Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

New Pet? Let's Get Started off on the Right Paw!

Have you recently made a commitment to decide to adopt a pet? Or have you already brought your pet into your home and are wondering how you can be the best pet parent you can be for your new companion? In this article, we’ll offer some tips on how to ease the transition of your pet into your home as well as get him or her started onto a healthy journey, maximizing the time that will be spent with you!

Tip #1: Prepare your home.

This sounds simple, but in reality, you really need to view every item in your home from the height of your pet. Perhaps furniture items that you never give a second glance to harbor curious extra sniffs, tugs or even chewing. Consider what you are leaving out in your pet’s reach and remember that he or she really doesn’t know the difference between a $10 pair of shoes or a $350 pair of shoes. As an alternative, have several pet-safe toys in the area your pet will be occupying. Clear away anything else that you don’t want to have innocently damaged.

Secure an appropriate crate, food and water bowls, and check for pet licensing requirements where you live.

Tip #2: Schedule your pet’s veterinary visit.

Preventive care is the key to your pet’s overall health. Vaccinating against disease, such as lyme, leptospirosis, Bordetella (kennel cough), and implementing other preventive measures to protect against heartworm, or tick-borne illnesses, help to not only keep your pet healthy and parasite free, but your family members, as well! On your pet’s first visit, we’ll help to set up a vaccination schedule and help you know what you might expect at the various stages of your new friend’s life.

Tip #3: Start with a dental regimen right way.

Much like preventive care that we discussed in tip #2, proper care of your pet's teeth will also help to contribute to his or her overall health. We can help show you how to brush your pet's teeth, but you can also check out the video below! It's important to begin this routine early on in your pet's lifetime, so that they can not only benefit from the rewards of dental health, but to help desensitize them in having their mouth, gums and face handled. Our team can provide suggestions on some of the toothpastes and brushes that both we and our clients prefer.

Tip #4: Socialization

The window of time from several weeks up until about 4 months is a significant time for your new pet, especially as a puppy. This socialization period impacts him or her for the rest of their life in reactions to environmental stimuli. For kittens, this time may vary from 2-14 weeks. 

Why is this so important? By helping pets feel calm in fearful situations or unfamiliar circumstances, you’ll not only build their confidence, but also help reduce potential for aggression, fear biting, or submissive behaviors that become difficult to manage. 

Seek out local obedience classes or ask our veterinarians for suggestions on how to maximize this pivotal moment in your pet’s life. Are you noticing excessive barking, destructive chewing or house training issues that seem to be lingering? These tips may help.

Tip #5:  Choose Good Nutrition

Navigating food labels is complicated for us as humans. Trying to understand what our pets need can be even more difficult. It’s important to choose a high quality pet food that meets each stage of your pet’s changing physical and mental needs. Our veterinary team can help provide guidance on the right amount of food, the best type for your pet’s individual needs, and what your pet’s feeding schedule should look like. Important to consider - even though treats may seem tiny and harmless to you, pet obesity is a common problem, and each calorie adds up in their overall daily dietary intake.

Tip #6:  Prepare for a Lifetime of Devotion and Companionship

Pets truly are a gift in our lives and they will be your most devoted of companions. By committing to a schedule of preventive care, parasite prevention and a healthy, active lifestyle, your pet will thrive and you’ll further strengthen the bond that you share. At Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo, we’re here to be with you on your pet’s journey of health, whether your pet is a dog, cat,  rabbit, gerbil, hamster, hedgehog, turtle, rat, chinchilla, ferret, guinea pig, pet chicken, duck, goose, snake, iguana, chameleon, frog, or, sugar glider! (or even, a tarantula!)

References:
Becker, Mikkel. “Your Guide on How to Socialize a Kitten.” Vetstreet, www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/your-guide-to-socializing-a-kitten.
Donovan, Liz. “Puppy Socialization: Why, When, and How to Do It Right – American Kennel Club.” American Kennel Club, 4 June 2015, www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/puppy-socialization/.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Pet Toys to Avoid This Holiday Season

With Christmas just days away, you may be scrambling for last-minute gift ideas for your dog or cat. Unfortunately, feeling rushed can cause you to choose toys for your pets with safety hazards that you might not have considered. Since the last thing you want to deal with on a holiday is finding emergency care for a sick or injured pet, we have highlighted some toys for both dogs and cats to avoid giving as gifts this holiday season.

Potentially Hazardous Dog Toys

What dog doesn’t love a nice meaty bone, especially one containing chicken, turkey, or another type of meat? According to the Consumer Affairs Division, all types of bones can splitter or shatter inside of your dog’s intestinal tract and cause a serious blockage. This goes for both raw and cooked meat on a bone. Fragmented bones can also present a choking hazard. It’s better to stick to toy bones to help satisfy your dog’s instinct to chew.

