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New Year's Resolutions for Pet Owners

New Year’s Resolutions for Pet Owners

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Happy 2020 from the staff at Byron Animal Clinic! 

As a veterinarian, pet owners often ask me what they should be doing in order to help keep their pets healthy. To help others with similar concerns what follows are my top six pet health tasks to promote the well being of your pet. We all want the best for our animals. Hopefully, these health tips will ensure your pets live a long and healthy life. 

1. Maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise is good for both you and your pet. Make a pledge to extend your daily walks or increase their frequency. The majority of pets in Canada are overweight to obese. This increases their chances of developing arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Monitor portion sizes and keep treats to no more than ten percent of the total calorie intake per day.

2. Budget for both preventative and especially emergency care.

We never like to think about bad things happening to our beloved fur family members, but the reality is that most pet owners seek emergency care at least once with their animals due to trauma, illness, or sudden injury. The costs for after-hours care can be steep. Consider pet insurance or put some money aside specifically for this purpose. It is never ideal to have cost be the biggest factor in determining the outcome of a medical case.  

3. Pledge to upgrade nutrition.

Cheap foods may taste good, but in the long term, upgrading to a higher-quality diet has many benefits. Much of what you see and read about pet food online is about marketing and advertising gimmicks and results in misinformation. Veterinary technicians and veterinary doctors are trained to understand animal nutrition and to identify which foods will best fit your pet’s needs.

4. Consider a microchip.

Most veterinary clinics and shelters have the ability to quickly and inexpensively implant an identification chip between an animal’s shoulder blades. This is especially helpful if your pet gets lost and loses its collar and identification tags. It greatly increases their chance of finding their way back to you. It is not GPS technology but it is a reliable technology that has led to the recovery of millions of lost pets. 

5. Continue pet wellness care.

We humans can usually tell if something is a little “off” in our bodies. Animals cannot speak to tell us when they feel this way. Regular check-ups can help detect a problem early and thus increase the chances of successful treatment should something abnormal be detected. Diagnostic tests like blood work, urinalysis, and x-rays are especially helpful to assist your veterinarian in diagnosing and treating your pet.

6. Dental care.

Pets have teeth too. Imagine not brushing or flossing and not seeing a dentist for 5, 10, 15, even 20 years! Ask us about tips on brushing your pet’s teeth, using oral sprays, or water additives. Ask about treats and foods that help to keep the teeth and gums clean. Try to budget for dental cleanings for your pets. These must be performed under general anesthetic and often include costly extractions. Planning ahead is the best way to ensure that the cost of this type of service is manageable.February and March are Dental Awareness months at Byron Animal Clinic and we offer a 15% discount on dental procedures at that time. If you have any questions or concerns about the above suggestions or about pet care in general, please feel free to contact us at 519-472-3770.  

Fear Free Vet Appointments

Fear Free Vet Appointments

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Going to the vet can be a stressful and even scary time for many pets. Our goal at Byron Animal Clinic is to make your pet’s experience as safe, fun, and enjoyable as possible.

 

There are lots of things our pet owners can do at home with their pets to help set them up for a positive experience before they get to the clinic.

 

For puppies and kittens, socializing them at an early age with other people and other animals is really beneficial.  Puppy classes, and dog parks are a great way to socialize puppies with other dogs.  Having friends or family physically interact with your pets is also beneficial.  Introduce touch to your pet to help them feel comfortable with having their feet and toes touched, their belly, and in and around their mouths.

 

Having your pets visit the vet in their early stages is also really helpful in preventing fear as it helps them get used to our environment, we love to give them treats to help them feel comfortable!  Bring your pet with you next time you pick up a bag of food, or a refill medication.    A quick in and out visit will help with reinforcing that not all trips to the clinic are for exams or when they’re sick.

 

A helpful tip for cat owners to avoid the dreaded cat carrier fight is to leave the cat carrier out in your house.  Keep the door open so it can be explored.  Put toys and treats inside.  Even try putting their food and water dishes in it occasionally.  This will help reduce the fear a cat feels when the carrier comes out before a trip to the vet. 

 

Introducing your puppy or kitten to car rides early on is also beneficial.  Take them to places other than the vet to help them learn that not all car rides end up at the clinic.

 

There are other ways we can help reduce your pet’s stress with some products that we recommend. 

 

Pheromone products like Adaptil and Feliway are a great way to reduce fear and enhance calm and can be purchased from Byron Animal Clinic or the Byron Webstore. These come in sprays, collars, and plug-in diffusers.

 

If your animal does not respond to any of the above, we can send home safe and effective medications that reduce fear and anxiety. Medications like Trazadone and/or gabapentin can be picked up prior to the veterinary visit and administered at home.

 

For some other helpful articles and resources regarding making your pets vet visits less stressful check out this website.  

