Dog & Cat Care Tips for Vancouver Area Pet Owners

Your day-to-day care is the primary influence on your pet’s quality of life. The staff of Metrotown Animal Hospital is here to support you with veterinary care and information. Do you have a canine or feline friend – or both – in your home? Follow the links for helpful dog care and cat care tips, including:


Dog Care Tips

The Importance of an Annual Physical Examination in Dogs

It's that time of year again: time to take your dog to the veterinarian for his annual examination. But maybe you're thinking that you might skip it this year. After all, he isn't sick. Maybe you will just put it off until next year. What could it hurt?


Actually, delaying an annual physical exam can hurt. Annual physical exams are an important part of providing optimal health care and the best longevity for your beloved companion. Dogs age quickly and they are unable to tell us if they are feeling a little off. Remember, it may be one year in your life but that can be about 5-10 comparative years in your pet's life. A lot can change in that much time.


Your veterinarian has special training and experience in detecting subtle illness in pets. Listening to the heart can detect murmurs. Increased lung sounds may indicate early illness. Abdominal palpation may reveal pain in certain areas, abnormal size and shape of various organs or even tumours.


Checking out the eyes can detect early signs of cataract or other ocular problems. Ears may be in need of cleaning or medication. Dental disease may be detected as well as signs of allergies or skin problems. It's easier for someone who doesn't see your pet every day to detect lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed. Comparing annual weights, too, can determine if your dog is heading down the path to obesity or is slowly losing weight.


As a dog reaches middle to old age, annual physical exams become even more important. Certain problems that you may simply attribute to "old age," and just something you will have to live with, may be signs of underling disease and may be very treatable. Annual physical exams also give you an opportunity to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about your dog's health. Your veterinarian may recommend certain additional tests to determine overall health based on physical exam findings or may have suggestions for improving the quality of your dog's life. Remember, the primary goal for your veterinarian is to keep your dog healthy and provide the best care available.


A physical examination is not just a chance for your vet to see how cute your dog is; a thorough exam can pick up on a variety of illnesses and prevent potential catastrophic disease. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early, your pet will live a much healthier and longer life.

The Importance of a Recheck Examination in Dogs

A recheck examination is an appointment that allows your veterinarian to assess the progress and follow-up on your dog's disease or problem. Maybe you are thinking you can skip it because your dog is doing better? Even if your dog physically looks and feels better, he or she may not be completely back to normal. Some diseases can progress undetected. Let your Veterinarian be the best judge of when, and how many recheck visits are required for your pet.


It is often more difficult to treat diseases or conditions that have been going on for a long time or are not thoroughly treated the first time. Consider the possibility that recheck exams may actually save you time and money in the long run. Some chronic diseases can spiral out of control if not closely monitored for subtle changes. This could ultimately lead to more lengthy procedures, hospitalizations, trips back and forth to your veterinarian, and significantly higher veterinary bills.


The recheck visits to your veterinarian will depend on the medical condition your dog has. If the condition is chronic, they may require life long-term treatment as well as regular rechecks.


Recheck exams are a worthwhile investment in your dog's overall health. By taking your dog in for a "re-check" you are providing your dog the best possible care by allowing his progress to be professionally monitored. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early and thoroughly, your dog will live a much healthier and longer life.

Exercising Your Dog

Exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. Young dogs and healthy adults alike need lots of it, and even senior pets need a regular daily workout to maintain their health. The type of exercise you choose depends on the age and fitness of your dog and your own lifestyle. Dogs are adaptable and are happy to play Frisbee in the park or take long walks in the neighbourhood.


Exercise is one of the best ways to spend time with your pet. It's especially important for large breed, working, and active breed types. Dogs are wonderful athletes and most adapt to even strenuous exercise, provided they have had adequate opportunity to "train" and the environmental conditions are not too extreme.


Recommendations:
Daily exercise is recommended unless the weather is especially dangerous or a medical problem limits your dog's activity. If there is a medical problem, consult your veterinarian about exercise limitations. Keep in mind that obese dogs and those with heart and lung diseases may have a problem, and be sure to consult your vet before starting a new regimen.


Be certain your dog has plenty of water available at all times, and provide a place to cool down out of the sun. When the temperature drops below freezing, exercise should be limited, unless your dog is really used to this weather. This will often vary with the breed and hair coat. If you live in an area that gets cold and icy, remember that road salt can burn your dog's feet. Don't forget: even in cold weather, an exercising dog needs plenty of water. It's better to exercise in the early morning or evening when the heat is and the humidity is less.

