Exciting Endeavors: Caring for Your New Puppy

new puppyThere is nothing more exciting than bringing home a new puppy, and experiencing all the love and joy they will add to your family. Owning a puppy isn’t all fun and games, however. By putting a little time, energy, and planning into puppy care, you can ensure that you’ll have a best friend for life.

Animal Family Veterinary Care Center shares our best tips and ideas for caring for your new puppy. We’re excited to be a part of your pet care family, and looking forward to setting you and your puppy on the road to lifelong health and happiness together.

Continue…

Making Veterinary Less Stressful for Your Dog

 

We have all seen owners and/or trainers who have taught their dog, bird, horse or cat to do amazing things. Birds with huge vocabularies, bike riding dogs and dancing horses. So how hard should it really be to teach our dog to tolerate a visit to the vet?? If you’re willing to invest a little time, you can train your dog to be a happier patient.

 

It’s all about practice, practice, practice.  The first place your new puppy should visit is the veterinary office. The very first visit should just be to say hello and get some treats. Use the second visit to make sure they are healthy…

Get your puppy used to having his/her feet handled at home. Start by holding a paw then move on to grasping a toenail. Even if you never plan on clipping nails at home, get your pup accustomed to the clipper around their feet. Remember to use lots of treats and praise!

 Teach your puppy how to take pills before they actually need to. Have your puppy sit sideways next to you or on your lap if they are small. Place one hand around the top jaw with your thumb and middle finger behind the canines. Use your other thumb and forefinger to gently open the lower jaw. Now just place a small treat or piece of cheese in the mouth on the tongue. Do this a few times and you shouldn’t have any trouble when the time to actually medicate comes along. Today there are even specially made products to hide pills in that most dogs love!

Handle your puppy’s ears, clean the area around their eyes, lift their tail and run your hands along their abdomen. Desensitizing your pup to handling is one of the kindest things you can do for them.

Teach your dog to stand quietly. Much of a veterinary exam is done with the pet standing. If your dog is accustomed to standing calmly beforehand the stress level will go way down. Again, use treats and gentle praise to let your dog know they are doing the correct thing.

Teach your dog to walk on a leash. If your dog is out of control in the waiting area things will only go downhill in the exam room.

Once your pet is protected by vaccines, schedule a puppy class and/or doggie daycare. A well socialized dog is a stable dog.  No kidding…our happiest patients are campers and Puppy Class alumni.

It’s OK to bring something from home. A toy or blanket work fine and pets find the familiar odor of home calming .

If you‘re nervous your dog will be too. Whatever you feel telegraphs directly to your pet. Some people can’t actually be in the room with their dog and that’s OK. Just don’t let your limitations make things more difficult for your pet.

Animal Family’s Guide to Potty Training Puppy

puppy3 When it comes to puppy training consistency is the key.

 

  • Always use the same door to take your puppy outside to eliminate.BC pup

  • Take him or her to the same area. Hopefully once that area smells like urine and stool their sense of smell will help stimulate them to eliminate.

  • Go out with them, so you can praise while they are going and give a treat right afterwards. Don’t give them their treat once they are in the house. If you do, you praised them for is coming back in, not going potty outdoors.

  • Always use the same word for elimination, Start talking as soon as you take them out of the kennel and continue until you get to the designated place outside. Choose a word. It can be “go potty”, “do your business” or any other phrase that works for both you and your puppy.camp 226

  • If your puppy starts going to the door on his or her own, ask them to let you know it’s time to go out. An easy way to do this is to hang a bell by your door. You can teach the pup to touch the bell or simply reward them when they do it inadvertently.

  • If your puppy goes outside and doesn’t get down to business (within 5 minutes or so) bring them back indoors and put them in their kennel.  Wait about 15-20 minutes and try again. Make a big deal about it when they go outside “YAY!!! GOOD PUPPY, GOOD JOB….LOOK HOW SMART YOU ARE!!!!!”  Go ahead and give a treat as well. (Remember, give the treat while they are outside.)

