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(480) 608-5885 / TLC House & Pet Sitting Service
Bloat in Dogs + How to Recognize It Quickly

Bloat in Dogs + How to Recognize It Quickly

bloat in dogs

Bloat – What You Know Can Save Your Dog’s Life

If you’d like to know about a potentially deadly, and very preventable condition, read on. Bloat in dogs is not uncommon. The proper term is gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). It can happen to any dog, and most often occurs in larger dogs.

What is Bloat (GDV)?

GDV occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and subsequently twists.  GDV develops without warning and can progress quickly.  It is always an emergency.

Stomach distension alone is referred to as a “simple bloat”, or dilatation. This simple bloating can occur on its own and may resolve on its own. The problem is that the issue can progress to GDV quickly and at any time.

Bloat strikes males more than females, and if not treated, can kill within hours. 

Signs of Bloat in Dogs

  • Enlarged / distended abdomen
  • Showing discomfort
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Attempts to throw up
  • Restlessness
  • Painful Abdomen
  • Overall Look of Distress
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Panting or Rapid Breathing
  • Collapse/Inability to Stand

Dangers of Extreme Bloat

  • Pressure on heart, lungs
  • Reduce blood flow to heart, spleen
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stomach burst
  • Peritonitis
  • Stomach torsion, “twisted stomach”

There is no direct cause and effect with this problem, such as a bacteria or virus that a vet can treat with antibiotics or vaccinate against. Bloat is usually the result of a combination of factors that might have no effect on most dogs, but can bring about a life-threatening situation in others. Owner awareness of the problem is the first step in preventing its occurrence.

What to Do In Case of Signs of Bloat

Not every case is extreme, and the problem may go away, but if it does not, or gets worse, it becomes a medical emergency.  Contact your veterinarian immediately if swelling starts, continues or worsens.  Your vet can insert a tube into the stomach to relieve the pressure, however, you will have to get your dog to the vet quickly.

Bloat Prevention

  • Feed your dog smaller meals
  • Monitor your dogs drinking for smaller amounts of water at a time
  • No vigorous play right after meals
  • Reduce dog’s overall stress

To learn additional details about bloat and how it can affect your precious pup, read this article from a New York veterinary medical center.

Preventing Heat Exhaustion for Your Pets

Preventing Heat Exhaustion for Your Pets

Preventing heat exhaustion in dogs can be a little tricky. Knowing what to look for in your pet is key. During the summer months, especially here in the Arizona valley, temperatures can be lethal for humans as well as for our pets.  Therefore, while outside with your dog, please be mindful of the signs of heat exhaustion, which could lead to a potentially fatal heat stroke.

Heat Exhaustion Signs in Dogs

1.       Heavy Panting – The first sign of heat exhaustion is heavy panting.  Since dogs are incapable of sweating, their only way to cool their internal temperature is through panting.

2.       Pay Close Attention to Certain Breeds – Certain breeds with heavy coats (such as Shelties or Chow Chows) and those with short snouts (such as Boxers and Pugs) are much more susceptible to heat exhaustion and should be watched closely while in hot temperatures.

3.       Weakness – Dogs may experience weakness in extreme heat. If your usually upbeat dog is acting lethargic, heat exhaustion may be causing it.

4.       Disorientation – You may notice that your dog is unaware of his/her surroundings. This is typical during heat exhaustion (same as with humans).

5.       Vomiting – If you know your dog hasn’t eaten anything to cause this reaction, it could be heat exhaustion.

Watch for Heavy Panting

Heat Stroke Signs in Dogs

Worse than heat exhaustion is heat stroke. If heat exhaustion is not caught in time, you’ll see these signs in your pet.

1.       Heavy Panting – This is also the first sign of heat stroke.

2.       Disorientation – Another characteristic of heat stroke.

3.       Diarrhea – This often occurs in the event of a heat stroke.

4.       Seizures and/or Coma – Another very serious symptom of heat stroke.

Treatment

Preventing heat exhaustion is easy to do. Even so, it sometimes happens. Therefore, it is very important to spot the signs early before a heat stroke occurs. Unfortunately, heat strokes is often times fatal. Pet owners who observe serious signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke should seek help from a veterinarian immediately.  In the meantime, there are things that will cool down a dog displaying signs of heat exhaustion:

1.       Provide plenty of water

2.       Keep the pet in a cool resting place

3.       Place a cool, wet towel around the dog’s neck

4.       Ice packs may be placed on the dog’s armpit or neck area

Preventing Heat Exhaustion

Dogs need plenty of water

Some very simple steps can be taken to avoid the serious effects of heat stroke and heat exhaustion in pets.

