Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dog Park Safety

Tanglewood Dog Park Grand Opening May 5

We are so excited that the long awaited off-leash dog park is opening in nearby Tanglewood Park.  This Sunday, May 5 is the Grand Opening.  This is the first Dog Park on this side of Forsyth County and the closest to Davie County.  Many of the park's visitors have probably never been to a dog park before.  In this blog article we will discuss how to make your visits fun and safe for you and your dog. 

Before you Go

Make sure your pet's vaccines are up to date.  Nothing will ruin a trip more than coming home and finding out your puppy got sick.  Diseases like parvo and distemper are scary, but preventable.  Young dogs need to be socialized, but find a friend with a fully vaccinated older dog to have play dates with until your baby has had all of his shots. 

If your dog has aggression issues THE DOG PARK IS NOT THE PLACE TO WORK THEM OUT.  Find a dog trainer, talk to your vet, get your dog more exercise on a leash where you have control, but don't let a dog you know has problems loose on everyone else.  Other people's pets can get hurt and you can get sued.  If you are not sure if your dog will be ok, keep him on his leash until you see how he reacts. 

Your First Visit

We would recommend taking your dog on a long leash walk before entering the fence.  This will drain off some energy, especially if you have a high energy dog.  Once you have been a few times and you and your dog get used to the routine, this may not be necessary.  Keep your dog on his leash and scope out the other dogs in the park.  Be alert for potential troublemakers.  Once your dog is calm and you are comfortable, let him off the leash but stay close and monitor his activities.  If this sounds like taking your kids to the playground, there are a lot of similarities.  The same potential for fun and injury exists. 


Make sure you have water for you and your dog, especially if it's a warm day.  Running around in the sun will heat up your fur covered friend and he'll need it.  Of course bring bags to dispose of waste.  Be sure your dog has his collar with up to date ID information.  Have Fun!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dental Health

Why do I need to get my dog's teeth cleaned?

If your dog or cat has bacteria built up in the mouth and your vet has recommended a dental cleaning, what are the benefits?  The teeth can become infected and cause pain and difficulty in eating and chewing.  The bacteria will circulate throughout the pet's body and can cause problems in his heart.  If the infection is severe your vet may want to put your pet on antibiotics before the dental.

What happens during the dental cleaning?

We will have you bring your pet in to the hospital early in the day with no food or water after 10 pm the night before.  We will sedate your pet and place a tube in the throat.  This helps in two ways.  Animals don't understand that they need to hold very still so that the teeth can be cleaned properly.  The tube also keeps the water used in the cleaning process from going down the airway and causing pneumonia.  The teeth are cleaned and polished and an antibiotic is applied to the surface of the teeth and gums.

What is the Recovery Like?

Most pets can eat and drink normally as soon as they recover from the anesthesia.  If they have teeth removed, they may prefer soft food for a few days, but generally the mouth heals very quickly.  If your pet had gingivitis or other forms of infection in the mouth they will probably feel much better after the cleaning.  Even if we just remove tartar build up, it will positively affect your dogs overall health.

Can My Pet Get Cavities?

Dogs and cats generally do not eat sweets or drink sodas like humans.  Most owners do not brush their pets' teeth.  Food can accumulate at the gumline just like in a human mouth and cause tartar buildup, and eventually if it is not removed, bacterial growth and additional problems. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What to do if you've lost your dog or cat

Help, My Dog is Lost!

Take a deep breath.  Check the house and the yard.  If you are sure your pet is missing, get out immediately and check the neighborhood.  There is a pet tracker locally who recommends calling him within an hour.  The sooner you start your search the better.  Call Animal Control and advise them that your pet is missing.  If they pick the animal up as a stray, they can match the description to your missing pet.  GO TO THE POUND EVERY DAY!  Your description of your pet may not sound the same as what he looks like if he gets picked up.  Collars and tags are great, microchips are better, none are 100%. 

