All posts by James

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Heartworms

April is Heartworm Awareness Month. Heartworms, as you may know, are very dangerous parasites that take up residence in dogs’ hearts, lungs, and arteries. Heartworm infestations can cause some very dangerous medical issues in dogs. They can even be fatal. A local Roanoke, VA vet goes over the basics of heartworm infestations below.

Life Cycle

Dogs don’t transmit heartworms directly to one another. Instead, heartworms are actually transmitted by everyone’s favorite insect: the mosquito. Mosquitos pick up infected blood from one dog, and then transmit it to another. The worms are in larval form at the time of transmission, but they grow rapidly. They reach maturity in about 6 or 7 months. At this point, they begin to multiply.

Hotspots

Since heartworms are carried by mosquitoes, that means that Fido can get infected anywhere there are mosquitoes … even inside your home. However, damp, marshy areas are particularly risky. Dog parks can also be hot zones. While many ordinances require dogs to be current on preventative care, this is hard to enforce. That’s why it’s so important to keep your canine pal on preventative care all year long.

Warning Signs

Usually, coughing will be the first indication of a heartworm infestation in dogs. Other symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, weight loss, and lethargy. Fido may not feel very playful, and he may get tired after even mild activity. Severe infestations cause more severe problems, such as fainting, seizures, and heart attacks.

Treatment

There is both good and bad news on this one. There are treatments available for heartworms. However, they are much more expensive than preventative care. Treatment also isn’t much fun for poor Fido, who may need to be restricted or even kenneled. Severe cases may even require surgery.

Preventative Care

Fortunately, it’s not hard to protect your canine buddy from these terrible worms. Just keep up with his parasite control regime. If Fido isn’t currently on parasite control, he’ll need to be tested before beginning a regime. This is because the products that prevent infestations don’t kill live worms. You’ll also need to have your dog tested regularly. Unfortunately, as often happens with bacteria and parasites, some worms seem to be developing a resistance to certain products. Ask your vet for more information.

Do you have questions about heartworm preventative? Contact us, your local Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic, today!

Taking Fido to the Park

March 30th is a pretty special day for Man’s Best Friend: it’s Take A Walk In The Park Day! Fido would be more than happy to help you celebrate. Read on for some tips from a local Roanoke, VA vet on taking your canine friend to the park.

Preventative Care

Fido should be microchipped, fixed, and wearing current ID tags. Also, make sure your pooch is up to date on vaccinations and parasite control. Dog parks can be hotbeds for fleas, ticks, and heartworms, which are carried by mosquitoes.

Paperwork

Have copies of your furry pal’s registration and vaccinations with you. This is just a good thing to keep on hand anyway, in case of an emergency. Put an envelope with photocopies in your glove box, and you’ll always have them on you.

Gear

Always bring water along, for both you and Fido. You may also want to keep a bag for your pup in your car. Keep things that may come in handy, such as treats, pet wipes, a spare leash, waste baggies, and collapsible water bowls. It’s also a good idea to keep a pet first-aid kit on you, just in case. Add some tie-lines and food, and you also have a ready-to-go emergency doggy bag!

Choosing Parks

There are many parks to explore around our local area. Get into the spirit of the day, and try out a new one. Or, venture further away than you usually do. A one-tank trip with Fido and some friends or family members (and their dogs) can make for a wonderful afternoon.

Cleanup

Always pick up after your canine companion. As the saying says, leave nothing behind but pawprints and memories!

Timing

Heat shouldn’t be too much of an issue at this time of year, but it is something to keep in mind. In summer, don’t take Fido to the park in the middle of the day when it’s really hot out. Mornings and evenings are cooler.

Buddies

If you take your canine buddy to an off-leash park, check out the dogs that are already there before letting Fido go. Don’t release your four-legged friend if you see any pooches bullying other dogs or acting aggressive.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns about your dog’s health or care. As your local Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic, we are here to help!

