Diabetes in Pets

Diabetes in PetsDiabetes is a disease that affects thousands of people around the world. Many people don’t realize, though, that diabetes affects dogs and cats as well! And yes, they can require daily injections, just like their human counterparts. Dogs and cats that are diagnosed with diabetes generally exhibit the same types of symptoms that human diabetics do, such as sudden weight loss or gain, increased thirst, increased urination, and lethargy.

Not all diabetic animals require insulin shots, however. In another similarity to humans with diabetes, some animals can be regulated with strict diet and exercise. High fat and high sugar foods should be avoided for dogs. Cats need a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Many major companies such as Science Diet, Purina, and Royal Canin have developed diets specifically for diabetic animals. Each pet is a unique case, however, and if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will be able to give you specific instructions for care and feeding based on your pet’s specific needs.

If your pet has a more serious case of diabetes and requires insulin injections, don’t panic! The dosages for dogs and cats are very, very small, and the needles are even smaller. The timing of the administration is very important, as it should be given at the same time every day, normally following a meal. You will need to recheck blood work through your veterinarian frequently to maintain the proper insulin levels, but most animals do well once their treatment regimen is established.

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Cold Weather Reminders for Pets

Winter Reminders for PetsDon’t forget to take precautions to keep your pets warm and healthy. There are plenty of winter hazards out there, such as antifreeze and ice.  Here are some cold weather reminders to help keep your pets safe during these brisk winter days.

Always make sure there is plenty of fresh water for your pets.  It is misconception that pets drink less water in the colder seasons compared to the summer months.  In fact, pets drink the same amount of water regardless of the season in order to balance their body’s temperature during colder weather.

Check for hazardous areas. During the colder months, dogs and cats will seek shelter in warmer spaces such as near power generators or kitchen ovens.  Vehicles also pose a threat to some animals.  Cats have a tendency to hide from the low temperatures in your car’s engine or exhaust pipe because of the warmth that they provide.  That is why it is always a wise idea to honk first before driving or check under the hood before starting your engine.

The temperature inside of your car can become dangerous for your pet in a matter of minutes. Colder temperatures could cause hypothermia or even death.  While your dog may love going for drives and running around town with you, during very cold or very hot weather, leaving them in the car isn’t safe.

Consult with your family veterinarian if you encounter a change in your pet’s mood, appetite or behavior during the winter months.  It is always best to prevent and avoid any serious health issues that your pet may face.  Follow these tips in order to keep your companions safe during these cold winter days!


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Holiday Hazards for Pets

Holiday HazardsWhile you are busy making your festive plans for the holidays, please don’t forget to include your pets. The holidays are a time for giving, but there are some things you should not share with your furry companions. Once you know the hazards, a little precaution and prevention will make holidays a happy time for everyone.



Some of the common holiday hazards include:
Holiday plants: Holly and mistletoe are extremely poisonous when eaten. The lovely poinsettia may not be truly poisonous, but its milky white sap and leaves can certainly cause severe gastric distress. With so many hybrid varieties available each year, the best approach is to keep the plants out of your pet’s reach.

Electrical cords: Holiday lights mean more electrical cords for kittens and puppies to chew. Be sure you have cords secured and out of the way.

Candles: Lighted candles should never be left unattended and that is even more important if left at kitty’s eye level or within puppy’s chewing zone. An exuberant tail, a swat of a paw, and candles and hot wax can quickly become disastrous. Anchor candles securely and away from curious faces and feet.

Pine needles: Check around holiday trees and boughs frequently. Ingested pine needles can puncture your pet’s intestines if sharp enough.

Holiday tree: Make sure your tree is well secured. If you have a tree-climbing cat or large dog with a happy tail, anchor the top of the tree to the wall, using strong cord or rope. Preservatives often used in the water in a tree stand can cause gastric upsets, so be sure it is inaccessible or not used. Avoid sugar and aspirin additives in the water as well.

Ornaments: Sharp or breakable ornaments, dreidels, and even aluminum foil should be kept out of reach. String objects, especially tinsel and ribbons, are to be safeguarded at all costs. They are thin and sharp and can wrap around intestines or ball up in the stomach.

Listen to Dr. Chris Jones, Gulf Coast Veterinary Internist, speak about the holiday decorations and your pets directly on News 92 FM with Lana Hughes.


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Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month!

Adopt A Shelter DogOctober is Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month!  It’s another reason to remind everyone why it’s important to adopt rather than to shop. Before you make this long term commitment, be sure to consider all of your options.  The majority of pets in shelters today are known to be “owner surrendered” for one reason or another.  By adopting a shelter dog you’ll be giving him or her a second chance of life and saving the life of a second animal; the pet you adopt and a homeless pet somewhere who can be rescued because of space you helped free up.   An estimated 3.7 million animals are euthanized in animal shelters every year because of the overpopulated problem.