 

If you have any questions or concerns about making your pet’s veterinary visits as fear-free as possible, please call the clinic at 519-472-3770.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pet Owners

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Exposure to winter’s dry, cold air and chilly rain, sleet, and snow can cause chapped paws and itchy, flaking skin, but these aren’t the only discomforts pets can suffer. Winter walks can become downright dangerous if chemicals from ice-melting agents or antifreeze are licked off of bare paws. To help prevent cold weather dangers from affecting your pet’s health, please heed the following advice: 

  • Smaller breed dogs and cats have smaller body mass and surface area to mass ratio. They have a much harder time keeping warm than larger breed dogs.  
  • Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. If your dog is long-haired, simply trim him to minimize the clinging ice balls, salt crystals and de-icing chemicals that can dry his skin, and don’t neglect the hair between his toes. If your dog is short-haired, consider getting a coat or sweater with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear. 
  • After each walk, wash and dry your pet’s feet and stomach to remove ice, salt, and chemicals—and check for cracks in paw pads or redness between the toes. Be on the lookout for obsessive licking and chewing at paws as this can lead to self-trauma and infections. You can also consider using Epsom salts in warm water to soak, clean, and soothe paws.  
  • Bathe your pets as little as possible during cold spells. Bathing can remove essential oils and increase the chance of developing dry, flaky skin. If your pooch must be bathed, ask us to recommend a moisturizing shampoo and/or rinse that contains aloe and oatmeal. 
  • Massaging vaseline or other paw protectants containing vaseline into paw pads before going outside can help protect from salt and chemical agents. Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation. Use pet-friendly road salt and de-icers whenever possible. 
  • Antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. 
  • Cats can often seek out warmth and crawl up into car engines. Bang on your hood and check before starting your vehicle. Providing outdoor shelters for your own cat, neighbours’ cats, or even feral or stray cats can be quite helpful.  
  • Pets burn extra energy by trying to stay warm in the wintertime. Feeding your pet a little bit more during the cold weather months can provide much-needed calories, and making sure he/she has plenty of water to drink will help keep her well-hydrated and her skin less dry. 
  • Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect. 
  • Remember, if it’s too cold for you, it’s probably too cold for your pet, so keep your animals inside. If left outdoors, pets can become hypothermic, become disoriented, lost, stolen, injured or killed. They can also suffer from frostbite injury – particularly at the tips of ears, tails, and feet. This includes outdoor cats. In addition, don’t leave pets alone in a car during cold weather, as cars can act as refrigerators that hold in the cold and cause animals to freeze to death. 

If you have any questions about winter safety or any other concerns about your pet, please feel free to call Byron Animal Clinic at 519-472-3770. 

Holiday Open House and Fundraiser

Holiday Open House and Fundraiser

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You’re invited to our Holiday Open House & Fundraiser on December 14th from 12-2 pm!

We welcome you to enjoy our newly renovated clinic and sponsored by The Barkery who is generously donating Christmas candy cane cookies for those pups participating in our Santa Paws pet pics!

Come and enjoy the hot chocolate bar, coffee, and timbits. Refreshments will be donated by Tim Hortons in Byron

Load up on our Holiday Pet Gifts, and pet food before the holidays. All gifts are recommended and approved by Dr. Will and a portion of the proceeds from ALL sales during our open house will be donated to the Humane Society London & Middlesex.

In fact, for every purchase over $100 at the open house, you’ll receive a stamp towards your Loyalty Rewards!

Santa Paws will be taking pictures with pets, thanks to Real Focused Photography. All pets are welcome and our canine pups can enjoy a candy cane cookie freshly baked by The Barkery!  Santa services donated by Awesome Paws Pet Care

Come by to say hi to Dr. Will and help us reach out $500 goal for the Humane Society. 

 

Holiday pet gifts

Tips to Prevent Heartworm

Tips to Prevent Heartworm

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Choosing a monthly heartworm, flea & tick preventative is an essential part of caring for your dog or cat. However, the pet healthcare team at Byron Animal Clinic knows that there are A LOT of options. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we have some great tips to help you.  

1) Consider your pet’s “risk factors” and personality.

When determining the best heartworm, flea or tick preventative for patients, you need to think about your pet’s lifestyle. For example, “I live on a lake, and my dogs swim. Due to those factors, I would consider an oral medication that won’t wash off like Heartgard + Nexgard or Sentinel.”  

Thinking about risk factors works the same with cats. For example, if your cat is indoor-only, fleas are going to be a bigger concern than ticks. Cats are also often difficult to give oral medications to. A topical product like Revolution might be the perfect choice! 

Some factors to consider:   

  • How much time does your pet spend outdoors? 
  • Does your pet easily take pills? 
  • Does your pet swim or get bathed frequently? 
  • Will your pet wear a collar?  

2) Consider compliance.

Ok – we’ve all struggled with giving heartworm preventatives to a particularly clever dog or forgotten to apply flea and tick preventatives on time. Let’s be honest! Monthly coverage is so important, so when you’re choosing a preventative, think about what you’re going to realistically be able to use.   

3) What are your biggest concerns?

Each product covers a slightly different range of pests. You can get coverage for heartworm and intestinal worms only or can you add in coverage for fleas, mites, and ticks. In general, the more pests you want to control, the higher the price. Some medicines work really fast (within minutes to hours) – others work but take a little longer (48 hours). Some kill parasites directly and others are like birth control for parasites.   

4) Consider price.

Caring for pets year-round can be very affordable if you take advantage of company rebates. Not only that, but buying a year’s worth of prevention will help ensure that you keep your pet as healthy as possible. That said, some owners prefer to get 1-2 months at a time to spread out the cost. So don’t miss out on months of important prevention due to cost; pick the product that you’re most comfortable with! 

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is much safer and easier to be proactive and prevent parasite infestations than to deal with them once they are established. Parasites are not just a nuisance, they can transmit serious diseases to both humans and animals: diseases such as Heartworm Disease, Lyme Disease, and Visceral Larval Migrans.