All posts by James

6 Reasons to Adopt a Senior Dog

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month. Dogs are still just as sweet, loyal, and loving as seniors as they are when they are puppies. Unfortunately, pups in their golden years often have a very hard time getting adopted. This is very sad, because they really can make amazing pets. Read on as a Valrico, FL vet lists some great reasons to adopt an older pooch.

Less Activity Needs

Fido is pretty active when he is young, and needs lots of toys and exercise in those first few years. However, as dogs age, they slow down, and won’t need as much activity or entertainment. This makes senior dogs an excellent choice for anyone with mobility issues. They are also great for anyone who just doesn’t have the inclination, ability, or energy to take their pets for long hikes or indulge them in vigorous play sessions.

They’re Full of Tail Wags

Dogs are very loving pets, and often want nothing more than to spend time with their human buddies. Fido’s lovable, friendly nature often becomes even more pronounced as he ages. Older dogs often develop a super-sweet, affectionate nature that is sure to melt your heart.

Prior Experience

Another great thing about older dogs is that they have often already been trained. Most senior pooches are already housetrained, and know basic commands like Sit, Stay, Come, Heel, and Lay Down.

Less Behavioral Issues

Fido is a great pet, but he isn’t perfect. Our canine buddies do have some bad habits, such as digging and chewing. These issues are much less common in older dogs, however. Pets in their golden years are typically more interested in napping and collecting belly rubs than in making mischief.

They’re Adorable

Older pooches are just as cute as puppies in their own way. Fido can be absolutely charming as he is plodding along on a walk or snoring in a sunbeam!

Save A Life

Senior dogs face some pretty stiff odds when it comes to getting adopted. By adopting an older dog, you’re giving that one lucky pooch a second chance at happiness. It’s a truly beautiful thing to save an animal’s life. You’ll be rewarded with tail wags and unconditional love, which are both precious gifts in our book.

Please call us, your Valrico, FL vet clinic, with any questions about senior dog care. We are here to help!

Tips for Bathing Your Cat

Cats are very clean pets, which is one reason they are so popular. Fluffy may spend hours each day carefully grooming herself. However, some people do like to bathe their kitties. This is fine, as long as your vet doesn’t object. Read on as a local Brandon, FL vet offers tips on giving Fluffy a bath.

Prep Work

Before bringing Fluffy into the bathroom, put a mat down in the tub or sink. You may also want to clip your cat’s claws. It isn’t a bad idea to wear thick jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. Last but not least, give the furball a good brushing a day or so before her bath. This will help remove dead fur or dander.

Products

Only use shampoos that are made specifically for cats. Products made for people are much too strong for our feline pals. If you don’t have a sprayer on your tub or sink, you may also want to get a pitcher or teapot for rinsing.

Bathtime

Fill the tub or sink with just a few inches of warm—not hot—water. The water shouldn’t be any deeper than your kitty’s chest. Gently lather your cat up. Talk to her gently as you do this, and pet her a bit. This will help her realize that she’s being pampered, not punished. We don’t recommend using soap on Fluffy’s head. Just use a washcloth to clean her face. When you are done, rinse your cat off gently.

Drying

When Fluffy has been thoroughly rinsed, pick her up and wrap her in a soft towel. Gently pat her to get as much water out of her fur as you can. It’s worth noting that some cats don’t mind being blow-dried. If your furry little diva is one of them, you can blow-dry her using a low-heat setting. Just don’t force her to endure being blow-dried if she seems frightened. Once your kitty is as dry as you can get her, just let her go. She will probably retreat to one of her favorite spots and immediately start grooming herself to get her fur back in order. Give your feline buddy a special treat or a new toy, and then enjoy some snuggles with a clean, soft pet.

Please contact us, your local Brandon, FL vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

Caring for Your Dog’s Paws

Your dog’s feet play an important role in his life. Fido uses his feet to run, jump, and play, and can also perform adorable tricks, like Shake or Gimme Five with them. Taking care of those furry feet is very important! Read on as a Brandon, FL vet offers some helpful doggy paw care tips.