He's still missing

If after the first few hours your pet hasn't turned up, you need to cast your net wider.  Make up a COLOR flyer with a recent picture of your pet.  Use the word "Reward" in big letters.  Make as many copies as you can afford and put them up anywhere people can see them; gas stations, supermarket bulletin boards, restaurants, etc.  Call local vets and humane societies, post pictures on Facebook and Twitter, send e-mails, whatever you can think of to get the word out.  For cats, food-baited traps with something that smells like you may be a good option.  For dogs, having people out calling (if your dog is people-friendly) is a good way to go. 


Have your pet spayed or neutered.  Looking for love is the most common reason to run, 70% of the animals found hit on the road are un-neutered males.  If you have a fenced yard, check it frequently for any potential escape points. When traveling with your pet, take extra care.  Yes, your cat hates the carrier, but she'll be safe in it. A harness is much less likely to be wriggled out of than a collar.  Animals in strange environments behave differently than they do at home.  If you know your pet is an escape artist, put some extra safeguards in place like an extra clip on the gate lock.  Make sure you have an up to date picture of your pet. An ID tag with your cell phone number is worth its weight in gold.  A microchip can mean the difference between your pet coming home or not.

What to do if you've found a dog

I couldn't just leave him there

We get dozens of calls each week from people who have found dogs or cats.  There are rescue groups and government agencies who care for stray animals and they are admittedly overwhelmed.  Taking in a stray is a big undertaking.  It has financial and family obligations that need to be considered. As of this posting we do not know of any programs in our community that offer money to help people who take in found animals.  Do you have the money to care for another pet?  If the owner comes forward are you prepared emotionally to give him back?  If the animal turns out to have health or behavior issues are you able to handle them, emotionally and financially?  Is your family, human and animal, ready for an addition?  If you aren't prepared for this the best thing to do is leave the animal where you found it. 

I can do this

The first step is to try to find out if the animal has an owner.  Check for a collar and ID tags.  Bring him to a vet to have him scanned for a microchip.    Does he appear well taken care of?  Some street dogs that look rough have been lost for a while and actually have loving familes that are desperately looking for them.  Don't judge a book by its cover, or coat.
We recommend placing an ad in the local paper describing the pet.  7 days after the paper is published if no one claims the dog, you can consider the dog yours.  This will protect you if the owner comes back weeks or months later after you have spent hundreds of dollars.  That means you may have to keep the dog for almost 2 weeks depending on the newspaper's publishing schedule.  We generally recommend giving the dog a rabies vaccine if you plan on keeping the dog around your family during that time. 

But he's hurt

If you have found an injured animal, be careful.  The friendliest house pet can bite when in pain. Rabies is also a consideration.  With a stray, by definition, you don't know anything about it's history.  It may not have had any vaccines and the law will assume it has not.  If you get bit, rabies protocol will go into effect.
If you want to take on the financial obligation, and can safely do so, take the animal to your veterinarian or emergency clinic.  Do not ever attempt to handle a wild animal.  Most people do not have hundreds of dollars to spend on an animal they don't know, but still can't bear to leave an animal to suffer.  Please call Animal Control so they can tend to the animal. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Discount Surgeries

Why Does it Cost so Much?

When you get a new puppy or kitten one of your biggest expenses is usually the spay or neuter surgery.  (See our post on Spay/Neuter for more detail on what is involved.) Your pet will be evaluated by a vet the morning of the surgery, weighed and sedated with an appropriate pain medication and anesthesia for his age, weight, general health and type of procedure.  We will monitor your pet while she is sedated, maintain her body temperature with our warming system, we use a laser for the incision and a technician will remain with your pet until she is awake and breathing on her own.  We will then monitor her for the rest of the day and send her home with pain meds for the next morning. 

