All posts by James

Colorado State Pets

If you’re a Larimer County resident and an animal lover, you have good reason to be proud to live in Colorado. In 2013, Colorado made a wonderful statement in support of animals by making shelter dogs and cats the official state pets. We love to assist clients who have helped change the lives of animals by adopting their pets from shelters. Watching animals thrive and flourish in new homes is extremely rewarding, both for those of us in the veterinary care industry as well as for the pets’ human families.

The legislation was championed by kids from Peak Elementary school. Colorado’s citizens made their wishes clear when it came time for lawmakers to decide on the issue. So many people showed up to testify that many had to wait outside the chamber.

Service dogs and guide dogs were also considered. Shelter animals won the day, but this was one case where many Colorado citizens were really rooting for both teams. Service dogs and guide dogs are amazing. They save lives and help us every day, and are well deserving of all and any recognition they get. The underdog won this round, but they are all winners in our eyes.

While puppies and kittens in pet stores are very likely to find a home fairly quickly, animals in shelters may not be so lucky. Shelters are overflowing with wonderful animals in dire need of good forever homes. Animals can wind up in shelters for many reasons. Their owners may be sick, or incapable of caring for the animals. Stray animals and unwanted kittens and puppies also often end up behind bars.

Rescuing an animal from a shelter can be a very gratifying experience. You’re giving an animal a second chance at life, and that is definitely something we are happy to support. Animals that are rescued from shelters are often very clearly grateful to their new human friends, and can be all the more appreciative and joyful for the second chance. These pets often pay back their human benefactors with unconditional love and loyalty, hours of fun and laughter, and unwavering affection.

If you are looking for a new pet, why not go to a Larimer County shelter? You might find your best friend is already there, just waiting for you.

How To Make Your Older Cat More Comfortable

Your older cat’s life isn’t quite as easy as it once was—older cats have more trouble moving around, using the litter box, eating, and doing many other daily routines. Make her life a little more comfortable with these helpful tips from a Larimer County vet.

Multiple Litter Boxes

It’s a good bet that your senior cat doesn’t like trekking down or up the stairs constantly to use her litter box. Try placing multiple litter boxes around your home, perhaps one on each floor. This way, one is always within a relatively short distance when your cat has to go. It will make her life a lot simpler, and reduce the chances of accidents on your carpets or floors!

Grooming

Kittens don’t have any trouble twisting and turning around to groom all parts of their bodies, but an older cat might not be so nimble, especially if they have arthritis. Help your cat out in the hygiene department by grooming her yourself. Use a cat-specific brush to remove loose hair, untangle mats, and spread essential skin oils throughout the coat.

Raise Food Dishes

Your cat may benefit from having her food and water dishes raised on a platform. This way, she won’t have to bend down, straining the neck, to eat or drink. Again, this technique is especially helpful for arthritic cats. Try using something as simple as a shoebox to put the dishes on.

New Bed

If your cat has been sleeping on the same pet bed for many years, it’s probably time for a new one. Your cat will love the extra cushioning and warmth of a new bed. A therapeutic or orthopedic bed might even be beneficial—ask your vet for a recommendation.

Quiet Zone

What older cat wants to be in the thick of all the family action? She’d probably rather view the goings-on from a safe distance. Try setting up a quiet zone just for her in a back room. A safe, comfortable space will go a long way toward helping your older cat feel more comfortable.

Ask your Larimer County veterinarian for more easy and helpful tips to make your cat’s life more comfortable. With a little help, you’ll be able to make your cat’s golden years her best yet!

Is Your Pet Scared of Thunderstorms?

Does your pet become frightened when the rumbles and flashes of a thunderstorm pass over your home? Thunderstorm anxiety is a widely-recognized behavioral issue in many pets. Use these tips from a Fort Collins vet to help soothe your pet during the next summer storm.

Provide a Safe Haven

Many pets will feel a lot more comfortable if they have a space to go to during a storm where they feel safe. Set up a “safe haven” in a basement room or back bedroom. Lay down a pet bed and outfit it with warm blankets. Lead your pet to this safe zone when the storm comes, and remain with them for support. Oftentimes, riding out the storm here will be all that a pet needs!

Distract Your Pet

Some pets can be distracted by the clamor outside. Play games with your pet when a storm’s coming, using toys and treats. With any luck, she’ll be so enthralled by these activities that she won’t notice what’s happening outdoors. Another tip is using background noise. Playing music or turning on a TV show can help a pet forget about the thunderclaps they’re hearing.