Claws

Keep your dog’s claws trimmed. Overgrown nails are very uncomfortable for dogs. They also make it harder for pets to get a good grip on slippery ground. Plus, long claws can cause Fido to adjust his stride a bit. This puts a lot of stress on his bones and joints, especially in older dogs. Another concern with long nails is that they can snag on things and rip, which can cause painful cuts and infections. If you aren’t comfortable giving Fido a pedicure, call us to set up a quick nail trim.

Paw Pads

If you’ve ever walked on hot tar barefoot, you know how painful that can be. Taking a barefoot stroll in the summer heat can be pretty uncomfortable for your canine buddy. Keep your pup on soft grass as much as possible. If Fido does have to cross tar or asphalt, use paw wax to protect his feet.

Ticks

Check Fido’s paws regularly for signs of injury. You’ll want to look for swelling, redness, and insect bites, as well as foreign objects or ticks. Minor cuts can be treated with antiseptic, but call your vet for anything more than that.

Toe Fur

If your pooch has toe fur tufts, you may want to trim them. They can easily collect gunk and get matted up, which is very uncomfortable for Man’s Best Friend.

Swimming

Does your dog like swimming? Many of pooches love cooling off on hot days by going for a swim. Just like human skin, dogs’ paws are very delicate when they are wet. This makes it very easy for pets to get cuts or blisters when running or walking on hot or harsh surfaces. If you go to the beach, you’ll also want to be careful about shells, sharp rocks, and broken glass. You can try putting booties on Fido. If he won’t go for it, use paw balm or wax to protect his paws.

Please contact us, your Brandon, FL vet clinic, for all your dog’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

Tips for Creating a Catio

Do you keep your feline friend indoors? If so, that’s great! Fluffy may think she’s invincible, but she’s actually pretty small, and is very vulnerable in the great outdoors. Cars, weather, other kitties, gators, and heat can all endanger outdoor cats. However, there’s no reason your pet can’t enjoy a taste of nature. Read on as a local Valrico, FL vet offers tips on setting up a catio.

Picking The Spot

A screened in porch or patio is a purrfect spot for a catio. If you don’t want to let the A/C out, put a cat door in for your pet. You can also use a spare bedroom or even just a quiet corner.

Plants

Our feline pals love to nibble on and hide behind green plants. Set out some pet-safe plants for your furball. Some good options are Boston ferns, Money tree plants, Spider plants, Rubber trees, and African violets. Certain palms, such as Areca palms and Ponytail palms, are also fine, as are some succulents. You can also grow fresh herbs, such as thyme, sage, and parsley. Catnip is, of course, a must. Plant small containers of it for your kitty. If you really want to spoil your four-legged companion, plant a living mat of cat grass in a storage tote, and give Fluffy her own little lawn. You can find a full list of both toxic and nontoxic plants online at the ASPCA website here.

Purrniture

A catio is a great spot for a cat tower! If possible, position it so that it faces a yard or field, and then set a birdfeeder in Fluffy’s line of sight. Your feline buddy will also appreciate cat walks, kitty condos, and, of course, cardboard boxes. Set out some things for yourself as well. This may very well end up being your favorite coffee spot or reading nook!

Toys

Playing isn’t just fun for Fluffy: it’s also very good for her, both physically and mentally. Offer your feline companion lots of fun toys to smack around. Catnip mice and small balls will always be popular with our furry pals, but you can also get your frisky pet more modern toys, like catnip bubbles, robotic mice, automated laser pointers, or remote-controlled “swimming” fish.

Please reach out to us, your local Valrico, FL vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

Helping Your Cat Beat the Heat

As you have probably noticed, Florida summers can be scorching hot. This time of year can be pretty tough on pets, especially kitties. Read on as a local Brandon, FL vet offers tips on helping Fluffy stay cool this summer.