The companionship of dogs can help manage loneliness and depression.  Pets can increase your opportunities to exercise, participate in outdoor activities, and socialize.  Dogs can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness.   You will save money.  Adopting a pet from an animal shelter is much less expensive than buying a pet at a pet store or through other sources.  In addition, animals from many shelters are already spayed or neutered and vaccinated, which makes the shelter’s fee a real bargain.

Dogs are known to be human’s best friend.  We’ve found them to be a source of comfort, companionship, and even a friend who experiences life’s struggles with us.  It goes without saying that a dog loves us more than he loves himself.  Instead of buying a dog, visit your local shelter where you will likely to find dozens of healthy, well-socialized puppies and adult dogs, including purebreds, just waiting for your special home!

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National Disaster Preparedness

Disaster PreparednessSeptember is National Disaster Preparedness Month not only for humans but also for our pets! Hearing about all the different weather patterns across the nation reminds us to prepare in advance for the season, no matter where we call home. Make time to have a back-up plan in case the inevitable strikes in your area. Getting organized ahead of time makes all the difference in the world.

Make a family plan and assemble an emergency kit for all of your family members (humans and four legged ones).  Some simple and helpful tips that could save you time are to ID your pets in advance and have a disaster kit ready for all of your family.  Your family members should know what to take when that time comes to evacuate. Remember to stock up on non-perishables and keep everything accessible stored in sturdy containers such duffle bags or covered containers that can be carried easily.  If your pets eat any dry food, it should be stored in air-tight containers and replaced every 6 months.

A basic disaster kit would include:

  • Food and water for at least five days
  • Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first aid kit.
  • Cat litter box, litter, litter scoop, garbage bags to collect all pets’ waste.
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses, and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can’t escape.
  • Current photos of you with your pets and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated—and to prove that they are yours once you’re reunited.
  • Written information about your pets’ feeding schedules, medical conditions, and behavior issues along with the name and number of your family veterinarian.

If you evacuate, please do remember to take your pet with you!  If it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets.  If you think you’ll will be gone for a few hours, take your pets since you have no way of knowing how long you’ll be kept out of the area, and you may not be able, or allowed to go back for your pets.  Evacuate early, don’t wait for a mandatory evacuation order.  Some people who have waited to be evacuated by emergency officials have been told to leave their pets behind.  The smell of smoke, high winds or lightening may make your pet more fearful and difficult to load into a crate or carrier. Evacuating before conditions become severe will keep everyone safer and make the process less stressful.

If you stay home, do it safely.  If you and your family decide to wait out a storm at home, identify a safe area of your home where you can all stay together and make that area safe area animal friendly.  Remember to close off or eliminate unsafe nooks and crannies where frightened cats may try to hide. Also, move dangerous items such as tools or toxic products that have been stored in the area.

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Heartworm Disease on the Rise!

Heartworm DiseaseThe number of pets diagnosed with heart worm disease is on the rise! Heartworm has been documented in all 50 states. The American Heartworm Society recommends all U.S. pets be given heartworm preventive medication. Now more than ever, it is important to take necessary measures to protect your pet and prevent the spread of this serious, life-threating disease!

Heartworms are spread from infected animals to uninfected animals by mosquitoes. Once infected, a single mosquito is capable of infecting multiple pets during its lifetime. The mosquito bites an infected pet and ingests the heartworm larvae. The heartworm larvae molts and becomes infective. When the infected mosquito bites an uninfected pet, the larvae are injected into the pet. The heartworms grow, multiply and settle in the pet’s heart and blood vessels of the lungs. Ultimately, the infection can lead to heart disease and cause severe damage to other organs such as the liver and kidneys. While most pet owners know dogs of all breeds and ages can contract the disease, many do not realize cats also are susceptible. Cats are difficult to diagnose with heartworm infection, and the infection is more deadly for them. The rate of infection in cats also is on the rise.

Year-round prevention is best!  Talk to your family veterinarian to decide which preventive is best for your companion!

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Keeping Your Pet Cool This Summer

Beat the HeatWith hot weather on the horizon, remember to keep your four-legged kids safe. When the heat of a summer day becomes unbearable, humans can adapt by wearing lighter clothing, applying sunscreen or finding shade. However, pets don’t have this ability and can easily suffer from the effects of the sun, which can cause heatstroke, burns and even breathing problems.  You can help your pets by simply taking some preventive measures.

Be sure your pet has enough clean, cool water. Pets can get dehydrated quickly, make sure your pet gets plenty of fresh, clean water available through out the day.

NEVER leave your pet unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a warm day, the temperature in a car can exceed 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, even with the windows partially open. Your pet can quickly suffer brain damage or die from heatstroke or suffocation.

Limit exercise to morning or evening hours, especially with older pets, overweight pets and short-nosed dog.

Find some shade. If you do find yourself out in midday with your pet, make sure you keep them out of direct sunlight or give them a shady place to out of the sun.

If the ground is too hot for you to be barefoot, it is too hot for a dog. The pads on your pets paws can be burned walking across particularly hot sand or asphalt.

