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Ask Wellness March 2015

Q. Do you have a special dry food for cats prone to getting UTIs? My cat dislikes the prescription diet.

A. We’re sorry to hear that your cat has been experiencing urinary issues. Please know that we do not offer prescription diets, however, our Complete Health recipes contain a cranberry blend that may promote healthy urine PH. Another way to help cats maintain urinary health is by keeping them well hydrated. If your cat does not drink water regularly, you can help him get more hydration by supplementing his dry food with one of our Complete Health wet foods. We recommend that you discuss your cat’s nutrition options with your vet before making any changes. Best of luck!

National Animal Poison Prevention Week

For over 50 years, the third week in March has been celebrated as National Animal Poison Prevention Week. This week is all about bringing knowledge and awareness to all pet owners regarding the many poisonous hazards in and around one’s own home, and what to do if you know or suspect that your pet has ingested something that is potentially harmful. Let’s go room by room and talk about the potential poison hazards so that you can protect your furry friend from harmful substances. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way, and in this case, it could save your pet’s life!

Kitchen

We are starting with the kitchen because we believe it is one of the most important rooms when it comes to poison prevention. People often make the mistake of thinking that if a given food is safe for them that it is safe for their pet, but this could not be more wrong. We all want to treat our pets to something scrumptious from time to time, but people need to be educated regarding certain foods that can be toxic to animals. The following foods have been shown to be potentially harmful to pets –

  • Chocolate – especially dark chocolate, coffee, caffeine
  • Raisons and grapes
  • Yeast dough
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Table salt
  • Garlic, onion and chives
  • Avocado

These are just some of the most common foods that can be hazardous to your pet. It is always recommended that you don’t give your pet any table foods unless approved by your pet’s veterinarian. Besides, if you have your pets on the Wellness diet, then they are already getting all of the delicious nutrition that they need!

Bathroom

Let’s talk about medications. Human medications are a big cause of pet poisoning occurrences. First things first, all medications should be stored in a secure place at all times to avoid any accidental ingestion by your curious pet. It wouldn’t take long for some pets to chew right through a medication bottle, totally unaware of its harmful contents.

  • It is a good idea to store your own medications separately from your pet’s medications to avoid any confusion.
  • Always check the bottle before giving your pet any medication to verify it is the correct one, especially if you have multiple pets.
  • All human medications, whether OTC or prescription, should be deemed unsafe for your pet, unless otherwise advised by your veterinarian.

Cleaning supplies is another culprit. The chemicals can be very harmful to your pets. Keep them in a safe place and keep your pets away while you are cleaning with them to avoid any harmful contact.

Living Room

Household plants are a popular topic when it comes to poison prevention for our pets. There are some household plants that can be toxic and even potentially fatal to your pets. If you are a pet owner and you are in the market for some plants to display in your home, be sure that you do your research to be sure that they aren’t poisonous to your pet. Here is a list of 17 poisonous plants that can be harmful to your pet. Knowledge is power!

Miscellaneous Household Items That Can Be Toxic to Your Pet

  • Batteries
  • Potpourri
  • Insecticides
  • Rodenticides
  • Plant fertilizer/plant food
  • Antifreeze
  • Yarn, rubber bands, dental floss

How to Handle an Emergency

If you know that your pet has ingested something poisonous, or if you are suspicious due to your pet displaying signs and symptoms such as – fever, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors and/or lack of coordination – contact your emergency veterinary service immediately. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a possible fee of $65 per case.

National Animal Poison Prevention Week is a great time to educate ourselves on how to keep our pets safe from potentially harmful materials that can be found right inside our own homes. The moral of the story? Curiosity really can kill the cat – or dog, if we aren’t careful! Keep your pet safe!

National Puppy Day

Since 2006, March 23rd has been celebrated as National Puppy Day. This day was founded not only as a celebration of the unconditional love that puppies bring into our lives, but also as a day to save the lives of homeless puppies sitting in animals shelters and to bring awareness to the horrific reality of puppy mills across the globe. Here are some ways that you can celebrate the true meaning behind National Puppy Day!