  1. Avoid taking your dog outside during the middle of the day in the hot summer months. Potty breaks should be limited to quick in and out.
  2. Walk dogs only during the morning and evening hours when the temperature is cooler. Even then, be careful of how far you are walking and keep an eye on Fido’s behavior.
  3. Provide plenty of fresh water at all times. Considering switching it periodically for fresh cooler water.
  4. Never leave your pet outside, tied up, unattended, or in a vehicle when it’s hot outside.
  5. The rule of thumb is that if it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s probably uncomfortable for them.

The AKC also put together an article noting “How Hot is Too Hot”?

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Importance of Exercise for Pets

Importance of Exercise for Pets

The importance of exercise for pets cannot be overstated. Plainly said, if your dog is overweight, they aren’t getting enough exercise. And, like humans, being overweight can lead to health issues in your pets.

exercise for pets
This pup is overweight

According to the Experts

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention tells us that out of America’s 77.5 million dogs, 35 million can be considered overweight. Of those, 6.7 million are considered obese. Those extra pounds can take an average of two years from our dogs’ lives. In addition, this extra weight contributes to joint problems, respiratory diseases and a host of other ailments that can affect a pet’s quality of life. Exercise for pets can manage some of these issues.

Effects of Exercise for Pets

Evenmore, it is not just your dog’s physical health that is adversely affected by a lack of exercise. Regular exercise and companionship are critical to your pet’s mental and physical well-being. A stimulating break in a lonely day can curb destructive behavior and alleviate separation anxiety in your pet. Exercise helps promote a daily bathroom routine and breaks the lifestyle cycle that leads to obesity.

Benefits for Your Pets

Also, a dog accustomed to regular exercise is generally a better candidate for training. Activity reduces stress and a calmer dog is less aggressive. A happier and calmer dog is usually less destructive. That’s good news for pet owners, too.

Getting Started with Exercise

Of course, like us, dogs that have spent their lives as couch potatoes are not ready to leap into a vigorous exercise routine. At TLC House and Pet Sitters, our sitters/walkers are aware of this. We are attuned to the exercise requirements and capabilities of different breeds at different times in their lives. We will not give a dog more to do on a walk than what they are capable of. 

exercise for pets

With most us working full-time, or even more, pets don’t always fit into a busy schedule. The good news is that with a 20-minute walk with a TLC sitter every day your dog will walk far enough in his lifetime to cross the United States? However, dogs aren’t the only pets that benefit from exercise. Your TLC sitter will play with your cat or let your hamster out for a run on the wheel during a scheduled visit.  Of course, in Arizona, all dog walking is kept to a minimum in the summer months.  TLC sitters will exercise your pets without having to walk dogs outside.  With TLC, exercise for pets is easier than you might think.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Importance of Cat Litter Scooping

Importance of Cat Litter Scooping

Cat litter scooping on the regular is more important than you might think.

As you know, your cat is a marvel of consistency. She sleeps in the same place, eats the same amount of food and drinks the same amount of water. Every day. Therefore, this love of routine can make it easy to spot early indicators about your cat’s health. And those telltale signs are often waiting in your cat’s litter box.

We Scoop for Many Reasons

 TLC offers regular litter box cleaning as part of our service. But cat litter scooping is more than just changing the litter. Our sitters are trained to monitor the scoops they make each visit. Among the things we look for are color (signs of blood in the urine or stool), odor (anything unusual), size of the urine clump (urinary tract concerns) and parasites in the stool.

 Not all the clues reside inside the litter box. If there are not the expected number of urine clumps, our sitters can alert you to this change of behavior. Peeing outside the box can be an expression of misdirected aggression (read this recent article) by your cat. Somehow her environment is not to her liking and you can take steps to correct the situation.

 An abnormal litter box does not automatically mean trouble. However, regular monitoring is a sure way help prevent trouble from brewing and keeping your cat happy.

Cat Litter Scooping Made Easy

cat litter scooping

If you’re like us, finding new gadgets to help us care for our pets is a fun pastime. Have you seen this “Litter-Robot“? It may be a little pricey for some of us. However, there are some equally impressive and less-expensive versions here. And, of course, remember the ever-popular manual cat litter scooper.

