What Shots Does Your Puppy Need and Why?

You have a new puppy! You’ve given him a name, puppy-proofed the house, and introduced him to your family.

Next step: Take him to the veterinarian for his puppy shots!

Not only will your vet make sure your dog is in good health, they’ll get him on a vaccination schedule, which is essential to your dog’s health, now and in the future. Many of the diseases against which vaccines protect are highly contagious and can be deadly.

Here are the shots your puppy needs, what they protect against, and when he should get them.

Rabies Vaccine

One of the most commonly known vaccine for dogs is the rabies vaccine. Required by law, it is essential to get this puppy shot and the tag and paperwork that goes along with it.

Rabies is a viral disease that can pass from animal to animal or from animal to human through a bite or through infected saliva getting into an open wound.

If your puppy doesn’t receive the rabies vaccination and contracts the disease, he could experience a failure of his central nervous system that results in:

  • Hallucinations
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Aggression
  • Paralysis
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

An animal with rabies won’t display symptoms until two to eight weeks after being infected, and there is no cure for the disease.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Rabies Shot

Your puppy should get his first rabies shot around four to seven months old. At 12 to 16 months, he’ll need a booster shot. After that, your dog will require a rabies shot every one to three years.

Keep your pup’s up-to-date rabies vaccination paperwork in a safe place, and put his rabies tag on his collar. He’ll need proof of vaccination to play in dog parks and often to get his nails clipped.

Kennel Cough Vaccines

Aptly named, this illness can quickly spread among dogs in a kennel, boarding facility, or animal shelter if infected dogs are housed there. Kennel cough is very commonly caused by Bordetella or canine parainfluenza.

The Bordetella shot is not required, but highly recommended, especially if you’re heading to dog parks or training courses. If you plan on boarding your puppy during your vacations, this shot will most likely be required by the facility.

If your puppy contracts kennel cough, he will develop:

  • A sharp, dry cough
  • Gagging and retching
  • Loss of appetite

Kennel cough tends to be mild, but, in more severe cases, it can be dangerous.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Kennel Cough Shot

Your puppy should get the Bordetella vaccine at 6 to 8 weeks, again between 12 and 16 months, and yearly after that.

There are two strains of the canine parainfluenza vaccine. The first shot will be given when your puppy is about 7 weeks old, with a follow-up for the other strain when he is 11 weeks. The second vaccine is part of the DHPP vaccine, also known as DA2P. This is a combination vaccination that also protects your pup against canine distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus. He’ll get a follow-up DHPP shot at 14 to 16 weeks, 12 to 16 months, and every year or two following.

Distemper Vaccine

As with rabies, canine distemper has no cure, which makes this puppy shot extremely important. Unlike rabies, this disease can spread through the air as well as on contact.

The signs of distemper include:

  • A high fever
  • Discharge
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Puppies and older dogs are at the most risk. Treatment tends to be supportive until distemper runs its course. Dogs with weaker immune systems may struggle to fight distemper, and symptoms may last for months even in healthy puppies. Distemper can be passed to other animals months after your pup is recovered.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Distemper Shot

Your puppy should receive his first shot between six weeks and eight weeks of age to be protected against distemper. After the initial shot, this vaccination is part of the DHPP vaccine. (See Kennel Cough Vaccines.)

puppy shots

Parvovirus Vaccine

Puppies are most prone to catching the parvovirus, also known as “parvo.”

Symptoms come on fast and include vomiting, fever, and bloody diarrhea by affecting the gastrointestinal system.

If you suspect your puppy has parvo, bring him to your veterinarian immediately. Early treatment is essential, as the illness can be fatal in under 48 hours.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Parvovirus Shot

The parvovirus vaccine is a part of DHPP, so it is included in your puppy’s core shots at 10 to 12 weeks. Follow-up vaccines should be given at ages 15 weeks, 12 to 16 months, and every 1 to 2 years following.

Hepatitis Vaccine

Also part of the DHPP vaccine is the hepatitis vaccine. There is no cure for hepatitis in dogs, but your pup can be treated until the illness passes. In more severe cases, hepatitis can be fatal or cause damage to the liver.

Canine hepatitis is also known as canine adenovirus. It begins as an upper respiratory infection and spreads to the liver, kidney, and other organs. Signs include bleeding disorders, swelling, abdominal pain, fever, and lethargy. In some cases, it could even cause the eyes to become inflamed.

When Your Puppy Should Get the Hepatitis Shot

Follow the DHPP schedule for these shots: 10 to 12 weeks, 14 to 16 weeks, and every year or two after that.

Other Dog Vaccinations

Some other diseases you should consider for good puppy health are leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and coronavirus, but these are generally considered optional vaccines.

If you decide to vaccinate your puppy for these three diseases, he should get them at 10 to 12 weeks, again at 14 to 16 weeks, another time at 12 to 16 months, and then have a booster shot every year or two after that.

Leptospirosis doesn’t always show symptoms, but it is caused by bacteria. If signs do appear, they can include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure

Antibiotics are the best treatment if your puppy isn’t vaccinated.

Lyme disease is an illness humans are very familiar with, but while we get a rash, dogs do not. Symptoms in canines include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A limp

Lyme disease can affect various parts of your pup’s body and lead to more serious problems if not treated. Antibiotics can help, although symptoms may show up again later.

