All posts by James

Understanding Your Feline Friend’s Hairball Production

Do you own a cat? If so, hairballs are a part of life for you and your feline friend. They’re certainly not pleasant to look at, and it doesn’t seem very pleasant for Fluffy when she coughs one up, but are they dangerous? Learn more here from a Roanoke, VA vet.

Why Do Hairballs Occur?

Your cat grooms herself often, as you know. When she does, tiny barbs lining the tongue pick up much of the loose hair from your cat’s coat. She swallows that hair, and most of it gets moved through the digestive tract normally and is ultimately expelled in the feces. Some of the swallowed hair, however, remains in the gut, clumping together over time to form a hairball. That gets regurgitated eventually, likely accompanied by a small bit of stomach fluid.

Do Hairballs Hurt My Cat in Any Way?

No, the occasional hairball doesn’t hurt your cat. It’s a natural part of life! There’s absolutely nothing to worry about if you see your cat cough up a hairball every now and then.

If your cat coughs up hairballs frequently, something could be causing her to shed more than normal. You’ll want to have your pet checked out at the vet’s office to be safe. Additionally, if your cat is gagging and retching but not producing anything, rush her to the vet’s office—your pet could be choking, or the hairball itself could be lodged in the esophageal tract.

Last but not least: vomiting and coughing up hairballs is not the same thing. If your cat is vomiting frequently, it’s time to see the vet.

How Can I Help My Cat Experience Fewer Hairballs?

You’ll be happy to learn that there are a few simple steps you can take to have your cat cough up fewer hairballs. That’s more pleasant for her, and it leaves less of a mess for you! First, brush your cat regularly; this removes a lot of the loose hair from Fluffy’s coat, preventing her from swallowing it in the first place. Secondly, make sure that your cat is receiving a high quality diet that contains all of the proper nutrients. When your cat’s nutrition is in tip-top shape, her coat of fur stays healthy with minimal shedding.

Does your cat need a veterinary exam? Schedule your four-legged friend’s next appointment right here at your Roanoke, VA animal hospital. We’re here for you!

5 Things That Are Good For Your Dog’s Teeth

Did you know that dental issues are one of the most overlooked aspects of dog care? Some of the most loving and attentive pet owners overlook their pups’ oral health. Fido can develop some very painful dental issues, so it’s very important for you to take care of his teeth. In this article, a Roanoke, VA vet lists some things that are good for your furry friend’s choppers.

Brushing

Fido’s toothbrush is your first and most effective weapon against doggy dental woes. Of course, you’ll need to get your pooch used to the idea. Start by just gently rubbing his teeth and gums. Then, slowly incorporate doggy toothpaste and, finally, a pet toothbrush. You don’t have to do your furry pal’s entire mouth every day. Just do one segment at a time, and keep rotating.

Fresh Water

Fresh water is crucial for many reasons, but it’s also extremely important for Fido’s oral health. Make sure your canine friend always has fresh, clean water. You may want to get Fido a pet fountain or an automated waterer.

Chew Toys

Chew toys help keep Fido’s bones and jaws strong. They stimulate the flow of saliva, which will help rinse food particles away. There are a few caveats here, however. First, be sure to get toys that are the right size for your furry buddy. Also, replace your pup’s toys when they start looking grimy.

Checkups!

Home care is important, but don’t forget about Fido’s dental exams. Most dogs should have their teeth checked at least once a year, starting at age one. If your canine pal is overdue for an exam, take a few minutes to schedule one today. You’ll also want to make an appointment if you notice any signs of dental trouble, such as bleeding gums, bad breath, swelling, and/or tartar buildup.

Doggy Dental Products

There are now quite a few products made with Fido’s oral health in mind. You can get your pooch kibble, treats, and/or chews that are specifically made to fight plaque and tartar. (Tip: try putting some pet toothpaste on a chew toy.) Dental flakes are another option. Oral rinses can also be very helpful in keeping your pup’s mouth healthy. Ask your vet for specific information.

