Why Winter Grooming is Important for Your Pet

Dog taking a bathHave you stopped showering this winter?

No?

Then why would you hold off on your pet’s grooming during the winter months, when you’re still taking care of your own hygiene needs?

For many breeds, grooming is an important part of your pet’s overall health and is necessary for their overall comfort and wellness. And for many pets, especially those who spend time outdoors, this is especially true during the winter… Continue…

Fat Cats: the Issue of Cat Obesity

 

The pet obesity epidemic is a big concern in this country, and the problem is growing worse.  Weight loss is not easy for anyone, human or otherwise.  When it comes down to it, the solution seems simple:  Eat less, exercise more.  This is easier said than done, however, particularly in the cat.  But there are important reasons for us to strive to reach a healthy weight for our feline companions.

Overweight cats are prone to illness and shortened lives

Overweight cats are prone to some serious medical conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, and certain forms of cancer.  Overweight cats live shorter lives than normal weight cats.  Also, these cats tend to be “lazier”, not moving around as much, which makes it harder to detect early signs of serious illnesses.  Fat cats are no laughing matter.

What can you do to help your cat slim down?

So how do we accomplish safe, successful weight loss for our furry felines?

  • Cut the calories.  This sounds simple enough, but there is more to it than just not eating as much.  Fat cats are prone to developing a serious liver disease called hepatic lipidosis if they do not eat enough.  Kitty diets should only be started under the guidance of your veterinarian.  He or she can help you to calculate your cat’s daily calorie requirements.  Don’t be tempted to use a self-feeder.  Instead, measure out portions daily.  Pet or play with your kitty when it begs–some cats are literally starving for attention!  Feed small meals frequently and freshen the water bowl often.  These little changes can make a big one!
  • Change the food.  For some cats, simply changing the diet can make a drastic difference.  For instance, most canned foods have a lower caloric content than their dry counterparts.  Light or diet foods are also available.  Be sure that you are not cutting calories too drastically by calculating caloric needs with your veterinarian.  Cats can be finicky about new foods, so be sure to gradually introduce the new diet over a 1-2 week period.  You can try to make new foods more palatable by warming them slightly or adding a little oregano or a splash of salmon juice or omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
  • Get that kitty moving! No bones about it–it is harder to increase your cat’s activity level than your dog’s.  It takes some creativity to get your cat burning calories.  Make your cat “hunt” for its food by moving the bowl frequently.  Try putting it at the furthest place from kitty’s sleeping spot to encourage movement.  Use interactive toys such as flashlights, laser pointers, paper bags–anything your cat likes to chase to have a short activity session daily.   You may need to change it up frequently.
  • Keep track of progress.  Rechecks and weigh-ins can help tell you if you are on the right track.  Monthly weigh-ins are ideal.  If you are not making progress in a month’s time, it is time to try another food or technique.

 

Holiday Plant Primer

 

Around the holidays, our homes are filled with all sorts of objects that aren’t there the rest of the year.  Many times this includes festive plants of all kinds.  These plants often end up in the mouths of curious pets, especially puppies and kittens.  Some may not cause any problems at all, but many cause side effects ranging from mild to severe.  Here is the low-down on a few of the more common holiday house guests:

Poinsettia

While the poinsettia plant is perhaps the most infamous holiday plant, its reputation is not entirely deserved.  Its extreme toxicity is largely an urban legend.  The plant is mildly toxic and irritating to the mucous membranes.  While it is unlikely to cause severe illness, it is probably best to keep this plant out of reach.

Mistletoe

The level of toxicity of mistletoe largely depends on the variety, but the berries of both the American and European variety cause stomach irritation at small doses. At larger doses, it can trigger much more serious problems (including low blood pressure, seizures, and disorientation).

Holly

Eating holly can result in severe stomach upset in dogs and cats.  Signs that your pet has eaten holly include smacking of lips, drooling, head shaking, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Lilies

Lilies are very popular around the holidays, but they are deadly for cats.  Ingestion causes severe stomach upset, heart arrhythmias, kidney failure, and death.

Christmas tree

Don’t discount the tree!  The oils and sap can be irritating to the mouth and stomach, which can lead to drooling and vomiting.

Grooming at Naperville Animal Hospital – Bow Wow Wow!!!

How to know who to trust with your pet’s grooming

Choosing somewhere to have your pet groomed can be difficult.  A plethora of grooming salons have popped up in recent years, and sometimes it can be almost impossible to tell which ones are good and not-so-good until you find out first hand.  Of course, we will tell you that our groomers are the best in the area, but we would rather you come to that conclusion on your own!  Here are some factors to consider when choosing a groomer for your pet:

  • Does the groomer personalize services?

For instance, certain pets may require special shampoos for itchy skin, have trouble with their ears, or need their coat trimmed a certain way.  Our groomers are willing to groom to your pet’s needs, not a one-size-fits-all template.

  • Does the groomer require proof of vaccination?

Requiring vaccinations protects your pet.  Be wary of any establishment that does not ask for this information.  We require all vaccines to be documented and current at the time of your appointment.

  • Does the groomer know you and your pet?

