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5 Ways Pets Help Kids & Families

1. Learning – Studies have shown that children can learn in a relaxed fashion when in the presence of a pet. Since pets are non-judgmental, children feel safe exploring and trying new things, rather than fearing they will be critiqued if they make a mistake. Chestermere’s Listening Tails program operates on this finding, a program designed to improve children’s reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading out loud to dogs. For more information on the program visit http://ctds.ca/listening-tails/.

2. Comfort – After a difficult day, sometimes there is nothing better than returning home to a wagging tail or a purring cat to curl up with. Pets often instinctively sense when we need some extra comforting, and it can be a relief to just snuggle up with a pet who isn’t going to ask you a lot of questions. The act of petting has even been shown to foster a sense of relaxation, inducing stress relief and even reducing blood pressure.

3. Nurturing – Pets provide children with an opportunity to practice caring for something other than themselves, helping to plant the seeds of parenting skills for when they are adults. Learning to feed, walk, brush fur and teeth, encourages responsibility. Nurturing animals is especially helpful for boys, as they tend to have less practice than girls using their nurturing skills. Girls are encouraged to play house, play with dolls, and become babysitters more often than boys do.

4. Health – Studies have shown that having pets reduces a child’s risk of developing certain allergies and asthma. Particularly during the first year of life, exposure to pets helps a child’s immune system to develop protection against allergies.

Pets can also encourage the family to be more active, whether taking the dog for a walk, hike, or playing fetch.

5. Bonding – Have you ever taken your dog out for a walk only to be approached my someone wanting to pet your dog or ask questions about him? Pets are great social magnets, and allow us to bond with other people that have pets and make new friends.

Having a pet also encourages family bonding. Even picking out a pet in the first place, is something that can bring a family together, and even involve children in making a large decision with the family. Many people consider the pet as part of the family, and every family member enjoys being involved in the care for the pet. Everything from going on family walks, to buying Christmas presents for the pet!

Make sure your pet is healthy by visiting Chestermere Veterinary Clinic for their wellness examination and vaccinations or any time you have concerns, call us at 403-272-3573, or visit http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Source:
Strickland, Bill. “The Benefits of Pets.” Parents Magazine. Web February 16, 2015. http://www.parents.com/parenting/pets/kids/pets-good-for-kids/.

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Gardening Dangers to Our Pets

Spending time outside with your pet can be enjoyable and relaxing. But what happens when your pet’s curiosity gets the best of them? They may try to help you plant your new garden or even munch on the new pile of mulch you just had delivered.

Though gardening with your pet can be fun and entertaining, it is important to understand the risks and hazards of the products you are using on your lawn or garden. Your pet could unknowingly be playing in, digging in, or eating something toxic or very harmful.

Putting mulch over a flowerbed or around trees is a popular gardening trend. While most types of mulch are safe, there is one type that could be lethal to your best friend. Cocoa Mulch is a common mulch that can be purchased from most garden supply stores. Just like the name, it contains an ingredient found in cocoa and chocolate called theobromine. Dogs & cats metabolize theobromine much slower than humans, leading to potential poisoning or even death. If you see your pet chewing the mulch stop them immediately and monitor for early signs of toxicity such as vomiting, restlessness, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and increased urination. If you are worried or see any of these signs contact Chestermere Veterinary Clinic right away.

Mulch isn’t the only thing to watch out for in your garden. Although cats and dogs may like a tasty treat and give those vegetables or flowers a bite, there are some varieties you should keep them away from. Here are some common things we plant in our gardens that are NOT healthy for your pet:

•onion, garlic, rhubarb.
•sweet pea, tulip, lilies, daffodil, iris, daisy, gladiola, geranium, dahlia, black-eyed susans, peony.

This is a small example of the many plants, veggies and fruits that can be toxic to your pet. If your pet does ingest any of these items, or any other poisonous plant, please call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic or take your pet directly to an emergency clinic.

Here is a short list of common plants that are ok for your pets:
•beets, cucumber, strawberry, buttercup squash.
•blue eyed daisy, Christmas cactus, marigold, moss fern, petunia, rose.

For a comprehensive list of plants, veggies and fruits that are OK for your pet, and a list of those that may be harmful, please visit the ASPCA website http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/.

Also be aware of the fertilizers and pesticides you use. If possible, don’t use any in areas where your pets frequent, use pet safe products, or keep your pet away from these areas for at least a few days after application.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic 403-272-3573, or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Happy Planting!

Sources
Wikipedia. “Theobromine.” June 22, 2010. Web June 22, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theobromine.

