Cats can be anxious and nervous pets. Separation or changes to daily routines and family life can put a lot of stress on your cat, and this stress can manifest in some destructive, annoying behaviors. Eliminating the cause of the stress and helping your cat handle the situation are the keys to relieving their anxiety. We’ve got some veterinarian approved tips for alleviating your cat’s anxiety (and, hopefully, your own).
What is cat anxiety?
Like humans, cats can become stressed and anxious, often due to a psychological struggle. Similar to human anxiety, without any intervention for anxiety, your cat’s immune system can become compromised, he or she may become depressed or develop “bad-kitty” behavioral problems.
The most common situations that can cause your cat to become anxious include separation from you or the addition of a new family member into the household such as a child, pet or a new partner/spouse.
What are the symptoms of cat anxiety?
Cats show signs of anxiety in a number of ways.
Potential signs of anxiety to observe in your cat may include the following:
- Health changes
- Changes in their appetite or weight
- Excessive vocalizing (meowing or crying at inappropriate times of the night or day)
- Urinating outside of their litter box
- New compulsive behaviors (i.e. excessive grooming)
- New destructive behaviors (i.e. furniture scratching)
If you notice your cat exhibiting these behaviors, consider if any recent changes could be contributing to stress and anxiety.
Why do cats get anxiety?
Cats experience anxiety because of psychological, physical and environmental stressors. Without your intervention, their stress can have detrimental affects on your home, your family, and your cat’s overall health. Determining the root cause of your cat’s anxiety can be challenging, so begin by evaluating their environment and daily life. Some things to consider:
- In your household has there been a loss or addition of family member or pet?
- Has there been recent separation from a family member?
- Recently, have they had minimal play or exercise? Is your cat experiencing boredom?
- Are there any new causes of fear that could have sparked their anxiety, such as loud noises, other pets or humans?
- How have they been eating? Might your cat be having less-than-adequate nutrition?
- Is your cat otherwise healthy or are they experiencing any pain or discomfort?
How can I make my cat less anxious?
Focus your efforts on minimizing the stress and anxiety in your cat’s life. Consider their entertainment and adding enriching activities. We’ve got plenty of free cat enrichment ideas! Exercise your cat with lots of playtime and give your cat more emotional support with cuddling and petting. Providing high-quality, nutritious cat food, fresh water, and a comfortable bed for your cat gives them security in a time of stress.
Like humans, some cats are naturally prone to stress and some may have serious struggles with past traumas. These cats may need the assistance of a veterinarian with training in behavioral issues and/or anti-anxiety medications prescribed by a veterinarian.
Is there cat anxiety medication?
If your cat is showing one or more signs of stress and anxiety, see your veterinarian to rule out any medical problems. If your cat is physically healthy, they will help you with ways to treat the stress specifically. The doctor may diagnose the particular type of disorder that your cat suffers from and come up with a behavior-modification plan best suited for your cat. In some cases, the vet may prescribe pet medications:
- Amitriptyline, Clomicalm (clomipramine), or fluoxetine is used to increase the effectiveness of behavior modification that your vet prescribes.
- If a cat’s anxiety is limited to particular events (like travel by car or fireworks displays), a short term sedative such as Alprazolam, prescribed by your vet, should be given a few hours before the next event.
Cat Friendly Practices๏ Can Help Reduce Stress
A trip to the veterinarian can be stressful for both you and your cat, including the just getting them into the pet carrier for the car ride to the the pet hospital. Cat Friendly Practices try to alleviate some of that burden.
Cat Friendly Practices are veterinary hospitals like ZippiVet that consistently take extra steps to care for cats’ unique needs, having implemented feline-friendly standards. We understand the needs of cats, seek to decrease their stress and provide a more calming environment. Our veterinary staff have also been trained in feline-friendly handling and understanding cat behavior in order to increase the quality of care for your cat. We make it easy to schedule an appointment and provide a calm visit to reduce stress in you and your cat.
Dogs and cats may become infected with an internal or external parasite at some point in their lifetime. These parasites can cause everything from simple irritation to life-threatening conditions if they are left untreated. What’s more, some pet parasites can be transferred to you or your children. At ZippiVet, we’re often asked about the diseases parasites carry and whether they may be easily transmitted to the rest of the family. These diseases are called Zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases, and there are more of them than you’d think!
Common Infections That Spread From Pets to People
The Toxoplasma gondii parasite causes Toxoplasmosis, one of the most common pet to people infections. Cats are often the primary host and the parasite may complete its life cycle in the cat’s intestinal tract, passing back into the environment through feces. Cats are more commonly seen with clinical symptoms than dogs though dogs get infected too. At increased risk are young dogs with developing immune systems, and dogs that have impaired immunity. The top five symptoms in pets are neurological symptoms, seizures, tremors, depression and lethargy.
