Pet Advice & Ideas

5 Pet Safety Tips For 4th of July

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July 5th is one of the busiest days in both veterinary hospitals and animal shelters for many reasons — panicked pups bolt over fences leading to injuries and lost pets, unattended food gets scarfed down causing gastric problems, overheated canines experience heat exhaustion, and the list goes on.

The good news is that we know what to anticipate, which means we have the opportunity now to plan ahead and help keep the Fourth fun and safe for everyone. Here are five tips to make sure you and your pet have a great Independence Day.

  1.  Keep the barbecue food away.

    Summer barbecues are delicious for us but full of hazards for pets. High-fat foods like burgers and hot dogs can cause pancreatitis, kebab skewers can wreak havoc in the stomach, corn cobs are a leading cause of GI surgery, and ribs have bones that can splinter and pierce the intestines. Make sure all your grilled goods  are securely out of the way of nosy pets, and keep an eye out for party guests (especially kids) who accidentally leave plates in precarious locations.

  2. Avoid putting glow-sticks on your pet.

    Although they may look cute, please resist the urge to put a glow stick around your pet’s neck. They really aren’t designed for pet use, chiefly because the liquid they contain can be quite irritating if ingested. Fortunately, there is another option! If you want your pup to look bright and patriotic, LED-lighted collars are designed to be both adorable and perfectly pet-safe.

    “Woman

  3. Update your pet’s ID info.

    Is your pet’s tag and microchip up-to-date? If you’ve recently moved or your phone number has changed, getting a new tag and calling your vet to update a microchip are inexpensive forms of insurance for a potentially scary problem. When fireworks go off, even well-behaved, mild-mannered pets can panic and bolt. One of the main reasons pets languish in shelters after the 4th is due to incorrect or missing identification.

  4. Provide a happy distraction at home.

    If you must leave your companion animal home alone when fireworks are likely, take some precautions to help minimize anxiety. Some may even surprise you! For example, some pets find classical music soothing, while others enjoy TV. There are non-drug calming options such as the Thundershirt or a pheromone collar. And, last but not least, try the tasty distraction offered by a treat-dispensing toy filled with healthy dog treats or cat treats!

  5. Consult your vet before the 4th.

    If your dog or cat are prone to levels of anxiety that over-the-counter remedies can’t address, your veterinarian might prescribe medications to help him or her through the night. We can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead for this holiday! Vet’s offices are often slammed on July 3rd with pet parents in a panic asking for a new prescription, and it may not be available on short notice.

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While the Fourth of July can be a source of stress for many canines and felines, it doesn’t have to be! As you can see, just a little bit of planning can make a world of difference.  We wish you a safe and happy Independence Day!

 

5 Ways To Optimize Your Cat's Health

“Woman

I don’t know about you, but one of the unexpected benefits I’ve gotten from working from home so much lately is the abundance of cats I’ve seen on various Zoom calls. Dogs can be put on the other side of the door, silenced with a snap of the fingers or at least a distracting treat, but cats - no one puts kitty in the corner. This is their space, we’re just borrowing it for a while, and don’t you forget it.

In honor of World Cat Domination Day this June 24th, let’s celebrate our feline friends who hold such dominion over our homes and our hearts. It’s summer- yikes! Where did the time go? - and with all the extra time you’ve spent together, why not spend some of it making sure your cat is set up for optimum health! Here are five ways you can optimize your cat’s health and honor the fantastic feline in your life:

  1. Schedule that overdue vet visit.

    Even before the COVID-19 lockdowns, people were a little reticent to bring their cat to the vet unless they really had to. I understand this. It’s hard to get them into the carrier, they freak out, and it can be an overall super stressful experience for your pet.

    With businesses easing back into the swing of things, most veterinarians are open for business as usual in terms of providing wellness services and yearly exams for pets. Even if curbside drop off is still being implemented, think of it as a silver lining- with you waiting in the parking lot, staff members are doing their absolute best to work efficiently and minimize the time you and your cat spend away from home! And if that is still too stressful, calling in a home visit vet is a perfect solution.

  2. Teach your cat a new trick. 

    No, I don’t mean the one where they walk on your keyboard and stick their rear end straight into the webcam every single time you’re trying to start a video call (or is that just my cat?)

    Start with a simple sit command, as you would a puppy. Incentivize your cat with a delicious treat or whatever they find motivating. And if it’s not their thing, it’s not their thing- but for the right prize, you can almost always make it their thing.

