Preparing Your Pets for the 4th of July

Preparing Your Pets for the 4th of July

Most people look forward to the 4th of July holiday. There’s parades to see, carnivals to attend, time off work, and frequent displays of colorful fireworks. However, dogs and cats don’t understand the reason for the disruption in their regular schedule or why they’re hearing loud noises from fireworks so often. Some pets develop severe anxiety because of it. Dealing with the anxiety caused by fireworks can be especially challenging because you can’t control whether other people or groups choose to light them off. You can only try to make fireworks season more comfortable for your pet.

Independence Day Safety and Comfort Tips for Pet Owners

The loud noise caused by fireworks doesn’t seem to bother some pets. It might startle them for a second, but then they return to what they were doing before the loud boom. Other dogs and cats, especially those already prone to anxiety, will run away from the sound to find a place to hide. If your pet is like this, you might not see her until after the fireworks are over. Some other behaviors your pet might display that indicate anxiety include whimpering, trembling, growling from dogs, or hissing from cats. If your pet responds in this manner, try these tips:

  • Play soothing music as loud as you can to drown out the sound of fireworks
  • Plug in a Feliway or Adaptil diffuser for cats or place a thundershirt on a dog
  • Make sure that your pet has plenty of accessible places to hide if desired
  • Consider placing your pet in a separate room with food and comfort items until the fireworks end
  • Do your best to distract your pet by talking to him or playing a game

For fireworks events in the community, plan to leave your dog at home if you attend. The noises will startle her and cause her to act in unpredictable ways, including possibly running away. Her barking and whining could also be an annoyance for other people trying to watch the fireworks display.

If you’re traveling or hosting people for the Independence Day holiday, try to keep your pet’s schedule as normal as possible. Continue feeding him the same food and ask that others don’t feed your pet anything. Although they may mean well with sharing a treat, the major shift in diet could cause stomach upset and other health issues for your pet.

Let Us Know if You Need More Help with Your Pet’s Anxiety

Some pets are so prone to anxiety due to fireworks that none of these tips will help them for long. They will also react poorly to thunder and other loud and unexpected noises. Please don’t hesitate to contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic if you need additional help managing your pet’s anxiety this summer.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Mental Stimulation is a Critical Need in Pets

Mental Stimulation

The need for mental stimulation is deep and instinctual in both people and companion animals. The difference, of course, is that you can seek you own mental challenges while your dog or cat depends on you to do it for him. You already do a great job caring for your pet’s physical health needs. We encourage you to consider his need to solve problems and socialize with other people and animals as well.

A pet will quickly let you know if you’re overlooking this need by her behavior. A dog or pet who feels bored can become destructive, depressed, or both. People who don’t make the connection between their pet’s behavior and lack of mental stimulation sometimes punish their pet or even give her away. While it’s understandably frustrating to deal with behavior such as excessive barking or meowing, inappropriate elimination, biting, scratching, or chewing, try to look at the situation from your pet’s perspective and provide her with the stimulation she’s trying to tell you that she needs.

How to Stimulate the Mind of a Dog

Dogs require exercise daily and interaction with people and other dogs as often as possible. The good news is that physical exercise helps to stimulate the brain as well. For example, your dog can learn to catch a Frisbee and bring it back to you, how to hike on a trail, or how to swim. Once it’s clear that he’s caught on to a specific exercise, try to change things up a bit to prevent boredom. Exercise is also a good way to bond with you and to see other people and pets out in the community.

Providing your dog with a toy that requires her to solve a problem to get a treat is also a good idea. We carry food puzzles and other such items in our online store for your convenience. Since dogs are very motivated by treats, play a game of hiding your dog’s treat in a different location in the house each time so he has to figure out how to find it.

How to Stimulate the Mind of a Cat

Cats have a need for mental stimulation, as well. Your cat loves spending one-on-one time with you as you pet his tummy, talk to him, and play games together.

We recommend taking some time each day to play simple games with your cat that require him to use his mind. For example, place a gloved hand under a sofa cushion and move it around. Place toys in various places around your home, to help your cat feel like he's seeking out prey. Cats also enjoy treats and might like a toy like the egg-cercizer that requires batting it a certain way for the toy to release a treat.

Need more ideas to help keep your pet’s mind sharp? Just call Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474.

Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Fleas and Ticks - ICK!

