Safe Toys for Your Pet

Safe Toys for Your Pet

While it’s fun to watch your pet engage with her toys, it’s also important to remember that dogs and cats need toys for physical activity, entertainment, comfort, distraction, and mental stimulation. It’s not spoiling your dog or cat to buy or make what she needs to lead a happy life. However, not all pet toys are entirely safe for them. It’s up to you to consider the safety of a toy before allowing your pet to play with it. Below are several things to think about for both dog and cat toys.

Choosing Safe Dog Toys

Dog breeds vary considerably, which means that you need to carefully consider the size of your dog’s mouth before giving him a new toy. A poodle, for example, would not be able to handle a chew bone in the same way that a Great Dane would. Some dog toys contain parts they could swallow easily, including buttons, plastic eyes, strings, polystyrene beads, or nutshells.

As a dog owner, you already know that your dog has a built-in need to chew. Safe choices for toys that help to fulfill this desire include a Kong, a busy box with a treat hidden inside, a small rope with a knot on each end, and tennis balls. Busy boxes are an especially good idea because they motivate your dog to keep interacting with the toy to release a treat.

At Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary clinic, we offer several safe dog toy options in our online store. Some of these include:

  • Large squeaky balls
  • Nylon bones
  • Kong toys
  • Tug-a-jug
  • Rawhide rings

Choosing Safe Cat Toys

While a dog’s primary instinct is chewing, a cat’s is to hunt and stalk. Something as simple as a chasing a rubber band across the floor can entertain a cat for hours. However, this could present a choking hazard. When selecting toys for your cat, choose items that she can bat at and that allow her to interact with her human family. Be sure to watch for choking hazards, including small pieces that your cat can easily chew off. Some safe toys for cats that we recommend from MyVetStoreOnline include:

  • Egg-cercizer treat dispenser
  • Doorway dangler
  • Kong cat wobbler
  • Incline scratcher

Toys are especially important for indoor cats who may become bored and destructive without them.

Rotate Your Pet’s Toys Frequently

We encourage you to rotate your pet’s toys on a regular basis to keep him interested in them. When you put a toy into storage for a while and then re-introduce it to your pet, he will think the toy is new. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions about toy safety or MyVetStoreOnline.

Photo Credit: npdesignde / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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Tips for a Pet-Safe Easter

Tips for a Pet-Safe Easter

Easter comes a bit early this year on Sunday, April 1. Like many people, you may enjoy decorating your home for the holiday, filling Easter baskets for the kids, and getting together with family for a delicious ham dinner. As you do so, keep in mind that some of the things traditionally associated with this springtime holiday can be harmful for pets.

Don’t Share Human Food or Candy

Chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and other Easter treats be may impossible for your pet to resist. Unfortunately, he may try to grab a mouthful when you have your back turned for just a minute. Chocolate is especially problematic for dogs and cats due to the active ingredient of theobromine. This can produce seizures as well as cause hyperactivity and an accelerated heart rate. The artificial sweetener Xylitol, which is a top ingredient in many seasonal sweets, can cause liver failure in pets.

If your pet can’t get at the candy, she would be just as happy with table scraps. However, they’re not necessarily safe for her either. Many foods in the traditional Easter meal contain excess spices, a high amount of fat, or small bones that could cause your pet to choke. If you’re hosting and you don’t think your guests will be able to resist such a cute beggar, be sure to keep your dog or cat contained in another room until people have finished eating. This is also a good idea if having company tends to make your pet anxious. She could act in unpredictable ways, especially towards children.

Easter Plants and Baskets

The Easter lily is one of the most popular plants for people to decorate with during this season. Although lilies are beautiful, they’re extremely toxic to cats. Since cats naturally gravitate towards chewing plants and grass, it’s best to avoid bringing lilies into your home. The most adventurous cats will still find a way to get at the plant even if it’s on a high shelf.

The plastic grass that parents use to decorate Easter baskets for the kids can be a choking hazard to pets. It can also cause immediate gastrointestinal symptoms if swallowed. If you do choose to use plastic grass, let your children know they should keep the baskets in their bedrooms. Also, make sure your pet isn’t in the same room when your kids find their Easter baskets in the morning.

If you hide candy inside of hard plastic eggs, this is another thing your pet may feel he needs to investigate. If he bites into one hard enough, pieces of plastic cold become stuck in his throat. You also don’t want your pet to eat hard-boiled eggs.

Emergency Contact Information

It doesn’t have to be Easter Sunday for your pet to get into something that could hurt her. If you need help during regular office hours, please call Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-4742. After hours, you may call Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service. Please click here to find contact information for the location closest to you.

Photo Credit: LiliGraphie / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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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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