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.

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.

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!

What You Need To Know About Canine Flu Season

canine influenza

Canine influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs and cats. Influenza viruses are able to quickly change and give rise to new strains that can infect different species. Of the two strains identified in the US, both of them can be traced to influenza strains known to infect species other than dogs. At some point, these viruses acquired the ability to infect dogs and be transmitted from dog to dog. Virtually all dogs exposed to canine influenza become infected, with approximately 80% developing clinical signs of disease. The other 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of the disease can still shed the virus and spread the infection.

Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking, and sneezing. Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places like kennels, groomers, day care facilities, and shelters are at an increased risk of infection. Canine influenza can be spread indirectly through objects like kennels, food and water bowls, collars, and leashes or people who have been in contact with an infected dog to avoid exposing other dogs to the virus. Due to this, people in contact with an infected dog should wash their hands and clean their clothing to avoid spreading the virus. The virus can stay alive and able to infect on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. It is important to implement cleaning and disinfection procedures to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10-21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Affected dogs may have a soft, moist cough, or a dry cough similar to that induced by kennel cough. Nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and anorexia may also be observed. Many dogs developed a purulent nasal discharge and fever. Some dogs are more severely affected and exhibit clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever and increased respiratory rate and effort.

Canine influenza cannot be diagnosed solely by clinical symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge because these signs also present with other canine respiratory illnesses. Tests must be done to properly identify strains of canine influenza virus. Contact Dr. Olsen to set up a test if you think that your dog may be infected.

Treatment for canine influenza is largely supportive. Good nutrition helps dogs mount an effective immune response. Most dogs recover from canine influenza within two to three weeks. Secondary bacterial infections, pneumonia, dehydration, or other health factors may require additional diagnostics and treatments.

While canine influenza is a serious threat, vaccines are available against both strands of canine influenza found in the US. Vaccination can reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza and while it may not all together prevent an infection; it may reduce the severity and duration of illness. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868 with any questions or to set up an appointment!

The How And Why Of Trimming Your Dog’s Toenails

trimming your dog's toenailsOne of the most difficult things to do with your dog is to trim their nails; especially if they don’t like having their nails cut. Trimming your dog’s nails is an important grooming task that helps them stay happy and healthy. When their nails grow too long, health problems could occur. Dogs that run around on hard surfaces like concrete or blacktop, their nails are often worn down naturally. For dogs that spend most of their time indoors or running around on soft surfaces, their nails don’t get worn down regularly.

Nails that are too long are at risk of being torn off. This can result in an injury that could require veterinary care if it is serious enough. Longer nails also make it harder for dogs to walk around comfortably. If a dog’s nails hit the floor constantly as they walk, more pressure is put onto the nail bed that can cause discomfort that forces your dog to distribute their weight differently while they walk. In the end, this all can cause the way their toe and paw joints are aligned to be affected in a negative way.

If your dog is not used to having their nails trimmed, one should start getting them used to the clippers and having their paws handled. You can do this by forming a positive association with it by rewarding them with treats and praise until they allow you to clip their nails without getting too nervous.

There are several types of dog nail trimmers including scissors, guillotine-type, and grinder tools designed for dogs. You can use whatever type you are most comfortable with, or whatever works best for your dog. It is a good idea to have some sort of styptic power or other clotting power on hand to stop bleeding in case you cut a nail too short.

To trim your dog’s nails, pick up one paw, and firmly but gently place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way. Next, push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the declaws which are located on the inner side of the paw. Lastly, avoid clipping past the curve of the nail. This helps you avoid hitting the quick, the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels. If you were to hit the quick, it is extremely painful and will bleed. On dogs with dark nails, there will be a chalky white ring marking the quick.

Trimming your dog’s nails can be a difficult task that you and your dog do not like. With praise and positive association, trimming time can grow to be a painless task for you and your dog. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.