    “Woman

  3. Get in that deep-cleaning.

    OK, this one isn’t nearly as fun as crocheting a cat bed but it’s really important. Most people are good about cleaning out the cat’s food and water dishes, but when’s the last time you cleaned out the litter box?

    I’m not talking about scooping it, which should be done daily regardless, but a full top-to-bottom clean where all the litter gets dumped and the box cleaned thoroughly and left to air dry before filling with all new litter. Ideally you can use eco-friendly cleaners once-a-month part of your routine, but if you’ve fallen behind, you’re not the only one. If your human commode needs regular cleaning, don’t forget the cat’s does too.

  4. Become a cat chef.

    Like most of you, I have to say cooking for my cat is a bit of a stretch, especially when I have an entire pantry full of Life’s Abundance food and treats at my disposal. It’s not something I would do all the time, but if you’re cleaning out the freezer and have some chicken breast or fish that’s probably a little freezer burned, you can make it into treats for your kitty with a dehydrator.

    Cats don’t need much, so I usually slice the meat into thin, 1-inch squares before putting them in my dehydrator for 6-7 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use the oven on its lowest setting. These treats are best kept in the fridge where they’ll stay good for about three weeks, and voila! New best friend. 

  5. Take on some cat-friendly home improvements. 

    Time to toss that old, scratched up cat tree where the carpeting is all unraveled? Why not build your own!

    OK, maybe that particular project doesn’t appeal to you and, like me, you shy away from anything that involves wood cutting. Fair enough. Maybe you prefer cloth-based projects, and in that case I direct you to the arm-crocheted cat bed I tried a few weeks ago. I mean, it’s a cat bed, and it’s yarn- two of their favorite things combined! No sewing required. Watch here:

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As we speak, my cat is dominating my dog by sleeping in his massive bed while her little cat bed sits unoccupied five feet away. Is there any better analogy for life with a cat? And we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V 

Why Taurine In Dog Food Is So Important

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At Life’s Abundance, we believe that every ingredient should provide a benefit. We also believe  in a whole-health, or holistic, approach to product formulation.  Our dog foods include all the nutrients that we know their bodies need — including some cutting edge ingredient choices we’ve made over the years that can pay big dividends to your dog’s health, taurine among them.

As the canine heart disease, dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), started making headlines in 2018, taurine publicly emerged as an important nutrient for dogs. For many, many years, our dry dog foods have included taurine at guaranteed minimum levels.  That’s because we don’t believe that formulating to just be “good” is good enough. 

What is taurine?

Taurine is an amino acid that dogs need in order to maintain proper body function, including keeping your dog’s heart pumping strong.  Because dogs can naturally make it themselves and it doesn't build protein, taurine is not considered to be an essential amino acid. However, there are other health benefits of adding guaranteed taurine to their diet. 

Here are some of the benefits of taurine for dogs:

  • Strengthens heart muscles and vascular function

  • Promotes reproductive health 

  • Supports healthy vision and retina health

  • Promotes healthy liver function

“Corgi

What is taurine deficiency in dogs?

Just like people, dogs can have nutritional deficiencies.  Sometimes they are harder to diagnose because many times there are no obvious symptoms of taurine deficiency in dogs. 

When taurine levels in your dog’s blood are low, the heart will become weaker and will not be able to circulate blood through the body properly. Taurine deficiency is one of the causes of a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) — this is when the heart muscle thins and the chambers become enlarged. Research to uncover more about DCM and its possible causes is ongoing by the FDA. 

Although DCM can be genetic, it can also be caused by, you guessed it, taurine deficiency. Some breeds that are predisposed to taurine deficiency include:

  • Golden Retrievers

  • Cocker Spaniels

  • Doberman Pinschers

  • Great Danes

  • Dalmations

  • Newfoundlands

How do I support my dog’s heart health with taurine?

Keeping an open dialogue with your veterinarian about your dog’s health is an important first step. Next, choosing a food with guaranteed amounts of taurine for your dog’s daily diet will add nutritional support for your dog, and peace of mind for you. Check out our line of dry dog food at Life’s Abundance, which includes taurine in every kibble.   

Here’s an insider tip when it comes to dog food formulas: Taurine isn’t considered an essential or traditional amino acid because its primary function is not to build proteins, like other amino acids do. This is why finding taurine in dog food brands other than Life’s Abundance has been practically unheard of. At Life’s Abundance, your search for dry dog food with taurine is at an end.

