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Animal Medical Center
1510 N Broad St
Cairo, GA 39828
Ph:(229)377-2060
or:(229)377-1VET
FAX:(229)377-3478

 

 

       Toot                                                                                Doodle Bug

BEWARE OF SNAKES!

Our local Rattlesnake Roundup is coming up soon and is a good time to be reminded that rattlesnakes (as well as water moccasins and copperheads) are part of our lives! We share our environment with them uneventfully, for the most part. But, occasionally, in their efforts to protect themselves and their territory, a snake may bite. That creates a medical emergency for people, pets, and livestock. There is a very good antivenin that can be given when a snake bit occurs, but it’s expensive. There are other medications that can and should also be given, even if the cost of the antivenin is out of budget. Antihistamines, antibiotics, tetanus, pain medications, and diuretics can all help with comfort and healing, and greatly up the chances of survival and recovery from a snake bite.

There is a Rattlesnake vaccine for dogs that will help minimize the reaction and risk from rattlesnake bites. It is much more economical that the antivenin. Ask your vet about it.

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Amputation- Not as Bad as You May Think!

 

Amputation” always sounds like a scary option, but sometimes it’s the best one. Severe traumas, nerve damage, and some cancers may be best treated by removing a limb. Surprisingly, most dogs and cats heal quickly and do fabulously well with three good legs. View the Colorado State ’s Vet school’s videos of pets that had gone through the procedure at: www.CSUanimalcancercenter.org/amputation. The majority of healing after an amputation occurs within the first 10 days, and is normally complete within 30 days. If a bone is shattered, or the wound is badly infected, other repair options may be more costly, and involve more pain and much longer healing time. Even then, there are no guarantees of a functional, pain free limb.

Your vet will consider the degree of damage, likelihood of successful repair, and costs either way. If it looks like amputation will be the best option, don’t hesitate to go ahead with it. Check out Jack on our Facebook page and at http://www.wctv.tv/home/headlines/Dog-Loses-Leg-After-Being-Shot--Abandoned-Now-Looking-For-New-Home-229930041.html?ref=041. He’s doing great!

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Your Medications and Your Pet

Be careful, careful, careful with your own medications! Our pets are much like little kids when it comes to putting things in their mouths. If you drop or spill some of yours, your dog or cat may be curious enough to check it out and that can cause problems! If that happens, and you cannot get the meds out of your pet’s mouth right away, call your vet or poison control immediately. The ASPCA Poison Control number is (888) 426-4435. That’s a good number to keep handy, along with your vet’s number.

Some medications may be deadly to pets, and some may not be a problem. The majority are somewhere in the middle. You’ll need to have the name of the drug plus the milligram strength handy when you call so the experts can determine what needs to be done.

An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound (or more!) of cure. Keep meds secure and out of reach.

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Wormy Horses

Horses suffer from many internal parasites that can cause weight loss, colic, anemia, and possibly death, and you may not even know they’re there. Silent but deadly can be said, appropriately. How heavy the parasite load is depends a lot on your pasture situation and feeding routines. Their life cycles may make us squeamish, but it's important to know how your horse gets exposed.

Strongyles (blood worms) and roundworms cycle from the horse’s digestive tract, to the ground, and then back to the horse’s GI tract when horses graze or nibble in areas where they have pooped. One pile can have thousands of eggs, just waiting to hatch into infective larva and start the cycle all over again. Bots are spread by a particular fly that lays eggs on your horse's haircoat. The horse licks its own hair, and ingests the larva, which attach to the stomach. Their larva look like grubs and impair digestion. Yuck. Pinworms can irritate your horse’s bottom, driving him to rub and rub.

Fortunately, there are lots of safe, easy and effective treatments available. Ask your vet what your horse needs most. You can do a LOT of good by keeping your horse dewormed as needed. Feed the horse, not the worms!

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HALLOWEEN TIPS
 
KEEP THE CANDY OUT OF REACH! Most pets are like toddlers when it comes to putting interesting things in their mouths! Changes in diet, or too much of anything can give them an upset stomach. Chocolate can be very dangerous! (poor them). Wrappers may go down right along with the goodies, and can cause obstructions or ulcers. They don't know any better; it's up to us to protect them.

Your dog may consider it his mission in life to guard his family, and may feel threatened or become overly excited by kids in costumes. Give your dog a break from guard duty by keeping him in a quiet, secure area. Black cats may be targeted by certain cruel people, so keep them in, too.
 

Our pets don't have a clue what Halloween is about, but if your pet has the right temperament for dressing up and making the rounds, be sure you keep his comfort in mind. Don't put anything on him that might be harmful if he licks or chews on it when you're not looking.

Have fun! Keep it safe for all.

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Heartworm News

What’s new with heartworms? Two things, actually. Treatment protocols have changed some as research continues in this very important medical care field. Premedications and scheduling stages of the treatment over a longer period of time minimizes the risk of adverse reactions in dogs. Although this adds some to the cost and number of trips to the vet required, the benefit to the patient makes these costs worthwhile.

Unfortunately, there is some evidence of parasite resistance to our heartworm preventatives in certain geographical areas of the country. There is a genetically different heartworm strain that may be causing problems. Research is ongoing to determine the extent of this issue, so keep your ears open to new developments. In the meantime, be vigilant and keep your dogs and cats on preventatives, as recommended by your vet, year-round without fail. That is the best you can do to protect them from these dangerous parasites. Have your dog tested AT LEAST once yearly (twice is better), so that an infection can be detected and treated before it causes heart disease. Periodic testing is also the best way we have to monitor whether our medications are effective, and whether heartworm resistance is becoming a problem in our area.

This isn't new, but it is very important. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy, and a good value. Dogs can be given an injectable form that lasts six months, or a monthly oral medication. Cats can have a topical preventative applied monthly. Whatever you do, do it regularly and you shouldn't have to worry about these parasites harming the health of your dear pet.

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Need to Re-Home Your Pet?
 
If it happens that you must find a new home for your pet (for whatever the reason), please do it carefully so that your pet can have the best chance possible of finding a caring home.

The best thing to do is ask friends and family who know your pet if they could give them a new home, or if they know of someone who might. Let your vet know your situation. Sometimes they can help solve a problem, or know of someone who is seeking a new pet. 

Check with area rescue groups or humane societies. Even if they are full, sometimes they have foster homes that can keep your pet until a permanent home can be found. County and city animal shelters also provide safe housing while hoping to match pets with new owners.

Don’t post an ad saying: “Free Dog/Cat/Horse”. This may attract people with throw-away attitudes, or possibly worse. Unfortunately, there are people who scout classifieds for free animals and acquire them for purposes like dog fighting or using them for bait.

