Cold Weather Tips

It's sweater weather! Our pets are certainly feeling the colder temperatures out there, too! Let's keep them safe and comfortable with some friendly reminders: 

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  • Ensure your pets' I.D. tags and microchip information are up-to-date! It is said that more pets go missing in the Winter than any other season, so if the unfortunate happens it is ideal to have a dog or cat properly identified. 
  • Keep your pets indoors as much as possible. To potty, keep them on a leash with shorter walk time or in a secure enclosure when outdoors. A good rule-of-thumb is that when you're cold, your pet is probably cold. That being said, if you accompany your pet outside for breaks you will be able to gauge when to come back inside.
  • When traveling with your pet, do not leave him or her in the car alone. Cars capture the cold, and can act as a refrigerator.  Hypothermia, or low body temperature, can result in serious complications and can be fatal to our loved critters. If it is too cold for the car, please leave them at home. 
  • If your pet MUST stay outside in the elements, please provide appropriate shelter and access to water. Warm bedding in a space with no drafts or open exposure is ideal. Some retailers even offer heated shelters and heated water bowls to avoid water freezing. 
  • Go ahead and stock up on cute winter pet gear, we won't judge! Bundling them up is better. :) Smaller and elderly dogs may need a sweater or two, and there are some booties available for different sized dogs to avoid frozen paws. If booties are not a practical option for you and your pet, make sure to wipe down paws after each chilly or wet visit outdoors. This will allow you time to check your pet for any cracked, red, or irritated paws.
  • Keep your eyes out for outdoor/stray cats and other small wildlife looking for warmth! Community cats are known to look for warmer places in the colder weather, including under vehicle hoods and wheel wells. If you hear or see any critter near your car, please use caution to avoid injury. 
  • Another winter hazard we would like your pet to avoid is coolant/anti-freeze intoxication. Both are considered sweet to our pets, yet are dangerous for dogs and cats alike. Please clean up any spills and do not leave containers where your pet can access them. 
  • If we get snow or ice, make sure you have "safe salt" for your furry friends. Some sidewalk salts are safer than others and are developed to create less irritation to paws. 
  • Groom and bathe cautiously. Use your best judgment on whether a shaving or bath can wait until warmer temps come back around.
  • Some diseases make regulating body temperature difficult for our pets. If your pet is diabetic or living with heart or kidney disease, please be mindful and take extra precaution. The cold also increases difficulty for our arthritic and frail pets. Please make sure you have plenty of medications on hand that your pet may be taking to ensure a more comfortable winter.
  • If your pet has been exposed to the cold for too long, or you have any concerns regarding how he or she is tolerating the weather, never hesitate to come in for a veterinary check up. 

Stay safe and warm, folks! 

 

 

Healthy Weight, Healthy Pet

"How much should my pet weigh?"

We get asked this question almost daily!

This can be a sensitive subject, but we are here to offer healthy tips, not judgement. ;)

Each pet is unique, and his or her healthy body composition depends on many factors, including: species, breed, gender, age, and activity level.

When assessing a patients' weight, it is important to get a current weight, as well as a weight and feeding history. In other words, how much are you feeding your pet and of what type of food? Is the food appropriate for your pets' age and lifestyle? As with human food, each pet food offers different nutritional values and each manufacturer will offer different feeding guidelines in order to achieve a certain weight. Examine these guidelines on the side of your food bag to see if you are over, or under, feeding your pet.

Source: https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/yourpetshealthyweight.aspx, 2017

Next, an ideal Body Condition Score, or BCS, is determined for an individual pet. A veterinarian can asses this best, but, in the simplest terms, we would be able to feel the rib-cage on a pet of healthy weight and see a "waist-line," or a well proportioned lumbar waist. A visible rib-cage typically means a pet is underweight, while attempting to palpate the ribs with no luck signifies a pet is overweight.

                                         Gunner Sinclair showing off his svelte figure at the scale. 

                                        Gunner Sinclair showing off his svelte figure at the scale. 

 

 

When discussing patients who are truly underweight, typically diagnostic tests are recommended. Some systemic illnesses present with weight loss, and we want your critters healthy inside AND out. Speak with one of our veterinarians if you are concerned your pet is loosing unintentional weight.

