What to Do Before Adopting a New Pet

What to Do Before Adopting a New PetAdopting a pet is an exciting time for you and your family. However, it can be very overwhelming before your new furry friend comes home. Today, we will be discussing what you should do before your new pet comes to their forever home.

First, you should consider your current family. Do you have any other pets? How will they react to bringing in a new pet into the home? You also need to consider how your current home will serve for your new pet. Will your social life or work obligations affect your ability to care for this new pet? How do the other people you live with feel about having a new pet in the house? Are there any health issues that need to be accommodated? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live with your new pet? Are you looking for a dog to go running with or a cat to chill with? Are you in the position to train a pet with behavior issues or are you looking for a more relaxed pet experience? All these questions serve as a guide as to what kind, if any, pet you should adopt. If your current life is not suitable for a pet, maybe it’d be best to wait some time to where you will be more prepared to give your new pet the life they deserve.

More likely than not, the adopting agency will charge a fee to help mediate the costs of taking in unwanted or lost animals. This adoption fee will be a tiny fraction of money compared to how much money you will be spending over the life of your pet. You may also need to pay for your pet to be spayed or neutered before bringing them home. Some mandatory expenses of caring for a pet include food, veterinary care, licensing, collars/leashes/ID tags, cat litter, and grooming supplies. Other expenses that are highly recommended but not mandatory are permanent identification in the form of microchipping, training classes, professional grooming, spare supplies, beds, toys, crates, or carriers. There is also the chance that your furry friend will need emergency veterinary care which can get quite pricy. Before adopting a pet, it is important to make sure that you have the right financial state to be able to care and provide for your pet.

Before bringing your new pet home, you need to make sure that you will have the time to spend on taking care of your pet. Pets need to be fed two to three times a day. A pet parent should spend at least one hour per day giving direct attention to your pet in the form of training, exercising, grooming, or playing with them. A pet with a lot of energy will need more time to exercise and play with toys. Pets with long coats will need twenty minutes per day of grooming to keep their coat silky and not matted. Pets with medical conditions will also need extra attention. In the beginning of your adopted pet being home, they may need additional bonding and reassurance time in the first few weeks.

If you are completely prepared to give your pet the best life possible, the last thing you will need to supply are the necessary items for pet care. For dogs, these are food and water bowls, food, collars, leashes, ID tags, a bed, shampoo, nail clippers, brush/comb, poop baggies, toys, treats, and first aid supplies. For cats, they will need food and water bowls, food, kitty litter, collars, ID tag, carrier, nail clippers, brush/comb, toys, and first aid supplies. It could be best, however, to wait to see the size of your new pet for some of these items, as they will vary based on how big or small your new friend is.

Adopting a pet is an enjoyable yet stressful time in one’s life. Hopefully this list of preparation has made you feel more relaxed and prepared to bring your furry friend home. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868 with any questions.

What Nutrients Does My Cat Need?

what nutrients does my cat needIt can be hard to determine what nutrients you cat needs. There are so many options, and it can be very overwhelming. Each option says you need something different. What is the easiest way to give your cat all of the nutrients it needs?

The simplest way is to make sure that your cat is being fed foods that have an Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement of nutritional adequacy on their labels. It could be something like the sentence, “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that Yummy Cat Food provides complete and balanced nutrition for adult maintenance, growth and reproduction, or all life stages” or “Yummy Cat Food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance, growth and reproduction, or all life stages”.

Essentially, the AAFCO looks for the proper amounts of each nutrient to keep your cat happy and healthy. These nutrients involve lots of protein as cats are carnivores after all. Protein provides energy, maintain muscle, skin, fur, nails, etc. Cats need animal proteins because their bodies need the nutrients it provides. When a cat eats protein, their digestive tract breaks it down into amino acids, which are then reassembled into the type of protein that the cat needs at that time. Animal protein can be expensive, so some cat food manufacturers keep costs low by including only the minimum amount of protein that cats require to survive, not more to help them thrive. A cats crude protein level should be included in the guaranteed analysis section on the label. To bee nutritionally complete and balanced, AAFCO mandates that a cat food for adult maintenance contain a cat food for adult maintenance contain a minimum of 26% crude protein on a dry matter basis. The minimum for growth and reproduction is 30%.

