Pets are Family….Not Presents.

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Pets can bring untold amounts of joy and happiness…but a pet at Christmas time is a bad idea.

A puppy or kitten under the tree may be very exciting at first but the care and financial responsibility can be overwhelming during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Just like any gift under the tree these cute and cuddly furballs get played with for a while and then get set aside when the novelty wears off. A pet given as a gift is hardly free for the recipient. They require food, veterinary care, training….it’s a 10-15 year committment of time, money, and energy that may exceed their abilities.

Things to Consider:

The Atmosphere on Christmas Morning

A puppy between the ages of 8-12 weeks is at a stage where it adjusts best to leaving it’s litter mates and bonding with its new family. However, during this time it is imperative to not cause undue stress. The hustle of a holiday can frighten a young puppy and prevent it from forming healthy bonds with it’s new family in the future.

Sending the Wrong Message

Giving a live animal as a gift can send children the message that this is just another “object” that can be hidden in the closet with the rest of the toys after they get bored with them. The most valuable lesson a pet can teach a child is respect for living beings and that pets are members of the family. This message can easily get lost when a child opens a box with a wriggling, cuddly pet as a gift.

Puppies Grow Up

That cute, fluffy puppy is going to become an adult dog that needs training. They don’t come knowing what to do. They need to be taught where to go potty, not to jump on people, not to chew furniture, etc. The Humane Society reports that most dogs that end up at the shelters are between 7-14 months because of “behavior problems”. They also state that most puppies and kittens born in the United States never reach their second birthday due to being hit by a car because they ran away from the owners, starvation, injury from another animal, or euthanasia. This is due to many owners not understanding the what it would take to properly train and care for a pet.

If you have already decided that you’d like to give a pet as a gift this holiday season, perhaps think about giving a certificate for a pet to be purchased later once the hustle and bustle calms down after the holidays. Package the certificate with books on pet selection, pet training, and healthcare. This is a great way to introduce the joy pet ownership can bring without the undue stress of a new pet during the holiday festivities.

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Halloween Pet Safety Tips | Allentown Animal Clinic

It’s that time of year again! Time to put on silly costumes, put out spooky decorations, and fill buckets with lots of yummy treats! Halloween can be a lot of fun…but can also be a real nightmare for your pets! Allentown Animal Clinic reminds you to keep these safety tips in mind to avoid potential disaster. 

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Avoid Treats

Those buckets of yummy treats are not good for us…but even worse for Fluffy! Chocolate, raisins, and artificial sweeteners can be dangerous for pets! If you do suspect your pet may have ingested any of these contact your veterinarian immediately.

Decorations

While a flickering jack-o-lantern looks great on the porch and those spooky spiderwebs can make your house the scariest on the block they can be a potential disaster. Beware of curious pets that may burn themselves on the candles…or worse yet knock one over and start a fire! Artificial spiderwebs can be eaten, causing intestinal upset and potential blockages.

Costumes

Sure, all the neighbors will “ooh and aah” over that dachshund dressed up as a hot dog or that kitty with the halo and wings but if you are going to dress your pet up in a costume make sure it’s safe. Be sure your pet can move freely and that breathing and vision are not obstructed in any way. Be sure the costume is free of dangling pieces and potential choking hazards.

To Trick-or-Treat, or Not?

Even if your pets are normally sociable and may enjoy visitors, too many strangers coming to the house in a short time may cause unnecessary stress. Also, a scared pet may be more likely to dart out of the door. Consider keeping your pets in a quiet bedroom until trick-or-treat is over.

Trick or Treat Safety for Pets and Kids

If you decide to let your pet enjoy the trick-or-treating festivities, please keep in mind some ways to keep your pets safe!

 

Many children will walk into strange homes, expecting candy.  What they should also expect is that many of these homes will contain pets that are not prepared to see people dressed in strange costumes. Halloween is a high risk holiday for dog bites and pet emergencies.

There are several things about Halloween that makes it more pet-unfriendly than other holidays.  For one thing, most neighborhood homes will see plenty of little visitors out trick-or-treating on Halloween evening.  They will be dressed in costumes that may seem strange to pets.  Any dog that’s scared, stressed or anxious is at a high risk of biting or escaping through an open door. Even if your pet is usually very social and enjoys visitors, the non-stop doorbell ringing and opening of the door may be too much, even for the most social of pets!