Many groomers turn and burn through many pets a day and don’t have time to get to know each client.  After a grooming session or two, your pet should be greeted by name!

  • Does your pet get treated like the prince/princess s/he is?

Likewise, when a groomer has many pets to groom in a day s/he is unable to take the time to pamper your pet.  Our groomers take pride in treating each individual pet to a spa day, taking time to allow even nervous pets to relax and enjoy themselves!

  • What kinds of hours do they keep?

Do you have to work around the groomer’s schedule or do they work with yours?  We are happy to work around your day care or boarding schedules.

  • Can they accommodate special requests?  Do they have a working knowledge of your needs?

If you have a show or performance pet, it may need to be groomed in a certain manner.  Does your groomer have an in-depth knowledge of your needs?  Thinking of changing up Fluffy’s look and going with a pink coat?  Can your groomer accomplish that?  Be sure to ask!

  • What happens if the pet needs medical attention?

Injuries and accidents can happen, particularly if you choose a groomer where care and experience are lacking.  In the unlikely event of a problem, Naperville Animal Hospital has veterinarians on staff that can immediately attend to your pet.  It is also convenient to have a veterinarian around so that any minor medical issues can be addressed during your pet’s grooming appointment.

NapervilleAnimal Hospital is proud to have an experienced, caring grooming staff to attend to your pets.  We hope that you trust us with your grooming needs.  Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are just a few to help you see what a great job we do!

Naperville AH - Before Cat Grooming

Before Grooming

Naperville AH - After Cat Grooming

After Grooming – Meow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Naperville AH Grooming - Before

Before Grooming

Naperville AH - After Grooming

After Grooming – Bow Wow Wow!

The Holiday Foods Naughty List

Happy holiday season to all of our friends, furry and otherwise!  We hope that this is a happy, healthy time of year for you all.  While we love to see all of you, we don’t want your pet to visit us unexpectedly during the holidays, so we are providing you with a list of the top five holiday foods that will land your pet in the hospital.

Top Five Holiday Foods That Can Land Your Pet in the Hospital

  •  Chocolate

It’s the main ingredient in many seasonal treats, and your pets may want to indulge as much as you do.  It is best, however, for our four-legged friends to avoid chocolate in all of its forms.  The offending ingredient is theobromine which is found in the highest concentrations in baking and dark chocolate.  Toxicity is dose dependent, which means that the smaller your critter, the less theobromine it will take to cause problems.  At lower doses, pets will experience jitteriness and vomiting/diarrhea. At higher doses, much more serious effects can occur including increased or irregular heart rate, seizures, or even death.

  • Raisins/grapes

Before you throw a piece of Aunt Louise’s fruitcake to Fido, think twice.  Raisins and grapes can cause irreversible kidney damage in pets.  Some animals seem to be more sensitive than others, and there is no way to know how sensitive yours is until it is too late.

  • Alcohol

Most people would never intentionally give their pet alcohol, however that glass of eggnog on the end table may prove to be too tempting for Rover to avoid.  Alcohol ingestion can lead to low heart rate, hypoglycemia, seizures, even respiratory failure.  Also beware of desserts containing alcohol and raw yeast-containing dough that can produce alcohol as it ferments.

  • Artificial sweeteners

If you have candies or sweets around that contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, know that even small amounts can cause a life-threatening decrease in blood sugar and liver failure in dogs.

  • Table scraps

Ingestion of people food, particularly fatty, rich foods can lead to mild to severe digestive upset, sometimes requiring hospitalization.  Some animals may even experience pancreatitis, a sometimes serious inflammation of the pancreas.

Enjoy the holiday with your pets. Just be sure that the only holiday treats they get are pet safe!

Party Animal!

Summer is the season of parties- graduations, barbeques, family reunions.  Your pet is part of the family, and it is only natural to want to include him/her in the celebrations.  You probably know to keep your pet away from open flames, fireworks, chocolate, and bones.  Here are a few lesser known (but just as dangerous!) hazards to keep your party animal away from:

  • Corn cobs- These tasty castaways are very likely to become lodged in the intestine as they make their way through the digestive tract.
  • Fruit pits (like peaches)-  These are also likely to become lodged in the digestive tract.  Believe it or not, cats are as likely to be affected by this type of foreign body as dogs!
  • Skewers- These throwaways once held tasty treats, but now they are more likely to puncture your pet’s esophagus, stomach, or small intestine.
  • Foil, plastic wrap, and string- These may be garbage to you, but they taste like dinner to your pet.  Be sure your garbage is not accessible to Fido and Fluffy.
  • Gravel or dirt- Grease and/or meat drippings can make these normally non-edible items extra tasty.  Eating these in large amounts can cause your pet problems!

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Keep Your Furry Friend’s Tail Wagging with Homemade Treats!

Dog staring at treatsIt’s no secret – dogs and cats love treats! Many of the popular treats that you buy at the store are very high in fat and calories and low in nutrition though. So what’s a great way to treat your fur-baby while still being sure that the treats their eating are as nutritious as they are delicious? Make them yourself!

Making your own pet treats is fun and easy, and you can feel good about giving them to your pet. (Although you should still feed them sparingly — treats are a sometimes food, not an always food). Here are some simple recipes for pet treats that will keep your furry friend’s tail wagging.