The worst thing you could do would be to drop your pet off and hope for the best. Abandonment is against the law and cruel. In most cases, these animals get hit by a car, starve, succumb to parasites or disease, or are attacked by other animals. Ask for help if you need it. There are lots of resources available.

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Why Do I Need to Take My Cat to the Vets? 

My cat looks fine- why do I have to take it to the vets? Good question.

Just like with humans, many health issues cannot be detected with just a visual appraisal. Even if your kitty looks OK to you, there could be unseen problems that may be causing her discomfort or shorten her lifespan and you won't even know it. A physical exam and possibly bloodtests and other diagnostics may reveal serious yet treatable issues with your cat. Finding and treating these problems early can add years to your feline friend’s life.

In fact, a recent research project was done on 100 cats over six years old. All were in apparent good health, according to their owners. In this group, 72% of the cats had gingivitis, 41% had crystals in their urine, 29% had elevated kidney tests, 25% had high blood sugar, 14% had FIV virus, and 11% had heart murmurs. Other less common issues were also found. In addition, over half the cats’ body weights were not ideal, which can lead to other health problems.

Kitties need preventative medical care even if she's your only cat and stays inside. You never know when a stray kitten may turn up and melt you with its sad eyes. If you bring another cat into your home, you may be exposing your cat to all kinds of bad stuff. Also, your cat may get injured or become ill and need to stay at a veterinary hospital at some point in their life. Keeping your pet up to date on vaccinations and parasite control will protect her whatever circumstances come along, and give you one less worry.

Veterinarians are trained to help safeguard your pet’s health; make good use of them!

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LUMPS and BUMPS
Lumps and bumps on your pet- what are they? The possibilities are many and varied. Most masses and swellings on pets are not life threatening, but only your vet can say for sure. Factors to consider include the size, appearance, how quickly the bump appeared, whether or not it is inflamed or painful, or if there are any signs of trauma. Puncture wounds (especially bite wounds) are prone to infection and can abscess. They may need opening and draining; they will surely need antibiotics to treat infection. Growths may be malignant or benign, just like with humans. Appearance and history will give your vet a great deal of helpful information, but sometimes a biopsy is needed for diagnosis. Treatment will depend on what the mass is- some can be monitored; others need to be removed. If that is the case, the sooner the better, both in terms of ease of removal, and prognosis for recovery. "When in doubt, cut it out" is often the best approach. Ask your vet for help.

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HOOVES, CLAWS AND NAILS
 
Why is it important to pay attention to your pet’s nails? Read on: In nature, animals hunt, travel, and have to protect themselves. Their nails serve important roles in each of these functions. But, because the lifestyle of domesticated dogs, cats, and horses isn’t as demanding as their ancestors’, the nails may grow faster than they wear down. Overgrowth can be uncomfortable- much like wearing a shoe that has a very long toe! If the nail on a dog breaks on its own, it may break back too close and damage the quick. It may bleed, and be quite painful.

Horses need hoof care as well, to keep their feet healthy and balanced. Some need shoes, if their hooves are prone to split or break off too short. Farriers are hoof care experts, and all horses need their own farrier.

There are glue-on synthetic nail caps available for dogs and cats. They keep the nails from doing harm to furniture, flooring, and people! The caps do need to be replaced as nails grow out, so they are rather high maintenance.

Declawing is a permanent solution for cats who are destructive, but there is some debate on whether or not the procedure should be done. Ask about pros and cons; we can help you decide what's best for you and your cat.

Most cats will make use of a scratching post and take care of their own nails. Dogs, however, may need occasional trims to keep them at a proper and comfortable length. If you want to do this yourself, be careful to trim just up to but not into the quick. This can be difficult, especially with black nails, so you may want to have a professional do it for you. Your dog will appreciate it!

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STINKY SKUNKS

Skunks are not uncommon in our area. Outdoor pets may encounter a skunk and curiosity may compel them to check out these interesting creatures. The results may be disastrous! The musk that a skunk sprays in self-defense (up to 15 feet!) is a chemically complex mix that smells like a combination of rotten eggs, garlic, and burnt rubber. Horrible and memorable. It can irritate eyes and airways, and can damage red blood cells as well.

Ordinary soap and water will not remove the smell from your pet. Here’s a recipe that will:

Mix 1 qt. 3% hydrogen peroxide with ¼ cup baking soda and 1-2 tsp. dish washing liquid detergent. Work deep into the fur and allow to set for 5 minutes. Repeat if needed. Bathing with tomato juice can also cut the smell.

If your pet may have been bitten by the skunk, ask your vet about rabies. Skunks are often carriers of this fatal virus.

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DOG BITE PREVENTION WEEK

 May 19-25th is Dog Bite Prevention Week. Why? Because, although there are over 70 million good dogs, any dog can bite. Over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs yearly in the US, most of them children. They are more likely to be severely injured.

Help prevent bite injuries in children by teaching them to:
*Avoid unfamiliar dogs.
*Always ask an owner’s permission before petting their dog.
*Quietly walk away if they are confronted with an aggressive dog.
*Stand still if a dog goes after them, and “act like a tree” by standing quietly with their hands low and clasped in front of them and keep their head down as if looking at their feet.
*If they are knocked down, cover their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball.
*Don’t yell, run, hit, or make sudden movements toward the dog.
*Don’t bother a dog while it’s sleeping or eating.
*Be gentle and respect when they don’t want to play.
*Do not tease dogs by taking their food or toys, or pretend to hit or kick the dog.
*Parents- supervise!
Visit www.avma.org/public/Pages for lots more information on keeping safe and preventing dog bite injuries.

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A DOG'S WILL

“Before humans die, they write their last will and testament, and give their home and all they have to those they leave behind. If I could do the same, this is what I would ask:
To a poor and lonely stray, I’d give my happy home, my bowl, my cozy bed, and toys; the lap I loved and the hand that stroked me. I’d will to the sad, scared shelter dog the place I had in my human’s loving heart. So, when I die, please don’t say “I’ll never have a pet again, for the loss and pain is more difficult than I can stand’. Instead, go find an unloved dog, and give my place to him. This is the only thing I can give; the love I left behind.”