Another important energy source for cats is fat. Fat and the related fatty acids are parts of ingredients like salmon, chicken, liver, or beef. Sometimes, extra fat is added to foods in the forms of beef fat, fish oil, or soybean oil. The AAFCO minimum for fat in all cat foods is 9% on a dry matter basis. Significantly higher levels of fat may be appropriate for cats who are highly active or have trouble maintaining their weight. Diets designed for weight loss will usually contain less fat in comparison to other foods.

Carbohydrates are less important for cats than they are for humans. A diet containing large amounts of carbohydrates is not natural for cats and may promote weight gain and related health problems. Ideally cats should get less than 10% of their calories from carbohydrates.

Vitamins are necessary in a cat’s diet. Sources include animal tissues, vegetables, fruits, vegetable oils, seeds, and grains. However, it is almost impossible to provide all the vitamins a cat needs at the right levels without including a vitamin supplement in the manufacturing process. If a cat is healthy and eating a nutritionally complete diet, additional vitamin supplementation is not necessary and can be dangerous in some cases. Be sure to discuss with your vet if you think your cat needs supplementation. Related, minerals are another important part of your cat’s diet to help your cat’s body function. Some of the minerals that cats need can come from animal and plant-based ingredients (bone meal, for example), but to be nutritionally complete and balanced, cat food manufacturers almost always must add mineral supplements to their formulas. As long as your cat is healthy and eating a good quality food, you shouldn’t have to add any additional supplementation.

The most important nutrient for cats is water. Water is essential for almost every one of your cat’s metabolic functions. Cats will typically let themselves get dehydrated before they seek out water, so water is necessary in their foods. Some ingredients, like whole meats, are rich in water. Water is also added to commercial cat foods as part of the manufacturing process to facilitate mixing. You may see this on the ingredient list as “water sufficient for processing.” Most of the water is subsequently driven out of dry foods to make them more shelf stable. Generally, cats need about 4 to 5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight, but this includes both water from food and water bowls. Cats who eat canned food may only need to drink very little supplemental water.

If you are feeding your cat a good quality food, your cat is getting its essential vitamins and nutrients. To be even more certain, you can look for an AAFCO certification. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic, 618-656-5868.

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhoundFor this next breed spotlight, I will be introducing you to the Irish wolfhound, likely for the first time. This dog is calm, dignified, and the tallest breed of dog (sorry Great Danes). Early ancestors of Irish wolfhounds were fearless, big-game hunters who could dispatch a wolf in single combat. Today, they are the most serene and agreeable of companions.

The amiable Irish Wolfhound is an immense and muscular hound. They are built along classic Greyhound lines, capable of great speeds at a gallop. A male might stand nearly three feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 180 pounds. Females will run smaller but are still a very large dog. They have a rough and hard coat that can come in many colors. They can be white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn. Irish wolfhounds are way too serene to be fierce guard dogs, but the mere sight of the size of these dogs are enough to deter intruders. Irish wolfhounds are characteristically patient with kids, but their size does require supervision when they are around small children.

The history of this wolfhound goes back to the breeding of indigenous large dogs of Britain to the Middle Eastern coursing hounds that were bartered around the known world in the earliest days of international trade. By the time the Roman Empire had gained a toehold in the British Isles, the giant hounds of Ireland were already long established. In the year 391, the Roman consul received a gift of seven of these hounds that “all Rome viewed with wonder”. These majestic hunters, whose motto was “gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked”, were used on such quarry as the now-extinct Irish elk, a massive, ferocious beast said to stand six feet at the shoulder. In 15th-century Ireland, wolves were overrunning the countryside. The Irish hounds, already renowned big-game hunters, began to specialize on wolves. By the late 1700s, when wolves and other big-game animals of Ireland were hunted to extinctions, Irish wolfhounds lost their job and nearly went extinct themselves. This is a case of a breed doing its job too well for its own good. In 1862, British army captain George Augustus Graham began scouring the country for remaining specimens of Ireland’s national hound. Graham made it his life’s work to protect, standardize, and promote the breed. Today, his name is still spoken with reverence wherever Irish wolfhound fanciers gather.

