Author Archives: Andrew Leger

Tropical Royalty – How to Take Care of an Iguana

Close-up portrait of iguana

Learn How to Take Care of an Iguana, Before Adopting One

Did you know that there are different types of iguanas? There’s the Desert Iguana, Galapagos Land Iguana, and Rhinoceros Iguana – just to name a few. There are some with spiky tails, some that live near the sea, and some that are pink or red in color, but the most popular iguana species that is often kept as a pet is the Green Iguana because they tend to be calm and easy to manage. Green Iguanas derive their name from the very beautiful, vibrant green color of their skin.

When you’re ready to expand your family and bring a scaly friend into your home, there are a few important details to consider to ensure that you are up to speed on proper iguana care and feeding.

5 Important Things to Know When Getting Ready to Take Care of an Iguana:

  1. Size & Space – Iguanas can grow to be very large, some reaching over 6 feet in length and weighing up to 20 pounds. A large iguana calls for a large iguana habitat and when selecting the appropriate enclosure, it’s important to note that iguanas are arboreal creatures, meaning they often live in trees and have an innate urge to climb. You’ll want to consider this when picking out the perfect iguana tank setup.
  2. Climate – The Green Iguana is native to South and Central America and some parts of the Caribbean islands. This is because iguanas thrive in tropical weather that is both rich in heat and humidity, so It’s important to provide a warm basking spot and maintain the appropriate humidity level in your iguana tank setup. You can increase humidity by providing a large pool of water or by purchasing a mister and lightly misting the entire habitat, including the iguana, at least twice a day. They are diurnal, which means, like humans, they’re active during the day and sleep at night so your iguana tank setup should have an adjustable climate system with daytime temperatures ranging from 80-90 degrees fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures hovering around 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Strength – Iguanas are strong, especially their tails as this is their primary defense system in the wild. Just like any pet, iguanas will need to go through a taming/training period and it’s not uncommon for the handler to experience a tail-whip here and there during this process. It’s all part of the fun in learning how to take care of an iguana.
  4. Introverts – Iguanas are not very social, nor are they cuddly and they can be a little bit lazy. As they get older, they often enjoy spending their days basking under a heat lamp or in the sunlight completely unbothered. However, if not properly or regularly handled from a young age, iguanas can develop irritable temperaments so while they may not want to go on long walks through the park, a little bit of extra attention each day will go a long way.
  5. Diet – While some reptiles have been known to indulge in insects, iguanas are natural herbivores, meaning they are at their healthiest when on an all-vegetarian diet. Some great examples of healthy greens include kale, collard greens, beet greens, alfalfa hay, broccoli, cabbage, parsley, and green beans. They can also enjoy fruits like apples, pears, bananas, and more.

Iguanas are ectothermic which means they rely on their environment to regulate their temperature. While this trait makes them a bit more adaptable, they are still sensitive to sudden environmental changes – like moving to Arizona! So, you’ll want to ensure your enclosure is accommodating for a smooth transition to the desert.

Proper iguana care and feeding are crucial to an iguanas lifespan. With the appropriate diet and environment, an iguana can live up to and sometimes beyond 20 years – so, as long as you research as much as you can and consider these factors, you and your iguana are sure to be lifelong friends.

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.

National Hummingbird Day September 5

Fun Hummingbird Information and Facts

They’re magical, colorful, and incredibly fast. With over 300 species, the hummingbird continues to mesmerize individuals with their jewel-toned feathers and lightning-fast speed. Known for the buzzing sound they make when they flutter around, which actually awarded them their name, these incredible birds are native to the New World and can’t be found in the wild anywhere else outside of the Western Hemisphere.

This month on September 5th, we celebrated National Hummingbird Day… what a great opportunity to learn more about this magical bird. For those who are interested in discovering expert tips on how to attract more hummingbirds to your backyard, patio, or balcony, you’ve come to the right place!

