Winter Safety Tips

Winter wellness – be sure your pets are up to date with their annual exams. A healthy pet will be much better prepared to weather the harshness of winter.

Keep pets warm. Do not leave them out in severe cold if unsupervised. Know their limits. Some pets will be happier outdoors than others for longer periods of time. Use coats and sweaters to help protect them from the cold. Keep pets indoors as much as possible.

Avoid shaving pets down to bare skin during cold winter weather. Jackets and sweaters will be helpful if shaving becomes necessary.

Adjust your pets’ feed appropriately. Some pets may require additional calories to burn if they spend much time outside in the cold, however, most of our house pets will actually require a reduction in calories due to staying inside and and getting less activity.

Keep your pets exercised as much as possible indoors. Play games and teach tricks to help keep them mentally and physically active.

Keep your home humidified to guard against dry, itchy skin and static electricity that might irritate your pets.

Be sure to use plastic dishes when leaving water available outdoors for your pets. This way they can avoid getting their tongues stuck to a metal container during cold temperatures. Check often to be sure water bowls have not frozen.

Clean up any coolant spills to avoid antifreeze poisoning. Pets may be attracted to the sweet taste of these products, but the liquid is highly toxic. It is possible to switch to pet-friendly coolants to avoid this hazard at your own home, but the danger is still around other locations.

Check under the hood. Cats will sometimes climb up into a wheel well or the engine area of acar trying to find some warmth. Knock on the vehicle or honk the horn to startle or alert the cat before turning the engine on and driving away.

Additional pet-proofing of your home may be necessary when you begin using wood stoves, space heaters or other heat-producing equipment.

Use reflective or lighted collars, harnesses and leashes when walking your pet. Good to do any time of year, but the longer periods of darkness in winter months call for this extra precaution.

Consider your pets when planning for severe weather and power outages. Keep plenty of their food, medications and water on hand, and have a plan for moving them to alternative shelter if necessary.

Avoid icy areas when possible. Slipping and falling on ice can cause bumps and bruises, as well as more major injuries such as muscle sprains and strains and knee injuries. Poorly frozen lakes, ponds and rivers are very dangerous – especially after temperature changes or winter rains that may thin ice layers even further.

Wipe down pets after they come in from outside. If rinsing off, be sure to dry them thoroughly and keep them warm. Pay special attention to their feet, legs and undersides where salt and ice may accumulate – especially after walking on paths or roads that have been heavily salted. Use pet safe ice melts whenever possible. Getting a pet used to wearing booties may also be helpful.

Keep your pets’ nails clipped short and avoid having pets walk through crusty snow that may lead to torn nails or dewclaws.

Take additional care to ensure trustworthiness of enclosures and restraint systems. Shovel pathways inside the perimeter of pens, so pets won’t be able to climb over fences as snow accumulates. Keep gates clear of snow and ice so they will close securely. Check snaps and hooks of tie-outs to keep them free of ice and working properly.

Be sure your pets are microchipped and wearing current ID in case of wandering off or escaping.

Why Does My Veterinarian Want a Poop Sample

Have you ever wondered why veterinarians recommend yearly fecal testing and what exactly is tested for? It’s not because we enjoy pet poop. We recommend “fecals” because they are an important part of your pet’s annual exam. Fecals ailow veterinarians to check your pet for intestinal parasites. Intestinal parasites are a major cause of morbidity in pets and also a concern for people. According to Kansas State, 34% of dogs in the United States have some kind of intestinal parasites, and the Centers for Disease Control(CDC) says that 14% of people in the U.S. have been infected with the roundworm toxocara. As a result of toxocara infections, approximately 700 people lose vision every year. Fecals are an important tool to ensure that your pet and your household are not infected and exposed to intestinal parasites, respectively.

What do fecals detect?

Fecals enable veterinarians to determine if your pet has intestinai parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, coccidia and giardia. Since intestinal parasites live in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, they are usually hidden from view. Unlike external parasites like fleas and ticks, most intestinal parasites are never seen. The only way to detect the presence of intestinal parasites and identity them is by doing a fecal.

How is a fecal test performed?

Since worm eggs, larvae and protozoan cysts are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye, a fecal exam is done with a microscope. There are three different ways to prepare a stool sample for examination:

  • Smear – A smear is the easiest to do and involves smearing a smali sample of stool across a microscope glass slide and examining it under the microscope.
  • Flotation – A flotation (also known as a float) is the most common method used in veterinary hospitals and involves mixing the stool sample in a special solution that allows the eggs and protozoan cysts to float to the surface.
  • Centrifugation – Centrifugation involves using a centrifuge to spin down a stoo! sample suspended in a special solution prior to performing the floatation. The parasites are then identified microscopically based on the size, shape and characteristics of their eggs, larvae or cysts (found in the stool specimen).

How to provide a proper fecal sample.

When it comes to food, we all know that fresh is best. Not surprisingly, the same is true for stool samples. The fact is that fresher stool samples give you more accurate and sensitive results. Eggs and larvae from some types of parasites, as well as protozoa and protozoan cysts, can become altered and unrecognizable the longer they sit out. For the best results, collect the freshest stool sample and bring it to your veterinarian the same day. If this is not possible, you can place the fecal sample in a sealed plastic bag and refrigerate it until you can bring it to your veterinarian. If you’re putting it in your refrigerator, we recommend being extra careful to not dirty the outside of the sealed plastic bag and double bagging it to insure you do not contaminate your fridge and food. But remember, fresher is better!