Secondhand Smoke Can Have a Devastating Effect on Pets

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Whether you smoke or not, you’re probably aware of all the health risks it poses. Some of these include increased risk of lung cancer, heart attack, asthma, and other types of cancers. What many people don’t stop to consider is that secondhand smoke can affect pets even more severely than it does humans. With their smaller body size and lung capacity, dogs and cats can’t process the smoke they inhale as efficiently as people do. 
 
With the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout coming up on November 16, now is a great time to educate others about secondhand smoke or to kick the habit yourself. According to the American Cancer Society, 40 million people in this country smoke. Sadly, that number isn’t limited to adults. The goal of the campaign is to encourage people to quit for just one day to prove to themselves they can to it. This is the first step towards a smoke-free future.
 
The Effect of Cigarette Smoke on Cats and Dogs
Cats who live in a home with at least one smoker are three times more likely to develop lymphoma, a cancer that originates in the body’s lymphatic system. Squamous cell carcinoma is another common cancer in cats exposed to secondhand smoke. Since cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, they’re licking the carcinogens that settle into their fur. Cats exposed to secondhand smoke also have a greater likelihood of developing oral cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
 
Dogs in smoking homes have a high cancer risk as well. Those with short noses have an increased risk of developing lung cancer while dogs with longer noses are more likely to develop nasal cancer. Living with passive smoke is also a leading cause of bronchitis in dogs. They’re also more likely to attempt to ingest cigarette butts from an ashtray. This can have a highly toxic effect. Please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic right away if you suspect your dog swallowed a cigarette butt and you notice any of these symptoms:
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
Make a Smoke-Free Home Part of Your Pet’s Wellness Plan
We know you love your pet and want her to have a long, happy, and healthy life. One way to achieve this is to allow her to live in a smoke-free home. If you’re struggling trying to quit smoking, click here for resources from the Centers for Disease Control. Another way to ensure your pet’s well-being is to bring her in for regular preventive care exams at one of our clinics. Not only do you receive guidance on behavior, nutrition, sleep, and other important issues, our staff can diagnose and treat health problems that would otherwise have gone undetected. 
 
Here’s to a healthy, smoke-free future for you and your pets!
 
Photo Credit: Barski / Getty Images
 

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Don't Forget About Pet Safety This Halloween

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You and your children know that Halloween is just a fun holiday to dress up in costumes and get a lot of treats. However, your pets have no way of understanding this. To them, Halloween can be stressful and confusing. There’s a steady stream of people at the front door, but they don’t look like people at all. Even before October 31 arrives, your dog or cat is sure to notice the treats and decorations that he’s not supposed to touch. The good news is that you can take several actions to reduce your pet’s anxiety and increase his safety on this holiday.
 
Secure Your Pet at Home
Many people like to take their dog with them everywhere they go, but Halloween night is one time when your dog should stay home. Taking her along while trick-or-treating could cause behavior issues that you didn’t expect because she doesn’t know what to make of everything. The last thing you want is for your dog to attack a child or to run away from you in fear.
 
On Halloween night, we recommend preparing a quiet, comfortable room in your home for your pet that’s far away from the front door. That way, your dog won’t bark with every knock at the door and your cat won’t run and hide. 
 
Keeping your pet safe at home also protects him from people who steal animals or play pranks on Halloween night. This is especially common with black cats. In fact, animal shelters put a temporary ban on adoption of black cats on and around Halloween for this reason. It’s always a good idea to make sure your pet has microchip identification in case he does slip out the door.
 
Don’t Give Animals Treats Meant for Humans
It’s hard to resist those sad eyes looking up at you or hear the whine of a pet who wants to share your treat. Your dog or cat doesn’t understand that artificial sweetener, chocolate, and other common ingredients in Halloween candy can make her seriously ill. Typical symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and low energy. Seizures and breathing difficulty are some of the more serious effects of consuming candy. If you really want to share a treat with your pet, consider ordering from our online store. This ensures that your pet receives a safe treat made just for his species.
 
Decorations Can Create a Choking or Fire Hazard
Placing a lit candle in a pumpkin where a pet can get at it is never a good idea. It only takes an enthusiastic tail wag from a dog to knock it over or a cat sniffing at it to burn her face. If you want to light a jack-o-lantern, be sure to use a non-flammable light source instead. Additionally, keep all decorations out of your pet’s reach. His curiosity could cause him to chew and possibly choke on them.
 
Should Your Pet Wear a Halloween Costume?
Few things are as adorable as children and pets in Halloween costumes. If you do choose to buy or make a costume for your pet, it shouldn’t cover his mouth, nose, or eyes. He should also be able to move freely while wearing it. For safety’s sake, plan to supervise your pet whenever he wears the costume.
 
Help in an Emergency
Sometimes a dog or cat’s curiosity may get the better of her no matter what you do. If you have an emergency this Halloween season, call Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474 during regular business hours. After hours, please call  Affiliated Emergency Veterinary Service at 763-754-5000. You can also reach the Pet Poison Helpline 24 hours a day at 855-764-7661. The agency charges $59 per incident.

