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May 22, 2011 is a day that will forever be remembered by people from the Four State area. If there is one lesson we learned from the tornado that tore though Joplin that day, it was the importance of preparation. Severe weather can strike on short notice and when it does, being prepared makes all the difference. As the season for severe weather approaches here are some tips to make sure you are prepared to keep your pet safe.
Bring Your Pets Inside
If the weather outside isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pet. Make sure your pets are inside when severe weather threatens. It is also a good idea to crate your pet or place them in a carrier. In the event you have to quickly leave your home or seek shelter, it may be difficult to get your pet to cooperate with you. We heard many stories from pet owners after the 2011 tornado that they were unable to get their pet to safety because they were afraid and hid from the owner.
Prepare a Tornado Safe Area
If you will be seeking shelter in your home during a tornado, prepare a safe place for your pet in that area as well. Have a crate or carrier for your pet to stay in as loud noises can be scary which can cause your pet to behave unpredictably. Keep a supply of food, treats, water, and any medications you pet may need in the shelter area. Also have items such as a litter box with a supply of litter or puppy pads available.
Prepare an Emergency Travel Bag
If you will be seeking shelter somewhere other than your home, prepare an emergency travel bag for your pet that is easy to take with you. This will save precious time in the event you have to evacuate your home and help ensure you don’t forget anything. The emergency bag should include essentials like food, water, treats, and any medications your pet takes. Other items that may be useful include an extra collar/harness and leash, potty pads, cleaning supplies and toys.
Practice Getting to Your Safe Area
If you need to seek shelter or evacuate your home due to severe weather your pet may be nervous in the hustle of getting to safety. It is a good idea to practice your plan for seeking shelter so your pet is familiar with the process and is less likely to be frightened.
Make Sure Your Pet is Identifiable
Make sure your pet is at least wearing a collar with identifying tags on it. Collars don’t stay on all the time though. We highly recommend microchipping your pet and surveys have shown that if your pet is microchipped, they are much more likely to be reunited in the event you are separated from them. This was certainly true after the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin.
After a Tornado
The aftermath of a tornado can be a disorienting and distressing time for your pet. For their safety do not allow your pet to roam loose. Your pet can easily get lost in such conditions and should remain leashed or in a crate/carrier. Be patient with your pet after a disaster and try to get back to their normal routines as quickly as possible. Be watchful for any behavioral and/or medical problems that may arise during stressful situations and contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem.
When we talk with clients at the front desk, on the phone, or in an exam room one of the common things we hear is that pet owners are concerned that their pet is painful, but they aren’t sure. Often times they should trust their suspicious, because they are often correct. If you think your pet may be painful, but aren’t sure here are some things to consider.
This is a pretty obvious sign that your pet is painful. Any time they are limping or seem to be favoring a particular part of their anatomy, it generally means there is an issue and you should schedule an appointment with the vet. Sometimes owners hesitate to schedule their pet to be seen because the limping seems to come and go. Pets can be pretty good at hiding symptoms so if the limping goes away, but comes back then it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with the vet.
An increase or decrease in grooming behavior could indicate that your pet is painful. Dogs and cats will lick more at areas that are painful and sometimes this licking is so frequent or aggressive that it can lead to hair loss. A decrease in grooming behavior, especially in hard to reach places, can mean that your pet is having a hard time flexing to get to those places. We see quite a few older cats that have matting or an unkempt look to the back half of their body and this generally is due to arthritis in their owner back.
Decrease in Appetite
When your pet stops eating, or doesn’t eat as much it can be a signal that they don’t feel well and pain can certainly be one reason. Broken teeth or dental disease can make eating painful, but pain in other areas can also lead to loss of appetite. Pain isn’t the only cause though and an exam with the vet can help determine what’s going on.
General Behavior Changes
Some changes in behavior can be difficult to spot while others are more obvious. Slowness to get up and around, especially in the mornings, can indicate pain. Hiding, fidgeting, hesitation about going up/down stairs, lying around more or a decrease in playfulness can also be signals that your pet is painful.
Changes in Attitude
Changes in your pet’s attitude can indicate that they may be painful. If your usually happy go lucky dog suddenly starts being grumpy, that could mean they are painful. If your usually cuddly cat suddenly doesn’t want to be touched, that could mean they are painful. If you have multiple pets and they usually get along great, but there suddenly seems to be a shift in how they get along with one another…you guessed it, this may be a sign that something hurts.
Shallow, rapid breathing is an indication that your pet is painful. Likewise excessive panting could also indicate pain. Any time your pet is experiencing either of these symptoms, you should get them into the vet as soon as you can as they can also be symptoms of other serious health problems.
What To Do
If you see any of these symptoms or behaviors in your pet, the first thing to do is to contact the vet and schedule an appointment. A full physical exam and possibly some diagnostic testing to figure out the source of your pet’s pain are needed. You should never give your pet any over the counter medications intended for people. These medications aren’t safe for pets and can cause serious problems.
Pet owners often outlive their pets and knowing when it’s time to say good-bye is the most difficult decision a pet owner will face. Dr. Ben Leavens talks with Jessica from Living Well about a topic that is important for all pet owners — how to know when it’s time to let your pet go. Check out the video in the link below.