For those pets that are on the opposite of the BCS spectrum, there are ways we can help to get some weight off!

 

 

Did you know that according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention over 50% of dogs and cats are considered obese or overweight?

If your pet is considered overweight, we worry about things like joint pain and mobility issues. We also are concerned about many life-threatening conditions overweight patients may be prone to that can reduce your pet's life expectancy and quality of life.

Getting the weight off can be hard, and we know that. We are here to help! What works for one pet may not necessarily work for another when it comes to weight loss. Believe it or not, we offer "diet" foods for our pets that help promote metabolism and weight loss. When needed, we offer measuring services and can put together a specific "healthy weight protocol" designed just for your pet. With a strict diet and feeding change, and a true commitment to increased activity, weight loss can be achieved and years can be added to your pets' life. We recommend giving food trials at least 3 months, and coming in for regular weight checks are encouraged!

Make it fun and set goals for you, your pet, and your entire family! 

 

Fun and healthy pet activities to incorporate in your every day:

 

  • When the weather allows, get outside! Going for regular walks is a bonding opportunity for you and your pet and a simple way to shed some pounds. 
  • If your dog plays well with others, dog parks are great places for your dog to release some energy, and  thus get some exercise. 
  • Do you have young children? Playing fetch is great for kids and dogs alike! 
  • Is your indoor cat lacking enough chance for exercise? Consider investing in toys or feline-friendly activity boards. Some toys make your cat work for the food, how creative is that?! A cheap laser-light can even provide your cat with endless chasing, and you with endless entertainment. 
  • If your cat is interested (and fully vaccinated and protected from parasites), get a feline harness and see if walks around your home can be a regular thing. You may be surprised! 
  • Stay positive, and don't give up on your pets' weight loss. Every little bit counts. 

Client Memo: Contagious Canine Influenza Identified in the Area

H3N2 Canine Influenza

Cases of a highly contagious Canine Influenza have recently been suspected and confirmed in some southern states. As of June 5th, this specific Influenza strain, known as the H3N2 Influenza, has been diagnosed in the Knoxville area. In a preventative effort, we would like to communicate what we know already and our plan to avoid a further outbreak.

What are the signs of this infection?

Dogs infected with H3N2 and showing clinical signs present with coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever. Left untreated, this can progress into pneumonia.

What pets are at risk?

The H3N2 Influenza strain was initially isolated and identified at a dog show in Georgia. Dogs from multiple states were in attendance at the show, so spread throughout the region is likely. Dogs spending time in close contact with other dogs are thought to be at the highest risk for exposure. This means pets being boarded, going to the groomer or dog park, and/or show dogs have a higher chance of contracting this particular virus. Elderly dogs, puppies, and those with other diseases are also more susceptible to Canine Influenza. Research does not indicate any cross-species transference to humans or cats. 

How is Canine Influenza spread?

Most strains of Canine Influenza are transmitted from dog-to-dog contact via coughing and sneezing. Precaution must be taken to avoid indirect transmission through clothing and fomites such as food and water bowls. Our sources indicate that proper cleaning and disinfection will easily kill the virus in the environment.

What should you do if your dog is showing flu-like symptoms?

If your dog is coughing or showing any signs of respiratory disease, please bring them in for a veterinarian check-up. Communicate with our staff that you are concerned about Canine Influenza. Keep your pet isolated from other dogs to prevent further transmission. The course for this infection is thought to last up to 3 weeks. We offer various tests to diagnose infection and disease, including one to determine if this specific Influenza strain is involved. If your pet tests positive for Canine Influenza, we will treat supportively and maintain healthy hydration.

How can Canine H3N2 Influenza be prevented?

We offer a vaccine to prevent this strain of flu. We will administer the H3N2 vaccine to any susceptible pet, and booster with a second administration 3 weeks later. If your pet is thought to be at risk for exposure to H3N2, please come to the hospital for vaccination. The vaccine distributor suggests to separate the administration of the H3N2 vaccine from other, routine shots. Ideally, we would continue to vaccinate against this flu yearly. If you plan on boarding your dog, having your dog groomed, or showing him or her in a competition, then vaccination is highly recommended.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call and speak with a staff member.