Do you know or suspect that your pet has dental issues? Contact us, your local Roanoke, VA vet clinic, today!

Tips For Bathing Your Cat

One of the best things about our feline friends is the fact that they are so clean. Your furball will groom herself every day. Although you don’t have to bathe Fluffy, you can if you want to. However, there are some things to keep in mind if you do decide to bathe your kitty. A Roanoke, VA vet outlines some of them in this article.

Consult Your Vet

Before you decide to bathe your cat, check with your vet. In most cases, it should be fine. However, it’s always best to be sure.

Prep Work

Give your feline pal a good brushing before you bathe her. This will remove dead fur and dander from her coat. If you can, clip her claws as well.

Prepare The Bathroom

We recommend putting a rubber mat down in your tub or sink to protect it from scratches. You’ll also want to have some soft towels ready. It’s not a bad idea to have a pitcher on hand for rinsing, either.

Armor Up

Even if Fluffy doesn’t mean to scratch you, she may dig in at some point. Those little claws are sharp! Full-body armor is optional, but if you do decide to go that route, this is the time to don it. Otherwise, you’ll want to put on thick jeans and a long sleeved shirt.

Bath Time

You’re ready to go! Fill the tub or sink with a few inches of warm—not hot—water. The water shouldn’t be any deeper than your kitty’s chest. Gently put Fluffy into the tub, and then lather her up. Only use shampoos made specifically for cats. Rinse with a pitcher or a sprayer on low. Don’t get suds in your cat’s eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. In fact, you may want to just use a facecloth to clean your pet’s head.

Drying

When Fluffy is clean, gently pat her dry with a towel. If she doesn’t mind being blow-dried, you can use a blow dryer on a low setting. Don’t force her to submit to this if she doesn’t like it, though. When your cat has had enough, just let her go. She’ll immediately start grooming herself to fix her coat. A special toy or treat will get that motor going again.

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

Everything You Need to Know About Pet Microchips

Is your pet properly identified? For many years, ID tags on the collar worked well—and they still do. Now, though, another type of pet identification is extremely helpful for your pet: the microchip.

Learn more about microchips in this article from a Roanoke, VA veterinarian.

What is a Microchip, and How Does it Work?

A microchip is a tiny computer chip. A unique identification number is implanted electronically on this chip, and that number corresponds to the chip manufacturer’s database where your pet’s name and contact information is stored. The chip itself is implanted under your pet’s skin, and specialized scanning devices at veterinary offices and shelters can read the chip’s number when a lost pet is relinquished to these facilities. That allows the professionals to quickly find out exactly who the lost pet belongs to!

Why Should I Get My Pet Microchipped?

The benefits of microchips are numerous. For one, they’re secure—there’s no need to worry about your pet removing it, either accidentally or on purpose. The chip remains secure under your pet’s skin, so even if he escapes unexpectedly without a collar on, you don’t have to worry.

Another benefit of the microchip is that it’s cost-effective for pet owners. You only have to purchase it once, and then your pet can continue to wear it for their entire lifetime. Even if you change addresses or get a new phone number, all you’ll have to do is contact the chip manufacturer to have your contact information updated. Your pet keeps the same chip the whole time!

What’s the Implant Procedure Like? Is There Any Risk?

The microchip itself is housed in a small glass capsule. This capsule is inserted under your pet’s skin using a specialized hypodermic needle-like device, and it only takes a few minutes. All your pet feels is a momentary pinch, just like a regular vaccination.

The microchipping procedure is virtually risk-free. Some pets develop minor swelling or irritation around the injection site, but it usually subsides on its own after only a day or two. If your pet has recently been microchipped and you think they’re reacting poorly, let your veterinarian know.

How Do I Get Started?

Do you want to know more about pet microchips? Ready to have your pet outfitted with a chip for a lifetime of quality identification? Contact your Roanoke, VA vet clinic to set up an appointment.