Desensitize Your Pet

Try playing a recording of a thunderstorm through your living room stereo or television. Keep the volume low at first, then gradually increase it over time. If your pet hears these noises at a low volume and realizes she’s not in any danger, she may be used to it by the time a real storm passes over. Consult your vet for more help on using this desensitization technique.

See a Vet

If you still need help, set up an appointment with your Fort Collins veterinary professional. Pets with severe anxiety may be helped by medications, professional training, or the guidance of an animal behaviorist. Your vet can put you in touch with someone who can help your pet becoming calmer during storms, so don’t hesitate to call!

The Canine Distemper Virus

August is Immunization Awareness Month, and one of the core vaccinations that all dogs should receive is the canine distemper vaccine. Learn more about canine distemper and how it’s prevented below.

What is Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper is a virus. It attacks a dog’s respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, as well as the central nervous system. It also can affect the membranes of the eye.

How Did My Dog Get the Virus?

Canine distemper is contagious, and is almost always contracted through contact with other dogs. It’s easily spread through direct contact with urine, blood, or saliva. Regular activities like sharing food and water bowls or roughhousing together in the yard are possible ways a dog could contract the virus. If another infected dog sneezes or coughs around your dog, it could also be transmitted.

What are the Symptoms?

The first signs of a distemper infection are sneezing, coughing, and a runny nose. Some dogs may also exhibit a runny mucus coming from the eyes. As the virus progresses, weakness, depression, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite will occur. Call your Larimer County veterinary professional immediately if you witness any of these symptoms in your dog, especially if he’s been in close contact with other dogs recently.

How is it Treated?

There is no medication or drug that can destroy the canine distemper virus. Instead, treatment focuses on supportive care. Fluid therapy and antibiotics can help stave off secondary infections and keep your dog healthy until his immune system battles off the virus. Young dogs are especially prone to the virus, and need to be monitored constantly if they’ve contracted distemper.

How is Distemper Prevented?

It’s much easier to prevent canine distemper than to treat it and manage the symptoms. Luckily, the canine distemper vaccine is very good at preventing the disease. Plus, it’s part of the usual regimen of core vaccines that your dog probably received as a puppy. Talk to your vet to get your pooch a shot if he hasn’t already been vaccinated.

Your Larimer County vet can answer any further questions you have about canine distemper and its vaccination. Call the clinic today!

Hot Weather Hazards for Pets

Now that we’re in the deep dog days of summer, it may be helpful to have a refresher course on keeping your pets safe! Use these tips from a Fort Collins vet to keep your pet cool and happy when it’s hot outside.

Provide Water

Hydration is key during the hot summer months. Make sure your cat or dog always has a dish of cool, fresh water to drink from, even if she’s staying indoors. Check the bowl periodically to see if it needs refilling or refreshing. You might even slip a few ice cubes in the bowl to keep it cool.

Provide Shade

If your pet is staying outdoors for extended periods of time, make sure she has a shady spot to cool off under. If there are good shade trees in your yard, you’re set. If there’s not, try making your own shade by setting up a tent or awning, or simply hanging a sheet up to make shade.

Watch for Heatstroke

Deadly heatstroke can affect our pets if they’ve stayed out in the humid weather and hot sun for too long. The first signs are usually drooling, panting, and weakness. If you witness vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, or collapse, the heatstroke has progressed. Move your pet to a cooler area immediately, allowing her to drink cool water, and call your veterinarian’s office right away for further advice.

Don’t Leave Pets in Cars

Of course, leaving your pet in a hot car is a big no-no. Even on days with temperatures in the 70s or 80s, the heat inside a parked car can rise to over 100 degrees in a few short minutes. Either leave your pet at home or bring them with you when you’re out, because leaving them in the car could be deadly. It’s even illegal in many areas!

Avoid Asphalt

Blacktop that’s baking under the hot sun can heat up to extremely high temperatures on a summer day. Our shoes protect against this heat, but a pet’s paw pads can easily be scorched by asphalt. Avoid the painful blisters and burns of blacktop by having your pet avoid these areas entirely.

Ask your Fort Collins veterinarian for more helpful hot weather tips to keep your pet hydrated, cool, and safe as the summer rolls on.

Can Your Dog Have Acid Reflux?

Perhaps you or someone you know has acid reflux disease; you know, then, how uncomfortable it can be. Did you know that dogs can suffer from acid reflux too? Learn more below from your Larimer County veterinarian.

What Causes Acid Reflux in Dogs?

