5 Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress for Your Pet

Reindeer hooves dancing on the roof, a man in a red suit shimmying down the chimney, laughter, music, the ringing of doorbells, and the noise of new toys: it’s no wonder some pets struggle with stress during the holiday season. Between all the strange smells, sounds, and people, it can be tough for nervous pets to cope with the hustle and bustle this time of year.

If your pet becomes anxious, depressed, and stressed during the holidays, we have some tips to help reduce that holiday stress.

Why Do Pets Experience Holiday Stress?

Pets thrive on routine, regularity, and knowing what to expect. And the holidays are all about surprises, days off, and visiting with both near and distant relatives. Plus, you’re probably preparing yourself for errands, travel, setting up the guest bedroom, and cleaning from ceiling to floor. This flurry of change has a major psychological impact on some pets by disrupting their routine.

Some senior pets that have never shown signs of stress tend to develop more nervous habits as they age. When their normal is interrupted, it triggers confusion and stress related to dementia.

What Are Some Signs to Look for to Tell is Your Pet is Stressed?

While some pets make it extremely clear that they’re nervous, others are more subtle about their stress. It’s important to pay attention to your pet’s behavior and notice cues that she’s nervous, uncomfortable, or feeling anxious.

What Signs Can You Look for that Indicate Pet Stress?

Cats show stress by

  • Non-stop and over-the-top grooming
  • Hiding
  • Excess claw sharpening
  • Eliminating outside her box
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tail flicking also shows that your cat may be irritated

Dogs demonstrate and try to cope with stress by

  • Whining
  • Hiding
  • Shivering or shaking
  • Pacing and circling
  • Drooling or panting
  • Excessive yawning

If your guest list includes kids, and it’s either been a while since your pet was around little ones or they’re just not used to kids, pay careful attention to your pet’s body language. Many kids can’t read and respond to signs like hissing or teeth-baring. Avoid letting your dog or cat get cornered by a child. When unsure of how comfortable your pet is with children, it’s best to keep them safe and sound, away from the reach of tiny hands.

5 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Your Pet Cope with Holiday Stress

1. Burn Off Some Nervous Energy with Play or an Adventure

Exercise is key to relaxation for many pets. It also provides healthy mental stimulation for your cat or dog. Play and exercise work wonders for a restless, stressed pet. Why?

When a pet becomes bored, she can find it easier to focus on the elements around her that are stressing her out.

Exercise helps your pet have a more restorative, deep sleep.

When a pet has bottled up energy, it has to be directed somewhere. With the excitement of Christmas and Hanuka, that somewhere easily becomes stress related to changes.

Fresh air has shown to do wonders for people and pets. So crack a window, go for a walk with your dog or let kitty out on the porch.

So, while you’re out and about, pick up a few new toys for your pet. You don’t have to wait for Christmas morning to let your pet unwrap a few new toys that will make holiday playtime even better!

2. Don’t Skip the Bonding Time: Quality Time with Your Pet Helps Ease Stress

When there’s so much left on your to-do list, it can be hard to justify kicking back and relaxing for a few hours. Assisting your pet in dealing with stress is a wonderful reason to take a break and cuddle up with your best friend.

Your pet needs quality bonding time with you and the rest of your family. While taking the dog for a walk or playing with the cat is part of bonding, don’t skip the downtime.

Watch a holiday movie, read a book, or just sip some hot tea while relaxing with your pet. The peace and quiet are great for both of you this time of year.

3. Try to Maintain Your Pet’s Routine

Make an appointment for Santa to come down the chimney after bedtime. Just kidding. We know that it can be difficult to schedule everything this time of year, but do your best to keep your pet’s regular routine.

  • Keep mealtime the same
  • Maintain a regular bedtime
  • Keep walks at a normal time for dogs
  • Schedule errands around when you’d normally be at work

4. Enlist Some Help From Elves, Family, or Friends

Are you hosting the holiday this year or struggling to keep up with your dog’s walks? Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re still an amazing pet parent if you need an extra set of hands to help walk the dog, play with the cat, or stopover and feed the puppy while you’re out for the evening.

