Category Archives: veterinary care

How to Find Reliable Pet Information Online

By Suzanne Alicie

In this day of instant satisfaction and technology, a responsible pet owner can find the answer to just about any question online. But how will they know if the information is reliable? After all, you don’t need to have a degree to post something online about animals. All sorts of people offer their experiences and answers to pet questions on message boards, social networks, websites and blogs. There are a few ways to make sure that you are finding legitimate and reliable pet information online. When it comes to questions about our pets’ health and wellbeing, it’s important to use common sense and seek out reliable sources.

Ask Your Vet

Your veterinarian can direct you to reliable online sites for pet information. While this isn’t necessarily proof of a certain site being a good source, it is a good endorsement. Of course, information gleaned online should never take the place of your veterinarian.


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Nonprofit Organizations That Help Pay Vet Costs

By Linda Cole

We never know when a sudden illness or accident will send a pet to the emergency room. Sometimes the finances just aren’t there to cover medical expenses. When that happens, there are some nonprofit organizations that may be able to help with vet care. The following organizations are ready to lend a helping hand to pet owners.

Angels4Animals is a small nonprofit made up of pet lovers who believe all pets should have equal access to vet care, even if their owner is financially challenged. Decisions on pet care should be made based on what the pet needs and not what the owner can afford. Angels4Animals has two programs: Program Guardian Angel works with the vet clinic to provide money for medical care needed for a sick or injured pet. The Lost & Found Program provides money to low income pet owners so a microchip can be inserted in the pet. This helps cut down on pets in shelters by identifying and reuniting a lost pet with their owner.

Brown Dog Foundation, Inc. provides financial assistance to people who have a sick pet with a treatable condition. Founder Carol Smock understands what it’s like to be unemployed with no funds to pay for vet care. The foundation’s mission is to provide needed help for pets with life threatening conditions or illness to help give both pet and owner a better quality of life. They understand the love of a pet goes across all income levels and no pet should be put down for a treatable condition or illness just because their owner is unable to pay the vet bill.



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Getting to Know Your Pet Could Save Its Life


By Julia Williams

In my last article, I talked about the different ways you can help the veterinarian treat your pet. When a vet is trying to determine what ails a sick pet, I really don’t think there is such a thing as having “too much information.” And since our pets can’t tell us – or the vet – how they feel, it’s up to us to be their voice and to ensure that they get the treatment they need to be healthy and happy. A big part of that is keeping detailed records of their health and past treatments along with their dietary issues and environment history. But there is another very important component to helping your vet treat your four-legged friend: you need to know your pet well. Better perhaps, than you even know yourself.

When you know your pet well, you will be more apt to notice right away when something is amiss. And the sooner you can get them in to see their vet, the better. While not every health problem a pet can face is serious, a delay in treatment for some conditions could be life threatening. Getting to know your pet well is not that hard, but it does take time and a conscious effort. It involves spending enough time with your pet that you have a good idea of what is “normal” for them, and what isn’t. It means being observant about everything. When you know your pet well, you know what their typical appetite is; you know how their skin and coat look, how their eyes, nose and mouth look, and whether they have any digestive issues or problems with their bones and joints.

Responsible pet owners know how important regular vet checkups are. However, it’s also a good idea to perform your own brief physical exam on your pet at home on a regular basis. Look at the eyes to see if they’re bright, clear and free of any discharge. Examine their mouth to make sure the gums are a healthy pale pink and teeth aren’t yellowed or covered with tartar, and that there’s no foul odor. The ears should be free of wax buildup, and the nose should feel damp and velvety with no crusting on the surface.

You should pet and massage your dog or cat regularly too, not just because it feels good to them and helps you bond, but because you will notice any lumps or bumps that might be present. Feeling along the abdomen for any masses or swellings associated with the mammary glands can help detect tumors. Taking your pet’s temperature at home, although not particularly pleasant for either of you, can provide valuable health information. The stress of being in a veterinary exam room can sometimes cause a borderline elevated temperature that’s difficult for the vet to interpret. If your pet has a fever in the comfort of their own home, this tells the vet that it’s not likely due to nervousness.

Knowing your pet well also means being able to tell when there are behavioral changes. This is often not as easy as noticing physical differences in your pet, because the changes may be subtle and difficult to interpret. Behavioral changes might not necessarily indicate that your pet is ill; they may just be acting differently for reasons known only to them. For example, if a pet suddenly stops sleeping in a favorite spot that he’s loved for years, it’s possible they just want a change of scenery. In the summer, my cats sometimes sleep under the bed rather than on it. I wondered why they were “hiding” under there, until I realized it was cooler, and probably more comfortable. Some behavioral changes are more serious, however, and may indicate an underlying medical problem. These include lethargy, aggression, growling, restlessness, refusing to eat, and going potty in inappropriate places.

