Should You Call the Vet?

If our pets could talk to us, knowing what to do and when to see your local veterinarian would be a whole lot easier. But, unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us how they feel or what they need.

In some cases, it’s obvious that your pet needs to visit a veterinary hospital in your area, but sometimes, the signs of a health problem can be a lot more subtle and difficult to spot.

Learning how to pay attention to and interpret the signs will help you stay in the know about your pet’s well-being, and it will ensure that you know when treatment can be handled at home or when veterinary care is required.

7 signs you need to call the vet

Sign #1. Abnormal behavior

When you spend a lot of time with your pet, you get to know them pretty well. You know their habits and mannerisms, and most importantly, you know when they start behaving peculiarly.

Last year, my dog was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, but the only reason we caught it was because we noticed that he started behaving differently. He had accidents inside the house when he had been potty trained for years, and he started begging for food a lot more.

Whenever your pet starts acting abnormally, there’s usually a reason for it. Maybe it’s simply that they need more exercise or attention, but it’s important to pay attention to these changes in behavior and contact your veterinarian if they persist.

Sign #2. Weight loss

Weight loss, particularly if it’s fast or unexpected, can often be a sign that something is wrong with your pet. Even if the pet is overweight, it’s concerning if they drop weight quickly.

Fast, unplanned weight loss can be a sign of all kinds of health problems in cats and dogs, including parasites, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, stress, dental disease and even cancer, all of which can be treated by your local veterinarian.

Changes in weight should always be closely monitored and quickly acted upon, as many of the health issues it points to are very serious and require professional treatment.

Sign #3. Changes in appetite

Whether your pet prefers to eat their food one mouthful at a time or they scarf it all down immediately after you set it down, most pets will stick to similar eating habits throughout their lives. Any time there’s a change in how your pet eats, or how much, it’s worth paying attention to.

Sometimes, changes in appetite or eating habits are due to something simple, like a change in the food you’re giving your pet. Or, if there’s a new pet in the house, your pet may feel more pressure to eat quickly.

Other times, though, changes in appetite or eating habits can be a sign that something is wrong with your pet. Many medical problems can affect the way your pet eats or how hungry they are.

Sign #4. Scooting

Have you ever seen your dog scoot their rear end on the floor? This isn’t just a gross annoyance. It’s actually a common sign of a number of problems and should be checked out by a veterinarian.

Dogs scoot because they’re experiencing some kind of discomfort back there. They might be irritated, itchy or in pain. Food allergies, clogged anal sacs, skin irritation from grooming, food allergies and intestinal parasites can all cause discomfort dogs will try to alleviate by scooting.

Scooting doesn’t always indicate something serious, but it can, and consulting a veterinarian can help you determine exactly what is going on with your pet and get the treatment they need.

Sign #5. Vomiting

It’s normal for pets, especially dogs, to vomit every once in a while. Just like people, pets will vomit when they consume something they don’t agree with. Sometimes, all it takes is drinking water too fast for a pet to vomit!

If your pet vomits once or twice in 15 minutes, it’s less concerning than if your pet vomits multiple times over an entire day. And, when the vomiting becomes severe, frequent, prolonged or becomes bloody, it’s definitely cause for concern.

Frequent vomiting over an extended period of time in itself can be problematic for your pet, as it can lead to dehydration. But, it’s also often a sign that something else is going on, like a serious gastrointestinal issue.

Sign #6. Diarrhea and other changes in stool

Diarrhea, like vomiting, is to be expected every now and then, especially if you’ve recently changed to a new brand of pet food or your pet has been under stress. But, when it’s prolonged, it can also lead to dangerous levels of dehydration.

Keep an eye on your pet’s stool for diarrhea and other changes. Healthy stool is moist and firm, and if it becomes dry or hard, mucus or blood is present, it looks dark and tarry, or there’s blood in the stool, it can indicate a health problem in your pet.

Changes in your pet’s stool, particularly if there’s blood, should be discussed with your veterinarian right away.

Sign #7. Lethargy

Pets, like the rest of us, have lazy days every now and then. And, it’s perfectly normal for both cats and dogs to sleep 12+ hours every day. However, when your pet starts sleeping or acting more tired than normal, it’s important to pay attention.

For example, if your pet suddenly doesn’t feel like playing or going on a walk, or if they are less responsive to commands, it may be a sign that something is wrong.

Sometimes, a little bit of lethargy can be explained by muscle fatigue following strenuous activity or warm temperatures, but if the lethargy persists after a couple of days and after your pet has been removed from the heat, you should contact your veterinarian.

Pets are very special parts of our families and our lives, and you don’t want to entrust your pet to just anyone. That’s why it’s a good idea to start your search for a veterinarian near you with Top Rated Local®.

Top Rated Local makes it easy to find the highest-rated veterinarians and animal clinics in your area. You can compare top-rated local vets side by side, get a glimpse of a veterinarian’s online reputation overall, read veterinarian reviews from across Google, Facebook, Yelp and beyond, and so much more.

Find a Top Rated Local veterinarian near you today!

Pet Safety Tips for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! And, while it’s a fantastic time of the year for our taste buds, it can be risky for our pets. Here are a few precautions you can take to keep your pet safe this Thanksgiving.

