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Key Ways to Keep Cats Happy and Healthy

It’s been said that dogs have owners, and cats have staff. Cat people can testify to the truth of this statement! Our furry friends rely on us to keep them safe and fed, so here are some key ways to make sure your furry overlord stays happy and healthy for years to come:

Take them for regular veterinary exams: Your cat needs an annual physical so your vet can monitor health changes – better yet, take them to the vet every six months. During an annual exam, we check for signs that can indicate health problems like dental disease, gingivitis, abnormal thyroid, heart murmurs, kidney disease, tumors, and other possible health concerns. Regular health exams are especially important for senior pets (ages 7 and up), so if you haven’t been to the vet lately, make an appointment.

Weight control – fat cats may be cute, but obesity can kill: An estimated 40 to 70 percent of cats in the United States are obese, which is a strong risk factor for developing diabetes. While diabetes can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes, prevention is a better approach.

If your cat is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about a weight loss program. From reducing the amount that you’re feeding your cat, moving them to a more metabolic-friendly diet, to using a slow-feeding method that’s more aligned to their natural predatory instincts – your vet can help determine the right moves for your pet’s health.

Give them plenty of potty options: What’s the magic number of litter boxes for cats? Simple – one litter box per cat plus one more. So if you have two cats, you’ll need at least three litter boxes.  Three cats require at least four boxes, and so on. Why the extra box? Well, nobody likes using a dirty bathroom (scoop daily!).

Cats can also be quite picky, territorial, or downright jerks to one another. Cats have been known to block access to the box or intimidate others to keep them out of the litter box. Make sure there are options on each floor of your home or in multiple rooms so you can avoid any nasty surprises. Once again – scoop daily!

If you have a sufficient number of clean litter boxes, but your cat refuses to use the box, you may need to change to another litter (avoid highly scented ones!). If the problem continues, have your vet check for medical problems like urinary tract disease, kidney problems, or urethral obstruction.

Play time is more than just play: Take a break every day to play with your cat. Regular play time can help keep your kitty’s weight down, provide mental and physical stimulation, and strengthen your bond. Make sure your cat/s have plenty of exciting interactive toys that satisfy their need to pounce, swat, and stalk – these will go a long way towards preventing the 3 am “I’m awake, get up and play” moments.

In Praise of Pet Sitters

Pet SittingHiring a professional, qualified individual to care for your pet while you’re traveling makes great sense for both you and your pet. March 5 – 11 is Professional Pet Sitters Week – so let’s take a moment to review why you might choose a pet sitter, and what makes a pet sitter a good choice for you and your pet.

Ask your family, friends and neighbors for recommendations. Before selecting a pet sitter, you should interview the candidates over the phone or at your home to learn all about a prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services.
Benefits for Pets
Staying in their familiar environment
Keeping their regular diet and routine
No stress from unfamiliar places with other animals
Reduced exposure to potential illnesses carried by other animals

Benefits for Pet Parents
No calling in favors from friends and neighbors to care for your pet
Peace of mind – your pet is being cared for by a professional
No newspapers and mail stacking up to attract potential burglars

Have a Home Visit First
Have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring them. Watch how they interact with your pet – it’s important for your pet (and you) to be comfortable with the person. When possible, hire the pet sitter to care for your pet while you’re away on a short trip, such as a weekend excursion.

Making Plans

  • Remember, to make reservations for pet sitting early, especially during holidays.
  • Make sure your pet is well socialized and comfortable with strangers handling them.
  • Make sure current identification tags are on your pet’s collar.
  • Maintain a regular vaccination schedule for your pet.
  • Leave clear instructions with schedules and important numbers.
  • Post emergency contact information for you and your veterinarian on the fridge.
  • Buy plenty of pet supplies in case you’re away longer than planned.
  • Review home safety features such as circuit breakers and security system with the pet sitter.
  • Leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor or friend, and give them and your pet sitter each other’s phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.

No time to find a pet sitter? Many of AZPetVet’s hospitals offer boarding. Find a location near you.

How Often Should I Give My Dog a Bath?

