Why Your Dog Needs a Daily Walk

Why Your Dog Needs a Daily Walk

 

It's below zero yet again and you have just gotten comfortable in your favorite sweatshirt, pair of jeans, and fuzzy slippers. Just as you’re about to start a great book, your dog approaches with her leash in her mouth. It’s time for her daily walk. If you feel tempted to shoo her aber that your dog needs this daily exercise for her well-being. As long as you dress for the weather, it’s just as good for you.

When you skip your dog’s daily walk too often, he will likely respond with behavioral challenges. This could include acting destructive in the house, barking too often, or even reverting in house training. It also increases the likelihood of your dog becoming overweight. In fact, the website Slim Doggy reports that just 30 minutes of walking each day is enough to help your dog maintain a healthy weight. Although it may feel like the last thing you want to do on a cold February day, we encourage you to grab the leash and get going. 

The Benefits of a Daily Walk from Your Dog’s Perspective
Walking through the neighborhood with you provides your dog with mental stimulation so that she doesn’t become bored and destructive. It also satisfies the desire to roam. Other benefits of daily walking for your dog include:
 
Regular exercise can help to prevent certain types of obesity-related diseases
Your dog receives social interaction with people and other dogs
Dogs that walk together every day bond as a pack
Your dog receives undivided attention from you
Walking helps to increase your dog’s confidence as she learns how to deal with a range of situations
 
As beneficial as it is to walk your dog daily, you do need to pay attention to signs that your dog may have had too much exposure to cold weather and is ready to go home. Common indications include anxiety, disorientation, fatigue, and whining. It’s fine to cut your walk short and try again tomorrow if your dog appears uncomfortable.

Walking Every Day is Good for People Too
Seasonal Affective Disorder is all too common in Minnesota and Wisconsin due to our long, cold winters with limited hours of daylight. However, depression can occur any time of the year. Research proves that walking releases serotonin in the brain that can significantly elevate your mood. 

Walking also helps you to lose or maintain weight as well as lower your chances of developing diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or stroke. While you might grumble when your dog reminds you that it’s time for a walk, you should thank her instead! Finally, a daily walk helps to strengthen your bond with your dog and gives her something to look forward to every day.

Please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic if you’re experiencing common dog walking problems such as your dog trying to take the lead or pulling on the leash. We are happy to recommend some behavioral training techniques. Be sure to check out our online store for walking supplies such as leashes and harnesses as well.
 
Photo Credit: vitalytitov / Getty Images

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Understanding Feline Panleukopenia

Feline Panleukopenia

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, feline panleukopenia was a leading cause of death among cats before the discovery of an effective vaccine. You may also hear the terms feline parvo or feline distemper used to describe the same disease. However, it’s important to understand that both canine parvo and canine distemper come from a different virus than the feline versions. The diseases have similar names, but they affect each species differently. 

Feline Panleukopenia is Highly Contagious
This highly contagious disease originates with feline parvovirus. It affects kittens more severely than it does older cats. The virus affects and kills a cat or kitten’s cells that grow and divide rapidly. The most common places to find the virus is in the intestines or bone marrow of kittens and cats and in an unborn litter of cats inside of their mother’s placenta. 

Risk Factors for Feline Panleukopenia
The feline parvovirus is common, which means that nearly all kittens and cats face exposure at some point. In addition to newborn and unborn kittens, those most at risk of becoming ill with this disease are cats already in poor health and those who have not yet received a vaccination. The most typical age of diagnosis is three to five months, which is also when the most deaths occur due to feline panleukopenia. 

The disease has shown up in all regions of the United States and several foreign countries. It typically spreads in cat colonies, pet shops, animal shelters, and kennels where large groups of cats are together in a small or enclosed space. Feline panleukopenia is more common in urban areas during the warmer months because domesticated house cats have more contact with cats who may be ill or never received a vaccine.

Infection and Diagnosis
A cat who has the virus sheds it through urine, nasal secretions, and feces. Another cat can pick up the infection when he makes contact with the bodily discharges of an infected cat. He can even pick it up from fleas that first landed on the infected cat before transferring to him. Although shedding of the virus only lasts for one or two days, it can live outside of the cat’s body for up to a year. For this reason, an infected and uninfected cat don’t have to make direct contact with each other for transmission to occur. The uninfected cat can easily pick it up through bedding, food bowls, and cages. 

It’s important to isolate infected cats and to keep unvaccinated cats out of the area. The virus is highly resistant to disinfectant, so it can still spread to a new cat even when you have scrubbed everything down. Some of the first indications that your cat may have acquired feline panleukopenia include: dehydration, depressed mood, diarrhea, fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, nasal discharge, and vomiting. Pregnant cats with the virus will often miscarry the litter or give birth to kittens with tremors and severe brain damage.
 
