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Brushing Your Dog or Cat's Teeth: A Step-by-Step Guide

Many pet owners don’t clean their pets’ teeth, but it’s essential to your animal’s health! Brushing their teeth may seem like an astronomical task—prying their mouth open, getting a toothbrush in, not getting bitten—but it’s quite easy and should be done regularly in addition to professional dental cleanings that ensure plaque and dental disease are kept at bay. Call us at 281-693-7387 to book your furbaby’s next dental cleaning! In the meantime, here are some ways you can keep your pets’ canines sparkling white!

Why Cleaning Your Pet’s Teeth Is Important

Just like humans, cats and dogs can really benefit from regular teeth brushing. It helps remove the buildup of plaque and may even reduce the need for professional cleanings at the vet. Over 80% of pets will get periodontal disease before the age of 3, which can result in:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth loss
  • Pain while chewing

Poor dental health can also have an effect on the kidneys, liver, and heart, so it’s essential to your pet’s overall well-being that they have a healthy mouth.

Not sure if your cat or dog has issues with their teeth or gums? Peek inside! Tartar appears as a brown buildup, while gingivitis may be displayed by redness around the gum line.

If you spot your pet having difficulty chewing or notice missing teeth, it’s time for a trip to the vet. In cats, drooling is not normal and should be checked out.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

At first, brushing your dog’s teeth may be awkward for you and your dog, especially if they’re not used to it. That’s why it’s recommended to start early. But don’t worry! Even old dogs can learn new tricks, and your adult dog will be comfortable with the practice in no time.

Before brushing your dog’s teeth, gather the right materials, including:

It’s important to never use toothbrushes or toothpaste that is made for humans. Flouride is an ingredient in most human toothpaste, and it is poisonous to dogs. Dog toothbrushes are also much softer than regular toothbrushes and specially angled for dogs’ mouths. Finger brushes work well for smaller dogs, generally under 30 pounds.

We recommend our clients and their pets try the Enzadent enzymatic’s tooth-brushing kit. It includes:

  • A specialized pet toothbrush
  • A finger brush
  • Poultry-flavored toothpaste

If your dog doesn’t particularly like poultry, we also find that CET toothpaste works extremely well, and you can purchase it at our office! It’s available in poultry, vanilla mint, and beef flavors.

If you want to ty something completely homemade, a recipe of turmeric, parsley, and kelp will do the job.

Once you’ve purchased the materials, it’s time to start brushing:

Step 1

Sit down or kneel in front of your dog. Make sure they’re comfortable; if they are at all anxious, wait to brush their teeth at another time.

Step 2

Once your dog is comfortable, see how well they respond to your finger in their mouth, with just light pressure. This includes rubbing their upper gums and teeth.

If your dog appears uncomfortable, repeat this step at different times until they are okay with their mouth being touched. Then move on to Step 3.

Step 3

Ensure that your dog prefers the toothpaste. This is another step that may take a few days. If they show no interest in licking the toothpaste off your finger in a few days, purchase a different flavor.

Step 4

Once your dog is completely comfortable with the above steps, break out the toothbrush and lift your dog’s upper lip. For smaller dogs, use a finger brush.

Step 5

Angle the toothbrush to make sure it reaches your dog’s teeth, gum line, and gums. Always use light pressure with small, circular brushes.

For the first few sessions, concentrate on only a few teeth at a time. On later days, you can try more and more teeth.

            Note: If you notice light bleeding, it’s probably normal. If the bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop, you may be brushing too hard. It could also be a sign of gum disease.

More plaque will tend to accumulate on your dog’s canines and back teeth, so it’s important to give those extra attention when brushing. Always stop if your dog appears to be uncomfortable.

It’s a great idea to end the session with a treat or chew snack that promotes dental health, such as synthetic bones designed to strengthen a dog’s mouth.

How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

brushing dog teeth

Brushing a cat’s teeth may seem a bit more complicated than brushing a dog’s, but just like a dog, it’s important to make sure your cat is comfortable above all else. It just may take them a little more time to adjust.

The materials you will need to brush your cat’s teeth are:

  • A cat toothbrush
  • Cat toothpaste
  • A finger brush

Never use human toothpaste on a cat; it is harmful to their stomach. Cat toothbrushes tend to be smaller and softer than dog toothbrushes, but finger brushes work extremely well for cats and may be preferable. The Enzadent enzymatic’s tooth-brushing kit is also built for cats, as is CET toothpaste. Most cats like poultry flavors, but fish is another popular choice.

Don’t rush your cat. They will have to get comfortable with the process and maybe try out different toothpaste flavors before they’re comfortable with the process.

Here are some steps you can follow to make sure your cat’s dental health is taken care of:

Step 1

Let your cat get comfortable. Often, you can hold them on your lap. If your cat becomes anxious or uncomfortable at any time during brushing, stop and try again later.

Step 2

Raise your kitty’s upper lip, and begin to brush. You will want to brush downwards to remove food, plaque, and other items stuck in their teeth.

Step 3

Once your cat’s top teeth are finished, move the lower lip and brush their bottom teeth in an upward motion.

Note: Always allow your cat access to a water bowl after you have finished brushing their teeth. The toothpaste is not harmful, but they will appreciate a drink!

For cats especially, you may want to consider brushing a few teeth at every session, stopping, and resuming the next day. You should also give your kitty a dental-friendly treat afterwards.

If you notice any issues with your pets’ teeth while you’re brushing, it’s important to call a vet right away. Dental disease is painful for cats and dogs and can interfere with their eating. And, of course, if you’d like our experts to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth, we’d be happy to!

Regular, professional dental-cleaning appointments are also important for your cat or dog’s overall health. Call Cinco Ranch Vet at 281-693-7387 to make sure their smile remains pearly white!

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5 Famous Internet Cats and Why the World Wide Web Cares

If you’ve been on the Internet, it’s safe to assume you’ve run into your fair share of famous Internet cats. Their cute capers are captured in images and videos across the Web. There’s no question that cats rule the Internet. Sorry, dogs!