10 Ways to Celebrate National Puppy Day

1. Adopt – If you have been teetering on the edge of the decision to bring a new puppy into your home, this would be the perfect day to take the plunge! Adopting from your local shelter has become much easier with the help of social media. Most shelters use social media sites such as Facebook to post photos of all of their animals that are currently up for adoption. Adopt from your local shelter or animal rescue.

2. Donate to the Cause – Maybe you already have the perfect puppy in your life and you get to celebrate that unconditional love day in and day out – great! Another way that you can celebrate the meaning of National Puppy Day is to DONATE!

  • Donate your time by volunteering at a local shelter
  • Donate money and/or supplies to a local shelter
  • Make a donation to an animal welfare organization that fights to end puppy mill cruelty

3. Spread the Knowledge – Not everyone is aware of the dangers and cruelty involved with puppy mills. What is a puppy mill? Do your research and share the knowledge to bring awareness to this important issue.

4. Share the Puppy Love – We get to experience the unconditional love from our puppies each day, so National Puppy Day is a great opportunity for us to share that love with others. Take your puppy to a local elderly community to visit with the residents and put a big smile on all of their faces – your puppy will be smiling too from all of the extra love and attention.

5. Capture the Moment – They don’t stay puppies forever! Hire a photographer to take some photos of you and your puppy to savor the sweetness of the puppy phase. You will love looking back on those in the years to come!

6. Puppy Training 101 – Sign you and your puppy up for an obedience training course to get a jumpstart on the basics. You will be well on your way to having the smartest puppy on the block!

7. Puppy’s Day Out – Plan a special outing for you and your puppy. Whether it is a trip to the Dog Park or “Bring Your Puppy to Work Day,” introducing your puppy to new social environments is one of the best things you can do for them.

8. Take Action – Write to your congressman to ask that he or she support the ban of puppy mills in your state.

9. Get a Healthy Start – It’s never too soon for your puppy to get a healthy start. Make sure that you are giving your puppy food and treats that are made with all natural ingredients and vow to give him the proper daily exercise to keep him healthy and happy!

10. Be Present for your Puppy – The puppy phase will be over before you know it! Spend as much quality time with your puppy as you can, not only today, but every day. Raising a puppy is a big responsibility and the decisions that you make now will shape them into the dog that they will grow up to be.

National Puppy Day is a great time to celebrate the unconditional love that our furry friends bring to our lives and have fun while doing it! However, this day is also about shedding some light on some of the harsh realities of the world that some of the more unfortunate puppies are forced to live in. Choose to take some time today to help bring awareness to the importance of adopting shelter puppies as well as the fight against puppy mills – be the voice for puppies everywhere!

New Year’s Resolutions You Can Make with Your Pet

Around this time of year, we often start looking for ways to better ourselves: cutting out bad habits, adding healthier practices, and even adjusting our outlook on life. While the New Year rings in new resolutions for our own lives, the start of a fresh year is an opportunity to make some resolutions to better the lives of your pets as well. Luckily, what’s good for you is usually also good for your buddy, and with these suggestions, you’ll both be on the road to a longer life and a happier 2015.

Get Moving


When the clock strikes midnight on January first, sure there may be champagne celebrations and general merriment. But for many, this marks the occasion of the start of a new health or fitness regimen. OK, maybe it doesn’t start instantly, but there’s a reason that gym memberships are added in droves in January. The sad fact, though, is that by March, a good number of those folks have abandoned their good intentions. Studies (and logic) show that if you enjoy your means of exercise, you’re far more likely to engage in it regularly. So the real question is, what are your plans for movement this year, and how can you get your dog involved if he or she isn’t the most athletic pup?

 

 

Running and Walking: It’s the oldest (and least expensive) way to get moving, and it’s easy to incorporate Fido into the routine. All you need is a good pair of shoes and a sturdy leash, and you’re ready to roll. For maximum effect, pick up a pedometer to get an accurate snapshot of your progress, and set goals for yourself each week. The longest journey starts with a single step, and before you know it, you’ll have logged several miles. Be aware of your pet’s status throughout the route. Don’t expect a full sprint from a pooch who’s been dormant all winter, and know that some dogs may require footwear to protect delicate paws. It’s best to consider the weather when preparing for your run!