Canine coronavirus (CCV) affects the intestines. It’s very contagious and may not always display symptoms. If your puppy does show signs, they may be:

  • Vomiting
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Depression

CCV isn’t necessarily dangerous, but if caught at the same time as parvo or other diseases, it can be fatal.

Are you bringing home a new puppy? Make an appointment for his puppy shots! We can help you create a custom puppy vaccination schedule for your new family member. Each puppy is different. While these are general guidelines to follow for puppy shots, it’s important to ask your veterinarian about your dog specifically. They may suggest one or two vaccines a little earlier than usual, or a little later.

These shots can help ensure your puppy’s health throughout his life and all his adventures. Reach us by calling 281-693-7387 to schedule your dog’s first vet appointment!

My Cat is Getting Old: What Do I Need to Know?

As your cat gets older, it’s important to keep an eye on him. Cats are masters of disguise, and a slight change in behavior could point to an underlying problem in an older cat.

You can give your cat his best life through the years if you know the signs of aging in cats and the problems that can arise from the simple passage of time.

All cats should get regular check-ups with their vet, but it’s extremely important for aging cats. Your veterinarian can help catch issues early, especially if your senior is good at hiding them. Feel free to call Cinco Ranch Veterinary at 281-693-7387 to schedule your cat’s next check-up.

Sign #1: Your Cat Is Having Trouble Eating

As your cat ages, his teeth are more prone to dental disease, which can make eating difficult. Signs of a dental issue include:

How You Can Help Your Cat

Like other injuries and illnesses, cats can hide dental issues from their owners, so it’s important to regularly check your cat’s teeth or have it done by a vet, even when he’s young. It’s best to catch a dental problem before it progresses into something more serious that could require surgery or tooth removal. Brushing and specialized diets can also help prevent problems.

If your cat is already missing teeth or having other mouth issues, either from aging or dental disease, your vet may recommend a specific diet to make it easier for him to eat.

Not sure how to brush your cat’s teeth?

Sign #2: Your Cat Isn’t Coming When You Call

Cats, just like humans, are prone to changes in hearing. Becoming hard of hearing is an extremely common sign of aging in cats. Over time, your cat may experience damage to his ear or nerves, resulting in hearing loss.

Signs your senior may be going deaf include:

How You Can Help Your Cat

If your cat is going deaf or just not hearing as well as he used to, try not to sneak up or startle him. If your cat is an outdoor cat, consider keeping him inside instead, as he won’t be able to hear cars and other dangers. To keep your cat safe should he wander off, give him a microchip.

Sign #3: Your Cat Is Running into Things

Deteriorating sight is also a sign of an aging cat. Haziness and cloudiness is common in older cats and, in most cases, doesn’t affect their ability to see, but other issues like cataracts and high blood pressure should be given extra attention.

Cataracts are not extremely common in cats, even in seniors, but can occur. Look out for whitish pupils. High blood pressure, just like in humans, can lead to blindness in your cat. Unlike cataracts, it’s extremely common in cats.

How You Can Help Your Cat

One of the first things you should do if you have a cat who is blind or losing his sight is avoid adding hazards to his environment. He’s probably already comfortable in your home, so don’t move things he’ll remember the placement of, like furniture. Cats rely more on their hearing and smell than their sight, so the loss of it doesn’t mean your cat can’t live a full life; however, you should never let a blind cat outside.

If you notice your cat is having trouble seeing in the dark, take him to a vet as soon as possible. This could be a sign of high blood pressure and may be able to be treated before it worsens.

Sign #4: Your Cat Isn’t as Energetic as Before

As any pet ages, they tend to lose energy. Your cat will sleep more and play less, and that’s completely normal. If your cat becomes lethargic, however, make an appointment with your vet.

How You Can Help Your Cat

The best thing you can do for any senior cat keep them out of stressful situations. This includes big changes, new pets, and new situations. When stressed, cats can lash out at other animals, cease using the litter box, or become more aggressive overall. Ask your vet about reducing stress.

signs of aging in cats

Sign #5: Your Cat Isn’t Moving Like He Used to

Aging cats are extremely prone to arthritis. The smallest of physical changes could point to this problem, so if you notice your cat limping or grooming himself differently as he ages, take him to the vet for a check-up.

Other signs of trouble moving include no longer jumping on your bed and other furniture and simply not being able to climb into his litter box.

How You Can Help Your Cat

The symptoms of arthritis can absolutely be treated by a vet and will reduce pain and discomfort. Your veterinarian may recommend a different diet, weight loss, or medication.

Your cat may have difficulty reaching specific spots on his body when he grooms himself. Grooming your cat will prevent problems like matting.

Rearranging your home slightly will also help your feline friend. Make access to his water and food bowls, litter box(es), toys, and favorite places a little easier to reach. He’ll also appreciate a little help if they are looking to get into bed with you.

Other Signs of Aging in Cats

There are several other signs that your cat is aging that are not cause for alarm, like brittle claws and changes to his coat texture or color. If you’re concerned about a particular change, ask your vet!

Just like humans, cats change as they age. Unlike humans, cats are expert at hiding symptoms, discomfort, and pain. So you need to be the lookout! If you notice alterations in your aging cat’s behavior or physical appearance, keep an eye on them for other changes to prevent problems. If you suspect something is wrong, contact your vet.