- Toxoplasmosis may cause flu-like symptoms in some humans, but most never develop symptoms.
- For infants born to infected mothers and for people with weakened immune systems, toxoplasmosis can cause extremely serious complications.
Giardia is a parasite that is transmitted to dogs, cats and people through food or water contaminated with stool. We’ve written about Giardia before and it’s one Austin pet owners in particular should know about.
- Symptoms for animals and people include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration.
- People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last one to two weeks.
Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial disease that people may get after being bitten or scratched by a cat. About 40% of cats carry the bacteria at some time in their lives, and kittens younger than one year of age are more likely to have it. Most cats with this infection show no signs of illness.
- People who are bitten or scratched by an affected cat may develop a mild infection three to 14 days later at the site of the wound.
- The infection may cause symptoms such as fever, headache, exhaustion and/or a poor appetite. A person’s lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful.
Plague (yes, that’s the name) is a bacterial disease in animals, primarily cats and spread to people that can lead to serious illness or death if left untreated. Cats that hunt wild rodents and rabbits in the western, particularly the southwestern, U.S. are at greatest risk of becoming infected.
Cats are highly susceptible to plague and the symptoms are similar to those experienced by humans. Cats infected with plague can infect people through bites, scratches, coughs, or sneezes.
- Bubonic plague is the most common form with common symptoms of high fever, chills, headache and swollen lymph nodes.
- The other two forms of plague, septicemic and pneumonic, cause more severe disease.
Bacterial infections with scary names: campylobacter and salmonella are also commonly transmitted from dogs and cats to the rest of the family. They also spread through contaminated food, such as meat and eggs, water, or contact with feces of infected animals. Dogs and cats that are infected with the bacteria might show no signs of illness at all or might have a slight fever and/or diarrhea.
- People who become sick by the bacteria will have diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after their exposure.
- Campylobacter can cause serious life-threatening infections in those with weakened immune systems, including infants, older persons.
How do Ticks on My Pet Pose a Health Risk to My Family?
Ticks are gross and they can make you sick. Vector-borne diseases are transmitted by fleas, ticks and other parasites that infest dogs and cats.
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that is transmitted by deer ticks to the animal or human directly while sucking its blood over a 48 hour period. In dogs the most common signs of Lyme disease include lameness, fever, lack of energy, reluctance to eat and enlarged lymph nodes, sometimes with swollen, painful joints. Often cats with Lyme disease don’t show any symptoms, but those who do may have recurrent lameness of the limbs due to inflammation of the joints or “shifting-leg lameness.”
- Infected people will typically have a red bull’s eye-shaped rash at the site of the tick’s bite that appears after about seven days. Flu-like symptoms often quickly follow the rash. If not treated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of the body and cause symptoms such as arthritis and loss of facial muscle tone (called Bell’s palsy). Lyme disease can be fatal.
Other diseases carried by ticks that attach to pets include ehrlichiosis relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
Can Humans Get Worms from Dogs and Cats?
There are a number of intestinal parasites or worms that can infect dogs and cats, including roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms. One worm can produce up to 100,000 eggs per day, which are then passed in the pet’s feces and spread throughout the area where the pet roams. Once in your home, some of these eggs can remain infective and present a health risk for your pet and humans for years. The best way to prevent infection in pets is to control the flea population in the environment.
Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite in pets and the most likely to be spread to humans. Dogs and people can become infected by accidentally swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. In addition, worms can cross through the placenta, milk, or colostrum of a mother dog, passing the infection to her puppies. Infected puppies usually do not develop well and may have a pot-bellied appearance.
- Roundworm eggs, once ingested can hatch inside the human intestinal tract and the immature worms can travel to tissues in the body, including the eyes liver, lung brain and/or central nervous system, potentially causing serious infections. In people, children are most often affected with roundworm.
Dogs can become infected with hookworms through accidentally ingesting the parasite from the environment or through their mother’s milk or colostrum. Puppies are most often affected and might have anemia and dark, bloody stool. Severe infections in some puppies can lead to death.
- Walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool of infected animals may lead to the spread of hookworms in people. Hookworm eggs enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction and a red squiggly line might appear. Symptoms usually clear up without medical treatment in six weeks or less.
Tapeworm is a parasite spread to dogs, cats, and people through the ingestion of infected fleas. This parasite is common but fortunately rarely causes illness in pets or people. Infections with tapeworm can sometimes be detected by finding rice-like segments of the tapeworm crawling near the anus or in fresh bowel movements. In severe infections, pets can lose weight and have mild diarrhea.
- In people, children are more commonly infected but don’t usually show signs of disease.
