestrained pets can get become stressed from slipping on the seats, injured if thrown around the car, and lost in the event of an automobile accident.
  4. Carrying your cat’s carrier

    1. Carry the carrier from the bottom rather from the handle.  This will reduce swinging and allow your cat to feel more secure.
    2. Cover the carrier with a towel or blanket when in the lobby – AMH will provide a pheromone scented towel to use in the lobby if needed
    3. Do not place the carrier on the floor of the lobby.  Cats feel more secure when up high, so place the carrier on your lap or on a table.
  5. When returning home

    1. If you are returning your cat to a multi-cat household, be mindful that your cat will smell like the hospital and may not be well accepted by his or her housemates at home.  Give your cat some time alone upon returning and monitor the initial interactions for signs of stress or aggression.
  6. Call for advice!

    1. If your cat is hissing, swatting, or biting you when you attempt to put him or her in the carrier, stop and call for advice.  Your cat’s stress levels are likely too high to result in a positive exam room visit and it is often best to discuss the issue with a veterinary assistant and reschedule the appointment after making a better plan.
    2. In addition, if your cat displays signs of stress such as vocalizing, drooling, panting, or hissing during the car ride, let us know as soon as you arrive so that we can work on de-escalating the situation.

Your cat’s emotional welfare is important to us.  If you are struggling with any aspect with getting your cat to the vet, please call.  Your cat is unique, but anxiety about traveling is not.   Please do not hesitate to call and discuss your cats needs with us and we will come up with the most suitable plan for your cat.

Day Camp and Your Dog

Do you have a high-energy dog?

Does your dog get bored or lonely during the day?

Are you away from home and your dog all day?
Chester, Rastus, Oliver, Wiley

Day Camp may be just the antidote for your dog and you!

Most breeds have been bred to have a job or task, but our busy lives often mean that they are home for extended periods of time with little stimulation. For many dogs, this means a lot of time alone. This can lead to boredom or  destructive behaviors in their search for a task. Physical activity helps to use their extra energy and the social stimulation keeps your dog mentally invigorated.

Day Camp at AMH offers a positive outlet for high-energy dogs that would otherwise be bored, lonely, or even destructive at home during the day. Our Day Camp program also provides support for our older and younger companions by matching pets of similar age and play styles together for play groups.

Some of the benefits of Day Camp include:

  • Physical exertion to help manage extra energy
  • Relief from boredom or loneliness (including separation anxiety)
  • Socialization with other people and dogs
  • Prevention of household destruction when alone

These benefits can shine through, even with just one or two visits per week!

Day Camp

 

There are also special times when Day Camp can be particularly helpful:

  • Constructionor renovation on your home
  • Busy times at work or particularly strenuous days that leave you exhausted
  • Visiting friends or relatives with severe allergies
  • Parties that would force your dog to be shut away (then they can have fun too!)
  • Open house showings and preparation for moving
  • Repairs or installations at your home, especially if you are not sure how your pup and the workers will interact

 

Day Camp is a great opportunity for busy families and busy pets, but it is not right for all dogs. Dogs that do well at dog parks, that play a lot, and that enjoy the company of other dogs generally do well. Healthy and well-socialized dogs are the best candidates. Dogs are required to be spayed or neutered and up to date on their vaccinations and preventatives to attend.

All Day Camp candidates are evaluated prior to being accepted to our program to make sure that they will play well with others in our facility. Click here to find out more about Day Camp at Animal Medical Hospital!Day Camp Beagles

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Hiking and Camping with your Dog

Hiking and Camping with your Dog

by Dr. Sandy Tisdelle

One of the best things about having a dog, for me, is the opportunity to get outdoors with my pet.  North Carolina offers so many trails and mountains and beautiful places to take a short hike or overnight camping trip.  I love bringing my dog so she gets some fresh air and a chance to take in all the smells.  Before I set out, I always make sure I have a few things not only in case of an emergency but also just to help keep my pet comfortable.