One of the best things you can do for your aging cat is to get regular check-ups. This can help set your mind at ease and ensure your senior is getting the best care, nutrition, and attention possible as he gets older. If it’s time for your senior’s check-up or you suspect a problem, call us at 281-693-7387.

The Signs of Dog Poisoning and How to Help

There’s no doubt dogs try to get into everything and anything, which can make the thought of your dog being poisoned a realer one than you’d like it to be. If you have a curious pup, there are signs and symptoms of dog poisoning you can look out for. Here’s what you need to know!

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, seek emergency animal care immediately. If you have questions about your pet’s health or see potential signs and symptoms of poisoning in your dog, don’t hesitate to call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.

What Is Poisonous to a Dog?

Quite a few items around the house can be poisonous to a dog, if ingested. The most well-known food item is chocolate, but there are other things you should keep out of reach of your pooch, including:

  • Human medications
  • Household products and chemicals, such as antifreeze
  • Herbal products (like fish oil and others)
  • Insecticides and rodenticides
  • Various human foods (grapes, avocados, raisins, etc.)
  • Plants (tulips, daffodils, azaleas, and others)
  • Products for your lawn

This list isn’t exhaustive, so be sure to put anything that isn’t specifically made for her out of reach. If you do give your dog human food on occasion, always double-check that neither it nor any of its ingredients are poisonous. Carefully research chemicals, plants, and other items before using them in your home or yard.

Some animals are also poisonous to dogs, as well as humans and other pets. Keep an eye out for brown recluse spiders, coral snakes, and other venomous animals.

Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your dog got into a chemical, food, medication, or other dangerous substance, there are signs you can look out for. Common symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Neurologic symptoms, like seizures

If you notice any of these symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately.

A poisoned dog that doesn’t get care will likely develop more serious issues. Antifreeze and Easter lily, for instance, can lead to kidney failure. Certain medications can cause liver damage. Garlic and onion can result in bleeding and bruising. Attacks from venomous animals or consumption of poisonous plants can cause neurological problems, such as seizures and other symptoms. Suspected dog poisoning should never go untreated.

sign of poisoning in dogs

What to Do If Your Dog Is Poisoned

If you notice any of the above signs of poisoning in your dog, or you saw her eat a poisonous item, you can call Animal Poison Control for assistance at 888-426-4435, but it’s important to get her to a veterinarian immediately. Never give her medication at home or attempt to induce vomiting without being instructed to do so. In some cases, if your pet’s fur or skin came into contact with the poison, you will be able to bathe her to remove the toxin. Ask your veterinarian for advice.

Try to gather the poisonous substance and a sample of vomit, if your dog threw up, to show the vet. This can help them diagnose and treat your pet. Be careful handling other items that are poisonous to dogs, as they might be dangerous for you as well. If your dog was attacked by a venomous animal, only bring the animal in if it is already dead, and handle it with gloves and care to prevent the transmission of illness. This can help the emergency vet identify the exact species and determine treatment. Never try to catch a venomous animal.

Prevent Poisoning

There are several steps you can take to prevent your dog from being poisoned or reduce the risk. And you can always be ready if an accident happens! Take these steps to protect your dog’s health:

  • Lock up all chemicals.
  • Keep medication in child-proof containers out of reach.
  • Err on the side of caution, and do not feed your dog human food.
  • If you do feed your dog human food, double-check that it is not dangerous for them.
  • Keep hydrogen peroxide at home just in case your veterinarian advises you to induce vomiting. Never attempt this without your veterinarian saying it’s okay.
  • Research all plants before bringing them into your home or planting them in your yard.
  • Refrain from using insecticides and similar products in your home.
  • Keep dog shampoo and dish soap on hand in case of skin or fur contact.
  • Keep your dog’s medical records, microchip information, and ID in the same place to grab in case of an emergency.
  • Clean up immediately after cooking, including any possible dropped food.
  • Add your veterinarian, local emergency vet, and Animal Poison Control to your phone’s contacts.
  • Lock up the garbage.
  • Always follow the directions on medications for fleas and ticks, and others, to ensure proper use.

Prevention is key to your dog’s safety! But if an accident does happen, know the signs of dog poisoning, and take the necessary steps to help your pet. If you see your dog eat a poisonous item, don’t wait: Go to the vet. Try to remain calm, so you can help your pup as best as possible.

If you believe your dog has been poisoned or suspect she got into something dangerous, call us at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas.

Your Dog Ate Something She Shouldn’t Have: Now What?

Dogs get into a lot of things they’re not supposed to, and those often go right into their mouths before you know it. Sometimes those items pass right through your pup. Other times, a swallowed object can cause serious issues. Here’s what you need to know when your dog eats a foreign object and how to get her to pass it.

Foreign Objects Dogs Shouldn’t Eat

Dogs will try to eat just about anything, and most food is okay for them. (Check out our list of safe snacks here!) But there are others items they seem to go for more often and definitely shouldn’t consume. Here’s a list of the most common ones:

  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Toilet paper
  • Tennis balls
  • Dog, cat, or children’s toys
  • Sticks
  • Garbage
  • Rocks
  • Chicken bones
  • Food wrappers
  • Tissues
  • Paper

If you have a dog, you now this list is by no means exhaustive! The amount of things a curious canine can get into can be endless, so take precautions to keep such items out of reach, and choose toys that are safe for your pup.