You only want what’s best for your dog.  We know because we’re pet parents too.  Armed with a bit of useful information, we hope you can feel confident in making the right, informed choices for your furry friend. 

 

Tips For Grooming Your Dog At Home

“Happy

Let’s admit it — professional groomers are miracle workers! Washing your dog at home can prove to be quite the challenging task if you aren’t prepared.  If you’re missing your groomer, here are some DIY tips for grooming your dog while at home.

Make sure you have your grooming checklist ready:

BEFORE THE GROOMING 

Pro Tip: If your furry friend gets stressed during grooming, give them a cup of room-temperature chamomile tea with honey about 30 min before bath time, followed by a carb-rich treat like our Antioxidant Health Bars. The glucose in the treat will deliver the calming tea straight to your dog’s brain. (Make some extra tea for yourself if you're nervous too!)

  • If you don’t have a waterproof apron to protect your clothes, be sure to change into something that can get wet. Preferably it will have pockets to stow savory-smelling dog treats, while keeping your hands free.

  • Using a high-quality cleanser, like our Revitalizing Shampoo, makes a difference. The luxurious lather will not strip your dog’s protective oils or leave soapy residue on their coat.  The natural fruit extracts have a soothing fragrance both you and your dog will appreciate.

  • Long-haired breeds should be brushed with a fine-toothed comb first. Otherwise you could end up making knots in their coat even worse.

  • If your dog especially seems to dislike outside baths, it might be a good idea to try the bathtub. Many dogs respond much better to lukewarm water.

DURING THE GROOMING 

  • Start by wetting your dog at their neck and move backwards. Then, apply shampoo and use a gentle massaging motion. Give them soothing words of encouragement — your voice can be therapeutic to your dog!

  • Make sure you don’t miss any commonly missed spots, such as the underarms. Scrub from top to bottom — first wash one side, then the other.  Don’t forget inbetween the toes and to wash their face last.

  • To rinse them off, start at your pup’s head (avoiding the eyes) and move backwards, as all the soap will run down the dog.  Rinse one side of the body first, then the other before rinsing her chest, underarms, belly and legs thoroughly. To rinse their head, soak a washcloth and wring it out just above their head. Use the washcloth to wipe their muzzle and around the eyes.

    • After rinsing, use your hands like squeegees to remove excess water.  This also allows you to feel if you have left any soap behind.  Rinsing all the soap off completely is important, as any soap left behind can make your dog itchy.  Let them shake that excess water off!

“Corgi

AFTER THE GROOMING

      • Now you’re ready to dry your dog using towels. If your dog has long or cottony fur, try to use more of a patting motion rather than rubbing to avoid matting the fur.

      • Once they are dry, follow up with a skin & coat conditioner, like our Bath Fresh Mist. This conditioner helps keep their exterior hydrated, healthy and smelling fresh!

      • Don’t forget about the ears! Many breeds of dogs need to have the hair in their ears cleaned regularly — this helps fight off bacteria, dirt and grime trapped inside the ear canal. Our Ear Care Formula gently and safely removes dirt and debris while nourishing the tender skin of the ears.

      • To finish the grooming session, remember to offer your dog their favorite treat. This helps seal the experience in your dog’s mind as a positive one. 

Remember, bathe your dog no more than every 2-3 weeks.  You can use our skin and coat spray, Bath Fresh Mist, in between baths to neutralize odors and condition the skin.  Just spray and brush it in.  You will love the smell and your dog will love the attention.

Are there any must-know tips you can share with others? Leave a comment below!

Your Dog Is Paying Attention To Your Emotions

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If you've ever wondered if dogs can sense emotions, they can! Dogs are social animals, and they want to understand us as best as possible. That’s why they read our emotions through subtle postures and facial cues.

Since humans have no tails to wag, our furry friends have to decipher other signals to uncover our emotional states. And they’re really good at it! For example, when dogs bare their teeth it’s often a sign of hostility. But when a dog sees a human smile at them, they are able to recognize a smiling face as non-aggressive. Over time, dogs have become so good at judging human behavior, they’re even more successful than chimpanzees at reading human social cues!