The coats of Irish wolfhounds have two layers; the outer being harsh and wiry with the under being very soft. They shed throughout the year, but not in an excessive amount. Unlike many other double-coated breeds, Irish wolfhounds don’t “blow out” their coats during an annual or semi-annual shedding season. Irish wolfhounds retain a strong instinct to hunt and chase prey, so they should only be allowed off the leash in areas that are securely fenced. As adults, Irish wolfhounds can become couch potatoes if allowed to, but regular exercise like long walks and play sessions help keep them physically and mentally healthy. A home with a large, fenced area is necessary to provide the environment needed for this breed to thrive. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in canine sports like tracking, agility, and lure coursing.

These gentle giants are sure are a breed with a rich history. Their ancestors’ traits reveal themselves with their passion for hunting and need for mental and physical exercise. Generally, these dogs make excellent companions for anyone with enough land to satisfy their need to run. With any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868.

What to Do to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer – and What NOT to Do

protect your pet from the heatKeeping your dog cool during the summertime is difficult yet very important. The most important thing to remember is having plenty of fresh, cold water available for your pup. Whether it is just for playing in the back yard or going on a long hike, be sure to keep fresh, cold water available and accessible for them. When you are out on the go, bring a collapsible water bowl or a squirt bottle. Give your dog small amounts of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to have enough cool water with you to last the entire time you’re gone. If your dog starts panting excessively, get your dog shade and more water right away.

Similarly, an easy way to keep your dog cool while spending summer outside is to play in the water. A wet dog is a cool dog. You can play with your pooch in sprinklers, pools, and lakes. Swimming can help lower your dog’s body temperature and help them stay cool while having fun.

While there are things you can do to keep them cool, there are also things you should NEVER do. The biggest rule is to never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Even on milder days, temperatures inside your car can quickly rise to dangerous and life-threatening levels. The CDC says that cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131ºF-172ºF when it is 80ºF-100ºF outside. These temperatures are extremely dangerous, and your dog should never be subjected to it.

Also, avoid being outside with your dog during the midday heat. It is ok to be outside with your dog on mild, overcast days with low humidity. However, if it is sunny, 80º and high humidity, it is better to avoid the midday heat. On days like these, go early in the morning or later in the evening when it is not as hot. It is important to remember the danger of asphalt during the summer. Asphalt can get extremely hot in direct sun. Put your hand on the pavement to test the temperature. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog. You can also pour some water on the pavement. If it steams, it is way too hot. You can buy booties for your dog, so their feet are not on pavement, but it is easiest to avoid it all together. It is best to find trails. Because they aren’t hard surfaces and typically shaded, they’re less likely to cause injury.

During the summer, it is very important to know the signs of heatstroke in dogs. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, body language, and more. Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive panting, excessive salivating, obvious discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, and seizures. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your dog to a cooler environment as soon as possible and calling your veterinarian for further instructions. You can use a thermometer to check their body temperature. If it is above 104º, it is time to get them out of the sun and decrease the level of activity. 104º is not dangerous, but it is the threshold to where it could become dangerous. When your dog’s temperature stays elevated, even after stopping activity and getting out of the heat, this is a sign that you need to intervene and call your vet. Please feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868 with any questions.

 

Cat Adoption Checklist

cat adoptionAfter deciding to adopt a cat, there is plenty to be done. It can seem overwhelming, but hopefully this quick checklist will provide you with information on how to best prepare for your new furry friend.

Prepare a cat room or area.

One of the most important things your cat needs is a quiet, cozy, and secluded space that your cat can consider their own. It can be a spare bedroom or a corner of your living room. This will make sure your cat becomes familiar with their space before exploring the rest of their home.

 Remove any hazards.