Parasites can infect your pet at any time of year. External parasites, such as fleas and ticks may be less common outside during certain times of the year (i.e. winter), but they can survive in a home in any season. Always wash your hands and the hands of children with running water and soap after contact with pets, their stool, and their food.
At ZippiVet, we’re here to help you with a year-round parasite control program, including a preventative flea and tick treatment. At your pet’s check-up we test for common parasites and perform a physical examination.
We know how to accurately diagnose and safely treat parasites and other health problems that not only affect your dog or cat, but also the safety of you and your family. If you see any of the warning signs in your family pet, you can quickly and easily schedule an appointment online or walk in to our clinic for a check-up. ZippiVet is open seven days a week. Book Now.
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.
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!
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.
- 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 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!
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.
As temperatures rise, pets, including dogs who love to play outdoors, are at higher risk for heat stroke. With our hot summer season ahead in Austin, play it safe, prevent heat stroke and know its signs and when to seek medical attention for your beloved pet.
What is Heat Stroke and How Do Dogs Get It?
Classic heat stroke in dogs occurs with exposure to high temperatures – something we’re familiar with in Austin. When a dog has a spike in body temperature the extreme heat stress can both impair breathing and injure organs. The condition can be fatal if left untreated.
Signs that Your Dog May Have Heat Stroke
There are many signs that can point to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in dogs, including excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit, along with an elevated body temperature of over 104°F. Dogs have very few sweat glands and lots of fur, so they can become overheated very quickly.
Which Types of Dogs are Most Susceptible to Heat Stroke?
Older dogs and those with a dark or dense hair coat are especially prone to heat stroke. Dogs like pugs with flat faces (short muzzles) cannot pant as effectively. These characteristics, as well as things like being elderly, overweight, and with heart and/or lung diseases put dogs at higher risk for heatstroke.
How Hot is Hot? Heat Stroke and Outdoor Temperatures
The rule of thumb is to keep your dog inside during the hottest part of the day. For us in Austin, the summer sun heats us up early, so walking and playing before 9:00 a.m. and the thermometer hitting 90°F is your safest plan.
Of note, car temperatures can be more than 40 degrees higher than outside temperatures. When it is 80°F in the early morning in Austin, parked car temperatures can rise to 99°F in just 10 minutes, even with windows left open. Keep your dog safe and comfortable in your air conditioned home.
How Do I Prevent Heat Stroke in My Dog?
During periods of hot and/or humid weather and when dogs are new to Austin’s extreme heat (for up to the first two months), avoid long periods of running and playing with them outside while they fully acclimate to summer temperatures.
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it is hot or humid outdoors. When outdoors, they need a cool, shady place to get out of the sun.
Again, dogs should never be left in parked cars for any amount of time.
What is the Best Treatment for Heat Stroke?
If signs of heatstroke are present, your dog should be immediately cooled to a rectal temperature of 103.5°F.
Start by spraying your dog with lukewarm water, draping a cold, wet towel over the dog, and placing the dog in front of a fan. Ice packs can also be placed on the neck region but they should be removed if the dog starts shivering or after 20 minutes of cooling with ice. Give you dog lots of cool water if tolerated.
“If your dog is having trouble breathing and has a temperature of 105° F or higher, they are in distress and at risk for organ damage,” according to Dr. Audrey Wystrach.
If your dog’s temperature remains high and they continue to experience trouble breathing, take the dog to a veterinarian on an emergency basis. Heat stroke can be life threatening.
Your veterinarian can administer refrigerated IV fluids that can improve internal cooling and help restore blood flow to vital organs and reduce further complications. Upon arrival, your dog’s airway will be checked for any upper airway obstruction and dogs that are having difficulty breathing might require oxygen therapy to breathe properly.
As Austin’s hottest season approaches, it’s the perfect time to come in for a checkup – particularly if you have short-snouted dog breed that’s susceptible to heat stroke. We make it easy to schedule an appointment to be sure your dog is ready to enjoy an Austin summer!
In order to provide the best care possible for our clients and their pets, we’re upgrading our online pet portal. The new portal will add several features that will make ZippiVet’s care even more convenient, including:
• Online appointment booking. Select your time and schedule appointments directly from the website.
• Online health records. Always have access to your pet’s healthcare information.
• Online payments and 24/7 access to payment history and account balance.
You can sign up for the pet portal at any time. Click here to register or visit the homepage and click on the “Book Now” link in the top right corner of the homepage. If you’ve already signed up for our previous pet portal, you’ll need to re-register. Registering only takes a few minutes.
As always, you can also call us to schedule an appointment by phone at (512) 904-0218.
Thank you for supporting ZippiVet! We appreciate all of our patients and are proud to enhance our ability to serve you.