Things That Are Toxic to Cats

March is Poison Prevention Month! Cats have a very inquisitive nature. Fluffy often investigates anything new she spots in her domain, and has been known to try and sample things by eating them. This can be very dangerous! A local Roanoke, VA veterinarian lists some things that are poisonous to kitties below.

Essential Oils

While some essential oils are more dangerous than others, it’s generally never a good idea to use these on or near your feline pal. The oils are much more concentrated, which can make them toxic. Some of the more dangerous types include oil of cinnamon, citrus, wintergreen, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), and ylang ylang.

Lilies

Those peace lilies may be pretty, but they are toxics to our feline friends, it is one of the ones that is most dangerous. Sago palms, tulips, daffodils, oleander, and rhododendrons are also unsafe. You can check the ASPCA site here for more information on safe and unsafe plants. 

Salt Lamps 

Those pretty Himalayan salt lamps can give any room a cozy, relaxing glow. However, keep these in spots Fluffy can’t reach. Some cats like the taste of salt, and will lick them. This can lead to salt poisoning, which can be fatal.

Antifreeze/Coolant 

Antifreeze is another big concern. It is very poisonous to Fluffy, and can even be deadly. Unfortunately, many brands have a sweet taste that cats enjoy. Be sure to mop up any spills right away. 

Certain Foods

While some cats are quite fussy, others will eat just about anything. That’s why it’s important to know what is and isn’t safe for Fluffy. The list of dangerous foods includes garlic, onions, scallions, and chives; grapes, currants, and raisins; chocolate; caffeine; alcohol; avocado; and xylitol.

Medicine

Any medication, whether prescription or OTC, should be considered a hazard to cats. Fortunately, Fluffy isn’t able to open bottles, so it’s unlikely that she’ll get into your medicine cabinet. The bigger concern is that people may try to give their pets medication, not realizing it isn’t safe.

Lawn/Garden Chemicals 

Pretty much anything that you would use around your home or yard should be considered toxic. This includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, cleaning agents, paints, to name a few. 

Please contact us with any concerns or questions about your cat. As your local Roanoke, VA vet clinic, we are here to help!

Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

Dog owners, put a pawprint on your calendar for February 23rd: it’s Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day! Fido has many cute habits, but one of the most adorable is the way he perks up when he knows or suspects that you have a treat for him. A local Roanoke, VA vet goes over some do’s and don’ts of giving your canine pal snacks below.

Choosing Treats

Man’s Best Friend has a pretty robust appetite. Fido would likely be more than happy to test drive any type of treat you bring home. However, some are definitely better than others. Get into the habit of reading labels, and try to stick with brands that use whole, healthy ingredients. Avoid things with long lists of ingredients you can neither pronounce nor identify.

Timing

Treats are actually very beneficial for Fido. However, you don’t want to go overboard here. Treats should make up about five percent of his daily caloric intake.

Homemade Goodies

If you enjoy cooking, you can try making your pup’s biscuits. There are some great recipes online. Cooking for Fido also has some benefits: you’ll be able to determine exactly what your furry friend is eating. This is really helpful if your pup has any sort of dietary restrictions. You can also customize treats to your pet’s taste.

Human Foods

Some of the things we eat are fine for dogs. Plain meat, fish, or poultry, without the skin, bones, or fat, is always a good bet. Just be sure to avoid unsafe foods, such as garlic, onions, chocolate, alcohol, and xylitol. Meat on the bone is also a no-no, as are pitted fruits, processed foods, and anything high in salt, sugar, or fat. Ask your vet for more information on safe and unsafe foods.

Begging

Fido is very, very good at convincing us to share our treats with him. That furry face can be hard to ignore! However, don’t let your pooch wrap you around his paws. If you spoil your pet, you may find him becoming pushy or even aggressive. 

Tricks For Treats

Our canine companions truly do strive to please their humans. Have Fido work for his snacks! This is a great way to reinforce his training. Plus, you can show your furry buddy some cute tricks.

Do you have questions about your dog’s diet or care? Contact us, your local Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic, today!