If your pet tends to get extra stressed out, boarding is sometimes the best option. Try to find a pet sitter that can watch your dog or cat in their home. When you do this, you may find that you’re less worried about your pet and your pet is less stressed.

You can also ask a dog walker or pet sitter to stop by and play with your cat or walk your dog to help them burn off that extra energy.

5. Create a Guest ‘No-Go Zone’ for Your Pet

A pet Zen-den is a great way to keep your pet at home and provide some solace from the commotion.

Prepare a room that is just for your pet and put a sign up informing guests that your beloved pet is relaxing on the other side of the door.

To make the room extra comfy and calm, play relaxing music and create a nest of blankets, pillows, and comfort items like toys. Dim the lights and close the curtains so your pet won’t see guests arriving. Adding a few treat puzzles or toys can help occupy your pet if they become bored.

For even more Zen, sprinkle some catnip around or try Adaptil or Feliway.

Be Merry and Reduce Your Pet’s Stress

We want your holiday to be as merry as possible for you and your fuzzy family! Give your pet the gift of relaxation with these simple strategies.

If you’re struggling with help your pet cope, they may need extra assistance with a prescription tailored to their needs (especially if your pet is fearful when it comes to fireworks for New Years). Give us a jingle and make an appointment. We would love to make your holidays better by helping your pet de-stress before Santa arrives.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Winning Winter Safety Tips for Pet Parents!

Does your dog or cat love to play in the snow? Winter wonderland walks here in Grantsburg and Pine City are unbeatable. The snow blanketing branches, icicles sparkling, and picturesque Christmas lights give our area a unique beauty during winter. And out pets just make these scenes a little more special!

We want you to make the most of winter with your pet while keeping her safe. Enjoy the beauty of our surrounding areas and keep these safety tips in mind.

Limit Length of Outdoor Activities to Avoid Hypothermia

Our dogs and cats have winter coats that can help them handle the cold, but their fur is not enough to keep them warm enough at all times. This means your pet is not immune to hypothermia.

When your pet’s coat gets wet it loses its ability to insulate your pet. If the snow is getting slushy and you notice your pet’s coat is damp, bring her inside so they can warm up.

When walking your dog, watch for signs of hypothermia. The most obvious symptoms include

  • Shivering
  • Lethargy
  • Shaking and trembling
  • A drop in body temperature
  • Lowered heart rate
  • Disorientation
  • Trouble walking
  • Strained breathing
  • Dilated pupils

Avoid Using Rodent Poisons

Pets have a tendency to be attracted to the same bait rodents are drawn to. Dogs and cats can also hunt and consume rodents that have ingested poison. These poisons are meant to kill and they can kill or seriously injure your pet.

To skip the possibility of accidentally poisoning your pet (or a neighbor’s) opt for alternative methods to control rodents.

Ice Melts Can Damage Paws

Unless your dog or cat wears shoes, she’s at risk of injuring her paws if she walks on ice melts and deicers. Most ice-melts are made from salts and calcium chloride. These both damage and irritate pets’ paws and cause digestive irritation if your pet licks them off her paws. Some of the crystals are sharp and can bruise or cut paws.

Be sure to avoid walking your dog where ice melts have been sprinkled. And rinse then wipe your dog or cat’s paws after she’s been outside.

Antifreeze Is Fatal for Pets

Cats and dogs both die each year from consuming antifreeze. Don’t let your pet become one of them. Always keep antifreeze out of reach the cap tightly secured. If you’re adding antifreeze to your car, clean up any drips or spills afterward. It only takes a teaspoon for a cat to become ill and even die from antifreeze and just a tablespoon or a little more for a dog to get sick.

Avoid Ice on Walks

One danger some pet parents forget about is the strain and possible injury pets suffer after slipping, tripping, or falling on ice. Have you ever fallen while ice skating? It hurts and bruises. The same is true when your dog stumbles on ice.

When a pet’s leg slips out from under her, it can also strain her muscles and joints. Pets even tear ligaments and tendons from slipping on ice.

Snow can also hide fallen branches that make your pet go flying.

Keep your dog on-leash during walks to keep her from tumbling over hidden dangers and avoid icy areas.

Never let your cat or dog walk on a frozen pond or lake since they can fall through.