Why Cats?

Even though dogs are actually searched for more than cats, cat videos have a higher chance of going viral.

But why?

Why do cats get the majority of YouTube views and funny captions? An exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York titled “How Cats Took Over the Internet” posited that the answer lies in:

  • Science
  • Domestication
  • Behavior

While dogs outwardly show their emotions—there are plenty of dogs excited to see their returning servicemen and women, for example—cats do their own thing. They don’t pay attention to the camera or even to people, in most cases. They behave as if no one is watching, sometimes unpredictably. We peek in on their world because we wonder, “What will they do next?” Time Magazine said people like to watch cat videos because “we’re all secret voyeurs.”

Cats are also cute and funny, and that definitely plays a role in their fame!

Getting Their Start on the Internet

Even before YouTube, cats started taking their place as the mascots and representatives of the Internet. ebaum’s World, a site popular in the early 2000s, featured the short “The Kitty Cat Dance.” When YouTube was released, the first cat video was posted by YouTube co-founder Steve Chen. The next year, “Puppy vs Cat” became the first cat video to go viral. Today it has more than 16 million views!

The year 2007 was when cats and their Internet popularity took off running with the introduction of the LolCats website, i can has.cheezburger.com. The website allows users to take cat photos and write captions over them, resulting in plenty of cute photos featuring cats and other animals!

The Cat Stats

Today, there are over 2 million cat-related videos available on YouTube alone. They average about 12,000 views each, higher than any other category. I Can Has Cheezburger also currently boasts about 100 million visits each month. The cat phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down.

The Most Famous Internet Cats

Ask anybody to name at least one famous Internet cat, and they can probably do it. Here are just a few of the most popular:

Lil’ Bub

The runt of a feral litter, Lil’ Bib is an adorable girl who gets her unique looks from several genetic mutations. Her tongue hangs out due to a short jaw and not having teeth, but that does not affect her voracious appetite. Although she had some difficulty finding her forever home, Mike Bridavsky knew she was for him the second he saw her.

Since her introduction on Tumblr in 2011, Lil’ Bub has been showered with over 2 million Facebook likes, starred in documentaries, attended meet-and-greets, and won awards. Her owner sells plenty of merchandise featuring the famous cat, but the majority of sales go toward animal rescue groups.

Grumpy Cat®

Tardar Sauce, better known to the Internet as Grumpy Cat, also received her looks from a genetic mutation. Her appearance is caused by feline dwarfism and an underbite. She rose to fame after a relative of her owner posted her photo to Reddit. It was only a matter of time before she became an Internet meme and well-known Lolcat.

Grumpy Cat has also made her rounds of the celebrity circuit, appearing on news shows, in photo sessions, and even as a guest on WWE Monday Night Raw.

Maru

Cats love boxes, and there is no better model of this than Maru. Maru’s owner has over 540,000 subscribers and at least 1 video with over 22 million views featuring some of his most famous antics. No matter how big or how small the box is, this Scottish Fold from Japan will try his hardest to fit.

Colonel Meow

Sadly, this next cat has passed on, but Colonel Meow’s fame will live on through the Internet. In 2014 he held the Guinness World Record™ for longest fur on a cat at about 9 inches long! His face did the rest when his owners posted photos of his grumpy, militant appearance to social media.

Simon’s Cat

Simon’s Cat is a famous cartoon featured on YouTube. Although the cat is technically a drawing, it is based on the artist’s (Simon’s) cat and the many cat antics that all pet owners experience. With over 4 million subscribers, the YouTube artist has just under 824 million views on his hundreds of videos. For any cat owner that is woken up at 5 AM by cries for food or destroyed trees at Christmas, this YouTube channel is a must-watch.

Dogs Get Their Due

While cats reign supreme on the Internet, it wouldn’t be right not to acknowledge the Internet-famous dogs. “Yes, This is Dog” is one of the most popular and most used memes on the Internet today. And this puppy received over 183 million views for his antsy behavior and the well-done dubbing by Talking Animals. Fenton rose to fame when he decided chasing deer was more important than listening to his owner, and Denver became well-known when he made the choice to get into the cat treats.

There are plenty of diversions available on the Internet, and cats are definitely one of them, but there’s no question our lives would be a little less furry and a little less funny without their antics.

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4 Unique Houston Animal Rescues

There are thousands of pets across the country that are looking for homes. The Houston area is no exception! In addition to the typical rescue organizations that do great work, there are several unique, smaller animal rescues in town. You may find your next family member among them!

Here are just four of Houston’s most unique animal rescues. Learn what makes them so special.

1. Friends for Life

Friends for Life, known for running the Don Sanders Adoption Center, is the only no-kill, LEED certified animal rescue in Houston—and Texas!

The rescue provides:

  • Adoption
  • Spay/neuter services
  • Pet assistance
  • A medical clinic (coming soon)

Since 2008, Friends for Life has seen a 580% increase in adoption and is so proud of the 75% adoption rate for animals that were deemed “unadoptable” by other shelters. Dogs staying at the rescue until they find forever homes enjoy sniff holes and plenty of space. Cats are cage-less, with room to climb—even up to the skylights!

Beyond getting animals adopted, the shelter is committed to keeping families together, no matter the obstacles. For local families and communities that can’t afford to spay or neuter their pets, Friends for Life offers free fix services, in partnership with the Houston animal rescue, BARC. One unfixed female cat could potentially have more than 100 kittens in her entire lifetime. That could lead to 420,000 kittens in 7 years! To avoid cats being the most-killed animal in shelters, they need to be spayed or neutered. Friends for Life has done over 1,700 cat surgeries in just 3 years.

Friends for Life also understands that pet owners could potentially run into financial issues that make keeping their pets difficult. Their answer is offering assistance to ensure a lifetime with pets. This includes a food bank, assistance with animal containment and fences, grants for vets, and even free behavioral services. In the future, the Houston animal rescue will open a medical clinic to offer affordable pet care for those in financial straits.