Researchers tested canine reactions against a variety of expressions by people and other dogs, according to a report from the Canine Science Forum. They were able to conclude that dogs were more sensitive to the facial expressions of other canines … not surprising, right? But they also found that dogs responded differently when exposed to positive and negative expressions in humans. One other interesting note, dogs viewed neutral human faces (neither smiling, nor frowning) as negative or threatening.

In another study, researchers trained nine dogs to touch their noses to the photos of their pet parent’s smiling faces. The dogs were then shown the smiling and neutral faces of strangers. When shown all of these photos together, the dogs selected the smiling faces, both of their people and of strangers, more often than neutral-expression photos. However, not all dogs were able to do this exercise, which suggests that some are more sensitive to human cues than others.

“Woman

While this information is interesting, it can also help us further our bond through communication and training. When you interact with your dog, remember that they are always reading your face, looking for clues to your emotional state. If you are happy or pleased, let it show on your face with a big smile!

This is particularly vital when training, as it lets your dog know what actions or behaviors you want from them. You can also reinforce your smile with a dog treat, like Tasty Rewards, which are perfectly sized for training.

Using a combination of facial cues and treat rewards to train your dog is the most efficient and encouraging way to let your dog know they are doing the right thing. Now, if your dog does something that displeases you, let it show on your face by frowning and through voice tone. But don’t overdo it because, as we just mentioned, when our faces are neutral, dogs assume that we’re displeased.  

What about you? Have you known some dogs who seemed more highly attuned to your facial expressions or emotions? Leave your own experiences in the comments section.

COVID-19 And Your Pets — Update from Dr. V.

There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding COVID-19. Don't worry — our friend, Dr. V, hosted a live video stream where she shared what the veterinary community is saying about this pandemic and how you can and your fur family can stay safe. Keep reading for a recap of Dr. V’s live stream, or watch the recording above for yourself.

What To Know About COVID-19

  • Pets should practice social distancing too.  The biggest unknown right now is how long the virus can cling to a dog or cat’s fur. 

  • When walking your dog, stay at least 6 feet away from any other people or dogs. A dog is an extension of the person who is holding their leash.

  • We still do not know how this virus reacts under specific conditions. Experts believe that it survives on smooth surfaces the best, such as doorknobs or railings.

  • COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, which means it was initially transferred from an animal to a human.

  • This virus loves people — experts do not believe at this time that dogs and cats are really at risk of getting sick. The medical community is more concerned about your health and helping you manage your pets so you can continue staying safe.

How A Virus Can Affect Animals

When a virus encounters a new animal, it can do up to four things: 

  1. A virus can have no effect. This happens with most dogs and cats.

  2. A virus can linger with your pet, although they are asymptomatic. This was the case with two dogs in Hong Kong who tested positive for COVID-19, but did not seem sick.

  3. A virus may get into an animal and make them sick. This is newly developing — as of this recording there has only been one cat with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Ferrets have also proved to be susceptible to the virus.

  4. A virus can be passed from species to species. This is NOT the case with COVID-19, but it is the worst case scenario when it comes to viruses.

“Woman

Vet Changes

  • Many vets have discontinued non-essential services, meaning they are only accepting immediately sick or injured animals. Plan to postpone any upcoming grooming or booster shot appointments.

  • If you do have to take your pet in, many vets are offering curbside service, where someone will come meet you at your vehicle and bring your pet into the office.

  • Emergency clinics are very busy right now — teams are working their best to treat everyone!

  • Although the FDA has loosened restrictions on telemedicine for pets, vets still must get permission from the state they practice in.

  • Teleadvice can be a helpful tool, though it is not the same as telemedicine. Asking for teleadvice is simply receiving a professional’s opinion. A vet can diagnose or prescribe medication through telemedicine.

Shelters & Rescues

  • With adoption numbers down, the number one thing you can do is to direct people to correct information. The worst case scenario is someone thinking their pet can get them sick and surrendering them to a shelter.

  • Many shelters are offering fostering of pets. If someone is stuck at home alone during this time, fostering may be a great option for them.

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It’s important we all do our part in being informed with accurate updates as we navigate this  pandemic together. To watch Dr. V’s entire live stream, watch the video attached to the top of this blog, or click here.

 

FDA Loosens Restrictions On Telemedicine For Pets

Veterinarian Practicing Telemedicine With Patient

In a news release on March 24, 2020 the FDA announced that “it intends to temporarily not enforce certain requirements in order to allow veterinarians to better utilize telemedicine to address animal health needs during the pandemic.” Learn more about this positive development and how it might affect pet parents below.