Treatment and Prognosis
Kittens younger than eight weeks rarely survive this disease, and 90 percent of kittens and cats older than eight weeks will die without treatment. Since no medication currently exists that can kill the virus, treatment typically includes treating dehydration, preventing a secondary infection, and providing the infected cat with nutrients. Survival rates increase dramatically once the infected cat has reached the five-day mark.

If you recognize these symptoms in your cat or want to schedule a vaccine for panleukopenia, please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474.
 
Photo Credit: Milkos / Getty Images

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How Will You Celebrate Change a Pet’s Life Day?

Change a Pets Life Day

 

It takes so little to change a pet’s life and now there’s a whole day dedicated to it. Several years ago, some of the top animal welfare organizations came together to create Change a Pet’s Life Day. It takes place on Wednesday, January 24, and the purpose is to raise awareness of companion animal adoption and their well-being in general. You can do several things to help animals on this day or any other day.

Adopt a Pet from a Shelter
Hundreds of animal shelters across the country participate in this event by reducing or even waiving fees on Change a Pet’s Life Day. Some take it a step further by offering other incentives to adopt, such as a free spay or neuter surgery or providing all shots the pet needs. 

You literally save a dog or cat’s life when you adopt from a shelter, but it gets even better than that. By adopting one homeless pet, you free up space for the shelter to take in another. Even if you can’t adopt on January 24, you can let others know about the event by sharing a link on your social media accounts or telling them in person.

Consider Offering Foster Care for Pets
Not everyone can adopt for a variety of reasons. However, you can still help homeless pets by offering temporary shelter if possible. Local no-kill shelters are always looking for new pet foster parents. You would take the pet into your home and care for her until the volunteer organization finds a suitable permanent home. One of your volunteer duties might include helping to review applications from people wanting to adopt the pet. 

Volunteer to Help Promote the Event
This awareness campaign takes a lot of dedicated people to ensure the greatest results for pets. You can still help if you’re unable to adopt or foster a pet who needs a home. For example, you can offer to help promote Change a Pet’s Life Day by printing and distributing flyers, creating a graphic design, or paying to run an ad in the local newspaper in Grantsburg or Wild River. Another possibility is helping to process paperwork at the adoption events taking place in the community that day. 

Resolve to Change Your Own Pet’s Life This Year
The new year is the ideal time to start a new routine with a pet you already have, such as enrolling your dog in obedience classes or making sure your cat gets to the vet for regular check-ups. Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic look forward to seeing your pet in 2018, whether he’s been with you for years or you decided to adopt or foster on January 24. 
 
Photo Credit: Fat Camera / Getty Images

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Enjoy Winter Walks with Your Dog

Enjoy Winter Walks with Your Dog

 

It has only officially been winter for a few weeks, yet we have already experienced brutal cold in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The bone-chilling temperatures are enough to make anyone want to hibernate until spring. However, you know that’s not possible when you have a dog because he still needs a daily walk. If you don’t walk with your dog daily already, consider making this a habit now that we’re officially in National Walk Your Dog Month.

Bundling up to head outside in January may not sound like much fun to you, but consider how important it is to your dog. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they still need to release their pent-up energy somehow. This could result in your dog making a mess in the house by chewing up the furniture, knocking over valuables, and even eliminating indoors. A lack of exercise is often behind a dog who suddenly develop separation anxiety as well.

Benefits of Walking with Your Dog Every Day
It's no secret that both people and their pets are getting bigger all the time, thanks in large part to a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, Minnesota and Wisconsin are both top contenders for having the greatest number of obese dogs in the country. While our harsh winters are partly to blame, daily walks are part of the deal when adopting a dog. Your dog misses out on many benefits when you skip it, including your complete attention, social interaction with other people and dogs, and greater confidence in new situaitons. Additionally, regular exercise helps to prevent obesity and reduce the risk of several diseases.
 
Walking every day is just as good for you. By walking just 30 minutes each day, you reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and depression, particularly of the seasonal variety. As long as both you and your dog bundle up, you can walk outdoors during all but the most severe winter weather conditions.
 
Safety Tips for Walking with Your Dog in the Winter
Although daily walking has many benefits in all types of weather, you do need to take some extra safety precautions in the winter. For example, cover your dog’s paws with booties to protect them from extreme cold as well as road salt and other chemicals. We recommend that you trim the fur between each of your dog’s toes regularly to keep ice, salt, and chemicals from sticking to his paw pads. 
 
Make sure that your dog doesn’t get too far ahead of you and slip on a pile of ice. She could easily fall through or injure herself in another way. Lastly, head home at the first sign of possible frostbite or hypothermia. These could include xcessive shivering, anxiety, whining, increased panting, confusion and disorientation, and trying to sit down while you’re out walking.
 
If your dog does sustain an injury or you’re concerned he has caught a cold-related illness, don’t hesitate to contact us at Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474. 
 
 

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