Tips For Traveling With Your Pet This Summer

traveling with your petTraveling is an exciting yet stressful time for humans. Bringing your pet along usually adds to the stress level because it brings along extra preparation and attention to detail. Driving and flying each have their own challenges, but with the right advice, traveling with your pet can be a breeze. No matter where you are going or how you get there, it is important to have your pet wearing a collar and tag with your name, phone number, and any other contact information including emergency numbers.

Unless your pet is small enough to ride with you in the cabin of a plane, air travel is extremely stressful but sometimes unavoidable. When flying by plane, it is best to book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel during a layover. Also, make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that their overall health is good dated within ten days of your departure. At your appointment, you can also discuss sedation methods if you suspect that they may become anxious. One of the most important aspects of airline travel with your pet is the crate. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and turn around in comfortably. It should be USDA-approved and lined with shredded newspaper or towels to absorb accidents. Prior to your trip, tape a pouch of food to the outside of the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case they get hungry while traveling. The night before you leave, freeze a small dish of water that will be melted by the time they may be thirsty. Make sure that the crate door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personal can open it in case of an emergency. Make sure that the crate is marked “Live Animal” as well as your name, cell phone number, emergency phone number, and a photo of your pet. In case your pet escapes, the photo can be a lifesaving measure.

When driving, traveling with pets involve a lot more than just loading the animal in the back seat. It is important to get your pets used to a long trip by taking them on short trips and slowly lengthening the time spent in the car. Keep your pets in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Be sure to secure your pet’s crate so that it does not slide in the event of a sudden stop. If you don’t use a crate, be sure to keep your pet in a harness attached to a seat buckle. Be sure to bring a pet-friendly travel kit with food, bowls, leashes, poop bags, medication, and any travel documents. Be sure to bring a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Be sure to pack plenty of water and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Your pet’s travel feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours before departure. Perhaps most importantly, you should never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. In hot weather, the car turns into a furnace causing a risk of heatstroke. In cold weather, the car turns into a refrigerator holding in the cold which could lead to freezing to death.

However, you choose to travel with your pet, it is important to do it safely. By following these tips, both your stress and your pets’ stress can be reduced greatly making travel day a lot easier for both of you. If you have more questions about this or anything else regarding your pet, contact our office today!

Breed Spotlight: The Otterhound

otterhoundsOtterhounds are an extremely uncommon dog breed, especially in the United States. Weighing between 80-115 pounds, otterhounds are big, boisterous, and affectionate. Bred in medieval England, their breed was originally intended for the now-outlawed activity of otter hunting. Medieval England had a huge otter population which preyed on fish in rivers and ponds. To protect the valuable food source, packs of Otterhounds were kept by country squires and even kings. Otterhound packs were too good at otter hunting. River otters nearly went extinct and hunting them became outlawed. Otterhounds are extremely unique as they have a dense shaggy coat, webbed feet, an acute sense of smell, and an affinity for swimming. 

Otterhounds are ideally suited for otter hunting. Built to be expert swimmers, the top of their coat is rough and waterproof and their feet are large and webbed. Their chest is extremely broad with powerful shoulders which allow them to swim all day without tiring. Their large black nose is extremely sensitive in order track an otter’s scent trap underwater over great distances. The Otterhound’s size and strength enabled them be able to take a sharp-toothed, razor-clawed otter down that might weigh up to 20 pounds. 
 
As a breed, Otterhounds require a lot of mental and physical exercise. This can be through walks, obedience classes, tracking, and agility. Similarly, Otterhounds can be very sensitive. They can be stubborn when it comes to training. 
 
For a large breed, Otterhounds are generally healthy and responsible dreamers will screen their puppies for health conditions such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia. Like all large dogs, Otterhounds can experience bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach enlarges and sometimes twists. Potential and current owners should educate themselves on the signs of bloat and the actions to take should it occur. 
 
Otterhounds are extremely uncommon, but would make a great member of an active family. Their shaggy coat, webbed feet, and affinity for swimming makes this dog a unique and loving potential member for you family.