Holistic Medicine for Pets

Holistic Medicine for Pets

What is Holistic Medicine for Pets?

Keeping Your Pets Healthy, Naturally

We all want what’s best for our pets. Holistic medicine for pets opens up possibilities that may not be available with traditional medicine. However, there are things to consider.

holistic medicine for pets

Holistic care is based on using a body’s own natural healing powers to help the body heal itself. The four main therapies used to do so are:

  • Acupuncture: The insertion of needles at specific body points in an effort to restore the flow of energy to the body.
  • Chiropractic: The manipulation of the vertebrae to correct alignment.
  • Homeopathic: A system for treating disease based on the administration of minute doses of a drug that in massive amounts produces symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the disease itself. 
  • Herbal Medicine: The use of specific herbs and plants for medicinal purposes. 

Did you know that “holistic” medicine is a term used to encompass all of the different medical modalities? Above all, it means that it offers more opportunities to stay healthy.

Many of us have heard of or used Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Herbs, Homeopathy, and Nutritional Supplements. However, most people do not considered “holistic” medicine or these modalities to treat their pets.  The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Board) does not currently recognize all modalities as effective. This does not imply that holistic modalities are not effective. They are, however, best used in conjunction with regular Western veterinary medicine.

Holistic Plus Traditional Medicine

Holistic medicine is not all or nothing. Your pets can also benefit from eating healthier foods and finding traditional medical care when needed. Medical care can be with a traditional veterinarian or one specializing in holistic medicine. For example, use acupuncture to relieve pain and strengthen the body’s immune system. Herbal medicines can enhance nutrition and improve body synergy. Lastly, homeopathy can treat the deepest innate causes of your pet’s diseases.

When holistic medicine modalities are used in conjunction with Western medicine modalities, all of these “tools” create a more complete approach to treating your pet. A trained veterinarian may more fully serve the pet and owner with this type of approach. For instance, acupuncture by itself is only one part of holistic medicine. It is one branch and one theory of medicine. Consider using one tool to treat a pet in conjunction with other traditional methods.

Which Modality is Best?

No one modality is best. As a result, sometimes you need to use multiple tools to be most effective.   And, sometimes using one at a time will identify which your pet responds to best.

Why Choose Holistic Veterinary Care?

While most Western medical approaches may work for infectious diseases, holistic medicine uses preventative measures by treating the whole body. Holistic veterinary care is much more effective when treating chronic illnesses. These diseases may include heart disease, obesity, allergies, digestive problems, joint pain, emotional imbalances, cancer support and more. Traditional Western medicine is also helpful for these issues.  

For emergency situations requiring surgery, for example, Western medicine will save a pet’s life. In addition, holistic veterinarians will integrate typical diagnostic methods in their care regimen such as X-rays and laboratory tests.

What to Look For in a Holistic Practitioner?

A good holistic practitioner must have a thorough working knowledge of traditional medicine. They will also have certifications for each modality and demonstrate a thorough understanding of each. They must be able to work with your existing traditional veterinarian to maximize your pet’s ability to heal. Similarly, a holistic veterinarian must welcome the traditional expertise and integrate with them to optimize your pet’s ability to heal.  To clarify, a fully trained “holistic” Veterinarian will offer:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbs
  • Homeopathy
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Chiropractic
  • Western or Allopathic
  • Ayurvedic
  • Massage
  • Physical Therapy
  • Aromatherapy

Is Holistic Medicine for Pets Expensive?

Traditional medical treatments can be expensive for your pet. However, some holistic approaches offer less expensive and equally effective results. Herbs and nutritional supplements do not have patents. Therefore, the holistic veterinarian will be able to offer a wider array of remedies. This can make a significant difference, especially in chronic illness cases.

Find Out More About Holistic Medicine

If this has piqued your interest, pet owners can conduct a free search for holistic veterinarians by state or specialty at the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association’s website. As always, consult your veterinarian before trying any new treatments on your pets.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Holiday Foods for Pets

Holiday Foods for Pets

Holiday Foods for Pets

What’s Safe and What to Avoid

holiday foods for pets

With the holidays rapidly approaching, you may be doing a lot of menu planning.  Many of the holidays have traditions surrounding food, and none more so than Thanksgiving. You may be already aware that there are many foods unsafe for your pet. However, this list will show you that it is possible to prepare holiday food for pets that is delicious and safe for them.