Dog Grooming

Although it's often overlooked, grooming is an important part of your dog's health program. Routine brushing and combing removes dead hair and dirt and prevents matting. Because it stimulates the blood supply to the skin, grooming also gives your pet a healthier and shinier coat. Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home and make it a part of his routine. Purchase a good-quality brush and comb and get your dog used to being handled. Praise your dog when he holds still and soon he will come to enjoy the extra attention. Some breeds have special grooming needs, so ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice on particular equipment necessary for your pet.


The need for bathing depends on the breed of dog, his skin type and hair coat, owner preference and just how dirty your pet gets. Bathing your dog every month or two isn't unreasonable, but some dogs will need more frequent cleaning. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell "doggy." When bathing your dog, make sure to rinse all the soap out of his coat. If he has persistent problems with scratching or flaky skin, he may need a special medicated shampoo or have a skin problem that your veterinarian should examine.


Ears may also require cleaning, especially in dogs with oily skin or allergies. This is a delicate task and is probably best left to your vet. However, if your dog is easy to handle, you can learn to do this chore yourself. To remove excessive wax and debris from the ears, consider an ear cleaning every two to four weeks. Ask your veterinarian about products you can use at home, and be sure to ask for a demonstration of proper ear cleaning techniques.


While clipping nails is a painless and simple process, it takes practice and patience to master the skill. Ask your vet to show you the correct technique; then get started by getting your pet used to having his paws handled. Once you start using the clippers, go slowly. Try clipping just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be persistent. Your pet will eventually develop patience and learn to cooperate.

Puppy Care

Congratulations on acquiring your new puppy! While puppies come in all sizes and breeds, all breeds have many things in common, such as basic care, health precautions, and training. The following are tips our veterinarians have compiled on the most common topics that new owners ask about:

Puppy Exercise

All puppies need exercise. Puppies do well if they can run freely in a safe, enclosed yard. Walking and gentle jogging on leash are also good exercise, as is swimming. Playing "fetch" in a fenced area or on a long leash is one way to exercise a dog without having to do much exercise yourself. It is fine to let your dog play, in a supervised and safe environment, with other dogs that are close to its same size.


IMPORTANT NOTE: It is important to keep your puppy away from public parks or areas of grass and dirt where other unknown dogs may have defecated due to the risk of parvovirus. Parvovirus is a terrible virus causing vomiting and diarrhea and possibly death. The virus can live in the environment for years; however fully vaccinated dogs are immune to it.

Puppy Training

All puppies need to be trained. The most effective time to begin training your puppy is NOW. Training is best accomplished by attending a class with your puppy. Early socialization is CRITICAL. This means socialization with humans, dogs, and other animals. Look for training clubs, schools, and private trainers for your puppy. To know more about Dog training, go to barkbuster.ca.

Deworming & Flea Control

It is usually necessary and not harmful to routinely deworm puppies. Because most puppies will get roundworms from their mothers during nursing or across the placenta during development, they should all be dewormed twice, approximately 3 weeks apart. Broad spectrum dewormers are used for routine deworming in puppies as well as adult dogs to prevent the stress of worms on their body.


This is a time of great advances in the area of flea and tick control products. There are a wide variety of products available at this time. Some of the products are safe to use on puppies. Ask your veterinarian which of the products may suit your needs.

Canine Spay & Neuter

It is highly recommended to spay and neuter all animals that are not intended for breeding. In female dogs, spaying prevents heat cycles from occurring approximately every 5 months, and if performed before the first or second heat cycle, lowers the chance of mammary cancer. Spaying also prevents pyometra (a life-threatening uterine infection) and, most importantly, pregnancy and unwanted or poorly bred puppies. We recommend spaying females at about 5-6 months of age. Males should be neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to lower the likelihood of prostate problems. Further, neutering inhibits the urge to run away in search of females and helps you avoid some behavioural issues, such as aggression and/or dominance.

Feeding Your Puppy

Your puppy will do well on two feedings a day (feeding three times a day is not necessary, but is OK if the puppy is under 16 weeks of age). Occasionally, some of the toy breeds need to be fed numerous small meals throughout the day, due to a low blood sugar condition. Your veterinarian will advise you if your puppy needs to eat more frequently. Adult dog food contains all the nutrients that puppies and adult dogs need. You may feed your small breed puppy either adult or puppy dry food, if you wish.


Large breed puppies should eat large breed puppy food or adult food to help avoid developmental bone diseases. You may feed the food dry or you can dampen it with warm water. A very young puppy may need its kibble softened, but older pups can eat crunchy food. Your puppy should eat quickly and act slightly hungry when it is finished. A puppy should take no longer than 10 minutes to finish a meal. Most will finish the meal in a minute or so. If your puppy takes longer, or if it walks away while there is still food in the bowl, then you are probably feeding too much food.