  • Anytime your puppy has been playing for more the 30 minutes go outside again…… Puppies can’t engage in more than 30-50 minutes of activecaption this play without needing to eliminate!

  • Puppy stays in the kennel when you can’t give them 100 % of your attention!!!! That way they can’t sneak off into another room. Use it like a play pen or crib for babies . As they get better, try using the kennel less and less.

  • If your puppy makes a mistake in the house, clean it up thoroughly and be more vigilant. The fewer mistakes your puppy makes indoors the faster he or she will learn. No corrections unless you catch them in the act. If you see your pup going potty in the house, startle and redirect. Yell, shake a penny can or throw a toy towards them and then quickly take them to their designated area outdoors. Spankings just scare and confuse the puppy. 

  • Repeat as needed for good house breaking…. If you put all of your work in at the beginning you and Rover WILL SUCCEED!cute bulldog puppy

  • House breaking in the winter is a good thing!!!! I find that you and your dog spend very little time outside, so the puppy really learns what you want. Whereas in the summer, when both people and pets want to spend a lot of time outside, puppy can potty any time and may have a much harder time understanding the actual mission.

If you have any questions please feel free to call us at 563-391-9522 or check out our web site https://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com

Tips for Choosing the Right Puppy

 

            Spring is in the air and so is puppy love. This is the time of year when many of us yearn for a new puppy… what could be cuter?  Dogs make wonderful companions.  Just remember not to jump into pet ownership thoughtlessly. There are many factors that should be considered to ensure that your new puppy is the proper fit for your family.

  •   The first thing you need to look at is YOU.  How active are you?  Do you have children?  How old are they?  How old are you?  Do you live in an apartment, single family home or in the country?  Is your yard fenced?  What is your personality like? Are you assertive, passive or somewhere in between?  Do you have any disabilities or health issues?  Do you mind spending time or money on grooming your pet? How picky are you about your house?  Do you think pets should even be in the house?  The list goes on but the point is the first thing you need to look at is your life and lifestyle.  

 Once you have an idea of your parameters, it’s time to start looking at the dog. 

  •  What size of dog fits you?  Large dogs require more space. They can be more difficult for a petite or older person to handle. They are more expensive to feed, medicate, spay or neuter.  They can be a heck of a lot more work to exercise as well. As for small dogs: they require less of everything but activity.  Size does not relate to activity level.  There are some VERY busy small breeds. 
  • How about activity levels.  You need to be very honest with yourself about what activity level you can tolerate in your pet. Age and general health may dictate a small, quiet, older animal.  Are you interested in taking your dog to the dog park or out for a walk or run every day?  Even with a large backyard, most active breeds will require additional exercise.  If you’re a couch potato, many of the hunting and herding breeds may be too high energy for you. Think about your children as well.   If they are too boisterous and rowdy, they may terrify some of the more timid breeds. 
  •   Then there’s sociability.  Do you want a dog that loves everyone or a more reserved animal that may bond only to you or your immediate family?  If you love entertaining or traveling, be sure to get an animal that will enjoy it as well.  Clearly, a one person dog would not be a great idea if you usually have your children as well as all the neighbors’ kids running through the house.
  •  Emotional stability is just as important.  Some breeds are very easy going and unflappable.  Others are less so.  That includes many of the smaller breeds but some of the big guys as well. Again, this is particularly important if you have small children or an active social life. Do your homework and make certain you find a breed that will tolerate busy little hands and bodies.
  • Trainability.  Don’t confuse intelligence with trainability.  Many of the so-called smart breeds can actually be quite difficult to train.  Trainability should be thought of as the “will to please”.   So, if you insist on perfect behavior, do your homework and plan on spending some time in obedience classes as well.  But, if what you really want is a pet that will simply sit, lie down and not eat up the house there are plenty of contenders out there.  PLEASE just don’t buy a highly motivated Border collie or other overachiever if you don’t have the time to keep them busy. When not kept occupied these doggie geniuses may end up destroying your home out of boredom and frustration.   
  •  Dominance.  Unfortunately many people confuse dominance and aggression.  Most of the biting dogs we see in veterinary practice are actually fearful in nature.  Dominant animals are generally confident if they have a calm, assertive owner. In the simplest terms dominance can be thought of as the how hard your dog will work to get his or her own way.  Dominance is variable.  Some dogs may just be dominant over other dogs but submissive to people.  Dominance is not related to size either.  There are a lot of pint sized Napoleons out there.  Be sure to match your will to rule to that of your future pet.
  •   Hardiness.  Pay special attention to hardiness when selecting a breed.  Bulldogs and some of the short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds don’t do well in the heat.  Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and other short coated dogs are not suited to outdoor life in the colder climates.  Matted coats, burned skin, heat stroke or frost bite may all be the consequences of wrong choices made on your part.  Then again, some breeds have been so completed altered by human kind that they are born with an array of health problems just waiting to happen.  No matter what, it’s still best to know ahead of time.
  •  Grooming.  Do you mind brushing your dog every day?  How about a grooming bill once a month?  How about a really big grooming bill once a month? Would you prefer a non-shedding coat? How about a dog with almost no coat at all?  Do you know how to care for eyes and ears or nails and matted hair?  What about anal glands?  Every breed has different grooming care needs.  Don’t overlook this when selecting your dog.

