Spring Skin Allergies in Pets

April Showers Bring Spring Skin Allergies in Pets

skin allergies

As spring brings warmer weather and new growth, it also brings something more
threatening—pollen. This yellow substance triggers irritating allergies in people and pets alike and can cause a wide variety of signs in suffering pets. Read on to learn what you need to know about spring skin allergies in your furry pal.

Causes of springtime allergies in pets

While pollen in the grass and air is one of the top causes of springtime skin allergies in pets, other substances also may cause a reaction, such as:

  • Dust mites
  • Ragweed
  • Mold
  • Flea bites
  • Dander

Some pets may have year-round allergies, but experience flare-ups in the spring when pollen production kicks into high gear. If your pet is prone to itching all year long, keep a close eye on them to ensure they remain comfortable through this particularly itchy season.

Skin allergy signs in pets

Generally, people with allergies display their hypersensitivity through respiratory symptoms, such as sneezing and red, watery eyes. Pets, on the other hand, are more likely to develop skin issues when exposed to allergens. If your furry pal has allergies, they may show the following signs:

  • Red, inflamed skin
  • Itching and scratching
  • Excessive shedding or hair loss
  • Licking at paws
  • Shaking head
  • Scratching at ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Hot spots

Pets with allergies can experience a flare-up seemingly overnight, with their skin appearing calm and comfortable one day, and hot spots and an ear infection showing up the next day. If you know your pet has allergies, monitor them closely during their itchiest times of the year to get a jump on flare-ups.

Managing skin allergies in pets

Managing allergies in pets can be challenging. As your pet grows older, their allergies change, requiring constant adjustment of their treatment. Therapies to manage allergies in pets can include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Allergy injections (i.e., immunotherapy)
  • Targeted anti-itch medications such as Apoquel and Cytopoint
  • Medicated shampoos
  • Oral and topical antibiotics for skin infections
  • Ear cleaners and medications

Remember what worked well for your pet one season may not work as well the next, so be open to trying new treatments.

If you suspect your four-legged friend is suffering from springtime skin allergies, contact our team to schedule an appointment for allergy relief.

Is Your Cat Stressed Out?

Three Potential Signs of a Seriously Stressed Out Cat

stressed out cat

Cats are highly sensitive creatures, which means they don’t react well to change. Whether the disruption is minor, such as moving clocks ahead an hour and changing a routine. Or major, such as moving to a new home. These things can all lead to a stressed out cat. Learn to identify stress in your cat so you can help them relax and adjust to changes.

1: Your cat is urinating and defecating outside the litter box

Inappropriate elimination is a common side effect of stress in cats. Anxious cats are more likely to suffer from idiopathic cystitis, a condition that results in bladder inflammation and appears to have triggers rooted in stress. Once a cat associates painful urination with the litter box, they often begin to defecate outside it as well. If your cat has suddenly started avoiding the litter box, they may be experiencing stress or may have an underlying medical condition.

2: Your cat is overgrooming and pulling out hair

During grooming, endorphins are released, making grooming a pleasant activity for your feline friend. When your cat is stressed, it makes sense they would try to relax by grooming. However, this behavior could become compulsive, and your cat may continue it long after the stress has been resolved. Overgrooming and pulling out fur also can be signs of pain, so schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice your pet grooming more than usual.

3: Your cat is more reclusive than usual

Stressed cats tend to hide and may shun interaction with you or other pets in the household. You may find your cat lurking in their favorite hiding spot more often, or they may set up shop in a dark closet. In addition, they may become aggressive if you try to force them to come out and play.

Stress Awareness Month is a great time to shed light on a cat’s sensitive nature and how they react to stress. Keep a close eye on your cat to see if they become stressed by changes in your household, and contact our team if you notice any worrying signs. Or check out the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) for information regarding cat behavior.

How To Pack Your Pet’s First Aid Kit

It pays to be prepared. Learn how to pack your pet’s first aid kit.

pet's first aid kit

Your furry pal is surrounded by hazards every day. Sometimes, these hazards can cause a life-threatening or fatal condition if not treated quickly enough, which is where pet first aid comes into play. In honor of National Pet First Aid Awareness Month, learn which supplies are essential when packing your pet’s first aid kit so you can prevent a disaster if your four-legged friend finds mischief.