 

 

Pet-Friendly Yoga: Yes, this is a thing, (it’s actually called Dogya) and thanks to many pet-friendly communities, many yoga studios and community programs offer yoga for you and your canine companions. Of course they aren’t going to completely follow the routine, but it is called downward-facing dog for a reason–dogs love to stretch! If nothing else, this gives you a good stretch and strengthening time, while also inviting your buddy to a fun activity outside the house.

 

• Swimming: One minute of swimming is equivalent to four minutes of running for dogs. In addition to it being good exercise, water movement provides excellent benefits for dogs with joint and mobility issues. And swimming is also great for you! Not only does this give quality time for and your pooch, but water itself has been proven time and time again to provide healing for the mood and spirit.

 

Hey! What’s in that Food?

 

 


You may have noticed new human health trends popping up which place a heavy focus on ingredients. Many people are equally interested in knowing that they are feeding their pets high-quality, healthy ingredients. Our bodies function based on how we nourish them, so it’s plain logic that the better ingredients you eat, the better your body will respond. The same can be true for our pets’ diets, and don’t you want the best for your whole family?

 

• Live-Active Probiotics: A healthy intestinal tract and overall digestive system is imperative for good health, and this is true for both pets and people. Adding probiotics to our diets gives our systems an extra dose of the ‘good germs,’ which may help strengthen immunity.

 

• Add your Omegas: Fat isn’t always a bad thing, especially when we’re talking about fatty acids, like Omega 3 and 6. These are essential to cellular function, and promote healthy skin and hair for both you and your pet.

 

• Vitamins and Minerals: Remember as a kid taking a vitamin each day? Bring that habit back by making sure your food has the right vitamins and minerals. If it doesn’t add a supplement! In most cases, feeding your pet a high-quality, natural pet food will provide all of the essential vitamins and minerals they need. Certain pets may benefit from added supplements, but it’s always best to confirm with your veterinarian first.

 

• Protein: High-protein diets promote health and wellness, adding energy and endurance. Check the ingredients on your grocery list to make sure you are eating enough lean meats, like fish and chicken, and do the same for your pet’s food.


• Fruits and Veggies:
An apple a day keeps the…well, you know. But it’s a truth that has stood the test of time. This year, make it a goal to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Choose carrot sticks and apple slices over chips or candy, and in addition to giving your dog healthy treats, add some fresh foods. You’ll be surprised that your pets love the crunchy fun that cold veggies can provide—they won’t even know they’re eating healthier!

 

• Read the Bag: This is true for your food and your pets. Always read the ingredients and research unfamiliar terms. Some will turn out to be scientific words for everyday ingredients, while others maybe preservatives, additives and fillers. Be informed!

Rest, Peace and General Life-Loving

 

Happy New Year to you, and to your pet! 2015 can be the year you refocus on your whole family’s health. Making even small changes can make all the difference in the healthfulness and longevity of your pets and loved ones. And at the end of each day, find time to spend together and rediscover the importance of rest, peace and a general sense of loving the life you live. That makes all the difference.

How to Prevent Pet Diabetes

It’s National Pet Diabetes Month!

Diabetes isn’t just a human disease. It’s on the rise in our pets, affecting thousands of dogs and cats every year. According to Banfield Applied Research and Knowledge (BARK) diabetes more often affects cats than dogs. Diabetes typically develops in older pets, however, since diabetes is largely a lifestyle related disease, it is preventable.

Key Triggers

In both dogs and cats, diabetes is tied to obesity and age. If your pet is over 10 years old and weighs too much, he or she is at a higher risk for diabetes. To decrease this risk, you can work with your veterinarian to increase your pet’s exercise level and decrease his or her caloric intake.

Just like with people, if pets consume more calories than they exert, they will gain weight. However, not all calories are created equal. It’s best to choose higher protein foods, and many pet parents find that a grain-free pet food with natural ingredients helps prevent their pets from gaining weight. Wellness CORE recipes for cats and dogs are grain-free and provide high-quality protein sources. Because a higher-protein diet can be more nutrient dense (as well as calorie dense), you may need to speak with your vet about decreasing your pet’s portion size when you transition foods.

Some vets say that a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet may help prevent diabetes.

What is Diabetes Anyway?