If you know your pet well, you will notice right away when something changes. Being aware of any differences in behavior or appearance is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and may even save their life. When in doubt about any changes in your pet, behavioral or otherwise, it’s always wise to consult your vet.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Help the Vet Treat Your Pet


By Julia Williams

Wouldn’t it be great if our pets could talk? They could tell us when they aren’t feeling well or when they think something isn’t quite right with their body. Better yet, we could take them to the vet and let them describe their symptoms and health issues in great detail. It would be so much easier and quicker for the vet to diagnose health problems if our pets could tell them what’s wrong! Unfortunately, very few people have a real life “Dr. Doolittle” vet who can chat with animals. Which means it’s up to us to take an active role in our pet’s health, and do everything we can to help our vet diagnose and treat them.

The most helpful thing a responsible pet owner can do for their animal is to keep detailed records of their health and medical history. In the veterinarian’s office, a timely diagnosis might mean the difference between life and death. A detailed medical history can provide important clues to the current issue, and may prevent unnecessary tests and needless expense. I keep a big notebook for my cats that includes basic information on when they were born, when they were immunized and spayed or neutered, and details of all other vet visits. If you have a good memory, you might think it’s unnecessary to write it all down. However, the stress and worry of a medical emergency can make it difficult to remember things, and having written records can lessen your anxiety.

Reviewing your pet’s medical records can give your vet valuable information, especially if you move to a new city or want to change clinics for some other reason. Many vet offices will ask the previous vet to send over your pet’s medical file, but this doesn’t mean that owners shouldn’t also be keeping their own records. For one thing, you may have information in your notes that was not recorded in your pet’s file. Also, as with my own medical records, I like to take a more hands-on approach – I just prefer not to rely on someone else when it comes to providing my vet with the information he needs to treat my pet. Medical records are essential to have, because a new complaint may be a consequence of a previous condition and/or treatment.

Aside from comprehensive record-keeping of treatments and illnesses, there are other pieces of information that can help your vet treat your pet. Some breeds of dogs and cats are predisposed to certain illnesses, so knowing your pet’s pedigree can help your vet determine which diagnostic tests to perform. However, if you aren’t certain of your pet’s lineage, don’t tell your vet you have a purebred cat or dog just because it resembles a picture you’ve seen. And if you’re not sure exactly how old your pet is, an approximation is still useful for your vet, since some medical conditions correlate to aging.

Environmental history is another important component of your pet’s records. Your vet needs to know if your cat is allowed to roam outdoors, because they can exposed to many diseases, toxins and other health risks that aren’t an issue for indoor cats. A pet’s travel history may also be useful to your veterinarian, particularly if your pet has been exposed to diseases that are endemic to certain regions but not prevalent in your local environment.

Dietary history is also essential information for your vet to have. In addition to knowing which brand and type of food your pet eats, their dietary history should include how often they are fed, if they are routinely given treats or snacks, what their usual appetite is like, and whether there has been any weight gain or loss. You may also find it useful to watch your pet eat from time to time. A pet that chews only on one side of its mouth or suddenly refuses to eat kibble in favor of canned food, may indicate the presence of an oral health issue that needs treatment.

Because dogs and cats can’t talk (at least, not in a language that most of us understand), veterinarians must rely on pet owners to speak for them. The more information you have about your pet’s health, the easier it will be for your vet to diagnosis what ails them. Then, they can devise a treatment plan that gets your four-legged friend quickly on the road to recovery.

Photograph © Andrew Dunn, July 2005.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What to Do if Your Dog is Bleeding


By Ruthie Bently

If you discover that your dog has an injury, try to stay as calm as you can. By staying calm you can keep your dog calm as well. They can sense your stress, and the most important thing is to keep them calm. The next thing to do is to determine where the blood is coming from. For example, a dog can cut their paw and it may bleed profusely, though it may not be a serious injury. Check them all over from nose to tail to find out where they are bleeding. By finding the source of the bleeding, you can determine how serious the wound is and proceed from there.

The color of the blood can help you determine if it comes from an artery or a vein. Venous blood will be a dark red color and may ooze from a wound, and arterial blood will be bright red because of its oxygen content. If there is a lot of blood and the wound has stopped bleeding and begun to clot, do not attempt to remove the clot, as this can make the wound begin to bleed again. Wrap the wound in a clean towel or several layers of gauze and tape the wound well but not too tightly, as this can cause swelling in the affected area. This is called a pressure bandage.

If the bleeding is severe and you can’t get the wound to stop bleeding or it is bleeding sluggishly, again apply a pressure bandage and get your dog to the vet or emergency clinic as soon as you can. This situation can be life threatening and time is of the essence. Another way to stop the bleeding is to use a tourniquet, but do not use this method unless advised by your veterinarian, because cutting off the blood flow completely can damage tissue in the surrounding area.