 Great dogs can be found in a lot of places.  That includes shelters and rescue groups.  We wish you good luck in your search and hope that you have figured out that picking the right puppy involves a lot more than who’s got the cutest brown eyes.  Hopefully, you now know that it takes a well thought out plan that combines your needs with those of your future pet.  So be sure to use all of the resources available to you.  Read books, attend dog shows, ask your veterinarian, talk to your friends, talk to breed associations, do whatever it takes to make yourself aware and educated.  Then go ahead and take the big leap into puppy love.

 

Veterinary Clinic Gives Pointers on Choosing the Right Puppy

Summer is here and so is puppy love. This is the time of year when many of us yearn for a new puppy… what could be cuter?  Dogs make wonderful companions.  Just remember not to jump into pet ownership thoughtlessly. There are many factors that should be considered to ensure that your new puppy is the proper fit for your family.

  •  The first thing you need to look at is YOU.  How active are you?  Do you have children?  How old are they?  How old are you?  Do you live in an apartment, single family home or in the country?  Is your yard fenced?  What is your personality like? Are you assertive, passive or somewhere in between?  Do you have any disabilities or health issues?  Do you mind spending time or money on grooming your pet? How picky are you about your house?  Do you think pets should even be in the house?  The list goes on but the point is the first thing you need to look at is your life and lifestyle.

 Once you have an idea of your parameters, it’s time to start looking at the dog.  