Hummingbird Information and Facts

These tiny creatures pack a lot of energy and power into a very small package. As they are widely known for their speed, here are some fast facts and information about hummingbirds to try to match their velocity:

  • The world’s smallest bird, the bee hummingbird, is on average roughly two inches long and weighs in at a whopping 2 grams.
  • These buzzing birds can’t use their feet to walk or hop but they can use them to scoot over on a branch, as well as to clean their feathers.
  • Hummingbirds lay teeny tiny eggs. In fact, they lay the smallest eggs of any species of bird — they can be smaller than a jelly bean!
  • A hummingbird’s beak doesn’t vacuum up nectar. Their tongue actually flicks the nectar up at a rate of 10 to 15 licks per second.
  • The hummingbird can reach a top speed of 50 miles per hour and their wings can flap at roughly 80 beats per second.
  • Although these birds have no sense of smell, their sense of eyesight is impeccable.
  • These talented birds are the only birds that can fly backwards.

Despite their size, there are hundreds of interesting facts and information about hummingbirds. Interested in learning more? Discover more facts about hummingbirds here.

How to Attract More Hummingbirds

Are you looking to draw in more of these alluring birds to your backyard or balcony? Luckily, there are a number of ways to attract more hummingbirds to your outdoor oasis. One simple tactic to utilize is to use a bright red hummingbird feeder. However, you also need to be strategic about where you place the feeder for optimal results. Consider hanging the feeder near a natural perching area that offers shelter, as opposed to out in the open. On top of this, try to place the feeder out of direct sunlight to slow down the fermentation process. Then, to ensure the hummingbirds keep coming back for more, routinely check on the feeder to make sure it never runs out of nectar.

If you want to go above and beyond and you have the space, you can create a hummingbird garden with a variety of their favorite flowers, trees, and shrubs. If you opt to do this, it is recommended that you utilize a number of native plants and flowers in varying colors. When picking out flowers, aim for flowers that have longer, more tubular shapes as these attract hummingbirds the most.

Best Time of Day for Hummingbirds

If you want to have better luck spotting a hummingbird in your backyard, it’s important to know the best time of day for hummingbirds. The best time of day to watch hummingbirds is usually during dawn or dusk or even in the early morning or late afternoon, just before the sun goes down. Although these are their favorite times to eat, hummingbirds can still be spotted throughout the day. For those in the U.S., hummingbirds are more active and common during the spring in April and May as they are migrating north.

With National Hummingbird Day this month, be sure to take a moment to discover all of the fun and interesting information and facts about hummingbirds. Then, if you want to be able to witness some of these magnificent creatures for yourself, consider applying some of these techniques to your backyard, patio, or balcony to attract more hummingbirds to your space.
[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.

Heartworm Awareness Month

How to Avoid Heartworms in Dogs

Springtime in the Greater Phoenix area brings mosquitoes, and with them comes an increased risk for heartworms, a serious parasitic disease that’s found primarily in dogs and cats. According to the National Heartworm Society, at least 22 different species of mosquitoes can carry heartworm larvae, and more than 100,000 dogs contract heartworms each year.

Remember, these are actual worms. Heartworms can live directly within the infected animal’s heart or the neighboring large blood vessels for years. In severe cases, up to several hundred worms could be present, and each can grow up to a foot-long. As heartworm disease advances, it can result in a myriad of health complications including severe lung disease, heart failure, and damage to other organs. It can even be fatal. That’s why prevention is critical to pets that may be at risk.

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

In the early stages of heartworm disease, many dogs will show few symptoms or worse, no symptoms at all. The longer the infection is present, the more likely symptoms will develop. It’s important to get your dog tested, and onto a course of preventive treatment if your vet recommends it.