-Author Unknown

As hard as it is to lose a pet, please don't let the pain of loss overwhelm the memories of the years of companionship and unconditional love that your pet gave you during your time together. There are millions of unwanted dogs and cats that also would love to share your heart and home.  Get in touch with your local shelter or pet rescue group and share the love!
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ALCOHOL AND YOUR PET

No alcohol for pets! As cute or funny as it might seem to share your drink with your furry friend, please don’t. Animals are much like children in that they don’t know what’s good or bad for them. Some alcoholic drinks may taste attractive to pets, but they don’t have the awareness of consequences that humans (are supposed to) have! It’s no better to offer them a beer than it would be to offer a kindergartener one. Excess alcohol can be fatal in pets, also. Instead, find treats that are enjoyable and safe for your pet. Chew toys, frozen peas, carrots, and ice chips are good ideas. There are a zillion commercial treats for sale in pet stores; look for something made by a reputable US company. Avoid high fat treats if your pet has problems with weight control. Also avoid treats with lots of preservatives (like pig ears). The chemicals needed to keep them from decaying on store shelves can cause blow-out upset stomachs in some animals and that’s no fun for anyone. Don’t expect your pet to have a good sense of judgment when it comes to what they eat. That’s your job.

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SMELLY EARS?

Are your pet’s ears smelly? Tender? Does he shake his head and rub at his ears often? These are all signs of a possible ear infection. Your pet can’t talk, so you have to be able to read other signals. Any sign of discomfort means there’s a problem. Infections are usually a mix of germs (bacteria, fungal, or yeast), or parasites called ear mites. You’ll need to find out what’s causing the infection to treat it effectively; ask your vet for help. Treating with the wrong medication will waste your time and money and prolong your pet’s discomfort. Whatever you do, DON”T treat your pet’s ears with hydrogen peroxide! It can blow out an ear drum when it foams and expands inside the ear canal.
Most ear infections respond well to simple treatments. If not, your vet may need to culture the ear or do deep flushes under sedation. Whatever it takes, your pet will appreciate having a painful issue taken care of.

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TAPEWORMS- Yuck!

“Ewww! My dog is passing little crawly worms and it’s really gross”. If you’ve had this experience with your dog or your cat, what you likely saw were tapeworms. Don’t worry; just get some help from a vet. Tapeworms are parasites that pets acquire from fleas or from eating raw meat.

The tapeworm larva that is ingested travels to the GI tract and grows in the intestines by adding segments to its body. These segments are egg packets that break away, and pass in the stool. They may be seen around the pet’s bottom or on the stool itself. The segments appear to be crawling when freshly passed. After they dry up, they look like a piece of rice. If you see tapeworms, take your pet to your vet. The doctor will need your pet’s weight to correctly prescribe medication, and it’s good to check for other worms at the same time.

Treatment is a simple oral prescription medication. (You can’t buy it over the counter). Flea control and not allowing access to raw meat will prevent reinfection.

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TOXIN ALERT- Bromethalin

EPA decided to prohibit the use of anticoagulants for residential use. New rat poisons may contain a different ingredient called bromethalin, which was intended to be safer. The intentions behind this change were good, however, the consequences can be frightening. There is no lab test to detect bromethalin, symptoms progress rapidly, and there is no antidote. At least the anticoagulants were more easily detected and treated.

Bromethalin causes brain swelling, which leads to CNS stimulation or depression, abnormal behavior, incoordination, seizures and coma. Without a lab test to confirm the cause of symptoms, it is harder for a doctor to know that poisoning could be the cause if these symptoms are seen in a pet. The only treatment options are detoxification (inducing vomiting, and use of activated charcoal to bind the poison) and supportive care. Treatment must begin within hours to be effective.

BE CAREFUL what you put within reach of your pets and children! Curious little ones can get into more than you may realize. Read labels! If you suspect poisoning, call poison control and take your pet to a vet right away. Knowing what ingredients are present is essential, so take the container that held the suspected toxin with you. It will help your vet do the best job possible for your pet.

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NUTRITION AND YOUR PET

There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when it comes to pet foods, and proper nutrition is so very important for our pets!  A growing puppy or kitten’s needs are very different from a mature, adult animal, and these needs change yet again as pets age into senior status.  Kidney problems, food allergies, and other medical issues benefit from prescription formula diets.  

Read labels!  Look at: 

The relative percentages of protein, fats, carbs, and minerals. The life stage of your pet determines what is ideal in each category.  Needs change with age, and the nutrition experts have created tables that list the requirements for each component, as your pet grows from a puppy or kitten to an adult, and eventually a senior.

The SOURCE of the protein needs to be highly digestible, and is even more important than the percentage.  It’s been said that grinding up a leather shoe will give a seemingly good percent protein!  But, it’s poorly digested and of little use to your pet.  Remember- dogs and cats are carnivores and need meat.  Vegetables also provide other needed nutrients, and are good in the proper amounts; look for a good balance of both.

HOW MUCH of the food you will need to feed to maintain your pet, daily.  Foods with a lot of filler may be less costly, but if you have to feed more of it, your cost per day may be the same (or even more) as feeding a high quality food.  Not a good value.

This can get rather complicated, so it pays to buy a top quality ration from a company that has spent a lot of time researching, formulating for different life stages and special needs, and buying the best ingredients.  Cheaper is not better.  Buy from a source you trust.

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SCOOTING“

Why does my dog scoot his bottom on my carpet? It’s really bad manners and it grosses me out”. There can be several causes for this unpleasant behavior. Tapeworms release segments of egg packets inside a dog’s intestine, and when they pass, they can cause irritation around a dog’s bottom. Tapeworms come from fleas or from eating raw meat. Treatment is simple; ask your vet.

Also, dogs (and cats) have troublesome body parts called anal glands that can get impacted with debris and cause discomfort. Scooting may be your pet’s way of trying to relieve the pressure. Sometimes it works (and you will smell an awful odor!), but sometimes they need help. A pet health care expert can assist you if needed.

Fleas also can prompt a dog to scratch, anywhere, including their bottoms, so be sure to keep your pet on an effective flea control product. Next time your pet is doing the scoot, don’t fuss at him. Get help with finding and treating the reason and you (and your carpet) will all be better off!

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FIGHT WOUNDS 

Dogs will be dogs (and, cats will be cats for that matter), and that often includes fighting behaviors. Intact males and pets that roam are the most likely to get in fights, but any animal could be attacked by another if the situation permits.

Bite wounds can range from superficial scratches to life threatening deep wounds. Punctures can look insignificant, but are often more troublesome than open cuts. Bacteria, dirt and hair may become trapped under the skin when a small wound closes. Infection and abscesses result, and need to be opened and drained. Crushing injuries are often life threatening, and can be difficult to assess if bruising is delayed or hidden under fur.

If your pet has been in a fight, please seek medical care. And, be sure to keep your pets up to date on their Rabies vaccinations at all times. If not, you may have to quarantine your pet for six months and that is not fun for anyone.

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HOLIDAY TIPS 

    The  Holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with special meals, decorations, and activities!  Much of what we have in our home this time of year is attractive to our pets, so it's very important to keep an eye on them and prevent problems.  According to Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, policy holders spend more than $22.8 million treating medical conditions commonly associated with the holidays. 