Cat Health Month

February is a pretty important month for our feline friends: it’s Cat Health Month! Kitties are easy keepers, but they are still susceptible to illness and injury. And, contrary to that old wives’ tale, they don’t actually have nine lives! Read on as a Roanoke, VA vet lists some things you can do to keep Fluffy happy and healthy.

Petproofing

This one is particularly a concern with kittens, as they are basically tiny, adorable balls of chaos. Little Fluffy will be very interested in sorting out what she can fit into, what she can eat, and what’s most fun to play with. To make your home safe for your little furball, remove or secure anything that could be dangerous, such as toxic plants. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Menu Revision

Has it been a while since you revisited Fluffy’s menu? High-quality food can make a big difference in your cat’s overall health. It may be time to consider upgrading your pet’s food. You may also want to revisit your feline buddy’s portion sizes. If your furball is getting round, but melts down every time she spots the bottom of her bowl, you may need to trim her portions back a bit. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Playtime

Physical activity is just as important for pets as it is for people. Fluffy may race around the house when she’s a kitten, but as she ages she’ll become, well, a bit lazy. Keep your kitty moving by playing with her daily.

Veterinary Care

Making sure Fluffy sees her doctor regularly is very important! If she’s overdue, let this be a reminder to schedule an appointment. We recommend that all cats be microchipped, spayed or neutered, and kept current on exams, vaccinations, and parasite prevention. If your kitty hasn’t had her teeth examined in a while, she’s likely due for a dental checkup as well.

Water

Did you know that many cats prefer to drink running water? Consider getting your furry pal a kitty fountain. 

Purrs

Cats may like to pretend that they’re cold and aloof, but they’re actually quite emotional. Pay lots of attention to Fluffy, and keep that little motor going. Things like toys, treats, catnip, and pet furniture will also help keep your kitty content.

Do you have questions or concerns about caring for your feline pal? Contact us, your Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic, today!

Arthritis in Dogs

Did you know that arthritis is one of the most common afflictions that our canine buddies face? Well over half of senior pooches are affected. A local Roanoke, VA vet discusses arthritis in dogs below.

Signs

Like many other medical issues, arthritis often starts out mild, but gradually worsens. Limping is often the earliest warning sign. At first, Fido may only limp briefly, usually when he first gets up. Over time, that limp will become more pronounced. Arthritis can also cause dogs to have a hard time getting up or down, climbing stairs, and/or getting in and out of cars. Your canine pal may also lick or nibble at sore spots, particularly on his legs or the base of his tail. He may not feel very active or playful, and may whine or flinch when touched. These things may get worse when it’s chilly out, as cold, damp weather tends to exacerbate arthritis. If you see any of these red flags in your furry friend, call your vet right away. The sooner an issue is caught and treated, the better!

Treatment

There’s both good and bad news here. The bad news is that arthritis cannot be cured. However, it can be managed. In fact, there are now many different products and treatments that can help your beloved pet feel better. Laser therapy, for example, can be very helpful. It’s really wonderful to see a stiff, old dog becoming more active and playful again! Your vet may also recommend medications and/or other treatments. You’ll be able to discuss specific options once Fido has been properly diagnosed.

Home Care

In addition to proper veterinary care, there are also things you can do at home to keep your faithful buddy comfortable. A good bed is an absolute must. Fido won’t sleep very well on a thin pad! Your pup may also benefit from pet ramps or stairs, which will help him get around more easily. Supplements, such as fish oil, glucosamine, and Omega oils, can also be beneficial. It’s also worth mentioning that obesity often aggravates—and therefore worsens—arthritis. Keep your pooch at a healthy weight. It’s also important to make sure your pup is getting the right type and amount of exercise. Ask your vet for specific care tips.

Do you know or suspect that your dog has arthritis? Contact us, your local Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic today!  

New Year’s Goals for Cats

Happy New Year! Are you setting resolutions for 2021? If so, your feline pal will be right there with you, closely supervising you as you strive to meet them. In fact, Fluffy may have a few goals of her own! A Roanoke, VA vet lists some key ones in this article. 

