Author Archives: AZPetVet

Do Dogs Need a Flu Shot? Combatting Dog Flu in Arizona

Combatting Dog Flu in Arizona: What to Know About Flu Shots for Dogs

Cases of dog flu in Arizona have been in the news recently, with some limited
outbreaks recorded in Northern Arizona. Naturally, we’ve had a lot of calls from
concerned pet parents. We totally get it. Our pets are beloved family members. With
these outbreaks, some of us are left asking: do dogs need a flu shot? Or worse, does
my dog have the flu?

Since we happen to have more than 100 knowledgeable veterinarians within our
AZPetVet family, we decided to ask Dr. Chris Hummel from Westbrook Animal
Hospital to answer the most frequently asked questions about the dog flu in Arizona.

Q: Is dog flu the same as people flu?

No. From a viral standpoint, dog flu is NOT the same as people flu. The two strains of
Canine Influenza viruses found in the United States are H3N8 which researchers
believe originated in horses, and N3N2 which is likely of avian origin imported
directly from Asia. In very rare cases the dog flu virus has been known to infect cats,
but the flu poses little risk to cats beyond a runny nose, coughing and/or sneezing.

People don’t get dog flu, and dogs don’t get people flu. However, in people and in
dogs, there’s a gap between being exposed to the flu virus and developing
symptoms. That’s why we’ll so often see outbreaks happen in clusters. Somebody is
contagious and doesn’t know it until it’s too late; then suddenly everyone is sick.

From the American Veterinary Medical Association:
“H3N8 has an incubation period of 1 to 5 days, with clinical signs in most cases
appearing 2 to 3 days after exposure. Dogs infected with H3N2 may start showing
respiratory signs between 2 and 8 days after infection. Dogs are most contagious
during the incubation period and shed the virus even though they are not showing
clinical signs of illness. Some dogs may show no signs of illness, but have a
subclinical infection and shed the virus.”

Q: How would a dog catch the flu?

Almost the same way a person would. The virus is transmitted through the air by
sneezing and coughing (or barking, drooling and licking), or by contact with infected
surfaces including areas like communal water dishes. Most likely, they would come into contact with another dog that’s contagious. So exposure to the dog flu in
Arizona usually happens at places where you find lots of dogs; the dog park, doggie
daycare, a boarding kennel, grooming salon or dog show.

Q: Does my dog have the flu? – Dog Flu Symptoms

Well, here’s another area where dog flu is similar to people flu. Dogs with the flu will
show symptoms like fever, lethargy, cough, stuffy or runny nose, and watery eyes,
difficulty breathing, wheezing or rapid breathing. Checking on your dog’s wellness is
key to answering the question “does my dog have the flu”. If these symptoms don’t
sound like your dog’s or are more severe, see this article about dog poisoning to help
determine if you’re dealing with something more serious.

You’ll be able to tell your dog is not feeling well. Keep them quiet and away from
other pets to avoid exposing them to the virus. You don’t want to spread the dog flu
in Arizona. After isolating your dog, then it’s time to get busy.

The Canine Influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on
clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. Wash your hands frequently. Wash
your clothing, and clean and disinfect other items your pet may have touched. These
include kennels and crates, food and water bowls, collars, leashes, bedding, and toys.

Q: Is dog flu dangerous?

Do dogs need a flu shot? Is it serious enough to warrant giving my dog a flu shot?
The severity of the flu varies depending on the viral strain, the pet’s age, and overall
health. Most otherwise healthy dogs will recover from the flu without a problem or any special treatment required. However, it’s important to note that the cough may
last for up to 3-4 weeks.

Older dogs with weakened immune systems or puppies with underdeveloped
immunity are more at risk as their bodies will have a harder time fighting the virus,
so there’s a higher risk for developing pneumonia.

Dogs with short muzzles, like pugs and bulldogs, already have a compromised
respiratory system. Sore throats and stuffy noses would naturally make them feel
quite sick, so they’d need close monitoring and a trip to the vet’s office.

Q: How is Canine Influenza treated?

There is no specific treatment for Canine Influenza; however, if the answer to the
question “does my dog have the flu” is yes, then there are ways to support your dog
and keep them comfortable. The majority of treatments used in severe cases are
supportive. They may include IV fluids, oxygen, antibiotics, breathing treatments,
and mucolytics (a class of medications which help break down mucus to make it
easier to expel it from the lungs).

Q: So do dogs need a flu shot?