Helmesnstine, Anne Marie. “Theobromine Chemistry.” About.com: Chemistry. 2010. Web June 22, 2010. http://chemistry.about.com/od/factsstructures/a/theobromine-chemistry.htm.

ASPCA. “Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.” 2010. Web June 22, 2010. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet!

New Year’s resolutions often center around health and wellness, and that means your pet can take part too! Here are 5 great New Year’s Resolutions for your pet!

1. Diet – The food you feed your pet is one of the most important ways you can impact your pet’s health every single day. Find a good quality diet, ask your veterinary team for help with this one! They can help you find a diet that is optimal for your pets life stage, activity level and medical concerns. The team at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic receives ongoing education in the area of pet nutrition, so you can count on them to be up to date with the latest studies and information about what is best to feed your pet. Don’t forget to get out that measuring cup as well to make sure you aren’t over/under feeding your pet!

2. Exercise – Get your pet active, whether it be outdoors for a walk or romp at the off leash park, or playing with your cat with a laser pointer or feather toy at home. Physical exercise should be incorporated into your pets daily routine, but don’t forget about the mental exercise as well! A puzzle treat toy, hide and seek, a card board box fort, and even teaching your pet new tricks all help exercise their minds.

3. Grooming – Brush your pet often, both fur and teeth! Daily is recommended. Not only will brushing help remove dirt and matting from the fur, and plaque from the teeth, but will also promote healthier skin, teeth and gums. Grooming also allows you to spend some time giving your pet physical attention and can strengthen your bond and soothe/relax your pet.

4. Visit the vet – Make sure your pet is seen regularly by their veterinarian, at least for an annual exam until they are senior age, when it is recommended they are seen every 6 months. Just like people are recommended to see their doctors at least annually, pets are too! Why come more often as pets get older? Pets age much more quickly than people do, you may have have heard the old rule of a dog aging 7 years for every human year, while this is not entirely accurate as larger breed dogs age faster, keep it in mind. Imagine only seeing your doctor every 7 years and all of the things that could be missed out on in that time frame! Examining pets regularly, and performing blood work screens allows us to catch problems early on, so we can intervene and maintain a pets health and quality of life much more easily than catching a problem that has been going on for quite some time. Keeping your pets up to date on their vaccines is another way to help prevent them from contracting serious diseases.

5. Update Pet ID Info
– It is so important to make sure your pet has up to date information should they become lost. Dogs should wear collars with tags, at least with a tag that has your current phone number, but rabies tags and city license tags can also be helpful. If you have moved or changed phone numbers since having your pets microchip or tattoo done, make sure you call the clinic you had it done at to let them know so they can update the information. Cats may also wear collars and tags, but make sure cats only wear break away collars as they are much more likely to become snagged and if they do the collar will safely break away from their neck.

If you have any questions call Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573. Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Pet Photography Tips – A Picture is Worth more than a Thousand Words!

Taking pictures of your pets does not have to be left to the professionals! You can get some great photos and have a lot of fun by following some of these great tips!

Environment:
Make sure you choose an environment where your pet is comfortable and knows the surroundings,
you should allow 30 minutes for the pet to get used to the environment and the to the camera/photographer.
The best time for taking pictures is in the morning and in the evening, not mid-day.
Do not take pictures with the sun behind the pet.

Equipment:
Use a medium zoom fast lens, such as a 24-105 mm f4 with image stabilizer.
Using your macro lens will get better details.
Use a narrow depth of field, meaning that the pet is clear but the background is blurry.
Use an iso setting of around 800.

Tips:
Make sure that the eyes of the pet are very clear/sharp or in focus; you always want to have a little bit of light in their eyes.
Be patient and wait for the moment when the pet is acting naturally!
Position the pet slightly off center in your picture.
Have somebody else help you when taking pet pictures: they can catch the pet’s attention by whistling or calling their name or squeaking their favorite toy.
Try taking pictures at the pet’s level rather than standing up and looking down at them. This can give a completely different and fun perspective to the photo!
Try catching their personality in the picture: catch them in action, sometimes these are the best shots!

 

Natural Pet Health Care

These days there is a lot of awareness about being healthy and going natural! While we may have lots of great ideas about natural health care for ourselves, many of us don’t know how we can also care naturally for our pets. Read on for some great ideas!

Like humans, the best and most natural way to stay healthy is by taking preventative measures. Just like us, pets benefit from a good diet and exercise. Read our December 2012 blog “You Are What You Eat! Picking a Good Pet Food” for an overview of how to pick the best food for your pet. For exercise, most dogs benefit from a daily walk of at least 30 minutes – this is also great for our health!