Photo Credit: Cynoclub / Getty Images

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October 15 to 21 is National Veterinary Technician's Week

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National Veterinary Technician’s Week takes place the third full week in October, which starts this year on Sunday, October 15 and runs through Saturday, October 21. It’s an opportunity for our veterinarians and support staff, as well as our clients, to let vet techs know just how much we all appreciate them. We would be lost without the hard work and dedication of Lacey, Emily, Missy, Jessica, and Jennifer. 
 
The veterinary technicians at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic aid in your pet’s care by preparing and giving vaccines, taking your pet’s vital signs, preparing laboratory samples, and much more. However, the most important thing our vet techs offer is comfort and compassion for pets who may feel anxious about the visit.
 
How This Appreciation Event Got Started
National Veterinary Technician’s Week is the brainchild of the National Association of Veterinary Technicians. The organization started the event in 1993. Almost 25 years later, the goals of the campaign remain the same. These include:
 
-Ensuring that pet owners understand the role of veterinary technicians in promoting good health and longevity.
 
-Making sure that veterinarians and other clinic staff understand the immense value of skilled veterinary technicians. That’s something we have always known at our two clinics.
 
-Providing pet parents and clinic staff with the opportunity to recognize outstanding technicians for their compassionate care of animals and the relationships they have developed with clients.
 
No Two Days Are the Same in the Life of a Veterinary Technician
When it comes to caring for animals, having the day not go as planned is more of the rule than the exception. Our technicians must remain flexible to deal with emergencies, procedures that took longer than expected, scared pets that try to run off, and much more. Nevertheless, a typical day in the life of our veterinary technicians might look something like this:
 
A client comes in with his dog for a preventive care exam. Our technician greets him and then brings client and dog back to an exam room. The first thing she does is ask if there have been any health changes since the last appointment. If so, she records that information for the doctor.
 
Lacey, Emily, Missy, Jessica, or Jennifer then weighs the dog, takes her temperature, and records any other important vital signs. The technician briefs the veterinarian on details provided by the client and of her own findings so far. She then assists the doctor with the remainder of the appointment, which typically includes securing and comforting the animal so he can complete the necessary procedures.
 
Educating clients on pet care is another essential role of our veterinary technicians. You will receive information on best practices for pet care at home as well as details on specific procedures your pet may need. Much of the work that our staff does happens when clients don’t see it. Some of these duties include cleaning up potty accidents, preparing pills to fill a new prescription, and cleaning exam rooms. 
 
Feel Free to Express Your Appreciation
It doesn’t have to be National Veterinary Technician’s Week to let our staff know how much you appreciate their efforts. You can say thanks anytime you want. We also want to let you know how much we appreciate our clients and the trust you have placed in us to help care for your beloved pets. 

Photo Credit: Thinkstock / Getty Images

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September is Happy Healthy Cat Month

Healthy Cat Month
 
One of every three households in the United States includes a cat. When you consider their playful, affectionate, and independent natures, it’s easy to see why. Cats have a way of making us laugh with their crazy antics and can dramatically increase our sense of well-being. In return, they depend on their human family for health and happiness. The CATalyst Council sponsors Happy Healthy Cat Month each September to raise awareness of how people can give their cats the best possible life.
 
Tips to Ensure Your Cat’s Health and Happiness
Cats sometimes seem to have a logic all their own. The CATalyst Council came up with these tips to help you understand and provide a comfortable environment for your pet:

Hiding places: Cats need a place to retreat when they feel stress and just enjoy having new places to curl up and take a nap. They also desire privacy at times. Cat furniture with built-in hiding places can help to meet this need. 

Mental stimulation and physical activity: A bored cat can become overweight and depressed, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money on cat toys. Waving a piece of string in front of your cat or tossing a toy mouse helps get him moving and makes him solve problems as well. It also gives you the chance to interact with your cat and deepen your bond.
 
Scratching opportunities: Your cat isn’t trying to destroy your furniture when she scratches on it. She is simply releasing her natural instinct to scratch. You can protect your furniture by placing several scratching pads around the house and redirecting your cat there when she starts to scratch. If the scratching gets out of hand, try placing soft claws over your cat’s claws to protect your furniture and other items.
 
Nutritious foods: Learn to read pet food labels so you understand whether the product offers quality nutrition or mostly fillers. It’s also important to limit treats and not give your cat food meant for humans.
 
Consider an indoor only policy: Cats who remain indoors avoid fights with other cats, picking up various diseases, and getting hit by a car. Creating an enriching indoor environment will help decrease your cat’s interest in going outside. If you do let your cat outside, make sure you supervise him and keep him contained in a fenced-in area. Since even indoor cats can sneak out, we recommend getting microchip identification for all cats.
Schedule Regular Preventive Care Exams
 
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, veterinary visits for cats decrease substantially after the first year of life. However, adult cats need regular check-ups just as much as kittens do. Cats between one and seven years old should come in at least once a year and older cats should visit us bi-annually. These appointments are just one more way you can ensure that your cat remains happy and healthy. To schedule an appointment, contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474. 
 
Photo Credit: Olezzo / Getty Images
 

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