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.
As a pet parent you probably notice a lot of little things about your pup; when their nose is dry, a change in appetite or a sore paw, but have you ever noticed that your dog has three eyelids? Like humans, dogs have an upper and lower eyelid but they also have a special third eyelid which we rarely see. Lacking opposable thumbs or the ability to wipe their eyes, dogs have developed this third eyelid which acts like a wipe to clear the eye of dust and debris and provide extra moisture to protect the eye. While this third eyelid is necessary, occasionally it can enlarge and pop out – resulting in a condition known as Cherry Eye.
Obviously it can be alarming to suddenly see a large red blob protruding from your precious pooch’s eye, so we’ve got a guide to everything you ever wanted to know about Cherry Eye in dogs.
What is Cherry Eye?
Cherry Eye in dogs is when the gland in the third eyelid prolapses and creates a small, oblong red bulge which protrudes out of the corner of one or both eyes.
What causes Cherry Eye?
No one knows exactly what causes Cherry Eye. What we do know is that the connective tissue around the tear gland weakens resulting in the gland prolapsing and protruding from the eye.
Which dogs get Cherry Eye?
While there are no known links between genetics and Cherry Eye, the following dogs are more prone to Cherry Eye:
- Small dogs
- Dogs aged 6 months to 2 years
- Certain breeds including: Newfoundlands, Bloodhounds, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Shar-Peis, Shih Tzu, Beagles, Pekingese, Lhasa apso, Miniature Poodles and Neapolitan Mastiffs
Should owners worry?
While Cherry Eye in dogs can be unattractive, it usually isn’t uncomfortable or painful for the dog and rarely is it life-threatening; however it is important to consult with your vet immediately to prevent any permanent damage including vision impairment or blindness. Besides cosmetic reasons, your vet may recommend treatment on the gland to hinder abnormal discharge, prevent the dog from pawing at or irritating the eye, minimize irritation and injury to the tissue and reduce the risk of secondary bacterial infections.
What’s the treatment for Cherry Eye?
If you are concerned about your dog’s Cherry Eye, consult your vet at ZippiVet to discuss the treatment option best for you and your pup.
Non-surgical treatment: Your vet may be able to pop the gland back in place or use antibiotics or steroids to keep the gland in place and reduce exposure to environmental irritants.
Surgical treatment: If surgery is recommended for the Cherry Eye, your ZippiVet vet will use state-of-the-art surgical techniques to reposition the gland. After treatment the chance of recurrence is low and your pooch will be back to its happy, healthy self.
If your dog has Cherry Eye, or any other condition that’s troubling you, schedule an appointment at ZippiVet today!
April showers bring May flowers, along with lots and lots of puppies and kittens galore. Summer is just around the corner and the kids are almost out of school making this the perfect time for a furry addition to the family. Here is a list of May pet adoption events in Austin to pick up a new pet, volunteer, or donate to one of Austin’s amazing animal shelters and foster homes.
Sat. May 14, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Swing by Great Outdogs, 1210 Barton Springs Rd., to pick up some new dog gear, treats, toys and more and meet some of the visiting pups from Austin Pets Alive!
Sat. May 14, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Tomlinson’s Pet Store located on Circle C will be hosting dogs from Austin Dog Rescue.
Sun. May 15, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Is there any better way to celebrate a sunny Sunday in Austin than brunch and pups? Bring your friends (both four and two legged) to Yard Bar to celebrate Blue Spots Pets’ Boozy Brunch hosted by Rocco the Pug: humans can indulge in a boozy brunch while pets get pampered with grooming and glamor shots. Tickets are only $20 and all proceeds benefit Austin Pets Alive!
Sun. May 15, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Shop for a cause! Stop by Talbots Arboretum for a meet and greet with the wonderful pups at Austin Dog Rescue plus a portion of the proceeds go toward saving more dogs.
Sun. May 15, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Stop by Pints, Pies and Paws for the ultimate Sunday Funday at Whitestone Brewery. Meet some of the pets from Texas Humane Heroes and grab a slice. $1 from every pint sold will go to Texas Humane Heroes.
Fri. May 20, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Sat. May 21, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sat. May 21, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Mon. May 23, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
May has Mother’s Day but Banger’s has Mega Mutt Mom Day. Bring your pup to Bangers to make paw cards and meet great local pet vendors including Austin Pets Alive!, Dawg Town, Chloe’s Barkery, YoDog Snackery and Pints for Pups.
Sat. May 28th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Wrap up Austin Pet Month at the Lakeline Farmers Market, 11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., grab your weekly greens and stop by to say hi to a pup and chat with the lovely volunteers at Austin Pets Alive!
Sun. May 29th, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Cats are mysterious creatures. One of the chief delights of having a cat is watching it find new ways to be silly and weird. Kitties can also be very vocal. Chances are, you’ve heard your cat being quite noisy and wondered, “Why is my cat meowing?” There are lots of reasons for why cats meow. Some cats are chatty kitties and may meow for anything from hunger to simply saying hello, while other felines may be more the strong, silent type – but it’s important to pay attention to these seemingly random noises as meows can tell you a lot about your cat’s health.
Though the reason your cat may be meowing can vary greatly, it’s important to know that when cats do meow it’s to communicate with YOU. While dogs are pack animals who depend on communication to interact with each other, cats are solitary animals and developed vocalizing largely to communicate with humans (when they do meow at other cats it’s usually to avert them). So what are they saying? Here are a few reasons your cat may be meowing.
Illness or pain
If you notice your cat’s meows suddenly becoming more frequent, louder or at unusual times, they could be signaling to you that they are hurt. Cats can be very good at hiding the fact that they are sick and meowing may be their way alerting you that they aren’t feeling well. Observe your cat closely for additional signs of illness including loss of appetite, lethargy, withdrawal or hiding and change in temperament.
As your furry feline ages, you may notice that they are becoming disoriented or having trouble with their eyesight or hearing. This can cause your cat to meow loudly when they are confused, frustrated or just plain lost.
Cats do not deal well with change and anything from moving to a new house, introducing a new pet or family member to the household, or even just moving around the furniture can cause some cats to be stressed out. Increased meowing may be a sign of just how displeased they are with the situation. Make sure to try to relieve their anxiety as much as possible by carefully introducing them to any new members or ensuring their comfort with familiar objects.
If you happen to be late to dinner time, your kitten may be ready and waiting at the food bowls with a chorus of meows to chide you. Like many animals, your cat thrives on routine and if you aren’t feeding them at the same time expect an angry kitten. Make sure you are feeding your cat plenty of food for their weight and activity level and maintaining a routine.
Sometimes you may just have a chatty cat. Whether they are saying hello or responding to you when you talk to them, some cats just love a good meow.
If you feel that your cat is meowing excessively from illness, pain or troubles with age make an appointment with ZippiVet immediately. Meowing from pain could alert your vet to a variety of problems – from thyroid and kidney illnesses to teeth or mouth issues. The vets and vet techs at ZippiVet will be able give your cat a full check up and provide solutions to any health issues as well as provide recommendations for aging and stress issues.