Balls are another toy that help to satisfy a dog’s urge to chew. However, you need to take special care to ensure that the ball is not so small compared to your dog’s mouth size that he could swallow it. Dog toys filled with beans or beads could easily cause a choking hazard if your dog rips one open.

Tug toys for dogs have come under some debate in the last few years. Some people feel they make dogs too aggressive and damage their teeth, while others feel it’s a good toy to teach dogs to share. Many pet owners feel that tug toys help to keep large breeds under control when they become overly excited. We encourage you to consider your dog’s size and temperament before giving this toy.

In regard to these or any toys, feel free to ask one of our veterinarians at your next visit if you have questions about the best options to help keep your pet's mind sharp and body physically active.

Potentially Hazardous Cat Toys

Cats love to bat at string, yarn, and ribbon, but these items can create a choking hazard unless someone is closely supervising. They can also become lodged in your cat’s intestines if he or she accidentally swallows them. If you choose to give your cat a toy with plastic eyes, a plastic nose, or any type of dangling ribbon attached, be sure to remove these items first.

Scratching posts for cats are an excellent way for them to sharpen their claws and relieve stress while saving your furniture at the same time. However, you need to ensure that the post is firmly secure and has enough weight at the top not to topple over on your cat when used.

Instead of these toys that present hazards, consider toys that help complement your cat's hunting instincts. For example, toys that hide food and make them "work" for their meal can help keep minds sharp and bodies fit. Keep in mind, that just like children, a cat may have preferences for one toy or another, so it is important to try a variety of options, and even change out the options as you discover your cat's preferences.

What Your Pet Wants the Most is You

Giving your pet safe toys this holiday season is certainly a loving thing to do. From a pet’s perspective, your love and attention are better than anything they could find wrapped up under the tree. At this busy time of year, be sure to take the time to spend uninterrupted time with your dog or cat simply snuggling or playing together. If you have any concerns about his or her health or simply want to schedule a check-up, contact Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo at your convenience. We hope you have a happy holiday and safe winter season.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Preparing for Cold Weather with Your Pet

 

Winter has already teased us with some very cold days in November. That means the real season will be here before we know it. Just like the other three seasons, winter requires pet owners to make some adjustments to ensure their favorite companion animal stays safe and healthy until the warm weather returns again

While it isn’t necessary to keep your pet inside all winter, we at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo encourage you to consider the cold weather from your pet’s perspective. If your dog spends a lot of time outside, for example, consider adding insulation to her dog house. Bring her inside when the temperatures drop below a comfortable level. Even if you think it looks silly and your pet protests wearing them, placing a sweater and booties on your dog on the coldest winter days is a good idea. The booties also protect your pet from injuries caused by cuts from ice or road salt.

Learn to Recognize Signs of Hypothermia and Frostbite

When your pet is consistently exposed to below-freezing temperatures, it could result in either of these conditions. Common signs of hypothermia include weakness, lethargy, uncontrollable shivering, and bright red or black body tissues. If your pet develops frostbite, you can usually see signs of it on his tail, paw pads, and ear tips. Please contact us right away if you notice exposed areas of your pet become red and then dark.

Look for These Winter Hazards, Too

Don’t be surprised if you go to start your car one morning and find a cat or small dog in the wheel well seeking warmth. A stray pet or possibly even a wild animal may try to get into the exhaust system or under the hood of your vehicle as well. Always double-check your car for extra visitors before starting the engine.

Unfortunately, anti-freeze poisoning of pets is common in the winter. The clear color and sweet smell attracts thirsty pets and they can become violently ill almost immediately. You can avoid this by storing any unused anti-freeze out of your pet’s reach as well as wiping spills in the garage or driveway immediately.

Besides damaging your pet’s paw pads, road salt can make her ill if she tries to ingest it. Be on the lookout for her trying to do this and cover her paws when walking to avoid an injury. Keeping the fur between toes trimmed can also help keep her paws in good shape this winter.

Be Prepared for Increase in Arthritic Symptoms

The cold weather can cause increased pain and/or stiffness in our aging pets. Joint supplements or receiving therapeutic laser treatments may be beneficial to help in reduction of inflammation. We're proud to offer Class IV laser therapy to our clients as an effective treatment for many cases of acute and chronic pain.

Don’t Forget About Chickens!

The downy feathers of a chicken help to keep them warm during cold weather. However, they need an insulated chicken coop free of drafts to be comfortable and remain in good health. When a chicken settles down at night, they typically does so on a perch. This helps to keep the feet warm but leaves the combs and wattles vulnerable to the extreme Minnesota cold. To prevent this, look around the coop and patch any holes. The added benefit of blocking drafts is that it also prevents rodents from entering the coop. Make sure your chickens always have a fresh supply of water (unfrozen).

Please contact us at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo if you need additional cold weather tips.

Image credit: Tomas Maracek / iStock / Getty Images Plus 

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