Water

Make sure your kitty always has fresh water. You may want to get Fluffy a pet fountain. Many cats actually prefer to drink running water!

Cold Snack

Fluffy can have some sodium-free broth as a treat. Give your kitty a chilled bowl of fish, beef, or chicken broth on hot days. Your furball may also appreciate a chilled can of tuna or chicken in water or some cat milk. You can also try dropping an ice cube into your kitty’s bowl on sweltering days.

Brushing

Regular beauty sessions will remove dust, fur, and dander from your pet’s coat. Brushing your furry little diva regularly won’t just help keep her fur soft and shiny: it will also keep her cooler.

Climate Control

We always recommend that kitties stay indoors. Fluffy is both safer and healthier inside! However, if you do let your feline pal out, limit her outdoor time during the hottest parts of the day. Fluffy will be cool and comfy in rooms with AC or fans. If you let your furry pal roam freely throughout the house, she’ll naturally find the coolest spots. Cats are very, very good at getting comfortable!

Hammock Bed

Hammock beds are great for hot weather. Because air can move beneath them, they stay cooler than regular beds. You can buy a hammock for your feline friend, or just make one. You’ll need a table with four legs, and a piece of sturdy material. Cut the material so that it’s smaller than the tabletop, then use twine or Velcro to attach the corners to the table legs.

Ice ‘Pawkey’

Kitties don’t have many ways to cool themselves down if they get hot. They can’t sweat, and panting isn’t as efficient for them as it is for dogs. However, Fluffy’s paw pads are quite sensitive, and can help her regulate her temperature. Your pet may enjoy batting an ice cube around on hot days. This will both entertain your furball and keep her cool.

Please do not hesitate to contact us, your Brandon, FL vet clinic, for all of your cat’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!

Taking Fido to the Beach

Florida’s gorgeous sandy beaches are the envy of our friends and family to the north. Dogs also love to run and play at the shore! Just be sure to keep your pet’s safety in mind when taking him to a beach. A Valrico, FL vet discusses doggy beach safety below.

Swim Lessons

Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Some pooches even need to be taught how to do the doggy paddle! If your canine friend doesn’t know how to swim, take time to teach him. Support Fido gently while he is learning, and encourage him with praise and ear scritches.

Doggy Obedience

All dogs should know basic commands, like Sit, Stay, Come, Heel, and Lay Down. This isn’t just about petiquette: these commands can help you keep your furry buddy from running up to strangers or approaching dangerous areas. Make sure Fido knows these important commands.

Heat

Dogs can overheat very quickly running and playing at the beach. Make sure to bring plenty of water along for your pup! You’ll also want to keep a close eye out for warning signs, such as drooling, panting, trembling, vomiting, and dark urine. If you see any of these symptoms, immediately give Fido water and take him to a cool area. If symptoms persist, contact your vet. We also recommend taking your pooch to the beach in the morning or evening, when it’s cooler out.

Fur

Before you go home, rinse Fido off to get the salt and sand out of his fur. You may want to brush your dog later on, after he’s dry. Some of our canine pals are also susceptible to sunburn. Ask your vet for tips on putting sunscreen on your four-legged pal.

Paw Care

Fido can easily burn his paws by running around on hot sand or rocks. He can also cut himself on sharp shells or broken glass. Try to keep your pup on soft ground as much as possible. Use paw balm or wax to protect your furry friend’s feet.

Dangers

Always keep a close eye on your canine buddy. Dogs can get into trouble in just a few feet of water! Never bring Fido anywhere with steep drop-offs, heavy wakes, or riptides.

Do you have questions or concerns about your dog’s health or care? Please contact us, your local Valrico, FL pet clinic, for all your pet’s veterinary care needs.

