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Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
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Springtime Sniffles

Does your pet suffer from seasonal allergies?
With spring in full swing, many of us start to plan for our annual allergies. With pollination beginning and new plants sprouting up, we humans gear up for our daily Dogs regimen of allergy protection techniques. But, did you know that our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies as well? Just like humans, our furry friends can suffer from food, medicinal and environmental/ seasonal allergies. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of such allergies, because if left untreated, our pets can become very ill. Dogs tend to have more issues with allergies than our feline friends, but none-the-less it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your cats, too.

Signs to Look For:
Our pets can have the usual allergy symptoms of congestion, sneezing, coughing and runny noses and eyes. In addition, your pet may begin continuously scratching themselves, or rubbing against walls, furniture and the floor. Licking and biting at their skin is also a key sign of allergies. Sometimes, scratching and biting can be associated with a severe flea allergy.

Did you know that when your dog is licking or biting at their skin, the saliva will turn their fur a reddish color? Beyond red fur, your pets’ skin can also become red and inflamed. It is important to seek out your veterinarian when this occurs. The more irritated the skin is, the more likely that infection will take place. A scaly rash can be an indicator of infection. It is also important to watch for ear infections. You should be mindful of pets shaking their head, rubbing their ears, and/or a brownish discharge inside the ears. Ear infections can even be the first allergy indicator.

Seek Help:
Consult your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has allergies. Many times they are very easy to control, but once they get out of hand it can be difficult and uncomfortable for your pet to treat. Your veterinarian can recommend the most effective method to prevent and manage your pet’s allergy symptoms.

Wishing you and your furry friends a wonderful (sniffle-free) springtime!

The holiday season has arrived, but with all of the celebration comes possible health concerns for our furry friends. Emergency visits to the veterinarian increase during the holidays and are usually due to pets eating something they shouldn’t. Below are some general tips to enjoy the holidays with your pet this year:
 
Make no bones about it. Meat bones can easily splinter and cause serious damage to your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. Make sure you have properly disposed of all of the bones and that the garbage is kept out of reach from your curious companions.
 
Pets aren’t for stuffing. Too many fatty, seasoned, unfamiliar foods can lead to pancreatitis and gastroenteritis in your pet. Both of these medical conditions can be painful and even life-threatening. If you decide to give your pet a bite of turkey, make sure it is boneless, lean and well-cooked to avoid salmonella bacteria.
 
Avoid the sweets, stick with treats. Consider all of the desserts prepared during the holidays, many of which contain chocolate and other toxic ingredients to our pets. Keep your pet’s noses out of the batter and focused on a treat of their own such as a made-for-pet chew bone or a Kong toy.
 
Keep out of the kitchen. Even if your pet isn’t one to snoop through the trash, the tasty smells of freshly cooked food can be very tempting, so make sure the garbage and kitchen preparations are properly tied up and covered to avoid your pet reaching any dangerous items or making a mess of the festivities.
 
Eat, drink, and be merry. With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, make sure your pet has fresh water, food of their own and quiet time away from the excitement to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed by the festivities.

Pet Safety This Halloween
 
Halloween ushers in its own brand of awesomeness in the form of pumpkins, candy, and costumes. Spider webs and creepy decorations set the stage for ghost stories and trick-or-treating. But holiday fun for humans can translate into hazards for pets. Halloween is the busiest time of year for the Pet Poison Helpline because companion animals often accidentally ingest Halloween candy or décor. Check out the following tips to help keep your furry friends safe and happy this Halloween season:
 
Keep your animals inside around Halloween and away from the front door during trick-or-treating. Animals can become excited or threatened by visitors, so keep them in a separate and enclosed room where they can remain calm—this also eliminates the risk that they will escape. Don’t leave dogs in the yard because they can escape or be subjected to torment by passersby. As an added precaution, make sure that your animal companions wear identification at all times. And if you’re going trick-or-treating, don’t take your animals with you.
Although all cats should be indoor cats, this is even more important during the month of October—especially if you have a black cat. Black cats are often associated with dark forces and are an easy target for Halloween pranksters who commit violent acts against unsuspecting kitties.
Decorations pose a threat to dogs, cats, and other animals. Keep your animal companions away from jack-o-lanterns, candles, balloons, or other decorations that they could ingest, become tangled in, or be injured by.
One of the biggest hazards to four-legged friends during Halloween is candy. Keep candy in secure containers and in an area that your animal companions cannot gain access to. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and sugary candy can lead to pancreatitis. Raisins, certain nuts, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in some gums and candies) can also be poisonous to furry friends. Plus, animals don’t remove the wrappers from candy and may try to eat discarded wrappers—ingesting these wrappers can cause choking or life-threatening bowel obstruction.
If you think your animal companion has ingested something, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, not defecating or straining to defecate, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures. Contact us or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately.
Do not hesitate to contact us or the 24-hour Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 1-800-213-6680 if you suspect that your animal companion has ingested something or might be injured.