Turkey

What would a Thanksgiving meal be without turkey? Luckily, the meat from this bird is safe for your pets as long as it is thoroughly cook. It should also be given without the skin. Of course, never give your dog the bones from the turkey. Bones can splinter easily becoming sharp weapons in your dog’s delicate digestive tract. In order to qualify as a good Thanksgiving food for pets, the turkey meat should be unseasoned.

Sweet Potatoes

There are several traditional Thanksgiving vegetables that your pets can enjoy with you.  Sweet potatoes are often a pup favorite.  They are rich in many nutrients, such as Vitamins A and C, fiber, and potassium.  Most dogs will gladly chow down on some raw or dried pieces of sweet potato. You do not want to give your dog the canned kind or any that have been baked with marshmallows.  Most marshmallows contain Xylitol, which is toxic for dogs.  Your pets also do not need the additional sugar that is often found in sweet potato casseroles.  

Want to make a home made treat for your pup for the holidays?  Enjoy this recipe for a DIY Sweet Potato Dog Chew.

Green Beans

Another great veggie to share with your pets is green beans. They are high in both fiber and Vitamins C and K. The trick here is to feed them to your dog while you are cooking up your green bean casserole. Your pet will much prefer the raw, crisp version over the finished product. If your secret green bean casserole recipe involves onions or mushrooms, it is even more important to not let your dog sample it, as these ingredients are toxic to them.

Pumpkin

This fall classic is often one of the first foods to make an appearance at the holidays. That being said, feeding your animals leftover pumpkins from Halloween is not advised and could make your pet very ill.  You can, however, feed them pure fresh pumpkin. This holiday food for pets can be either raw or cooked, but it should not contain any added sugar or spices.

Bread

The bread debate; should I or shouldn’t I?  Dogs are not going to get much nutritional value out of bread (just like us).  Feeding your pup small servings of white bread or dinner rolls from time to time won’t hurt them.  It won’t help them either.  Bread is a filler food and doesn’t contain any extra nutrients that they are not already getting from their daily dog food diet.  There can be significant health risks, however, from bread dough or not fully cooked bread.  The yeast in many breads, if uncooked, will continue to rise once it enters your pets tummy.  Read more about bread and your dog here from the American Kennel Club.

Avoid Feeding Your Pets These Foods, Any Time of Year

Walnuts and Raisins

Many people know that raisins and grapes are dangerous for dogs.  These mini treats pack a punch to your pups kidneys. Avoid them always.  What many people do not know is that several types of nuts, in particular walnuts, are also very dangerous.  For more information on nuts and pets, reading this article will help.

Mac and Cheese

This holiday food for pets should be approached with caution. There is a debate on mac and cheese in the pet community. Dogs and cats do not need a daily dose of dairy products.  But some sure do love it!  However, some pets, even cats, can become intolerant of dairy products.  This is especially true in older pets.  In these cases, even small amounts of mac and cheese could result in gas, vomiting, and diarrhea.  You know your pet best, if their tummies can handle it, keep the treat to one small serving.  

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion can make your dogs very ill. Even the powdered versions can wreak havoc on your pets body.  Further, raw potatoes should be avoided as they contain an element toxic to animals; solanine.  If your pet loves potatoes, be sure that they are fully baked or boiled (and cooled) before serving to your furry friend.  Skip the salt and butter, too, for the best version for Fido.

As always, for items that may affect the health and safety of your pet, consult with your veterinarian. 

For More Information

If you have questions about holiday foods for pets or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC Pet Sitter. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com.

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets

Cold weather safety tips for pets — but in September? You bet. While we know it will be a bit before there’s a snap in the air, we feel good about helping you in being prepared if Lowe’s already has out Christmas trees. So, when the weather gets chilly, take a few minutes to prepare for your furry friends. 