Hot Weather Care Tips for Your Dog

The dog days of summer are upon us! Remember: your dog is wearing a fur coat that he can’t take off, so it’s up to you to make sure Fido stays safe and cool as summer rolls on. Here are a few tips for doing just that from a Roanoke, VA veterinarian:

Keep Fido Indoors

The first rule of thumb to follow is a simple one: don’t leave your dog outdoors for long periods of time when it’s hot. Dogs are susceptible to dehydration and heatstroke when they remain in the high temperatures and hot sun for long stretches, and this can cause serious health trouble. Try exercising your pooch outside during the cooler morning or evening hours, and let him come indoors and relax in the air conditioning through the middle part of the day.

Provide Fresh Water

It’s important to provide your dog with fresh water to drink all year round, but it’s especially essential in the deep summer months. Your pooch needs plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated and keep the body temperature regulated. Keep Fido’s bowl filled at all times, and consider adding a few ice cubes on extremely hot days for that extra chill.

Keep Up With Preventatives

Summer is prime-time for pests, so it’s important that you keep up with your dog’s preventative medications this time of year. Worms like heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and even tapeworms present a threat during the summer, and into the autumn months. Plus, fleas and ticks are waiting to latch on to your dog and start causing problems. Ask your veterinarian about a worm preventative and a flea-and-tick control medicine for your dog if he isn’t already set up with these medications.

Watch the Asphalt

When you take your dog for walks outdoors, pay special attention to asphalt surfaces like driveways and parking lots. These surfaces can heat up quickly when the summer sun beats down on them all day, and they retain heat. It’s possible for your dog’s sensitive paw pads to get burned if he lingers on asphalt surfaces for too long!

Car Travel Tips

Never leave your dog in a car parked in the sun on a hot summer’s day. The temperature inside can skyrocket to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of minutes! It’s best to keep Fido at home.

For more summer safety tips, contact your Roanoke, VA vet clinic.

7 Ways To Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy

Cats are very cute and lovable pets, and they have many charming qualities that have helped them earn places in our homes and hearts, as well as on our laps. One great thing about these cuddly little furballs is the fact that they are quite easy to care for. However, they aren’t completely independent. Fluffy needs good TLC in order to thrive. Here, a Roanoke, VA vet discusses keeping kitties happy, healthy, and purring.

Good Food

Proper nutrition will go a long way towards keeping your cute pet in good health. Offer Fluffy the best pet food you can afford. Treats are fine, but don’t go overboard. If your feline pal becomes obese, she could develop some very serious health issues!

Clean Litterbox

While cleaning litterboxes isn’t the best part of having a kitty, it is necessary. We recommend scooping daily, and changing the litter every week or so.

Beds

You may have noticed that cats are rather tired. Apparently, looking cute and doing nothing is really exhausting! Offer your sleepy furball plenty of comfy napping spots. Store-bought beds are great, but Fluffy probably won’t turn her nose up at a soft pillow or blanket in a box.

Playtime!

Cats are hunters by nature, so they are more or less wired to pounce and jump on things. Take time to play with Fluffy every day! Also, make sure she has plenty of things she can play with by herself when you’re out.

Stimulation

You may not think boredom is much of a problem for kitties. However, cats can get irritable, lonely, and unhappy with nothing to do, especially when they are home alone. Fluffy will appreciate having lots of nooks and crannies to explore. Pet furniture is great, but boxes, paper bags, and newspaper tunnels will also work. Kitties also like looking out windows, so offer your furry little voyeur a comfy spot with a good view.

Veterinary Care

It’s probably safe to say that Fluffy would rather take a nap than come visit us, but don’t be swayed. Proper veterinary care is crucial for your cat’s health! Follow your vet’s recommended appointment schedule.

Love

Love is the magic ingredient in any pet care routine. Pay lots of attention to Fluffy, and make sure she feels loved!

Please contact us, your Roanoke, VA vet clinic, anytime. We offer great veterinary care!

