Stop Killing Animals, Spay & Neuter Your Pets

spay pets

Why spay and neuter pets?

Spaying or neutering your pet is the right thing to do. There are both medical and behavioral benefits to spaying (female pets) and neutering (male pets).

Spaying and neutering has a number of benefits for your pet and our city:     

Having a large litter can lead a pet owner to need to give away puppies and kittens. Unaltered pets have an increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars and other accidents. They can easily end up hurt or in an animal shelter. 13,337 stray pets ended up in Austin’s shelters in 2015.

Though Austin’s shelters do not euthanize pets (our city earned the title of the “largest no-kill city in America”), we all share the goal of reducing the number of homeless pets, which can cause overcrowding and strains the shelters’ resources.

Spaying and neutering curbs bad pet behavior early:

An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house. Male dogs who have been neutered may be less likely to roam away from home.

Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking (lifting his leg and peeing all over the place) than neutered dogs. Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too.

Your spayed female pet won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season starting at about six months of age. In an effort to advertise for mates, they yowl and urinate more frequently (and everywhere).

Spaying/neutering solves an estimated 90 percent of all marking issues, even in pets that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and males fighting with other males. In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you may run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.

Spaying and neutering improves your pet’s health and longevity:

Altered pets have reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a greater chance of developing pyometra, a fatal uterine infection, uterine cancer, and other cancers of the reproductive system and mammary glands. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Neutering your male pet prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Spaying/neutering keeps your pet healthier and saves on the cost of pet care.

Myths about spaying or neutering and pet behavior:

Like with humans, a lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to gain weight, not neutering. 

Neutering is not as a “quick fix” for all behavior problems. Although neutering your pet often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone, there’s no guarantee that your male dog’s behavior will change once he’s neutered. The effects of neutering are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology and history.

When should you spay or neuter your pet?

  • Healthy puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered. Prior to age six months is commonly recommended.
  • Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of postoperative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight or dogs that have health problems.
  • Kittens as young as eight weeks old are often spayed or neutered. (In some animal shelters, this surgery is often performed at this time so that kittens can be sterilized prior to adoption.) In an effort to avoid the start of urine spraying and eliminate the chance for pregnancy, it’s advisable to schedule the surgery before your cat reaches five months of age. It’s possible to spay a female cat while she’s in heat.

Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best time to spay or neuter your pet. Your vet team will provide pre-surgical advice that you should follow, including feeding schedules. They also provide post-operative instructions for you to follow. Although your pet may experience some discomfort after surgery, your veterinarian can take various measures to control pain.

ZippiVet provides affordable spay/neuter services and microchipping to identify your pet in case they stray from home. We are open seven days a week. Book an appointment for your kitten or puppy today.

The Puppy Killer You Need To Know About: Parvo

parvo in puppies

Like little humans, puppies are vulnerable to a number of contagious diseases and viruses since their immune systems are not yet fully developed. If you’ve got a new pup or even an older dog from an animal shelter or a friend, you need to protect your new pet from the potentially deadly canine parvovirus.

What is Parvo?

The deadly canine parvovirus is commonly referred to as parvo or “CPV-2” by veterinarians. Once it is contracted, parvo is a very contagious virus that can affect all dogs. Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are the most at risk for Parvo. The virus most often affects the lymph nodes, blood stream and small intestines of dogs. Some also see an affected heart. It can be fatal if not noticed or treated quickly.

How Does a Dog Get Parvo?

The virus enters the body through the mouth as a puppy or dog cleans itself or eats food off the ground or floor. A minuscule amount of infected feces (stool) is all it takes.

Parvo is typically spread directly from dog to dog, but contact with contaminated stool, environments, or people can also spread the disease. Once infected, a dog with parvo may contaminate food, water bowls, collars, and leashes – as well as a dog’s bedding or crate. Once a dog or puppy is infected, there is an incubation period of three to seven days before the onset of first symptoms.

Pet owners can get parvo infections through their hands, clothing and shoes if they touch infected dogs and their stools. The parvovirus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity,  and drying and can survive in the environment for long periods of time.

Signs that Your Dog May Have Parvo

Dogs that develop parvo will show symptoms three to 10 days after being exposed. Symptoms include: vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea (usually bloody) and fever. The gastrointestinal tract is where the heaviest damage occurs.

Parvoviral infections are characterized by a drop in white blood cell count due to a bone marrow infection. The dog’s diarrhea may become bloody and bacteria can enter the body, causing widespread infection, as the virus destroys the bone marrow’s ability to create infection-fighting white blood cells.

