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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Life can be pretty busy; between work, school, family obligations, community involvement and all the other activities that pile up on a to-do list, it can be easy to let our attention to our pets’ wellness fall by the wayside. October is National Pet Wellness Month, a nationwide educational campaign backed by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and dedicated to reminding us how important our pets’ health really is. In these last few days of October, find some time to assess your own pets’ health and happiness, as well as how you can make some changes to improve the overall quality of their lives.
Your pet’s wellness starts with good health, and just as we try to make healthy choices in our everyday lives, we must also make good choices in regards to our furry companions. Proper healthcare, good diet choices and the right amount of exercise and play can make all the difference in the wellness of our pets.
Annual Exam and Vaccinations
Imagine going years without seeing a physician. Hard to picture, right? Our pets age at a much faster rate than we do, and each passing year of our own lives equals several for Rover and Fluffy. It’s important to select the right vet and mark your calendar for yearly examinations to make sure that your pet is as healthy as can be. Proper vaccinations can protect your pet from common pet ailments, and keeping an eye on your pet’s internal wellbeing, through taking blood and fecal samples annually, assures your pet is living exactly as he should. Senior pets should visit the vet twice a year to make sure their bodies are in top shape, paying special attention to their dental health and blood test results. Remember: our pets are not able to tell us when something isn’t right, so trust the opinion of a veterinary professional to guide decisions involving your buddy’s health.
Spay and Neuter
Spaying and neutering your pet isn’t a new idea, but did you know that only 10% of animals brought to shelters have been spayed or neutered? It’s critical to protect your pet and prevent even one more pet from ending up in an animal shelter. And not only does this inexpensive medical procedure prevent unwanted pet pregnancies, it also has health benefits for your pet, including significantly reducing the kinds of cancer to which he is susceptible and reducing aggressive behavior and the desire to roam. And if nothing else, consider the cost; spaying or neutering is less than the cost of raising a litter of puppies or kittens.
Thoughtful Diet Choices
Proper diet and nutrition is at the very heart of health for people, and the same rings true for our beloved pets. Spot doesn’t have an opinion on the food placed in his dog bowl, and he’s trusting you to make the right choice when it comes to quality ingredients and nutritional value. Have you ever read the ingredients list on your pet’s food? It can be pretty scary, considering the amount of food produced with artificial ingredients, fillers and questionable by-products. Would you want to eat that? Certainly not! Look for quality ingredients that focus on health benefits, such as:
- Live Active Probiotics
- Omega 3 & 6 Mix
- Essential Vitamins & Minerals
- Fruit & Veggie Antioxidants
Your buddy is depending on you to make the right choice, so stock your pantry with pet food that is not only delicious but healthful.
Exercise and Play
A sedentary lifestyle in humans has been proven to cause obesity, diabetes, many types of cancers and a whole slew of other illnesses that can be avoided with adding physical activity to daily life. The same is true for your pets, so it’s crucial that they are receiving adequate playtime and proper exercise. Set aside time each afternoon or evening, and even make this a time to exercise together. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or a jog at the park, or if the weather is nice, take your buddy for a swim at the beach or lake. Throw a ball, play tug-of-war, or even play a game of hide-and-seek with your canine companion.
The cooler fall temperatures help prevent heat exhaustion during outside play, but as the temperatures continue to drop, be creative with indoor exercise. You may have to throw a tennis ball down a hallway about five hundred times, but at least you know your buddy is getting the exercise he needs.
Don’t discount your pet’s happiness in his complete wellness profile. Just as depression and anxiety in humans can cause a string of physical ailments, so can these conditions in our pets. To be a true pet parent and responsible caregiver for your pet, you must consider his emotional health as well. Set aside time each and every day to spend with your pet. Play a game of fetch, let your pup ride with you to run errands, cuddle up on the couch for a movie or make time on a Saturday for some grooming TLC. Your dog notices when he’s being ignored, and spending too much time away from home every day isn’t fair to your pet. Most pets like to be around their people, and when their whole world is wrapped up in you, you have to be there for them. Put it on the calendar if you have to, but mark off some time for your pets.