Cat Care Tips

The Important Annual Feline Physical Exam

It's that time of year again: time to take your cat to the veterinarian for his annual examination. But maybe you're thinking that you might skip it this year. After all, he isn't sick. Maybe you will just put it off until next year - what could it hurt? Actually, delaying an annual physical exam can hurt.


Annual physical exams are an important part of providing optimal health care and the best longevity for your beloved companion. Cats age quickly and they are unable to tell us if they are feeling a little off. Remember, it may be one year in your life but that can be about 5-10 comparative years in your cat's life. A lot can change in that much time. Sometimes, cats can be ill for weeks and you are unaware of it. This may not be from a lack of monitoring or caring; your cat just hides his illness until it is so far advanced he has no choice but to show signs of disease.


Your veterinarian has special training and experience in detecting subtle illness in pets. Listening to the heart can detect murmurs. Increased lung sounds may indicate early illness. Abdominal palpation may reveal pain in certain areas, abnormal size and shape of various organs or even tumours. Checking out the eyes can detect early signs of cataract or other ocular problems. Ears may be in need of cleaning or medication. Dental disease may be detected as well as signs of allergies or skin problems. It's easier for someone who doesn't see your pet every day to detect lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed. Comparing annual weights, too, can determine if your cat is heading down the path to obesity or is slowly losing weight.


As a cat reaches middle to old age, annual physical exams become even more important. Certain problems that you may simply attribute to "old age," and just something you will have to live with, may be signs of underling disease and may be very treatable. Annual physical exams also give you an opportunity to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about your cat's health. Your veterinarian may recommend certain additional tests to determine overall health based on physical exam findings or may have suggestions for improving the quality of your cat's life. Remember, the primary goal for your veterinarian is to keep your cat healthy and provide the best care available. Your veterinarian cares a great deal about your cat - almost as much as you.

Kitty Litter

Provide a litter pan and ensure that she can climb over the sides. Scoop the pan daily to keep the kitten healthier, conserve litter, and minimize odours. Some cats are very fastidious and won't use a dirty pan, especially in multi-cat households. Experts recommend you have one litter pan for each cat, plus one.

Cat Food

Most kittens do well at regulating their calorie intake, so it is okay if fed free choice. If a food is labeled "100 percent complete and balanced for all life stages," it's okay to feed to your kitten. Don't feed him a food labeled for "maintenance," which is for adults only. Canned food, however, should be fed at specific times and picked up if not eaten within 30 minutes or so. If you notice your kitten is getting too chubby then cut back on the amount you're feeding her. She should be lean and not chunky. Fresh water should be available at all times.

Cat Exercise

Kittens love to play and it can be hilarious entertainment for you. Encourage playful exercise by providing the right kind of toys for her. Not only will it improve her muscle tone and vitality but can also prevent heart disease, weight problems, and stress (just like with people!). Make sure the toys are too big to be swallowed and sturdy enough so they cannot be crushed in kitten jaws. Do not allow your kitten to play with string, ribbon, thread, yarn, tinsel or the like. If eaten, any of these items can become lodged in the intestinal tract as a "linear foreign body," which can lead to a very sick kitten and may require surgery.

Feline Spay & Neuter

If your kitten has not already been "fixed" by the time you bring her home, we recommend spaying her or neutering him at 5-6 months of age, unless you intend to breed. Not only will you prevent annoying mating behaviors and territorial marking, but you will eliminate the chance of testicular cancer or pyometra, an infectious condition of the uterus. Most importantly, no unwanted kittens will be born.

Cat Bedding

Provide a spot where your kitten can retreat and sleep. This can be a kitten bed in a quiet, dark corner or a box or paper bag, or even a pile of towels or blankets. Keep in mind that cats are by nature nocturnal and so may be quite active during the night hours, a fact to consider when selecting a spot for her to sleep.

Furniture Destruction & Declawing

If your kitty is being destructive to your furniture, try training her to use a scratching post by placing it initially in a prominent place and rubbing catnip on it. There are several alternatives to declawing including regular nail trimming, Soft Paws nail caps, behavioural training and tendonectomy. If declawing is necessary, it can be done at the time of spaying or neutering. Not all veterinarians will perform declawing surgery.

Dental Care for My Ferret

I brought my ferret here because he had a chipped tooth and a piece jammed up into his gum line. They gave me all my options up front and let me decide what I wanted to have done which I loved. On drop off day they let me bring my little big to the back. Very affordable and there were no problems healing. Highly recommend this vet, I will be going back.


Mewmewk



Affordable Care & Happy Pets

Good staff, easy on the wallet. Always come out of there with my pets smiling.


Samson D.

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