While vaccines are available for canine influenza, vaccination would only be
recommended for dogs at high risk for infection. It is important to note, vaccination
can only reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza, it may not prevent
infection. However, the flu shot can potentially reduce the severity and duration of
the flu. It’s best to talk over your concerns with your vet.

Q: Anything else we need to know?

One last, but very important reminder – people can’t get dog flu, but they can
inadvertently spread it if they’ve touched a contaminated surface (or petted one).
That’s why animal hospitals follow strict guidelines for cleaning and disinfection. We
take extra precautions when seeing pets that are exhibiting respiratory symptoms.
If you suspect your pet has the flu or has been exposed to it, or they’re having
respiratory symptoms, call us first. You may receive special instructions for bringing
your dog into the office. These restrictions are in place to reduce the risk of exposing
other animals in the waiting room to something that could be contagious.

Find an AZPetVet location near you

Cats May Be at Risk for Heartworm Disease

There’s a common misconception that cats are not affected by heartworm disease; we’re here to tell you that is false! So, if felines can get heartworm disease, is it the same as canine heartworms? Is it preventable? Let us help fill you in on the important facts surrounding how heartworm disease can affect our feline family members.

Feline and canine heartworm disease are the same in that they both are caused by a bite from an infected mosquito and can be potentially fatal. The difference is in the nature of the disease, and how it’s detected and diagnosed.

Heartworm Disease in Felines

Unlike dogs, cats are not a natural host for heartworms – which means the larvae will likely have a shorter lifespan. Fortunately, this makes it more difficult for heartworms to affect the larger organs, but can create significant heart, pulmonary artery, and respiratory problems. While it is less likely cats will get heartworm, this doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Studies indicate that a solid approximation would be 10%; so, for every 100 dogs that are heartworm positive, there will be 10 positive cases of feline heartworm.

In the cases feline heartworm, many cats will not show symptoms ultimately making it a difficult disease to detect. Often times, the symptoms – including coughing, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, and even weight loss – mimic those of other common diseases. If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, please contact us immediately.

Here is an incredibly important fact: There are both oral and topical prescriptions that can help PREVENT heartworm disease from occurring; however, there are currently no approved drugs for TREATING heartworm in cats. So, if your cat becomes infected, any treatments to kill adult heartworms can cause incredible health complications for your pet. As the adult worms die and pass through the arteries to the lungs of your cat when attempting heartworm treatment, it can cause failure in the lungs and sudden death of your beloved feline companion.

Talk with us at your next appointment to review the risks for your cat, and to discuss prevention opportunities that may work best for your individual pet. As your trusted partners in pet healthcare, we want to help you ensure that your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!

Is My Cat Too Fat? Is My Dog Too Fat?

Pet Health: How To Tell If Your Dog or Cat is Too Fat.

black and white cartoon of a fat catIf you’re asking ‘Is my cat too fat’ or ‘is my dog too fat’, the answer is more
likely yes than no.

In the U.S., it’s estimated that 57 percent of cats and 52 percent of dogs are
overweight or clinically obese.

It’s a great time for people who think their pet may be too fat to learn about
the common causes of obesity in pets. Good information means you can act
before excess weight negatively impacts your pet’s health, along with your
heart and your wallet. (Nobody needs extra vet bills.) So what’s the reason
behind your dog or cat gaining a few pounds? It’s usually due to three key
areas.

How Both Dogs and Cats Get Fat

Overfeeding: This is one of the main culprits in pet obesity – but it’s not
just treat-based. Many people simply fill their pet’s bowl with food
without thinking about calories. Always use a measuring cup and follow
the recommendations you’re your veterinarian along with the
manufacturer’s guidelines for weight, age, and activity levels. Keep
treats to a minimum. Ever slip treats to a pet wanting your attention
while you’re busy with something else? Don’t fall into the trap of using
treats as a substitute for personal attention. Stop what you’re doing (if
possible) and give them a few minutes of your time and attention.

Guilting You With Puppy and Kitty Eyes: They look so cute, so sweet,
so sad. If your pet learns you’ll reward them for a particular behavior,
they’ll work it for everything they can get. Don’t give into temptation.
Or at a minimum, make them work to get their treats to try to balance
things out.

Lack of Exercise: Make sure your dog gets walks regularly (it’s good for
you both) and that both cats and dogs get plenty of play time and
activities to keep them moving. And why limit the walks to dogs? Many
cats can be trained to walk on a leash – so why not give it a try?

If you feel your dog or cat is still gaining weight even if you’re watching their
food and exercising them regularly, reach out to your local vet for guidance.