Look for strangle hazards such as the cords to blinds, tassels, and drapes. Cats are notoriously curious, so they will play with anything they can find. Similarly, make sure any other hazards like cords, rubber bands, or other small items are not accessible to your cat. Hide any chemicals so your cat is not tempted to drink or lick them. Lastly, remove any toxic plants.

 Provide access to a high spot.

Buy having a high spot, cats can view their surroundings with ease. A simple cardboard box in a high place will do the trick but you can buy fancier products. One example is a cat hammock that attaches to your window with suction cups.

Provide your cat plenty of hiding spots.

All cats enjoy hiding places. This can be in a cardboard box, under furniture, or even a cat tree. Do not be alarmed if your cat hides for most of the day when you first bring them home. Just make sure they are eating, drinking, and defecating regularly and give them time to adjust to their new home.

 Buy cat products.

This involves a food bowl, water bowl, cat food, a soft bed, a litter box, cat litter, a scratching post, a brush, a cat carrier, and stimulating cat toys.

When adopting a cat, the prep work can seem overwhelming. Hopefully this checklist provided some clarity on what you can do to provide the best home for your new furry friend. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen with any questions at 618-656-5868.

Can Dogs and Cats Cohabitate?

Can Dogs and Cats CohabitateMany pet parents do not have just one pet. They have multiple cats, multiple dogs, etc. A big question for many pet parents is whether a dog and cat can live together peacefully. Canines and felines are not known to be great friends, but they are able to learn to tolerate each other and even develop a strong, loving bond. Acquiring this requires some careful preparation, but it is possible to develop a union between your cats and dogs.

Dogs and cats are not destined to be foes. A nurturing friendship between your dog and cat is possible, regardless of what myths society has adopted. If dogs and cats are property socialized, they are able to become friends. It may just take some time for your dog and cat who have never met to acclimate to each other. It is important to note that both animals are territorial and have different communication methods that can impact their behavior. For example, a dog wags its tail to show happiness and eagerness to play. On the other hand, cats lash their tail to indicate anger and displeasure. It is easiest for animals to cohabitate if they are both raised together from a young age. Similarly, when distributing treats, attention, or praise, be sure to distribute them equally in order to prevent jealousy.

It is not always easy to introduce your cat or dog to your resident pet, it can take several weeks or even months. Be patient but realize that whether or not your pet gets along will depend as much on their personalities as on how you approach the process. Follow these initial steps to help accommodate your pets as much as possible.

First, choose a proper location for the first meeting of your pets. If your pet is a long-term resident of a specific room, they may act territorial and take offence when the new animal is on its turf. Start with a neutral ground to the both of them. Second, keep the animals separated initially. Across several days, rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to allow each pet plenty of time to investigate the other animal’s scent. Next, make face-to-face introductions. Allow both pets to be in the same room at the same time, but keep the dog leashed. Continue with this type of interaction until your cat stays calm and ignores the dog, and vice versa. Lastly, proceed with caution. Once the pets consistently get along during leashed visits, they are ready for the next step of removing the leash. Do not leave them alone with each other until you are sure that they are fully comfortable with each other.

Properly introducing your cats and dogs to live together can be extremely influential in a peaceful cohabitation between your dog and cat. Be sure to remain watchful and alert while the meeting process is occurring. With a little patience, your pets will successfully be cohabitating happily in no time.

As always, we are here to help with anything you need for your furry family member. Contact us today with your questions!

What You Need To Know About Pet Poisons

pet poisonsNo pet owner wants to hurt their furry friend, but sometimes it is inevitable. Accidental poisonings can be prevented with simple switches in your home. One of the easiest ways to prevent an accidental poisoning is to watch what you plant in and around your house. While plants provide clean air for you home, they can also be really dangerous for pets based on what types of plants they are. Plants that aren’t toxic to humans like the hibiscus, those in the Easter lily family, mistletoe, and Dieffenbachia can cause medical problems in pets. Issues such as renal failure, irregular heartbeats, cardiac shock, or even death. Other examples of toxic plants include azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, rhododendron, and Japanese yew. If you have these plants and cannot stand to give them up, put them up high in an unreachable location where your animal cannot chew or dig them up