Signs of heartworm disease may include:

  • Mild persistent cough
  • Lethargy/avoids exertion
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Cats

The signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include:

  • Coughing or asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Heartworm Preventative Comparison

It’s estimated that more than 1 million dogs are heartworm positive nationwide. Since prevention is the only way to protect your pet, it’s a simple matter of consulting your vet about an oral, topical, or injectable preventative medication at your next veterinary appointment. While heartworm medications don’t prevent infection from occurring, they do kill any existing heartworm larvae that were transmitted since the last monthly treatment, so they don’t have the chance to cause health problems.

An annual blood test and preventative oral, topical, or injectable medication are the best weapon against heartworms. The combination of an annual test along with a scheduled dose of monthly heartworm preventative at home (or an injectable preventative at your wellness appointment) is the most effective way to help protect your pet from this disease.

Heartworm Prevalence By Zip Code

Can your zip code make a difference in the level of risk for heartworms? Generally, yes, but the parameters are usually a bit broader. Due to local climate and rainfall, some areas of the country have mosquitoes all year round, so the risk for dogs to contract heartworms is definitely higher than for dogs in hotter, drier areas of the Southwest. While heartworms can be contracted any time of year, the risk for dogs in the Phoenix area is dramatically elevated in the weeks and months following rainfall (spring/fall) or monsoon storms (late summer), when mosquitoes tend to thrive.

Heartworm Cases in Arizona

While Arizona has seen an uptick in heartworm cases in recent years, it’s largely due to neglecting preventive measures as well as an increase in mosquitoes. While inside Maricopa County risk for heartworm remains moderate, a trip to Sedona, Flagstaff, or even another state can put your pets at risk. Ask your vet about establishing your pet on a heartworm preventative program.

Treatment of Heartworm Disease

Prevention, prevention, prevention. Effective treatments for heartworms in dogs do exist, but they are expensive and painful for your beloved pet to undergo. There is no treatment for heartworms in cats. Ask your veterinarian about a suitable heartworm prevention treatment program.

Thinking about traveling with your pet? The Pet Disease Alert Tracker can be helpful for pet owners who want to take precautions before traveling or to manage risk factors for pets with health conditions.

[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.

Avoid Springtime Pet Hazards like Fleas & Ticks & AZ Rattlesnake Season

Spring in the Desert: Fleas, Rattlesnakes and Poison Prevention

Springtime is an excellent time to get outside to enjoy the sun and warmer weather with friends, family, and your furry companions. However, as exciting as spring can be, it also can come with numerous health and safety concerns that can be detrimental to the wellbeing of your pet. As we begin to dip our toes into the spring season, now is a great time to brush up on the various seasonal hazards that may put your furry friend at risk.

Spring Cleaning

Spring offers a wonderful opportunity to start the season off fresh with many folks tackling some heavy-duty cleaning! However, as you’re getting into every nook and cranny in your house, be sure to keep your pet’s health top of mind at all times. Cleaners and chemicals – even the organic ones – can contain harmful ingredients that can cause damage to your furry friend’s health. When cleaning your house, try not to use cleaners or chemicals in areas and on surfaces where your pet likes to hang out. In addition to mindful use, properly storing your cleaning materials will also help to keep your pet safe. Animal poison prevention is vital when spring cleaning your space. If you suspect that your furry friend has ingested poisonous substances, be sure to contact your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

Make a note of the number: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435.

Seasonal Critters

Humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy the springtime – this warmer season also brings out a variety of critters that also enjoy basking in the sunshine. As Arizonans know, this time of year draws out snakes from their cozy hibernation quarters underground. While not all snakes are dangerous, pet owners need to be prepared for Arizona’s rattlesnake season. An encounter with one of these creatures can be deadly for your furry friend. Always be aware of your surroundings and where you step while on walks or hiking with your beloved pet.

Along with snakes, the warm weather also brings out an abundance of bugs – including mosquitoes. To help keep your pet safe, be sure to maintain your furry friend’s heartworm preventative medicine and be aware of the early signs of heartworm disease in dogs and cats.