Fleas-Ticks

 

Although fleas and ticks can survive year-round, they are especially numerous in the late spring, throughout the summer, and in the early fall. Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic encourage you to provide your pet with year-round protection against these annoying and potentially deadly parasites.

Common Signs of Fleas in Companion Animals

The most likely places to find fleas on your dog or cat is on the hind end, thighs, upper portion of the paws, and tail. However, these microscopic parasites are usually too small for anyone to see. You will know your pet has fleas when he starts scratching himself with unusual intensity. Other possible indications of fleas include:

  • Pus draining from the area of infestation
  • Red skin abrasions, with or without bleeding
  • Tapeworm in your pet’s feces
  • Licking, chewing, biting, or rubbing the areas of flea infestation

Some pets are allergic to the saliva of fleas and may develop dermatitis because of it. The intense itching can cause bald patches of fur, another clue of the presence of fleas. Although this parasite is not deadly, it can cause your pet to develop tapeworm. Left untreated, tapeworm will continue growing inside of your pet’s body and possibly make her anemic due to diverting all of her nutrient sources.

What You Need to Know About Ticks

The organization Pets and Parasites states that cases of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are higher this year because of more ticks. The increase is attributed to the dry and hot weather conditions of the last several summers. Fever, fatigue, arthritis, and infections of the skin are the most obvious indications of a tick. This parasite cannot survive without the blood of its host.

You can help reduce the likelihood of Lyme or other tick-borne diseases by checking your pet for ticks daily. The best way to do this is to feel with your hand from head to tail as well as your pet’s underbelly, between toes, underneath the ears and armpits, and under the face and chin. Be sure to pull the tick out in a straight motion with a pair of tweezers so you don’t leave any of the body behind.

Commit to Year-Round Protection

Your pet depends on you to keep him free of parasites. If you feel unsure of which prevention product to use, just call for a recommendation or bring it us at your pet’s next check-up. You can also shop in our online store.

Prevention is simple, inexpensive, and can save your pet’s life. At the very least, it will spare her a lot of misery. Summer is short enough as it is. The last thing you want is for your pet to have to stay indoors due to illness or fear of picking up tickborne diseases or fleas. If we can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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How Does a Dog Get Heartworm?

How Does Dog Get Heartworm

Now that summer is finally here, you and your dog are probably both eager to spend more time outside. However, it’s also important to be aware that the warmer weather also means that your dog has a greater likelihood of developing heartworm. Dogs can only develop heartworm in one way and that is through a bite from an infected mosquito.

Mosquitos acquire heartworm when they bite a dog that already has the parasite. The circumstances must be just right for this to happen, which means the heartworm present must be adults that have already started reproducing.

When a mosquito sucks the blood of an infected dog, it takes the babies of the heartworm called microfilariae into its own body. These develop into larvae over the next 10 days to two weeks and become infected. The mosquito then transfers the heartworm larvae to a new host when it bites another dog. This dog doesn’t develop symptoms of heartworm disease until the heartworm become adults several months later.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Heartworm can have an incredibly long life span and live up to seven years once inside of your dog’s body. A single worm can grow to a length of 12 inches and reproduce multiple times. When a female heartworm reproduces, it can release several thousand tiny worms into your dog’s bloodstream. Although the symptoms may not be obvious for several months, you'll eventually notice these issues:

  • Easily fatigued
  • Refusal to eat
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent cough

The following symptoms are common with advanced cases of heartworm:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blood in the urine
  • Distended stomach

If you suspect that your dog has heartworm, please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic right away for an examination. It typically only takes one blood test to determine if your dog is heartworm positive. The first thing we will recommend if your dog tests positive is to reduce exercise or prevent him from doing it altogether. He will also need to take medication to eliminate the heartworm from his body after he has reached a point of stabilization. We test your dog again approximately six months after the last dose of medication to ensure that he no longer has heartworm remaining in his body.

Preventing Heartworm is Easier Than Treating It

Dogs are fortunate in that they are much more responsive to heartworm treatment than cats. Even so, the process is long, uncomfortable, and expensive. It’s much better to prevent your dog from getting heartworm in the first place. Prevention comes in many forms, including chewable medication and a topical solution. You can find these products and more in our online store. Please let us know if you would like a specific product recommendation or if you have additional questions about summer heartworm control.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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