Your pets depend on you to make good decisions involving their wellness, and that includes paying attention to their health and their happiness.
If you’re someone with seasonal allergies, you may be used to the influx of uncomfortable symptoms that arrive with the changing of the leaves in autumn and the sprouting of the grass in the spring. What you may not know is that it’s possible for your dog or cat to experience environmental allergies as well. Like us, pets’ allergies tend to flare up during the changing seasons. Below, Wellness veterinarian Dr. Al Townshend delves into this topic, answering some of the most common questions pet parents have about allergies in dogs and cats.
Q. Why can a pet’s allergies become worse in the fall or spring months? What environmental factors are at work during these times?
A. There are higher levels of environmental allergens in many parts of the country during the fall and spring months. In the fall, many common weeds such as Ragweed and Goldenrod are pollinating. Mold allergies can also arise in the fall as leaves and compost piles accumulate at the end of the growing season. In the spring, the majority of plants are producing pollen. Reactions to these allergens can be exacerbated by the dramatic shifts in temperature and moisture levels occurring during the changing seasons.
Q. What are some of the symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs and cats?
A. The symptoms of seasonal allergies are very similar to those of food allergies and commonly include intense itching and scratching, hot spots, runny eyes and nose, sneezing and dry and flaky skin and coat.
Q. Is there a way to distinguish between environmental allergies and food allergies in pets?
A. It can take some experimenting to determine the main cause of your pet’s allergies. The big difference between the two types of allergies is that food allergies will occur for as long as a pet is on the food that she is allergic to, while environmental allergies are typically worse at certain points throughout the year.
To narrow down the type of allergy your pet has, keep a record of the pet’s symptoms. Make note of any symptom changes that coincide with changes in diet or season. If your pet’s food remains the same but her itchy skin only occurs in fall and spring, you’re likely dealing with an environmental allergy. If your record shows that your pet’s allergy symptoms are consistent year-round, we recommend working with your vet to try a different food (Wellness Simple Limited Ingredient formulas may help) or remove one potential environmental allergen. Although most environmental allergies are seasonal, some can occur year-round. Allergies to perfumes, feathers, cigarette smoke, flea & tick control products and even certain fabrics have been reported in pets. Whether testing for a food or environmental allergy, be sure to test one variable at a time and allow a few months for results as it can take that long for the immune-response to subside once the allergen is removed.
Q. What are some of the steps pet parents can take to remedy pets’ seasonal allergies?
A. If you determine that your pet has seasonal allergies, there are some steps you can take. Most seasonal allergens are difficult for dogs to completely avoid, as keeping them inside all the time is impractical. However, you can:
-Keep windows closed when environmental allergens are at their highest concentration
-Give your dog or cat regular baths with a mild cleanser which washes away allergens clinging to the coat
-Wipe paw pads down when your pet comes in from outside.
-Dispose of decaying leaves (in gutters, yard, etc.) promptly to reduce mold growth
-Change your car’s cabin air filter regularly
If your pet’s seasonal allergies are still significant after taking these steps, your pet may need medication to control the symptoms.
With a bit of observation and experimentation, you can get your pet’s allergies under control and help her feel more comfortable all year long.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Q. We have a 14-month-old Black Lab mix (we think part Coon Hound). He barks quite a lot for no apparent reason–not all day, but a lot. Any suggestions?
A. Every dog will bark to some degree. Some hound breeds bark more than others. Excessive barking can be annoying and should be controlled.
The first step is to determine what has caused the dog to bark and then work to reduce the dog’s urge to bark. Many things can trigger a barking episode, such as protection of territory, fear, alarm, boredom, playfulness and seeking attention. It often takes a good deal of time to solve a barking issue so don’t give up. Shouting can encourage barking so speak calmly. Try saying “quiet” in a soft manner and when the dog responds, reward him with praise and maybe a treat. Wellness Pure Rewards Jerky Treats make a good training treat as they’re small and can be broken into smaller pieces if needed. There are training classes offered by many retail pet stores that can also help with resolving your issue so seek help if you need to.