Is Your Car Too Warm For Your Pet?
 
Leaving your pet in a car on a hot summer day can put your pet at risk of serious illness or death, even on a day that doesn’t seem that hot to you. Here are a few reasons why your pet should never be left unattended in a vehicle.
 
- Your car temperature can rise 40 degrees per hour, meaning a 72 degree day can feel like 112 in your car within 60 minutes.
- It’s been shown that rolling down the windows has little effect on the temperature inside your vehicle.
- On warmer days your car can reach temperatures of 120 degrees within minutes.
 
It’s important to leave your pet at home or in a cooler environment on hot days to avoid heatstroke symptoms including: excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, decreased appetite, rapid heartbeat, fever and vomiting. If your pet shows any signs of overheating, it is imperative to get them cooled off immediately and taken to a veterinarian for additional care.
 
Do you have any tips to keep your pet safe on hot summer days? Share with us below!

Don’t Lose Your Pet This Summer

Summer is your pet’s favorite time of the year. The grass is green, the water is cool and there is more daylight to enjoy the outdoors. In rural areas it’s easy let your pet roam free without a care, but how do you ensure they always end up back in your arms? Here are a few good ways to help make sure you never lose your furry friend.

1. Pet Tags: The simplest way ensure your pet doesn’t stay lost for long is to add a small tag to their collar that includes the pet’s name and your phone number. If the constant jingling of a tag drives you or your pet crazy, simply have the contact information embroidered directly onto their collar.
2. Microchips: A more advanced solution to pet tags, a microchip about the size of a grain of rice can be embedded under the skin. Animal shelters that scan for these chips successfully deliver pets with microchips back to their families at a 75% rate.
3. GPS Tracking: The latest and greatest in pet reunification. Track your pet from an app on your mobile device to be ever-connected with your animal. As a bonus, you can even use the device as an activity monitor to learn how much exercise your pet is getting. These apps do however come with a monthly fee to maintain location service.

How do you keep your pet from getting lost? Let us know in the comments below.

Do You Understand Your Pet’s Nutritional Needs?

Although your pet may love to eat just about anything you give to them, it’s important to understand that their nutritional needs are different from ours.

The average human needs to consume 2000-2500 calories per day. A small, low-activity dog or average sized cat needs only 200-350 calories per day, while a 70-90 pound dog should consume 1000-2000 calories per day.

Unfortunately, many of our pets eat much more than that on a daily basis. It’s no wonder over a quarter of all cats and dogs are overweight.

Next time you’re about to give your furry friend a handful of human food, consider these guidelines.

1. Dogs should consume a minimum of 18% of their daily calories from protein and 10-15% from fat. 
2. Cats need a minimum of 35-40% of their daily calories from protein and 30% from fat.
3. There is no minimum amount of calories your dog or cat must consume from carbohydrates.
4. Just like humans, dogs and cats are made up of 60-70% water, so it’s vital that they stay hydrated throughout the day. 
5. If you can’t feel your dog or cat's ribs without pressing, chances are they’re overweight. Make an effort to exercise with your pet this summer.

Do you have any additional nutrition tips for pet owners? Let us know in the comments below.

Top Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet.

1. It helps control the pet population. Current estimates show there are 45 times more cats and 15 times more dogs than humans on this planet. Many countries are forced to euthanize or disregard the suffering of these animals within their societies due to the overpopulation.

2. Sterilizing your pet will help them live longer, healthier lives. The average dog will live up to three years longer if sterilized and altered cats can live up to five years longer than their unaltered counterparts. This is because sterilized animals have a much smaller risk of developing a variety of different tumors and cancers.

3. A sterilized pet is a safer pet. Having your pet spayed or neutered decreases their likelihood to roam, therefore reducing the chances of them contracting diseases or getting hurt while roaming. Nearly 85% of dogs hit by cars are not sterilized. 

Still not convinced? Consider these additional benefits. Spayed pets have no heat cycles, and therefore won’t be bothered by males as much. Neutering your pet reduces the risk of spraying and marking and also decreases aggressive behavior. 

