Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Adopting a Pet

Where to Go

There are many options if you are looking for a new pet.  Almost every county or city has a pound, there are rescue groups devoted to specific breeds, and local rescues.  There are breeders, local, across the country and on the internet.  Your first step is to decide what type of pet you are looking for.  Do you have it narrowed down to dog or cat?  Dogs are generally more social, cats require less work.  If you want a dog, think about your lifestyle.  Do you go for a jog every day or are you more sedate?  Does someone in your home have allergy issues?  Are you willing to brush a long haired dog or cat, or would you prefer the easy care of a short hair?  Some dogs need to be groomed every few weeks.  That is an expense to be considered against the benefit of a dog that sheds less.( No dog doesn't shed at all except a stuffed one.)

I want a puppy!

Puppies are adorable.  No question.  They are also a huge amount of work.  If you are willing and able to devote a large amount of time and effort into house training and basic obedience you will have a dog that you know is trained and socialized.  For many households, an older dogs makes more sense.  You will know what you are getting, size and temperament wise.  Especially these days, many wonderful family pets are being surrendered for economic reasons.  There are also dogs with behavior and health issues.  Sorting out which is which can be the tricky part.  Adopting from a rescue group can take some of the surprise out of the process.

It's easier to adopt a child

Reputable rescue groups generally keep their dogs in foster homes or other closely observed facilities so that they can evaluate the dogs temperament and health before they adopt it out.  Bringing a healthy dog up to date on shots and spaying or neutering can easily cost several hundred dollars.  If the dog has even a minor sickness, that will increase greatly.  Rescue groups do not know you.  Their application is the way they try to decide not only if you will take good care of the pet they have loved and cared for but if you are a good fit for this particular dog or cat.  Some groups only require that your current pets be up to date on rabies vaccines.  Other groups want to see that you have given distemper vaccines and heartworm prevention.  Some will want to see the area where your pet will be housed.  We have even heard of groups asking for a criminal background check for adopters wanting breeds like Pit Bulls.  Decide how much information and effort you are willing to put out for a life-long companion.  There are plenty of pets available.  Find a group you can work with and keep looking.  Your life-long best friend is out there waiting for you.

High or Low Energy

The dog's energy level is probably the single biggest factor in determining whether he will fit in well with a family.  Breed plays a part but individual dogs can vary widely, especially mixed breeds.  A high energy dog without focused exercise is a timebomb waiting to go off.  He will leave a path of destruction behind him and confused owners asking "what happened?"  Digging, barking, chewing and aggression are all possible.  The same dog, in a family of joggers, will thrive.  The owner has a running buddy that never complains and everyone is happy.

Health concerns

Parasites are a major concern with rescue dogs.  Intestinal parasites can usually be taken care of with a simple dewormer.  Heartworms are another story.  You cannot look at a dog and see any sign of heartworms.  A blood test is the only way to know if your dog is infected.  Treatment can easily cost $600-$800.  If you adopt an adult dog that has not been heartworm tested, know that you are taking a very big chance.  Puppies should be started on prevention at 8 weeks of age and we recommend testing at 6 months if they have not been on prevention.
Many shelters offer a free vet visit so your new pet can be checked over for any other problems.  Even if it's not free, this is a really good idea.  Even if you are not willing to return the pet, you should at least know what you are getting into.  As usual, you get what you pay for.  Shelters are usually the least expensive place to get a dog, and there are lots of great dogs in pounds, but you will know the least about them.  Rescue groups have higher adoption fees, but usually you will have the peace of mind of some vet care.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spay and Neuter Your Pets

Why Spay and Neuter?

Cards on the table, we believe spayed and neutered dogs and cats are better pets.  They have fewer health problems and less behavior issues.  Anesthesia is much safer than it used to be and with bloodwork beforehand, there is very little chance of a problem with the surgery.  Marking, roaming and the dangers associated are reduced.  Twice a year heat cycles, cancers of the reproductive organs, pyometra and not to mention, unwanted puppies and kittens are all avoided.

When to spay or neuter?

Generally between 4 and 6 months is a good time.  Your pet will have had all of its puppy vaccines and the liver and kidneys are mature enough to handle the anesthesia.  Sexual maturity is very close, so it's a good idea to spay before those behaviors begin.  If females are spayed before their first heat, many studies show a reduction in mammary cancer later in life.

What do I do?

Your pet needs to go into surgery on an empty stomach so we will ask you to take up all food and water the night before.  If you need to separate the pet having surgery so he can't get into other animals food or water, plan ahead for this.  Close the lid on the toilet bowl and make sure all family members know about the instructions.
You'll typically bring your dog or cat to the hospital early in the morning the day of surgery.  Technicians will check his weight and temperature and if needed, draw blood to test.  The doctor will check his heart and lungs before anesthetizing your pet.  He will be completely asleep during the surgery and just like humans, different pets wake up differently from anesthesia.  Your pet will be monitored until he is awake and able to maintain a stable body temperature.  He will spend the remainder of the day resting in a cage, where he will be safe. 
When you take your dog or cat home after surgery, expect them to be sleepy.  Make sure they are kept in an area where they can't hurt themselves, a crate or a small room.  Don't leave them on a sofa or near a staircase where they can fall.
They generally will not have much of an appetite.  You can offer a small amount of water.  If that stays down and he seems interested, you can offer a small amount of food.  It is completely normal for the pet to not eat at all that night.  Some pets eat a little the next day, others are back to normal.  Both are perfectly fine.

It will be a stressful day for both of you, but there's a good chance this will be his only major surgery.  Pre-anesthetic bloodwork and following your veterinarian's instructions will give your pet the best chance of an uneventful day that will improve significantly improve the rest of his life.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Veterinary vs. Human formulations

Many medications that are used in veterinary medicine are also used for humans.  Antibiotics, pain medications, insulin, thyroid supplements and antihistamines are just a few examples.  The dosages can be very different.  An adult human with allergies would take one 25 mg benadyl tablet.  A 100 lb. dog would need four tablets.  Other medications have different formulations for animal and human use.  The medications we sell or prescribe are formulated to work best for your pet. 

Flea Control

Reports of generic and off-label flea control products not performing as they should or even worse, causing harm to pets are increasing.  Even if the products use the same active ingredient as a name brand product, the delivery agent may be different, lowering the effectiveness.  Frontline and Pet Armor both have fipronil as their active ingredient.  The difference in cost is because of the other ingredients, which help the fipronil adhere to fat molecules and work more effectively.

We sell prescription and over-the-counter flea control products.  We have a relationship with the manufacturer so if there is a problem with a product you have purchased from us, we can make it right.  Our staff has had training directly from the manufacturer, so they can answer your questions about how and when to apply.  If your pet has a reaction to a product we sold, we are available to treat your pet. 

Internet Pharmacies

Buying your pet's medication from an online pharmacy is an option today.  Protect yourself and your pet and make sure you are buying from a vet-VIPPS certified pharmacy. An example is heartworm preventatives, which like birth control pills, are not 100% effective.  This is why dogs need to be tested every year.  If you purchase your prevention from a certified pharmacy and your dog becomes infected with heartworms the manufacturer will pay for the heartworm treatment, just like if you had bought the pills here in our building. 

We have had clients purchase products from discount internet pharmacies and not get the results they were getting from the name brand medication.  Were they really saving any money?