   Most of the illnesses and injuries reported for claims are related to upset stomachs from eating “people food” and scraps, especially fatty foods like roasts, gravy, egg nog, etc., or holiday plants (lilies, hollies, and mistletoe), or drinking Christmas tree water.  Costs to treat averaged over $200 per pet.

   Foreign body ingestion may require surgery, and the average cost was $2400/pet.  Be sure to keep household decorations, small gifts, and bones out of reach!  Likewise, don’t allow your pet to eat chocolate or other caffeinated products. 

   Muuuuch easier to prevent than treat problems!

   Keep a close eye (always!) and enjoy a New Year filled with fun and good health for you and your family, including the furry ones!

 HOLIDAY TREAT RECIPES FOR YOUR PETS 

Want to make your pet some tasty treats for the holidays? Some human foods aren’t good for our pets, but this recipe is great- Peanut Butter Pumpkin Treats

2 ½ cups of whole-wheat flour

2 eggs 2/3 cup fresh or canned unsweetened pumpkin

2/3 cup peanut butter

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, cinnamon and salt together. Add up to ½ cup water as needed to make dough workable. Roll dough out ½ inch thick. Cut out with holiday cookie cutters.

Bake until hard, about 35-40 minutes. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

FISH AND CHICKEN COOKIES

1/2 cup cooked chopped chicken

5 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup warm water

1 egg

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. cod liver oil

1 cup wheat flour

1/4 cup soy flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine chicken, cheese, water, egg and oils.  Stir in flours.

Roll dough into 1/4-inch thick.  Cut out with small holiday cookie cutters.

Bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Purrrrfect!

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SAFE HOUSEHOLD PLANTS  
Many houseplants are toxic to pets. So what can you have indoors to safely provide your curious pet (especially cats) with greenery?  Here is the ASPCA's "Safe List":
*African violet   *Basil   *Begonia   *Chives   *Coriander   *Dill   *Forget-Me-Not   *Impatiens  *Mint   *Oregano   *Pansy   *Peppermint   *Sage   *Spider plant   *Thyme   *Zinnia
If you'd like to know more, check the ASPCA's website at www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/
 
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TRAVEL TIPS
Taking your pet on a vacation?  A little preparation will help make your trip trouble-free.
Be sure that the places you are staying are pet friendly.  Hotels normally make this information easily available.  If you're staying with friends or family, it's courteous to ask beforehand.  Some people have allergies; some may have bought new carpet recently, or, have any other number of reasons to ask that you make other arrangements.  Best to know ahead of time!  And, don't be offended.  Unfortunately (but realistically) not everyone loves our pets like we do. 
Be sure to pack your pet's regular diet and treats.  No one wants to have to deal with an upset stomach, and sometimes changes in diet can trigger problems.  Of course, if your pet is on medication, bring all that you will need for your trip, and some to spare just-in-case.  Having a copy of your pet's vaccination records is required in many circumstances, and always a good idea regardless.  Some veterinary clinics offer Pet ID cards, similar to a driver's license, with your pet's photo, shot records, and special notes.  Very handy.  Have your vet's contact info. with you as well in case you wind up at another vet's office and they need more detailed medical history.
If your pet isn't already microchipped, have that done before you go.  It will help insure that you get your beloved pal back, if you happen to become separated. A name tag with your contact info. on it will also help if the need arises.
Familiar bowls, leashes, toys, and bedding will help your pet feel "at home", wherever you go.  Pack them, too.  Keep your pet in a crate or on a leash.
Be sure your pet is flea and tick free!  You want to be welcomed back again!  Keep up the parasite protection so that you don't be carrying unwelcomed bugs.
Good manners will serve you and your pet well.  Teach basic social skills, like being QUIET, walking at heel, and sitting on command. 
Safe, fun travels!
 
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MOST POPULAR DOGS
The stats are in for Most Popular Dogs in the U.S., according to AKC, the nation's leading registrar of purebred dogs.  Labrador Retrievers remain in the Number One spot, and German Shepherds remain number 2, compared to the previous year.  Beagles booted out Yorkies for the #3 position, Golden Retrievers are #4, Yorkies are now #5, Bulldogs are #6, Boxers #7, Poodles #8, Dachshunds #9, and Rottweillers are #10.  Keep in mind this only represents dogs that were registered with AKC.  There are lots more mutts around than all the purebreds combined, but they are harder to tabulate. 
So which dog is your favorite?  Which would you choose to share your home with?  Do your research before getting your next dog.  An adoption is meant to last a lifetime, and everyone will be happier if the dog you choose is a good match for your lifestyle and family.  Knowing the purpose for which each breed was developed will tell you a lot about their personalities and needs.  For example, terriers were bred to chase vermin; they are high energy dogs!  Get advice from dog experts; they are always ready to help you make a good choice.  Don’t forget shelters and rescue groups- many, many great pets there need homes and will give you their hearts.
 
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PET SAFETY FOR A DOLLAR

What can save your pet's life, and may cost less than a dollar? A leash.

Letting pets run free puts them at risk of being injured by cars, among other things. Dogs and cats have no concept of the danger of approaching traffic. They are much like toddlers in this respect, and it's up to us to keep them from harm.

Roaming pets may encounter aggressive or territorial animals, and get beat up, or have to flee and get lost. Also, there are people out there who do not appreciate other people's pets in their yards, and they may do unfriendly things to trespassers.

Keeping your pet indoors, on a leash while exercising, or in a safe fenced enclosure can truly prolong his life.

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SPRING TIME AND POPULATION BOOMS

Spring will soon be here, and with it will come a wave of new litters of puppies and kittens. As much as we love them, the reality is that there are just not enough loving homes for all. What happens to those who don't get caring families of their own? Unfortunately, many are abandoned, or neglected, and wind up dying of disease, trauma, or starvation. Those who make it to animal shelters will at least be fed and housed until they are either adopted (the lucky few); most will be given a humane death.

Doom and gloom? Yes. Reality? Sadly, yes. What can you do? NEUTER YOUR PETS! This relatively simple surgery is a one-time investment in your pet's well-being, and every pet owner's responsibility. Please do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens.

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Overpopulation is as much a problem for our horses as for dogs and cats. There are just too many! Economic hardships and feed shortages have put many equines in dire straits. They are innocent.

There are many rescue groups who do excellent jobs of saving horses from inhumane situations. Most of them operate on shoe-string budgets and depend on donations to fund their efforts. If you know of horses that are starving, get in touch with someone who can help. If you can donate, please do.

If you are a horse owner, GELD your colts BEFORE they can reproduce! Keep your mares in secure fences, and do not even consider breeding them unless you have a ready market for the foal, or are willing to commit to a lifetime of care.

