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Pet First Animal Hospital

Dental Care for Your Dogs and Cats
Has your dog or cat ever had a routine dental exam or treatments? If not, stinky breath can actually be caused by a number of serious health conditions, rather than just an annoyance to your (and anyone who comes near your pet). Poor oral hygiene can lead to many of health problems including, but not limited to gingivitis, periodontitis, pyorrhea, and periodontal disease. Toxins from periodontal disease are eventually absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream. Once this happens, all internal organs are at risk for minor to fatal infections.

Daily brushing of your dog or cat’s teeth, paired with annual dental exams and cleanings is the best recommended standard of care per our veterinarian Dr. John Taylor, as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

Many pet owners are able to brush their pet’s teeth with a soft bristle brush and a pet safe toothpaste, but this can be physically impossible for others. If you are unable to brush, there are other acceptable means of taking care of your pet’s teeth. Just remember, alternatives to brushing are always a secondary recommendation.

According to 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats* per Holstrom et al, options for oral hygiene other than brushing include “…the use of dentifrices, oral rinses, gels and sprays, water additives, and dental diets and chews. Discourage any dental chew or device that does not bend or break easily (e.g., bones, cow/horse hooves, antlers, hard nylon products)” (4).

At Pet First Animal Hospital, we carry several products to promote dental health such as Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care Food for Cats and Dogs, Virbac’s C.E.T. Hextra Premium Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs, Virbac’s C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste, Merial’s Oravet Dental Hygeine Chews, Ceva Animal Health’s Clenz-a-dent Chlorhexidine Rinse, and VetriScience Laboratories’ Perio Support.

Works Cited:

Holstrom, Steven E., DVM, DAVDC, et al “2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats*” 2013. pg.4, Accessed February 21, 2017.
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The Benefits of Crate Training Your New Puppy

Crate training your puppy from the beginning can truly be one of the best decisions you’ll make regarding the care for your new puppy. Many times you’ll hear that it’s not nice, or flat out mean to confine a dog to a crate, but that’s not true! As long as you abide by the following rules of thumb, you’ll make crate training a positive experience for both you and your new puppy:

1. Never send your puppy to the crate as a punishment.

2. Treat the crate as your puppy’s “safe place”, sort of like his bedroom.

3. Don’t crate your puppy when it’s not necessary (i.e., when you’re home and able to provide supervision).

It’s best to start crate training your puppy as soon as possible. Puppies can be destructive, and can cause harm to your property and themselves if they are allowed to have free roam of the house all day. Here are a few benefits of crate training:

1. Crate training keeps your puppy safe while you are at work. Your puppy won’t be able to eat your furniture, shoes, toys, or get into the trash if he is kept safely in the crate. Another added bonus: since your puppy won’t be able to eat any of the above-mentioned things while you’re at work, you can be rest assured that your puppy won’t choke on something or get an intestinal blockage from a foreign object.

2. Crate training helps with potty training! Dogs don’t like to go potty in their beds or crates. As long as you take your puppy outside to do his business immediately after taking him out of the crate, you will reduce your chances of accidents in the house. Remember though, puppies have to go potty very often. New puppies really should go out every couple of hours (or more) at first.

3. Crate training is very helpful if you have small children in the house. It is never recommended to leave a small child and a dog alone together in a room. Anytime that you are not able to completely devote all of your attention to both the dog and child at the same time, you should put your puppy/dog in the crate. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that the child won’t innocently antagonize the dog, ultimately preventing dog bites, etc.

You can always reward your puppy with a treat if they have to go to their crate. This can help make the experience even more positive! Just remember; only use the crate when necessary. You don’t want to keep your puppy in there more often than absolutely necessary, and never use the crate as punishment. Making the crate training experience positive for both you and your dog will definitely make your life easier, and the bond between you two much stronger!

If you have any questions or need a recommendation for a good dog trainer, please contact Pet First Animal Hospital at (941) 753-2995.
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Stress Reduction for Your Pets During the Holiday Season

Holidays oftentimes cause anxiety and stress for your cats and dogs. During the holidays new people are coming over, sometimes you travel and are forced to put your pets in boarding at a veterinary hospital, and there are many sudden noises and squeals of excitement from children that they aren’t used to on a regular basis. Even though you probably have a lot going on, it is a good idea to set aside some time to ensure that your pets will be comfortable during the hustle and bustle, and you might have to do a few extra steps in your normal holiday routine to ensure their comfort. Pet First Animal Hospital has a few suggestions on how to make the holidays enjoyable for you and your pets.

If you are planning on having a fairly large group of visitors come over, you might want to consider putting your pet in a crate in a quiet place such as a bedroom at the far end of the house, or even in a large walk in closet or bathroom. Provide blankets and maybe turn on the radio to drown out the sound of the commotion going on in the rest of the house. Obviously if your dog is destructive with blankets and toys, don’t leave those with him. Use your best judgement.

When you are traveling by automobile for a long distance, consider bringing a crate for your dog and/or cat. If you have a cat, it would be best if you can also bring a litter box that can sit in one end of the crate. Provide blankets and anything else that will make them feel comfortable. Don’t forget to make stops along the way so that your dog can eliminate and drink water. Also, don’t forget the leash!