Pool Safety For Dogs

Do you enjoy swimming? Many of our canine patients love going for a dip on hot days. Pools can be dangerous for Man’s Best Friend, though, so you’ll want to take some precautions to keep Fido safe. A Roanoke, VA vet discusses pool safety for dogs in this article.

Swim Lessons

If your dog can’t swim, take some time to teach him. Gently support your four-legged pal as he is learning, and encourage him with praise and compliments. It’s a good idea to put a doggy lifejacket on Fido, at least at first. If you know someone with a dog that swims well, enlist them to help. Your pooch may learn more quickly by observing another pup!

Steps

The first thing you want to do whenever you take Fido to a pool is show him where the stairs are. We can’t overstate the importance of this! Even dogs that are great swimmers can panic if they fall in and don’t know how to get out. Take time with this training, and make sure your canine buddy really retains the knowledge. It’s also a good idea to get pet pool stairs, especially if you have an above-ground pool.

Other Precautions

In general, follow the same pool safety rules as you would with a toddler. First and foremost: never leave Fido unattended near water. Also, don’t let him swim immediately after eating. We also recommend fencing your pool off when it isn’t in use. This is especially important if your dog can’t swim well, is a small dog or senior, and/or has health issues that affect his sight or mobility. Pool covers can also be dangerous, as dogs sometimes mistake them for solid surfaces, and try to walk on them.

Water

This may be easier said than done, but try not to let Fido drink from the pool. The best way to avoid this is to make sure he always has fresh water available.

Fur

Did you know that dogs can get sunburns? Pooches with pale and/or thin fur are most vulnerable. Ask your vet about putting sunscreen on Fido.

Paws

Dogs’ paw pads are very sensitive, and are extremely delicate when they’re wet. Keep Fido on soft ground after he gets out of the water.

Enjoy your summer! Please contact us, your Roanoke, VA vet clinic, with any questions or concerns about your dog’s health or care.

Adorable But Sneaky Ways Your Cat Manipulates You

Did you know that June 24th is Cat World Domination Day? Of course, if you were to ask Fluffy, she may very well insist that every day should be Cat World Domination Day. Actually, many of our feline patients already have their humans wrapped around their paws! Read on as a Roanoke, VA vet lists some ninja-level kitty manipulation tactics.

The Meow

One of the most adorable things about cats is the way they vocalize. Fluffy’s chirps, squeaks, and meows are super cute, and have a way of keeping us smiling. As it turns out, our feline pals may have started meowing specifically so they could boss us around. They don’t meow at each other, at least once they’re fully grown. They usually only ‘talk’ when they want to give their humans orders.

Indecision

Although we recommend that cats live indoors, we do understand that our feline friends do enjoy going outside. And then back inside. And then outside again. Actually, Fluffy seems to really enjoy making her humans get up to open a door for her, even if she has no intention of actually going through said door.

Finicky Felines

Does your kitty sometimes cry to demand her dinner right meow, only to turn that cute little nose up at what you put in her bowl? To be fair, Fluffy does have a reason for being finicky. In the wild, cats always eat their prey fresh, and instinctively avoid anything that smells even slightly off. That said, there certainly are some spoiled furballs out there!

Adorable and Comfortable

Cats spend a rather ridiculous amount of sleeping. They also have a special way of looking almost impossibly cute during their naps. You may feel bad about moving your furry little friend when she’s clearly both extremely comfortable and, for some reason, completely exhausted. This is also why many kitties are able to take over the ‘lion’s share’ of their humans’ beds at night!

Computer Skills

Have you ever noticed that the internet seems to have a rather disproportionate amount of cat memes and videos? Are we slowly being brainwashed by these cuddly little furballs? Is this why Fluffy likes to sleep and walk on our computers and keyboards? We have our suspicions …

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

Barbeque Hazards for Dogs

With summer here, we’re quickly moving into prime grilling season. Barbeques are one of our favorite summer activities, and we suspect that many of our canine patients share our opinions. However, Fido can get into quite a bit of mischief at barbeques, so you’ll want to take some steps to keep him safe. A Roanoke, VA vet discusses barbeque safety for dogs in this article.