Keep your kids safe:

Children who are out trick-or-treating must be taught to avoid unnecessary contact with dogs. Avoid eye contact with any dog.  In fact, it’s best not to have much contact even with your own pet dog while in costume.  According PawNation.com, dogs recognize both sight and smell, and may be confused by the familiar smell of an owner in a strange costume.

Teach your child not to try to pet strange dogs.

If your children are planning to visit homes of people you know, call them and inform them beforehand so they can arrange to have their pets confined safely.

Keep your pets safe:

People who have pets will want to take special precautions for Halloween.  It’s best to confine your pet in a room during the evening. Dogs can get excited when they are near doors and gates. Open doors also provide a quick escape route for a scared cat.

Do not allow trick or treaters to feed your pets any kind of treat. Halloween can be a dangerous time for pets to be ingesting items that can make them ill.

Be sure your pets are wearing a collar and ID tags so they can be returned home safely in the event they do manage to escape during the night’s festivities.

Keep your kids and furr-kids safe this Halloween!

Top Pet Tips for Fall

ImageKeep your furry friends healthy and happy this fall!

Ahhh! Fall is here! It’s the time of year for football, cool crisp air, beautiful fall leaves, and possibly a bit of snow! It’s a great time to get your pets outside! Dogs love a good romp in the freshly fallen leaves! Cats enjoy the midday sunshine as the days get shorter.

Keep your pets healthy and help them enjoy the season by following Allentown Animal Clinic’s fall pet tips!

Rat poison and other rodenticides

Fall is the time of year when mice, rats and other rodents scurry inside for warmth. Be careful when it comes to mouse traps and rodent poisons. Many poisons currently on the market can be very harmful to household pets. Talk to your veterinarian about safe pest control methods.

If your pets do get a hold of a rodent be sure to monitor closely for any signs of illness.

Fatten up!

As the temperatures drop, it can take more energy to stay warm. You may need to feed your pet a bit more to help compensate. Before you change your pet’s feeding, be sure to discuss with your veterinarian.

Antifreeze Toxicity

Some people start to winterize their vehicles when the fall weather hits. This includes changing fluids such as antifreeze, which can be deadly for pets. Just a teaspoon or two can kill a small dog or cat! Chemicals in antifreeze has a sweet smell that is very enticing to pets. It’s imperative to clean up any spills immediately and keep your pets out of the garage while working on your car.

Chocolate and hearty foods

Both fall and winter are big holiday season, where we tend to eat a lot more heavy foods and sweets. Make sure your pets don’t get into food that can make them sick. This includes chocolates, grapes, and raisins! Other foods that are too rich, and high in fat can cause stomach upset and some serious medical conditions.

 

Brought to you by Allentown Animal Clinic, and our friends at PHN.

Monsters inside WHO?! | Allentown Animal Clinic

ImageEver wonder why your vet asks you to bring a fecal sample to your pet’s wellness appointments?

Dogs and cats can have many parasites, both internal and external. Internal parasites are those which live in the various organs inside the pet’s body. Intestinal parasites are internal parasites that live in the small or large intestine. External parasites, such as fleas, ticks and mites, live on the outside of the body.

There are several intestinal parasites that can infect dogs and cats. Most commonly we see roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms.

ROUNDWORMS:

Roundworms are a common intestinal parasite. They live in the pet’s intestines, consuming partially digested food.

Puppies can acquire roundworm from the placenta before they are born.

Pets may also be infected by swallowing roundworm eggs that contain larvae. Larvae hatch in the pet’s stomach and small intestine and migrate through muscle, liver, and lungs.

Female roundworms can produce 200,000 eggs in just one day. These eggs are protected by a hard shell, which enables them to exist in soil for years!

Roundworm eggs passed in one animal’s stool can be infectious to other pets.

Roundworm pose a health risk for humans, as well. Children, in particular, are at risk for significant health problems, should they be infected.

HOOKWORMS:

Pets can be infected with hookworms in four ways: orally, through the skin, through the mother’s placenta, and through the mother’s milk.

Hookworms use their hook-like mouth parts to attach to the lining of the intestinal wall.  A large number of hookworms can cause anemia.

Skin irritation and itching can be one  of the common signs of a heavily infested environment. Larvae can burrow into the skin and cause the pet a great deal of discomfort.

Hookworms do not infect humans internally, however, the larvae can burrow into human skin.

WHIPWORMS:

More commonly seen in dogs than cats, whipworms live in the cecum, the top part of the dog’s large intestine. Whipworm can be difficult to diagnose, since they have a tendency to shed less eggs than other species of intestinal parasites.

Infestations can cause mucousy stool and weight loss in pets.