Work On The Pounce

Our furry pals are cute and innocent looking, but they’re also actually quite fierce predators. Fluffy really is driven to practice her hunting skills. Give your kitty lots of fun toys to practice on, and play with her every day.

Nap More

Did you know that kitties can sleep as much as 20 hours a day. However, it will take Fluffy lots of practice to reach that level of snoozing expertise. Make sure your drowsy pet has lots of comfy beds to snooze in!

Meditate

Have you ever found your furball just quietly relaxing somewhere, looking completely at peace? Fluffy may very well be meditating. What is your pet focusing on? Naps, treats, and boxes are all good guesses, but we’ll probably never know.

Kitty Fitness

Cats are very graceful and athletic. (At least, some of them are. Some kitties are complete clutzes. However, that’s beside the point.) Fluffy may try to stretch more, jump higher, run faster, or attempt a tricky sleeping position. Give your fuzzy friend some pet furniture to play on.

Sunbathe

Our feline friends just can’t resist finding warm, cozy napping spots. In fact, if there’s a single sunbeam on the floor, Fluffy may very well decide to snooze in it. 

Fur Distribution

Fluffy has very pretty fur, and she’s very generous about sharing it with us. Your furry little diva may try to spread her hair out more evenly this year. (Tip: try using a damp sponge, dish gloves, or a squeegee to remove fur from furniture or upholstery.)

Be Adorable

We suspect Fluffy won’t have much trouble making this goal. Snap some photos of your feline friend being her super cute self in 2021!

Snuggle

Kitties are really very cuddly little furballs. Even ones that aren’t lapcats often like to hang out with their humans. Pay lots of attention to Fluffy, and keep that little motor going!

As your local Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic, we look forward to helping you keep your kitty happy, healthy, and purring in 2021 and beyond. Call us anytime!

Cold Weather Dog Care

Winter officially starts next week. We know that some of you love the cold, while others are already crossing off the days until spring. This also applies to dogs! Some pups, like huskies and other snow dogs, absolutely love to run and play in the snow. Others will spend the next few months snuggled up in their doggy beds. No matter which camp your furry pal falls into, he will benefit from some extra TLC. Read on as a Roanoke, VA vet offers some advice on keeping your canine buddy happy and healthy in cold weather.

Beds

Fido will need a good bed to curl up in! Make sure that your pet’s doggy bed is thick enough to offer good support and insulation. It also shouldn’t be in a drafty area, or too close to a heater or fireplace. If your pooch has thin fur, he may appreciate a thermal bed or blanket, or even a heated one.

Grooming

Did you know that Fido’s fur will protect him from the cold? However, dust, dead fur, and dander can interfere with its insulating properties. Keep up with your canine pal’s grooming needs!

Paw Care

As you can imagine, going barefoot on snow and ice isn’t much fun. Snow, salt, sand, and ice are all rough on Fido’s furry feet. Get some pet-safe de-icing products. We also recommend keeping your canine companion’s toenails clipped. If your pup has toe fur tufts, cut these as well: they can collect ice balls which, as you can imagine, aren’t very comfortable for dogs.

Dehydration

Many dogs don’t care to drink cold water. Dehydration can become an issue in winter. Don’t put Fido’s bowls in a chilly place. 

Coats

Does your furry bff have a thin coat? If so, Fido will need a doggy sweater or jacket to keep him warm on those frigid winter days. Make sure that your pup’s things fit him well, and are not tight, hot, itchy, or restricting.

Food

Some pooches need to eat more in winter, as they will burn extra calories just staying warm. Your furry friend may also benefit from certain supplements. This can be especially helpful for older dogs, as well as for pups with bone/joint disorders. Ask your vet for more information.

Please contact us, your Roanoke, VA veterinary clinic, for all your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!  

Autumn Care for Cats

Fall is officially upon us! Many people are seeing to seasonal chores and tasks now, and getting ready for winter. Your cat will probably sleep through most of your autumn activities. However, you will need to keep Fluffy’s safety in mind as the seasons change. Here, a Roanoke, VA veterinarian offers some helpful tips on caring for your kitty in fall. 

