2-Way Chat Saves the Day: 5 Situations Our Hospital App Will Simplify

Do you ever wish that chatting with our veterinary team was as easy as texting a friend? With our hospital’s app, it can be! 2-Way Chat is one of our app’s most convenient features. We love that communicating with our clients, and keeping up with our patients, is made easier than ever—and you will, too! Check out five common scenarios where 2-Way Chat will be helpful.

#1: Iffy situations

2-Way Chat is perfect for times when you aren’t sure whether your pet’s issue warrants a hospital visit. You know these situations all too well—your sneaky pet gobbled up something on the sly, and you don’t know whether you should be worried. Simply shoot us a chat message through our hospital app and ask whether you should be concerned that your precious pooch ate some banana (nope, no worries there), chocolate (possibly, depending on the type and how much), or sugar-free gum (absolutely). 

#2: Medication questions

You thought you understood how to give the medications for your pet’s ear infection while you were at our hospital, but now that you are home, you can’t remember which liquid goes in your pet’s ear and which is given orally. No problem! With 2-Way Chat, one of our team members can clear up any confusion. If needed, you can quickly send a photo of the medications through the chat, and we can direct you to mark each bottle appropriately. 

#3: Odd pet behaviors

You know how that weird sound your car makes miraculously disappears the moment you arrive at the repair shop? Your pet’s odd behaviors can be similarly difficult to evaluate. Instead of prodding your pet’s neck, trying to trigger that snorting sound they make when they’re excited, capture it on video from the comfort of your home, and send it to our team via 2-Way Chat.

#4: Appointment queries

You made an appointment for your pet who has been urinating more often, but forgot to ask whether you should collect a urine sample, or whether we will do so during the appointment. And, since the team member mentioned on the phone the possibility of blood work, should you withhold your pet’s breakfast? Instead of calling back, start a conversation via 2-Way Chat, and we’ll let you know exactly how to prepare for the appointment.

#5: Post-op concerns

It’s normal to be anxious following your pet’s surgery, and you may have forgotten to ask questions about their eating habits, incision, or activity level. If you’re hesitant to call us with yet another question—which we never mind, by the way—sending a chat message is easy. Plus, you can send a photo of the incision if you notice swelling or seeping, and we can let you know if it looks normal, or requires an appointment.

The next time you have a question for our team, take advantage of 2-Way Chat. Don’t have our hospital app yet? Search HHVC in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, download our free app, and start chatting with us today.

National Cat Health Month

Read these tips for keeping your kitty in tip top shape during National Cat Health Month and year round!

🐈 Take your cat for an annual wellness exam for optimal health

An annual checkup is one of the most important things you can do for your cat’s health. These annual visits allow your veterinarian to notice any changes in your cat’s condition from year to year, and help you catch potentially serious issues early.

🐈 Spay or neuter your cat

One of the best ways to maintain your cat’s good health is to have him or her altered. These procedures can help prevent certain conditions related to a cat’s reproductive organs. It also helps to reduce overpopulation and may help eliminate many unwanted behaviors.

🐈 Keep your cat’s teeth clean

Most cats won’t allow you to brush their teeth, so it’s important to get their teeth checked during an annual exam and have them professionally cleaned when recommended by your veterinarian. Maintaining good dental health and preventing gum disease can prevent other conditions that may lead to illness such as organ failure and heart disease.

🐈 Maintain a healthy weight

Help maintain a healthy weight by feeding a high quality cat food specific to your cat’s age and lifestyle. Encourage daily play time and regular exercise. Utilizing interactive feeders and rotating toys is a great first step. Create an environment with scratching posts and cat trees to encourage exercise and climbing.

🐈 Watch for changes in litterbox habits

Cats will naturally try to hide signs of illness. One place you can usually detect early problems is the litterbox. Look for changes in frequency of urination, or if your cat is urinating or defecating outside of the litterbox.

We are happy to be your cat’s health partner. If you’d like to bring your cat in for a wellness exam, contact us today!

Your Pet’s Dental Procedure

Know What to Expect at Your Pet’s Next Dental Procedure

brown short coated dog wearing pink hair cap

A pet dental procedure is a common and routine procedure for many pets. During the procedure, your pet’s teeth will be cleaned and evaluated by a veterinarian. This may include scaling, polishing, and removing any tartar or plaque buildup. Your pet may also receive a dental exam, X-rays, and other diagnostic tests to check for underlying dental issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral tumors.