Acid reflux in dogs is essentially the same as it is in humans—it occurs when gastric or intestinal fluids flow back up from the stomach in to the esophagus, causing irritation, inflammation, and damage to the esophageal lining. The fluids are allowed up by the sphincter, a muscle opening at the base of the esophagus. In healthy dogs, this muscle won’t allow stomach fluids back up. In dogs with acid reflux, it relaxes and lets the fluid pass through. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including improper anesthesia, chronic vomiting, or other health concerns.

What are the Symptoms?

In mild cases of acid reflux, there will be minor esophageal irritation, which may only result in the occasional cough or other signs of discomfort in your dog. Severe reflux, though, can cause damage to the deeper layers of the throat lining, resulting in pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss of weight due to a lack of eating. Call your vet’s office immediately if you witness these symptoms in your canine companion.

How is it Treated?

Your vet will confirm a diagnosis of acid reflux by examining the esophagus internally, or by finding a direct cause of the reflux, like a throat disease or hernia. Medications can be prescribed that improve the flow of stomach fluids and strengthen the sphincter muscle. Diet changes may accompany these medications. Some dogs respond well to small-portion, low-fat diets.

Can I Prevent Acid Reflux?

While all cases of canine acid reflux may not be preventable, you can do your part by keeping your dog on a healthy diet with low fat content. Excessive table scraps and fatty treats only contribute to the problem, so keep these to a minimum.

Ask your Larimer County veterinarian for more advice on dealing with a dog with acid reflux, and contact the clinic today if you suspect this painful disorder is affecting your dog.

Debunking Animal Shelter Myths

Animal shelters are often thought of as sad, dirty places where pets go when no one wants them anymore. These misconceptions couldn’t be further from the truth! Below, a Fort Collins vet clears up five of the most common myths about shelters.

Shelter Pets are Old

Think older, unwanted animals are the only pets found in shelters? Think again. In fact, the age range of shelter pets runs from young animals—even newborns—to elderly ones, and every age in between. If you’re looking for a puppy or kitten, don’t count out a shelter because you think they only have elderly animals.

Shelter Pets Behave Poorly

Some people assume a pet wouldn’t be in a shelter if it behaved properly. This isn’t true. Pets come to shelters for all sorts of reasons, only a small percentage of which is poor behavior. The truth is that many pets in shelters have lived with human owners before, and are perfectly well-mannered and even trained!

Shelters and Their Pets are Dirty

Any shelter that is up to code and serviced regularly will be very clean and sanitized. It’s necessary to limit or prevent the spread of disease and infection. The pets inside shelters are quite clean, too—as soon as most pets arrive at the shelter, they’re bathed, clipped, given shots, and even spayed or neutered if they’re not already.

Shelter Staff Are Inexperienced Volunteers

The shelter staff may be volunteers, yes, but that doesn’t mean they’re inexperienced. Many staff members actually work full-time as veterinary technicians, assistants, behaviorists, trainers, or even board-certified veterinarians! Don’t think a shelter staff member doesn’t have the proper credentials to be informing you about pet care.

Shelters Only Have Cats and Dogs

We often picture shelters teeming with cats and dogs, but the truth is that many shelters house much more. Some have small-mammal programs and may offer mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, ferrets, gerbils, and rabbits. Others may even have birds or reptiles who need a loving home.

If you’re considering adopting a pet, visit a shelter. You may just find the pet that wins your heart! Talk to your Fort Collins veterinarian about the shelters in your area.

Hiking Safety Tips for Dog Owners

If your dog is the outdoorsy athletic type, it’s a safe bet he’ll love hiking. The smells, sights, and sounds of a wilderness excursion will probably be the highlight of your dog’s week! Make sure your next hike doesn’t turn dangerous, though—follow these safety guidelines from a Fort Collins veterinary professional.

Identify Properly

Before heading out into the forest, make sure your dog is properly identified with up-to-date ID tags, a microchip implanted under the skin, or both. You just never know what could happen, so if your dog gets lost or runs away, proper identification is your best chance of getting him back safely. Ask your vet about getting updated ID tags, and ask if microchipping is a good option for your pet.

Keep Vaccinations Up-to-Date

Consider the various possibilities for infection while you’re out on the hike—stagnant water, rusty nails, and even rabid animals are just a few possible offenders! The best defense against these situations is keeping your dog’s regular vaccinations updated. Call your vet’s office to see what your dog already has and what he might need to stay safe outdoors.