With help from the ASPCA, we’ve pulled together tips to help you care for your pets in cold weather.

cold weather safety tips for pets
This pup is cozy in his artisan dog sweater

Dogs

  1. Keep you dog on their leash at all time. Also, be sure there are tags on their collar.  Dogs have a more difficult time tracking scents in the winter time, especially in snow.  They can get lost more easily if they do make it off leash.
  2. Make sure to wipe your pet’s paws when they come indoors after walking in snow, rain, or ice.  If they lick their paws, they could potentially ingest harmful chemicals such as antifreeze and salts used on roads. Bonus, remember to wipe their belly, too.
  3. Keep your dog appropriately covering during the winter months.  For example, purchase a dog sweater or jacket. In addition, do not shave your long haired dog during the winter.  They rely on their coat to keep them warm. If you have a short haired dog, they will rely on you to keep them warm.
  4. Limit bathing frequency in winter months. It can remove essential oils needed to keep their skin from getting dry and flaky. If you do bathe your dog, be sure to dry them completely before going for a walk.  Be mindful not to let them walk outside in the cold with a wet coat.
  5. For dogs who are active outdoors during winter months, pet owners should be sure to increase their food supply, particularly their protein consumption. Check with your vet for the best way to do this for your particular pet.

Cats

cold weather safety tips for pets
Cats Can Wear Sweaters, Too
  1. Keep your cat indoors during cold weather, as it is very possible he or she could freeze if left outside.
  2. Another cold-related problem for cats is frostbite. If your cat is accidentally left outside or becomes lost during a heavy snowstorm, the result could be frostbite. If this happens, remember that frozen tissue should never be rubbed. This causes additional tissue damage. Prompt veterinary treatment is needed. 
  3. In the winter time, outdoor cats often sleep under the hoods of cars.  So, before you start your car, be sure to make a loud noise near the hood, to give a cat the opportunity to escape.

All Pets – Cold Weather Safety Tips for Pets

  • Consider keeping your home humidified. The change in air from inside to outside can cause dry, flaky and itchy skin.
  • Provide a warm, safe place for your pets to sleep in the winter time such as a soft dog bed and blanket.
  • Don’t ever leave your pet in your car alone in cold weather.  During the winter months, your car traps in cold air and pets could potentially freeze to death.
  • Some pets are sensitive to cold weather because of their age, breed, or illnesses they may have.  During the cold months, limit your sensitive pet’s exposure to the weather by keeping them indoors with the exception of potty breaks.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Diabetes in Dogs – Know the Warning Signs

Diabetes in Dogs – Know the Warning Signs

Diabetes in Dogs – Knowing the Warning Signs

For many, there is nothing worse than knowing that a pet is suffering. Especially when symptoms can be treated to ease their discomfort. Diabetes in dogs presents itself in several ways and knowing the signs is helpful. Even more, understanding why it occurs can be helpful in keeping the effects of the illness at bay.

diabetes in dogs

Diabetes mellitus, otherwise known as “sugar diabetes” is commonly found in canines.  The illness arises when dogs are unable to metabolize enough sugar. To understand this chronic disease, it’s helpful to know why a dog cannot process their food in a healthy way.

Understanding Glucose & Insulin

Diabetes in dogs occur when there is a breakdown of the process of converting food nutrients into energy.This energy is meant to power the body’s cells. To do this, your dog’s body is managing two things:

Glucose:

Glucose is essential fuel for your dog’s cells. When they digest food, their body breaks down some of the nutrients into glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar that is a vital source of energy for certain body cells and organs. The glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, which then transports the glucose throughout the body.

Insulin:

Insulin is in charge of delivering the fuel created by the glucose. Meanwhile, the pancreas releases the hormone insulin into the body. Insulin acts as a “gatekeeper” telling cells to grab glucose and other nutrients out of the bloodstream to use them as fuel.

What is Diabetes in Dogs?

When a dog has diabetes it means that the glucose-insulin process is not working properly. Diabetes in dogs manifest in two way.

Insulin-deficiency Diabetes

If your dog’s body is not producing enough insulin they will start showing signs of diabetes. If the pancreas is damaged or not functioning properly it cannot produce proper amounts of insulin. Dogs with this type of diabetes require daily injections to replace the missing insulin. This is the most common type of diabetes in dogs.

Insulin-resistance Diabetes

When your dog’s pancreas is producing some insulin, but his body is not utilizing it as it should, insulin-resistant diabetes will occur. This means that cells are not responding to the insulin’s “message”. Therefore, glucose is not transferring from the blood into the cells properly. This type of diabetes occurs more often in older, obese dogs.

diabetes in dogs

Also, female dogs can develop temporary insulin resistance while in heat or pregnant.

Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

Now that you know how diabetes works, you may be wondering how to spot the disease in your pet.

Early warning signs of diabetes in dogs are:

  • Increase in appetite
  • Frequent urination
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lab results showing high glucose levels in the blood and urine

More advanced symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Coma

Treating Diabetes for Your Furry Friend

Now that you know what to look for, is your dog exhibiting any of these signs? Noticing the early warning signs and acting on them could save your pet’s life.  Contact your veterinarian immediately if you feel that your pet displays any of these symptoms.  

Diabetes in pets is typically manageable with dietary control, exercise and daily insulin shots.

  • Diet – Your veterinarian will recommend the best type of diet for your diabetic dog. Usually this will includes good-quality protein, along with fiber and complex carbohydrates that help to slow absorption of glucose. Your vet may also recommend a diet with a relatively low fat content.
  • Exercise – To help avoid sudden spikes or drops in glucose levels, it is especially important that diabetic dogs maintain a moderate but consistent exercise routine.
  • Injections – Most diabetic dogs require daily shots of insulin under the skin. As the ‘Dog parent’ you will have to learn how to do this. Although it’s understandable to be apprehensive about doing this, it is not as hard as it might sound. It usually becomes a quick and easy daily routine that is not at all stressful for either dog or owner.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear Infections in Dogs

A Common Ailment for Many

Your Dog’s Ears Need Protecting from Ear Infections

Ear infections in dogs is a very common ailment.  In fact, most dogs will suffer from an ear infection at least once in their life.  As a dog owner, spotting the signs of an ear infection is helpful. Moreso, being able to prevent or treat them is even better.  

What causes ear infections in dogs?

Bacteria and/or yeast are the cause of most ear infections in dogs.  More common in puppies, ear mites are also found to be a source of ear infections.  Having your veterinarian take a sample and look under the microscope will help them to identify the root of the problem.

What are the signs of an ear infection?

Becoming aware of the signs that your pet may have an ear infection will help you to address the infection before it gets out of hand.  Typical signs of ear infection are: scratching, rubbing, shaking of the ears, unusual odor coming from the ears, and/or pain and sensitivity in the ear area.

ear infections in dogs
Head shaking can be a sign of an ear infection in your dog

How can I prevent my dog from contracting an ear infection?

Ear infections commonly occur as a result of too much moisture in the ear canal.  This may be from bathing, swimming, or grooming.  The excess moisture creates an environment ideal for bacterial and yeast growth.  One way to prevent ear infections would be to routinely clean and dry your pet’s ears after bathing, swimming, or grooming.

Ear infections may also occur as a side effect of your pet’s allergies.  These allergies may come from pollens, dust, mold, or food.  When a dog suffers from an allergic reaction, the skin inside the ear becomes inflamed and promotes the growth of bacteria and/or yeast already living inside the ear.  To prevent ear infections from occurring as a result of allergies, you must first identify the source of the allergy and then try to reduce your pet’s exposure to the particular allergen.  Also, routinely cleaning and drying the ear with ear cleaner made specifically for dogs will help to prevent bacterial and yeast growth.

How do I treat my dog’s ear infections?

If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, the best thing to do is take him to see your veterinarian.  Special medication is typically prescribed for treating the ear infection. 

First, you will need to gently clean the infected area with a mild dog ear cleaning solution.  Pour a small amount into the ear and carefully cover it with a cotton ball. Then, rub the cotton ball softly in a circular motion.  Repeat the process for as long as your dog will allow until the cotton ball comes out fairly clean. 

Once cleaned, the ear is ready for the medication that your vet has prescribed.  Many vets warn to never use Q-tips. These may push the debris further into the ear canal. Also, never use harsh cleansers such as rubbing alcohol.  In most cases, topical ointment is all that is needed to effectively treat a dog’s ear infection.  However, in severe cases, oral antibiotics may be prescribed as well.

Considering the likelihood that your dog will eventually encounter an ear infection at some time in their life, and also considering how much pain and discomfort they may go through, it is wise to be aware of the signs of ear infections, ways to prevent them, as well as ways to treat them.  Your perky-eared pet will be very thankful!