  •   What size of dog fits you?  Large dogs require more space. They can be more difficult for a petite or older person to handle. They are more expensive to feed, medicate, spay or neuter.  They can be a heck of a lot more work to exercise as well. As for small dogs: they require less of everything but activity.  Size does not relate to activity level.  There are some VERY busy small breeds.
  •   How about activity levels.  You need to be very honest with yourself about what activity level you can tolerate in your pet. Age and general health may dictate a small, quiet, older animal.  Are you interested in taking your dog to the dog park or out for a walk or run every day?  Even with a large backyard, most active breeds will require additional exercise.  If you’re a couch potato, many of the hunting and herding breeds may be too high energy for you. Think about your children as well.   If they are too boisterous and rowdy, they may terrify some of the more timid breeds. 
  •   Then there’s sociability.  Do you want a dog that loves everyone or a more reserved animal that may bond only to you or your immediate family?  If you love entertaining or traveling, be sure to get an animal that will enjoy it as well.  Clearly, a one person dog would not be a great idea if you usually have your children as well as all the neighbors’ kids running through the house.
  •  Emotional stability is just as important.  Some breeds are very easy going and unflappable.  Others are less so.  That includes many of the smaller breeds but some of the big guys as well. Again, this is particularly important if you have small children or an active social life. Do your homework and make certain you find a breed that will tolerate busy little hands and bodies.
  •  Trainability.  Don’t confuse intelligence with trainability.  Many of the so-called smart breeds can actually be quite difficult to train.  Trainability should be thought of as the “will to please”.   So, if you insist on perfect behavior, do your homework and plan on spending some time in obedience classes as well.  But, if what you really want is a pet that will simply sit, lie down and not eat up the house there are plenty of contenders out there.  PLEASE just don’t buy a highly motivated Border collie or other overachiever if you don’t have the time to keep them busy. When not kept occupied these doggie geniuses may end up destroying your home out of boredom and frustration.   
  •   Dominance.  Unfortunately many people confuse dominance and aggression.  Most of the biting dogs we see in veterinary practice are actually fearful in nature.  Dominant animals are generally confident if they have a calm, assertive owner. In the simplest terms dominance can be thought of as the how hard your dog will work to get his or her own way.  Dominance is variable.  Some dogs may just be dominant over other dogs but submissive to people.  Dominance is not related to size either.  There are a lot of pint sized Napoleons out there.  Be sure to match your will to rule to that of your future pet.
  • Hardiness.  Pay special attention to hardiness when selecting a breed.  Bulldogs and some of the short-faced (brachycephalic) breeds don’t do well in the heat.  Chihuahuas, Greyhounds and other short coated dogs are not suited to outdoor life in the colder climates.  Matted coats, burned skin, heat stroke or frost bite may all be the consequences of wrong choices made on your part.  Then again, some breeds have been so completed altered by human kind that they are born with an array of health problems just waiting to happen.  No matter what, it’s still best to know ahead of time.
  •  Grooming.  Do you mind brushing your dog every day?  How about a grooming bill once a month?  How about a really big grooming bill once a month? Would you prefer a non-shedding coat? How about a dog with almost no coat at all?  Do you know how to care for eyes and ears or nails and matted hair?  What about anal glands?  Every breed has different grooming care needs.  Don’t overlook this when selecting your dog.

 Great dogs can be found in a lot of places.  That includes shelters and rescue groups.  We wish you good luck in your search and hope that you have figured out that picking the right puppy involves a lot more than who’s got the cutest brown eyes.  Hopefully, you now know that it takes a well thought out plan that combines your needs with those of your future pet.  So be sure to use all of the resources available to you.  Read books, attend dog shows, ask your veterinarian, talk to your friends, talk to breed associations, do whatever it takes to make yourself aware and educated.  Then go ahead and take the big leap into puppy love.

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

 

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.” 

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are pure bred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

Davenport IA, Veterinarian Talks Explains Diseases You Could Share With Your Pet…but Shouldn’t

 

According to the AVMA, in 2007 there were 72 million pet dogs, 82 million pet cats and over 4 million pet birds. At least 3% of the US households own a reptile. Almost one half of those pet owners consider their pets to be a member of the family. We are a pet loving country. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that we can share more than love with our pets. Did you know that according to the Center for Disease Control that almost 14% of the US population has been infected with Toxacara (roundworm of dogs and cats). That’s because up to 30% of dogs fewer than 6 months of age and 25% of all cats are infected with roundworms.

Cats and dogs can carry Roundworms, Tapeworms, Hookworms, Leptospirosis, Ringworm and Rabies to name a few. Pocket pets and reptiles can carry Salmonella. Birds can also carry Salmonella as well as Psittacosis (a bacterial disease).

Who is most at risk? According to our friends at CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), it is generally those who come in contact with the soil the most often. That includes, gardeners, plumbers, sunbathers and of course children. Immune compromised individuals need to be particularly careful.

So should we get rid of all of our pets? No need to get so carried away. Following are some relatively simple measures you can take to control the risk of zoonotic transmission in your family.