Your pet may be given a general anesthetic to keep them relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. The vet will then clean the teeth and gums, removing any tartar and plaque buildup. They may also extract any damaged or diseased teeth if necessary.

It is normal for your pet to experience some discomfort, swelling, and minor bleeding after the procedure. Your vet will provide pain medication and/or antibiotics as needed to help your pet recover quickly and comfortably.

To ensure the health and comfort of your pet, it is important to follow your vet’s post-operative care instructions closely. This may include feeding your pet soft or wet food, avoiding hard or crunchy treats, and limiting your pet’s physical activity for a period of time.

It is also important to continue regular dental cleanings and check-ups for your pet to maintain their oral health. This can help prevent future dental issues and ensure your pet’s teeth and gums remain healthy and strong.

In conclusion, a pet dental procedure is a common and routine practice that can help maintain your pet’s oral health. It is important to follow your vet’s post-operative care instructions closely and continue regular dental cleanings and check-ups to ensure your pet’s ongoing oral health.

Please do not hesistate to contact us if you have any concerns about your pet’s dental health.

National Walk Your Pet Month

Get outside every day in January for National Walk Your Pet Month

national walk your pet month

There is a reason that January, the coldest month of the year for those of us in the North, was designated National Walk Your Pet Month! It serves as a reminder that getting yourself and your pet outside every day is super important for your overall health and well-being.

The following tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) can help you design a safe walking program for your dog…or even for your cat. (Yes, it is possible to train a cat to accept a harness and go for walks!)

  • Consult your veterinarian before starting any new exercise program with your pet. You need to make sure your pet is healthy enough for the exercise you plan.
  • Train your dog to behave on a leash, and seek help to address any behavioral problems.
  • Begin with short, frequent walks, and take frequent rests as needed.
  • If your pet seems to just want to go back home, try driving to a nearby park or less familiar area for your walks.
  • Remember that walks are also a means for your dog to enjoy his/her environment; allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” within reason.
  • Build gradually to one or more 15 minutes periods of brisk walking, then allow for cool-down time and recovery.
  • Avoid walks during the coldest parts of the day during cold weather, based on your pet’s cold tolerance. Learn to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can address any problems that occur.
  • Walk on safe footing to avoid slips, falls or injuries.
  • Avoid deep sand or similar footing because it can cause fatigue and injuries.
  • If your pet shows signs of lameness, difficulty breathing, or seems to tire quickly, consult your veterinarian.
  • Obey leash laws, and always clean up after your dog.

Walking is healthy for you and your dog. Not only is it physical activity, but it’s mental stimulation for your dog to smell, see and hear beyond the limits of your yard. If you have any questions about the appropriate level of physical activity for your pet, contact us today.

Cold Weather Pet Care

Follow these tips to keep your pets safe during the cold winter months

cold weather pet care

You’re probably already aware of the risks posed by warm weather and leaving pets in hot cars, but did you know that cold weather also poses serious threats to your pets’ health? Follow these tips from the AVMA to keep your pets safe during cold weather:

Winter Wellness

Has your pet had his/her preventive care exam (wellness exam) yet? Cold weather may worsen some medical conditions such as arthritis.

Know the limits

Pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly.

Provide choices

Pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.

Stay inside

Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. Like people, they are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside.

Check the paws

Check your dog’s paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, a sudden lameness may be due to an injury or may be due to ice accumulation between his/her toes.

Play dress-up

If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside.

Wipe down

During walks, your dog’s feet, legs and belly may pick up deicers, antifreeze, road salt or other chemicals that could be toxic. When you get back inside, wipe down (or wash) your pet’s feet, legs and belly to remove these chemicals and reduce the risk that your dog will be poisoned after (s)he licks them off of his/her feet or fur. Consider using pet-safe deicers on your property to protect your pets and the others in your neighborhood.

Collar and chip

Many pets become lost in winter because snow and ice can hide recognizable scents that might normally help your pet find his/her way back home. Make sure your pet has a well-fitting collar with up-to-date identification and contact information. A microchip is a more permanent means of identification, but it’s critical that you keep the registration up to date.

Stay home

Hot cars are a known threat to pets, but cold cars also pose significant risk to your pet’s health. You’re already familiar with how a car can rapidly cool down in cold weather; it becomes like a refrigerator, and can rapidly chill your pet.