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DOG TRAINING TIPS & FUN

Teaching your dog to sit is more important than you may think!  For one thing, a dog that’s sitting cannot get into mischief!  Can’t chase the mailman and sit at the same time.

 Also, having your dog sit nicely for you before feeding her or giving treats and affection establishes you as your dog’s leader.  Your role as leader is vital for a healthy dog/owner relationship.

An easy way to teach a dog to sit is to hold a piece of her favorite treat between your fingers.  Get your dog’s attention by calling her name.  When she focuses on the treat, hold it a few inches over the top of her head, and move it slowly toward her rear end.  Almost always, a dog will fall into a sitting position as she looks up at the treat passing overhead.  As soon as she sits, give her the treat and praise her with “GOOD SIT!”. She’ll learn the word as you pair the command with her behavior, and give her the treat.

Need some ways to exercise your dog indoors?  Here are some fun games that will focus that energy:  Hide the Treat:  Put your dog in a sit/stay and let him watch.  Place 3-4 tubs upside down, and put a treat or toy under one of them.  Then say “Where’s the treat?” and encourage him to smell the buckets.  When he signals that he’s found the treat, uncover it so he can claim his reward.  When this gets too easy, try moving the buckets around or pretending to put treats under multiple buckets.   High energy dog?  Try throwing his favorite toy to the top of the stairs, and tell him to fetch.  Call him back to you, and have him “drop it”.  Repeat until tired!                                                                                                                Got dog toys all over your house?  Teach “Clean up” after playtime.  Have your dog pick up a toy.  Hold the toy box up to him and tell him to “drop it”.  GOOD DOG!!!  Repeat until he gets the idea, then put the toy box on the floor and guide him to it.  Say “drop it”, and praise the behaviors you want. 

WISDOM FOR DOG LOVERS
An anonymous but wise person wrote this, and it's worth sharing:
"It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my  heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a  piece of their heart.  If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." 
Remember- Never stop playing.  Wag more, growl less.  Be loyal and faithful.  Be quick to forgive, and love unconditionally. 
Sound like anyone you know?  Save a life- adopt a pet.
 
MORE WISDOM FOR PET LOVERS...
Be brave, no matter your size.  Take a nap.  Hide your favorite snack. 
Make your own funHave a mind of your own.  Unleash your talents. 
Learn new tricks, no matter what your age.  Dig lifeMake new friends. 
Sniff out opportunities.  Chase after your dreams.  When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
 
Cat Wisdom:  Don't do anything you don't want to do. 
 
 
SLEEPING WITH YOUR PET
 
Lots of people enjoy sleeping with their pets, and it's a great way to enjoy their companionship (and warmth on a chilly night!).  But, you will want to be sure that your pet does not have any skin issues or external parasites that could pass to you or your family. 
Most common are fleas.  Although they prefer a dog or cat, they may also bite humans and cause an itchy rash and discomfort.  This will surely make you more sympathetic toward your pet, and hopefully motivate you to get her on a good flea control program, for both your sakes!  As uncomfortable as it is to consider this, you also need to know that you can also get tapeworms, if a flea  happens to wind up in your mouth and gets swallowed. 
Sarcoptic mange mites cause extreme itchiness in both pets and humans.  The condition in humans is called Scabies.  Ringworm (a fungus) also can be spread from pets to humans with close contact.
Have your pet checked and treated by a vet so you can both sleep safe and sound.
 
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GETTING A NEW PET?  
Looking for a new puppy or kitten?  Congratulations in advance! 
The good thing about love is that it multiplies!
Ideally, go somewhere that you can see how the puppy or kitten was raised, and see both parents.  Those will be your best indicators of how your pet will turn out. Look for a home or kennel that is CLEAN, and has provided lots of handling and socializing, especially with kids. 
We are ALWAYS grateful to people who will make the effort to save a life by adopting from a shelter.  Although you sacrifice knowing the background on the animal, you can usually get some information from shelter staff on the nature of the dog or cat.  Look for one that is curious and happy.  They usually make the best pets. 
Buying from a pet store can be tempting, but you will be paying extra for their overhead, and won't have the benefit of knowing your pet's parents.  As with shelters, dogs and cats who have mixed with a large number of others are at higher risk of exposure to viruses, fleas, and other contagions. 
Whereever you get your new pet, be sure to take it to a vet right away.  Problems caught early can usually be treated easily.  If a problem is found that makes your acquisition a deal-breaker, the sooner you know, the better your chances of getting an exchange or refund. 
Let an expert help with your selection and care.  A good choice will add joy to your life! Several associations of cat experts have put together a list of adoption tips to help make your selection easier, and help you find a companion for many years to come.  These recommendations can be adapted to apply to puppies as well.
*Consider more than one cat.  Cats need exercise and social interaction.  Two cats can provide this for each other.  This is an especially good idea if you are away from home a lot.  Bringing the newbies home at the same time also makes the getting-to-know-each-other process a little easier, since neither has the home turf advantage yet.
*Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours.  Generally, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies tend to be more easygoing.  Cats with narrow heads, lean bodies, and short hair tend to be more active.  Adoption counselors can help you find a good match.
*Schedule a visit to the vets within the first few days of adoption.  Take any health records that are available.  Your vet will make sure there are no underlying illnesses or injuries.  Together you can develop a plan to help your new pet live the happiest, healthiest, longest life possible.
*Cat-proof your home.  A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out!  Food left on the kitchen counter will teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch.  Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, (especially electrical cords), and pick up random items like paper clips or sewing supplies.  Kittens may find them especially tempting.
*When adopting a new cat to join your existing pets, discuss with the adoption facility or your vet how to make proper introductions.  Everyone will be doing some adjusting to new sights, smells, and routines.
*Budget for both short-term and long-term costs.  A cat adopted from a shelter may be a bargain, considering that many shelters provide spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and microchipping.  But, your cat will need routine checkups, immunizations, and parasite control for its lifetime.  Be prepared for the routine expenses you will incur throughout the cat's life.
*Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives.  Try to create a homelike enviornment for your new cat right away.  You'll need a litter box, litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush, and nail clippers.
*Make sure everyone in the house is prepared for a new cat.  Visiting the shelter should be a family affair.  Everyone needs to be involved in the matching process.
Enjoy your new companion!  The company, entertainment, and love they provide will make your efforts worthwhile.
 
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OBESITY IN PETS COSTS MONEY!
 Fat pets cost owners millions, according to the National Pet Obesity Awareness study.  Their data shows that over half the dogs and cats (52 and 51% respectively) are overweight or obese (greater than 30% over normal body weight). 
 