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News Update from Dr. V:

I think it was maybe four years ago when I started asking my colleagues if we could start talking about veterinary telemedicine. The answer was a near-unanimous “no!” I lectured to empty rooms about this topic I’m passionate about and wrote articles no one understood.

Sure, maybe a few veterinarians here and there showed some interest in a telemedicine app, but the chances are pretty low that it’s something you’ve used with your vet. Well, that’s all about to change.

Until COVID-19 shut down entire states and even countries in a matter of weeks, we’ve always assumed that if your pet had a problem, you would take them to the veterinarian. As a profession we are very married to the idea that unless you have your hands on the pet, you won’t get a complete picture of what’s going on and wouldn’t be doing right by the pet.

What is a VCPR?

Legally, a hands-on examination has always been required for us to create what’s called a VCPR- a valid client patient relationship. Without this VCPR, a veterinarian cannot diagnose or prescribe medication to your pet. While each state defines this VCPR, they’ve all been pretty consistent in requiring this.

Let’s pause here for a moment because the next thing I’m about to say is super important.

Once you establish that VCPR with a veterinarian, it is good for a specific amount of time- usually a year. During that period of time, in almost every state, your veterinarian can do telemedicine visits with you, including follow ups and prescribing medication. I’m not saying they will do it, but they could from a legal perspective — and that’s been the case for quite a long time, actually.

What people are talking about right now is that the FDA has temporarily removed the requirement for the veterinarian to be in the same location to establish a VCPR. In this case, you could have a telemedicine visit with a veterinarian you’ve never met, and they could make a diagnosis and prescribe a medication without ever seeing you. It happens all the time in human medicine, but those laws are very different.

So does that mean when you get up tomorrow you can google “online vet” and get some heartworm pills for your dog with a remote visit? Probably not. Here’s why:

The FDA is a federal organization. But the rules surrounding the practice of medicine are determined by the state. In this case the state laws take precedence. In only a handful of states, such as California, they have made an emergency exemption where a California veterinarian can establish a remote VCPR with a California client. I can’t tell you what other states this is happening in, because the laws are changing quite literally daily. It’s astounding.

But to get back to what I said earlier, even if you can’t establish a relationship with a new vet online, you’ve likely already been able to conduct a telemedicine visit with your current one. It’s just that very few were willing to do it. That’s what’s changing.

“Woman

How is COVID-19 going to affect you as a pet parent?

  1. You may be asked to do drive-up medicine. Although you’ve probably heard that two dogs did test positive for COVID-19 in their system, there is no evidence they get sick from it or can infect others. The health precautions we are taking have to do with keeping both you and the veterinary staff safe, and that means practicing social distancing. Many clinics are asking clients to remain in their cars or limit the number of people in the exam room to one. We don’t like it either, but it keeps us safer.

  2. You may be asked to postpone wellness care. Again, it’s to keep us all safe. In addition, many veterinarians are donating as many masks and gloves as they can to help the doctors and nurses keeping us safe in the hospitals. This is a community effort.

  3. You may find your vet is suddenly offering telemedicine. I’m biased, but I think this is great. It’s important to note that telemedicine is only useful in some situations. An emergency will always require a visit to the ER. Pets will still need surgeries and bloodwork and x-rays and get hurt, and we’re doing all we can to stay open and be there for you when you need us. 

So when are veterinarians using telemedicine?

Most of the time, it’s for things like follow up visits, skin issues like hot spots, recurring ear infections, mild limping, “is this normal” questions, prescription refill requests, flea and tick medications, and general advice. It’s a limited list, but it covers a lot of ground. Again, every veterinarian is allowed to decide for herself if and when they want to offer telemedicine, so there’s no requirement that they do.

I may be biased, but I hope they all decide to do so! If they’re not offering telemedicine services, it never hurts to ask if they will consider it. It can get put into place very quickly. In fact, I’ve spent the last two weeks working behind the scenes with my colleagues to pull together resources to help those in the profession get onboarded with telemedicine as quickly as possible- so if you see my name out there, say hi! 

I do this because I believe in helping pet owners in any way I can, and this is my way of serving the community in time of crisis. 