Essential supplies for a pet first aid kit

Many of the supplies you have in your own first aid kit will work for your pet, but you should make a few additions to ensure you have everything you need. When putting together your pet’s first aid kit, stock up on the following essentials:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Unopened 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Ice pack
  • Disposable gloves
  • Blunt-ended scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Oral syringe
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Towels
  • Small flashlight
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Styptic powder
  • Saline eye solution
  • Artificial tear ointment

Rotate the supplies in your pet’s first aid kit every few months to prevent the items from expiring. For example, if you try to give your pet outdated hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, it likely will be ineffective. On a side note, never make your pet vomit without first contacting your veterinarian or animal poison control.

How to appropriately store your pet’s kit

If you’re the sort to tuck supplies in bathroom closets, under the kitchen sink, and in random spots around your home, creating an actual kit is a necessity. Buy a waterproof tote with locking closures to ensure your pet cannot get into it. Then, place your completed first aid kit in a spot that is easily accessible. This may be with your pet’s other supplies or your own first aid kit. Keep in mind that a first aid kit does you no good if you don’t remember where it’s kept. An important item to include in your pet’s first aid kit is the phone number of your nearest emergency veterinary hospital.

If your pet experiences trouble after normal business hours, you’ll need to head to the emergency hospital. Otherwise, contact our team for help.

Respect Your Cat’s Special Nature

Show your cat that you respect their special nature by following these 3 easy steps.

respect your cat's special nature

On March 28, we celebrate Respect Your Cat Day. While proud felines typically demand our respect and unwavering devotion every day of the year, make it a point to cater to their unique needs on their noteworthy holiday. Try the following ways to show that you respect your cat’s special nature.

1: Give your cat opportunities to hide and perch

Cats are both a predator and a prey species, meaning they have distinctive traits for each side. Offer your cat opportunities to feel comfortable with both parts of their personality by giving them places to hide and to perch up high. A lookout tower that provides climbing surfaces and hiding spots is a great way to fulfill your cat’s needs. Their predatory nature can survey their territory for threats, or “prey,” from up high, while their prey nature can feel safe and secure in a small, dark enclosure.

2: Determine your cat’s prey preference

Most cats prefer to hunt specific creatures, and by identifying their prey preference, you’ll be able to provide your pet with toys they’ll enjoy playing with. In general, cat toy categories include:

  • Birds — Cat toys with feathers and those that chirp or flutter can entice your cat to play when they’re flown through the air.
  • Mice — Plush toys, furry mice, and balls can mimic the movements of mice, encouraging your cat to stalk and pounce.
  • Insects — A cat laser toy, a string with a knot at the end, or a robotic toy that skitters across the floor can resemble bugs, a common favorite prey of cats.

Play with each type of toy for a few minutes to see which your cat ignores and which they show interest in.

3: Change up your cat’s feeding routine

Cats are designed to eat numerous small meals per day rather than one or two large meals. While some cats can control themselves when presented with a full food dish, many cannot, leading to various health issues. To avoid this, feed your cat several small meals each day, ideally in a food puzzle, as a way of mimicking how they would eat if they hunted for their food.

Another great way to show that you respect your cat’s special nature is to ensure they remain happy and healthy through regular preventive care. Take care of your feline friend by calling our team to schedule their next wellness appointment.

Danger Alert! Common Pet Toxins

Are you aware of the most common pet toxins and what to do if your pet ingests one?

dark chocolate is a common pet toxin

Household toxins are a common source of pet poisoning, particularly in the kitchen or bathroom. However, potential hazards can lurk everywhere, including in your garage, garden, and cupboards. Therefore, it is important to brush up on your knowledge of common pet toxin’s for National Poison Prevention Week, which is March 20-26 this year.

What are the most common toxins for pets?

Many items that are safe for people are toxic for pets, so before bringing flowers into your home or sharing a snack with your furry pal, ensure they are not hazardous. According to the ASPCA, the ten most common toxins that pets encounter include:

  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Human prescription medications
  • Food
  • Chocolate
  • Veterinary products
  • Household items
  • Rodenticides
  • Plants
  • Insecticides
  • Garden products

What signs should I watch for if my pet is exposed to a toxin?

While each toxin causes specific signs, some general conditions can develop if your pet has been exposed to a poisonous substance. Your furry pal may have come in contact with a potential common pet toxin if they develop the following issues:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Excessive thirst
  • Abnormal bleeding, bruising, or blood in the stool or urine
  • Hyperactivity
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Ataxia, or impaired coordination
  • Excessive salivation
  • Confusion
  • Changes in heart rate or rhythm
  • Changes in breathing

Keep in mind that toxicity signs may not always develop immediately. In fact some problems, such as clotting disorders from rodenticide toxicity, may not become apparent until days after ingestion.