Additional Reading

Cesar Milan offers a great article written by Henry Cerny, DVM MS on his website addressing this very topic. For additional reading, have a look.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Heartworm in Dogs: How to Prevent It

Heartworm in Dogs: How to Prevent It

Heartworm in Dogs

Heartworm in dogs is a deadly parasite that lives in the heart and arteries of infected animals.  It is a serious disease that can be fatal without treatment.  The good news is that prevention for your pet is simple and affordable.

heartworm in dogs

The Cause

Heartworms transfer to each animal by way of mosquitoes.  When a mosquito carries infected blood from one animal to the next, heartworm larvae enter the muscle tissue and travel to the blood vessels.   According to the ASPCA, “several hundred worms can live in one dog for five to seven years.”  They can grow to reach twelve inches in length.  They wreak havoc as they travel through arteries and vital organs, reaching their final destination of the lungs and heart.

Since mosquitoes play a key role in the contraction of this disease, animals that live in warm, humid climates (where mosquitoes are prevalent) are more susceptible.  However, heartworm disease is widespread throughout the United States and any dog is vulnerable without the aid of preventive prescriptions.

heartworm in dogs
mosquitos play a key role in spreading heartworm in dogs

Symptoms

Animals may not display symptoms of infection immediately; rather symptoms could take months or years to surface.  Typical symptoms of heartworm in dogs are coughing, vomiting, difficulty breathing, loss of weight, and fatigue.  If your pet displays any of these signs of heartworm disease, you should contact your veterinarian.

Diagnosis

A veterinarian can diagnose heartworm disease through a series of tests such as: examination, ultrasounds, and blood tests.  It is important to have your vet test your dog for heartworm annually or before beginning a new heartworm preventative prescription.

Prevention of Heartworm in Dogs

Preventing heartworm in dogs is fairly easy. Once your pet has been tested for heartworm, your vet may prescribe a preventative chewable pill which can be administered monthly.  There are also topical products available which may be applied to the skin to prevent infection.  It is recommended that you continue to administer preventative medication to your dog throughout the year to ensure his safety, considering the medication also prevents infection from other parasites.

Treatment

If your pet is diagnosed with heartworms, there are highly successful treatments.  However, the treatment process is much more difficult than prevention.  Treatment usually involves hospitalization, as well as a series of injections into the infected dog’s muscles.  Follow up care includes restrictive exercise for several weeks, as well as preventative medication to decrease the risk of future infection.

heartworm in dogs
heartworm treatments may involve hospitalization

Advancements in heartworm prevention and treatment have come a long way in recent years.  Therefore, detecting heartworm in dogs is a fairly simple routine. It involves testing your pet yearly and administering preventative medication monthly. This process may save your pet from contracting this deadly disease.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Alternatives to Leaving Pets in the Car

Alternatives to Leaving Pets in the Car

The temps are getting warmer again and it’s time for a friendly reminder about alternatives to leaving pets in the car alone. Did you know that in just a few minutes, your dog could be seriously injured or worse, if temps get too hot?

The temperature inside a vehicle can actually rise to higher than that of the outside. This is especially true during spring and summer months in Arizona. These temperatures, combined with the enclosed space inside the vehicle, can spell a disaster for your four legged friend. What may seem like a simple five minute trip to the store for you, could become a stuffy oven for your pet very quickly. This can result in exhaustion, sickness, and in more extreme cases death.

We want to be sure that you and Fido have a happy and healthy few months. Therefore, we’ve pulled together a few alternatives to leaving pets in the car.

5 Alternatives to Leaving Pets in the Car

1. Use the Drive Through

If there’s an option to use a drive through, take it. You and your dog can stay together in the cool conditioned air. You may even get to listen to your favorite song on the radio while you wait your turn in line.

2. Ask a Friend or a Pet Sitter Like Us

Ask a friend to tag along who can play with Fido while you take care of your errand. Of course, when a longer errand is planned ahead, a pet sitting service like TLC Pet Sitter is always here to help. We can stay and play with your dog for a predetermined amount of time in the comfort of your own home.

3. Can Your Pet Come Inside with You?

If the store allows it, and your pet is socially trained, bring them in with you.

4. Eating Outdoors Anyone?

There are several spots in and around the area that offer outdoor dining. Many of them also allow your four legged friend to join you. Ask for a bowl of water for your pup, and everyone enjoys a meal together.

5. Let Your Dog Skip the Trip

If you have to run an errand, and it’s possible and safe to leave your pet home, consider this option. It’s quite possible that Fido will use this time to catch up on his beauty rest.