You probably know diabetes has something to do with insulin. Insulin is a hormone that processes blood sugar (glucose) so your body has energy. When your body can’t process the glucose properly, sugar builds up in the blood and urine.

This leads to an imbalance that affects the whole body, and can become very serious if untreated.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats and Dogs

Although cats and dogs handle diabetes differently, they can exhibit similar symptoms of the disease:

-Increased thirst/increase in water consumption

-Weight loss

-Lethargy

-Vomiting

-Change in appetite

Many of the symptoms of diabetes in pets can mimic other diseases, so if your pet exhibits any unusual behavior, it’s best to take him or her to the vet promptly.

Although a serious disease, if the vet determines that your pet has diabetes, it can be treated effectively with medication, diet & lifestyle changes.

Ask Wellness: November 2014

What would you recommend for dogs with tear stains?
There are many reasons for tear stains around the eyes. Diet does not seem to play a role. Some breeds (short nosed breeds) have a higher incidence of stain around the eyes. Irritation (infection, long hair touching the eye, dust and dirt etc…) can cause excessive tearing, clogged tear ducts, eyelids that turn inward are a few of the causes.
It is always best to have your veterinarian check your pup and determine the cause so an effective resolution can be determines.

Q. What do you recommend for dogs with tear stains?

A. There are many reasons that dogs have tear stains around the eyes, however, diet does not seem to play a role. Some breeds (short-nosed breeds in particular) have a higher incidence of stain around the eyes. Irritation, infection, long hair touching the eyes, dust and dirt in the eyes can all contribute to excessive tearing, clogged tear ducts and, in turn, tear stains. We recommend that you have your dog examined by your veterinarian to narrow down the cause of the tear stains and determine an effective resolution to the issue.

Wholesome Thanksgiving Ingredients for Your Pets

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with the arrival of this beloved holiday comes thankfulness for the year behind us, the arrival of relatives to join hands around the table, the football rivalry that makes us not want to join hands around the table, the Thanksgiving Day parade that never ceases to entertain, and the cornucopia of delicious Thanksgiving foods that seem to make their grand appearance only once a year. While you are enjoying your own Day of Thanks this year, don’t forget about the four-legged members of the party who have set up camp under the dining room table, just hoping that something wonderful makes its way from your plate to their tummies. While most table foods are not recommended for your pet’s health, there are several delectable harvest foods that are not only tasty to your pet, but healthful as well!

Pumpkin

The Benefits
Pumpkin is not only an appetizing treat for your pet, but also a very healthy one to offer. A great source of fiber, pumpkin is a natural promoter of healthy digestion, which lends itself to the overall energy and vitality of your pet. Proper digestion is also a powerful aid in weight management, which can help prevent a whole host of other health problems down the road.

This colorful harvest symbol also helps with urinary health, as the natural oils in both the skin and seeds has been shown to increase urinary functionality. The seeds also promote healthy skin and coat (perfect for our pets with allergy problems!) Pumpkin is also a powerful source of Vitamin A, Beta-carotene, potassium and iron, attributing to longevity and cancer prevention.

Serving Suggestions
Fresh pumpkin is, of course, the best source for serving, but canned pumpkin also packs a hearty punch as well. It can be mixed in with dry food or given as a treat, and many pets find the flavor irresistible. Keep in mind that pumpkin can act as a laxative if too much is given, so consult with your vet about the quantity your four-legged friends can have on Thanksgiving. For a ready-made pumpkin treat your pet can’t refuse, try Old Mother Hubbard Soft Bakes with Carrots and Pumpkin, perfect for busy chefs in the kitchen or families on the go for the holidays.

Cranberry

The Benefits
The delightful red berries make their way onto many a Thanksgiving table, and luckily they can also find a place in Baxter’s bowl as well! Cranberries are rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and just as they do for humans, they also promote good urinary health and can aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial growth. By lowering the pH, cranberries make urine more acidic, which makes it harder for bacteria to grow, and cranberries also have at least two known agents that work to prevent bacterial growth.

These potent berries have also been found to reduce the incidence of bladder stones in dogs, as well as the development of Idiopathic Interstitial Cystitis in cats. If your pet has a history of urinary tract infections or otherwise bothersome urinary problems, these delicious red berries and their juice can be given as a very healthy supplement.