How to Tell If Your Dog Ate a Foreign Object

If you didn’t witness your dog eat a foreign object, two things can happen:

1. You notice it when she passes it on her own – Items that move through the digestive track on their own tend to be out in 10 to 24 hours, but some can take months to pass. Certain objects can make it to the colon but then have difficulty coming out.

2. OR, she starts to show signs of having eaten something she shouldn’t have.

There are plenty of signs that your dog ate something foreign and it’s causing an obstruction in her stomach or intestines. Vomiting is extremely common, but so is:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Not eating
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Behavioral changes

Your dog might guard her stomach due to tenderness or pain.

If your dog is passing the item and you can see it sticking out of her anus, do not pull on the item. It could cause damage to her intestines or colon.

What to Do If Your Dog Ate a Foreign Object

If you saw your dog eat something she wasn’t supposed to or you suspect she did, don’t hesitate: Take her to the veterinarian right away. The sooner you get there, the better chance your vet can remove the item before it causes more issues or before surgery becomes necessary. If it is after your veterinarian’s regular hours, call an emergency veterinarian. Describe the situation, and ask for advice. They may ask you to come in.

When you arrive, your vet will take X-rays and blood work to see exactly where the item is and if your dog’s health has been negatively affected by the foreign body.

The next step depends on where the item is in your dog’s digestive system. In some cases where the foreign body is still in the stomach, the vet may induce vomiting or remove it through an endoscopy. Never try these at home; leave them to a professional who can care for your pet before, during, and after the procedure.

If the item has passed the stomach and is in the intestines, your dog may require surgery.

If the foreign object reaches the colon but still hasn’t passed, your veterinarian may suggest fluid therapy, laxatives, or an enema.

how to get a dog to pass an object

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Foreign Objects

It can be tough to keep your dog out of everything or to keep your eye on her at all times, but there are simple steps you can take to prevent an emergency. Prevention is the best way to help your dog stay safe!

Monitor Her Toys

Be careful about what you present to your pup as a toy. Don’t give her things she can swallow easily, and keep her play style in mind. For instance, if your pup likes stuffed animals but tends to rip out and eat the stuffing or eyes, it may be time to stop buying those types of toys. Find safe objects that she won’t destroy or eat, and monitor her as she plays.

Check reviews before you purchase a new item.

Dog-Proof Your House

Dog-proofing is similar to baby-proofing and just means finding ways to keep your dog out of things she shouldn’t be in. It could include locking access to cabinets, keeping the garbage in a closet or other location, placing smaller items out of reach of her mouth, and never leaving objects on the floor. Put away shoes, socks, children’s toys, and tempting items.

If you saw your dog swallow something she shouldn’t have, you suspect she did, or she’s experiencing the symptoms of an obstruction, don’t wait to see if she will pass the foreign body on her own. Take her to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible to avoid complications.

You can reach Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas. We provide emergency care whenever our clinic is open. If we are closed when you call, we’ll refer you to a quality veterinary emergency center that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn more about our hospital services here.

Breed Spotlight: Pit Bulls

While pit bulls sometimes get a bad rap, just like any dog, they can be great companions with the right owners and training. Many people only know these dogs by the name “pit bull,” but a “pit bull” actually isn’t a breed! It’s a generalized term used to describe several formal breeds that fall under that category.

Get in-the-know on all things “pit bull!”

What Is a Pit Bull?

There are actually four different formal breeds that fall under the pit bull category. Sometimes these are referred to as “bully breeds:”

  • American pit bull terrier
  • American Staffordshire terrier
  • American bull terrier
  • Staffordshire bull terrier
  • American bulldog (occasionally)

It’s heavily debated which formal breeds can be considered pit bulls, and, often, dogs labeled “pit bulls” tend to be mixed breeds.

Each of these breeds is recognized differently by the AKC (American Kennel Club) and the UKC (United Kennel Club). They definitely do get a bad rap for their history, but with proper obedience training and discipline, they can be loyal and affectionate dogs. However, it is important to note, that these breeds are not for everyone.

pit bull facts

The Basics on the Breed

Each of the different breeds of pit bull have different characteristics, so it’s unwise to generalize the behaviors and temperaments—and even appearances—of “pit bulls.”

The American pit bull terrier has a shiny, stiff, and short coat that comes in a range of colors between red and black. They have a medium, solid body (weighing 30 to 85 pounds) with a short tail, small ears, and a broad head. This breed tends to have a very athletic look and lives between 12 and 16 years.

The American Staffordshire terrier also comes in a variety of colors with a short coat, but their fur is smooth. Too much white in their coloring can actually be considered a fault in the breed. The American Staffordshire terrier’s body type is very similar to the body of the American pit bull terrier, but is smaller, weighing between 40 and 60 pounds. They also have a shorter lifespan of 10 to 15 years.

The Staffodshire Bull Terrier has a similar coat to the others with a strong jaw, broad head, and small tail. It is smaller than the other two breeds of pit bull, reaching a maximum weight of about 38 pounds. Their lifespan tends to be between 12 and 14 years.

Why Pit Bulls Make Great Pets

Pit bulls are strong, athletic, and determined, and these characteristics can make them difficult for some owners. If you understand what your breed of pit bull needs, they can make wonderful companions. They can be sensitive, loving, playful, and gentle, even if their appearance and reputation says “tough guy!” They’re responsive to training, and it’s recommended that you bring them to training classes as early as possible. It’s important to be responsible with this breed.