Visibility on Walks is a Must

As our days shrink, be sure you, your dog or cat can be easily seen. Use a reflective vest on your dog or a break-away reflective collar on your cat to make them easier for drivers to see. You can also wear bright colors to help you be seen on walks.

Safely Enjoy Our Beautiful Town This Winter with Your Pet

We hope you enjoy this winter wonderland we call “home” with your pet! All it takes is a bit of precaution, preparation, and awareness to keep your pet safe and maximize your joy this winter. Give us a call.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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What You Need to Know About the Dangers of Pet Obesity

Obesity isn’t just a human problem, it’s a pet problem, too. Obesity doesn’t just slow our dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets down, it also shortens their lives. Overweight pets are more at risk for many diseases and health issues and the extra weight can have a negative impact on the pet’s quality of life.

So what do you need to know to prevent pet obesity?

How Big of a Problem is Obesity for American Pets?

Over half of our pets are considered overweight or obese. In 2018, 60% of cats in America were overweight or obese and 56% of dogs were considered too plump. Exactly how many pets does that amount to? Almost 100 million. That’s a lot of excess pounds!

While this has a huge impact on pet health, it also affects how much people pay for veterinary care. One report from 2016 estimates that Americans paid an extra $62 million dollars in vet bills for obesity-related issues.

With numbers like these, many people consider pet obesity an epidemic.

How Did Our Pets Get So Fat?

The world of veterinary nutrition has grown leaps and bounds over the past decades. We’ve seen a lot of progress in our understanding of what pets need to eat to be healthy. Yet this problem seems to increase just as quickly. In fact, studies show that rates of pet obesity have continuously climbed since 2009.

So, how do pets, despite having balanced diets, nutritional guidelines, and portion recommendations still get so big? Pet parents tend to overfeed, over-treat, and let their pets overindulge in handouts.

People love their pets. And sometimes this love manifests in feeding. We get that. But obesity is preventable. So, we’re happy to chat with you about other forms of affection your pet might enjoy. We also have some great tips on ignoring those puppy eyes.

Obesity is Painful and Shortens Pets’ Lives

When it comes to pets, extra weight isn’t a minor health issue. It’s the difference between your pet becoming ill and having a shorter life, or living healthily and happily into her advanced years.

Some complications of obese pets have a higher risk for include:

For Dogs

  • Arthritis
  • Urinary Tract Disease and Bladder Issues
  • Liver Disease
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Torn Knee Ligaments
  • Diabetes
  • Spinal Issues
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • High Blood Pressure

For Cats

  • Bladder Issues and Urinary Tract Disease
  • Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Liver Disease
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Failure
  • Gall Bladder Disorder
  • Spinal Issues

Additionally, carrying around extra weight does a number on your pet’s joints and mood. Pets that can’t get around don’t have as much fun.  And many studies show an increased risk of cancer and a decrease in a pet’s life expectancy - by up to two years - in overweight pets.



How Can You Tell if Your Pet is Obese?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell (or admit) that your pet is overweight. We’ve heard it all, from “he’s not overweight, he’s just fluffy” or “she’s not obese, she just has a thick coat.” Many pet parents feel guilty when their pet gets on the scale, but you should only feel guilty if you’re unwilling to try to help your pet.

So, take a moment and do a quick check to see if your pet may be a little chubbier than she should be.

Common signs that your dog or cat is overweight include:

  • Enough fat over their ribs that it’s difficult to feel them
  • A tummy that is wider than her ribs
  • A tummy that tends to hang down.
  • Slowing down and not being able to jump, run, or maneuver like they used to.

How You Can Fight the Pet Obesity Epidemic

The first step to helping your pet is recognizing that they are overweight. Still not sure if after you’ve read the list above? Give us a call.

We can work together to tailor a weight loss plan for your pet. We can look at options, including

  • Diet
  • Portion control
  • Strategies that help pet parents not overfeed
  • Treats
  • Exercise routine

Chubby Pets May Be Adorable But Their Condition Is Not

Help fight the battle against pet obesity and keep your pet in a healthy shape. Weight control can lengthen your pet’s life and improve her quality of life. It’s up to you to keep your pet healthy but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Just give us a call and we’re happy to chat about a plan during your next appointment.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Celebrating Our Amazing Veterinary Technicians

So much goes into the care we provide every pet and person that walks through our doors. And our mission to provide each pet with the best medical care wouldn’t be possible without our hardworking, dedicated, and compassionate team of skilled veterinary technicians.

