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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Reducing Stress of Visits to the Vet: Feline Edition

Regular wellness check-ups are important to keeping our furry friends healthier longer, but it’s well known that visiting the vet can be a stressful event. While dogs can be frightened by a visit to the vet’s office, without a doubt, if there was an award for “Most Stressful Performance by a Companion Animal”, cats would win it every time.

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Too often, taking a cat to the vet requires a world class wrestling match to just get them into the carrier (hopefully, without creating the need for a blood transfusion for the owner). Once you’ve corralled your creature, it’s time to get in the car. While we understand that a Valium or two might sound great right about now, it’s important for you to keep your wits about you as it’s most likely going to get worse.

Cats like predictable surroundings, so a ride in the car can produce some wildly unpredictable behavior punctuated by yowling, hissing and scratching anything that gets too close to its carrier. Next comes the wait inside the reception area, where your feline friend may decide to cower in the corner of the carrier, or pace wildly, all while continuing to yowl and hiss about what a terribly abusive owner you are to bring them to such a place. Pretend it doesn’t matter. Virtually everyone in the waiting area is going through the same thing, so they’ll understand.

While taking trips to the vet’s office will most likely never be completely stress free, there are many things you can do to help make these trips to the vet easier for everyone.

• Get your cat used to their carrier by incorporating it into their daily life – don’t save it solely for trips to the vet or they’ll have a bad association.

• Give your cats a regular head to toe examination at home – it helps them get used to being handled, and gives you a chance to catch changes early.

• Take your cat along on short car rides that DON’T end at the vet’s office – getting them used to being in the car can make a world of difference in their behavior.

• Make sure your cat can stand, sit, and turn around comfortably inside their carrier – you wouldn’t want to feel like you’re being restrained, would you?

• Include a favorite blanket or towel from home inside their carrier – the familiar smell of home can help calm your pet.

• Leave your cat inside its carrier while in the waiting room – trust us on this one.

• Animals can pick up on your moods and anxiety so remain calm, and speak to your cat in soothing tones.

So when is the last time your cat got a health check up? If the answer isn’t within the last six months, then it’s time to give us a call. We promise your pet will be treated like our own.

National Cat Health Month

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According to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey, almost 80 million American families own pets of some sort. Going by the poll numbers, it’s clear that “Team Cat” is in the lead: approximately 86 million of America’s pets are cats versus an estimated 78 million dogs.

So when it come to healthcare, why do so many cats fall so far behind? Quite simply, because their owners wrongly believe their cat doesn’t need routine wellness check-ups. Most often, they want to avoid the stressful ordeal of making the journey to and from the vet’s office.

According to a veterinary care study by Bayer, 58% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian and 38% report they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

Cats need to visit the vet at least once per year, but ideally they should be seen every six months. February is National Cat Health Month, so we’re going to look at some of the reasons why you need to make an appointment for your kitty ASAP!

  • Teeth cleaning & dental care (it’s also Pet Dental Health Month!)
  • Spaying & Neutering – cats are prolific breeders, so it’s a must
  • Changes in a cat’s health can happen quickly, so preventive care is important
  • Sick cats often show no signs of being ill – they hide symptoms and pain well
  • Early diagnosis of health problems equals early intervention/better outcome
  • Regular vaccinations are vital to protecting your pet from diseases

Don’t wait for veterinary visits – make regular head to toe exams for your cat part of your routine. While you might not know what to look for, you’re far more likely to pick up on any changes in your pet’s health, and as a bonus it helps your pet get used to being handled.

So when is the last time your cat got a health check up? If the answer isn’t within the last six months, then it’s time to give us a call.

Five Reasons Why Dental Care is Important for Pets

dental month blogAmerican Animal Hospital Association guidelines recommend regular examinations and dental cleanings for all adult dogs and cats annually, starting at one year for cats and small-breed dogs, and at two years of age for larger-breed dogs. February is Pet Dental Health Month, so to help you keep your pet’s choppers in sparkling condition, AZ Pet Vet is offering $50 off dental treatments. Simply mention this blog when booking.

Here are five reasons why you should incorporate dental care into your pet’s healthcare plan:

Brushing means better breath. Bad breath can be an indicator of periodontal disease in people and in pets. Regular brushing helps keep teeth healthier and breath better, so those slobbery kisses won’t take your breath away.

Periodontal disease can lead to more serious health problems. Numerous studies show a link between gum disease and serious health issues like heart disease. Prevention is the best approach, so regular brushing, dental exams and cleanings are vital.

Four out of five dogs over the age of three have some sort of periodontal disease. Plaque and tartar build-up on teeth is a sign of trouble, so make dental chewies, teeth brushing and regular check-ups part of your routine. Our feline friends need regular dental care as well.

Like people, older pets could lose their teeth. Decay and gum disease can cause tooth loss in animals – a condition which can be very painful, and cause serious health problems. Regular care saves you money in the long run, and helps prevent tooth loss.

Dogs and cats are good at hiding pain. Have you ever had a toothache? It’s painful, and can make you quite sick. Your pets can’t tell you directly that their teeth hurt, so you might not realize they have a serious dental issue until it’s too late. If your pet is drooling more than usual, has bleeding gums, loose teeth, or suspicious looking spots on their gums, make the appointment today.

National “Prevent a Litter” Month

shutterstock_112177457Springtime tends to underscore the critical importance of spaying and neutering – it’s the time when shelters see sharp upticks in the number of homeless animals and unwanted litters. However, at at any given time of year, there are more cats and dogs available for adoption than there are available homes. In fact:

• It’s estimated 6-8 million homeless animals will enter overcrowded shelters annually

• 50 to 75 percent will be euthanized to make room for new stray and homeless animals

That’s a shocking number – one that could be dramatically reduced if people spayed or neutered pets as soon as it’s safe to do so. If an animal can go into heat, they can get pregnant, and launch a cycle of babies having babies.

CATS
Male and female cats are prolific breeders across their entire lifetime, which makes spaying/neutering all the more vital. Here’s why:

• Cats have their first heat as early as 4 months of age
• The average heat cycle lasts up to two weeks
• During heat, your cat will do everything it can to mate
• Intact males can smell a cat in heat from up to a mile away
• Cats can go into heat up to 10 times per year
• Unaltered females can have up to 3 litters per year

• Typical litter size for cats: 4 – 6 kittens

DOGS
• Dogs can have their first heat at age 5-6 months
• Unaltered females can have up to 2 litters per year

• Typical litter size for dogs: 4 puppies

Aside from preventing unwanted litters, spaying/neutering also has behavioral benefits, especially for the males. Neutered males will tend to stay closer to home rather than going out on the prowl for a mate (risking fights, injuries) and nasty behaviors like spraying and marking their territory will also be reduced or eliminated.

There are also long term health benefits associated with spaying and neutering – reducing the risk for uterine and breast cancer in females and testicular and prostate cancer in the males.

BOTTOM LINE
Generally, a fixed pet is a healthier, happier pet. It’s best to spay or neuter early – however, some large breed dogs may be healthier in the long term if you wait until they’re fully grown. Ask your veterinarian for advice.