Need another reason to serve cranberries to your beloved pets? These little magic charms also work to prevent the formation of plaque on your pet’s teeth, containing powerful flavonoids and plyphenols that help protect your pets sensitive chompers.

Serving Suggestions
Avoid giving cranberry salad or other sugary versions of this healthful food. Many stores also carry ‘cranberry juice’ that is a very sugary version of an otherwise healthy drink. To serve to dogs, offer organic cranberries as a whole fruit, or mix in organic cranberry juice with food or water. The bitter taste may ward off the more sensitive pallets, so be wary that this healthful food may be served better if mixed with food or other treats.

Sweet Potatoes

These festive orange spuds have been a favorite of Thanksgiving-celebrators since the beginning of the holiday, and there’s no reason why your pet shouldn’t also be served a helping as well! Sweet potatoes, in plain, unseasoned form, have been recommended for pets for years to soothe a sensitive or upset stomach, or even just to offer a filling, healthy food that goes easy on those who have are ill or have recently undergone surgery.

Considered to be one of nature’s nearly perfect foods, sweet potatoes, or yams, are an excellent source of potent antioxidants that aid in healing, the prevention of cancer and easing the effects of aging. Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C and B6, as well as the minerals manganese, copper, and iron. They are also an excellent go-to for dietary fiber, preventing loose stools in for pets with upset stomachs.

Serving Suggestions
Sweet potatoes can be found as an ingredient in wholesome dog food or can be served whole to pets after baking. They can even be sliced thin and baked to make crispy, chip-like treats. Some of the best dog treats even combine two Thanksgiving favorites: sweet potatoes and, of course, turkey.

There’s no reason your pets can’t participate in the Thanksgiving festivities this year, and luckily, many of the items on your holiday shopping list can also find their place in Fido’s bowl. Be smart about ingredients, including any added sugars or flavorings, and always consult with your vet if you have any questions. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Take some time this year to let your pets know just how thankful for them you are.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe on Halloween

Every Halloween, the streets are lined with frightening strangers – decaying mummies, wicked clowns and hungry zombies – arriving at your door every few minutes demanding a gift of food for their bags.  This is what Halloween is like for your pet, and it can be terrifying! Add on to that a few holiday safety hazards and the stage has been set nicely for disaster.  Keep your pet safe this October 31st with these tips:

Trick or Treat

Treats
Halloween candy is the bane of dentists everywhere, but also a regular presence on Halloween night in emergency veterinary clinics. Something that tastes so wonderful to us can be incredibly dangerous for our four-legged roommates.

  • Chocolate – Halloween provides easy access to this deadly treat, especially when you have a fully-stocked bowl of those amazing chocolate-and-peanut-butter pumpkins. Chocolate is dangerous to both dogs and cats, and can be lethal, and the symptoms include diarrhea, quick breathing, high heart rate, vomiting and even seizures.
  • All Other Candy - A good rule of thumb when it comes to all candy for your pet is this: don’t do it. Even non-chocolate candy is dangerous, as it may contain, xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and seizures.

Tricks
All Hallow’s Eve is also called the “Mischief Night,” and while many practice harmless pranking, sadly many beloved pets fall victim to those with less honorable intentions. Many animal shelters will not allow any black cat adoptions during the month of October, to deter any would-be cruelty inflictors. No matter how deplorable, it can be avoidable, so keep your pets inside on the days surrounding Halloween.

Monsters

People in Costumes
If you live in a kid-friendly neighborhood, you better stock up and leave the porch light on, because they are coming for you. While it’s fun for us to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over the creative costumes America’s youth is donning this year, it’s 100% terrifying for your pets. “Who are these strangers at the door? Why do they keep knocking on the door? Why do you open the door, and then why do they yell? I’m pretty sure I just saw a zombie.” While we can’t really explain this October holiday with our pets, we can take certain steps to make sure they’re as comfortable with the situation as they can be.

  • Pick a room far away from the front door and designate it the pet room for the evening. Turn on low music or a television in the room so sudden knocking or doorbell-ringing isn’t quite so jarring. Buy yourself some time with a few jerky treats and chew toys.
  • If pets can’t be confined to one part of the house, at least make sure they have no access to the front door. With so many constant openings and closings of the door, all to reveal strangers in costume, it’s easy for Fluffy to slip out into the night for tricks of her own.

