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How Pets Help Relieve Stress

Stress Relief Animals: The Pawsome Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

Pet stress relief. Is this really a thing? Yes! As a source of companionship and unconditional love, pets give us an abundance of opportunities to laugh, connect with others, and create funny YouTube videos. While regular trips to the vet are vital for keeping your pet healthy and happy, did you ever stop to thank your pet for the health benefits they provide for you?

Chronic stress is a gateway to all sorts of health problems. Without a doubt, having pets has a strong correlation to stress relief. OK, maybe not so much during the puppy and kitten stage when they can be like miniature weapons of mass destruction, but with a little patience and training, it’s well worth the effort.

Numerous studies show that pets are not only good for our minds but also good for our bodies. Here are just a few of the ways that animals and pets help reduce stress and improve our health.

Pets have an uncanny ability to make us laugh. Doctors always say that laughter is the best medicine, and in many ways, it’s true! According to the Mayo Clinic, laughing activates and relieves the body’s stress response, soothes tension, relaxes tense muscles, and stimulates circulation. In addition:

Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” – Mayo Clinic –

You might be wondering, how does petting animals reduce stress? Humans have an innate need for touch. Physical touch not only builds trust, but also reduces stress and gives the immune system a boost. For instance, just the simple act of petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure several points. People can reap the benefits of touch by petting a dog or cat, but it’s especially important for people who are elderly or live alone. Having a pet can improve overall mood and health, and help reduce fearfulness and feelings of worry and isolation, which are contributors to stress.

Dogs relieve stress in humans in a variety of ways. While many of us hate the thought of getting up and going to the gym, we’re not quite so reluctant to get up, get outside and take a walk with the dog. Not only do we get the benefit of exercise and fresh air, walking the dog can even help us meet new friends or even potential partners – another mood booster!

Can cats help reduce stress? Yes, for all the same reasons that dogs do. Stress can compromise our immune system, so stress relief is an important part of maintaining your overall health. You might be surprised to learn that cats and dogs also help boost our immune systems. Studies show that children in homes with pets are less likely to develop allergies, so disregard all the old wives’ tales. Early exposure to pets and pet dander – this especially applies to cats – can reduce a child’s risk for developing allergies by up to 80 percent! Click here to learn more. In even more recent studies, pets – specifically dogs – are credited with boosting the immune system of children. Click here to learn more.

Animal therapy for stress is becoming more common every day. Pets reduce anxiety and help relieve the symptoms of depression and feelings of loneliness, which is why more hospitals, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation centers, and even prisons are incorporating animal-assisted therapy programs into their organizations. For instance, the beloved local nonprofit, Gabriel’s Angels, brings the healing magic of pets to help abused, at-risk, and neglected children learn to develop trust, respect, empathy for others, and other important life skills.

While you might think that all of these positive health benefits are limited to connections made with our furry friends, you’d be wrong! Many scientific studies show that interacting with fish, birds, horses, dolphins and many other animals can also help relieve stress. Whether they’re furry, feathered, or scaled, remember to thank your pet for all the health benefits they give to you by taking care of their health. Regular wellness visits to the vet, annual vaccinations, and consistent dental care can help keep your pet well, happy, and with you for many years to come.

[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.

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.

Polyuria and Polydipsia in Cats

How to Treat Polyuria and Polydipsia in Cats

As various factors change in a cat’s life, it’s common to see water intake and urination levels fluctuate to suit their current needs and environmental conditions. However, if you notice your furry friend drinking a lot more water or urinating more frequently, this could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

If your cat is making more frequent trips to the litter box or cleaning out its water bowl quicker than usual, these could be signs of polyuria or polydipsia. While polyuria and polydipsia themselves are not typically an immediate cause for concern, understanding these conditions and their causes are important in helping you determine if a visit to the vet is in order.

What is Polyuria and Polydipsia in Cats?

Polydipsia refers to a sharp increase in thirst levels. Polyuria is an increase in urination. While it can be challenging to identify polyuria or polydipsia in cats, the best way to recognize potential problems is to monitor your feline friend closely. Start by measuring the water that you pour into your cat’s bowl in the morning. On average, a healthy cat will take in roughly 20 to 40 milliliters of water per pound per day. By measuring your cat’s water supply at the start and end of each day, you can determine whether or not your furry friend is experiencing polydipsia.

One way to help identify polyuria in your cat is to observe the amount of wet litter inside of your cat’s litter box each day. In many cases, the cat might be experiencing an increase in urine volume caused by polyuria, and might also urinate outside the litter box. If you’re noticing more wet litter or an uncharacteristic change in your pet’s potty habits, it’s time to make a vet appointment right away.

Causes of Polyuria and Polydipsia in Cats

Many factors can lead to polyuria and polydipsia in cats. However, the primary causes include congenital abnormalities, specifically those related to renal failure. Additional causes of polyuria and polydipsia in cats include:

● Diabetes
● Kidney failure
● Uterine infection
● Liver disease
● Low protein diets
● Age

How to Treat Polyuria and Polydipsia in Cats

Treating polyuria and polydipsia in cats depends on a case-by-case basis, and is determined by the severity of the situation. The primary concern is that renal or hepatic failure could be the leading cause of polyuria or polydipsia. However, if both have been ruled out as possible causes, no treatment or significant life adjustment will likely be required for your furry friend.

By themselves, polyuria and polydipsia are not necessarily an initial cause for concern. However, if symptoms continue and are combined with other behavioral changes, make an appointment to have your cat evaluated by a veterinary professional right away.

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.

How to Include Your Pet in Holiday Festivities

Five Fun Holiday Ideas for Your Furry Family Members

The holiday season brings family gatherings, parties, gourmet feasts, celebrations, and of course, lots of gifts. Since pets are part of our families, it’s fun to include them in the celebrations whenever it’s appropriate. Here are five fun ways to make your pet’s holiday merry and bright!

1) Have a Holiday Photo Session. Whether your family is into ugly sweaters, or cute matching outfits, including your animals in your holiday photos can be fun. Consider dressing your pet in a festive holiday bandana, themed collar, or a matching outfit if your pet is willing and receptive). These photos will allow you to cherish the memories of your holiday fun together!

Make sure your pet looks their best on holiday photo day. Schedule a pet pampering groom at any of the following AZPetVet locations.

2) Have a Family Snow Day. Some refreshing playtime in the cold, crisp air will get everyone into the holiday spirit! Pack the car, and head north for a romp in the snow. Manypets, will enjoy running and playing in the magical snow. Don’t forget to bring a coat or sweater to help keep them warm outside, pet snow shoes/boots, plus some cozy towels for drying off after playtime in the snow.

3) Buy or Bake Special Pet Treats: The holidays bring cookie exchanges and lots of tempting treats, most of which are on the no-no list for pets. Whether you’re making them homemade pet-friendly holiday cookies or buying treats from your favorite pet shop, make sure your pet has some savory or sweet holiday treats, too.

You can find a myriad of homemade treat recipes on the internet, but you’ll want to make sure that they don’t contain any inappropriate ingredients (or aren’t too high in calories) for your Individual pet. Be sure to check the recipe with your vet before you get baking!

Special Cat Treat Recipes

Special Dog Treat Recipes

4) Spoil Them With Gifts. Not that you need a reason, but the holidays provide the perfect no-guilt opportunity to spoil your pets. Gifts of toys, accessories like a new collar or leash, treats, a warm, cozy blanket or a new pet bed will help make their holidays wonderful.

5) Give to Other Animals. Animal shelters and rescues can always use more volunteers, especially during the busy holiday season! Busy holiday schedule, so no time to volunteer? Make a donation of money, food or toys. Each holiday season the AZPetVet family of animal hospitals conducts a Holiday Donation Drive to support local non-profits. This year, we are collecting for GrandPaws Pantry and Helping Hands for Homeless Hounds. You can drop off a donation at any AZPetVet location!