2. Texas Wolfdog Project

The Texas Wolfdog Project is a newer Houston animal rescue, started in 2013. Wolfdogs are usually half-dog, half-wolf, but can be any combination of the two. Unfortunately, they are often subjected to misrepresentation, negligence, misunderstanding, and death.

houston animal rescue

While they’re certainly intriguing, wolfdogs don’t make good pets for owners who are uneducated about the breed. Many people who buy a wolf or wolfdog love the idea of owning one but are ill-equipped to handle the animal. When bored, wolfdogs can become destructive, especially with their increased prey drive, and can tear apart yards, homes, and more. Also, wolves howl, and a wolfdog is no different; it will howl at all hours of the night. The Texas Wolfdog Project hopes to educate the public about the care that this breed requires.

Often, when a breed is labeled “wolf,” it is automatically put down. The Texas Wolfdog Project steps in to help these dogs, giving them a second chance at life with more educated and responsible owners. The Project’s adoption process is lengthy and in-depth, so each dog gets its best chance.

3. K-9 Angels Rescue

A smaller animal rescue in Houston is the K-9 Angels Rescue. Focusing purely on dogs, it relies on a network of volunteers and foster families rather than its temporary adoption center. K-9 Angels Rescue does not accept animals from the public, but pulls adoptable dogs from kill shelters where they face death.

Each dog that is pulled from one of the area’s kill shelters remains with the rescue until it is adopted, often living in foster homes or with volunteers. K-9 Angels focus on finding the right family and the best match for each dog before adopting it out.

The mission of K-9 Angels Rescue is to ensure that as many of Houston’s dogs as possible do not face death just because they were abandoned, orphaned, rejected, surrendered, or neglected. The rescue is constantly looking for volunteers and eligible foster families.

4. CAP

One Houston animal rescue that Cinco Ranch Vet is proud to work with is CAP (Citizens for Animal Protection). Although CAP’s main mission is rescuing homeless animals and finding families for them, it also stands strongly:

  • Against animal cruelty
  • For the education of the public
  • For the respect of animal life

Since the 1970s, CAP has found forever families for Houston’s homeless, abused, and unwanted animals. Currently, it has one of the highest adoption rates in the country, and its program is award-winning. It also offers senior citizens the ability to adopt any pet over seven years old for free.

Unlike many shelters, where you choose a pet, CAP requests that all potential adopters fill out a “Pet Match” request card. This helps you and the rescue find the pet that fits your needs and lifestyle as well as the animal’s. In addition to dogs and cats, CAP rescues rabbits, guinea pigs, reptiles, and more.

CAP is also extremely dedicated to raising awareness about the treatment of pets throughout the Houston area and the nation. Its mission is to create an aware and responsive community that shows compassion for animals. Thanks to CAP’s efforts, thousands of pets in our city have found families and loving care.

When looking for your new family member in the animal rescues around Houston, the best place to start is online. Through education and research, you can learn about the compassion, respect, and work that goes into saving homeless animals. If you’re on the search for a fur-baby, check out the four rescues mentioned here. There are hundreds of animals around our city just waiting for loving homes!

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Why Exotic Animals Should Not Be Pets

Have you been to the zoo lately and dreamed of owning a tiger? How about a bear? Or a monkey? It may just be a fun fantasy for you, but there are many across the country who take their dreams of owning an exotic animal and make them come true. But most people are not equipped to own them.

What is an exotic animal? In the United States an exotic animal could be a(n):

  • Anteater
  • Leopard
  • Tiger
  • Elephant
  • Foreign domestic cow
  • And more

Here are just a few of the problems that arise when exotic animals become pets:

They require research and special care.

All pets require some type of research. What type of collar should you get your dog? How do you take your cat for a walk?

If you’re buying a specific breed of dog, it’s important to know what to expect. For example, a border collie will require plenty of exercise (and then more on top of that), but a pug is a bit more relaxed.

The research that goes into safely and successfully owning an exotic animal is very different from owning a dog or a cat. Each animal—tiger, snake, monkey, etc.—requires special:

  • Care
  • Habitats
  • Enrichment
  • Diets
  • Maintenance

Many homes and yards are not equipped to safely house an exotic animal. Some owners attempt to avoid providing the proper care by declawing, chaining, or abusing. Just like any animal, if an exotic pet is not given the care it needs, it may become aggressive, depressed, or ill. Owners who have taken on exotic animals often become overwhelmed by the care they need, and the animals are given to zoos or sanctuaries.

why exotic animals should not be pets

They can be dangerous to you, others, and the ecosystem.

Another reason exotic animals shouldn’t be pets is the danger they present—to the owner and to the public. Since 1990, big cats have killed more than 19 people in the country. This does not include the hundreds of injuries that have been reported and gone unreported. Big cats, snakes, monkeys, and other exotic animals are wild, not domestic, and can be extremely dangerous. Often, they don’t adjust well to captivity.

Exotic animals are much easier to acquire now due to the Internet, and some estimate that there are almost 5,000 tigers kept by people across the country. Unfortunately, the animal attack rate has stayed steady over the last 20 years. Born Free USA, an advocate organization against the ownership of exotic animals, keeps a list of attacks on owners, which have involved mountain lions; kangaroos; snakes; reptiles; and even kinkajous, rainforest animals related to raccoons.

If an exotic pet escapes its enclosure, it can present a serious risk to the public. This is especially true if the exotic pet is kept in an enclosure too small for its needs and isolated from its kind or any interaction. In 2011, 49 animals were killed in Ohio after the man who owned them set them free and then took his own life. Some were put down by police and other law enforcement, a big cat was hit by a car, and one monkey—likely infected with the herpes B virus—was unaccounted for several days after the event. Witnesses described the animals showing aggressive behavior and lions attacking the other exotic pets at the preserve.