These pets will be affected by weight-related diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney and heart disease.  Each of these diseases is costly to diagnose and treat, and takes years off the lives of our pets.  So, you're not really doing your begging pet any favors by giving in and over-feeding or over-treating them! 
 
There are lots of strategies to keeping your pet at a healthy weight.  But, no short cuts.  The goal is to feed to meet his or her caloric needs.  Any excess is converted to fat.  Feed a good quality, high fiber/low fat diet, and encourage exercise at every opportunity.  Walk your dog!  Throw a Frisbee!  Find toys your cat will chase, like peacock feathers or lazer lights. 
 
If your pet begs, be strong!!!  Put them in another room while you eat, or resolve to only give them lo cal treats.  Ice chips are excellent for this purpose; zero calories.  Frozen peas or baby carrots also can be fun for your pet without adding to a weight problem.  They can only eat what we give them; it's all up to you.
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LYME DISEASE AWARENESS  
 
There were over 500 cases of Lyme disease reported in dogs in Georgia between 2001 and 2009.  Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria with the scary name of Borrelia burgdorferi.  It's transmitted by ticks, and can also affect humans, dogs, horses, and, rarely, other species as well. 
 
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose since the majority of infected dogs don't show distinct symptoms.  The characteristic "bullseye" lesion that occurs in people is not commonly seen in dogs.  It may cause fever, lameness, and lethargy in the early stages, and then go on and cause kidney damage and failure as the germs cycle in the host's body.  
There is a fairly simple bloodtest available for dogs.  Antibiotics can control symptoms, but most dogs can never be 100% cleared of the infection.  Fortunately, there is a vaccine that is protective if given in advance of exposure.  Following routine guidelines for avoiding exposure to ticks (use repellents and topicals!) is always a smart thing to do.  If you do find a tick on your pet, remove promptly and properly.  Avoid contact with your own skin; grasp the tick close to the skin and remove intact.  Ask your vet about this potentially dangerous disease.
 
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WARM WEATHER/HEARTWORM REMINDER
As warmer weather approaches, it's a good time to be reminded about the threat of heartworms, and what you can do to keep your dog and cat safe from these potentially deadly parasites.  What does warm weather have to do with it?  Well, even though heartworms are a threat yearround, they are spread by mosquitoes.  As the mosquito population booms, so does the danger of heartworms. 
Good news:  there are 3 ways you can keep your dog protected.  Monthly heartworm tablets are an easy option if your pet is good about taking medications orally.  Most are flavored to taste like treats, and that's enough encouragement for most dogs.  If you don't want to deal with getting medication down your dog's throat, there are topicals that penetrate skin and are effective when applied monthly.  Have trouble remembering to do ANYthing on schedule?  You're in good company.  Never fear.  There is an injectable preventative called ProHeart 6 that protects dogs for 6 months at a time. 
Cat's also need to be protected, and there are topicals and tablets for them as well.  Get with your vet to see what will work best for you.  Keep 'em safe and heartworm free!
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HOMEMADE LIVER TREAT RECIPE 
Want to have some fun with your pet?  How about making some healthy treats at home?  Here's a recipe your pet might like:
Crispy Liver Morsels
1/2 cup cooked chicken livers
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cooked carrot, mashed
1 Tbsp soft margerine
Preheat oven to 325.  Blend livers with water.  Mix flour and margerine in a different bowl.  Add the liver mix and carrots.  Knead dough into a ball, roll out to 1/4" thick and cut into 1" sized pieces.  Place on greased cookie sheet and back for 10 minutes. 
 
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INTERESTING CASE:  Parasites in puppies & kittens
We are often asked to care for orphaned puppies and kittens, or help find homes for homeless pets.  We can't take in all the strays, but we do the best we can for a special few!  
Last week we were given a litter of 4 beautiful puppies (black and white bulldogs) that looked fat and healthy.  We dewormed them, as we routinely do, and an ASTOUNDING number of worms were passed over the next 24 hours.  It was truly hard to believe that a puppy that small could be carrying that volume of parasites inside and not show obvious problems on the outside.  It was a powerful reminder that no matter how good your puppy or kitten looks, they still need treatment for parasites that can be lurking inside and draining your pet of nutrients.  No doubt these puppies would have developed problems soon.  Things can  happen quickly with the little guys; they don't have much reserve.  We were glad to be able to prevent issues like anemia, dehydration and emaciation before they happened. 
We still have two happy, bouncy puppies that need Forever Homes!  Call if you would like to see them.  (229) 377-2060.

 HOLIDAY WEIGHT PROBLEMS?

Ate too much over the holidays?  Too much sitting and not enough exercise lately?  If you're feeling a few extra pounds, your pet may be, also.  So make the best resolution possible and get out and walk your dog!  He will love the time with you, as well as all the interesting scents and sights. 
If your cat is carrying too much poundage, you'll have to be a little more imaginative.  Most cats simply won't walk on a leash.  If you want to encourage your cat to move around more, try buying a laser light toy.  Many cats are intriguied by the red dot, and will chase it joyfully.  If your cat's not impressed with that, try putting the food bowl in different areas of the house on different days.  Make her hunt for it a bit.  If your plump kitty can jump even just a little, put her food bowl up some place where she'll have to work a bit to get to it. 
Don't forget all the excellent high fiber/low fat diets and treats that are now available.  They are an easy way to let your pet eat and feel full, while consuming fewer calories. 
Obesity is just as bad for our pets as it is for us, so find a way to shed a few pounds that best suits the both of you.  You'll feel much better! 

 

HOW OLD IS MY PET IN "PEOPLE" YEARS?

We are often asked this question.  A long-held formula for dogs & cats was 1 dog/cat year = 7 human years.  This is pretty close, but since dogs and cats mature and can reproduce very quickly, their first year really counts for a lot more than 7 human years.  Plus, with dogs, the smaller the breed (generally speaking), the longer the life expectancy.  Which is really sad for giant breeds.  Some don't survive it much beyond 7-8 years.
Here are some specific and accurate formulas for figuring your companion's age in "people years":  (don't be afraid of the math!)
Dogs:  Age of dog X [(0.024 X weight of dog) + 5.4] 
Cats:  (age of cat + 1) X 5
Horses:  age of horse X 3.5
Care for your pet all the years that you share, and you will be amply rewarded.
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HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS
Hurricane season is here, and it is important to be prepared for your pet's needs (as well as your own) ahead of time.  Have a plan!  And, a Plan B!  And, Plan C!  No two disasters are the same. 
For your pet, be sure to have ample food for at LEAST 3 days; two weeks is even better.  If your pet eats canned food, keep a manual can opener handy.  Have at least 2 weeks of prescription medications if your pet is on any.  For water, figure a person needs 2-3 gal/day; a dog- 1-3 gallons, and horses need 20-30 gallons per day. 
Have copies of health records (in plastic sleeves) in case you have to board your pet someplace other than at your regular vet's office.  Have photos of your pets as well, in case you get separated.   Microchip your pet ahead of time!!!   Be sure ID tags with your phone numbers are on collars, and collars are on the pets.  You can have dog ID tags made and attached to horse halters as well.  Have crates, leashes, and halters handy and ready to use.  A first aid kit with bandage supplies is a very good idea.
Have several places in mind where you can keep your pets if you have to evacuate, including horses. 
Be prepared!  Stay safe.
 