7 tips for keeping your pet safe this thanksgiving

#1. Keep pets out of the kitchen and dining area

Delicious food is an important aspect of any holiday, but it’s the headlining act on Thanksgiving. And, if that mouth-watering aroma is tempting to us, imagine how your pet feels, with their enhanced sense of smell.

Whether it’s sitting on the counter being prepared, sitting on the table waiting to be served or its remains are sitting in the trash can, a lot of animals will take any open opportunity to get a bite for themselves.

It can be difficult to keep track of your pet during the hustle and bustle of preparing your feast and visiting with friends and family (on Zoom or in-person), leaving them with ample opportunity to steal food that may not be so good for them.

Even if you normally feel you can trust your pet, the added excitement of the day can make pets do unpredictable things. Remove the temptation by keeping your pet out of the kitchen and dining areas.

#2. Learn which table scraps are safe

Giving your pet table scraps is almost never a good idea. Pets have sensitive stomachs that can be easily upset by some of the richer, fattier foods we enjoy during the holidays.

Not to mention, making a habit of eating people food will lead to begging and other poor manners, and your pet could become overweight, which puts them at risk for all kinds of health problems.

However, I totally understand the urge to splurge a little bit on Thanksgiving. After all, you’re enjoying a bonafide feast, and you want to share the love a little with your pet. But, you always want to make sure that you know which table scraps are safe before giving your pet anything.

There are many different holiday foods that can be dangerous for your pet to eat. Here are a few safe holiday treats you can give your pet this Thanksgiving:

  • Turkey (unseasoned, properly cooked — never give your pet turkey bones)
  • Bread (plain, baked — no raw dough)
  • Carrots (unseasoned)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Green beans (unseasoned, raw)
  • Apples
  • Pumpkin

#3. Be mindful about where you put decorations

The holidays aren’t the holidays without a house full of decorations! Decorations help to bring the holidays alive and transform our homes into magical wonderlands, but you should be careful where you put them.

Beautiful as decorations may be, many of them look a lot like enticing toys to our furry friends. And, the last thing that you want is for your pet to ingest a chunk of your cornucopia basket or tear up your stuffed, plush turkey.

I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not fun when your dog eats something that has to be removed surgically, for you or your dog. It’s also very expensive.

Put up holiday decorations to your heart’s desire; just make sure that they are out of your pet’s reach.

#4. Watch where you put holiday plants

Speaking of decorations, there are plenty of plants that help to bring the season to life in our homes. But, it’s important to be mindful about where you place those plants.

Pets love to chew on just about anything they can get ahold of, and plants are no exception. Unfortunately for our furry friends, though, many of our favorite holiday plants are toxic and can be incredibly dangerous when ingested.

Some of the most toxic decorative holiday plants include holly, autumn crocus, poinsettias, mistletoe, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, acorns and pine.

If you do decide to brighten up your table or home with holiday plants, do a little research first to ensure that they are safe for pets. And, if you have your heart set on decorating with a toxic plant, make sure it’s unreachable for your pet or consider buying fake plants.

#5. Prepare for guests

Are you planning on having guests over this Thanksgiving? If so, there are a number of things you can do to make the experience safer and more enjoyable for your pet.

First, make sure that your pet has somewhere quiet they can go if the excitement gets too much for them or they need a break from your guests. A kennel or quiet corner is a good option for this.

Second, talk to your guests ahead of time about how to interact with your pet. Let them know your stance on table scraps, warn them about possible shoe-snatching or potential attempts to sneak out the front door, etc.

Finally, keep an eye on your pets when you have guests in the house. The added excitement of the day can make pets nervous and act in unpredictable ways, like stealing food, chewing decorations or even biting. If your pet seems distressed, remove them from the situation.

#6. Prepare for travel

Are you planning on traveling out of town for Thanksgiving? Whether you’re traveling with your pet or not, there are certain things you can do to keep them safe.

If you aren’t traveling with your pet, you’ll obviously need someone to take care of them while you’re gone. You may have someone stay with your pet at your house, board your pet somewhere you trust or find your pet a place to say with a trusted friend or family member.

Avoid putting out a large bowl of food and leaving your pet to their own devices, or having someone over just to feed them. Cats and dogs are both incredibly social animals who need companionship.

If you’re planning to take your pet with you on a road trip, make sure that you plan a route that offers plenty of opportunities for your pet to relieve themselves. Also, plan for additional time, as your pet will need to get a drink, stretch their legs and go to the bathroom frequently.

If you’re planning on flying with your pet, ensure that you are familiar with the airline’s pet policy.

#7. Have a plan in case of emergency

Sometimes, precautions or not, your pet gets into something they shouldn’t or has an accident and injures themselves. With everything going on during the holidays, the risk of this happening is even higher because it feels impossible to monitor their every move.

The point is that you never know what could happen. And, it only takes a few minutes of your pet being out of your sight for them to ingest something that could hurt them. It’s always important to know what you’ll do in case of an emergency.