Bathe me nowSome dogs just can’t resist rolling in mud, dirt or worse. Obviously, this means bath, stat! But outside of these dirt emergencies, how often should you give your dog a bath? Do they really need baths?

Just like people, some dogs can get a bit stinky without a regular bath. On the other hand, some dogs do just fine with a regular wipe down to remove dirt and grit. (We don’t recommend this approach for people.) Baby wipes are perfect for daily cleaning of the coat, paws and muzzle. They’re gentle and won’t cause irritation.

A good rule of thumb is to give your pet a bath once a month in the tub or shower, using warm water and a gentle dog specific shampoo, or you can use baby shampoo. If they have an underlying skin condition or allergies, you may need to bathe them more often with a medicated shampoo. Use a soap free or moisturizing formulation so their skin doesn’t get dried out. Your vet or groomer can recommend the type that’s right for your pooch. Never bathe your dog more than once a week unless it’s recommended by your vet.

Dog BathWhile you’re bathing your dog, take special care to note any lumps, bump or skin changes that could indicate a health problem. If you find something of concern, be sure to let your vet know.

How to Dry Your Pet After Bathing

Rinse well, and dry with soft towels. Some dogs will allow you to use a hairdryer on a warm/cool setting, while others will freak out or consider it playtime. If you use a hair dryer, be sure to keep the nozzle at least 18 inches away to prevent overheating or burns. Whatever your dog’s preference, just dry them the best you can, and enjoy their after bath antics. Be sure they’re dry before going outside, or you’ll most likely be headed right back to the tub!

Not into the do-it-yourself dog bath? Regular grooming appointments can help keep your pet looking and smelling great! To find one of our 15 AZ PetVet Grooming locations, click here.

Five Pawsitive Health Effects of Pets

shutterstock_310796843Every year, people make all kinds of resolutions to lose weight, get healthier, get more exercise, and get outside more. One of the best ways to get started is to get a pet. Many scientific studies have proven that pets can have a “pawsitive” effect on your overall health. Did you know: 

Pets can improve your physical fitness: Even small changes can help improve your fitness. Play time along with simply getting up and down to let your pet in and out can be a workout, depending on the pet. Even better? Take them outside for regular walks, or to the park where they can play and run with other dogs. One other bonus – it’s good for your pet’s health, too!

Pets are natural mood enhancers: Studies show that pet owners are generally happier and less lonely than people without pets. A faithful pet companion can provide you with years of unconditional love, and their cuteness factor will definitely lift your spirits!

Pets can help lower your blood pressure: Just petting an animal lowers your blood pressure naturally by increasing levels of oxytocin, a hormone related to emotional bonding that also promotes the feeling of calmness.

Pets can help prevent allergies in children: A clinical study showed that very young children who have been exposed to pets were less likely to develop hay fever, asthma, allergies and eczema as they got older, and had fewer upper respiratory infections than children who had not been exposed to pets.

Pets can help lower your cardiovascular risk: According to the American Heart Association, numerous studies of pet ownership and health risks concluded that pets, particularly dogs, are associated with a reduction in risk and increased survival rates among patients. Pets help lower cholesterol, stress, and blood pressure levels which can help reduce the risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease.

In Celebration of Black Cats (11/17 – National Black Cat Day)

black cat
Do you love black cats or are you superstitious? Do black cats make you nervous or scared? In honor of National Black Cat Day, let’s take at a few pros and cons of black cats and how they balance out.

PRO: Mysterious history full of exotic tales about witches and spells.
CON: Mysterious history full of exotic tales about witches and spells.

PRO: Beautifully silky black fur.
CON: That sticks to your light colored clothing (and everything else).

PRO: Gorgeous bright gold or green eyes.
CON: That scare the pants off of you when they’re all you can see in a dark room.

PRO: In many cultures, a black cat crossing your path is good luck.
CON: Until you trip over them in the dark.

PRO: Black is always in style.
CON: Unless orange really is the new black.

VERDICT: No matter what color the cat, it will make a wonderful paperweight, as it lounges comfortably on that stack of papers you were so desperately trying to organize.