Your Pets in Costumes
Be sensitive to your buddy. While many pet costumes are hilarious and adorable, it’s important to make sure that your dog or cat is okay with wearing whatever you have chosen. I’m not saying that he’s going to choose whether he wants to be Lady Gaga or a hotdog, but he can let you know quickly if the costume doesn’t fit.  You wouldn’t want to wear an uncomfortable costume all night, so don’t put your pet in something tight, restrictive, irritating, itchy or painful.

The one costume your pet should not go without this Halloween is an identifying tag, engraved with your phone number. Many pets go missing on Halloween, so make it easier for rescuers to reach you when they find your dog.

Pumpkins

Pumpkin is a delicious fruit can be a nice addition to your pet’s diet. However, Halloween presents its own set of dangers when it comes to the cheerful orange decoration.

  • Too Much of a Good Thing – Pumpkin in small quantities can act as a natural regularity booster, but too much can quickly up that power to laxative and even intestinal blockage. Make sure any decorative pumpkins are not within easy access to dogs and cats, who may just decide they’re going to eat the whole  pumpkin before you even realize it’s happening. Similarly, another fall decoration, corn, can also cause gastrointestinal problems, so keep it out of reach as well.
  • Jack-O-Lantern – You certainly want the neighborhood to enjoy all the hard work you put into your jack-o-lantern, but don’t forget that the unusual glow from the candle can attract more than trick-or-treaters. Keep pets away from any items that have a flame, including pumpkins and decorative candles.

Halloween can be scary for your pet, or it can be like any other day with careful planning and consideration for your pet.  Remember your first concern is your pet’s health and safety, and if that can be accomplished while dressing your dog as the Toto to your Dorothy, your Halloween will be one to remember.

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety in Pets

Back-to-School Blues

As the summer slowly winds down and those back to school ads start popping up, it can leave not only the kids dreading another year of homework and tests. Your pup can also feel the effects of having their partners in crime leave for school after three months of running around outside, going on family vacations and being the center of attention. To prevent separation anxiety in your furriest friend, here some tips to help adjust to another school year.

  1. A few weeks before the start of the school year, start your mornings the same as you would when school begins. Start feeding and walking the dog around the time when your children will be leaving for school. By reworking the dog’s feeding and walking schedules ahead of school can help ease the overall adjustment period.
  2. To help your pup adjust to long periods of time being alone, first try leaving for short amount of times. Over time, extend the times away from the home helping the dog adjust to being by themselves for a period of time.
  3. With more time on their paws, dogs and cats will need to find ways to entertain themselves. You may find your pet meowing, barking or pacing more often. Deter this behavior by providing new toys or pet day care to ensure your pets are receiving enough attention each day. Try natural treats like Wellness CORE Superfood Protein Bars for dogs, which contain antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, kale and sweet potatoes, or Wellness Kittles with cranberries for cats for an extra delicious treat.
  4. If you notice your pet is continuing to howl, pace or meow do not punish them. While frustrating, punishing these behaviors can make the situation worse. Be patient and if you see your pet is still not adjusting to your children’s new schedule talk to your veterinarian.
  5. Fall means back to school and that means more school supplies. Keep school supplies like scissors, pens, pencils and markers out of reach from your pets. If ingested they can be poisonous and cause for an emergency ER visit.
  6. Inevitability with school starting and seasons changing, your pup will be spending more time indoors. Prepare the areas your dog will be in with chew toys and treats to keep them entertained and out of potential trouble. Try the Wellness® Petite Treats, a bite sized crunchy treat that is sure to satisfy any palate as well promote healthy, shiny coats.
  7. When the family is home, make sure to show your pup extra attention and playtime.

By Dr. Cindy Bressler

Dr. Cindy Bressler is a Veterinarian providing services to New York City and Hamptons based clients on a house call basis. Dr. Bressler is on the Board of many animal related charities, including Last Chance Animal Rescue, Gimme Shelter and NYCLASS. She works on many benefit committees to raise money and awareness about Animal Rescue. She lectures on the topic of veterinary medicine at universities, schools and businesses.