  1. Wash your hands after handling pets, soil and feces. Be especially vigilant with youngsters.
  2. Don’t eat or smoke while you handle your pet. Especially if it is a reptile, bird or pocket pet.
  3. Pets and food preparation do not go together.
  4. Keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming. Dogs and cats should be on broad spectrum, year round anti-parasitic products.
  5. Get annual fecal parasite checks. That’s because you may give your pet his preventative but he may either spit it out or throw it up later on.
  6. Treat pets and their surroundings for fleas.
  7. Dispose of pet feces on a daily basis.
  8. Cover up your children’s sandbox when it’s not in use.
  9. Feed only cooked, canned or dry dog and cat food.
  10. Don’t allow birds or reptiles to roam loose in the house.
  11. If you are scratched by your pet, wash the area thoroughly.
  12. Vaccinate. Yes, there is some risk (1/10,000) of soft tissue sarcomas in cats with the use of Rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines. We try to make it safer by vaccinating every 3 years. However, our biggest concern is that Rabies is out there and it kills all of us all the time.
  13. Immune compromised individuals should not own reptiles or amphibians.
  14. Don’t let your dog or cat drink from the toilet bowl. According to CAPC this can spread human adapted strains of parasites to pets

Davenport IA Veterinary Clinic Explains How Socializing Your Pet Makes Them Better Citizens

All dogs can bite.  We like to think that we can avoid any difficulties with our pets by simply choosing the “right” breed; not so.  Although you may not actually cause behavior problems in your pet, you can unknowingly reward them.  Since we know that it is always easier to prevent rather than change an established behavior: developing ways to make your pet a good family member and citizen should be an important part of pet ownership.

Biting is not the only thing we complain about.  Barking, jumping up, digging, house soiling, chewing on inappropriate items, food aggression and fear of strangers are just some of the things we don’t like.  Can these behaviors be prevented?  Of course they can.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of management.  Others require an active effort on your part to train and socialize your pet. Here are some ideas for keeping making your pet a good citizen.

  1. Teach your dog to sit.  This should be the first thing a puppy learns.  Any pup old enough to go to a new home is capable of learning to sit.  It’s OK to teach the command by using a treat.  The ASPCA has a great site that will show you how to teach a sit.  The importance of this command in your relationship with your pet is that sitting quietly is a prerequisite before any kind of interaction with you. That means that you don’t unthinkingly pet your dog should they bump or rub against your hand. Believe it or not if you are consistent about requiring a quiet sit first and socializing second, it will set a solid base from which to build your relationship with your new dog. 
  2. Better yet, try an obedience class.  There are very few dogs that won’t benefit from obedience training.  It doesn’t have to be a competitive obedience class and it doesn’t have to involve harsh methods.  Look for something that will help you with basic commands and routine maintenance such as nail trimming, tooth brushing and socialization with other pets and people. The key is to establish good communication with your pet from the beginning.
  3. Get your pet out in the world.  You can’t expect your dog to comfortable in the world if they never get beyond your backyard.  Once your pet is properly immunized, wormed and protected from fleas, get them out to parks, for car rides and long walks.  If your schedule is extra busy, consider putting them in doggie daycare but please don’t just lock them in the backyard.
  4. Spay or neuter your pet.  This can’t be said often enough.  The reasons for keeping a dog intact are very few indeed.  Hormones will always get in the way of training. Worse, they can cause dog to dog aggression and lead to health problems later in life.
  5. Children and dogs should always be supervised.  Obviously this is not only important for the safety of the child but for the pet as well. Children can’t read animal body language.  They are often at eye level with a pet and may be seen as lower in social ranking than adults.  Children need to be taught to how handle their pet gently yet assertively.   Even when pet and child are both trained, they never be left alone together.
  6. Take your pet to the vet for something other than vaccines.  If you happen to be driving by the vet’s office, stop in.  Bring the dog inside for some treats.  Let the staff pet them and then go home.  You will be surprised how much more relaxed your pet will be if you do this a few times. 
  7. If you run into a problem you can’t handle, call a professional.  There is nothing wrong with asking someone more experienced to help you with your pet. The key is to go for help before a problem gets out of hand.