Vaccinating is also an excellent preventative measure to keep your pet healthy. However, some pets do suffer from vaccine reactions, and some pet parents are concerned about over vaccinating their pets. Talk to the veterinarians at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic about titre testing. A blood sample is taken from your pet and tested for the level of immunity remaining in the blood. Sometimes immunity from vaccines lasts longer than the recommended vaccination schedule, and so if your pet’s test comes back showing that they are still immune, they can wait longer to have that vaccine.

Other preventative measures for pets include:
-maintaining oral hygiene: brushing your pets teeth and feeding them a good dental diet, and having dental cleanings and extractions done when needed.
spaying and neutering: helps to prevent some behavioral and health concerns such as territoriality, roaming, and cancers of the sexual organs.

Holistic medicine and therapies may also be beneficial to your pet, if they suffer from a disease or health condition. If these types of alternative therapies are of interest to you, talk to your veterinarian to see if they think these therapies might benefit your pet, or ask for a referral to a holistic practitioner. Holistic pet care includes things like chinese herbal remedies, chiropractics, massage, physical therapy and hydrotherapy.

Lastly, there are also many natural pet products your veterinarian can recommend to you for your pets care. Whenever your pet is prescribed something, ask if there is a more natural approach that could be used to help the concern. Some products include pheromone therapy for behavioral concerns, or vitamins and supplements for skin conditions and arthritis.

If you have any other questions regarding natural pet health care, speak to the team at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic today at 403-272-3573, e-mail us at chestvet@telus.net or visit us at www.chestermerevet.com.

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Most Common Poisonous Substances for Dogs & Cats

Easter lilies and chocolate are prevalent at this time of year, but did you know that these two things are some of the most common and poisonous substances your pets might ingest?

Here is the list for the top 10 most common poisonous substances

For Dogs:
Ibuprofen
Chocolate
Ant/Roach Bait
Rat Poison
Acetaminophen
Cold Medicines containing Pseudoephedrine
Thyroid hormones
Bleach
Fertilizer
Hydrocarbons (paint, varnish, oil, fuel)

For Cats:
parasite prevention products meant for dogs, containing Permethrin
Other topical parasite prevention products
Venlafaxine – an antidepressant
Glow sticks/jewellery
Lilies
Liquid Potpourri
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Acetaminophen
Rat Poison
Amphetamines

Symptoms following ingestion may include but are not limited to: muscle paralysis, nervous system malfunction, fatality, irritation of stomach and intestines, dizziness, increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, convulsions, depression, weakened heart beat, intense burning in the mouth esophagus or stomach, stupor, skin inflammation, stomach or intestine ulceration, profuse salivation, tongue swelling and suffocation, excitement, breathing distress, coma, weakness, collapse, staggering, tingling, numbness, vision impairment or blindness, abdominal cramps, drowsiness, blisters, pupil dilation, headaches, elevated blood pressure.

If you suspect your pet has come into contact or ingested any of these items or other possible toxic substances, call the Chestermere Veterinary Clinic at 403-272-3573 right away.

For 24 hour/7 days a week availability call the Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-6680 or visit http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com.

The sooner you get your pet help, the better the likelihood for recovery. Remember to have the ingested substance with you, if possible, to give information over the phone, or to give to the veterinary team in person.

If you have further questions about toxic substances e-mail us at chestvet@telus.net or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
Meadows, Irina DVM & Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, PhD. “The 10 Most Common Toxicoses in Dogs.”
Veterinary Medicine, dvm360.com.Published March 2006.

Merola, Valentina DVM, DABT & Eric Dunayer MS, VMD, DABT. “The 10 Most Common Toxicoses in Cats.” Veterinary Medicine, dvm360.com. Published June 2006.

Is it Safe for Dogs to Swim in Chestermere Lake?

Chestermere lakes water quality is tested by Chestermere Public Works weekly from May to October, or when the water levels are high. The water is only tested at the 4 beach areas in Chestermere. The water quality is tested for the safety of humans swimming in the lake, and as per Gord Brookhouse at the Public Works department, there has yet to be an issue with safety so far. In fact for the past 2 years there has even been a triathlon (a swim/bike/run race) with the swimming portion held in Chestermere lake.

When it comes to dogs however, there are a few more things to consider:
First is that many dogs will not only swim in the water but will also drink the water. The water is not considered suitable for consumption. So if you choose to allow your dog to swim in the lake, do bring fresh water along with you and encourage them to drink frequently, and discourage them from drinking the lake water.