“Early recognition of the signs of parvo by pet owners, followed by a quick diagnosis and an aggressive treatment plan at the vet can boost survival rates to 90%,” Dr. Audrey Wystrach said.

If your puppy or dog shows any signs of parvo, see your veterinarian immediately.

A parvovirus infection is diagnosed based on a dog’s history, a physical examination, and laboratory tests. Common lab tests include the ELISA, PCR and complete blood count evaluation. Each test provides slightly different information, and sometimes more than one type of test may be done by your vet.

What Types of Dogs are Vulnerable to Parvo?

Parvo most often strikes in pups between six and 20 weeks old, but older dogs are sometimes also affected if they have not been vaccinated. (A rare variant of the disease may be seen in very young (neonatal) puppies is myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle).

Parvo first emerged among dogs in Europe around 1976. By 1978 the virus had spread unchecked, causing a worldwide epidemic of myocarditis and inflammation in the intestines.

We now know that the virus is not limited to companion dogs, but is capable of causing infections in wild canines such as coyotes and wolves.

How Do I Prevent Parvo in My Dog?

Until a puppy has received its complete series of shots, pet owners should use caution when bringing their pet to places where young puppies congregate (e.g. parks, puppy classes, doggy daycare, boarding kennels, and groomers).

Vaccination against CPV-2 and good hygiene are how best to prevent the disease. Young puppies, (like human babies) are most susceptible to infection, particularly because the natural immunity provided in their mother’s milk may wear off before the puppy’s own immune system is mature enough to fight off infection. If a puppy is exposed to canine parvovirus during this gap in protection, they may become ill.

To provide the best protection against parvovirus during the first few months of life, a series of puppy vaccinations are administered by your vet:

  • Veterinarians typically administer the parvo shot as part of a combination vaccine, which often includes the distemper, canine adenovirus, and parainfluenza vaccines. These shots are given every three to four weeks from the time a puppy is six weeks old until they are at least 16 weeks of age.
  • If you do not have an early shot record for your pet, bring in your puppy to receive a dose of canine parvovirus vaccine between 14 and 16 weeks of age to develop adequate virus protection.
  • Booster vaccinations are recommended one year later, and then again at three year intervals for the life of your dog.
  • To protect all adult dogs, pet owners should be sure that their dog’s parvovirus vaccination is always up-to-date.

What is the Treatment for Parvo?

Intensive care treatment is given by a veterinarian to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte, protein and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections. Sick dogs are kept warm and receive nursing care at the vet hospital or clinic. Since parvovirus is highly contagious, any infected dog is isolated to minimize the spread of infection.

Proper cleaning and disinfection of contaminated bedding, crate, kennel and other areas where infected dogs are housed is essential to control the spread of parvo. Your veterinarian will provide specific guidance on cleaning and disinfecting agents for your home.
Have a new puppy or a dog who is new to you? Now is a perfect time to come in for a checkup and vaccines, including for canine parvovirus. We make it easy to schedule an appointment to be sure your dog is healthy and happy this summer!

Free Ways To Save Your Furniture From Cats

cat enrichment

It’s a known fact that cats are natural hunters and like to be active. Cats typically do not run or fetch as much as dogs, but a busy cat is a happy cat. Bored cats can get into your stuff, scratch up your furniture and just generally cause a big mess. To keep your cat healthy, keep it entertained and out of trouble when it’s home alone.

Why Do Cats Need Enrichment and Stimulation?

By nature, cats have finely-tuned senses and agile bodies:

  • A cat’s ears can move independently and hear sounds that a human’s cannot.
  • They have binocular vision and the ability to see in what we think of as total darkness.
  • Cats can detect odors that people never smell.
  • Healthy cats can jump five-to-seven times their own height and can often be seen walking on their tiptoes to be both stealth and speedy.

Indoor cats were not meant to be sedentary and eat mountains of food. Cats were born to move. They crave entertainment (and most do not enjoy movies, TV and live music like their human companions). Remember, cats are hunters and even the laziest housecat won’t lose those natural instincts.

Bad Things Can Happen When Cats are Bored and Home Alone

A boring environment can contribute to problems such as destructive behavior (e.g. scratching the furniture and/or eating plants), intercat aggression, anxiety and even depression in cats.

When they are under-stimulated, cats may develop a number of stress-relieving behaviors:

  • Chewing inappropriate items
  • Picking on companion pets
  • Retreating into isolation
  • Overeating or losing their appetite.

What Can You Do to Entertain a Cat?

Fortunately for cat owners, it’s pretty easy and cheap to keep a cat stimulated. You’ve probably got plenty of free cat enrichment toys laying around the house.

