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Holiday Safety Tips for Your Pets

As the holiday season arrives, it means that it is time to get all of our adornment out and begin decorating.  As our lights and trees go up, so do the very beautiful trinkets and glitz.  Careful though, many of these items can be dangerous to your curious pets.  Tinsel is tough on tummies. In some occasions, pets can become obstructed and abdominal obstruction can require surgery that can be serious and costly.   Pets, especially puppies and cats, like shiny things.  Particularly, during the holidays, Christmas tree decorations and home decorations can become choking and abdominal obstruction hazards as well.  It is not uncommon for pets to try to play with and subsequently ingest these decorations.  There are many ways to help prevent this potential problem.  Be more unique and creative. Tinsel and garland are traditional, but there are many things out there that can be used to brighten up your tree.  Also, you can consider elevating your tree so you remove these hazards from your pet’s reach, just as you would for a child, while you are unable to supervise them.  Avoid putting any food on your tree like popcorn strings or gingerbread.  Most pets love holiday treats as we do!  An ounce of prevention can go a long way.  For more information, visit us online at tampabayvets.net.

Puppies and Kittens for Presents: Imagine getting a new puppy or new kitten for a present!  A pet is a great birthday, Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day present that captures a heart. What a fantastic gift idea!  Although there is little else that is so precious, you will want to bear a few things in mind.  Be sure that the recipient is prepared for and properly educated about pet care.  There are great books out there today.  Try “Good Dog/Cat, Great Owners” by Brian Kilcommons. There are many things to consider when choosing a pet and deciding about long term care.  The ultimate size of the pet comes into play if you do not have a yard or near by park to play and exercise in.  Some rental properties have restrictions on pets.  And, some dogs grow to very large, so ensure that the person you are giving the larger sized dogs to can physically manage the pet.  Young pets need to be house trained.  It is important that they learn how to “go pottie” at a young age.  All pets, especially the juveniles, need a series of routine veterinary visits for examinations, vaccinations and testing, de-wormings, and spaying or neutering.  All pets need their teeth cleaned and cared for regularly as they age.  Teaching proper behaviors and good manners is also a financial and time investment. Brushing their coats, brushing their teeth, obedience school, and doggie daycare have all become a regular part of a dog’s life.  Though cats are a little bit less maintenance, they still require a lot of care and attention.  And finally, remember that most dogs and cats these days live to be between 12-20 years old!  To learn more about pet care go to tampabayvets.net.

Cold Weather Is Here: Fewer and fewer pets live outside as the human animal bond gets stronger.  Many of our family pets have migrated from our backyards to our bedrooms.  But, for those pets that live outside or stay out for extended periods of time, there are guidelines for temperature and weather tolerance that you must consider for your pet’s safety.  Temperatures under 65 degrees become a problem for some pets and can be tough on pets with arthritis or thin hair coats.  If you pet(s) live(s) outside, they should have proper shelter and ventilation in that shelter that will protect them from rain and lower temperatures.  Many people move their outside pets to their porch or lanai, or make a home for them in the garage.  You may want to simply consider to bring the pet inside of your home. Although it is not always easy to convert an “outside” pet into and “inside” pet here are some tips for the transition.  Make the area that you are attempting to bring the pet into inviting and safe.  Use items that smell or seem familiar.  Talk in soft and caring phrases.  Reward good behaviors as they occur.  Praise goes a long way.  Some pets are shy and fearful of new things and are reluctant to be near them. Having a crate or “bedroom” for a pet to retreat to or to stay in is a great idea.  You may also consider using a baby gate to block off a section or area of your home.  If you are learning to trust your pet and do not want him or her loose in your home.  Take a 10 foot leash and tie the pet to the base of your living room coffee table or chair so he or she can be with you but have some range to explore.  There are many more ideas on tampabayvets.net.  Check it out!

Overeating during special occasions is not just a people problem: You know you do it… well, most of you do.  Most of us won’t admit to it.  But, feeding your dog and cat human food can lead to serious problems.  Many humans are considered overweight, and unfortunately so are our pets.  Feeding human food can lead to obesity, and serious organ trouble for pets such as Pancreatitis. And just as problematic, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea can ensue.  We advise that your pets eat pet food only. A high quality, highly digestible pet food is all that your pet needs.  Though it sounds boring to us, dogs and cats can live their entire life simply eating dry food and fresh water. Most people feed their pets with their hearts and not their mind, and during special occasions, visiting family members and guests, may not be able to resist those big eyes begging for food.  Consider that if you have a gathering of 10 people and only half of them feed your pet, thinking that no one else is, how much human food can be eaten!  Please encourage your family members and guest not to feed your pets during their visit to your home.  For more information on diet and behavior, go to tampabayvets.net.

February is national pet dental health month

While your pet’s “smile” is beautiful to you, a recent study indicated that 85% of dogs and cats over one year have the beginnings of periodontal disease but only 3% of dogs and 1% of cats get treatment. Periodontal disease causes more than just “dog breath.” It can lead to increased risk of heart, liver and kidney disease. Periodontal disease is currently the #1 diagnosed problem in dogs and cats over age three. Bacteria, combined with saliva and food debris between the tooth and gum, can cause plaque formulations on the tooth, which turns to tartar. If not removed from the teeth, pockets of infection may appear along the gum line, separating the teeth from the gum. If untreated periodontitis can lead to tooth loss and the infection caused by the disease may enter the bloodstream, potentially infecting major organs.

Dental Care continued:

A simple three-step program can keep your pet healthy and you smiling:

Step 1: Visit your veterinarians for a complete check-up:

  • Your pet can’t tell you if he has a toothache but your veterinarian can.
  • Your veterinarian can determine if tartar build up has started and the appropriate course of treatment what treatment.
Step 2: Start a pet dental care routine at home:

  • Begin brushing your pet’s teeth at home. It is best start them on routine brushing programs early but adult animals can be taught to tolerate brushing.
  • Use a specially designed pet toothbrush or soft gauze.
  • There are specially formulated toothpastes for pets. Toothpaste for humans may upset your pet’s stomach.
Step 3: Continue regular veterinary check ups:

  • Discuss your pet’s dental care and diet with your veterinarian.
  • Watch for warning signs of dental disease such as bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, or depression between visits.

Just as the public has come to realize that their own oral health is linked to their overall health, we want them to understand that dental health care is essential to maintaining the overall health and well being of the family pet.

An important part of responsible pet ownership is making sure that your pet’s health needs are met. You should consult your veterinarian whenever you have a question about your pet’s health or welfare. It is also important that your veterinarian regularly sees your pet to keep you all living healthy and happy lives.

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