How to Choose a Vet (in 10 Steps)

Your pet is a member of your family, and when it comes to his health care, it’s important to look for the best. Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or you’re looking to up the quality of your current animal care, there’s much to consider in your pet’s new doc. Keep in mind that this person should not only have a caring touch, but also be fully capable of handling any emergency situation that could arise. The hardest time to select a vet is when the need is urgent, so take the opportunity to scout around for the best choice now. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter what happens with your buddy, you have a great veterinarian on call.
License and Accreditation: You certainly wouldn’t visit an unlicensed doctor for your own healthcare, and your pet deserves the same. A professional license to practice in your state is required, and although a membership with the American Animal Hospital Association is not mandatory, it offers a step up in knowing your pet is in good hands. Additional training and certifications should be noted, particularly if your pet has specific health concerns that require specialized knowledge. Check your state’s requirements and don’t hesitate to ask for proof of certifications; responsible vets will have these clearly posted in their clinics.
Referrals: The best form of guidance can be found in the referrals of others. What do current (or former) patients have to say about the care they were provided at the veterinarian you are researching? Good and bad experiences should be noted, specifically those that made all the difference in the satisfaction of the client. How reasonable are the charges? How thorough are the examinations? Was the vet friendly, approachable, easy to talk to? These are all questions you should ask of those who have had their fur babies treated at the vet you are considering.
Connection with the Community: Pay attention to the vet’s connection within the community, something that can be very telling determining the kind of person this vet is with animal care. Does the veterinary clinic provide discounted services to rescued dogs, or discounted fees for spaying or neutering a new pet? A caring vet will reach out to the community as an advocate for proper animal care, serving as an example of how to treat our constant companions with respect and kindness.
Personal Touch: Busy veterinarians can struggle with allotting the proper time for each pet, and it’s not always easy to spend as much time as they would truly like to with your pet. However, a good vet will not lost the personal touch with your pet, regardless of how busy the day is or how many patients are waiting to be seen. Your pet is important, and you should never feel as though your visit is being rushed or that your concerns are being ignored. Sometimes an extra few minutes just to pet your dog or give him a special treat can make all the difference in both your pet’s experience at the vet, and yours!
Diet and Exercise Knowledge: A great way to keep your pet from visiting the vet for more than an annual visit is to provide the right food and treats along with an exercise program, and a good vet recognizes these natural life and health boosters. Responsible vets are knowledgeable about the right program for your pet, and they advocate for proper diet and exercise.
Continued Education: The medical profession is constantly changing, with new and exciting updates in healthcare happening every day. The same is true for veterinary medicine, and a worthy veterinarian will consistently update his knowledge with new techniques and treatments. Many veterinarians receive regular training to keep skills fresh and learn about new options for animal care, and your vet should do the same.
Office Maintenance: Hospitals and doctor offices are kept sanitized and sterilized for a reason, and veterinary clinics should be no exception. Ask for a tour of a vet before signing your pet onto the registry; a worthy clinic should have no problem showing you everything from the kennels to the surgery, and everything should be clean and orderly.
Staffing Requirements: When your pet is being seen at an animal hospital, he comes into contact with many other members of the staff, and each of these individuals should be properly trained and certified. It’s okay to ask the vet about his staffing requirements, what is required of each position, and who would be involved in the care and keeping of your best friend.
Office Hours and Location: Ideally, your vet is located close enough to be reached in an absolute emergency fairly quickly, and the office hours the vet keeps is critical as well. While many vets do not provide 24-hour service, they should at least provide the contact information for those who do. Routine treatments and annual visits need not be handled urgently, but when every second counts, you want a veterinarian who is on call and ready to handle any emergency.
The Most Important Vote: Trust your pet’s instincts when it comes to choosing a vet. It is, after all, his doctor, and it should be someone that he trusts, even during times of sickness or injury. Of course your pet doesn’t get the same excited feeling pulling in to the vet as he would the dog park, but there should be some level of “hey, I know these guys!” that puts your dog at ease. Your vet  and his or her staff should always try to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable for your pet as they can.
Take a few extra steps and check references, do your research and make sure a vet is the right choice for you and your pet. A little extra time spent in the decision can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your best friend.