With the proper training and socialization, pit bulls can be extremely friendly with family, kids, and even strangers. Despite their reputation, they don’t always make the best guard dogs! Even though they’re very intelligent, these breeds tend to be a bit shy if not properly socialized.

Pit bulls can also be enthusiastic and eager to please, so they’re fairly easy to train for work.

pit bull facts

Fun Facts About Pit Bulls!

Each breed that falls under the general category of “pit bull” is full of surprises! Here are just some of them:

  • Many dogs that aren’t “pit bulls” get mistaken for them, including the Presa Canario and the boxer.
  • Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull predecessor, is the most decorated dog, having served in World War I.
  • It can be difficult to claim standards for pit bulls due to mixed breeds.
  • Pit bulls are in several movies, including: Petey (played by Pal), the dog with the black eye, in “The Little Rascals” and Chance (played by Sure Grip Rattler in Homeward Bound).
  • Several “spokesmen” dogs, like Blueberry, are working to dispel the myths surrounding pit bull breeds and raise awareness.
  • The Animal Planet show “Pit Bulls and Parolees” works to educate viewers about the breeds through rescue stories.

Pit bulls can make wonderful pets; the key is being a responsible owner. Their behavior depends on your ability to train and handle them. Before adopting any of these wonderful breeds or mixed breeds, do your research:

  • Talk to your local shelter(s) about the dog’s past life, temperament, and training.
  • If you’re adopting from a breeder, read our post about how to find a breeder who is as responsible as you are.
  • Confirm that your town, homeowner’s association, or apartment complex allows a pit bull to live with you. Breed discrimination of pit bulls is fairly common.

If you’re bringing home a pit bull, we’d love to meet them! It’s important they have their first check-up within a week of coming home. You can schedule your appointment by calling us at 281-693-7387.

The Story of Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Last month was a big deal here at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital! On June 19 we happily celebrated 20 years of serving the pets and humans of Katy, Texas. Our practice has grown quite a bit since its opening day on June 19, 1998. Join us as we look back at where we came from and forward to many years to come!

our story

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital got its start in a strip mall on Cinco Ranch Boulevard in Katy, which was the fastest-growing city in the country at the time! Back then, the staff was small, just Dr. Hibler; his wife, Mary Beth; and one other employee.

How did the dream for a local animal hospital get its start? Dr. Steven Hibler, who’s a Houston native, says the idea of becoming a veterinarian came from his father, a farmer who had wished to be a vet himself.

Dr. Hibler attended Texas A&M, where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 1984. He then worked for 12 years in emergency and critical care of animals. It was rewarding work but left little time for his family. That’s when he realized, “Emergency/critical care is the type of practice for a young person…you get too old to stay up all night!” It was time to open his own practice.

In 1998, the doors of Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital opened…with zero clients. The small team worked hard accomplishing everything that needed doing at the hospital. They walked dogs, mopped the floor, took out the trash, and more.

Since that time, the practice grew quickly! We’ve seen dozens of great and memorable animals pass through our doors, and plenty of funny stories to go along with them. In fact, Mary Beth will soon be publishing a book full of these tales—or should we say “tails?”

Besides the thousands of dogs and cats we’ve treated, we’ve also seen our fair share of unusual cases over our 20 years. We treated an exotic dancer’s snake, and we stitched up an emu! At one point, potbelly pigs were a very popular pet in Houston, so one could be found snuffling about the clinic at any given time.

Today, Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital is still a small group, and we’ve worked hard to maintain our “family feel.” Dr. Cara Longshore joined the team in 2005, and Dr. Tanya Brown joined in 2007. We also employ about a dozen other friendly staff, including vet techs and receptionists. Together over the past 20 years, we’ve had good times and bad. The team lost a member to cancer, and many of the hospital’s employees and patients were affected by Hurricane Harvey. But we stick together, and every day brings new challenges and new fun.

Working at a veterinary hospital is one of the most rewarding experiences someone could have. Dr. Hibler enjoys the independence of owning his own practice, the team feeling that has grown up over the years, and, of course, the pets.

Spoken like a true animal person, Dr. Hibler says, “The hardest thing about running a veterinary hospital? People. Pets are fine.”

Click through to see our adventures through the years!

My Cat Ate String! What to Do Now

“Don’t eat that!” How many times a day is that question directed at your cat?

There’s no doubt cats love string and yarn (and anything that looks remotely like string or yarn). As fun as it can be for them to play with, string and material like it can be quite dangerous to their health. Here’s what you need to know if your cat swallows it!

How to Tell If Your Cat Ate String

If you didn’t witness your cat chomping on string during playtime, you might not know right away that she swallowed something she wasn’t supposed to. In some cases, you may never know it occurred because your cat can pass it on her own.

When it doesn’t pass on its own, there can be serious consequences, but you will see signs of an obstruction (bunching up in the intestines). Look out for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Problems going to the bathroom
  • Not eating
  • Not wanting you to touch her stomach

What If You See the String?

You may be able to see the string in your cat’s mouth or later, coming out of your cat’s anus when she attempts to pass it. Never try to take the string out of your cat’s mouth. It could cause serious damage to her digestive tract, as you don’t know how long it is and whether it’s wrapped around something internally.

If you see string hanging out of your cat’s back end, don’t pull on it. The best solution is to carefully trim it and contact your veterinarian. Even trying to gently pull it out could cause damage to your cat’s intestines.