Who should I contact if my pet comes in contact with a potential toxin?

If your pet ingests or comes in contact with a potential toxin, contact an animal poison control hotline immediately. A veterinary toxicologist will guide you on what steps to take to ensure your pet receives the appropriate treatment. Additionally, they will give you a case number that will allow a veterinarian or our team to contact them to discuss a treatment plan.

When in doubt, if your pet comes in contact with a toxic substance, contact an animal poison control center ASAP, then call our team for help.

Need help identifying other pet emergencies? Check out our Emergency Vet Care page for help.

Three Reasons to Spay Your Pet

February 22nd is World Spay Day, a time to reflect on the importance of spaying your pet.

a dog wearing red eyeglasses

Launched in 1995, World Spay Day is an annual campaign to encourage people to save animal lives by spaying companion pets and feral cats. We celebrate World Spay Day annually on the fourth Tuesday in February, which falls on February 22 this year. In addition to reducing the pet overpopulation problem, spaying your pet provides many health benefits. Here are three reasons why it’s essential to spay your female pet.

1: Spaying your pet greatly reduces their risk of developing mammary cancer

By spaying your pet before their first heat cycle, you can significantly reduce their mammary cancer risk. Cats spayed before six months of age have a seven-times reduced cancer risk. A dog’s risk for developing a cancerous mammary tumor is 0.5% if spayed before their first heat, 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat.
If a pet is spayed later in life, they can still develop mammary cancer after sterilization. In dogs, 50% of these mammary tumors are benign, and 50% are malignant. However, in cats, more than 85% of mammary tumors are malignant, and most are aggressive.

2: Spaying your pet keeps her safe from a potentially complicated pregnancy and delivery

Pregnancy and labor can be hard on a female pet, especially if they experienced an accidental pregnancy with a much larger male. Puppies can grow too large to be safely delivered naturally, and even kittens can become stuck during birth, requiring an emergency Cesarean section to save the lives of the mother and babies. After delivery, a pet can develop complications, such as hypocalcemia or uterine infection, which can be life-threatening conditions.

3: Spaying your pet prevents unwanted behaviors during her heat cycle

If you’ve seen a female cat in heat, you likely understand why cat owners want to spay their pets before their first heat cycle. Excessive yowling and howling, aggressive or irritable behavior, and bloody vaginal discharge can occur during a pet’s heat cycle. These issues can be eliminated through spaying.

If you want to schedule your pet’s spay surgery or have questions about the procedure, contact our team for advice.

How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

5 Simple Steps to Start Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

Photo - brushing dog's teeth
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Brushing your pet’s teeth should be something you do as frequently as you brush your own teeth. By brushing your pet’s teeth daily, you can reduce the amount of plaque and oral bacteria in their mouth and help keep pet dental disease at bay. Here are five steps to get started.

Step 1: Purchase pet-friendly toothbrushing products

When brushing your pet’s teeth, don’t use your own toothpaste. Since your pet can’t spit, they could swallow the fluoride contained in regular toothpaste, which can be harmful. Instead, purchase flavored toothpaste designed for pets, along with a small child’s toothbrush or a finger brush that will fit in your pet’s mouth.

Step 2: Offer your pet a small amount of toothpaste

Before jumping into brushing your pet’s teeth, offer them a taste of the toothpaste. Ideally, they’ll think it’s a treat and search for more.

Step 3: Use your finger to rub toothpaste on your pet’s teeth

Once your pet is excited about the toothpaste, use your finger to rub more paste on their teeth instead of allowing them to lap it up. Most pets will be more accepting of your finger in their mouth initially. This will help ease the introduction of the toothbrush.

Step 4: Introduce the toothbrush to your pet

After your pet gets used to having your finger swipe along with their teeth and gums—and realize they get more delicious toothpaste with this action—squeeze a dollop onto the toothbrush and offer it to them. They may be wary of the toothbrush at first, but once they realize it holds a tasty treat, they’ll accept it.

Step 5: Gently brush your pet’s teeth with the toothbrush

Once your pet is licking the toothbrush, gently insert it into their mouth and scrub their teeth. Focus on the outer, cheek-side surface of the teeth since their tongue usually does a good job of removing plaque on the inner surface. When finished, praise your four-legged friend for a job well done!