Boxes you already have handy:

  • Empty boxes are beloved by cats: from shoe boxes up to larger shipping boxes, let them explore, hide in and sleep in them.
  • Cut holes into empty pizza boxes and insert cat treats in to make a fun toy.

Paper items:

  • Scrap paper or aluminum foil can be made into a ball the size of a golf ball. Some cats enjoy chasing and putting these balls into various boxes to play with. Try putting one in a dry bathtub to chase around.
  • Cats like paper grocery bags. Leave one or two open on the floor, and they’ll have fun searching them and running in and out to investigate and hide in. (Remember to remove the handles so your cat doesn’t get caught in them. Don’t use plastic grocery bags, they are a suffocation hazard.)
  • Paper towel rolls, even with some paper left on them can keep your cat from getting into trouble.

Plastic playthings:

  • Plastic tubs and milk crates give your cat both a jungle gym and a retreat spot.
  • Balls made of plastic like ping-pong balls and practice golf balls are entertaining for cats.
  • Save the plastic milk caps for your cat to bat around as well.

Scratching posts and pads:

  • Carpet remnants are an inexpensive way to keep your cat from clawing up furniture. Place remnants near the furniture they target and sprinkle a little catnip on the carpet to ensure your cat’s attention.

Items that aren’t safe for cats include the following:

  • String, yarn, ribbon and dental floss.
  • Paper clips.
  • Pins and needles.
  • Rubber bands.
  • Plastic bags and those from the dry cleaner.

During the the long, hot days of summer, keep your cat well entertained, safe and hydrated with a bowl of fresh water at all times. Use a cat feeder if you will be gone for many hours. We make it easy to schedule an appointment to be sure your cat is ready to enjoy an Austin summer!

Why 4th of July Is Your Pet’s Worst Nightmare

pet fireworks

It’s a known fact that many dogs and cats cannot get into the spirit of Fourth of July, America’s Independence Day.  Common reactions pets may have to loud noises include: trembling, vocalizing (barking, howling, meowing), whimpering, panting, drooling, constantly seeking your attention (or protection) and/or attempting to run away or escape from the noise.

Each year hundreds of dogs are lost as they run away due to the scary sounds of explosives. During July 2015, the Austin Animal Shelter took in 1,214 stray pets.

What Can Pet Owners Do to Prepare for the Fourth of July?

Make sure your dog is wearing an I.D. tag with a properly fitting collar as you start the holiday weekend.

Plan to keep your pet inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship and air conditioning. Outdoor time during the Fourth of July or bringing your dogs to a fireworks display is never a good idea.

If your pet is easily frightened by loud noises and spent a fair number of hours hiding during our recent spring thunderstorms, fireworks might set them off again. Some pet owners see a noticeable level of comfort when their pet wears a tight-fitting piece of clothing.

  • Snug-fitting shirts target various pressure points, creating a sensation similar to swaddling a baby. It is a viable, drug-free option for dogs that suffer from fear of loud noises of fireworks, thunder (thus the brand name “Thundershirt”), separation anxiety and/or travel anxiety. Anxiety Wrap is another similar solution recommended by pet owners.
  • Try on any pet clothing a few times before the loudest firecrackers can be heard.

Fourth of July Game Plan for Your Pet

Make sure your dog gets exercise earlier in the day on the holiday. That’s good advice all summer-long. It keeps your dog cooler and can help protect against heat stroke.

Provide a safe place inside for your pets to retreat. When scared of sounds, pets can’t relax. Most dogs often prefer small enclosed areas. If your dog is comfortable in a crate, that is a good option. 

Removing visual stimulation can also help calm pets. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed. Covering their crate or lowering the blinds can also be helpful.

Leave your pet something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with the dog’s favorite treats or a new, tasty bone or catnip.

Sound therapy can help. Psychoacoustically designed music of Through a Dog’s Ear has been specifically designed to reduce canine anxiety and has been recommended by dog owners. It may most effective when you first play the music well before the fireworks start, at a time the dog is already feeling peaceful and relaxed.

  • Your dog will begin to associate the music with being calm and content.
  • Play the music a couple of hours before the fireworks start and continue to play through bedtime.

Bottom line – keep your pet inside your home and safe from harm when fireworks are in the sky.  

As the holiday weekend approaches, it’s the perfect time to come in for a checkup – particularly if you have a pet that’s susceptible to stress or anxiety. Zippivet also offers preventative care, including microchipping should your dog stray. We make it easy to schedule an appointment to be sure your pet is ready to enjoy the weekend! We are open Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and will be closed on Monday, July 4th for the holiday.