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Pets’ Mental Health & Pet Stress Relief

We Prescribe Exercise – the Natural Stress Relief for Pets

When it comes to pets and mental health –– OK, pets and physical health, too –– we prescribe exercise, the natural stress relief for pets. Yes, we all know we should exercise, but the same is true for pets. Low activity levels lead to boredom, feelings of loneliness, weight gain, and possible mental health and behavior issues for your pet (the same is true for humans). Luckily, the solution is usually simple. Get up, and go outside for a walk together. Don’t just wait and put it off or we assure you the results won’t be good. 

For pets’ mental health, the #1 enemy is boredom. We’ve all seen funny videos of pet parents coming home to a giant mess while the pets (usually dogs) make a big production of looking innocent. Who chewed the couch cushions? Who ate my new shoes/the remote/the pillow? Who got into the trash? Who did this? Who, indeed. Idle paws are the devil’s workshop! 

Pets that get destructive or develop behavior problems are often acting out of sheer boredom and loneliness to release stress while unconsciously causing more of it. Attention seeking behaviors like pawing, jumping, whining, and barking are also telltale signs that your pet’s mental and physical health needs to be addressed. 

Think about it. Pets are often home alone for a large part of the day. Of course, now that more of us are working at home, pets are trying their best to ‘help,’ begging to get your attention or for treats while you’re trying to work. Add kids, and oh, boy–stress galore for everyone.

Feeling stressed is universal these days, and our stress can spill over to affect pets. Our faithful furry friends know our every mood, and they only want to please us, so when we’re down, they’re going to feel down, too. So, remember, healthy pet parents, make for healthy pets. Exercise relieves stress and improves mental health. Pet exercise, such as a daily walk or playtime, provides natural stress relief for pets, and people, too. The mental stimulation means pets are far more likely to stay out of trouble (and the trash can). Exercise or playtime spent with your pet is pawsitive and fun, rather than based on “no, stop that,” or “go lay down,” so everyone feels happier. Plus, you never know, you might meet some new friends along the way!

Still not sure? January is National Walk Your Pet Month, and the weather is beautiful around this time, so no excuses. Walking is good stress relief. Make it a goal – get up, grab the leash, and go on an adventure. It’s good for your heart and your pet’s heart, too. So, head outside and stretch those muscles and joints. Burn off some excess energy and fat with your pet! There’s no better stress relief than watching your pup’s eager interest in new sights, smells and sounds, and their wagging tail.

 

[DISCLAIMER]

Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Get Ready for National Dress Up Your Pet Day

national dress up your pet day

Celebrating National Dress Your Pet Day

It’s that time! Thursday, January 14th is National Dress Up Your Pet Day, and yes, there is a day for that! So get out those silly sweaters and cool costumes and get ready to dress your pet to impress!

National Dress Up Your Pet Day was introduced in 2009 by celebrity pet lifestyle expert and animal behaviorist Colleen Paige. It’s meant to celebrate the wondrous gift of pets and helps to support the pet fashion community–yes, that’s a thing too!

If you’re having trouble picking out the perfect ensemble, check out these suggestions we shared during the last dress up your pet day. Just remember, dressing up your pet is fun but has the potential to be dangerous if you’re not careful. PetFirst shared these outfit and costume safety tips and strategies to help guide you through the holiday:

  • Be aware of choking hazards – Play it safe. Detach any loose pieces, check for buttons, decorative flowers, and any other small parts that could easily come off and be swallowed. Please don’t leave your pet unattended while they’re dressed up. 
  • Consider your pet’s age – Avoid dressing up very young or elderly pets. Puppies and kittens are more likely to chew on the costumes. Older animals may be suffering from joint stiffness or other health issues, making it a challenge to get them in and out of clothing. 
  • Be flexible – What you envision may turn out to be completely different from what your pet allows. Please don’t force your pet into anything, or they will be miserable. Be willing to shift some things around, removing pieces your pet finds uncomfortable. 
  • Conduct a trial run – If you’re looking to show off your pet on your morning walk or zoom call, test it out in advance. A trial run gives you a chance to determine how your pet feels about their new attire and allows you some time to tweak as necessary. Remember to reward with treats to make the clothing experience more positive. 