Snakes are a common exotic animal that are often released or escape from their enclosure, as seen in Florida. The Everglades is fighting a battle against the Burmese python, a snake that doesn’t belong in the state or even the United States. Some of the pythons may have gotten away from a facility after Hurricane Andrew, while others may have been released when they became too large to care for, or they simply escaped. Difficult to find, they are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem and have nearly wiped out the local raccoons, opossums, and rabbits.

They pose potential health risks.

Exotic animals can pose serious health risks to the community. Monkeys, for example, bite to show dominance, which may cause infection or bone deformities. Macaque monkeys often carry the herpes B virus, adding another layer of danger to their bites. Transferred through saliva, it is usually fatal for humans. Monkey pox, Ebola, and other illnesses can also be transmitted via monkey bites.

Reptiles, such as turtles and snakes, also have the potential to be a health risk; that’s primarily because 90% carry salmonellosis. It’s estimated that 93,000 cases of the illness in the country are due to reptiles, and the animals don’t show symptoms. To avoid catching salmonella, always wash your hands after handling reptiles, a reptile’s cage, or anything a reptile has touched. Never put a reptile near your mouth. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems avoid all reptiles.

Owning exotic animals could be against the law.

There are several federal, state, and local laws either prohibiting or regulating the sale and ownership of exotic animals in Texas and the United States. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prevents the sale of endangered species but does not stop private possession. The Public Health Services Act prohibits importing primates for personal use.

Texas requires citizens to have a license or permit to obtain and possess an exotic animal. A person interested in getting a permit must submit several materials, including:

  • The location the animal will be kept
  • Photos of their enclosure
  • Liability insurance
  • Veterinary inspections
  • Fees

Each certificate must be renewed annually.

While it is not against the law to own exotic animals in Texas as a whole, that’s not the case in Houston. The city bans any animal considered wild by nature. This includes lions, foxes, gorillas, elephants, and venomous reptiles.

Spend time with exotic animals!

Almost everyone can agree that exotic animals are amazing to watch and learn about. While it’s probably not a great idea to own one, there are several places to see and even interact with them in a safe manner.

Check out:

  • Zoos
  • Aquariums
  • Sanctuaries

Owning an exotic animal may seem like a fun and exciting idea, but there are several reasons why they should stay in the care of very educated owners, zoos, or the wild, and the examples listed above are only a few. If you are still interested in owning an exotic animal, do careful research into every aspect of owning the pet, including your local laws and the animals’ needs, diet, and behavior, so you can ensure that you and your pet stay healthy and happy.

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Pet Boarding Near Houston: Going Away for the Holidays? Make Sure Your Pet Has Fun Too!

Are you heading somewhere else for the holidays? If you’re not bringing your pet with you to Grandma’s house, the mountains, or the sunny Carribbean, they can still have a wonderful holiday without you! By choosing pet boarding in Houston, your furbabies can enjoy the best life has to offer: pampering, training, playtime, and more.

Leaving your pet behind can be stressful for you and your animal, so we’ve complied a list of pet boarding options in Houston that will give your pet a home away from home while you’re jet-setting.

Check out some of the places around town where you can board your cat or dog for the upcoming holidays and all year round!

Rover Oaks Pet Resort

Rover Oaks Pet Resort, located in both Houston and Katy, focuses on the luxuries of pet boarding.

Some great features include:

  • Luxury suites with TVs and comfortable beds
  • Extra playtime, treats, and walks
  • Obedience training

Dogs can look forward to professional grooming, outdoor grassy yards, and even private training. Whether in the bunkhouse or a luxury suite (perfect for seniors), your pup will be in a climate-controlled environment with group play available if you approve! Your pup may also enjoy gourmet treats, “tuck-in” for bedtime, and custom meals. If you are boarding more than one dog, choose to have them stay together!

Just as much luxury is available for cats. Kitty condos are private, climate-controlled, and can be connected for family cats. With gourmet food, an aquarium full of fish, catnip, treats, and story time, your cat is sure to have a great time.

Pampered Pet Inn

Another choice for pet boarding in Houston is the Pampered Pet Inn. They go the extra mile for your pet to ensure that they enjoy themselves while you’re having fun too.

Here are a few things your pets will love:

  • Climate-controlled interior
  • Clean, fresh bedding every evening
  • Full-service grooming from staff with 20+ years of experience
  • Regular housekeeping throughout the day

Spoiling your dog is one of the Pampered Pet Inn’s secrets. Throughout the day, they will head outside several times for potty breaks, walks, and plenty of playtime with the other pups as well as staff.

Just going away for one day? Daycare, full of fun activities like swimming and outings, is also available upon request.

Cats enjoy the private spaces and floor-to-ceiling condos. After relaxing in their area, your feline can head over to the window room for a bit of sleep in the sun with bird-watching and playtime also on the menu. 

Board with Us!

Not only are we a veterinary hospital, Cinco Ranch Vet offers pet boarding convenient to you.

What do we have?

  • Outdoor play yards
  • Natural lighting in climate-controlled rooms
  • High-quality pet food
  • Plenty of boarding options
  • Additional playtime
  • A location directly next to our hospital

For your dogs, Cinco Ranch offers plenty of luxury and fun. We are sure your pup will be thrilled to hear about the three walks they’ll get a day. And we’re sure you’ll be thrilled to hear about the bath they’ll receive on discharge day.

You can choose from deluxe, supreme, and luxury boarding options. Some of the choices include blankets, toys, extra playtime, and a daily brush. The luxury tier comes with a television, so your pet can watch some of their favorite programs. You won’t be left out: A webcam means you can check in on your pup to make sure they’re doing just fine.

pet boarding houston

You can be sure your kitty will have a comfortable kitty condo or other accommodations in our boarding areas. Deluxe and supreme options also allow for things like blankets; treats; brushes; toys; and some fun, one-on-one playtime with a staff member.

Another bonus to boarding with us? The security and medical options available. Our boarding facilities are located right next to the hospital, so if something is wrong, you can be sure that a doctor’s exam, treatment, and medication are all taken care of on the spot. The building is also equipped with an alarm system, and evacuation protocol is in place if there is ever the need. It’s important to us that you and your pet enjoy your vacations stress- and worry-free.