  • Vaccines: While all the vaccines we give your pet are important, be sure that your pet is up to date on both rabies and Leptospirosis if you are going to be in the woods. The rabies vaccine is the law but it is also a very dangerous and deadly disease.  If your dog gets into a scuffle with a wild animal while hiking or camping and he/she is not up to date on a rabies vaccination, he will have to be quarantined for up to 6 months!!  Not to mention the danger of him actually getting rabies.  If your pet is up to date, most likely he or she will just need a rabies booster.  Leptospirosis is a dangerous bacteria that lives in standing water and is shed in the urine of some wild animals.  While it is not the law for you to vaccinate your dog against this, the disease is often fatal and is contagious to people.
  • Water: I cannot stress this one enough.  Water, water, water.  If you plan on hiking even a few miles with your dog, especially during the summer, you MUST bring water for her.  Dogs do not dissipate heat very well because they do not sweat.  Therefore it is very important that they do not overheat and that they stay hydrated.  I take a backpack and put a few extra water bottles in it with a bowl for my dog.  In the summer, I use one of the water bottles just to soak her down in the middle of the walk.  Keep in mind that before dogs are really full grown (8 months to a year for most breeds), excessively long walks or strenuous exercise is hard on their joints.  It is best to wait until your dog’s skeleton is mature to go on long hikes.
  • Preventatives: As a veterinarian, I feel like I cannot remind my clients enough…heartworms come from mosquitoes!!!! All dogs need to be on heartworm prevention but if you are out in the woods with your dog, he is at greater risk of exposure to mosquitoes.  Make sure your dog is getting his monthly heartworm prevention.  Flea and tick prevention is also extremely important.  Dogs have a lot of fur and if they get ticks, you may not realize right away.  Most tick diseases are not transmitted immediately and transmission depends on how long the tick is attached.   Ticks transmit a wide variety of silent and difficult to diagnose diseases to dogs that can make your dog very sick for a long time.  Ask your veterinarian about proper preventatives and which are right for you pet before embarking on outdoor adventures.  HA, em”bark”, get it?!
  • First Aid: On long trips, some of the following items might be useful as a doggie first aid kit.   Benadryl tablets can help with allergic reactions from bites and stings.  Ask your vet about a proper dose.  Water can and should be used to flush cuts and scrapes or bring peroxide if you are camping.  Bandage material consisting of gauze underneath a self-adherent wrap (can be purchased at drug stores) is a convenient way to cover lacerations in dogs since band aids generally do not stick.  If you are really going on a long trip, doggie hiking booties (which can be found at most large pet stores, online, and even some outdoor recreational stores) will help protect your dog’s paw pads from getting worn off and raw.  Dog sunscreen (zinc oxide) is important for many light colored breeds with pink skin on the ear tips a and bridge of the nose.  These also can be purchased at most pet stores.  Even dogs can get sun induced cancers.  On the opposite spectrum, small breeds and thin coated breeds will benefit from clothing (yay, a legitimate excuse to dress our pets!) in the cold and snow.
  • Leashes: One of the fun things about taking your dog out to run on the trails is letting them off leash. However, no matter how well trained your dog is, they can still get spooked and they still have instinct.  Unless you are certain about your surroundings, leashes are advised while on trails.  This helps deter your dog from running after a scent, getting lost, being spooked by another dog or hiker on the trail, and pulling them out of the way for bikes and other hazards which may be sharing the same path.  It is one of the best ways to keep your dog safe when hiking.

The moral of the story is that these journeys will be more fun if everyone stays safe!!!  That being said, enjoy the adventures.

Canine Influenza in the US

Bridget Andersen, DVM

Approximately 4 months ago there was an outbreak of a strain of the Canine Influenza virus in the Chicago area.  While it was first believed that the virus was the same Influenza strain (H3N8) first isolated in Florida in 2004, subsequent studies have shown that this outbreak is more closely related to the Asian strains of Influenza A H3N2.  These viral strains have been affecting dogs in China and South Korea since 2006 and this virus outbreak likely came from that region.

Since the outbreak in Chicago was confirmed with a broadly targeted Influenza-A matrix PCR test, cases have also been confirmed in other parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, California, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa, Georgia, and Alabama.  Both strains of  Influenza virus (H3N8 and H3N2) cause coughing, nasal discharge, high fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy.  The clinical signs of H3N2 may be more severe as this may be a more virulent strain based on the widespread nature and short time frame in which the virus spread.   While thousands of cases have been confirmed, only 6 dogs have died from the virus.

There is a vaccine developed to protect dogs from the H3N8 strain of the virus.  It is unknown whether the currently available canine H3N8 flu vaccines will protect dogs against the H3N2 strain.   However, at this time it is recommended to vaccinate high risk dogs against the H3N8 strain with the currently available strain because the H3N8 strain is still a risk, and because there might be some cross protection against the H3N2 strains of the virus.   High risk dogs include dogs with high exposure to other dogs such as doggy day care, dog parks, boarding facilities, dog shows, sporting events, and dogs living in inner cities.