And while we are thankful for them every day of the year, we want to take the time this National Veterinary Technician Week to show just how vital they are to our practice and the lives of your pets.

Why Do Veterinary Technicians Deserve a Week’s Worth of Recognition Each Year?

Many of our clients interact with our vet techs when they come in and don’t even realize these special women have a highly esteemed title and a very difficult job.

Jennifer, Melissa (Missy), Jessica, Britt, Travis, Courtney, and Emily are all our talented and amazing vet techs. Each of these women worked hard to get where they are and share their love and care for animals daily. They zoom in and out of rooms, greet pets, take vitals, and are often the first medical staffers you share your pet’s status with.

The week of October 13th through 19th is dedicated to showing how much these individuals do to make pets’ lives better because they deserve to be recognized for their commitment and talent.

This year’s National Veterinary Tech Week is all about action, and boy does that seem fitting. It takes action to be a skilled vet tech. And our vet techs seem to magically fly and flutter around our practice. They seem to be in more than one place at a time, and they seem to practically read our minds at other times.

So, What Makes Our Veterinary Technicians Beyond Amazing?

1. Veterinary Technicians Are the Nurses of Our Veterinary Medicine World

This means they’re on their feet all day. They work closely alongside each of our doctors to provide your pet with the best care. This may mean, holding a Great Dane still for a blood draw or explaining to a client the benefits of certain vaccines. They keep up with charts, take notes on pets, prep vaccines, and educate pet parents.

2. Our Vet Techs Face Each Challenge with Genuine Smiles

Each of our vet techs proves that there are no challenges too big to face when the wellbeing of a pet is at risk. Because a vet tech is often the first person you see in the examination room, they hear your worries and concerns. They also answer many of your preliminary questions. 

And you know what? They leave the room and chat with the doctors while remaining ready to dive into any situation we face. They never complain when procedures are laborious, difficult, or long. And we love them for that.

3. We Can’t Help But Be Reminded of Why Our Veterinary Technicians are the Best Each Day

Vet techs have stressful jobs. They often function as extra eyes, ears, and muscles. And you would think normal people would tire of the fast-paced, intense, emotional nature of their job, but we’re constantly reminded of how much they care. It warms the heart to hear them talk sweetly to a pet that feels under the weather or share encouraging words to a dog that’s a bit shy.

4. Our Veterinary Technicians Extend Their Care and Compassion Beyond the Workday

What came first: The love of animals or the career? Well, with our team of experienced vet techs, it’s obvious they are, always have been, and always will be true animal lovers. And we are so happy to watch our team grow. What should you know about our technicians?

Emily began her career as a kennel tech and loved those furry faces so much, she dedicated herself to become a vet tech. And guess what? She’s excellent at her job!

Missy has worked with animals for almost two decades and surrounds herself with her own zoo each day she leaves, here. She has dogs, cats, and chickens!

Jennifer demonstrated her dedication to helping animals in need through her work at the Humane Society and continues to do so by rescuing and caring for injured strays in her free time. 

Travis has a genuine appreciation of the value that pets add to our lives and loves working with them and their owners.

Brittany (you may know her as “Britt”) has grown up in the veterinary field. It was a natural step for her to become a tech.

Courtney grew up with a love of animals, as did all of our technicians. Her kind demeanor is a true comfort to our patients.

5. And Their Amazing Attitudes Inspire Those Around Them

It’s true that when our practice opens each day, our staff seems to gravitate to the positivity and balance of our vet techs. They tend to be the people others look toward for inspiration and a positive reminder of how much we can do for others.

Thank You to Our Veterinary Technicians and the Other Vet Techs Out There

These skilled and educated professionals are the backbone of a well-run practice. They exemplify what medical care for pets should look like. What we’re getting at is

“Thanks!” to our vet techs at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic. We couldn’t care for pets the way we do without you.

Be sure to take the time to thank any vet techs you know this week. We know our pets benefit from their dedication, kindness, and patience.

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