Meadowlake Pet Resort

Another Houston pet boarding option is Meadowlake Pet Resort and Training Center. They have the accommodations to en sure every dog and cat has their needs met.

Features include:

  • Climate-controlled luxury suites
  • Plenty of activities, play fields, and even a pool
  • Nutritious, premium meals and treats
  • State-of-the-art security system

For dogs, Meadowlake will hit the spot with four glorious acres of green, patios, and special attention packages available for puppies as well as senior visitors. You can choose group play and/or private play with staff members for your pooch. Curious how your puppy did during their stay? Get emails with photos and even a report card at the end of their stay!

Cats are sure to love their suites at Meadowlake. They’re equipped with outdoor patios and even screened porches for their enjoyment. Housed separately from the dogs in Kitty Park, daily playtime, toys, and portholes will make sure your cat is never bored.

Want to make sure your pets have fun this holiday season even if you have to travel? Pet boarding in Houston has never been easier. Check out any of the places above, or visit our boarding page to find out more info on how you can give your furbabies the best holiday vacation they’ve ever had. You can also reach us at 281-693-7387 to check availability. Have a happy and safe holiday season!

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Lost Pet? 6 Steps to Finding Him

In an ideal world, your pet would never get lost. Unfortunately, sometimes pets wriggle out of collars, escape from the yard, fly out of their cages, or rush after squirrels.

Losing track of your pet is a serious matter. Of the 8 million animals that end up in shelters every year, only 15% to 20% of dogs and 8% of cats are successfully reunited with their owners.

We hope it never happens to you, but if it does, you may feel lost yourself! But there is hope—and lots of avenues for finding lost animals. It’s all about knowing what to do and taking action as soon as you realize your pet is missing. If you know the steps to take and take them immediately, your chances of being reunited with your pet rise significantly.

Here are some steps to take to find your lost pet should you realize they’re missing:

1. Know where to look.

Depending on the type of pet you have, there are a few areas that you’ll immediately want to check for your lost pet. Lost animals tend to follow very specific behavior, and if you can anticipate this behavior, you might be able to find your pet without launching a full-on search.

If your cat is missing, first look in the places where it would feel concealed or hidden.

For example:

  • Underneath your porch
  • In heavy bushes
  • Under a car

If at first you don’t find it, look again! And look carefully. A cat that is afraid, sick, or injured will typically hide in silence for a while. Even if you call its name, your furry friend might not meow to let you know where it is right away. Take a flashlight with you, and thoroughly search any areas they would be likely to hide.

find lost pet

It’s a bit trickier to know where to look for a dog. Because dogs are typically more socialized and “people-friendly” than cats, chances are your lost dog has encountered some other humans since it went missing. Dogs that are friendly by nature often go to the first person that calls out to them. Even dogs that are more apprehensive or nervous around humans will often eventually seek out help.

Check with your neighbors to see if anyone has caught a glimpse of your pup. Chances are, your dog didn’t make it very far before a Good Samaritan jumped in to help.

2. Go door-to-door.

If your pet is lost, it’s likely that someone in your neighborhood saw it as it was in the process of getting lost, even if they weren’t aware of it at the time. Knock on each of your neighbor’s doors, let them know when and where your pet went missing, and ask if they’ve seen your pet since. Be sure to give them a description of your animal, and if they have seen your missing pet, get every detail of the sighting from them.

You never know—someone nearby may be caring for your pet while they look for you!

3. Check with your microchip provider.

Hopefully, you’ve had your pet microchipped. If you haven’t, do so immediately! If your pet is found or turned into a shelter, a vet’s office, or Katy Animal Control, the first thing the employees do is check your pet’s microchip.

Once you know your pet is missing, don’t wait around for someone to find it, check its microchip, and get in touch with you! Be proactive. Reach out to your microchip provider to let them know your pet is missing. Most companies will send out notifications to all the shelters, vets, and rescues in your area, so they can be on the lookout for your pet.

4. Call your local veterinarians.

When your pet goes missing, get in touch with your local vets’ offices, even ones that aren’t where you take your pet. Keep them up-to-date on the situation. Not only do lost pets often get turned into vets’ offices, but your vet might also have additional resources or guidance on finding your pet, consoling your family, and getting through the ordeal. They’re also likely plugged in with other vets in the Katy and greater Houston area and can sound the alert within their network.

5. Hang fliers.

Putting up fliers may seem old-fashioned, but it can often do the trick! It raises awareness in nearby neighborhoods, lets your neighbors know your pet is missing, and gives them avenues for getting in touch with you.

On your flyer, use lettering that contrasts with the background, so your message stands out.

Include these things:

  • A photo of your pet
  • The date and location it went missing
  • Your contact information

Place your flyers in highly trafficked locations (like telephone poles and storefronts) in a 5- to 10-block radius of where your pet went missing.

6. Make technology work for you.

Posting in local Facebook groups is the digital version of putting up flyers. Sharing your lost pet information on Facebook not only gets it in front of your network, it allows other people to share the news, passing it along to their networks. This greatly increases the number of people in the Katy area who are aware your pet is missing and can be on the lookout!

To find relevant groups:

Step 1: Go to Facebook.

Step 2: Type in keywords like:

  • “Lost pets”
  • “Missing pets”
  • “Missing animals”

Step 3: Include areas in your searches to make them relevant; for example, “Katy, TX” or “Houston, TX.”

Realizing that your pet has gotten away or hasn’t come home is stressful and can seem scary. But there are so many actions you can take to find them. Remain calm, follow these steps, get the word out! And be sure to check out these four things you can do to help ensure your pet never gets lost in the first place.

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5 Fur-tastic Ideas for Dressing Up Your Dog, and How to Do It Safely

As the holiday season approaches, you probably already have in mind all sorts of festive getups for your pup. What better way to get into the spirit—of Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.—than to throw a costume on your four-legged pal and take some adorable holiday photos?