In the event that you will be flying on an airplane with your dog or cat, Dr. Taylor at Pet First Animal Hospital highly recommends that you bring your pet in for an exam prior to your trip so that he can make sure your pet is healthy enough and prescribe a sedative if your pet will be riding in cargo. Even if your pet isn’t riding in cargo, it is still recommended that your pet be given a sedative because flying is highly stressful for pets. You want them to be relaxed and calm the whole flight, not fidgety and completely stressed out. You will definitely need to call the airline company ahead of time to see what their guidelines are for traveling with pets and don’t forget the crate if your pet will be traveling in cargo. Also ensure that you have the proper tags and that your pets are all up to date on their vaccines.

Once you reach your destination, try your best to restore some normalcy to your pet’s daily routine. Feed your pet their normal food at their normal feeding times. Ask relatives if there is a quiet area of the house where you can put your crate to ensure that your pet can relax away from all of the excitement. Take your normal walks with your dog, and give them lots of love and attention. If you are able to do this for them every time you travel, your dog (maybe not so much your cat) will start to enjoy traveling.

If you decide that traveling with your pet isn’t possible, consider boarding your pet at Pet First Animal Hospital or a pet resort. When choosing a boarding facility, make sure to have a checklist of things to ask to make sure you are leaving your pet in good hands. Is the boarding facility air conditioned? Do the veterinary technicians spend time with your pet each day and take the dogs on walks regularly? What about the extras such as: do they provide treats, blankets, and require all pets to be up to date on their vaccines prior to boarding? Do they have a fenced in yard for the dogs to play? The last thing you want is to return to your pet only to find they have developed kennel cough. Pet First Animal Hospital provides all of the above mentioned accommodations, but we do fill up fast during the holidays so make sure to reserve a spot for your pet as soon as you find out your itinerary.

In all of these situations that can be stressful, Dr. Taylor at Pet First Animal Hospital highly recommends VetriScience’s Composure Pro. Composure Pro is a supplement for anxious pets, and “contains ingredients proven to support calm behavior during exposure to environmental stressors, such as traveling, thunder, house guests, vet visits, or unfamiliar surroundings” (“Composure Pro Overview”, Composure Pro is all natural, with main ingredients Colostrum Calming Complex which “calms and normalizes cognitive and brain functions that are associated with excess brain activity” (“Composure Pro Overview”,, Suntheanine which “promotes an alert state of relaxation without drowsiness and helps with separation anxiety, fear behavior, and environmental stressors” (“Composure Pro Overview”,, and Tryptophan, “an essential amino acid known for its role in the production of nervous system messengers, especially related to relaxation, restfulness, and sleep” (“Composure Pro Overview”,

Sometimes no matter how hard you try to make your pet as stress free as possible, they still cannot calm down. Composure Pro is available at Pet First Animal Hospital. For any questions, or to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Taylor to discuss your pet’s stress levels and to determine if Composure Pro is right for your pet, please give us a call at (941) 753-2995. Until then, have a happy and stress free holiday season!
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Dangerous Foods for Dogs

John E. Taylor, DVM at Pet First Animal Hospital would like to remind everyone that there are certain foods that should definitely be kept away from your dogs. Here is a list of foods as well as reasons why they should be kept away from your dogs at all times:


Alcohol can cause your dog to vomit, have uncontrollable diarrhea, coordination impairment, depression, respiratory distress, trembling, and can be fatal.

Coffee, Caffeine, and Chocolate

All three of these can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, feeling extremely thirsty, may cause your dog to become hyperactive, produce irregular heart rhythm, trembling, seizures and can be fatal. Keep in mind that dark chocolate is more jeopardous than milk chocolate.


Xylitol is found in many different kinds of candy, gum, tooth pastes, and baked goods. If ingested, xylitol can cause your dog’s blood sugar to fall dangerously low and can also result in liver failure. So, if you notice that your gum has been eaten, for example, and you see your dog vomiting, fatigue, and experiencing coordination problems, you should seek medical treatment right away. If left untreated, your dog might end up having seizures or possibly die.

Onions and Garlic

You’ll definitely want to keep all forms of onions and garlic away from your dog. They can cause your dog to become anemic. Warning signs for anemia in your dog include vomiting, weakness, and respiratory issues.

Grapes and Raisins

These foods are terrible for your dog. Even a small number of grapes can be dangerous because they can cause kidney failure, and can make your dog vomit repeatedly. You’ll notice your dog will also become lazy.

Dairy Products

Dairy products can cause diarrhea and increase the chance that your dog will develop allergies.

Raw eggs, meat, and Fish

All of these things carry bacteria and could make your dog really sick. It’s best not to give your dog any of these foods, but if you’re going to do it anyways, at least cook them.