Thunderstorm Anxiety in Dogs

Does your canine buddy become a quivering ball of fear at the sound of thunder? Does Fido run and hide when skies darken? Man’s Best Friend is often very frightened by storms. In this article, a local Brandon, FL vet discusses thunderstorm anxiety in dogs.

Why Do Storms Scare Dogs?

There actually could be several reasons for dogs to be nervous about thunderstorms. Static electricity is one possibility. As one can imagine, it probably isn’t very comfortable to be covered in fur when static electricity is high. Our furry pals may also be frightened by the smell of ozone. Subsonic noises are another possibility: Fido’s sensitive ears could be picking up noises that are undetectable to us. Of course, it’s also possible that Man’s Best Friend just doesn’t like the noise and lightning flashes. After all, your cute pet can’t read weather reports!

Helping Fido Cope

There are a few things you can do to help keep Fido calmer during storms. First, if you know it’s going to storm later, walk him before the skies darken. You may also want to tire your pup out before bad weather arrives, as he’ll be calmer—and hopefully less jittery—if he’s a bit tired. Your canine pal may also be more comfortable in his crate or an interior room. Put a TV or radio on to mask the noise, and give your pooch a puzzle toy or chew stick to occupy himself with. You can also try desensitizing your four-legged friend. Get an app or CD that plays thunderstorm sounds, and play it at low volume. Once your furry companion has gotten used to it, slowly start increasing the volume. If your pooch gets accustomed to the background noise, storm sounds may not bother him as much. Pet-calming products, such as treats, sprays, and doggy shirts, can also help. Ask your vet for recommendations.

Tips

Never punish your furry buddy for misbehaving during a storm. Fido is acting out of fear, so reprimanding him for it may just make matters worse. However, you don’t want to coddle your canine friend too much, either. This would basically be rewarding your dog for acting scared, which may just reinforce his behavior. Ask your vet for more information.

Please reach out to us, your Brandon, FL vet clinic, for all of your dog’s veterinary care needs. We are happy to help!

Senior Cat Care Tips

As your cat ages, she’ll still be the same cute, lovable pet as always. However, Fluffy will slow down, and her care needs will change a little. Read on as a Valrico, FL vet lists some tips for keeping your feline buddy happy, healthy, and purring in her golden years.

Food

Good food is important to pets at every age, and senior cats are no exception. Offer your cat a high-quality, premium brand. Snacks are fine, but don’t go overboard with fatty treats. Follow your vet’s recommendations.

Playtime

Fluffy won’t be as frisky as she was as a kitten, but she’ll likely still pay attention if you dangle a toy in front of her. Even a few minutes of playtime can be beneficial to your pet. Playing helps keep kitties active, which is great for them physically. It’s also great for your furball’s mental health. After all, cats have to focus to time those tricky pounces right! This is kind of like the feline equivalent of doing a crossword puzzle every day.

Comfy Napping Spots

Kitties tend to be rather drowsy in general, but senior cats sleep even more than other furballs. Make sure Fluffy has lots of comfy beds to pick from. Your feline pal may appreciate having pet ramps or stairs, so she can reach her favorite napping spots more easily. You can also set out footstools or ottomans for her.

Veterinary Care

It’s very important to keep up with Fluffy’s veterinary care as she ages. Regular exams help your vet keep an eye on your pet’s condition, and spot minor changes that could indicate a developing health problem. Needless to say, early detection and treatment are very beneficial! Also, be sure to keep up with your cat’s vaccinations and parasite control products. At home, watch for any signs of illness, such as hiding or poor grooming. Call us immediately if you see any warning signs.

Comfort and Love

Small touches can really help Fluffy feel loved, safe, and a bit pampered. Keep a nightlight on for your kitty after dark, so she can get around more easily. Brushing your furball will also help keep her comfortable. Cuddles and ear scritches are important as well. Just be very gentle when picking your cat up or putting her down.

Please reach out to us, your Valrico, FL pet hospital, anytime. We’re always happy to help!