Currently at Animal Medical Hospital, we are only recommending the vaccine for dogs or their owners who are traveling to endemic areas and are coming into contact with dogs in those areas.   If an outbreak of the virus is reported in North Carolina, we will likely change our protocol and we will notify our dog owners immediately.

To learn more please visit this link:   doginfuelza.com

 

 

 

Car Travel Safety for Pets

Dr. Scott Busby

Many people love to take their furry companions for a ride in the car, and I’m sure the majority of dogs out there would agree that car travel is exciting, but lets take a look at how we can make these enjoyable events safer for both owners and their furry companions with 5 simple tips:

1. Keep your pet in the back seat: Driving with your pet in the car can be a treat for both you and your dog but it can also be dangerous. Dogs can be a distraction if allowed to ride in the front seat, and even worse if allowed to ride in your lap, creating a very unsafe driving environment. Given the event of an accident, airbags can be very dangerous for your pet, especially smaller breed dogs. Keeping your pet in the backseat decreases distraction and increases pet safety.

2. Use of cargo spaces and kennels: If you drive an SUV, turn the cargo space in the back into a dog designated area. Use of a dog bed and a dog specific cargo partition will help keep your pet safely confined in their own special section of the car.  Also, placing your pet’s kennel in the cargo area may help protect them (and you) in the event of an accident, as well as provide some security for your pet, especially if your pet feels safe in their kennel at home.

3. Safety belts: If a secure cargo hold is not an option, use of a pet safety belt is the next best thing. Pet safety belts are very affordable, and will keep your dog from becoming a projectile if involved in an accident. Safety belts will also prevent your dog from jumping out the window while moving or while stopped. This will not only help ensure the safety of your dog, but it will also help ensure the safety of you or anyone else riding in the car.

4. Be cautious when riding with the windows down. Dogs love to hang their heads out the window and in many instances this can be done safely, but as a responsible pet owner, you must know your pet’s limitations. Do not allow your pet to place their paws on the door, or hang them out the window. If your pet has a tendency to do this, try keeping the windows halfway up to prevent this behavior but still allow the pet to smell and feel the breeze. Also, please do not allow your pet to hang their head out the window while traveling at high speeds, as insects, sand, rocks or debris from other cars can cause injury if they come into contact with your pet’s eyes. AGAIN, safety belts are advised, especially when riding with the windows down!

5. Lastly, if you choose to place your pet in the bed of a pick up truck, please make sure that they are in a kennel that is securely tied down and will not move in the event of an accident. Do not allow your pet to walk around freely in the bed of a pickup truck while it is moving. Many dogs will jump out of the bed, or be thrown out in the event of an accident. Please use a kennel and your dog will greatly appreciate it.

If you follow these tips, you and your pet will be able to safely experience the joys of the open road!

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Keep Your Pet Safe and FOUND with a Microchip

Microchipping pets is an extremely useful tool that has become available to the  public at a microchipvery affordable price. A chip can be implanted by a veterinarian or at a shelter in the matter of a minute. After confirming that the animal does not already have a chip, the vet or technician injects the chip (approximately the size of a grain of rice) with a syringe and records the chip’s unique ID. No anesthetic is required, and once implanted they will test the microchip by scanning the animal again.

Can you imagine what you would do if your beloved pet escaped because your gate flew open during a windy day? Or they bolted out the door unnoticed while you were chatting with a neighbor? It is truly disconcerting and a heartbreaking feeling for families who have experienced the emotion of their pet being lost. So many times we have animals brought in off the streets because they are stray or lost and the first thing we do, as an animal hospital, is scan them for a microchip in hopes of finding the owner. If a microchip is not detected and the pet remains unclaimed, the animal is then typically sent to a shelter or rescue group.

Microchips are used by kennels, breeders, trainers, rescue groups, humane societies, clinics, farms, animal clubs and associations, and pet stores. Whenever an animal is found and taken to one of these groups, they will scan the animal for a chip as well. The chances of recovering a lost pet without a microchip is very slim, but when a pet is chipped, the process can be very quick, relatively painless, and your pet returned home safe and sound.

Every chip belongs to a company and the microchip registry (that can help connect us with the correct manufacturer) typically provides 24-hour, toll-free telephone service for the life of the pet. Some veterinarians leave registration to the owner, usually done online, but a chip without current contact information is essentially useless. Please don’t forget to register your pet and keep the information (address and phone numbers) current!