Thinking of you all and hoping you remain safe and well,

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V 

4 Simple Ways To Help Your Pet Lose Weight

Dog Exercising to Lose Weight

Did you know that more than half of the dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight? All that extra heft puts our beloved pets at-risk for many serious health conditions.

The good news is that solving your companion animal’s weight problem might be easier than you’d expect!

Check out these helpful pet weight loss tips to ensure your beloved friend will live an even healthier and happier life:

  1. Select A Wholesome Diet 

    One vital measure towards curbing weight is also a simple one — selecting the perfect food. Choose a diet that states an animal-specific protein source (such as chicken or fish) as the number one ingredient. Avoid foods pumped up with corn, wheat and glutens, as carb-loading will sabotage any weight-loss efforts. Our wholesome dog foods and cat foods provide a complete spectrum of nutrition that your pet needs to thrive at a healthy weight.

    If you have a hefty dog at home who is ready to drop some pounds, try our Adult Weight Loss Formula — this recipe is enhanced with L-carnitine to support a healthy metabolism and weight management.

  2. Use a Measuring Cup for Portion Control 

    Did you know as few as 10 extra pieces of kibble can lead to excess weight gain in smaller dogs? Just by measuring meal portions, you can help your dog or cat shed unwanted weight! Each pet’s metabolism is different, so it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian — they can calculate your pet’s ideal daily intake.

    “Cat

  3. Only Feed Healthy Treats

    It feels great to give your pet a tasty treat — but you can feel even better when that treat has a nutritious benefit! Many treats out there aren’t much better than canine candy bars — that’s why at Life’s Abundance, we believe that every treat should have a purpose, and every calorie should have a benefit. Over the years we’ve worked to create the best healthy dog treats and cat treats on the market. Your pet won’t hesitate to scarf down our delicious treats - and get a boost of nutrition at the same time!

  4. Short Daily Exercise

    Research has proven that the one of the most effective ways to live a healthier and happier life is daily exercise, for both pets and humans! As little as 20-30 minutes of brisk walking can have a remarkable effect on your health and your dog’s, improving cardiovascular health, enhancing mood and boosting immune function. If you have a cat, get them active for 10-15 minutes twice a day, whether it be with their favorite toy or even using a laser pointer.

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Many pets around the country struggle with weight problems — implementing any of these four suggestions could drastically improve the life of any pet, especially if they have a weight problem.  

Be sure to share this post with other pet parents! It just might be the first step in the process toward a better life for a precious cat or dog.

5 Common Mistakes Dog Owners Make

Dog Running In Field

Deciding to bring a new dog into your family is exciting — it’s also a long-term life decision. It’s important to be prepared before you embark on the journey of bringing a new four-footer into the home!

There are some common problems that folks run into, but once you’re aware of them, you can steer your pup towards a healthy and happy future.

Here are five common mistakes dog parents make:

  1. Impulse Adoptions 

    It’s common knowledge that dogs have an average lifespan of 10-15 years. But when those puppy-dog eyes are melting your heart, it can be easy to forget that you’ll need to budget for a decade or more of veterinary bills, food, supplies and grooming. If you have children, the companion animal of a ten-year-old is likely to become yours when your child goes off to college. Sleep on any adoption decision, and do your homework before you bring that pup home!

  2. Failing to Spay or Neuter

    For starters, spaying and neutering drastically reduces the risk of some cancers. These procedures can also reduce behavioral problems, such as roaming, fighting, and mood swings. Most obviously, spaying and neutering reduces dog overpopulation. Your veterinarian will know the best timing for your dog’s spay or neuter surgery.

  3. Poor Training Techniques

    Unfortunately, some pet parents use punishments rather than reward-based training — this can create major barriers to the bond you share with your pet. Instead, concentrate your efforts on setting boundaries to set your pet up for success.

    Keep them safe using supervision and a controlled environment — use a leash during walks or in a pet-proof room or crate when home alone. Above all, you should provide rewards for good behavior, like healthy dog treats. This will reinforce appropriate behaviors and prevent problems from becoming habits.

    Dog Being Rewarded With Treats

  4. Failing to Vaccinate

    This mistake represents a troubling trend - more and more new pet parents are failing to vaccinate their companion animals. Distemper and parvovirus in dogs are still very present in much of the United States and prove fatal for a significant number of pets annually — the bottom line is vaccines do save lives.If you have a new puppy or dog , make sure you provide them with ‘core vaccines’, which includes protection against rabies, distemper and parvo in dogs. If you have rescued an adult who has no verifiable vaccination history, two boosters of core vaccines are advised. For non-core vaccines, such as canine lyme, discuss these preventatives with your vet.