PET LOSS
Losing a beloved pet can be a very, very hard thing to do. But when a chronic illness causes bad days to outnumber good days, or when a severe injury or illness has no foreseeable good outcome, sometimes letting go is the kindest thing you can do for your pet.

The grief that can follow is very real, and may be more than you feel you can deal with on your own. If so, there are many resources that you can draw on for help. Your veterinarian is your first line for medical care and advice on what can be done to prolong your pet's comfortable time, and how to make the decision when that time is nearing its end. Likewise, there are trained Pet Loss counselors that your vet can refer you to if you need another shoulder. The Web has opened up tons of additional resources as well. WWW.veterinarywisdomforpetparents.com is one of many sites that can give you support when you most need it. WWW.griefhealing.com is another. Try to keep in mind that the grief of loss is the price we pay for loving our pets. Eventually, it will take perspective alongside the good times that you enjoyed during your pet's lifetime. Don't hesitate to ask for help with this process if you need it. There are lots of people who care.
 
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ITCHY PETS?
Itchy dog?  Itchy cat?  Driving you nuts?  Imagine how they feel! 
There are lots of reasons why pets scratch.  Fleas & allergies are at the top of the list, as well as dry skin and environmental irritants (like insulation, etc.).  It can take some detective work to figure out why your furry friend is scratching.  Fleas are easy to diagnose and treat.  Allergies- not so easy.  Pets can be allergic to nearly any foreign proteins, whether they be from dietary sources or the environment.  Pets are often allergic to a multitude of things, even things (including foods) that they were not sensitive to when younger. 
It's important to figure what is causing the problem.  Your vet can often make a diagnosis from an exam- patterns of itchiness can indicate various types of allergies.   Allergy testing is also available, and very valuable.  If you can remove the things that trigger the allergies, you can provide huge relief.  Food allergies respond well to special diets.  There are other options for other types of allergies..  Ask your vet to help you and your pet;  it's what we do!
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
The Number One New Year's Resolution is to lose weight- why not do it in a fun and energizing way by spending some time every day walking your dog?  It has been shown that dog walkers tend to stay with a weight reduction program and lose weight more consistently than people who try dieting alone.  Not only is it good for you, it's good for your dog, too.  And, the benefits aren't limited to just the physical exercise.  Keeping your dog active and stimulated will make him a happier pet, and even improve his behavior at home, not to mention the bonding you will both enjoy by spending time together. 
Just as it does for you, regular exercise will impact your dog's health in many ways, benefitting his muscles, bones, digestion, heart and lungs, and general attitude.  If you've both been couch potatoes, it's important to start slow and add more time and distance as you both become conditioned.  Try changing your pace and direction occasionally to keep things interesting. 
Be sure to keep your dog on a leash.  If your dog doesn't walk on a leash yet, consider getting some training; it will pay off in many ways!
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GRASS EATING IN PETS
Why do pets eat grass?  An extensive survey was done to find the answer to this frequently asked question.  Possible reasons that have been suggested are dietary deficiency, curiosity, illness, or to induce vomiting.  This survey, which included vet students and over 3000 pet owners, showed that most dogs eat grass or other plants on a daily or weekly basis.  Only a small percent of these dogs (8%) had any signs of illness beforehand, or vomited after eating the plants.  The researchers concluded that grass eating is a common behavior in normal dogs unrelated to illness and that dogs do not regularly vomit afterward.  Vomiting seems to be incidental to, rather than caused by, plant eating.
What about cats?  Cats don't seem to eat plants or grass as often as dogs do. Typically, they are not ill beforehand, nor do they regularly vomit afterward.  The conclusion regarding plant eating as a normal behavior seems to apply equally to cats.
Our pets eat formulated diets that should meet all their nutritional needs, but their ancestors ate a variety of foods in the wild.  Likely, the behavior is a carry over from these ingrained behaviors.
So, don't worry if your pet grazes occasionally.  Just be sure they do not consume plants that have been chemically treated, or are toxic. 
 
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COOL WEATHER AND DRY SKIN 
 Finally, cooler weather!  Heaters are on, and the air is dryer.  The lower humidity can bring out a problem with dry skin that may not be evident during warmer weather.  Or, if skin is already dry, it gets worse this time of year. 
 
Dry skin usually means itchy skin.  If the itchiness is bad enough, your pet may even traumatize herself by scratching excessively.  So if you notice flakes (like dandruff) or see your pet scratching (and you've eliminated the possibility of fleas), then there are some simple things you can do to help.  Treat from the outside with moisturizing shampoos and sprays.  (Most flea shampoos are heavy on detergent and can be drying, so be sure to get a shampoo formulated for  dry skin). 
 
Additionally, there are several vitamin/fatty acid supplements that will improve the health of your pet's skin from the inside out.  Look for products that have omega fatty acids and zinc in particular.  They come in both tablet and liquid forms and most dogs and cats like the flavors.  There are also diets formulated for sensitive skin; most  have extra fats and oils built into their recipe.    
 

SMELLY PETS? 

Smelly cat?  Stinky dog?  Your pet doesn't understand when we push them away because they smell bad!  It important to find the source of any bad odors.  Each potential source has it's own remedy.  If you can't find the cause yourself, take your pet to your vet and ask for an exam. 
 
Ear infections can be particularly smelly, and are painful, too.  They definitely need appropriate medical treatment.
 
A mouth full of gum disease or decayed teeth can also create a terrible smell.  Dental care will make a big difference; not just to help with odors, but for the health of your pet.  Oral infections can spread internally and cause other, serious problems.  There may be a foreign bodies stuck in your pet's mouth.  Sticks can become wedged in the roof of the mouth and will create an AWFUL smell.  
 
House soiling odors can be troublesome, too.  Be sure to clean thoroughly, and use an enzymatic odor neutralizer for lasting effects. 
 
Having pets does not mean having to give up fresh & clean!  Ask for help if you need it.
 
ZOONOTIC DISEASES 
   What the heck are zoonotic diseases? It may be an odd name, but they are very important to know about. Zoonotic diseases are illnesses that can affect both animals and humans. Of particular interest are parasites that can pass from our pets to us, but there are also many zoonotic bacterial and viral diseases as well.