With 80 million cats in the U.S., it’s clear Americans have a love affair with the cat. Maybe it’s their cattitude that makes us want more of them, or maybe it’s because they can be more independent than dogs and are still sweet, furry companions.
Here are 10 things we love about cats:
1- They’re cute – Big eyes, pointed ears, expressive faces. Silly antics. They bring a smile to your face.
2- They’re soft and cuddly – When they present their soft bellies for petting, what’s not to like?
3- They purr – Isn’t it nice when everyone is happy?
4- They love us back – When they cuddle up with us, even head butt us gently; we know they’re saying, “I love you”.
5- They’re independent – Cats operate on their own agenda. You can’t fault them for that and you can’t expect them to follow yours. They require respect and that’s ok.
6- They make good foot warmers– If they have long fur, it may cover your feet and even if not, their body warmth can keep us warm. Who needs slippers when you have a cat?
7- They’re entertaining – Why do cats choose the most improbable places to curl up? The smallest box, the sliver of a shelf…how many times does it bring a smile to your face?
8- They don’t expect walks at dawn…actually, they don’t expect walks at all, though opening and closing the door for them will help you get in some exercise.
9- They don’t bark at the mailman – They’re mostly quiet. We like quiet.
10- Cat pictures – From the dawn of photography, humans have taken and shared pictures of our cats. Now we have the internet to share even more cat pictures.
Big or small, short-haired or long, cats have a colorful history. They’ve been royalty – wait, I think they still are – and they’ve been associated with superstitious beliefs. Through it all, they’re our companions.
What’s your favorite thing about cats?
Every Dog Has His Day (Or Week)
You can’t have too many opportunities to celebrate those who love us unconditionally. It’s even better when there’s a special day—or week—given especially for that occasion.
National Dog Week is the last week of September. According to one source, it was founded in 1928 by Captain William Lewis Judy to promote responsible dog ownership.
We like to think of it as another opportunity to celebrate and share the love of dogs.
Puppy kisses, happy greetings and lots of tail waggin’ fun bring smiles to our faces throughout the year. Plus, the weather is getting cooler and that makes it a perfect opportunity to get outside with your favorite furry canine.
Here are three ideas for celebrating National Dog Week:
Hold a Dog Party
Don’t have a good yard for several doggies to play? Enlist a friend who does. Invite 3-5 dogs (and their humans) over for a play date. The humans can take turns throwing balls and Frisbees and the dogs can catch them. Many dogs also love a great game of chase. They can run in circles chasing one another for at least 10 minutes.
Don’t have dogs who play chase or catch Frisbees? That’s ok. They’ll still enjoy the social opportunity. If you work long hours away from home, your pets may not get enough companionship. Just make sure the invitees all get along and enjoy one another. Then, everyone can leave happy and tired.
Get Involved in Doggie Events
Lots of animal shelters hold fundraisers throughout the year to support their mission of saving animals. They always need volunteers and can be a great way to help dozens of dogs without adopting more than your house can hold.
You could even organize a “Mutt Strutt” to benefit the shelter or for veterinarians to help families in need. Many veterinarians keep a special fund to help pet-loving families who find themselves in a financial crisis when it comes to caring for their pet.
Enjoy a Day at the Beach
After Labor Day, many beaches become pet friendly again.
Enjoy a romp in the sand and surf. Make clean up easy on yourself by stopping by a “doggie wash” on the way out.They’ll feel happy after a good outing. They’ll be over the moon after a great outing and a good bath.
Is the beach too far? Take a hike in the woods or at a nearby State Park.
Whatever you choose to do, your best friend will enjoy being with you. How will you celebrate National Dog Week?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.