If you’re staying home (or you’ll be close-by), learn about your veterinarian’s holiday hours and availability. It’s also a good idea to look for emergency vets nearby or ask your veterinarian for a recommendation for after-hours emergency care.

If you’ll be traveling, do a little research ahead of time to see what your options are for emergency veterinary care. It’s far better to have a few phone numbers handy ahead of time than it is to scramble to find a vet when your pet needs immediate care.

Start your search for a veterinarian near you (or near where you’ll be spending Thanksgiving) with the help of Top Rated Local®.

You can read veterinarian reviews from across the web, compare veterinarians side by side and get a quick snapshot of a veterinarian’s online reputation.

Find a local veterinarian today!

How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Spring

Safety is at the top of everyone’s minds lately.

While safety has always been important, now, more than ever, it’s a regular focus for a lot of us. With the rapid spread of coronavirus, it’s not just firefighters and police officers who have to think about safety now; we all do. And, when you’re a pet owner, you have to think about your pet’s safety in addition to your own.

Spring, and also the coronavirus pandemic, bring about a lot of safety risks for your pet that you should be aware of. By knowing the potential dangers to your dog and how to avoid them, you can also avoid an emergency trip to your local veterinarian.

Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe This Spring

#1. Take your dog on walks, if you can.

Social distancing means avoiding unnecessary contact with others and avoiding large crowds, but for most people, it does not have to mean giving up walks with your dog. Walking is good for both you and your dog; we all need exercise, after all, and the vitamin D you get from the sun will help to fend off seasonal affective disorder.

Keep basic safety guidelines in mind while out walking your dog. Stay at least six feet away from others, and try to walk your dog during off-peak times of the day when fewer people are outside. It’s also very important that you walk your dog on a leash. This is about your dog’s safety as much as anyone else’s, as cars and aggressive dogs are both very real dangers that you should protect your dog from.

#2. Watch what your dog eats.

If your dog is anything like mine, they probably spend a lot of time eating whatever they can find, whenever they can find it. When I take her on walks, she tries to eat berries, goose poop, worms — anything she can get ahold of, and when she’s in the yard, all she wants to do is eat sticks. Some things are perfectly harmless, like grass, but a lot of things dogs pick up outside can put them at risk.

Sticks, for example, are sharp and could injure the inside of your dog’s mouth, and if your dog swallows a big enough piece of stick, it could potentially cause an obstruction in their bowel. Dogs who eat goose poop are at risk for both salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria, which can cause diarrhea. And, there are several flowers and wild mushrooms that grow in the spring, many of which are toxic to dogs.

When your dog picks up something they shouldn’t be eating, redirect them with a toy or a bone. And, if your dog is a known-chewer, rethink leaving them outside unsupervised.

#3. Don’t forget about your dog when you’re stocking up.

As evidenced by the nation-wide toilet paper shortage that’s going on right now, lots of people all over the country are stocking up on the essentials they need. And, when you do, it’s important not to forget about your dog.

There are certain things you need to survive in the event of a mandatory quarantine, and there are certain things your dog needs to survive, as well. You should, of course, make sure that your dog has enough food, but it’s also important to get a full supply of any medications your dog is on.

#4. Keep cleaning products out of reach.

Spring is the perfect time of the year to deep clean your home, and with coronavirus spreading around, cleaning regularly is more important than ever. The Centers for Disease Control recommends disinfecting frequently touched surfaces multiple times per day, like doorknobs, cellphones, handrails, etc. Luckily, many of the cleaning products you have on hand will work well, but you can’t count on some of the more natural options, like white vinegar, to do the trick.

Cleaning and disinfecting frequently means that cleaning products will be around frequently. But, if you’ve got pets (or small children) at home, it’s important to ensure that you always take the time to put them away when you’re done. Dogs are curious by nature, especially when they’re puppies, and many common household cleaning products are toxic to them.

#5. Get your dog on a heartworm preventative.

Most people don’t think about mosquitoes coming out until May or June, but the reality is that they start coming out as soon as the temperature starts reaching at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis. And, with mosquitoes, comes the potential for heartworm, which is a parasite that can cause serious problems in dogs, including cardiac failure.

Luckily, heartworm is easily prevented by putting your dog on a monthly preventative medication. It’s never too early in the year to get your dog on a heartworm preventative; in fact, most veterinarians recommend that dogs get them all year.

#6. Protect your dog against fleas and ticks.

In addition to those pesky mosquitoes, the warmer weather also brings about fleas and ticks. If fleas and ticks are a problem in your area, it’s a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about the options to prevent them. There are shampoos, collars, and topical and oral medications, so you have plenty of options to choose from, and your veterinarian can guide you on choosing the best option for your dog.

It’s also a good idea to be vigilant about watching out for ticks any time your dog spends time outside. This way, you’ll be able to promptly remove any ticks you find right away.

Find a veterinarian near you with Top Rated Local®.

The spring — and the coronavirus pandemic — comes with its own unique risks for your dog, but a little mindfulness can go a long way towards keeping them safe. If you do find yourself in need of veterinary care, turn to Top Rated Local to find a great veterinarian near you. With Top Rated Local, you can read a veterinary clinic’s reviews from across the web from one convenient place!