Your pet is a member of your family, and when it comes to his health care, it’s important to look for the best. Whether you’ve just moved to a new place or you’re looking to up the quality of your current animal care, there’s much to consider in your pet’s new doc. Keep in mind that this person should not only have a caring touch, but also be fully capable of handling any emergency situation that could arise. The hardest time to select a vet is when the need is urgent, so take the opportunity to scout around for the best choice now. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter what happens with your buddy, you have a great veterinarian on call.

License and Accreditation: You certainly wouldn’t visit an unlicensed doctor for your own healthcare, and your pet deserves the same. A professional license to practice in your state is required, and although a membership with the American Animal Hospital Association is not mandatory, it offers a step up in knowing your pet is in good hands. Additional training and certifications should be noted, particularly if your pet has specific health concerns that require specialized knowledge. Check your state’s requirements and don’t hesitate to ask for proof of certifications; responsible vets will have these clearly posted in their clinics.

Referrals: The best form of guidance can be found in the referrals of others. What do current (or former) patients have to say about the care they were provided at the veterinarian you are researching? Good and bad experiences should be noted, specifically those that made all the difference in the satisfaction of the client. How reasonable are the charges? How thorough are the examinations? Was the vet friendly, approachable, easy to talk to? These are all questions you should ask of those who have had their fur babies treated at the vet you are considering.

Connection with the Community: Pay attention to the vet’s connection within the community, something that can be very telling determining the kind of person this vet is with animal care. Does the veterinary clinic provide discounted services to rescued dogs, or discounted fees for spaying or neutering a new pet? A caring vet will reach out to the community as an advocate for proper animal care, serving as an example of how to treat our constant companions with respect and kindness.

Personal Touch: Busy veterinarians can struggle with allotting the proper time for each pet, and it’s not always easy to spend as much time as they would truly like to with your pet. However, a good vet will not lost the personal touch with your pet, regardless of how busy the day is or how many patients are waiting to be seen. Your pet is important, and you should never feel as though your visit is being rushed or that your concerns are being ignored. Sometimes an extra few minutes just to pet your dog or give him a special treat can make all the difference in both your pet’s experience at the vet, and yours!

Diet and Exercise Knowledge: A great way to keep your pet from visiting the vet for more than an annual visit is to provide the right food and treats along with an exercise program, and a good vet recognizes these natural life and health boosters. Responsible vets are knowledgeable about the right program for your pet, and they advocate for proper diet and exercise.

Continued Education: The medical profession is constantly changing, with new and exciting updates in healthcare happening every day. The same is true for veterinary medicine, and a worthy veterinarian will consistently update his knowledge with new techniques and treatments. Many veterinarians receive regular training to keep skills fresh and learn about new options for animal care, and your vet should do the same.

Office Maintenance: Hospitals and doctor offices are kept sanitized and sterilized for a reason, and veterinary clinics should be no exception. Ask for a tour of a vet before signing your pet onto the registry; a worthy clinic should have no problem showing you everything from the kennels to the surgery, and everything should be clean and orderly.

Staffing Requirements: When your pet is being seen at an animal hospital, he comes into contact with many other members of the staff, and each of these individuals should be properly trained and certified. It’s okay to ask the vet about his staffing requirements, what is required of each position, and who would be involved in the care and keeping of your best friend.

Office Hours and Location: Ideally, your vet is located close enough to be reached in an absolute emergency fairly quickly, and the office hours the vet keeps is critical as well. While many vets do not provide 24-hour service, they should at least provide the contact information for those who do. Routine treatments and annual visits need not be handled urgently, but when every second counts, you want a veterinarian who is on call and ready to handle any emergency.

The Most Important Vote: Trust your pet’s instincts when it comes to choosing a vet. It is, after all, his doctor, and it should be someone that he trusts, even during times of sickness or injury. Of course your pet doesn’t get the same excited feeling pulling in to the vet as he would the dog park, but there should be some level of “hey, I know these guys!” that puts your dog at ease. Your vet  and his or her staff should always try to make the experience as pleasant and comfortable for your pet as they can.

Dr. Tonia Shatzel at 30-A Vet in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

Take a few extra steps and check references, do your research and make sure a vet is the right choice for you and your pet. A little extra time spent in the decision can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your best friend.