Always Use a Leash

Even if your dog is obedient to a fault and can walk by your side without a leash, it’s always a good idea to use one while outdoors in the event of emergencies. Even obedient dogs might bolt after a squirrel if the mood takes them. Plus, you may run into other hikers who won’t appreciate your dog saying hello.

Bring Water

Don’t let your dog drink from puddles or public bodies of water, since there’s no telling what kind of bacteria could be living there. Bring along a bottle of fresh water just for your dog, and let him have sips from it periodically throughout your hike.

Post-Hike Check

When your hike is over and you’ve returned to the car or gotten back home, be sure to give your dog a thorough once-over. Feel the sides, back, legs, and head area to check for ticks, cuts and scrapes, or debris stuck in the coat. If your dog got especially dirty on the hike, you may want to give him a bath.

Follow these tips to make your next hike an exhilarating and safe event for your pooch, and ask your Fort Collins vet for even more helpful tips!

Five Human Foods That are Safe for Cats

Want to give your cat a special treat that’s outside the norm of her normal kitty treats? Try these five human-food suggestions from a Larimer County vet. Remember to keep the portion sizes very small!

Deli Meat

It’s okay to slip your cat a small scrap of deli ham or turkey every once in a while. They’ll love it, and it can serve as a good special-occasion treat for a job well-done. Don’t make it into a habit, though—if meat is overly fatty or your cat eats too much, it could upset the stomach.

Fish

Small portions of cooked fish can also make a good occasional treat. Try canned tuna or salmon. Remember, though, that too much fish can put more magnesium, acids, and mercury in your cat’s body than she should have. Consult your vet to find out about other fish your cat may enjoy occasionally.

Cheese

Just about every cat is lactose-intolerant and shouldn’t have a lot of dairy, but the occasional nip of cheese shouldn’t do any harm. Don’t give in if your cat begs for more, though, as dairy products will cause an upset stomach and diarrhea if overdone.

Eggs

Small amounts of cooked eggs can work well as a small treat—try giving your kitty a tiny bite of scrambled eggs or small chunk of a hard-boiled egg. To make it healthier, skip the butter and only use a minimal amount of cooking spray.

Melons

While some cats probably won’t be very interested in chowing down on a chunk of melon, many cats do enjoy small bites of cantaloupe, honeydew, or watermelon. Make sure you’ve removed the seeds from the chunks you’re giving your cat to be safe.

Remember—keep these portions small! It won’t do your cat any good if you overfeed human treats. Ask your Larimer County veterinarian for more advice and ask about other potential treats.

Springtime Safety Tips for Pet Owners

The harsh winds and freezing temperatures of winter are finally waning, and warmer days and budding flowers are on the horizon as spring comes in. Remember to stay vigilant with your pet’s health, though—springtime offers its own host of potential hazards to our furry friends!

Pesticides and Fertilizers

You may spray chemicals on your garden or lawn to promote growth or keep the bugs off. It’s important to remember that these chemicals can be very toxic if our pets ingest them. Keep your pet indoors when spraying, and don’t let them come in contact with treated grass or plants. Munching on a chemically-treated tuft of grass could have dangerous results!

Allergies

Dreading the coming sniffles and sneezes as pollen fills the air? Your pet may actually have a rough time of it, too! Dogs and cats can suffer from allergies, caused by reactions to pollen, dust, dirt, and other allergens. See your Fort Collins veterinarian to ask about treatment and get your pet on a preventative medicine.

Spring Cleaning Products

If you’re planning on cleaning house this spring, make sure your pet stays safe while you do so. Almost all standard cleaning solutions contain at least one harmful ingredient, and symptoms could be serious if a pet accidentally swallows a cleaning chemical. It’s best to keep your pets in another room when cleaning, and keep all chemical solutions in a sealed cabinet or locked closet when they’re not in use.

Car Hazards

Many dogs like to stick their heads out of the car window to feel the breeze on their face. This may look fun, but it’s simply too risky. Rocks, pebbles, or other debris from the road could fly up into your pet’s face or eyes, causing severe injury. Keep your pet properly secured inside the car to ensure his safety.

Springtime Pests

As the weather warms, miniature pests like to come out of hiding and find our pets when they’re outdoors. Make sure your pet is on a quality flea, tick, and heartworm preventative to prevent any infections. Set up an appointment with your Fort Collins veterinarian to get this taken care of, and ask about other medications that may be necessary for your pet.

These are just a few of the possible seasonal hazards to face your pet this time of year. Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian’s office and ask about more ways to keep your pet safe and happy as spring rolls in!