Alternatives to Clothes

Maybe your pet’s not a fan of clothes. That’s okay! It doesn’t mean you’re out of luck on celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet Day. Instead, add some fun fashion flair or cute accents to your pet’s wardrobe:

  • Bandanas
  • Bow Ties
  • Fancy Harness
  • Decorative Collar
  • Collar Accessories
  • Other Accessories

We want you to go ALL out and want to see all of the different ways you choose to celebrate the day. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Have a friend or family member take photos of you and your pet in their fun outfit – yes, a pet photoshoot!
  2. Use #DressUpYourPetDay on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Celebrate by dressing up your pet in comfortable pet clothing – maybe even pick out matching outfits if you’re feeling wild – and share it for the world to see! If pets have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t care what anyone else thinks… so matching outfits are not only welcomed but encouraged! Silly as some of these holidays may seem, National Dress Up Your Pet Day is the perfect excuse to spend some quality time with your pet (as if we need a reason!). 

10 New Year’s Resolutions to Make With Your Pet

New Year's Resolutions

Ten Fun New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners and Pets

We learn so much from our pets every day. So, what if we started thinking about those daily life lessons as resolutions that we can carry into the New Year? Easy! Start by thinking up a list of New Year’s resolutions for your pets. Then, take that list and think about how to turn it into New Year’s resolutions for pet owners, too! 

Now, we don’t mean that you, as a pet owner, should make it a New Year’s resolution to stop digging through the trash (unless that’s something you need to stop doing).  What we mean is that a new year is a perfect time for self-reflection and positive change, and there is nobody better to have by your side or more supportive of your goals than your beloved furry companion.

Here’s a list of some simple resolutions that guarantee you a healthy and happy New Year with your pets:

Resolution #1: Make New Friends. 

The best life lesson you can learn from a pet is that a person’s background plays no part in whether or not they’ll make great, lifelong friends. Be social while remaining safe and socially distant, and expand both your and your pet’s social network. Get some fresh air, hit the dog park, head out for a hike. You never know who you’ll meet along the way. 

Resolution #2: Say Sorry. 

Maybe this is more of a New Year’s resolution for pet owners but it’s relevant nonetheless. The best way to right our wrongs is with a heartfelt apology. It’s easy to be headstrong, but it’s easier to own up to our errors and make amends as necessary. When things get a little tense on the road, or you’ve had a rough day at work, say sorry. And when your pet goes to lift his leg on the furniture or carries your favorite shoes outside, he’ll look up at you with round, sweet eyes and do the same. 

Resolution #3: Exercise.

Boredom combined with excess energy leads to bad choices for people and pets. Exercising is guaranteed to be less boring with a friend–a four-legged one to be exact. It’s easy to categorize exercise as a chore, but regardless, it’s good for the mind, body, and soul and can make a world of difference to our outlook in 2021.

Resolution #4: Be Carefree. 

Maybe your pet runs a little funny, or rolls around outside until he’s covered in grass, or plops his legs out behind him like a goofball when he lays down but does any of that slow him down? If pets have taught us anything it’s that it’s okay to be unapologetically ourselves, that letting loose and living in the moment is the fastest route to loving life.

Resolution #5: Nap Often. 

Naps are the best way to refresh yourself and clear your mind. There’s absolutely no shame in a cat nap…why do you think your cats are always so relaxed? Because they give their minds and bodies the time that it needs to unplug, unwind, and just veg out a little. Enjoy a nice, quiet night in on New Year’s Eve with your pets and catch up on some much-needed sleep! [Your cat approves this message.]

Resolution #6: Change Perspectives.

It never hurts to look at things from a different angle. Seeing things in a new way might open up your mind in ways you didn’t know you needed. Grab your pup pal or feline friend and lay down, hang your head off the end of the couch, even stick your tongue out if it feels right, and just look at things from a new perspective. 

Resolution #7: Smile Often.

This is best done as a team. After all, there’s really nobody better at making you smile than your pet and vice versa, nobody makes your pet happier than you. Ring in the New Year with your pets and spend some extra time enjoying the little things with your littles, be they people or pets. 

Resolution #8: Up Your Social Media Game.

This isn’t just a great excuse to share a happy New Year pet photo but it’s another great way to expand your network and a chance to enjoy some downtime with your furry friends. Pet-stagrams are a hit so we say go for it. You want to show them off, they want to show off, and we definitely want to see them – so what’s stopping you from treating us to some sweet pics on social media in 2021? Get ‘gramming!