Allergies in Dogs

Do you have allergies? Even if you don’t suffer from allergies personally, there’s a good chance that you know several people who do. You may also know a few dogs with allergies! Just like people, our canine pals can react to certain substances. A local Brandon, FL veterinarian discusses doggy allergies below.

Symptoms

Allergies can cause a wide variety of reactions in pets. Fido may sneeze or snore, and his eyes may get red and watery. Skin and coat problems, such as flaking, redness, and scaliness can also be caused by allergies. Your canine buddy could get very itchy. He may lick or chew himself, or rub up against things (including you) to get relief. Allergies can also cause recurring ear infections, as well as digestive issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, and gas. In rare cases, allergies cause more serious symptoms, including seizures, fainting, and even coma or death.

Allergens

Fido can be allergic to quite a few different things. Some common doggy allergens are dust, dander, pollen, mold, trees, and plants. Your furry buddy could also be allergic to an ingredient in his pet shampoo, or to certain materials, such as carpet fibers or upholstery fabric. Some pooches are allergic to strong fumes, such as cigarette smoke or perfume. Food allergies are another possibility.

Treatment

If you see any signs of allergies in your dog, have your vet examine him right away. Tests will likely be needed to help determine exactly what your four-legged friend is reacting to. If food allergies are suspected, your vet may have you put your pup on a very bland diet, and then reintroduce things one at a time to pinpoint the culprit. Once you know exactly what your canine companion is allergic to, your vet will be able to offer specific treatment options.

Care Tips

Home care can also help you keep your furry friend more comfortable. Vacuuming and dusting regularly, and changing your air filters, will reduce the amount of dust and dander in your home. Wiping Fido’s paws and tummy down when you bring him back in can also help, as this will get dust and pollen off his coat. You may also want to limit your dog’s outdoor time when pollen counts are high.

If you know or suspect that your dog has allergies, call us, your Brandon, FL animal hospital, today. We are here to help!

Keeping An Indoor Cat Entertained

Do you keep your cat indoors? If so, that’s great! Fluffy is both happier and healthier staying inside, where she’s protected from weather, cars, gators, and other hazards. However, indoor cats do need entertainment and stimulation to stay happy. Believe it or not, kitties can get bored! A Valrico, FL vet discusses keeping your furball amused in this article.

Toys

Playing benefits cats in several ways. First and foremost, pouncing on that catnip mouse or chasing that laser pointer around is great for Fluffy physically. Even a few minutes of play can keep your frisky pet strong and healthy! Offer your furry friend lots of fun toys, and play with her regularly.

Catio

If you have an enclosed porch or patio, or even a sunroom, consider making it into a catio. Set out some pet-safe plants for your feline pal to nibble on and hide behind. This will give Fluffy a taste of nature, and offer her some mental stimulation. You can find a complete list of nontoxic plants listed online at the ASPCA website.

Purrniture

Cats love to explore small spaces. Get Fluffy some pieces of kitty furniture to lounge around on. Cat towers are great, because they provide kitties with napping spots, lookout points, nail care stations, and jungle gyms, all in one. Your feline buddy will also approve of pet tents or tipis. Of course, your pet may be thrilled with a cardboard box or two.

Vertical Space

Kitties don’t have much of a view from ground level, so they have to climb to high vantage points to properly survey their kingdom and humans. Give Fluffy some vertical space. Cat towers, as mentioned above, are great. You can also give your furry pal some wall-mounted furniture, or even a catwalk.

Stimulation

Make sure that Fluffy has at least one comfy spot before a window with a good view. If possible, put a birdfeeder up in your feline friend’s line of sight. Kitties love spying on local wildlife! It’s also good to keep a radio or TV on for your pet when she is home alone. The music and voices will help keep her from feeling lonely. You can even offer your furball DVDs made just for cats!

Please do not hesitate to contact us, your Valrico, FL pet clinic, for all your cat’s veterinary care needs. We’re always here to help!