This is only meant to get you started thinking in the right direction.  Talk to your veterinarian about trainers in your area if you’re unsure where to go.  Just remember to have fun and always keep your pet social.

Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian Itching to teach you about Fleas

 

Who hates fleas?  Everybody hates fleas!  Ctenocephalides canis or felis better known as the common flea is not a visitor anyone ever welcomes to their home.  For those of us who have had to deal with a flea infestation- once is definitely enough! Aside from the obvious “yuck” factor, there are a lot of good reasons to avoid this hopping, biting scourge of the insect world.

  1.  Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.  When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
  2. Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your children.  Everybody gets itchy.
  3. A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
  4. Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.  Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
  5. Fleas carry the Plague – the Bubonic Plague.  This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.
  6. Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:
    1. Exposure to rat fleas or feces
    2. Exposure to other animals such as cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats
  7. Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
  8.  Fleas can transmit  Mycoplasma haemofelis a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
  9.  Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home. 
  10. Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 

I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.

Ways to Recognise Illness in Your Cat From Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian

The decrease in feline veterinary visits has us worried.   We love our cats but do not provide them with the same level of care that we do our dogs.  It’s true that cats are great at masking illness.  However,  by putting off a veterinary visit until your cat is seriously ill,  we  only make for greater expense for us and stress for our pet.  We all need to learn how to better recognise the signs of illness in cats, so this week we have decided to reprint a great article  from Pet Docs on Call covering  just this subject.

 

By Dr. Jen Mathis, Certified Veterinary Journalist and member of the Veterinary News Network received veterinary care in the past year.hadn’t”There are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet.  Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. A 2007 industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats

Though there are many myths about cat health, the truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual exams and vaccinations, just like dogs do. More importantly, because they are naturally adept at hiding signs of illness, annual exams can result in early diagnosis of health problems. Early diagnosis often results in longer quality life at less cost.

Boehringer Ingelheim is trying to help cat health by teaching about the 10 subtle signs of sickness in cats:

1. INAPPROPRIATE URINATION – At least 80% of the time this is a medical problem often associated with conditions ranging from kidney disease to arthritis. Behavior is the least likely cause.

2. CHANGES IN INTERACTION – Cats are social animals. Changes in their interaction often signal pain or anxiety.

3. CHANGES IN ACTIVITY – Medical conditions such as arthritis can produce a decrease in activity while an increase can signal a condition such as hyperthyroidism.

4. CHANGES IN SLEEPING HABITS – While cats sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, they usually should be quick to respond to someone walking into a room. Difficulty lying or rising is also a problem.

5. CHANGES IN FOOD AND WATER CONSUMPTION – Eating or drinking more or less can be signs of a range of underlying medical conditions.

6. WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN – Weight changes in cats often go unnoticed because of their thick coats. It is not an expected part of aging, but rather a medical problem.

7. CHANGES IN GROOMING – A poor hair coat is a common sign of many medical conditions in cats.

8. SIGNS OF STRESS – Sudden lifestyle changes can cause stress in cats, resulting in symptoms such as decreased grooming to eating more frequently. These are also signs of illness, so sickness should be ruled out before stress issues are addressed.

9. CHANGES IN VOCALIZATION – An increase in crying or howling is common with older cats and can be caused by high blood pressure (leading cause of blindness), kidney problems, thyroid issues, stress or pain.

10. BAD BREATH– 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath as it usually means infection. Since 2/3 of the tooth is under the gum-line, many cats have problems that can’t be seen without x rays. Dental problems cause kidney problems.

“Have we seen your cat lately?” If not, an exam may be just what your cat needs to help live a longer quality life! For more information, please check with your veterinarian!”