This is by no means a complete list of foods to avoid giving your dog. The best food for your dog is a high-quality dog food, such as Hill’s Science Diet. If you have any questions or would like more information, please give Pet First Animal Hospital a call at (941) 753-2995.
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Thinking About Getting a New Dog or Cat?
So, you think you’re ready to add a new dog or cat to the home, and that’s amazing! Before you follow through and bring your new family member home, there are some serious factors that must be taken into consideration. Having a pet is a great responsibility. We at Pet First Animal Hospital have comprised a list of responsibilities that you’ll need to be prepared to commit to. Hopefully this will help you determine whether a new pet is a practical decision for your lifestyle, family, and budget:
• Puppies and kittens require multiple vaccinations, and will continue to need vaccinations for life. Puppies will need several rounds of vaccines: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Rabies. Kittens will also need several rounds of vaccines: Feline Leukemia, Feline Distemper, and Rabies. At Pet First Animal Hospital we will administer the vaccinations for you and keep you up to speed so you don’t miss any.
• It is highly recommended to have your pet microchipped. Doing so will increase the chances of finding your pet if it ever becomes lost.
• Your new dog or cat will definitely need to be spayed or neutered, depending on gender. Doing so will prevent diseases and help control the animal population!
• Dr. Taylor at Pet First Animal Hospital also recommends that you sign your new dog up for professional training. If you’re looking for an excellent dog trainer, we can recommend one to you. Just give us a call at (941) 753-2995.
• Don’t forget the ID tags, collars, and leashes. It’s especially important to have these items in Florida since we have hurricanes. Should you ever have to evacuate, having these items is extremely important in case you get separated from your pet. In addition, most areas have leash laws in place.
• If you don’t want a flea infestation in your home, both your dogs and cats will need monthly flea treatments. Your dog will also need monthly heartworm treatment, along with regular heartworm tests.
• Your dog and cat will need annual wellness checks, and once they become seniors, it is recommended to have semi-annual wellness checks. Don’t forget the dental exams, and random trips to the vet when your pet isn’t feeling so well.
• You’ll want to make sure your pet has a high-quality diet. Taylor recommends Hill’s Science Diet or Purina Pro Plan for pet food. Some healthy treat options include Henry Schein’s Lean Treat (sold here at Pet First Animal Hospital), carrots, sweet potato, broccoli, and banana.
• Dogs need daily walks and exercise, so make sure you have time in your schedule to allow time for this.
• Both cats and dogs will need safe toys to play with.
• You’ll need a crate and a bed for your dog, as well as a cat litter box for your cat. If you have more than one cat, make sure to have at least one litter box per cat.
Owning a pet brings many people and families much joy despite the costs and responsibilities! Make sure that when you are considering a new pet for your family that you realize most pets are a long-term commitment. Also, some pets have high energy levels or will have additional needs depending on breed and age. Hopefully this blog will help you determine if you are really prepared to own a pet. We look forward to seeing you and your furry legged friends soon! Please give us a call to set up an appointment or contact us via email at:
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Heartworm Prevention: Is Your Dog Protected (every month)?

Heartworm, (Dirofilaria immitis), is a parasitic roundworm that is spread to dogs through mosquito bites. Heartworms causes heart disease and if neglected, will most likely cause infected dogs to die.
Here is the basic life cycle of heartworms: they start in an infected mosquito which bites a healthy dog, then the heartworms mature and cause detrimental heart diseases for the dog they’ve infected. The infected mosquito will repeat this process over and over, resulting in many infected dogs.
There are several warning signs and symptoms that your dog might display to indicate that he may have been infected by heartworm such as coughing, lethargy, becoming skinny, labored or trouble breathing, and in some cases your dog may collapse. These symptoms are all extremely necessary reasons to take your dog to the veterinarian as quickly as possible. Doing so will ensure that your dog gets the necessary testing and bloodwork done to rule out or diagnose heartworm.
Heartworm is extremely difficult to treat and many times leads to death regardless of treatment. However, it’s not a complete death sentence. It’s always best to prevent it rather than hope for the best. Prevention is also easy and much more cost efficient than treatment. At Pet First Animal Hospital, we sell several heartworm prevention medicines such as Heartgard™ and Trifexis™. Both of these medicines are given to your dog orally once per month for the life of your pet, starting at around six to eight weeks old. Your veterinarian will let you know when the appropriate time to start prevention for your puppy. If you have an older dog who has never taken a heartworm prevention medication, it’s the best recommended standard of veterinary care to test the dog for heartworm prior to starting medication. Please give us a call at (941) 753-2995 to schedule an appointment with John E. Taylor, DVM to figure out the best plan of care for your dog and his prevention of heartworm.
There are numerous heartworm prevention medications on the market such as These medications are in tablet form and are given to the dog orally. A tablet must be given once a month for an indefinite amount of time. If you have a new puppy then heartworm medication is given around 6 weeks for Heartgard™ or 8 weeks for Trifexis™. Older dogs should be tested for heartworm before starting medication. To top it all off, both Heartgard™ and Trifexis™ can be picked up here at Pet First Animal Hospital! Please call us (941) 753-2995 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Taylor to figure out the best plan of action to ensure that you have a heart healthy dog.

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How to use Fecalizer stool collection container
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