Resolution #9: Learn Something New.

A new year is the best time to pick up a new hobby or learn something new. Get crafty in 2021, take on new DIY projects, do some much-needed home repairs, try out some new baking recipes for your pet. Impress them with some homemade treats then use them to reward your pets for learning some new tricks or commands. It’s a good year to try some things outside of your comfort zone. 

Resolution #10: Give and Take.

This seems to come so easily for our pets but we, too, must remember the importance of giving. Express gratitude for those around us whether it’s in words or acts of kindness. And just a reminder to the pets out there: if you want a treat, you give a kiss. We don’t make the rules. 

Nothing guarantees a happy New Year with pets like setting goals for yourself along with some funny pet New Year’s resolutions. There’s no telling what the future holds but after a wild year, everyone deserves to make some plans they can look forward to and set some goals they know they can achieve in 2021!

 

Detecting & Managing Worms in Dogs

worms in dogs

What Causes Worms in Dogs? 

Nobody wants to think about anything creepy or crawly invading their pup’s internal organs. Still, it’s every pet parent’s essential responsibility to understand the risks, signs, and treatment options available if your dog contracts worms. The first rule is don’t panic. Worms are a relatively common condition in domestic dogs, typically referred to as intestinal parasites, and can infect dogs of any age. Some worms can even be transferred to people, with immunosuppressed people and small children being the most vulnerable.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that there are five types of common worms in dogs that parents should be aware of: roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, and heartworms. 

“What do worms look like in dog poop?” is perhaps the most common question we hear our pet parents ask. Certain roundworms and hookworms will appear as small to large, off-white to tan, spaghetti shaped parasites in the stool. Tapeworms will appear as small, off-white to tan segments in the stool or clinging to the hair around the privates. Fresh segments will be white and may expand and contract, but dry segments often resemble rice grains or sesame seeds and are darker in color. However, some worms can be digested and won’t appear in the stool.

The Arizona Humane Society lays out how each of the common worms in dogs might be transmitted: 

  • Roundworm – Commonly transmitted to puppies prior to birth (while in the uterus). They can also be transmitted by nursing from an infected mother and through feces or contaminated soil. Ingesting infected rodents also increases susceptibility. 
  • Tapeworm – Commonly transmitted by fleas as a result of self-grooming and swallowing an infected flea that grows into a tapeworm.  
  • Hookworm – Commonly transmitted by eggs passing through feces of infected dogs and hatching into larvae. These larvae can often be swallowed or penetrate the dog’s foot pads or skin. Nursing dogs can also transmit hookworms to their pups. Hookworms are transmissible to humans.
  • Heartworm – Larvae are transmitted by mosquitoes from pet to pet and are prevalent throughout the country. Dogs that are infected carry thousands of microscopic larvae within their bloodstream, and when mosquitoes bite, they suck out the blood, swallowing the tiny worms and passing them to the next dog they bite. The adult worms grow quite large in the heart and lungs and can be life-threatening. 
  • Whipworm – Commonly transmitted by ingestion of food or water contaminated with whipworm eggs. Those eggs mature and attach to the intestinal tract, feeding on the dog’s blood. The eggs are often passed through the stool and remain in the soil where they mature, then the process repeats. Grooming tools can also carry contaminated eggs.

The Humane Society also provides detail for each parasite and their related symptoms and prevention. However, each parasite impacts every dog differently.  Here are some general warning signs owners can look out for:

  • Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Pot-bellied appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Poor coat appearance
  • Intestinal blockage/pneumonia
  • Deficiencies in nutrition
  • Anemia
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite

Not all dogs with parasites will have clinical signs. Parasites come in many shapes and sizes, and although some may be impossible to see with the naked eye, they can still cause severe problems. Luckily, they’re preventable and treatable with proper veterinary care. 

Many deworming medications have been proven safe and effective, however, it is always recommended to discuss with your veterinarian prior to administering any medication. Worm infestations can be life-threatening for dogs if caught too late or left untreated. Some parasites can be transmitted to their human companions. It’s recommended that you check your pet frequently for parasites with the help of your pet’s veterinarian. This way, they can work with you to develop a treatment plan and get your pup on the fast track to recovery.

If you’re worried your pet might have a worm infection, immediately contact your nearest AZPetVet location and make an appointment.