Your cat may love to snack on some grass outside, but this grass can be loaded up with deadly fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, you could make an indoor mini lawn for your cat. Mini lawns provide a safe, edible source of greenery. Special feline gardens are available commercially or you can start your own kitty garden using a bowl, soil, and grass seed. You could also grow catnip for you cat, but make sure to monitor how much your cat chews. While catnip is not generally toxic for cats, too much of the plant can overstimulate your cat’s central nervous system and cause a cat to injure themselves.

If you find that your pet was chewing on a plant, immediately remove the plant from their mouth and rinse their mouth gently with water. Identify which plant your pet was eating and call the poison center or your veterinarian. Be sure to watch for excessive or foamy salivation and changes in the skin around the mouth, eyes, or paws.

Another common cause of accidental poisonings is giving your pet something intended for a human. This could include people food, chemicals, or even medications. People often make the mistake of thinking that people food is ok for pets. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. Be sure to avoid milk, bones, chocolate, onions, rich and fatty foods, grapes, raisins, coffee, nicotine, and alcoholic beverages.

Like a child, one should poison-proof their house. Be sure to keep the cleaning products in a high, closed cabinet. There should be nothing below counter level because liquid drain cleaners, as well as tub and tile cleaners, can be lethal. Be sure to take precautions in the garage as well. Insecticides and auto care liquids need to be store high off of the ground to keep your pets from getting into them. Accidental chemical poisonings can even be made in giving medication. Avoid this by reading the label. For example, be sure to read the labels of flea control for your pets because the chemicals in dog flea agents are lethal for cats. Be sure to read the label directions and amounts carefully.

Some pet owners think that human medication will work for pets. This is incorrect. Never give your pet a human medication without consulting with your veterinarian. Even something as simple as aspirin can be lethal to your pet. Products such as acetaminophen and any aspirin product can cause stomach bleeding. Products like birth control and vitamins can also cause internal bleeding.

Cats tend to be attracted to unusual flavors. Be sure to keep things like the calamine lotion, diaper cream, sunblock, etc. away. These products contain an acid related to aspirin in them and will be toxic if ingested. Overall, small actions you take can help prevent the poisonings of your pets and keep them health. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.

Tips To Make It A Good Year For You And Your Pet

Tips To Make It A Good Year For You And Your PetThe beginning of a year is a time for resolutions for most. People reflect on the past and think about what they can do differently in the upcoming year. This year, why don’t you include your pet in your resolutions?

To improve your dog’s life this year, why don’t you increase the amount of exercise they are getting? Dogs love activity, shown by the crazy reaction when a walk is mentioned. Take your dog on an extra-long walk, a run, or an extra outing. You could also look for a place where your dog can enjoy some activity off of their leash at a dog park! Mental exercise is just as important. Give your dog more mind-engaging activities with enrichment puzzles, new toys, visiting new places, and learning new skills and tricks. The easiest thing that could be done, however, is to spend more time completely focused on them. Dogs value this time, and it is especially important in multi-dog households. Improving your dog’s quality of life is a gift that keeps on giving: the more wonderful we make life for our dogs, the more ways they enhance our own.

To improve your cat’s life this year, there are simple things that can be done! To start, it is important to set up a balanced meal plan with clean drinking water. This includes not giving your cat too many treats. Similarly, be sure to visit your vet regularly and make sure that their vaccinations are up to date. While you are there, ask your vet to check their teeth. A cat’s teeth say a lot about their general health. Tartar, gingivitis, and plaque all contribute to bacterial growth and seeding to the rest of the body which can lead to further health issues. A resolution that involves you and your cat, you could help keep your pet’s teeth clean by brushing them with a toothpaste that is specifically formulated for cats. One could also provide toys for your cat. Toys are not just for fun. They provide exercise and prevent boredom. You can keep your cat entertained with toys, treats, interaction, trees, climbing, and excitement.