Peanut Butter Molasses Dog Treats

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter (unsalted & sugar-free)
  • 1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Whisk the flour, oats, and baking powder together in a medium bowl
  3. Gradually stir in the milk, peanut butter, and molasses
  4. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a soft dough forms
  5. Roll out to 1/2″ thickness and cut with a cookie cutter
  6. Bake for 20 minutes
  7. Cool completely before feeding to your pooch.

These biscuits bake up nice and hard and will last for 2 weeks in a dog treat jar and up to 4-5 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cat licking lipsSo that’s all well and good for Fido, but what about our feline friends? You can make yummy treats for them, too!

Yummy Tuna Treats

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup nonfat powdered milk
  • 1/2 can tuna fish
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil or cod liver oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheet
  2. In a large bowl mash the tuna into smaller pieces
  3. Add flour and milk to the tuna and mix well
  4. Add water and oil and mix some more
  5. Beat the egg in a separate dish until the egg is foamy and then add to the mix
  6. Mix everything well — the dough will be really sticky
  7. Using your fingers shape the dough into small balls, about the size of a marble and put them on the cookie sheet
  8. Bake for 20 minutes
  9. Let treats cool completely before feeding to your cat
  10. Store treats in an air tight container in the refrigerator

Bon Appetit!

If you have any questions about your pet’s nutrition, feel free to contact us. We’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Lyme Disease: What you need to know

dog on lawnIt is no coincidence that April is National Lyme Disease Prevention Month.  Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, and the nasty little parasites are at their height during the spring months.  Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by the organism Borrelia burgdorferi that is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick.  The disease is most common in the northeastern, upper Midwestern, and West Coast states, however the area of concern appears to be spreading in recent years.

Infected animals may not develop any symptoms at all.  Some will develop fever, lameness, swollen joints, depression, and/or loss of appetite.  If the infection persists kidney failure and permanent lameness can ensue.  If Lyme disease is suspected, we may suggest running a blood test to confirm infection.  Luckily most pets with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotic therapy.

In endemic areas (like ours), vaccination of dogs for Lyme disease is recommended.  Disease can also be prevented by using tick preventative products recommended by your veterinarian and by removing ticks promptly before disease transmission can occur.  Avoiding tick infested areas and keeping shrubbery and grass closely trimmed can also lessen the likelihood of exposure.  If your dog is at risk for contracting Lyme disease, so are you!  Use care in areas with a heavy tick population.

Call us if you have any questions, or if your dog is showing symptoms.

Hold Your Hounds! Leash Etiquette for your Pooch

Dog pulling on leashWe have all experienced it:  You are minding your own business, walking your dog quietly when a friendly, over-excited (or not-so-friendly, borderline aggressive) dog pulling an owner at the end of a leash comes barreling into your personal space.

Worst case scenario, your dog is not so thrilled at the sight of the other dog, or the other dog is not as thrilled as its owner perceives and chaos ensues.  Best case scenario, one or both dogs, although friendly, develop bad habits regarding interactions with other humans and dogs.  Keep the following cardinal rules of leash etiquette in mind when taking your dog in public:

  1. Not all dogs are friendly.  Even if your dog is, be sure to give other pets plenty of “personal” space unless you ask the owner’s permission to approach.
  2. Not all people like all dogs.  Another dog walker may be terrified of your dog.  Don’t allow your pet to jump on or rush at others.
  3. Consider ditching the flexi-lead.  While it’s convenient to let your dog roam, it is impossible to maintain control of your pet while on a flexi-lead.  They are also much less sturdy and more likely to break in times of need.
  4. If you do use a flexi-lead, keep it locked at 6 feet when other people or dogs are around.
  5. Train your pup!  Exuberant, friendly dogs and cautious, fearful dogs alike benefit from training sessions.

Contact us if you’d like some recommendations for local trainers.

Litterbox Training Tips

Kitten in Litter BoxFortunately for cat owners, most kittens have a natural predilection for using a litter box to eliminate.  As with most things in life, however, there are exceptions.  If you have a stubborn kitten, you may have to backpedal and be sure your feline friend knows what you want it to do.  Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Be sure the litter box is the right size for your kitten!  Young kittens may have a hard time climbing over the side of a full-size box.  You might consider using a cake pan or something similar until he/she gets the hang of it.
  • Make sure the litter boxes are accessible.  Long distances or stairs might be difficult for a little kitty to get there in time.  Make sure there is a box on every floor and in the areas where your kitten spends the most time.
  • Show them the way.  Make a point to periodically place your kitten in the litter box, especially after meals.  Encourage them to dig.
  • Play with the litter.  Some cats prefer a certain type of litter.  Try clumping vs. nonclumping, scented or non-scented, or alternative types such as recycled newspaper or pine.
  • Make sure the box isn’t too scary.  Many times we inadvertently put litter boxes in out-of-the-way areas where scary monsters lurk.  Noisy washing machines, refrigerators, furnaces, nosy dogs, and loud children can all be deterrents for your kitten.

By following these tips, your new kitty should be well on its way to being a litter box pro in no time at all!