Discount Options

There are spay/neuter clinics in our area that are an option.  Many times you will need to bring your pet to a drop off location where he will be picked up and driven to the clinic where the surgery will be performed.  These clinics generally do not require the same vaccines that we do, which makes it cheaper to use them, but it also means your pet will be traveling with and spending a day and night around unvaccinated pets.  In just the past few weeks we have had to treat several dogs who caught contagious diseases while at the spay/neuter clinic.  The owners are responsible for these vet bills, unfortunately.  We have also had to treat several pets who have had complications from surgery.  These do happen, even when the pet does not have to travel for several hours and spend the night in a strange place, but we treat our surgery patients at no charge.  This is not the case for surgeries done elsewhere.

The Big Picture

Before you schedule your pet's surgery, find out what is covered and what your real costs are.  Compare the real differences in price, based on what you are actually getting.  For the cost of a nice dinner out your pet can have what will hopefully be his only surgery at a local hospital.  Here the doctors and technicians know your pet and she will get one-on-one care, backed up by service after the surgery if needed.  The high volume clinics are generally subsidized and non-profit.  They were started so that low income people could keep their pets from producing more pets and now they are open to everyone.  Getting the best care for your pet is probably more affordable than you realize.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Flea Control

How can my pet have fleas?

Here in North Carolina we are blessed with mild winters.  This also means fleas can generally survive also.  In fact, spring and fall can be the worst times because fleas will thrive in that middle ground of temperature and humidity.  Strictly indoor pets can also be targets because the crafty flea will hitchhike on an unsuspecting human's pants or shoes and make its way inside for a tasty meal.  Long story short, any pet you don't want infested with fleas needs to be on a reliable flea control product year round. 

What about the stuff I can get cheap?

There are lots of options in flea control.  We sell several brands here in the hospital, more on our website.   We have had lots of customers try the cheap versions and they call us asking why their dog still has fleas.  (See our blog on Generics) Some of the other products have a spotty safety record.  We have seen seizures and vomiting from these products.  That's why we don't sell them.  We stand behind the products we sell.  They are safe and they work.  Our staff is well informed and can help you find the right product for your pet and your lifestyle.

How to use flea control correctly

Consistency is the key to controlling fleas.  Applying the product every month keeps the flea population from reproducing.  Any new fleas that make it into the area are killed and can't make new fleas.  If you only use the product when you see fleas you are always behind the curve.  If you are seeing fleas, wash all of the pet's bedding in hot water.  Vacuum everywhere you can and remove the bag (or empty the canister) immediately  and take it to an outdoor trash can.  For a bad infestation, you can apply the product every three weeks instead of every month.

Scratch, Scratch

Some dogs have an allergy to flea bites.  If they are bitten by even one flea they will scratch themselves raw.  If you have a cat in your house, she will be a flea's meal of choice.  If you have a dog that goes in and out and a cat that stays in, you should be treating both of them for fleas.

Puppy Vaccines

Why Vaccinate?

Many diseases that can seriously harm your dog or even kill it are preventable with the use of vaccines.  Rabies, a neurological disease that can be transmitted to humans, is required by law.  All dogs and cats over the age of 4 months must be vaccinated against rabies.  Parvo is a virus that can also be vaccinated against.  The disease begins with vomiting and diarrhea and can cause death within days if untreated.

When to Start

Puppies get antibodies from their mother to protect them from diseases, assuming the mother has been vaccinated, and they do not start to lose this protection until about six weeks of age.  If you vaccinate before this time, you are fighting the maternal antibodies.  If you wait much longer, your puppy will be unprotected.  Vaccines work by stimulating you puppy's immune system to produce antibodies to the disease, without actually giving him the illness.  The distemper/parvo vaccine is given in a series of 3 or 4 vaccines, starting at 6 weeks, spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart with the last one when the puppy is at least 16 weeks of age.  This sounds very complicated, but don't worry, we'll keep track and let you know when your puppy needs to come in.

Why have your Veterinarian Vaccinate

Rabies vaccines must be given by a licensed veterinarian or certified veterinary technician working under the authority of a vet.