Your Cat Ate String: What to Do Now

If you notice any of the symptoms above, whether you know your cat ate string or just suspect it, go to the vet. Their care will ensure the string doesn’t cause more serious issues.

What Can the Vet Do?

If the string is wrapped around your cat’s tongue, it can be removed by your veterinarian.

If the string was swallowed completely, your veterinarian may order X-rays, blood tests, extra fluids, medication, or an endoscopy. They may also induce your cat to vomit, but this only works if the string has not passed further into your kitty’s digestive tract.

In more serious cases, your cat may require surgery.

You should never attempt any of these solutions at home.

cat ate string

Be Watchful!

Cats, just like dogs, can sometimes get into things they’re not supposed to. Just like string, these are items you’ll want to keep out of their reach:

  • Yarn
  • Ribbon
  • Tinsel
  • Rubber bands
  • Dangling toys (With supervision, these are generally fine!)
  • Feathers
  • Paper clips
  • Dental floss

It’s important to use judgment when giving your cats new toys. If you’re not sure about a toy’s safety, check the reviews and ask your veterinarian. It’s a good idea to avoid toys:

  • That have dangling strings or other items
  • That have eyes that can be easily removed
  • That are extremely small and can be easily swallowed

Sometimes food and plants looks like fun to a cat! Here are some things that definitely aren’t cat food:

  • Caffeine
  • Medications
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Aloe
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Antifreeze
  • Detergents
  • Insect bait
  • Chicken bones

This is a short list of the things that can have negative consequences for your cat. If you suspect she ate a poisonous or dangerous item, contact your vet immediately. You can also call Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435.

Safe Toys for Your Cat

While there are items that are not safe for your cat, there are plenty of great playthings! And they don’t always have to be labeled as “cat toys!” Here are some great toys, homemade or store bought, your kitty can enjoy.

String—and material like it—is never a good idea for cats, dogs, or any other pet, but if your cat ate something she wasn’t supposed to—or you suspect she did—it’s time to visit your veterinarian. The sooner the item is discovered, the easier it may be to get out.

If your cat swallows string or eats another foreign object, please give us a call at 281-693-7397, or bring your pet to our hospital located at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, especially if your cat is already displaying symptoms. If it’s an emergency, we can assist over the phone and at the office, even if you don’t have an appointment.

Take a Flight! A Rundown of Airline Pet Policies

If you have a flight booked and want (or need) to take your pet along, one of the first questions you have is likely about airline pet policies. Thankfully, lots of airlines are pet friendly. Read on for a summary of the pet policies of each of the major United States airlines.

General Rules & Reminders About Bringing Your Pet on a Plane

Each airline has different rules and regulations when it comes to traveling with pets, but here are some common things to keep in mind:

– Many airlines only allow pets on flights that are less than 12 hours long.

– Each airline has rules about kennel sizes, which may vary depending on whether your pet is in carry-on or cargo. Generally, their carrier should be big enough for your pet to move around in.

– Pets will not always be allowed on your flight if you’re making a connection.

– Snub-nosed cats and dogs may not be allowed onboard. Examples:

– Pets should be at least eight weeks old, but some airlines require them to be older.

– There may be a specific number of animals allowed on a flight, so book your pet’s spot ASAP!

– Each destination (especially international destinations) has its own restrictions and requirements. When flying internationally, check with the country’s embassy to ensure you follow their rules. Examples:

  • Hawaii does not allow you to fly in with your pet as a carry-on.
  • Australia and Iceland do not allow pets at all (except service animals).

– Service animals are allowed on all flights, but double-check with your airline about their guidelines.

What to Bring When You Fly with a Pet

airline pet policy

American Airlines

The pet policy from American Airlines® (AA) allows you to carry-on or check cats and dogs for flights to and from specific destinations. They do not allow pets on transatlantic flights.

No matter how you would like to fly your pet, they must be eight weeks or older.

Carry-On Guidelines

If you wish to bring your pet with you onboard, they must be under 20 pounds. Their kennel counts as your carry-on bag and costs $125 each way. American Airlines restricts the total number of pets allowed as carry-ons, so reserve your pet’s spot as soon as you know you want to take them along!

Checked Guidelines

You can check up to 2 pets for $200 each. You must have their health certificates with you and register for their spots at least 48 hours in advance. If you are transporting your pet because you’re moving or adopting them from somewhere else, they’ll need specific documentation and preparation.

AA will not transport pets to certain cities during the summer due to heat.

Learn more about American Airlines’s pet policy:


Delta’s pet policy allows you to bring cats, dogs, and household birds on flights up to 12 hours. Your pet must be 10 weeks old for domestic travel and 16 weeks for international. Space is limited, so it’s essential that you notify Delta about your plans as soon as possible.

Carry-On Guidelines

The fee to carry your pet on a flight is $125. Their kennel should fit under the seat in front of you and counts as one of your two allotted carry-on bags. Although only one pet is generally allowed, if you have a nursing mother with a litter, the litter can come along.

Checked Guidelines

Checked pets must fly with Delta Cargo. This requires a separate ticket. Note that your pet may not be on the same flight as you if you choose Cargo.

Learn more about Delta’s pet policy:


The airline pet policy for Frontier allows for small pets on domestic flights, including:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Small birds
  • Rabbits

Only dogs and cats are allowed on international flights.

You can only bring your pet on as a carry on. Frontier no longer checks pets.