Bedding

Did you know that Fluffy will sleep even more than usual when it’s gloomy out? (We can’t really blame her: rainy days are great napping weather.) Make sure your drowsy little furball has lots of warm beds to curl up in. 

Grooming

Fluffy may shed more than usual in autumn, as she changes into her winter clothes. Get into the habit of brushing your pet daily. This will remove dust, dead fur, and dander from her coat. You’ll also find less hair on your furniture, and hopefully, fewer hairballs. 

Safety

The Great Outdoors is always dangerous for cats, but it’s particularly treacherous in fall and winter. Plummeting temperatures; snow; wild animals; toxic chemicals, such as pesticides and antifreeze; and shorter days all pose additional hazards to kitties. Halloween is particularly dangerous. Unfortunately, our feline friends are also at higher risk of being hurt or stolen around the autumn holiday. Keep Fluffy safe and purring indoors.

Parasite Control

Fleas and ticks are not as prevalent in winter as they are in summer, but they don’t go away completely. In fact, many of them will try to hunker down indoors. Mice and vermin might also try to get inside. These uninvited guests can carry dangerous diseases and parasites. Keep up with Fluffy’s vaccines and parasite control products. 

Decorations

Keep your frisky feline in mind as you hang seasonal decorations. Anything with dangling ropes or cords can be dangerous to a kitty. Small or sharp items are also unsafe. (This of course means that Fluffy will insist on playing with them.) Keep these items, and things like candles and potpourri burners, out of paws’ reach. 

Purrs

Dreary autumn days are perfect for relaxing at home with a good book or movie, a hot tea or coffee, and a purring kitty. Enjoy some down time with your feline buddy. Cats make great snuggle buddies! 

Please reach out to us, your local Roanoke, VA vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!

Fido’s Furry Feet

Does your dog know cute paw tricks, like Shake or Gimme Five? These charming tricks will never stop being adorable. Of course, Fido’s paws are crucial to his health and well-being. A local Roanoke, VA vet offers some ‘pawesome’ tips on caring for your furry buddy’s feet in this article. 

Claw

Keeping your dog’s claws clipped is very important! Overgrown claws can easily snag and tear on things. Plus, they’re uncomfortable for Fido to walk on. Your pup may carry his weight differently as a result, which will strain his bones and joints. Many people are (understandably) uneasy about cutting their pets’ nails themselves. You may want to get a clipper with sensors. These will indicate where to cut, so you won’t have to worry about hurting your pet. Your vet can also show you proper techniques. Of course, you can always just call us to schedule a quick nail trim. 

Massage

Dogs use their paws as shock absorbers. Fido’s feet take all the impact from those jumps and happy dances! Treat your canine buddy to a gentle paw massage on occasion. 

Hacks

Does Fido hate giving you his feet? Teach your pooch that he’ll get a yummy snack for letting you handle them. This can have a miraculous effect on your cute pet’s opinion on pawdicures! 

Toe Fur

Those toe fur tufts are cute, but it’s best to clip them. They can gather gunk, like mud and gum, and form mats, which can be quite uncomfortable. 

Inspection

Get into the habit of checking Fido’s feet regularly. This is easy to work into cuddle time! You’ll want to look for things like swelling, cuts, and abrasions. If you spot anything unusual, or notice your four-legged friend licking or biting his paws, contact your vet. 

Surfaces

Your furry pal’s feet are very sensitive. Fido can get painful blisters by running around on hot tar or asphalt. Ice, salt, sand, and chemical de-icing agents can also cause burns and abrasions. Keep your pooch on soft ground as much as possible, especially when it’s hot or cold out.

Paw Pads

Dogs’ paw pads can get dry, cracked, and irritated, just like human skin. Use paw balm or wax to protect and moisturize your canine companion’s paws. Vaseline will also work. 

Please call us, your Roanoke, VA pet clinic, for all of your dog’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help.