Although brushing your pet’s teeth at home is a great way to slow plaque and tartar
accumulation, your furry pal still will need regular oral exams and dental cleanings to keep the tooth structure below the gum line healthy. Give our team a call to schedule your pet’s appointment.

Keep your pets safe this Thanksgiving

Check out these safety tips 🍗

food love dinner eating
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it also can carry some hazards for pets. Follow these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday.

  • Say no to sweets! Holiday food needs to be kept away from pets, and be careful with leftovers. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for them. Foods that are particularly toxic to pets are chocolate, raisins, and grapes. Finally, don’t be fooled by “sugar free” items as they contain xylitol which is also toxic to pets.
  • Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to both dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations
  • Check tags and update microchips. With so many people coming and going, there are a lot of opportunities to run away. If you are traveling, either transport your pets safely or find safe accommodations for them at home.
  • Create a peaceful space. Lots of company can also stress out your pets, so be sure to give them a safe place to get away from the crowd.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and we are thankful for YOU! Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding your pet this holiday season.

Share All About It! How Online Reviews Help Pets

When searching for a new pediatrician, mechanic, or dentist, do you just pick the first one that pops up on Google? Or, do you spend time sifting through online reviews, weighing any potential pros and cons before making your decision? You likely read through a host of reviews to see what other people experienced to help influence your choice. As such, you can see the power of online reviews and how they ensure you avoid less-than-ideal situations and find the best professional for the job. Let’s take a look at how online reviews can help you provide gold-standard care for your pet.

#1: Online reviews help provide an “in-their-shoes” look

When you’re searching for the best veterinary hospital to provide your pet’s care, you want to see what other pet owners’ experiences were at your local options. Many online reviews take you step-by-step through a person’s experience at a veterinary hospital, and you can learn a great deal about a practice, from the initial appointment-scheduling phone call, to the bedside manner of the veterinarian, and to the final check-out process. Your own veterinary-hospital experience is just as valuable to your fellow pet owners, which provides them a look at your pet’s appointment and any positives and negatives. By using online reviews to their fullest, you not only help garner the best care for your pet, but provide guidance on care options for others’ pets.

#2: Online reviews offer an in-depth look at veterinary services

Are you looking for a veterinary hospital that offers exotic pet care? Acupuncture? Fear Free methods? Maybe you’re looking for boarding options for your dog pack. A great way to learn more about the services offered by veterinary practices—outside of calling the hospital—is by perusing online reviews. Other pet owners who have left reviews can provide additional information on some of the more unique services offered by veterinary hospitals, which may be just what you’re looking for. Leaving a review of your pet’s care needs and how they were fulfilled will help others make their decision as well.

#3: Leave a review, earn loyalty rewards

We love hearing about your experience at our hospital so much, we offer a loyalty reward for leaving us feedback! Earn paws through our loyalty program by letting us know what we did well, and how we can improve. Not only do you get perks for your time and input, we’ll take your suggestions seriously to offer even better care for your furry pal in the future.

When your pet receives incredible, compassionate care, we want to hear all about it! If you haven’t already, download our hospital app. Search for HHVC in your app store, download the app today, and tell us all about your visit so we can continue striving to offer the best care possible.

September is Senior Pet Health Month

How do I know when my pet is a senior, and how should I care for them?

On average, pets age seven times faster than people. Typically, dogs and cats are considered senior when they’re about seven years old. Of course, size and breed have a lot of bearing on the aging process, and cats generally live longer than dogs.  

Just like us, pets tend to require more TLC as they age, and they are more prone to developing health problems like arthritis, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, thyroid conditions, and diabetes. While aging itself is not a disease, according to Vetstreet, there are a few symptoms you should keep an eye on when it comes to caring for your older pet:

  • Changes in weight (especially weight loss)
  • Decreased appetite or lack of appetite
  • Increased water consumption
  • Changes in urine or stool patterns
  • New lumps, bumps or swellings — or changes in existing ones
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing or breathing heavily or rapidly at rest
  • Sudden collapse or weakness
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or jumping
  • Foul mouth odor or drooling
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Disorientation

If you are noticing any of these signs in your senior pet, it might be time for a check up. Request an appointment through our app 📲 or contact us here, so we can perform a nose-to-tail exam and create a plan for their senior care.