Prevent poisoning

Clean up any antifreeze spills quickly, as even small amounts of antifreeze can be deadly. Make sure your pets don’t have access to medication bottles, household chemicals, potentially toxic foods such as onions, xylitol (a sugar substitute) and chocolate.

Protect family

Odds are your pet will be spending more time inside during the winter, so it’s a good time to make sure your house is properly pet-proofed. Use space heaters with caution around pets, because they can burn or they can be knocked over, potentially starting a fire.

Avoid ice

When walking your dog, stay away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water. You don’t know if the ice will support your dog’s weight, and if your dog breaks through the ice it could be deadly.

Provide shelter

We don’t recommend keeping any pet outside for long periods of time, but if you are unable to keep your dog inside during cold weather, provide him/her with a warm, solid shelter against wind. Make sure that they have unlimited access to fresh, non-frozen water. The floor of the shelter should be off of the ground and the bedding should be thick, dry and changed regularly to provide a warm, dry environment.

Recognize problems

If your pet is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia. Frostbite is harder to detect, and may not be fully recognized until a few days after the damage is done. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia or frostbite, call your closest veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

Feed well

Keep your pet at a healthy weight throughout the winter. Some pet owners feel that a little extra weight gives their pet some extra protection from cold, but the health risks associated with that extra weight don’t make it worth doing. Watch your pet’s body condition and keep them in the healthy range.

We hope these tips have been helpful. Contact us if you have any questions.

Holiday Pet Hazards and Prevention

5 Holiday Hazards That Can Harm Your Pet

holiday pet hazards

As the year draws to a close, holiday celebrations are still in full swing. But the additional activity and stress present the perfect opportunity for your pet to get into trouble, so keep an eye out for the following holiday pet hazards.

Delicious food is dangerous for your pet

What are the holidays without overflowing tables of mouthwatering dishes? However, many favorite holiday foods are toxic for pets, so ensure it’s paws off when it comes to the following:

  • Turkey and ham, especially the bones
  • Chives, leeks, onions, and garlic
  • Unbaked bread dough
  • Raisins and currants
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol
  • Avocadoes
  • Alcohol

Delightful decor leads to disaster

Adorning your home with twinkling lights, glittering tinsel, and seasonal flora is an excellent way to create a holiday atmosphere, but many decorations can pose a risk to your pet. When decorating your home, ensure your four-legged friend cannot reach fragile, electrical, or toxic items. For instance, glass ornaments and extension cords can harm your pet if they are broken or chewed on, while Christmas tree stand water and holiday plants can cause serious problems if ingested.

Overnight guests pack multiple hazards

When you welcome family and friends into your home, they may unknowingly tote along hazards in their suitcases and purses. Keep guest bedroom doors closed to ensure your pet cannot sniff out medications, granola and protein bars, chocolate, sugar-free gum, and other potential dangers in your guests’ belongings.

Parties pose a problem

If your New Year’s Eve party becomes a wild celebration, guests may drop food and drinks, leaving these unattended “treats” out for your pet. Toxic foods and cocktails need to be kept away from your furry pal, as do party poppers, glow sticks, and other favors. Additionally, protect your pet from overeager guests determined to make a furry friend by providing your four-legged family member with a quiet sanctuary that is off-limits to people.

Gifts and toys turn into hazardous items

Small toys, batteries, and gift ribbons can lead to a gastrointestinal obstruction or a toxicity issue for your pet. Pick up small items when children are done playing with them to prevent a blockage or kidney damage.

With the extra commotion and activity surrounding the holiday season, your furry pal is more likely to get into mischief. If they run afoul of a holiday hazard, seek emergency treatment or contact our team for help.

Indoor Enrichment for Pets

How to Have Fun with Your Pet This Winter

enrichment for pets

When the weather outside becomes too cold and snowy, it can be tough to find ways to
entertain your pet indoors. Spice up their exercise routine with the following fun interactive indoor enrichment games and toys to help your pet beat the winter blues.

Create a wish list for your pet to guide gift-giving

As gift-giving holidays approach, family and friends may want to shower your pet with all manner of toys and treats. Guide their shopping toward items that will prove enriching and entertaining for your pet. Some ideas include:

  • Food and treat puzzles
  • Interactive toys (e.g., robotic mouse, ball launcher)
  • Long-lasting chews
  • Stuffable treat holders
  • App-controlled treat dispensers

Rotate your pet’s toys on a daily or weekly basis to keep them interested in “new” items. This also will help you see which toys your pet prefers, so you can incorporate more of them into their toy rotation to stave off winter boredom.