If it is a cut on your dog’s foot, it could be from a foreign object they stepped on outside. The capillaries in a dog’s foot are very close to the surface and they can bleed profusely even if the wound is minor. Carefully examine their foot to find the source of the bleeding. If you don’t see a foreign body lodged in their foot and the bleeding is minimal you can clean it with a mixture of 50% hydrogen peroxide and 50% water. If it is the webbed tissue between their pads, it may not stop on its own and may require stitches.

The most important things about a cut on your dog are to get the bleeding stopped and prevent infection. If the cut is a laceration of an inch or more and has any amount of depth to it, it may require stitches. Any cut may become infected, and you should contact your vet about using an antibiotic to keep infection at bay.

My AmStaff, Skye, had an accident that happened when she walked through a broken glass jar one of the cats had knocked off my kitchen shelf. She nicked her right leg, which required two stitches. Her left leg was a more serious injury. She cut the ulnar artery (one of the two in her leg) and cut through two tendons, and the blood was bright red. I don’t tell you this to scare you or gross you out; I just want you to be aware that no matter how careful you are in your own house, accidents can happen when you least expect them, and you need to be prepared.

Because of my quick action, the vet’s prognosis of her regaining the full use of her leg and foot are good. We have a first aid kit for our animals, as every responsible pet owner should. If you want to make one, read Linda Cole’s June article for a list of basic first aid supplies.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Choose the Right Vet


By Julia Williams

Vet visits are not overly pleasant for any animal or owner, but they are an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership. Like us, our pets can get sick or have an accident, and they also need routine care such as yearly “checkups,” teeth cleanings and immunizations. As such, it’s very important to find a veterinarian that you and your pet are comfortable with. You’ll want to feel confident that the vet and their support staff are knowledgeable, capable and dependable. You’ll want to trust that whenever your pet needs medical care, they will be in good hands. In doing so, you’ll minimize the stress of a vet visit for both you and your pet.

How to Find a Vet

For obvious reasons, the ideal time to find a good vet is before your pet needs one. If you’re moving to a new city, or you’re unhappy with your current vet, it’s important to spend some time researching the possibilities. Begin by asking friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors with pets who their vet is. But don’t stop there. Ask them what they specifically like about their vet and why they would recommend them. Be wary if they chose their vet mainly because they were close by, or from a yellow page ad. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the clinic isn’t a good one, you should do more research before entrusting them with the care of your beloved pet.

Before you commit to a new vet, it’s a good idea to schedule a short visit with them. In addition to speaking with the vet and their support staff, you should assess things like cleanliness, procedures, prices and demeanor. If your pet has existing health concerns, discussing them during this visit will help you determine whether this clinic will be able to treat them. Vet clinics are busy places and may not have a lot of time to spend with you on a “meet and greet,” but if they are open to having you as a new client they should be willing to see you briefly.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Vet

Before you visit a vet clinic, think about your pet’s needs, as well as your own. If your pet has health issues or special needs, it’s critical to find a vet who can adequately treat them. Do you need a vet who specializes in (or has extensive experience with) such things like dermatology or geriatrics? Do you prefer a vet whose practice is strictly traditional, or one who integrates holistic care with conventional treatments? What services does the facility offer? For example, if your pet needs an x-ray, surgery, dental work or lab tests, can these be done there, or will you need to go elsewhere?

Is the vet clinic in a convenient location, and are their hours agreeable? Does the place look inviting, inside and out? Is the reception room tidy, and is the receptionist well groomed and friendly? If there is more than one vet at the clinic, will you be able to see the same one each time you visit? If not, does it matter to you? What are the clinic’s procedures for emergencies on nights and weekends?

Will they allow you to make payments should you incur a large bill, or will they demand payment immediately? This can be an important consideration, because life sometimes hands us more than we can handle financially. Many years ago, I had a wonderful vet who let me pay off my balance one month at a time, without any guilt trips. Conversely, I once had to visit an emergency vet clinic that wouldn’t let me leave with my cat until I figured out a way to pay their $800 bill on the spot (needless to say, I never went back there).

Does your vet have good communication skills, and are they personable? Your vet needs to be able to clearly explain treatment options, test results and other important things related to your pet’s care. They also need to be willing to listen to you and answer any questions you may have. Just as with human doctors, a vet’s “bedside manner” should make you feel at ease.

Pay attention to how the vet and their support staff interact with your pet. It’s equally important to watch how your pet responds to the staff, because animals are incredibly intuitive. Speaking of intuition, if anything makes you uncomfortable about a particular vet or their place of business, trust your gut, because in my experience it is never wrong.

Choosing the right vet takes time and effort. You may need to visit several vet clinics before you find the one that best fits your needs. But considering all the love and joy your pet gives you, don’t they deserve the best possible care in return?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.