It’s a known fact that heartworm is, quite literally, heartbreaking. Luckily, this deadly disease is easily avoidable with proper preventative care. One little pill or topical a month can save your dog a whole lot of pain and solitary confinement and save you lots of money and heartbreak.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Like many other dangerous pet parasites, heartworm is carried by mosquitos. A single mosquito bite can infect your dog – which makes Austin’s hot, wet climate particularly dangerous for dogs.
What is heartworm?
As its name suggests, heartworm is a parasite that infects the internal organs of your pet. When a mosquito carrying heartworm bites a pet, miniscule larvae can be deposited into the bloodstream. After six months, these larvae mature into adult heartworms. Adult heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long and usually lodge themselves into your pet’s heart, lungs and blood vessels.
What animals can get heartworm?
Dogs, ferrets, wolves coyotes, foxes and occasionally cats.
Can my dog get heartworm from other dogs?
Technically no, however any animal infected with heartworm could potentially pass it along to a mosquito, which could infect other animals. Regardless of whether your pet is an indoor or outdoor pet, or lives in a warm region or a cold one, your pet has a chance of getting heartworm.
What are the symptoms of heartworm?
One of the worst parts of heartworm disease is the fact that there are little to no symptoms. Early heartworm can have no symptoms but as the disease progresses, mild symptoms such as a persistent cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss and a swollen belly from excess fluid can occur. If the disease involves multiple worms, cardiac blockage can occur resulting in caval syndrome: labored breathing, pale gums, bloody urine and cardiovascular collapse. Very few dogs survive caval syndrome even with surgery.
Because the symptoms can be difficult to detect it is crucial that you take your dog into your vet for heartworm detection regularly.
How can you treat heartworm?
The good news is that heartworm is treatable. The bad news is that it is expensive and can be very difficult for both you and the pup.
Typical heartworm treatment is as follows:
Diagnosis can be both costly and extensive. To determine whether your pup has heartworm and how bad the infection is, diagnosis usually requires several x-rays, blood work and several tests. Once the vet determines how severe the heartworm is they will be able to determine the proper treatment. Treatment usually involves several painful, arsenic based injections to treat the worms and larvae followed by an intensive one to three month period in which the dog may have very limited physical activity and even surgery.
How do you prevent heartworm?
Annual check ups and monthly preventive care are the best ways to avoid heartworm. Preventative care comes in both topical and pill form. However, if you miss a dose, you lower the effectiveness of prevention. Thus, we recommend regular parasite checks just in case.
When should my dog be tested for heartworm?
All dogs should be test annually during their routine checkup and maintain preventative care as prescribed by their vet.
To coincide with Austin’s rainy season, ZippiVet is offering free heartworm checks for Austin pet owners. Visit our offer page and schedule an appointment to make sure your dog is ready to enjoy an Austin summer!
Austin has recently been struck with lots of rain, and while the showers are great for our lawns and gardens, the rain can leave lots of puddles and standing water which can be dangerous for thirsty dogs. Street water can mix with dog feces, so when your dog bends down to get a big gulp of water, he or she may be unknowingly ingesting something more sinister – Giardia. If your dog suddenly has a bad case of diarrhea after a rainy day out at the park they may have contracted Giardia.
What is Giardia?
Giardia is an intestinal parasite caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia, while it has a scary name, Giardia is one of the more common intestinal parasites.
How do dogs get Giardia?
Dogs become infected with Giardia when they come in contact with infected feces, directly or indirectly. This means your pup can get it from eating the feces of another dog, playing or habiting in the same area as an infected dog, or drinking water from an outdoor puddle that happens to have come in contact with infected feces. The parasite loves cool standing water meaning spring showers is a crucial time to watch out for potential contact with Giardia.
While dogs of all ages can get Giardia, it’s more common in younger puppies. Up to 50% of young pups will develop Giardia and most dogs who are frequently boarded or kenneled with multiple dogs will get it.
How can I prevent Giardia?
There are several ways to avoid coming in contact with Giardia. When your dog is outside or playing with multiple dogs, watch what they’re eating. If you take your pup out after a rainy day, make sure they have access to clean drinking water at all times. Carefully handle all feces and properly discard it. Wash your hands immediately after handling dog feces.
What are the symptoms of Giardia?
The most common symptoms of Giardia are diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. While Giardia can be temporary, if the symptoms are ongoing they can cause dehydration, deteriorating health and potentially death.
What is the treatment for Giardia?
If you think your dog has Giardia or you notice dog vomit or diarrhea, contact ZippiVet immediately. We’ll be able to conduct a feces test and provide your pet with an antibiotic.
If you think your dog has giardia it is important to bring them into ZippiVet immediately to ensure they receive proper treatment and don’t infect other pets. Contact ZippiVet to discuss proper preventative care and to schedule a checkup.