Design an indoor agility course

With shortened daylight hours, it can be difficult to squeeze in outdoor exercise during the winter. Prevent your pet from packing on the pounds by giving them an exhilarating experience with an indoor agility course. Even your cat can be trained to complete a short circuit. Use furniture and items around your home to design jumps, weave poles, and obstacles to crawl through or under.

Craft homemade treat puzzles

Is food one of your pet’s greatest joys in life? If so, it can be tempting to toss them tons of extra treats in the winter to help entertain them. However, obesity can develop quickly from those additional calories. Make your four-legged friend work for their snacks by hiding them in a treat puzzle. While there are many commercial products available, you can craft your own using cardboard boxes and tubes, crumpled paper, plastic water bottles, fabric scraps, and other
recyclable materials.

Inadequate physical and mental stimulation can lead to a host of medical and behavioral issues in pets. Don’t let the winter weather turn your pet’s boredom into excessive grooming, inappropriate elimination, or other problems. With a little bit of thought and creativity, you can keep them entertained until outdoor conditions improve. Contact our team for help.

Changing Seasons and Your Senior Pet

How to Help Your Senior Pet Handle the Changing Seasons

senior pet
Photo by lil artsy on Pexels.com

The changing seasons affect everyone differently, but the switch from balmy summer weather to frigid temperatures can really do a number on your senior pet. Here are four ways to help your furry pal easily handle the changing seasons.

1: Give him a heated bed

When the winter wind seems to blow right through your bones, nothing feels better than curling up with a heated blanket. Give your pet the same luxury by placing a pet-friendly heating mat on their bed and putting the bed in an area of your home that is free from drafts. Check your pet’s heating pad regularly to ensure it remains in working order and does not create any hot spots.

2: Bundle up your senior pet when heading outdoors

Many pets experience decreased muscle mass as they age, so they have less natural insulation to protect them from the elements. Additionally, older pets are less capable of maintaining their body temperature, so help them out with proper cold-weather gear. Fit your pet with a waterproof jacket or vest, and protect their paws from snow, ice, and ice-melting chemicals with booties.

3: Create an easily accessible bathroom area for her

Decreased mobility makes it challenging for your senior pet to hurdle snow drifts to find the perfect spot to do their business, so design an easily accessible bathroom for them. Keep it clear of snow and ice, and consider installing a square of fake grass or using pee pads to encourage your pet to eliminate in that spot.

4: Spend plenty of time interacting with your senior pet

Pets can experience the wintertime blues, too, especially if they are not getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. Make a point of playing new games or teaching your senior pet new tricks throughout the winter while you’re both stuck indoors to help prevent boredom and stave off cognitive dysfunction.

Although your senior pet may be entering their golden years, that doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of life left. Schedule an appointment with our team to discuss ways to help your senior pet live their best life.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

How to Prepare a Pet-Safe Thanksgiving Feast

thanksgiving safety tips

An overloaded table filled with your favorite dishes is one of Thanksgiving’s highlights. While you are drooling over a heaping plate, so is your pet. However, many popular Thanksgiving foods are dangerous for pets. Follow these Thanksgiving safety tips, and let your pet join the feast by preparing a special, safe Thanksgiving plate just for them with the following foods:

  • Turkey — Many pets have their eyes on the prize: a turkey drumstick. But the tasty turkey leg can cause the most problems, from the skin to the bones. The higher fat content in dark meat and the fatty, seasoned skin can cause stomach upset and possibly pancreatitis in your pet. And the bones can splinter when crunched, piercing the gastrointestinal tract, or forming a blockage that requires emergency surgery. Instead of giving your pet a turkey leg to gnaw on, offer a few morsels of skinless, boneless, unseasoned turkey breast.
  • Mashed Sweet Potatoes — Regular mashed potatoes loaded with butter, chives, garlic, and sour cream can lead to serious health issues. Topping buttery mashed potatoes with gravy can trigger a case of pancreatitis. At the same time, ingredients from the Allium family—chives, garlic, leeks, and onions—can cause red blood cell destruction and anemia. Swap out rich mashed potatoes for plain, mashed sweet potatoes, which are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Biscuits — Unbaked yeast dough left out to rise can cause stomach bloating, gastrointestinal obstruction, and alcohol poisoning, all of which can require emergency treatment, so give your pet a cooked biscuit treat to enjoy instead.
  • Fruit — Many sweet treats contain ingredients that are toxic to pets, such as raisins, currants, chocolate, or xylitol. Offer your pet small bites of safe, fresh fruits, like apples, bananas, and berries, for a sweet snack instead.

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and friends, not in an emergency veterinary hospital. However, if your furry pal runs into trouble—or runs off with the turkey—contact our team for help.

Halloween Safety Tips

5 Pet Safety Tips to Take the Horror Out of Halloween

Halloween pet safety tips

As October 31 approaches, you may be planning all sorts of spooky activities to celebrate Halloween. If you include your pet in the festivities, ensure you do so safely by following our team’s top five Halloween pet safety tips.

1: Avoid sharing candy bags with your pet

Sorting through the loot after an excellent night of trick-or-treating is one of the holiday’s highlights for children. However, keep your furry pal’s nose—and jaws—out of your kid’s candy bag or the bowl of candy you bought to hand out to trick-or-treaters. Not only are many treats dangerous for pets, but the wrappers themselves can cause gastrointestinal obstruction. Place your candy bowl well out of your pet’s reach between each ring of your doorbell, and ensure your children don’t leave their candy or wrappers lying around within paw’s reach.

2: Check your pet’s costume fit

While many pets prefer to wear their birthday suits on Halloween, your furry pal may enjoy donning a festive costume. When outfitting your pet, check the costume’s fit to ensure it does not slip over their eyes, restrict breathing, or limit movement. Also, check for parts that can be chewed off, such as ties, zippers, and other dangling pieces.

3: Limit spooky encounters

Although you may enjoy setting up your yard as a haunted attraction, your pet may become too frightened to go outside to do their business. Minimize eerie sounds, motion-activated monsters, and flashing lights to avoid scaring your pet.

4: Keep your pet indoors after dark

Most of the holiday’s mischief-making happens at night, so get your pet’s daily walk in well before dark. When letting your dog out one last time before bed, walk outside with them, and take a bright flashlight so you can keep a close eye on them.

5: Microchip your pet

With the front door constantly opening, your pet has an increased chance of slipping out in the costumed chaos. Double-check that their microchip’s registration information is current so you can be contacted if they dart out the door. If your pet hasn’t been microchipped already, call us to schedule an appointment.

Halloween can be a frightening holiday, so our team is here to help if your furry pal encounters a scary situation. Give us a call to schedule an appointment.

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

How to Evaluate Your Pet’s Body Condition Score

pet obesity

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day falls on October 12, but you should pay attention to your pet’s weight all year long. More than half of the nation’s cats and dogs are considered overweight or obese, which can lead to serious health issues. Overweight pets are at an increased risk for developing heart disease, respiratory problems, skin issues, osteoarthritis, endocrine disease, and some cancers. Keep your furry pal in fine shape by learning how to judge their body condition score.

Step 1: Look at your pet from above

First, have your pet stand up and position themselves in a straight line. Look down at your pet’s waistline. Ideally, your pet should have an hourglass shape so that their abdomen dips inward between the end of the ribcage and the hips. You may need to run your hands along your pet’s sides to feel their waist if they are especially furry. If your pet’s waist appears to form more of a rectangle shape, they are too heavy.

Step 2: Run your hands over your pet’s ribs

In short-haired pets, you may be able to see their ribs. Their ribs, spine, and hips should not obviously protrude, but you should be able to see the faint outlines of these bones. Additionally, you can feel for your pet’s ribs under a thick coat. The ribs should be palpable without an excess fat layer covering them. If you have to push hard to feel your pet’s ribs, it’s time to contact your veterinarian and schedule a nutritional consultation and evaluation.

Step 3: Evaluate your pet from the side

Lastly, look at your pet from the side. Do they have a tucked-up abdomen, or does it pooch downward? You should be able to follow the line of the abdomen up into the hindquarters rather than seeing it flow straight across or sag down.

Now that you know how to evaluate your pet’s body condition score, do so periodically to ensure they maintain an ideal condition and weight. If you are struggling to help your four-legged friend lose weight, schedule a nutritional consultation and evaluation with our team.