If you would like to learn more about parasites visit https://www.petsandparasites.org/

 

[DISCLAIMER]

Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Holidays & Your Pets

Keep Pets Safe This Holiday Season

Next to spending quality time with extended family and friends, shiny decor and sweet treats are easily some of the greatest parts of the holiday season. However, before you pull out the tinsel or chocolate chips, make sure you establish a safe location to store these items far out of your pet’s reach. No matter which holiday you’re celebrating this winter, there are plenty of pet safety tips for New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and so on to help ensure your pets stay safe.

Holiday Decor

Mindfulness when setting up your space for the holidays tops the list of important Christmas safety tips for pets to follow. Decorations are half the fun of the holiday season, but unfortunately, most of them are dangerous to animals. 

Broken ornaments may expose your pets to loose shards of glass, and strands of tinsel may be toxic if ingested. Specifically, cats love to chase the sparkle of tinsel and ribbon, so you’ll want to monitor your feline friend closely around these items.

Twinkling lights add that extra glow, but you want to be sure to tuck excess electrical wires or batteries out of sight to avoid any curious paws. Christmas tree lights tend to heat up rather quickly, and one sniff can result in a bad snoot burn. Put your tree on a timer and never leave the lights on when you’re not home.

Fire can be mesmerizing for animals, so you’ll want to keep any candles out of reach, especially since the holiday scents often smell like food and easily attract those silly rascals. Remember to blow out your menorah candles every night along with any others you have scattered around and never leave any flame unattended!

Festive Greenery

Keeping an eye on festive plants, trees, and other greenery is essential among other Christmas safety tips for pets. While Amaryllis flowers are beautiful, they can be deceiving along with mistletoe, pine, cedar, holly, balsam, lilies, and poinsettias. If you’re not careful, their festive foliage can result in serious medical problems like heart issues or kidney failure, so it’s best for pet owners to steer clear and pick out artificial arrangements instead. 

Regardless of real or artificial, the pine needles found in festive trees and wreaths can be harmful to pets if consumed. Keep an eye on the water source to make sure your pets aren’t drinking it, and try not to leave your pets unattended with these items. It’s safest to choose a location for these decorations that’s off-limits to your pets. Otherwise, select an area that you can temporarily fence or block off if, for any reason, you’re away for the day and make sure it’s completely secure and won’t topple over on anything or anyone.

Seasonal Treats

Fudge, sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, candy canes, cakes, pies, chocolates – you name it, it’s hazardous and should be stored far out of reach. Holiday dinner may also bring temptation, and you may find your pet begging for “people food” under the table. But, It’s best not to indulge your pet with table scraps as consumption of heavy food items like stuffing, turkey, potatoes, and more can cause upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and worse. Also, be sure to put any leftovers away to avoid your pets helping themselves to a snack while you’re in the other room enjoying dessert.

Changing Seasons

Along with festive decor and delectable treats, the holidays bring colder weather than usual. Although adjusting may come easier in Arizona, winter brings excessive dryness, which only increases dehydration risk. Some simple cold weather safety tips for pets, tips for hiking with your dog, or tips for those just looking to take a quick trip to the snow are being mindful of your dog’s age, weight, and size and be sure to check paws regularly for hydration. Smaller or shorter-haired dogs are more susceptible to lower temperatures and may benefit from a festive sweater. In contrast, larger, longer-haired, or double-coated breeds tend to be more tolerating and might overheat if dressed in any garments. 

Additionally, the holidays come with end-of-year excitement, so it’s essential to follow these few pet safety tips for New Year’s Eve to minimize risk and ensure safer celebrations:

  • Keep pets in a secure room
  • Make sure all pets are wearing collars with ID tags
  • Keep alcohol away from pets
  • Never leave pets outside during fireworks
  • Distract nervous pets with white noise or toys
  • Clean up firework debris before letting pets outside
  • Keep streamers, noisemakers, balloons, and tinsel out of reach

Animals love to use their mouths to examine foreign objects, which poses a high risk for choking and swallowing. 

Pets are such a rewarding addition to any household. They deserve to enjoy the holidays in the safest environment possible and to be cared for as we care for ourselves and the rest of our family. By becoming aware of the different hazardous holiday household items, you and your pet will be able to enjoy a safe and fun holiday season together.

 

[DISCLAIMER]

Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately