Nothing feels quite as good as scratching an itch, but when the itch keeps itching, it
can drive you batty! Our dogs and cats rely on us to take care of their needs, so it’s
important to be aware of excessive scratching. Fleas and ticks are the two most
common external parasites found in dogs and cats. Both can cause your pet to
scratch themselves more frequently.
Fleas and ticks are nasty little guys that survive by feeding on the blood of dogs, cats,
and sometimes people. They can also lead to health problems and carry disease. For
instance, flea bites can lead to health problems including constant itching (Flea
Allergy Dermatitis), anemia, and tapeworms. Tick bites can cause infections and
transmission of diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.
Prevention, prevention, prevention is the key!
Common Methods for Preventing Fleas and Ticks
Flea collars: Wearing a flea collar will be enough to protect your pet, right? Sorry,
not in every case. Flea and tick collars don’t always work, they have to be replaced
regularly, and allergic reactions are more common than you might think. Ask your vet for a preventative recommendation that will be suitable for your pet and lifestyle.
Adding garlic to a pet’s food to prevent fleas and ticks. Not really a great idea.
Garlic belongs to the Allium family (which includes onions, chives, and leeks), so it
can be poisonous to dogs and cats. Fleas and ticks will bite anyway
because it’s what they do. They find you and your pets delicious, so the garlic will just
add flavor. (Just for the record, feeding garlic to your pet will not prevent fleas and
ticks anymore effectively than you eating garlic would serve as protection from
vampires. Plus fleas and ticks are real threats; vampires are imaginary.)
Doing nothing to prevent fleas and ticks. After all, they’re a normal part of a dog’s
life, right? This is also a bad idea. If you’ve ever had a flea infestation in your home,
you’ll understand just how invasive and itchy these tiny critters can be when they’re
making a home around (and on) you and your pets!
Pets can develop severe hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions after even a mild flea
infestation. Trust us, now you’ll be hypersensitive every time you see your pet
scratching themselves. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to dogs
and cats. Ticks can transmit many diseases, including canine ehrlichiosis (tick fever).
Talk with your vet about creating a parasite prevention treatment plan that’s
suitable for your pet’s needs.
Fleas in Arizona
Fleas and tick populations tend to increase in warm and humid climates. Even in dry climates like Phoenix, fleas and ticks can still pose a threat to your pet, putting them at risk for serious
health concerns. They look for hosts to bite because they need blood to reproduce.
Arizona’s arid desert climate is true for only part of the state. We also have forests
and grasslands, which are ideal breeding grounds for fleas and ticks. With so many
people and pets engaged in weekend trips away and outdoor pursuits like camping,
hiking, and biking, it’s easy for pets (and you) to pick up a few hitchhikers along the
Fleas can be found living in shrubbery or piles of leaves and other debris, but they
also love carpeting, pet bedding, and dark, protected spaces under furniture.
Ask your vet about a parasite prevention program that’s suitable for your pet and lifestyle.
Ticks in Arizona
Ticks tend to live outdoors near the animals they feed on (deer, coyotes, possums,
raccoons, etc) but they’ve been known to hitch a ride on people and pets. If you are
going hiking or camping, pay special attention to ticks by checking
kids, people, and pets throughout your trip!
Checking your pets for ticks: Carefully examine your pet’s ears, groin area, and
spaces between their toes – ticks love to hide in nooks and crannies of the body
while they engorge themselves on the host’s blood. Undiscovered, a tick can feed
for days on its host, increasing the chance of spreading pathogens and disease. In
fact, a female tick will expand up to 10X her original weight.
Creepy crawly tick fact: While most male ticks die after mating, the females die
after laying anywhere between 2000-18000 eggs. That reality is more than enough
reason to establish a regular parasite prevention routine for your pets that allows
them to live a happy and healthy life!
Ask your vet about recommending a parasite prevention routine that’s suitable for
your pet and lifestyle.
*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.
Who has heard the saying “Aging is a Disease”? We definitely have! Aging is a natural process that happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean aging itself is a disease. What’s true is that senior pets are more susceptible to specific health conditions as a result of aging. Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, our fur babies can live longer and happier lives – with some extra TLC! Here are some of the most common age-related diseases, symptoms to look for, and how they can affect your pets.
Arthritis: We know how much dogs love to take walks, and cats love to jump onto their perch. If your pet begins limping on those walks or is hesitating to run and jump on their perch, they may be showing early signs of arthritis. Arthritis is a common disease amongst senior pets, where one or more of the joints are inflamed, resulting in continuous pain and muscle stiffness. Some large breed dogs such as German Shepards, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease in their elbows and hips. The best way to help prevent your pet from developing arthritis is weight management, which can help decrease the stress put on certain joints. In some cases, we can prescribe medication to help reduce swelling and pain. If you are noticing any changes in your pet’s physical abilities, please contact us immediately so we can discuss the options available to keep your pets feeling their best.
Vision Loss:Just as our vision can become impaired with age, so can our pets! The most common diseases that cause vision loss in pets are diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts. Vision loss can be hard to detect in pets because they often adapt by compensating with their other senses. Depending on the cause of vision loss, it can make it more challenging to prevent. Some common symptoms of vision loss include bumping into objects, cloudy, discolored or inflamed eyes, and even clumsiness and disorientation.
Dental Disease:Did you know that dental disease is the number one medical problem in dogs and cats? Yes, you read that, right! Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an inflammatory disease from leftover bacteria in the mouth, causing symptoms such as bad breath, problems eating, red gums and bleeding, and in severe cases, loss of teeth. If dental disease is left untreated, it can have adverse effects on the large organs in the body – including the heart, liver, and kidneys. To help fight dental disease, annual dental cleanings, and daily home care are highly recommended. Talk with us at your next appointment about preventative care and treatment options.
Cognitive Dysfunction:You may notice that your pet is beginning to have more of those “senior moments.” It may be that your pet is moving slower than usual, appearing to be more anxious or even seems disoriented and confused in familiar spaces. These behaviors can be the beginning signs of cognitive dysfunction – very similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive dysfunction is a neurological disease related to the aging of the mind, that can slow down all mental and motor functions as well as trained behaviors. The symptoms are typically mild and come on gradually, making it difficult to initially detect. If you suspect your pet is developing any of these symptoms or notice changes in their behavior, contact us right away.
Heart and Kidney Disease:With age, many of the large organs in the body are known to slow down. Heart and kidney disease are similar in that they both consist of progressive loss of the organ function. Some common symptoms of heart disease are lethargy, coughing, and rapid breathing. Similarly, common symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, and increased urination and thirst. Both of these diseases are tricky to detect because the symptoms can either appear gradually or very suddenly. While both can be preventable, treatment may consist of oral medication and changes to their diet.
Ultimately, you cannot stop the aging of your pups and kitties; but what we can do is work together in an effort to detect these disease symptoms sooner rather than later. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!
What to do when you encounter a wild animal with your pet
When living in Arizona, encountering a wild animal with your pet isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. Depending on where you live in the Valley, your pet may be more or less likely to share the backyard with many different guests during the fall season. While these wild animals may look cute and tame, they can often pose a threat to your domesticated pet if they feel threatened. Here are a few tips for pet owners to ensure that both your animal and those in the wild are safe from harm.
It can be tempting to let your dog off-leash when hiking in wooded or desert areas, but this can be dangerous. When roaming freely, you never know what your pet may confront or be exposed to if the opportunity arises. Without the restraint of a leash, dogs encountering a wild animal for the first time can be aggressive and fearless. Unfortunately for Fido, these animals often have pokey quills, strong hooves, fangs, or other defense mechanisms. Giving wild animals enough space – think of it as a buffer zone – is another way to reduce you and your pet’s risk of injury. Keeping your dog on a leash ensures that they won’t run off and potentially spook an animal.
If you want to take more than one of your pets on a hike, bring another person along! Attempting to manage more than one pet alone while hiking through the desert can be challenging, so having an extra set of hands can help you act in an emergency, and of course, keep you and your pets as safe as possible.
Your backyard may seem like a safe place for your pets to roam about, but there are still a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to wild animal safety.
No food left behind. Wild animals are curious, especially if there’s food involved! Make sure to take food bowls back into the house after mealtime, and minimize human clutter that could potentially attract unwanted wild animals to your backyard.
Scoop the poop. Pet waste is another drawing factor that piques the interest of animals near and far — picking up after your pet keeps your yard clean and free of wild visitors.
Pet supervision. Wild animals are most likely to be in the neighborhood in the early morning and late at night. Accompanying your pet outdoors during these times is a great safety measure to reduce the chance of harm coming to your animal. If you do happen to confront an animal, try to stay as calm as possible, make yourself appear as big as possible, and make loud noises to deter the animal from approaching.
What to do if your pet is injured
Most wild animals are more afraid of you than you are of them; and while the odds of your pet getting hurt by a wild animal are relatively slim, it absolutely can happen! In the event that your animal is injured by a wild animal, it is essential to be cautious. Pain and fear can make even the tamest pet act aggressive and snappy. First, ensure that the danger/threat has passed. Second, assess the injury carefully while limiting contact with your pet in order not to aggravate the wound or pain. Third, before moving your pet find a veterinary location near you immediately (if possible) and call to notify the staff you will be bringing the injured pet to the clinic. Never delay in obtaining treatment for your pet.
Also, remember to remain as calm as possible in order to help reassure your pet that they are safe, and that you are there to care for them.
From puppy life vests to safety kits, here are a few ways to keep your dogs safe on boat trips
Check Your State Laws
While federal law does not outline specific regulations regarding dogs on boats, certain local laws may restrict dogs at particular boat landings or parks, and set temperature cutoffs for taking your animal outdoors. With sometimes unbearable summertime heat, under Arizona law, pet owners are required to provide clean water and shade for pets outdoors. This means finding a covered, comfortable area on the boat where your dog has plenty of room to cool down. Dogs are significantly prone to heatstroke and need to stay hydrated, so it’s important to know the signs.More information on heat stroke in pets.
Invest in a Dog Life Jacket or Vest
Do dogs need life jackets to be on a boat? While state law requires a life jacket for everyone on board a vessel, it doesn’t specifically mention dogs. Your pet is a member of your family, however, so why wouldn’t you protect them, too? It’s tempting to take a shortcut and order a life vest online to save time and money. Problem is — dogs come in so many shapes, weights, and sizes, you’d be better served by making a trip to a sporting goods store or pet store to test it out for size and fit.
Here are a few tips on choosing the best dog life jacket for your furry friend; and remember, taking the time to get one that fits properly could save your pet’s life!
Get a life vest with a handle. A handle ensures you can fish your four-legged friend out of the water if they go overboard.
Look for a D-ring. The D-ring allows you to attach a leash to your dog’s newest life jacket.
Know the difference. While they may seem similar, life jackets and vests are two different products. A life jacket acts as a full-body harness that provides better floatation and visibility. Life vests provide less coverage for your dog, but they also allow your dog more mobility in the water. If your pup is a strong swimmer, this is certainly one good option.
Once they’re tricked out in a heavy-duty accessory, your dog might need a friendly little nudge to encourage them to wear the look properly. One great tip is to introduce the dog to wearing the life vest before you go on the boat. That way, your pet won’t be overwhelmed by too many new things happening at once.
Another necessity is a restraint to ensure your pooch doesn’t fall overboard. Opt for a harness, rather than a collar, so the movement of the boat doesn’t pull your dog by the neck. Harnesses can typically fit under or over a life jacket. If your dog’s jacket has a D-ring, it’s best just to attach your leash straight to the jacket, so you avoid the hassle of too much equipment.
Make a Test Run
Not all dogs are going to be comfortable on a boat, so it’s wise to keep the first outing a short one. Allow your dog to get acclimated to the boat BEFORE you head for water, or while you are still docked. Once you’re on the water, watch your dog carefully for signs of sea/motion sickness. Symptoms of motion sickness can include:
Yawning or panting
Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)
It’s safe to say that bringing your pet along for the boat ride can be a great time – so long as you follow these few safety tips to ensure you and your pet enjoy the water. If you have any suggestions on how to keep your dog safe while boating, leave them in the comments below!
Your Dog, Cat, or Smaller Pet Gets Lost, What Do You Do Next?
Having a beloved pet go missing is a painful experience, and it’s one that no pet owner should ever have to experience. The good news is that there are various preventive measures you can take to help ensure that your furry friend doesn’t get lost. Here are some tips from the AZPetVet team:
Get Them Microchipped
Getting your pet microchipped is the simplest and quickest measure to take in helping to prevent your pet from getting lost. Whether or not your dog or cat is a runner or a homebody — be sure to get your friend microchipped during their first vet visit. This will allow others to help your pet find its way home if it does run away or accidentally get out. After your pet is microchipped, be sure to always keep your contact information up to date to ensure anyone who finds your pet will have your current information available. Since pets like hamsters, turtles, or birds spend much of their time in their cages, aside from monitored adventures around the house, it isn’t as crucial for these pets get microchipped; but it is available. Outdoor tortoises have been known to escape from the yard, so you can definitely have them chipped as a precautionary measure.
Collar & Tags
Make sure your pet always wears a collar with tags that have updated contact information. When buying a collar and tags, try to find something that is durable and weather-resistant, so it will last.
How To Find Your Lost Pet
If you do find yourself in the terrible situation of a missing animal, there are specific steps to take to find your lost pet. For the most part, these rules can apply to any kind of pet — just with some slight variations. Here is what you should do if your dog, cat, or other pet gets lost:
Be sure to include all of the most essential information when creating posters. People need to know your pet’s name, the cross streets of where you live, and your contact details. It’s also wise to include a current and clear photo of your dog or cat with a description, including weight, fur color, and any other physical features that will help people best identify your pet. Post this information around your neighborhood, local grocery stores, vet offices, pet stores, and community centers.
Post On Social Media
Social media platforms can be a great tool to share pictures and information about your missing pet. Use your own personal accounts across various platforms to share photos and details about your pet. Through shares and comments, the news of your lost furry friend will likely spread, which will increase the chance of someone helping them find their way home. You can also use platforms such as Straydar and NextDoor, which have a community of highly engaged users who can help you in your search.
Call Local Animal Control and Shelters
File a lost pet report with shelters and rescue organizations as soon as you notice your friend has gone missing. Once the report is filed, try to visit local animal shelters daily if possible.
What To Do If Your Small Animal Goes Missing In Your Home
If you keep your small creature in a tank or cage inside your house, your pet likely hasn’t gone too far. Be sure to check in the little nooks and crannies in the room you keep them in — your furry friend could just be playing hide and seek!
If you lose your animal outside, it’s very possible they’re hiding under a bush or tucked away in another shady area. While searching, try placing tempting pieces of food into visible, open spaces. Small animals tend to have a great sense of smell and might make an appearance for a bite to eat. If you still can’t find your missing pet, start following the steps outlined above to ensure they get back home safely.
Knowing what to do when your dog or other beloved pet gets lost is crucial to helping them find their way home.
Hopefully, you never have to experience a pet running away or getting lost, but it’s always important to educate yourself on the preventative measures and steps to take so you can be better prepared to jump into action as quickly as possible.