Older Spay Increases Risk of Breast Cancer in Pets

Most people know that spaying a pet eliminates the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, but the benefits don’t end there. Perhaps just as important, spaying your pet at a younger age significantly reduces the risk of breast (mammary) cancer. If your dog is never spayed, she has a 1 in 4 chance of developing a mammary tumor at some point in life. Risk is Also Reduced in Cats Getting your cat spayed before one year reduces the risk of mammary cancer by about 90%. While half of mammary tumors in dogs are malignant (likely to be invasive or spread to other areas of the body), most (~85%) mammary tumors in cats are malignant. When To Spay? If you have a new puppy or kitten, talk to your veterinarian ab

Give the Gift of a Pain-Free Mouth

This holiday season, when you’re choosing a gift for your furry friend, consider scheduling an annual dental cleaning. After all, what says, “I love you” better than a pain-free mouth? Animal Care Clinic's dental season savings will be our gift to you. Bad Teeth Are Painful When I was a kid, my family had a little dog named Polly. Her breath was stinky and her teeth were a little brown, but we never thought about it much. Dogs have doggy breath, right? Now that I’m a veterinarian, I wonder about how much discomfort Polly was in. Along with smelly breath and ugly teeth, dental disease causes pain. This is because teeth have sensitive nerves that become painful when irritated. Just ask anybody

Reverse Sneezing

Anytime I hear about a pet having trouble breathing, my heart skips a beat. Respiratory problems can be life-threatening emergencies and should be taken seriously. Immediate care is necessary and making the right diagnosis quickly is critical. Fortunately, some cases turn out to be nothing more than reverse sneezing. Reverse sneezing? Surely, doc, you’re making that up. Reverse Sneezing Reverse sneezing, also called inspiratory paroxysmal respiration (if you want to sound smart or bore your friends), is a well-documented behavior in dogs. (It is uncommon in cats.) Reverse sneezing can sound like a chainsaw trying to start, or a little engine going full speed. During the process, dogs may ext

Little Mouths, Big Problems

Small dogs are popular for their big personalities that can still fit on your lap. For apartment dwellers or people who prefer not to wrestle with a big dog, these little characters can make for an excellent addition to the family. Crowded Teeth Spell Trouble Unfortunately, when it comes to teeth, small dogs have more issues than their bigger cousins. Little dogs are more likely to have crowded and abnormally positioned teeth, which promote tartar and bacteria. Eventually, tartar and bacteria lead to loose and infected teeth (dental disease). Dental disease is often painful because it irritates nerves. If you have ever had a toothache, you know just how painful it can be! If dental disease g

BARF Diets: A Raw Deal

If you Google the best food to feed your pet, then you are likely to come across suggestions to feed your pet a raw food diet, often called a BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet. While those success stories might seem convincing, it is important to remember that feeding raw food to your pet is not without risk, and there are safer options to manage problems like allergies and digestive issues. Risk Versus Reward The major concern with feeding a BARF diet is the increased risk of illness in people. Dogs that eat raw meat are known to pass dangerous bacteria such as salmonella in their poop. Although dogs usually tolerate salmonella, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in people. Bact

Vomiting is Never Normal

People sometimes tell me that their pet is throwing up once or twice a week. “But that’s normal for him,” they add. Unfortunately, this is simply not true (even for cats). Could you imagine if you vomited once or twice a week? By week two, most people would be calling their doctor to schedule an appointment. Fix the Food If your pet has good energy levels and a normal physical exam, then a dietary change may help with occasional, chronic vomiting. When telling your veterinarian about your pet’s diet, remember to include treats, including dental chews and human food. These little extras may cause stomach upset. If treats are removed but vomiting continues, then changing the dog or cat food is

How to Pick a Pet

When it comes to adopting a new pet, the options can seem endless. Dog or cat? Large breed or small? Young or adult? Breeder or rescue? Which is best? Before you spend hours searching the Internet or head out to the shelter to find the cutest one, first consider your own personality and lifestyle. While the perfect pet does not exist, some pets will be a better match for you than others. Energy Level Are you a go-getter or do you prefer to relax and watch a movie? A runner would be happier with a young, athletic dog, whereas a homebody would be content with an older dog or a cat. Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t running now, you probably aren’t going to pound the pavement because you a

Your New Puppy: Raising a Canine Good Citizen

“Sparky, sir. Reporting for duty.” Much like people, dogs require basic social skills and manners to succeed in the world. Here are the top 5 skills and behaviors that you should be teaching your puppy from an early age. 1) Sit, stay, and come: These basic instructions are handy in a wide variety of situations. Start in the house and then add distractions, so that your dog will perform them anywhere. (Yes, even at the vet!) 2) Walking on a leash: It might be alright to keep Fido off the leash if he lives in the backyard, but the day will come when Fido will need to leave the house. If he pulls, then consider an Easy Walk Harness, which will help stop pulling without causing pain. 3) Crate tr

Your New Puppy: Adventures at the Dog Park

When all those puppy vaccines are done, many owners want to take their puppy straight to the dog park. While the dog park can be a fun-filled romp with other lovable mutts, it can also be an overwhelming or dangerous place for a puppy. If your puppy has yet to interact with other dogs, or is known to be shy, the dog park should wait. Good social skills are needed to visit the dog park because of the unpredictable nature of other dogs. Knowing Warning Signs A well-socialized dog understands warning signs of aggression from other dogs. For example, a growling dog means “keep away.” Puppies must learn these signals, preferably first from friendly canine companions. If your dog is unprepared, th

Your New Puppy: Balancing Vaccines and Early Socialization

From 2 months old to 4 months old, puppies must receive monthly vaccinations to protect against infectious diseases such as parvo and kennel cough. A common piece of advice is that puppies should be isolated from other dogs during this time. While isolation reduces infectious disease risk, puppies also miss out on critical socialization time. Instead of keeping your puppy hidden from the world, create safe opportunities for your puppy to socialize with people and dogs. Ask friends and family members to let your puppy meet them and their dogs. Dogs should be vaccinated, healthy, and friendly. Focus on quality of interactions instead of quantity. Always supervise socialization. Remember, your

Giving Pills to Your Pet

When it comes to giving pills to your pet, an easy-going, hungry pet is no problem, while a stubborn, finicky eater can be downright frustrating. Follow these guidelines, from easiest to toughest, in order to make sure your furry friend is getting those oral medications. Wrap in a Treat Wrapping medication in food is your first option. Pill Pockets are soft, yummy treats that mask the taste and smell of medications. These can be purchased through your vet or at the pet store. Instead of Pill Pockets, lean turkey is also a good choice. Cheese may be an OK option, but dairy products are known to cause stomach upset in dogs and cats, so watch out for diarrhea. If your dog knows that treats cont

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