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Pet Suffocation Hazards in Your Home

Recently we’ve seen a few videos making the rounds featuring pets with food bags or other items stuck on their heads. While many people find these videos cute or funny because the animals are seeking treats or people food, the truth is these animals are in serious danger!

Cats and dogs who forage for food can easily get their head stuck in a bag. As they breathe in, the bag will quickly form a vacuum-like seal around their head. The pet will begin to panic from being stuck and not being able to breathe normally. Without immediate intervention, it will die from asphyxiation in just a few short minutes.

Sadly, pets of all ages, strengths, and sizes die from asphyxiation more often than you might think, and it’s completely preventable.

Chips, cereal, crackers, pet treats and other tasty foods are usually packaged in plastic, Mylar™ or foil-lined bags. These bags can be deadly for pets and children, too! Other common suffocation hazards include bread bags, cheese bags, and hard plastic/cardboard containers. 

Biggest Suffocation Hazards
Snack (e.g., cracker, popcorn, etc.) or chip bags (69%)
Cereal bags (8%)
Pet Food bags (8%)
Pet Treat bags (5%)

Where Pets Find These Bags
In or near the home trash can or recycling (32%)
Grabbed off a coffee table or side table (21%)
Grabbed off a counter (11%)
Found under a bed (7%)

Safety Precautions to Protect Your Pet
Store all snacks and foods contained in bags safely away from pets and kids
Serve your snacks in bowls instead of eating out of the bag
Make sure your trash cans are sealed tightly and your pets can’t get into them
Keep a close eye on pets during parties or gatherings where snack foods are served
Cut or tear food bags along the bottom and sides before discarding

Remember, ANY pet could get ahold of a snack bag and get stuck – without help, your beloved pet could suffocate within 3-5 minutes. Take the time, rip the bags, and save the heartache.

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.

How Often Should Cats See the Vet?

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.

How do you brush a cat’s teeth?

When asked ‘how do you brush a cat’s teeth?, cat owners and veterinarians will most likely answer, “VERY CAREFULLY”.

While the joke is good for a small giggle, the better question is WHY you need to clean kitty’s teeth. The answer? Because they’re teeth. They get dirty.

Adult cats have 30 teeth – so there are a lot of places for problems to begin. Regular brushing at home combined with dental cleanings at the vet helps reduce plaque and tartar build-up that kickstarts inflammation and allows disease to creep in.

So, how’s your cat’s breath?

Get up close and personal to get a whiff of your cat’s breath. Is it regular old cat breath (meaning slightly fishy, but not overwhelming) or ‘OMG…I can’t even, oh noooooo…’ breath?

If it’s the first, great – that means you still have time to establish a preventive dental care plan.

If it’s the second – you and your cat have a real problem. Foul breath is the first indication of oral health problems and disease. Make an appointment with your vet. Don’t delay.

Still good? Go a bit further…

If your cat will allow it, gently flip their lip to reveal the teeth and gum area. Look for redness, swelling, bleeding, or inflammation of the gums. You’ll probably see discolorations on the teeth, too. Are any of the teeth chipped or broken? Any of these conditions require professional care.

Call your vet and make an appointment. Don’t delay.

Speaking of appointments with the vet…

All cats and dogs should have an annual health check up. Part of a thorough health check includes checking the pet’s teeth and gums for signs of disease. Sadly, too many domestic cats and dogs don’t get regular veterinary care until they are injured or they show definite signs of being sick.

Remember, your pet can’t tell you their teeth hurt, and cats are notorious for hiding pain. Don’t wait until your pet is clearly in pain or distress.

Not quite convinced?

February is Pet Dental Health Month, so you’ll save $50 off a dental treatment at any Arizona PetVet location. Find the nearest location.

Flip the Lip: Recognizing Dental Disease in Pets

Periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed preventable disease in dogs and cats. By age three, nearly 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of dental disease, which can lead to more severe health problems.

There are strong links between gum disease and heart disease in humans and animals, so prevention is the key. Here’s why:

Get down on their level. Flip the lip. Take a close look at the REAL condition of their teeth.

Are their gums pink and healthy, or red and inflamed?
Can you see discolorations on the teeth or at the gum line?
Is there evidence of any loose, cracked, or broken teeth?

We’re betting there’s a lot more going on in there than you realized. Luckily, it’s National Pet Dental Health Month, so pet parents can save $50 off a dental cleaning for Fido or Fluffy at any AZ Pet Vet location.  We’ll even help you create a simple, regular home care plan for keeping doggy and kitty grins brighter.