This new year, don’t forget to include your pet in your resolutions. There are many things you can do to help improve your pets’ quality of life while bettering yours too! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868.

The 4 Best Gifts for Your Dog, Dog Owners, and Dog Lovers

pet gift guideAs the holidays approach rapidly, that means it is time for gift giving! It can be easy to forget your pup in the chaos of the holidays, but here are 4 ideas so your pup doesn’t get forgotten.

A Matching Bandanna and Mask Set

This ensures that you and your pup hit the town in style and safely! There are many options available online at places such as Etsy that allow you to support small businesses and get a handmade gift for your favorite dog or dog owner. Here are some of my favorites:

Holiday Matching Mask and Dog Bandanna Set, Red and Black Flannel Mask, Bandanna, and Scrunchie Set, and Happy Snowman Bandanna and Face Mask Set

A Treat Toy

Intended to mimic the experience of hunting prey, these types of toys wobble around while your dog paws at it. It rocks back and forth, and your pup will be obsessed with the magic dispenser that they can’t predict or conquer. Here is an example: The Game Dog Toy. Other options for similar products are Snuffle Mats. They allow dogs to find dry food or treats that you’ve hidden. It is a stimulating activity that dogs love. It also serves as a way to extend food and playtime for your pup every day. This Snuffle Mat has great reviews, is easy to fill, and machine washable.PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat

Barkbox Subscription

This company ships out a box either once a month or every three, six, or twelve months that give your dog themed and customized treats and toys! My dog at home LOVES the treats and toys that come to our door and it makes Barkbox day her favorite day of the month! Completely customizable with great customer service, Barkbox is a gift that every dog will appreciate. Get one here: Barkbox Subscription

A New Leash and Collar Set

Every dog and dog owner appreciates a new leash and collar that gets worn and used daily. They also allow the owner and dog to express themselves to every other pet and human! You can get fun colored ones like this or even customized ones like this! Also important are holders for their leashes! Here is a cool handmade one!

How Do I Know It’s Time To Euthanize My Pet?

Time To Euthanize My PetSome pets die of old age in the comfort of their own home, but many others become seriously ill or get injured in a way or experience that significantly diminishes their quality of life as they grow very old. In these situations, owners are often forced to consider the hard choice of whether to have your pet euthanized in order to spare your pet from pain and suffering.

To know when it is time, it is important to talk with your veterinarian. They are the best-qualified person to help guide you through this difficult process. In some cases, your veterinarian may be able to tell you definitively that it is time to euthanize your pet, but in other cases, you may ultimately need to make the decision based on your observances of your pet’s behavior and attitude.

Some signs that your pet is suffering and no longer enjoying a good quality of life include chronic pain being experienced that cannot be controlled with medication, frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing dehydration and/or weight loss, they stop eating, incontinence, lost interest in favorite activities, cannot stand on their own, and/or chronic labored breathing. It is a very difficult decision, but one must consider your pet’s quality of life.

Once you have made the very difficult decision, you also need to decide how and where you and your family will say the final goodbye. Before the procedure is scheduled to take place, make sure that all members of your family have had time with the pet to say a private goodbye. If you have children, make sure that you explain the decision to them and prepare them for the loss of the pet in advance. This may be your child’s first experience with death, and it is very important for you to help her or him through the grieving process. Books that address the subject, such as When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers or Remembering My Pet by Machama Liss-Levinson and Molly Phinney Baskette, may be very beneficial in helping your child to deal with this loss. It is an individual decision whether or not you and your family want to be present during the euthanasia procedure. For some pet owners, the emotion may be too overwhelming, but for many, it is a comfort to be with their pet during the final moments. It may be inappropriate for young children to witness the procedure since they are not yet able to understand death and may also not understand that they need to remain still and quiet.

Deciding when it is time to say goodbye to your pet is never easy. Owners are put into the difficult decision of deciding when it is their time. While it is never easy, the staff at Olsen Veterinary Clinic are always here to answer whatever questions you may have. Feel free to reach out at 618-656-5868 with any questions or concerns you may have!