Dressing up your dog for the holidays—or any time of year—can be a fun way to bond with your pup. But if you’ve ever tried to dress your dog, you may know that they tend to shy away from clothing and accessories.

How do you safely and enjoyable dress your dog, so it can join in on the holiday fun safely and comfortably?

Beware of…

The first thing that you’ll want to be aware of when choosing an outfit for your dog is whether or not it’s safe for your furry friend to wear. Here are some tips to ensure the safety of your dog’s wardrobe!

…improper fit

Fit is very important when it comes to wardrobe safety. Clothing that is too large or too small is likely to be uncomfortable for your dog and poses safety issues:

  • Clothes that are too tight might constrict their movement or breathing.
  • Clothes that are too large could cause them to trip or become tangled in the fabric.

Before you purchase anything or force your pooch to be in a costume for long, put the clothing on your pup to test the fit. The clothes should be snug against its body, but it should still have full range of motion.

You’ll also want to check the collar of the costume. Ideally, it should be loose enough that you can fit a few fingers between the fabric and your dog’s neck.

…add-ons

One very common hazard of dog clothing is add-ons, like buttons, pins, sequins, etc. These have the potential to come loose and become a choking hazard for your pet. Or your dog could figure out how to chew the accessory while it’s still on!

Make sure add-ons to your dog’s costume are securely attached and/or are too large for your pup to swallow.

…uncomfortable fabrics

While fabric choice doesn’t have a direct effect on your dog’s safety, stuffing it into an uncomfortable material may cause it to act out and potentially injure itself. Choose breathable fabrics like cotton to make sure your pup feels safe and comfy in its new outfit.

dress up dog

…signs that your dog is unhappy

If your pet is in danger or feels unsafe in its clothing, it will act accordingly. Watch for signs that your dog is struggling with the garment, like excessive coughing due to a too-tight collar or not interacting with dogs or people the way it normally would. If your dog is showing signs of distress, immediately remove it from the clothing. 

Fur-tastic Ideas for Dressing Your Dog!

Now that you know how to keep your dog safe and comfortable, you can start putting together a doggy wardrobe that will make your pup the envy of the dog park and your family gathering. Here are some must-have additions to your pup’s closet to help it ring in any holiday in style:

1. An Ugly Holiday Sweater

Ugly holiday sweaters are all the rage with humans, so why not get one for your four-legged friend? Snap a photo of the whole family decked out in silly sweaters—Fido included—and use it as your holiday card!

2. Themed Costumes

The holidays are a perfect time to make your dog extra-festive! Whether you want to dress your pup up like bacon for Halloween, Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or just a cute little reindeer, the holidays are a great time to experiment (safely) with your pup’s look.

3. A New Coat

Both stylish AND functional, a warm and cozy coat is a staple for a puppy’s wardrobe, especially in cold climates. Look for something plush and warm to shield your pup from harsh winter weather, keeping it nice and toasty through holiday storms.

Coats are especially important if your dog is going to be outside for an extended period of time, or if it has a short or thin coat.

4. Boots

Boots are also a must for harsh holiday weather. Ice, snow, and salt used to clear roads can damage your pet’s paws; boots add an extra layer of protection. Just make sure they fit correctly; ill-fitting boots can be extremely uncomfortable for your pup.

5. Jewelry

If you just can’t get your dog to stay in a sweater or costume, don’t worry! It can still embrace the holiday spirit with some pet-friendly sparkle. Pet jewelry is all the rage, and there’s no better time to add a little bling to your pup’s life than the holidays. A bedazzled necklace or a collar with holiday charms is a great way to add some personality to your pup if it doesn’t prefer clothing.

Where Can I Find Clothing for My Dog?

There are a ton of resources for finding adorable, appropriate, holiday-themed clothing for your dog. As Halloween, Hanukkah, Christmas, and more approach, many local pet stores–and even vets’ offices–stock up on holiday-related clothing, so check in and see if anything catches your eye. The benefit to buying your pup’s clothing in a store, rather than online, is that you can bring your dog with you and make sure the clothing fits properly before committing to a purchase.

But you’re likely to find the best selection online. Large shopping websites like Amazon and Overstock have entire departments dedicated to outfit and accessory options for your pet. There’s even pet-clothing-specific online retailers like BaxterBoo that exclusively sell items for your dog’s wardrobe. With holiday shipping options, you can have a costume delivered with time to celebrate!

Everyone loves getting dressed up around the holidays. Bring your dog in on the fun! With these tips for safely and enjoyably dressing your dog, you’ll have the happiest, most stylish pup on the block.

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Service Dog Etiquette: How to Respect a Service Dog and Its Owner

If you’re in a place that’s not pet-friendly, like a restaurant, and you happen to see an adorable pup curled up under one of the tables, you might be tempted to go over and say hello or ask the owner how they sneaked their pup past the concierge. But that dog may not be your average pup. It could be a service animal.

Service animals are NOT pets, and they shouldn’t be treated as such. Learn about the service dog etiquette that you should observe when you see one.

What is a service animal?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are

…defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

As of 2011, only dogs are recognized by the ADA as service animals.

In a nutshell, service animals are trained to:

— Help their owners in their day-to-day lives

— Make living with a disability more manageable

— Protect their owners from danger related to their disabilities

Can my dog be a service animal?

While technically any breed can be a service dog, the most popular breeds are golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherds. These breeds are common choices because they embody a number of the traits needed to be successful service dogs, including being people-oriented, confident but not aggressive or submissive, and not overly hyper or excitable. It’s also important that service dogs aren’t too protective by nature, since they are constantly with their owners, who may not be able to restrain or control them if they become protective and/or aggressive.

What kinds of jobs can they do?

Depending on who they’re supporting, there are lots of jobs for service dogs!

— “Seeing eye dogs” are paired with people with visual impairments or blindness, to help them get around.

— “Hearing dogs” aid people with hearing impairments. They alert them of sounds they need to be aware of (like a baby crying, a doorbell, or a smoke alarm) through physical contact.