TAPEWORMS:

Tapeworms can be transmitted by ingesting fleas, or my hunting and eating rodents and other wildlife that may be infected.

Tapeworms can be 4-6 inches in length within the pets intestines. Tapeworms, however, are most commonly diagnosed by seeing segments of the tapeworm in the pets stool or stuck to the fur near and around the anus.

Most of the parasites that infect our pets can be diagnosed with a microscopic evaluation of your pet’s feces.

Does My Cat Really Need to go to the Vet?

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According to a study by the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs visit the vet about 2.3 times a year, compared to cats’ 1.1 annual visits. And only 28% of cats see a vet once or more per year in contrast to 58% of dogs. That means, cats are only HALF as likely to see their veterinarian as dogs, even when they are sick!

Why the Discrepancy?

One main reason for the discrepancy is that many pet owners have a false perception that felines are more self-sufficient and don’t need medical care. Quite the contrary is true, however. Cats are extremely good at hiding early signs of illness. Often times, by the time your cat starts showing outward signs of illness, the disease has manifested and becomes much more difficult and expensive to treat.

Preventive Care for Cats

Preventive care for your cat results in significant savings over the life of your kitty. Annual or semi-annual check ups can detect illness in the very early stages, making it easier and often less expensive to treat. Common illnesses for cats are obesity and hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid). Obesity in a cat can lead to diabetes, arthritis, and respiratory issues. These issues are manageable when detected and treated in the early stages.

Veterinarians also recommend vaccinations to prevent potentially fatal illnesses. Your vet may recommend FVRCP, Feline Leukemia, and Rabies vaccines. In most areas a current Rabies vaccine is required by law for all cats and dogs.

Monthly flea preventatives are also an important part of your cat’s wellness. Even indoor cats are at risk because fleas can come in on the dog, your shoes, even pass through a screen door or open window!

Many cat owners say they don’t bring their cat to the vet because it’s too hard to get them in the carrier.

Here are a few tips to make the trip easier for you and your kitty, and get him/her the wellness care they deserve!

Get your Cat to Like the Carrier

Many cats run and hide as soon as they see the carrier come up from the basement. Start keeping the carrier accessible to your kitty at all times. Your cat will most likely start to investigate the carrier after a few days. Once he sees he can come and go as he pleases, the carrier won’t be so scary. You can even try a calming wipe (Feli-Way) on the carrier to help ease your kitty’s anxiety.

Practice Traveling with your Cat

Cats are not usually too fond of car rides but with some practice they can become more comfortable in the car. Once you’ve got kitty used to the carrier, try taking him for some short car trips. Start by just going around the block, and gradually build up the amount of time spent in the car.

Keep Calm at the Vet

Now that kitty is comfortable in his carrier and you’ve gotten to the vet, remain calm. By now your kitty feels safe in his carrier. Avoid taking him out of the carrier in the waiting room filled with barking dogs, curious children, and other unhappy kitties. Your cat will feel safest in his carrier and will be less stressed when it’s time for the veterinarian to perform his physical examination.

Remember, cat’s need to see the vet at least once a year. Call your veterinarian today and schedule a wellness exam.

Even Pets Can Get Back to School Blues

ImageEven pets can get back to school blues as their routine changes. Allentown Animal Clinic has a few tips to ease your pets into the new school year as well.

While back to school time can bring lots of excitement to the house for the humans, it can bring some uneasiness to your pets. All summer long Fluffy and Fido had someone around to hang out with, now that he/she is alone it can lead to depression and anxiety.

1. Start to incorporate the new school day routine early. Try getting up earlier and taking your pet for a walk or having some morning playtime. Run some afternoon errands so your pet can get used to a quiet house in the middle of the day.

2. Try a new “special toy” that your pet gets only while the kids are at school. Let the kids give it to him/her in the morning as they leave for the bus and then take it away when they arrive home. This can help your pet look forward to his “special toy”, rather than build anxiety as everyone is getting ready to leave for the day.

3. Try adding some mental stimulation for your pet. Instead of feeding your pet’s full meal in it’s bowl each morning, you can try hiding some it around the house or in a Kong toy. Your pet will be so busy looking for their breakfast or a special treat, he won’t even realize you’re gone!

4. You may also consider sending your dog to camp. While the kids are away at school it may be fun for Fido to go to school, too! Look for doggie daycare centers in your area. Just be sure your pet is up to date on all vaccines before you send him off to “school.”

These are just a few fun ways to help your pet adjust to his new schedule! Share your ideas with us as well!