Secondly, most dogs are very furry, and have nice floppy ears! When the lake water settles into the fur and the dog is not bathed and thoroughly dried after swimming, you have some potential for trouble.

Yeast can grow wherever moisture remains. Ears and in-between the toes seem to be perfect places for this to happen. To avoid this problem, give your dog a very good bath after his swim, and dry him well. To get those ears dry, a cotton cosmetic pad swiped in the ear works very well to absorb any excess water that a towel may leave behind, this cotton pad can also be patted in-between the toes. Symptoms of a yeast infection include discharge, odor, redness or swelling, crusting of the skin, hair loss or hair discoloration, head shaking, scratching, and licking between toes. Treatment by your veterinarian will be required.

There are also other organisms living in the water that if left in your dog’s fur after swimming can cause skin rash, or that your dog may ingest when he licks his fur to clean himself. Again, if your dog drinks the water, he may also ingest these organisms. Of most concern are bacteria like E. Coli, Salmonella, Leptospira, Campylobacter, cyanobacteria like Blue-green algae, protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and single-celled organisms like Coccidia. All of these generally cause diarrhea and sometimes vomiting with the exception of Leptospira (which is rare) which starts with fever and then progresses to liver and kidney damage. Some of these are also transmissible to people. The majority are treatable in healthy dogs, with a good prognosis with treatment.

With all that being said, swimming is a great form of exercise for many dogs. We are lucky to have Chestermere lake right in town to take advantage of for our recreational enjoyment. Just be sure to swim safe and have fun! If your dog does become sick after swimming in the lake or at any time, or if you have any questions, please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic (403) 272-3573 or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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Sources:
Green Brier Emergency Animal Hospital. “What’s in the pond water? Water-borne parasites.” Green Brier Emergency Animal Hospital. Web November 21, 2012. http://www.greenbrier-emergency.com/blog/2010/whats-in-the-pond-water-water-borne-parasites/

Nieves, Samuel. “Water Borne Diseases in Dogs.” Dog Geekz Dog Blog. Web November 21, 2012. http://blog.doggeekz.com/water-borne-diseases-in-dogs/

Stein, E. John. “Water Borne Illnesses in Dogs, what kind of diseases can your dog get from swimming in lakes, streams, ponds or rivers?” The American Dog Magazine. Web November 21, 2012. http://www.theamericandogmag.com/drs-corner/water-borne-illnesses-in-dogs

Chestermere Veterinary Clinic’s Winter Warning – Antifreeze & Pets Don’t Mix

With winter already here, we are getting our cars ready for the cold season. One thing many people are not aware of is that while antifreeze is our car’s best friend during the winter, it is a DEADLY enemy of our pets.

At Chestermere Veterinary Clinic we focus on preventing accidents, so we want to make you aware of the dangers of antifreeze ingestion for your pets. Because of the sweet taste, many dogs and cats do not think twice when they come across this dangerous liquid. If a cat walks through a puddle of antifreeze and licks her paws, it is enough to kill her. A small sized dog can be killed by ingesting just 2-3 tablespoons of antifreeze. Death can result in a very short period of time.

Signs of antifreeze poisoning vary depending on the time of ingestion: your pet can appear drunk or be very lethargic or may have seizures. Some pets will vomit, others may start drinking large amounts of water and start urinating more. They might seem better after a day but then get worse very quickly because the kidneys begin shutting down. Call us immediately at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic (403) 272-3573 if you suspect your pet has ingested antifreeze.

Blood and urine tests can confirm the diagnosis of antifreeze ingestion. In some cases though, these tests will become negative as the kidneys begin to fail. If kidneys fail, the pet will usually die.

Treatment is possible if the pet is brought to the veterinarian within a few hours after ingestion. At Chestermere Veterinary Clinic we intervene promptly if the pet is presented soon after antifreeze ingestion: we induce vomiting, then administer activated charcoal to bind the antifreeze in the intestine. Then we administer a drug that will make the antifreeze be eliminated in the urine instead of transformed into toxic products in the liver.

If the pet presents to the clinic with kidney damage, then the prognosis is usually not good. Aggressive treatment is needed in a 24 hour facility and the outcome depends on how much kidney function is affected.

So let’s try and keep our pets safe by:
-cleaning very well any antifreeze spills on the driveway or in the garage
-keeping antifreeze in a leak proof container
-disposing of used antifreeze properly (take it to a special disposal station)
-not allowing pets to chew on antifreeze containers, even if they are empty

If you have any questions please contact us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic (403) 272-3573 or visit us at http://www.chestermerevet.com.

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