— “Seizure dogs” assist people dealing with seizure disorders like epilepsy. The dogs sense and alert the people to upcoming seizures.

— Dogs provide support to people dealing with mental illness, helping them process overwhelming emotional reactions like anxiety attacks. 

What are the “do’s” of service dog etiquette?

Because service dogs are working animals, it’s important to respect the jobs that they do and the people they’re helping! Here’s a simple guide to interacting with them in a safe, respectful, and friendly way. 

Do engage with the owner FIRST.

You probably don’t like it when overly chatty co-workers walk up to your desk and pull your attention away from the project you’re working on. Avoid doing the same thing by walking up to a service dog and distracting it from its primary job: protecting the safety and well-being of its owner.

If you want to connect with a service dog, approach its owner FIRST—just like you would approach a co-worker’s boss if you needed to pull them off of a project. The owner’s life could depend on their service animal being alert and focused, so get their permission before you attempt to pull their animal’s attention away.

If the owner asks you not to engage with the service animal, respect that boundary, and leave the animal alone.

Do let the owner know if their dog tries to engage you.

If a service dog approaches you, let its owner know. Training and obedience is critical for service dogs, and their owners should know if they exhibit behavior that needs to be corrected.

Do keep your own dog close to you.

If you’re out for a walk with your four-legged friend and encounter a service dog, keep your dog close to you, and don’t allow it to run up to or engage a service dog. Your dog is a potential distraction that could pull the service dog’s attention away from its owner and the job of protecting them.

If your dog is extremely curious, ask the owner if it’s alright if your dog says hello. Again, if the owner declines, respect their boundaries, and move your dog to another area.

service dog etiquette

What are the “dont’s” of service dog etiquette?

Don’t ask personal questions.

While you might be curious as to why someone has a service animal or what their service animal does for them, it’s rude and invasive to ask someone personal questions about their disability.

Don’t offer the service dog food.

If you’ve ever interacted with a dog before, you know that all concentration goes out the window when it comes to food. While this can be a simple nuisance with household dogs, it’s potentially dangerous for service dogs. Again, pulling the dog’s attention away from its owner can put the owner’s life and well-being in danger.

Also, many owners feed their service animals special diets, so do them a favor, and keep the treats to yourself!

Don’t pet the service dog.

Service dogs are trained to follow the commands of their owners, and petting them is a distraction. It could potentially interfere with an active command that they’re in the process of carrying out.

Feel free to ask the owner if it’s alright to pet the service dog, but don’t touch it at all unless you get permission.

Follow this service dog etiquette when you see a service dog, and you’ll treat them in a way that ensures the safety and comfort of both the animal and its owner.

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Think You Have a Sick Bird? Symptoms to Look Out For and How to Help

While it’s fairly easy to notice when your pet dog or cat isn’t acting like itself and might be feeling a bit under the weather, it can be significantly more challenging to notice the negative symptoms of birds. Not is it more difficult to spot personality changes that might indicate health problems, but your pet bird might actually try to hide its illness. Sick birds, just like many other animals of prey, actively hide signs of illness in order to protect themselves, and by the time you start noticing symptoms, they may already be pretty ill.

So pay attention to your pet bird! And take note of any of these signs that might indicate that your bird isn’t feeling well. Plus, learn how to help them feel better!

Signs of a Sick Bird

There are certain physical changes, behavioral changes, and specific activities that a bird might exhibit if it’s not feeling so great.

Digestive Changes

  • Change in the color or consistency of droppings
  • Decreased number of droppings per day
  • Blood in droppings
  • Undigested food in droppings
  • Digestive issues, like vomiting or diarrhea 

Physical Changes

  • Eye discharge and redness, especially if an eye can’t open fully
  • Flaking on the beak
  • Changes in color of the beak
  • Flaking on the feet
  • Nail abnormalities, like quickened growth
  • Swollen feet
  • Swollen joints
  • Ruffled or broken feathers
  • Dullness in the color of feathers
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth discharge
  • Lumps on the body 

Changes in Breathing

  • Breathing issues and difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Breathing with an open beak 

Behavioral Changes

  • Sudden change in appetite, either increasing or decreasing
  • Sudden change in drinking, either increasing or decreasing
  • Trouble eating or disinterest in food
  • Sudden change in personality (e.g. more aggressive than usual)
  • Lethargy and increased time spent sleeping
  • Changes in vocalization and decreased ability to “sing”
  • Overall lack of activity or motivation
  • Seizures
  • Trouble maintaining balance

Specific Activities to Note

  • Spending most of its time sitting at the bottom of its cage or low on its perch
  • Hanging off the side of the cage by its beak
  • Tucking its head under its wing
  • Walking in circles
  • Consistently drooping or elevating wings

What to Do If Your Bird Is Sick

If your pet bird is showing any of the above symptoms, it’s safe to assume that it’s sick. But what do you do if your bird isn’t feeling well?

First, assess the situation to determine whether your bird is having a medical emergency and is in need of critical care.

If your pet bird is in the following situations, reach out to your vet immediately for emergency medical care:

Excessive Bleeding

If your bird is bleeding and your efforts to stop the bleeding have been unsuccessful, you need to get your pet immediate medical attention. Since birds are small and don’t have high blood levels, excessive bleeding can severely weaken your bird and potentially lead to death.

Ingestion of Poisons

If your pet bird ingests any toxic substances or poisons, like household products, it should be seen by your vet immediately. If possible, bring whatever your bird ingested with you to the vet’s office, so they can assess the toxicity and determine the right course of action.

If your bird doesn’t seem to be in immediate danger, your vet will be able to tell you the proper steps to care for your bird.

Gasping for Breath

If your bird is visibly gasping for breath, you need to get it to a vet immediately. If there is something (like a foreign object) obstructing its ability to breath, your vet may be able to place an air sac tube and reopen the airway.