Carry-On Guidelines

To carry your pet onboard costs $75 per flight. Frontier Airlines advises that you pay in advance, during your booking. You may have to pay more if you wait until check-in.

Learn more about Frontier’s pet policy:


Small pets, including dogs and cats, are allowed to travel as carry-on baggage with JetBlue. Their baggage areas are pressurized, which means you don’t have the option of checking your pet as cargo. Space is limited onboard, so book your spot as early as possible.

Their free program, JetPaws, makes flying with your pet easier and more comfortable.

Carry-On Guidelines

JetBlue requires that all pets have their vaccination and documentation with them. The fee is $100 each way.

Learn more about JetBlue’s pet policy:

Southwest® Airlines

Southwest welcomes cats and dogs to fly with them. Because Southwest experiences high temperatures in their baggage area, furry friends are only allowed to travel as carry-ons.

Carry-On Guidelines

Each flight costs $95. While you’re only allowed one carrier, you are welcome to bring two pets within the kennel. Southwest only allows pets on domestic flights and does not request health certificates. Only six pets are allowed on each flight, so ensure you book your loved one’s spot early.

Learn more about Southwest’s pet policy:

airline pet policy


If you’re traveling with your pets and flying on Spirit Airlines, you can bring along dogs, cats, and birds, as long as the kennel remains under 40 pounds. They’re only allowed in carry-on and primarily only on domestic flights, although you can bring your dog or cat with you to Puerto Rico and St. Thomas.

Carry-On Guidelines

Spirit’s fee to fly with a pet is $110 each way. They only allow four pets per flight, so book your furry friend’s spot as quickly as possible. You won’t be asked to produce a health certificate, but your pet should be eight weeks or older.

Learn more about Spirit’s pet policy:


United offers pet owners several options for traveling with pets. Small animals are allowed to fly, including:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Birds
  • Rabbits

United recently partnered with American Humane to ensure their transportation service, PetSafe, gives your pet the best flight possible. The team is made up of professionals, and the program has climate-controlled vehicles. If you have a long connection, PetSafe provides onsite and offsite accommodations. Customer service for their program is available 24/7.

Carry-On Guidelines

The number of pets allowed to be carried on a United flight is only six, so make sure you save your pet a spot. The fee is $125 and may be more if you have long connections.

Checked Guidelines

If you wish to check your pet, you’ll need health certificates and have to meet specific crate requirements. The fee you pay is based on the weight of your pet and carrier.

Learn more about United Airlines’s pet policy:

If you’re traveling with your pet, it’s important to do your research into your airline’s pet policies but also the requirements of your destination, especially if you’re flying internationally. Each airline is slightly different, so speak with the agents to ensure you meet the rules for your pet. Learn more about any airline’s rules, restrictions, or requirements on their website or by calling their customer service line.

If you’re traveling with your dog or cat in the near future, your airline may require vaccination records or a health certificate. We’re happy to help! Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to set up your pet’s pre-takeoff appointment.

And if you decide to keep your pet at home while you fly, we offer safe and comfortable boarding facilities. Learn more about them here!

Why Does My Cat Purr?

There’s no greater sign of your cat’s love than the sound of purring, like a little motor running, as you scratch his head and stroke his fur. Because purring means your cat loves you, right?

Maybe not.

Purring could mean something different than you think.

Why Do Cats Purr?

Cats can purr when experiencing:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Affection

They can even purr while giving birth to kittens!

Cats are considered “masters of disguise” when it comes to their emotions. Yours may be domesticated now, but his species used to be wild, and some wild instincts have stayed with him. Although domestic cats are often viewed as predatory threats to birds, squirrels, and mice, they’re also naturally prey to other, larger animals. Your feline’s instinct is to stay safe, and that means hiding illness and injuries. He’s more likely to be seen as an easy target if he appears sick or slow. This can make it difficult to interpret what he’s really feeling, even when he purrs.

It’s believed that purring helps a cat heal and experience pain relief. The theory is that the low-frequency vibrations produced by the purr can help wounds heal quickly, help bones repair, and even give your kitty relief from pain. A cat’s purr is more than a method for communication; it’s also a mechanism for comfort and healing.

Don’t worry! Even though your cat can purr when he’s in pain, most of the time, domestic cats do so as a sign of contentment, especially at times when you show them affection.

Note: Purring alone isn’t a definitive sign that something is wrong (After all, they do it when they’re happy too!), but if your cat has taken to hiding, not eating, going to the bathroom outside the litter box, or any other behavior that’s abnormal for him, it might be time to seek an expert opinion. You know your pet best. Ask your veterinarian if you have any concerns about his behavior.

When Do Cats Begin Purring?

Kittens start purring at just a few days old and usually continue purring throughout their lifetimes. Because cats are born blind and dependent, they purr to communicate with their mothers, letting them know, “I’m here, and I’m hungry!”

How Do Cats Purr?

Purring is a result of many parts of your cat coming together:

  • The larynx (vocal cords)
  • The laryngeal muscles (These control the vocal cords.)
  • The neural oscillator (brainwaves)

As your cat breathes in and out, his larynx separates and vibrates. That’s what creates the sound you hear. It can vibrate between 25 to 150 times per second!

Are There Different Types of Cat Purrs?

It would be helpful if your cat’s purring sounded different based on his mood or physical state, but a cat’s purr is produced and vocalized in the same way regardless of how he truly feels.