Source: Dr. Ben Leavens: When to let go
How many times a day do you brush your teeth? Once a month? Once a week? Once or more a day? We know that good oral hygiene is important to the health of our teeth and gums. The same is true for your pet. Statistically 8 out of 10 dogs suffer from dental disease by the time they are three years old and the statistics for cats aren’t any better. Dental disease is the most commonly diagnosed issue in adult pets and it’s completely preventable. Left untreated dental disease has been linked to other diseases such as kidney and heart failure. So what can you do to help your pet have a clean, healthy mouth?
Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is the gold standard for keeping your pet’s teeth healthy. Many pet owners think that brushing their pet’s teeth is difficult, but with a little training it can be a daily habit that your pet looks forward to. All you need is either a soft bristled toothbrush with a handle or one that slips over your finger and some toothpaste formulated for pets. Don’t use toothpaste formulated for people!
Start by introducing your pet to the toothpaste. You can do this by using it as a treat. Just put a little on your finger and give it to them. Then try putting a little on the toothbrush and letting them lick it off. Once they are used to the toothbrush and toothpaste you can begin lifting their gums and brushing their teeth. Just do a small area at first and work up to doing their whole mouth. Focus mainly on the outside of the teeth and next to the gum line. Some pets will take longer to get used to the process than others, but most pets will accept teeth brushing without fuss and many will look forward to it.
If brushing doesn’t fit into your pet care routine, then there are several diets that are formulated to clean your pet’s teeth as they eat. Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D and Royal Canin Dental diets are good examples. Dental diets have the benefit of essentially brushing your pet’s teeth every time you feed them without having to do anything other than putting food in the bowl. Dental diets work great, but have some downsides. They are quite a bit more expensive than a toothbrush and toothpaste. Also pets that require a specialized diet (such as for urinary issues) can’t eat them.
There are many products available that can help to keep your pet’s breath fresh and teeth clean. Just a few examples include Oravet Dental Hygiene Chews, CET Chews, and Hill’s Prescription Diet Dental Care Chews. While not as good as daily brushing or dental diets, they can help reduce the buildup of tartar. Some products do a better job than others. Keep in mind that if your pet is on a restricted diet (due perhaps to urinary issues, being overweight, or allergies) that oral chews could potentially interfere with those diets.
There are products available that you simply rub or squirt on your pet’s teeth and they can help prevent tarter buildup and keep their teeth and gums healthy. Most of the time if your pet will tolerate this then they will tolerate brushing and you’ll achieve better results with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Professional Dental Cleaning
All the brushing, dental chews, rinses, and specially designed food in the world will not remove tartar buildup that has already accumulated on your pet’s teeth. Also some animals are more prone to having bad dental health. If your pet has tartar buildup, bad breath, painful gums, or loose teeth, they need to be evaluated by a veterinarian for a professional dental cleaning. For this procedure your pet will be placed under anesthesia so that the veterinarian can safely and thoroughly evaluate your pet’s teeth and gums. This will include dental x-rays to see below the gum line. The doctor will extract any teeth that need to be removed due to damage or disease. Tartar buildup will be removed with and ultrasonic scaler and the teeth polished. Many clients mention to us how much better their pet feels after having a dental cleaning performed! Dental health really does have an impact on your pet’s overall health and happiness so be sure to follow up a dental cleaning with good preventative dental care.
Five Tips to Effective Flea Control
In the Four-States area if you have pets then you’re either dealing with or have dealt with flea problems. They’re resilient creatures. It seems like all it takes is to let down your guard for a short time and they’re out of control! It can be frustrating to you and annoying (or worse) to your pet. So how do you snuff out flea problems?
Use Veterinarian Approved Products
There have been some very safe and very effective products developed in the last several years, but they’re only available from your veterinarian. Generics and outdated technologies purchased from big box stores, feed stores, and online vendors may cost less, but do not provide the same level of effectiveness and safety as those purchased from your veterinarian. Veterinary staff members can also provide you with information and assistance if you have questions about the products you’re using while the same may not be true from online vendors or big box stores. Many manufacturers guarantee their products’ safety and effectiveness, but these guarantees may only available if purchased through your veterinarian.
Consistency is important to getting flea infestations under control and keeping them that way. Most products are designed to be given every 30 days. If you are skipping doses or not administering a product on schedule, you are giving fleas an opportunity to continue their life cycle which guarantees you will continue to have problems.
Use It Year Round
In the Four-States area fleas don’t take a break during the winter. While it may be cold outside, inside the conditions are well suited to continue a flea’s life cycle. If you stop giving flea control in the winter, you risk developing a problem without noticing it. By the time you start giving prevention again you’ll already be behind.
Treat Every Pet
Any untreated pet is a potential source for fleas. If you have two pets, but you are only treating one, you will never get the problem under control. This can certainly make things difficult in cases where your dog “shares” the yard with stray cats or some species of wildlife. In these situations you may need to implement extra treatment options to keep the fleas in check.
Be In It For The Long Haul
There is no quick fix or magic medication for getting a flea infestation under control. It will not happen overnight. It will not even happen the first month you use flea control. Studies have shown it takes a minimum of 3 months of consistently administering a flea control product before you will have the problem under control. It will take even longer if you are not being consistent and not treating every pet in your household.