If your bird isn’t in immediate, life-threatening danger, give your vet a call and describe your bird’s symptoms. They’ll be able to recommend a course of action—which may include nutritional support, changes in temperature, and proper supportive care—to get your pet bird back to feeling its best.

sick bird

Common Bird Illnesses That Can Be Transmitted to Humans

It’s important to take notice when your bird is sick because some bird illnesses can be transmitted to humans and cause serious health problems.

One common bird illness that can be harmful to humans is Mycobacterium avium complex, more commonly known as MAC or avian tuberculosis. Avian Tuberculosis can cause your pet bird to lose weight and act depressed. If the illness is transmitted to you, it can cause digestive issues, anemia, and exhaustion.

Another illness that your pet bird could pass on to you is parrot fever. Parrot fever stems from bacteria found in the urine and feces of ill psitticine birds, which include common pet species like parrots and parakeets. These bacteria travel through the air and, when inhaled by humans, causes flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and fatigue.

To avoid catching an illness from your pet bird, make sure to monitor your bird for signs of illness. You should also always wash your hands after handling your bird or its cage.

If you suspect you might be dealing with an illness you caught from your pet, let your doctor know that your bird has been feeling under the weather, so they test you for common bird illnesses.

Watching your pet bird struggle with an illness is never easy. But now that you know how to tell whether you have a sick bird, you’ll be able to work with your vet towards getting your feathered friend back to its happy, singing self

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Puppy Socialization, and Kittens Too! How to Do It and Why It Matters

There aren’t many moments greater than welcoming a new baby animal into the family. You think of all of the fun times you’re sure to have together as your puppy, kitten, rabbit, or other animal grows up.

But to your baby animal, you’re essentially a stranger, and the world is a big (and sometimes scary) place. In order for your new friend to fit into your family and society and to grow into a happy, healthy adult, you need to socialize it.

Read on to discover why kitten and puppy socialization matters and how to socialize your new furry friend. While we focus on cats and dogs here because they’re most likely to be around a variety of new people, animals, and environments, other animals—like rabbits, horses, etc.— can benefit from socialization too!

Why is socializing important?

Socializing your baby animal will have a huge impact on the quality of life for both you and your pet. Kitten and puppy socialization gives your pet the tools it needs to adapt and adjust to new people, other animals, and new and different situations and environments. When you socialize your pet, it develops into a happier, healthier, and calmer animal and will have better experiences when interacting with other humans and animals.

What happens if you don’t socialize your pet?

If you don’t socialize your pet, it won’t know how to handle new people, animals, places, or things. This can lead to growing up to be fearful and anxious, not to mention at risk of developing severe behavioral problems, like aggression.

When should an animal be socialized?

The most critical time for socialization is at the beginning of an animal’s life, when you can lay a foundation for its future personality and behavior. For kittens, the most critical period is between 2 and 14 weeks. For puppies, it’s between 8 and 12 weeks.

Before you begin socializing your animal, it’s imperative that it is properly vaccinated. Just like human babies, baby animals have weaker immune systems and are more prone to picking up common infections and diseases from other animals.

How to Socialize a Kitten

Remove yourself from the equation.

The first step to successfully socializing a kitten is to give it a little space! When you bring your kitten home, give it a day or so to adjust to its new surroundings before you bombard it with attention—even positive attention. This will allow your kitten to get comfortable and adapt to its new environment.

Once your kitten is settled in, you can start building a bond with it. Speak softly, and move slowly when you approach your new kitten, so you don’t unnecessarily startle it.

Use food as a gateway.

One of the keys to socialization is food. When you feed your kitten, stay in the room, so it begins to connect you with delicious treats. Each day that you feed it, move its bowl closer to you. If it becomes afraid, back off for a day. Eventually, you want to be able to place the bowl in your lap, with your kitten comfortable enough to crawl onto you to get food.

Once it’s comfortable eating out of your lap, you can start petting your kitten while it eats. Graduate to picking it up and holding it close to you. Whenever you pet or hold it, give a treat as a reward.

Make introductions.

After you’ve gotten to the point that your kitten allows you to hold it, do so as much as possible. You can also introduce it to friends, family, and other pets. The more interaction your new kitten has with humans and animals during this period, the more comfortable it will be with those types of interactions as it gets older.

How to Socialize a Puppy

puppy socialization

Get close!

Puppy socialization is a bit different than socializing a kitten. Most puppies are naturally more affectionate than kittens, so petting and cuddling them will be a lot easier. It’s important to pet, stroke, and cuddle your new puppy as often as possible. Pet it in a variety of ways:

  • Rub its nose.
  • Scratch behind its ears.
  • Stroke its belly.
  • Scratch its back.

Varying the way that you pet your puppy will make it comfortable with different types of touching, which is important, since not all people pet animals in the same way.

Make noise.

You want your puppy to get comfortable with the variety of sounds that it will be exposed to on a daily basis. Leave the television on, have your puppy in the kitchen with you while you empty the dishwasher and cook dinner, or pet it on the porch while a noisy firetruck drives by. Don’t overwhelm your puppy with too many noises too quickly, but do acclimate it to the day-to-day sounds of your home.

Approach the food bowl.

Just like with kittens, food is an important part of socializing your puppy. Dogs can get very territorial over their food, so it’s important for your puppy to get comfortable with people approaching its food dish. One great way to do this is to approach your puppy while it’s eating, and pop a treat in its bowl. Then it will associate people approaching its food bowl with getting an extra-special goodie!

Make introductions.

Introduce your puppy to new people and new animals as often as possible. As with socializing kittens, the more people and animals your puppy interacts with, the more comfortable it will be with those interactions as it grows.

Leave your puppy alone.

The last major component of socializing your puppy might sound counterintuitive, but it’s really important that you leave your dog alone for a short period of time every day. Dogs that are never left alone can develop separation anxiety, which can cause them to get anxious or depressed when you leave the house, and they may act destructively in your absence.

The key to successfully socializing your baby animal is to be patient. Socialization doesn’t happen overnight. It takes dedication and daily practice to make your kitten or puppy comfortable around you, your family, other animals, and the world in general! But remember that socialization is an absolute must for the long-term happiness of your pet.

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