The good news is, you don’t have to rely on your cat’s purr to understand how he feels! Cats use several other verbal and nonverbal methods to communicate with us.

Have you heard your cat caterwaul, growl, or chirrup? Check out this list of cat vocalizations. Your cat may be communicating with you in more ways than you think!



Which Cat Breeds Purr the Most?

Do you find the sound of a cat’s purr soothing and peaceful? Do you love when your kitty “speaks” to you? Then you should consider a cat breed that’s known for purring and being vocal.

According to Purina®, some of the most “vocal” breeds include:

  • Oriental
  • Tonkinese
  • Singapura
  • Burmese
  • Japanese bobtail
  • Siamese
  • Siberian
  • Turkish Angora
  • Maine coon

And if you want a cat that purrs really loudly, you might get lucky with a British shorthair breed like Smokey, the cat that purrs louder than a lawn mower. Smokey’s owner admits,

“It’s either adorable or annoying, depending on what mood you’re in. You don’t even have to stroke her to start a purring session. Often she’ll do it for no reason.”

Good luck trying to get some z’s at night!

To All the Cat Lovers…

Dog owners may say there’s nothing like coming home to happy-go-lucky pup that licks their face as they walk through the door. But as a proud cat owner, you know your fur baby is uniquely awesome in ways you still may not understand. Cats like to keep things interesting! While they may not show their love and affection for you with kisses and puppy-dog eyes, you know they care.

Want to know more about your cat’s behavior? Schedule an appointment to chat with one of our vets! We’ll help you crack the code.

How Old Will Your Cat Live? + Tips to Improve Their Lifespan

Every cat owner wishes their feline friend could be with them forever. Whether you want to ensure the best care for your aging cat or you’ve just adopted a brand-new kitten, you may find yourself wondering, “How old will my cat live?” Here’s what you need to know about your kitty’s longevity.

How Old Do Cats Live?

Most cats live an average of 15 years, but some have been known to live to 20 and older! Your cat’s lifespan depends on a couple factors:

  • Her breed
  • Her genetics
  • Her health
  • Her lifestyle

The oldest cat in the United States was from just down the street in Austin, Texas. Creme Puff was 38 years old when she died.

What About Human Years?

Many pet owners believe cats follow the rule of dogs: Each dog year is seven human years, but this isn’t the case (and it’s not entirely true for dogs either! It’s generally agreed upon that a 2-year-old cat is about 25 in human years. Each human year after that is an additional four in cat years. By that math, a 7-year-old cat is about 45 in human years.

How to Tell How Old Your Cat Is

There are a few ways to tell how old your kitty is, but the person who can give you the most accurate estimate is your vet. We generally look at your cat’s teeth. Kittens usually still have their baby teeth, but by four months, their adult teeth are coming in. They have all their adult teeth by six months, but those teeth have dulled by two years old. And tartar is evident around three to five years old.

Judging how old your cat is based on her size can be a bit difficult, as different breeds grow at different rates. One year is enough for most cats to reach their full size, but Maine coons and other large breeds may take up to four years.

Body type could give you an idea:

  • Young cats are muscular.
  • Middle-aged cats tend to be rounder.
  • Seniors have more pronounced bones.

Other ways you can determine a cat’s age is by looking at her fur, her eyes, and her behavior.

Do Indoor or Outdoor Cats Live Longer?

how old do cats live

Your cat may want to venture outside to explore or even hunt, but it’s not the best option for her longevity. A study by Purdue showed that indoor cats can live 2.5 times longer than outdoor cats and even indoor cats that are only sometimes allowed to venture outside.

Common threats include:

  • Cars
  • Other animals – Fights with other cats, dogs, raccoons, and even birds can lead to injuries, infections, and diseases.
  • Poisonous plants

Whether your cat is an indoor or outdoor kitty, vaccinations can go a long way toward extending their lifespan. For outdoor cats, up-to-date shots are especially vital. They can easily contract rabies, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), or feline leukemia. Spread by fighting and sometimes just contact, these diseases could transfer to other cats or pets within your home.

We’re happy to make sure your cat and any other pets you have are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Just call us to schedule an appointment!

You Can Help Your Cat Live a Long Life!

Good news! There’s lots you can do to help your cat stay in the best health for as long as possible:

  • Yearly checkups (a perfect time for shots) – Your vet could catch a disease or other problem before it becomes serious.
  • Spaying or neutering – It does more than just prevent overcrowding of shelters; it reduces the risk of your pet contracting diseases or illnesses. Cats that are not spayed or neutered are more prone to uterine infections, breast tumors, testicular cancer, and ovarian cancer.
  • A healthy diet
  • Enough (fresh) water daily
  • Clean litter daily or more often
  • Using a cat carrier for travels or trips to the vet
  • Plenty of toys and scratching posts or boxes
  • Daily interactaction for bonding and stimulation
  • Regular grooming, including brushing and nail clipping
  • Keeping an eye out for small changes in your cat’s behavior – If you see any, schedule an appointment with your vet. Cats are good at hiding their symptoms, so observation is key!

A furry friend brings joy every year they’re with you, but you can give your cat her best life through each season if you know her lifespan. Whether you just adopted a new family member or you want to check the health of your older companion, bring your cat in for an appointment with us. We’ll help you understand her health and put you in the best position to give her the best care possible. Call us at 281-693-7387!