Food

Many of our favorite foods are toxic to our canine buddies. Never let Fido have anything that contains garlic, onions, scallions, or chives; chocolate; alcohol; caffeine; grapes, currants, or raisins; mushrooms; or nuts. Meat on the bone is also a no-no, are raw meat, fish, and dough and anything containing xylitol.

Fire

Fires and pets are not a good combination. Keep your furry pal safely away from the grill. You don’t want Fido wrapping his leash around it, or snapping up a sizzling-hot burger that fell to the ground.

Chemicals

Lighter fluid, torch oil, citronella, bug spray, and other chemicals are all unsafe for pets. Keep these things well out of paws’ reach!

Open Gates

Keep an eye on your doors and gates, especially as people are coming and going. You don’t want Fido slipping out!

Heat

Summer can be tough on our canine pals. Make sure Fido has shade and water at all times. If you see him panting, bring him to a cool indoor spot and give him some water.

Parasites

Summer is a prime time for fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other bugs. Make sure your furry friend is current on his vaccines and parasite control products.

Trash

Dogs are very opportunistic, and will seize any chance they can to score extra food. Fido definitely is not above going through the trash in hopes of snagging himself some leftovers! This can be dangerous, as the garbage may contain things like bones, skewers, tin foil, toothpicks, and other hazards. Clear the tables and put away leftovers as soon as everyone has finished eating. Use garbage cans with tight lids.

Being Underfoot

Man’s Best Friend likes to stick pretty close to his human pals. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to Fido getting stepped on, or getting his tail caught in doors. Keep a close eye on your pup!

Please do not hesitate to contact us, your Roanoke, VA vet clinic, if ever we can be of assistance. We’re here to help!

Signs of Dental Issues In Dogs

Did you know that dental problems are one of the most common health issues we see in our canine patients? These issues can be very painful, and, if left unchecked, can become quite dangerous. Just like people, Fido needs good oral care. It’s also important to keep an eye out for warning signs. Here, a Roanoke, VA vet discusses signs of doggy dental issues.

Bad Breath

Fido has many charms, but minty-fresh breath is not one of them. That said, your dog shouldn’t wilt plants with his breath. If your puppy’s affectionate doggy smooches leave you gagging, dental issues may be to blame.

Swelling

Visible swelling is a definite red flag. This should be treated as a medical emergency, as oral infections can spread quickly. In some cases, they can even be fatal.

Tartar Buildup

Does your furry best friend have unsightly yellow or brown buildup on his teeth? If so, he could probably use a good cleaning. Tartar buildup often goes hand-in-hand with gum disease, which affects a whopping 80 percent of adult dogs. This is actually a very serious problem. The bacteria from gum disease can spread to Fido’s vital organs, and can contribute to major issues, like heart disease.

Bleeding Gums

Bloody gums are another warning sign. You may also see traces of blood on your pup’s dishes or toys.

Grumpiness

Toothaches generally don’t do much for anyone’s moods. Dogs are no exception here. If your pooch seems uncharacteristically cranky, he may have dental problems.

Shyness

If Fido shies away when you try to touch his face, there could be a problem with his mouth or teeth.

Reduced Interest In Play

Just like people, dogs often don’t feel very playful when they are sick or injured. If Fido has suddenly lost interest in his toys, he may be having trouble with his teeth.

Changes In Appetite

Dental problems can make it hard for Fido to chew. He may take longer eating, dribble food out of his mouth, chew on one side of his mouth, and/or start preferring softer foods.

Tips

Most of the symptoms listed above can actually be indicative of several different medical issues, including some very serious ones. Don’t take chances! Call your vet immediately if you notice any of these red flags!

Please reach out to us, your Roanoke, VA vet clinic, anytime. We are here to help!