Can you think of any other benefits of spaying or neutering your pet? Let us know in the comments below!

April Showers Bring May Flowers...and Pet Anxiety?

Storm phobias are a common behavioral problem many pet owners face. Thankfully, there are a couple of solutions that can provide your pet the relief they desire. 

1. Just get through it  - If storms are rare or predictable in your area, or if your pet’s storm anxiety is only minor, try this simple solution.

Place a small crate or cage in a secluded area of your house and drape a rug or heavy blanket over the enclosure to insulate it from the sound and block out any light. Train your pet to use the enclosure as a safe place during storms by guiding them to it with chew treats or toys. Soon your pet will likely start making their way to the safety of the cage every time a storm arises.

If additional support is needed, ask your veterinarian about using benzodiazepines, which can be administered to your pet in anticipation of the storm and help keep them calm.

2. Behavioral Training - Although retraining your pet’s emotional response to thunderstorms can take time, it may be best option. 

Start by playing the sounds of thunderstorms (these can be found on YouTube) over a speaker at a low volume. While the sounds play, sit with your pet offering them their favorite treats as they sit calmly through the noise. Over time, increase the volume until your pet is completely desensitized to the sound.

If you’ve found other solutions to your pet’s storm phobia, let us know in the comments below!

Five Ways Your Pet is Keeping You Healthy

Have you thanked your pet lately? You should. Your pet works hard each day to ensure that you’re physically and mentally strong. Here are some ways the pet in your life is keeping you well.
 
1.     They get you outside Your pet wants to play outside and they want you to come with. By spending time outdoors, you expose yourself to the calming effects of nature as well as fresh air and the Vitamin D supplied by the sun. Make an effort to get outside with your pet more often this Spring.
2.     They reduce your stress Petting your furry friend releases a hormone called oxytocin which is known for regulating stress and anxiety. Next time you’re feeling stressed, give your pet some love. It’s a win-win. They get attention, and you feel more relaxed.
3.     They reduce isolation Pets can help fill the void of living alone. When no one else is around, a pet will always listen and rarely interrupt. Furthermore, pets are great social icebreakers. Whether playing around in a park or taking a stroll through your neighborhood, a pet is always eager to introduce you to the next person they see.
4.     They make you smile Your pet has a personality of its own and isn’t shy about it. When your pet’s funny antics cause a chuckle, it raises serotonin and dopamine levels, which make you feel calm and joyful.
5.     They keep you moving Playing with your pet keeps you active. On average, pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol than non-pet owners. So, next time your pet wants to play, realize they won’t be the only one to receive a benefit.

Can you think of any other ways that your pet is keeping you healthy? Let us know in the comments below!

Keep Your Pet Healthy & Happy This Year
 
With the new year in full swing, it’s time to reexamine how you take care of your pet.  Here are some New Year’s resolutions to follow that will keep your pet healthy and happy in 2015.
 
Annual Exams aren’t just for Humans Your pet may not show obvious signs of a health problem, so it’s always best to take your pet in for an annual check-up.  Heart problems, arthritis and toothaches are just a few of the problems your pet can develop with no noticeable signs or symptoms.  Get regular exams to reduce their risk.  _It’s the most important way to keep your pet healthy in 2015._
Spay and Neuter Your Pets Millions of pets end up in U.S. shelters each year.  Make sure you don’t add to that number by spaying and neutering your pets.  These procedures can be done as early as six to eight weeks old.  Not only will you be helping maintain the pet population, but you’ll also reduce your pet's risk of certain cancers and decrease the chances they get lost by curtailing their eagerness to roam.
No More Parasites Fleas are a pain; they can cause irritated skin, hot spots, infection and even hair loss.  Fleas also like to invite their friends to the party, introducing other parasites to your cat or dog.  Worse yet, if only one of those fleas get swallowed, it can end in tapeworms.  Don’t give parasites a fighting chance, use year-round prevention with flea and intestinal parasite control as well as heartworm prevention.
Rid the Excess Pounds  Obesity is a big problem for pets. Just like people, obesity puts your pet at a higher risk for developing serious health problems such as diabetes, cancer or arthritis.  Keep your pet fit this year by not overfeeding them. No matter how cute they look when they beg.  
Have Fun  Pets just want to have fun!  Pets need mental stimulation to thrive, just like people.  Take your dog on a walk or give your cat something to chase around.  Keeping your pets at play strengthens not only their muscles, but also their bond with you!
 
What pet care tips do you have for keeping your pet healthy and happy this year? Let us know in the comments below!
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