All posts by James

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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!

Keeping Your Hamster’s Dental Health in Order

There’s no question that a hamster’s teeth are some of his most vital instruments—they help him crack open nuts and seeds, eat, construct burrows, build hideouts, and much more. Here, a Larimer County veterinary professional offers advice on how to keep your hamster’s dental health in top form.

How Do I Check on My Hamster’s Dental Health?

Hold your hamster gently with one hand, keeping him secure. Use your other hand to gently pull back the skin around the neck. This should make your hamster expose his teeth, allowing you to take a look. Check for any apparent misalignment of teeth, or teeth that seem to be butting up against each other. Look for any redness, swelling, or other indications of a problem.

How Often Should I Check My Hamster’s Mouth?

The more often, the better! Check your hamster’s teeth regularly—for some owners, this could mean every day. Two or three times a week should suffice to make sure nothing’s going wrong with your hamster’s mouth. Also be sure to watch for other signs of a problem, like reluctance to eat. If a hamster’s incisor is broken, misaligned, or too long, he may not eat, which will quickly lead to other issues.

What If Something Doesn’t Seem Right?

As soon as you think something may be wrong with your hamster’s dental health, give your Larimer County veterinarian a call. Your vet will examine your hamster’s mouth, teeth, and overall health to ensure the best possible treatment. Many times, a quick tooth-trim is all that’s needed. This procedure is very quick, inexpensive, and won’t harm your pet at all.

Can I Prevent Dental Issues?

There are two main ways to keep your hamster’s mouth healthy and prevent issues: feed a proper diet, and provide good gnawing toys. A commercially-available hamster feed should have the necessary nutrients for ideal dental health; ask your vet for a recommendation. Find good chew toys in your local pet store or veterinarian’s office—these are essential for keeping your hamster’s incisors worn down so they don’t get too long.

Regular monitoring, good diet, proper chew toys, and quick action when you notice something amiss are the best ways to keep your hamster’s dental health in good order. Ask your vet for more helpful tips!

Three Cat Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Over the passage of time, many myths and misconceptions have sprung up around our beloved feline friends. The trouble is, believing these myths could actually put your cat’s health at risk! Here, a Fort Collins veterinarian sets the record straight.

Cats Love Milk

You’re probably picturing a cat lapping up milk from a saucer on the kitchen floor at this very moment. However, while cats may enjoy indulging in milk, the milk won’t love them back! Most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning they don’t possess the necessary enzyme to digest milk. Drinking too much will almost certainly cause diarrhea and vomiting. The only time a cat needs milk is when he or she is being weaned from the mother. Adult cats don’t need milk as part of their diet at all.

Cats Always Land on Their Feet

Cats are very graceful, flexible, and agile creatures. That doesn’t mean they can’t have accidents! Even the most graceful cat can slip out of an open window or off of a high perch. In fact, this happens often enough that veterinarians have a name for fall-related injuries: high-rise syndrome. Avoid the risk by keeping windows properly and securely screened, and try to eliminate any hazardous high spots in your home.

Cats Purr When They’re Happy

While cats may emit a purr when they’re content or happy, they can also purr to convey a variety of other emotions. Some cats purr to indicate anger, stress, fear, or other feelings. The truth is, every cat is different, and it may take time for you to fully understand your cat’s body language and signals. Ask your veterinarian for more information on cat vocalizations and how you can try to interpret them.

Want to learn about more myths and make sure you’re not believing something that could be hazardous to your cat’s health? Call your Fort Collins veterinarian to make sure you’re being the best, most knowledgeable cat owner you can be!