All the cool comforts of home

What to Do – Just in Case

What if you see someone else’s pet left in a car? This can be scary, for you and the pet. As pet owners, we can imagine what that pet might be feeling and panic may set in. Take a deep breath and do the following as quickly as you can.

  • See if the car was left running with the air conditioning on. If not,
  • Keep an eye on the animal and call the local animal control or police department and let them know that an animal is in distress
  • Try to find the pet parent. Make note of the license plate number, color and make of the car, and alert the closest store to make an announcement.
  • In many places, it is against the law to leave a pet in a hot car.
  • If the authorities have not yet arrived and the dog’s life appears to be in imminent danger it may be time to act. Find a witness (or several) who share your assessment of the situation. Then, take steps to remove the animal from the hot car. Do not leave the scene until authorities arrive.

Signs of Heatstroke in Pets

Whether it is your pet, or someone else’s, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the signs of heatstroke.

leaving pets in the car
Click for better view. Know the signs of an overheated dog.

If you see heatstroke symptoms, get them out of the heat, preferably into an air-conditioned space, and then to a veterinarian immediately. If it is not your dog, or you cannot transport the dog yourself, call animal control and let them know it is an emergency. Symptoms to look for include restlessness, thick saliva, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark tongue, rapid heartbeat, fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, or lack of coordination.

We know that as pet owner’s you’ll be especially careful during these hotter months, will consider the risks, and choose not to leave them alone in a vehicle even if it’s only for a few minutes.

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.

Pandemic Related Separation Anxiety in Your Pet?

Pandemic Related Separation Anxiety in Your Pet?

In our new world of pandemic induced staying at home, separation anxiety is new for some pets.  Has your dog gotten used to you being home all day?  Has your cat enjoyed all the extra time she gets to lay in your lap?  If you are seeing some new behaviors in your pets as you prepare to leave your house or while you are away, read on.

separation anxiety
separation anxiety and destructive behavior

What is Separation Anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a sign of distress in your pet.  It is triggered when a dog is upset because of separation from their pet parents, or the people they are most attached to.  Did you know that the anxiety is so extreme for some pets that they try hurt themselves trying to get out of the house?  You may notice that your pet becomes agitated as you prepare to leave the house.  They understand what is about to happen.

Some dogs will try to prevent their favorite people from leaving.  Then, right after their pet parents leave the house the separation anxiety becomes so bad they act out.  For instance, some animals will bark incessantly.  Others will begin destroying objects around the home.  Furthermore, some will urinate or defecate in the house.  Pets are not equipped the way humans are to cope with missing someone they love.

Did You Know:  Separation anxiety is often more prevalent in dogs who have spent time in a shelter?  Being surrendered by their family and left behind at a shelter leaves a lasting impression for many animals.

Treating Mild Separation Anxiety in Pets

 The goal in treating this reaction is teaching them to enjoy or at least tolerate being left alone. 

First, speak with your veterinarian to rule out any other underlying issues.  Then, take action to counter-condition the behavior.

This means focusing on developing an associate with being left alone with good things.  For instance, their favorite food or treat.  What does that mean?  Try offering your pet a treat puzzle each time you leave the house.  For example, try giving your dog a puzzle stuffed with something really tasty, like peanut butter, spray cheese, small training treats, frozen banana, or canned dog food.  Some toys can even be froze. This makes getting the treat take even more of your dog’s time. Most importantly, remove these toys as soon as you return home so that your dog only has access to them when he’s by himself.  They’ll begin to associate something fun with you getting ready to leave the house and their time alone.

separation anxiety toys
Puzzle toys help keep your pup busy while you’re away

Dogs with more severe cases of separation anxiety may require a different approach.  Speak with your vet for ideas and treatment plans.

Going Back to Work

As the world, and businesses, begin to get back to normal, your pet’s schedule is being disrupted again.  If you find yourself going back to the office one day or five days per week, this will trigger more separation anxiety episodes.

When you can, try to take your pet to work with you.  Since this is not realistic for many, hiring a pet sitter will help with their anxiety. Believe it or not, most pets suffering from separation anxiety are calmed as long as someone, even if not you, are with them. 

For More Information

If you have questions about this topic or general questions about pet care, you can contact Kara Jenkins, Owner of TLC House & Pet Sitting. We are also available by email at info@tlcpetsitter.com. View more of our articles on pets here.