   Roundworms and hookworms are very common in our pets (especially puppies and kittens), and will cause sickness and possibly death if not treated. When a pet is infected, the worms pass eggs by the thousands in the pet's stool, which contaminate the environment. The larva from these eggs can migrate through the skin and the body, causing blindness, cysts in various organs, or skin lesions. Children are especially prone to exposure, since they often play in areas where pets may have eliminated, and children do not always wash their hands well!

   To minimize your family's risk of disease from zoonotic parasites, be sure to have your pets tested and treated appropriately and often. Keep your yard clean, and always wash hands before putting anything in your mouth. 
  Giardia is another zoonotic disease.  This organism likes to live in standing water, such as puddles that accumulate around drains. Humans and animals can be infected when they drink contaminated water, or when they put something in the mouth that has come in contact with stool containing Giardia. Diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea can result. Not fun.

If your pet develops these symptoms, your veterinarian will need to run tests to determine the cause, since a multitude of things can cause upset stomachs. If Giardia is the culprit, it is fairly easy to treat, with the right medication.

As always, prevention is far better than enduring illness and making a trip to the vets! (or to your doctor if you think you may be affected). Be careful what goes in the mouth; don't let pets drink from stagnant water, and wash your hands! 
Toxoplasmosis is another parasite that can affect both humans and animals.  Cats are the main host, and may have a variety of symptoms, depending on which organs are affected, or they may show no symptoms at all.  Cats become infected by eating raw or undercooked meat.  Hunters are especially at risk.
An infected cat can shed eggs from the Toxoplasmosis parasite in its stool.  These eggs are infectious to humans as well as other animals.  If a pregnant woman is exposed, this parasite can cause brain damage, blindness, or death in the unborn child.  Healthy adults who become exposed may have flu-like sypmtoms that pass with time, but if the person is immune suppressed (such as an AIDS patient) they can become very ill. 
Prevention:  don't eat or let you cat eat raw meat in the first place.  Use good hygience by washing hands and food before eating.  Cover children's sand boxes so cats cannot use them to eliminate.  Clean litter boxes daily (eggs require at least 24 hours before they become infectious), use gloves, and don't let pregnant women clean litterboxes at all. 

 
SUMMERTIME TIPS
 Summer's a great time to travel and get outdoors with your pet. A few things to be vigilant of, as the weather gets hotter, are sun exposure and the possibility of overheating.

You may not think about it, but many pets are prone to sunburn and the risk of skin cancer just like people. Particularly, pets with white or pink skin in areas that do not have a lot of hair. For example, the ears on white cats, pink noses on dogs, and even horses who have white faces (especially around the eyes). It's hard to be consistent with applying sunscreen, but a good idea to try, at least on days when you expect to have your pet in bright sun for prolonged periods. There are trendy goggles and visors made for pets that are both cute and helpful with preventing sun exposure to sensitive areas. Fly masks are made for horses and they also screen out bright sunshine at the same time. Keeping your pet in the shade during the middle of the day is best.

It's been said many times, but worth saying again- do NOT leave your pet enclosed in your car in hot (or even warm) weather!!! Even if you will "only be gone a minute"! A car's interior heats quickly, and your pet cannot let itself out, or turn on the A/C! Leave your pet at home when running errands.
 
UNWANTED HORSES
Costs of everything, including maintaining a horse, seem to keep going up, yet many people's economic situation is declining.  The result is that there are more and more horses being sadly neglected, and even starving.  So what happens to these horses?  That's a good question with no good answer. 
NOBODY wants to think about horses being slaughtered!  Americans consider horses beautiful animals, our companions, and part of our heritage!  But reality can be hard and difficult to deal with.  Most unwanted horses go to sales.  In the past, many eventually wound up at meat processing plants, which were under the watchful eye of the USDA.  But two years ago, laws were passed that closed all the processing plants in the US.  Now, horses are being shipped by the thousands to Mexico and Canada, where we have no control.    
So what can we do?  As always, preventing a problem is far better than trying to clean up a problem, especially one like this.  Breeding horses should be limited to only breeding the best to the best, which will produce foals with a ready market.  Everyone with a backyard mare and a stud horse down the road should NOT breed!!!  Geld those colts and keep fences secure so that breeding accidents won't happen.  Don't acquire more horses than you can care for, longterm.  If you do have extra room and resources, make it known to people who do rescue work; they can always use help, and there are many, many horses in need of caring homes.
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FEEDING BONES TO YOUR PET 
 Many people want to feed bones to their pets.  It would seem to make sense that if their ancestors hunted and ate their prey (bones and all), feeding bones to pets   shouldn't be a problem.  But, in fact, it can be a big problem.  The bones most people feed their pets are leftovers, and have been cooked.  Cooking makes bones more brittle, and some are very prone to break into sharp pieces when chewed.   Anything like this that your pet ingests can puncture the tissue of their digestive tract and cause peritonitis, which is almost always fatal.  Like any foreign body, bones can also get stuck and cause obstructions, which can also be life-threatening.
  If you find that your dog or cat has eaten a bone or anything sharp before you could intervene, there are a few things you can do to help prevent an emergency.  Feeding something that can coat the bone and help it pass through the GI tract smoothly will help.  The best trick is to soak cotton balls in flavorful juice or canned food- when the dog swallows the cotton/food mix, the fibers will (hopefully) wrap around the bone and cushion its passage.  Feeding raw biscuit dough can help in the same way.  If you have ANY doubt about your pet's safety, see your vet right away. 
 
SMOKING AND YOUR PET  
   OK; no lectures about the harm you are doing to yourself if you smoke.  But you need to know what it can also be doing to your pets.  A study at Colorado State University showed that second hand smoke can cause cancer in your pet's respiratory tract.  Interestingly, dogs with long noses were twice as likely to develop cancer in their sinuses, and dogs with medium or shorter noses were more likely to get cancer in their lungs.  Both forms are BAD. 
 
   A necropsy done here, on a magnificent dog who seemed healthy but died suddenly, revealed heavy carbon buildup in his lungs.  He belonged to a man who smoked, and often took the dog with him in his car.  The repeated exposure to smoke caused serious disease in this wonderful dog and caused his demise.
 
   A University of Minnesota study showed that cats who live with smokers have nicotine and other toxins in their urine.  Another vet school study showed a connection between secondhand smoke and a form of invasive mouth cancer in cats, called squamous cell carcinoma.  Likewise, cats who are exposed to smoke are twice as likely to develop lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. 
 
   You choose whether or not to smoke, but your pet cannot choose whether or not he or she has to breathe your smoky air.  We owe it to our pets to care for them, and above all, do no harm.  
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