Remember, being outside and going on walks increase your pet’s chances of having bugs hitch a ride on them – including fleas and ticks. On top of using medications prescribed by your vet to help prevent fleas and ticks, be sure to regularly check your pup’s body for these critters after being outside.

Allergy Season

Springtime in Arizona means different fruits and veggies are in season, as well as various plants blooming. Yes, it’s true – pets can have allergies too. Common allergies for pets include various foods, pollen, plants, and even dust. Just like their human counterparts, your furry friend’s allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms can include sniffling or wheezing, while severe symptoms can be as life-threatening as anaphylactic shock. Watch your pets for signs of allergies so you can take the necessary steps to keep them safe, happy, and healthy. If you have questions about allergies, talk with your vet.

Springtime offers countless opportunities to create cherished memories under the sun, as the warmer weather beckons you and your furry friend outside. As exciting as this time of year can be, it’s still essential to make your pet’s health and safety your number one priority. Be on the lookout for health risks that can come into contact with your pet. Seasonal allergies, cleaning materials, and desert critters can all put a damper on this season for both you and your pet. Utilizing early prevention tools, along with being aware of your environment, can help to ensure your springtime is a blast.

Need a good vet? Visit AZPetVet.com/locations to find one near you!

[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.

February Dental Health Month Awareness

Why Dental Care is Important For Pets

The American 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. However, a National Pet Owners survey found that only 14 percent of dogs and 9 percent of cats receive dental care at the veterinarian’s office. Because of this, it’s estimated that four out of five dogs over the age of three have some sort of periodontal (gum) disease. Gum disease is one of the three most common diseases in cats today.

Numerous studies show a link between gum disease and serious health issues such as heart disease. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream from their teeth and mouth, leading to potential infections of your pet’s heart, lung, kidneys, liver, and nervous system.

As we are approaching National Pet Dental Health Awareness Month (coming up in February), this is a great time for us to discuss the importance of dental health in pets, its effect on their overall health, and best dental care practices at home. Without further ado, let’s get right into It!

Brushing For Better Breath

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

Preventing Tooth Loss

Decay and gum disease can cause tooth loss in animals. This condition can be very painful and may cause serious health problems. Regular dental care saves you money in the long run and can help prevent tooth loss.

Symptoms of Hidden Dental Problems

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, schedule an appointment right away! A dental exam is the best way to identify issues before they have a serious impact on your pet’s health. Your veterinarian will observe your pet’s face, their gums, cheeks, palate, and bite patterns to isolate dental health concerns and recommend cleaning and/or treatment.

Dental Hygiene for Cats and Dogs

Wondering what you can do to help your pet’s dental health? Here are some tips to help get you started!

CATS

  • Brush your cat’s teeth – daily is best, but minimum at least 2-3 times a week; avoid human toothpaste, but select a pet-specific kind. These will come in flavors that your pet will accept (fish and poultry). It is recommended that you ease into brushing over 1-2 months.
  • Have your vet recommend cat dental-specific treats, water additives or other products to help reduce plaque and calculus.
  • Have your vet check your cat’s teeth and gums at each visit.

DOGS

  • Brush your pup’s teeth – daily is best, but minimum at least 2-3 times a week; avoid human toothpaste, but select a pet-specific kind. These will come in flavors that your pet will accept (fish and poultry). If your dog becomes restless while brushing the side “cheek” teeth and it appears to be painful, please have this checked out as soon as possible.
  • Have your vet recommend dog dental-specific treats, water additives or other products to help reduce plaque and calculus.
  • Have your vet check your dog’s teeth and gums at each visit. While these are all great tips, the bottom line is that dental health is a very important aspect of your pet’s overall well-being. Have some more specific questions?

Speak with your veterinarian and ask their advice on your specific pet and plan an appropriate dental care routine…not just during Pet Dental Health Awareness Month, but for many years to come!

Need a great vet? We have many! Visit us at www.AZPetVet.com and find the location nearest you.

[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.