But how can you tell if your pet is too fat? Let’s break it down!

Is My Cat Too Fat?

Here are some things to look for to tell if your cat is too fat.

● When feeling for your cat’s ribcage, the buoyancy of your cat’s skin and
fat should feel the same as the back of your hand. You can easily feel it
with just a tinge or resistance.

● Weigh your cat. Domestic cats are ideally between 7 – 12 pounds, but of
course, the size – and breed – of your cat will also affect their weight.

● Does your cat have a noticeable waist? This is important to check for. If
not, then your cat needs to drop a pound or two.

● Does your cat have a tummy pouch? A little balloon of fat? If so, maybe
it’s time to get your cat in shape.

Consult your veterinarian.

Is My Dog Too Fat?

If you’re worried if your dog is too fat, here are some things to check for:

● When feeling for your dog’s ribcage, the buoyancy of your dog’s skin
and fat should feel the same as the back of your hand. You can easily feel the ribcage with just a bit of resistance. This varies a bit by breed, so be sure to check with your vet.

● Can you easily feel your dog’s spine and hip bones? If not, your dog may
need to drop a few pounds.

● Does your dog have a noticeable waist? This is important – if not, then
your dog may need more exercise.

Consult your veterinarian.

Remember, obesity in pets is not always due to too many treats and too little
exercise. Just as in humans, underlying health issues like diabetes, thyroid or
adrenal disorders can also cause weight gain in animals. If your pet is gaining
weight, or already overweight or obese, it’s time to schedule a visit to the vet.

 

 

How Often Should You Bathe a Dog? From a Puppy to an Adult

Dog Bathing 101: How Often Should You Bathe a Dog?

Some 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 bathe a dog? Do they really need baths? Let’s dig in!

Just like people, some dogs can get a bit stinky without a regular bath. On the other hand, some dogs do just fine with just 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.

This is especially true if you adopted a new puppy. Many people wonder “how often should I give my puppy a bath?” If they’re less than 8 weeks old, the answer is probably ‘none’. Unless they are in dire need of a bath, they should be kept dry as many young pups are unable to efficiently regulate their body temperature. Running a warm, damp cloth over them should do the trick. (More on puppy baths later…)

So how often should you bathe a dog?

  • A healthy adult dog: 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. If they have an underlying skin condition or allergies, you may need to bathe them more often using 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. While 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.
  • A newborn puppy: If this is your first time bringing home a puppy, congratulations! If you’re looking for tips on responsible pet care, check out this blog for pet care tips. Now to the question on your mind: how often should you give your puppy a bath? This depends heavily on the age of your puppy. During their first 8-12 weeks of life, puppies rely heavily on their mothers for everything — including proper cleaning and grooming. At this stage, the puppy should rely on their mother for grooming. If they do need a bath, you’ll be able to bathe your puppy the day you bring them home (assuming they are at least 8 weeks old).

Things to Consider

Have a dog that sees dirt and mud and runs to it? You’re going to need to give your dog more baths than a dog that prefers lounging around the house. But remember, there will always be exceptions to how often you should bathe a dog. For instance, short-coated breeds, as well as hairless breeds such as the Chinese Crested, will typically require more intensive care and regular maintenance. While this is only a general guide, try to come up with a maintenance plan based on the needs of your furry friend. Here are some things to consider:

  • Coat Type: Long-coated breeds may require more baths and grooming care than short-coated breeds. Additionally, some thick coated breeds like retrievers and Huskies can lose essential oils from their skin if bathed too often. This isn’t only true for these breeds – many breeds are vulnerable to the fur and skin drying out, so ask your veterinarian or groomer for guidance.
  • Activity: Again, if your dog is the type to run into rain and muddy water when possible or dig holes when they know they shouldn’t, you’re going to need to give them frequent baths.
  • Allergies and Health: If you’re adopting a dog with health concerns, bring them to your vet right away to establish an appropriate care plan. Search here for a nearby AZPetVet location.

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 from the fur and skin in order to prevent overheating or burns. Whatever your dog’s preference, 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 17 AZ PetVet Grooming locations, click here.

What to Know About Purebred Vs Mutt Health, Life Expectancy, and More!

Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know

There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!

Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs

  • Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
  • OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
  • Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!

Benefits of Purebred Dogs

One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.

  • Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
  • You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
  • Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.

Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences

When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.

So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).

What does this mean?

In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.

Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.

Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy

Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.

  • Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
  • Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
  • The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!

In Conclusion

Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!