  5. Being Reactive and Not Proactive

    Last but not least, new pet parents tend to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to their companion animal’s overall health. Obviously, it is important to address health problems with your veterinarian when they arise. However, it is equally important to take the steps now to ensure the long-term health of your furry friend. Remember, a dog’s health starts with their primary nutrition source — their food. Make sure they are eating a high-quality diet that is complete and balanced!

    New pet parents need to know that getting off to the right start, including diet and lifestyle choices, can improve the health, longevity and quality of life for their pets. Avoid these common mistakes and you will be well on your way to being a happy pet parent with a happy, healthy new best friend!

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New pet parents need to know that getting off to the right start, including diet and lifestyle choices, can improve the health, longevity and quality of life for their pets. Avoid these common mistakes and you will be well on your way to being a happy pet parent with a happy, healthy new best friend!

True Or False: Only Old Pets Get Dental Disease

Vet Examining Dog Dental Care

 

Let's play 'True or False' with our staff veterinarian, Dr. Jessica Vogelsang!

When I say “puppy breath,” what do you think of? It’s most likely a pleasant thought, right? People like puppy breath (well, at least dog lovers do!)

Now what about when I say “dog breath?” Not such a great thought! No one wants to be told they have dog breath, not even a dog. So what causes the transformation from the sweet smell of puppy breath to the putrid stench of dog breath?

It’s easy to combat bad breath with dental treats, but it’s important to monitor your pet’s complete oral health on a regular basis. Did you know that medical conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and liver disease can also manifest in the breath?

In honor of February being National Pet Dental Health Month, we’re going to play ‘True or False’ to see what you know about your pet's pearly whites!

“Only old dogs and cats get dental disease.”

  • False: While dental disease is obviously more severe in older pets who have had years to accumulate the effects of periodontal disease, over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop oral disease by the age of three. This is why it’s so important to begin preventive care early in life!

“It’s time to get your dog’s teeth cleaned when you can start seeing buildup.”

  • False: Dental disease is a progression that begins with signs invisible to the naked eye. The bacteria in our mouths combine with food bits to produce the invisible sticky film called plaque, which coats the teeth and sneaks up beneath the gum line. Over time, this plaque hardens into tartar, the visible brown stuff you can see on your pet’s teeth.

    This stews below the gumline and causes gingivitis, which results in the inflamed reddened gums most commonly visible on the back teeth. Left untreated, the bacteria begin to wreak havoc on the tissues and bone underneath the gums, and that’s when things get ugly.

 

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“Anesthesia-free dental cleanings are almost as good as a full cleaning.”

  • False: Now we’re getting into rough waters. Dogs and cats need anesthesia in order to have a full dental cleaning, because no pet likes the feeling of a dental scaler plunging into their sore gums. I mean, who can blame them?

    Without anesthesia, cleanings are limited to scraping off the plaque you can see with the naked eye. This type of cleaning makes the teeth look better, but they’re often no healthier afterwards. It’s like cutting a weed and leaving all the roots — it looks better temporarily, but you haven’t done anything to stop it from spreading.

“Some dogs are more prone to dental disease than others.”

  • True: Short-nosed breeds such as pugs and French bulldogs are more prone to disease due to their propensity for teeth overcrowding and misalignment. This creates a big net for food debris to stick around, no pun intended.

    Small dogs such as Yorkies, Chihuahuas, Poodles, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels also develop dental disease earlier in life. Their small mouths just struggle to fit all 42 teeth and often end up misaligned. Breeds such as Dachshunds, Boxers, and Shih Tzus have genetic quirks that impact their dental health as well.

“My vet’s going to judge me for this and it’s stressing me out.”

  • False (I hope!): Being vets, we are accustomed to seeing significant diseases. I don’t care about anything except helping the pet feel better! Everyone who comes into the clinic has done a tremendous thing by coming in and getting treatment.

    I can’t speak for every veterinarian on this earth, but I do know without a relationship of trust and working together, you’re not going to get the optimal results for your pet. If you don’t have a strong honest relationship, for whatever reason, I’d highly encourage you to seek out another provider. It’s fine! Both you and your pet deserve that bond.

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How’d you do? Let us know in the comments below.

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Dr V