If your pet is brachycephalic, or has a flat-shaped face like Pugs, Pekingese, Boston terriers and Persian cats, they cannot pant as effectively and are more susceptible to heat stroke. Be especially careful with breeds like these in hot weather and keep plenty of water on hand.

Pets who are elderly, overweight and have heart or lung disease should be kept in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible away from the heat.

Prevention. If it’s extremely hot, keep your pets indoors as much as possible.

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National Pet Fire Safety Day

Save My Pets

An estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires, and a new data analysis by the National Fire Protection Association shows that nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets. The following tips can be used to help educate you as a pet owner on how to prevent you beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as how to keep your pets safe!

Prevent Your Pet From Starting Fires:

Extinguish open flames: Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Remove stove knobs: Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house – a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Invest in flameless candles: These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.

Pet proof the home: Take a walk around your home and look for areas where pets might start fires inadvertently, such as loose wires and other potential hazards.

Keep Your Pets Safe:

Keep pets near entrances when away from home: When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.

Secure young pets: Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home, such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Practice escape routes with pets: Keep collars and leashes at the ready in case you have to evacuate quickly with your pet or firefighters need to rescue your pet.

Consider using monitored smoke detection services: As an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms, smoke detectors connected to a monitoring center help save pets who can’t escape when left home alone.

Affix a pet alert window cling: Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets and remember to make sure to keep the number of pets listed on them updated!

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Pet Travel Tips

Pet Travel TipsPlan to travel this holiday week with your pet or even sometime during the summer? Before you do, consider making the decision on weather or not your pet is suited to travel with you. If you’re uncertain your pet is ready to travel, please consult with your family veterinarian first. Traveling together can be a wonderful-bonding experience but not always turns out to be a pleasant one. It’s important to plan ahead and always keep the best interests of your furry companions in mind.  Preparation and prevention are key points to always remember! If you determine that your pet is ready to join you on your trip, below are some important reminders – Happy Travels!

Preparation Tips:

Healthy Preparation: Visit your family veterinarian for a medical check-up to ensure your pet is up-to-date with all the necessary vaccinations. If you are traveling with your pet across state lines, be sure to obtain a recent certificate of rabies vaccination along with your pets medical records. Make sure to have your pets medications refilled.

Restraining Plan: Be sure to know ahead of time on how you’re going to properly restrain your pet in your vehicle. This is a crucial factor that is not taken seriously enough, both for you and your pet. Reality is that hundreds of pets are injured yearly or even killed because they are allowed free reign in cars, trucks, SUVs and even RVs. The impact this causes the humans is as worse, having your pet distract you can lead to an accident. Vehicle pet barriers, pet seat belts, pet car seats, and pet travel crates are all excellent ways to keep your pet (and you) safe when traveling in your vehicle.

Packing Essentials: Include an ample supply of your pet’s food. Don’t rely on stopping along the way to pick up their food. Their particular brand of food may not be readily available and it is not recommended to introduce your pet to a new brand of food while traveling. Other essentials to pack include collapsible travel food and water bowls, bedding, litter and litter box, leash, collar and tags, favorite toys, grooming supplies, a pet first-aid kit and any necessary medications. And of course be sure to always have an ample supply of water available for your pets!

Prevention Tips:

Remember, no heads out the window! Your pet can easily be injured by flying debris. This should go without saying, but NEVER travel with a pet in the back of vehicle. Some states have laws restricting such transport and it is always dangerous.

Frequent Pit Stops: Always provide frequent bathroom and exercise breaks. Most travel service areas have designated areas for walking your pet. Be sure to stay in this area particularly when you pet needs a potty break and of course, bring along a bag to pick up after your pet.! When outside your vehicle, make sure that your pet is always on a leash and wearing a collar with a permanent and temporary travel identification tag.

Proper Hydration: Be sure to provide your pet with some fresh water to wet their whistle. Occasionally traveling can upset your pet’s stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water.

Watch the Food Intake: It is recommended that you keep feeding to a minimum during travel. Be sure to feed them their regular pet food and resist the temptation to give them some of your fast food (that never has a good ending).

Don’t Leave Pets Alone: NEVER leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle! On hot days, the temperature in your vehicle can rise to 120 degrees in short minutes, even with the windows slightly open. This can lead to a health disaster in a matter of seconds! In addition, an animal left alone in a vehicle is an open invitation to pet thieves.

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Sago Palms

Sago PalmSago palms (also called King palms or King Sago palms) are a hardy, ornamental plant found commonly in the Houston area.

Given their prevalence, you or someone near you may even have one of these Sago palms growing in the yard.  But did you know that this plant can be harmful to your pets?  Dogs in particular are likely to chew on these palms or ingest the seeds/nuts and may become extremely ill as a result.  While it is not well understood why these plants are so toxic, we do know that they primarily affect the liver and can lead to liver failure and death.

If your dog has access to these plants, please be sure they are supervised when around them.  If your dog does eat or chew on the bark or seeds of a Sago palm, please seek veterinary care immediately.  The sooner the exposure is handled, the less likely the risk of long term complications.

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