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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!

How Do I Train My Dog to Walk Off-Leash?

Have you ever seen a dog faithfully walking by her owner’s side—with no leash in sigh—and wished you could train your pup to do that? It may be possible! Here’s what you need to know about training your dog to walk off-leash.

Materials

  • A 10- to 20-foot leash
  • Treats
  • A head collar or harness (depending on your dog’s behavior)

A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You Started

1. Begin early.

The earlier you start to train your dog off-leash, the easier it will be. Many training programs encourage you to train your puppy without a leash, making the transition to walking by your side smoother.

train dog off leash

2. Get the right equipment.

If your dog already walks on a leash but doesn’t have the best leash behavior, get a head collar or harness. When your dog doesn’t pull on the leash at all, she may be ready to advance to off-leash training.

3. Get silly!

Playtime is the perfect opportunity to start training your dog off-leash. While you’re fooling around, reward her with treats for following your commands. Start in a comfortable area, such as your backyard, and leashed her to start.

4. Create boundaries.

If you prefer your dog to walk on your right or left, reward her when she does so.

5. Create stellar on-leash behavior.

Walk around your yard, watching your dog’s behavior. If she wanders off, say a command she knows to come to, like, “Come” or, “Let’s go,” and slap your thigh. Reward her when she returns to your side quickly.

If she doesn’t return, stop walking, and apply gentle leash pressure. Release it when she comes to you.

As she becomes more comfortable, transition to a shorter leash. Reward less for correct behavior. Practice running, walking, and jogging to ensure she stays by your side.

Head out on neighborhood walks to practice your commands, even with the distractions of neighbors and other animals. Reward your pup for returning to your side.

Allow her to have “sniff breaks” because she’ll be curious about the world and have to use the bathroom, of course! Just make sure she returns to your side when called.

6. Create off-leash opportunities.

Find a safe space to practice your pup’s stellar on-leash behavior in an off-leash environment, like your backyard. Then transition to a dog park, where there are more distractions.

Training varies from dog to dog, so follow a guide that works for you and your pup. How long this training takes depends on your dog; go at her pace! Adjust your training methods appropriately to ensure she doesn’t wander off, get lost, or pick fights with other dogs.

Bonus Tactics for Walking Your Dog Off-Leash

  • Make sure she understands “emergency commands.” If you say “sit,” she should sit immediately. If you use a recall word, she should return to your side right away. Reward her, but don’t go further in training until she understands this.
  • Distance-control is part of ensuring your dog doesn’t wander off. If she walks more than 10 yards away off-leash, turn around and walk the other way.

If you find your pup doesn’t mind you or even pay attention, hide. This works best on puppies, as they will panic a little and attempt to find you. You may not want to do this if your dog is easily distracted or runs off regularly.

Some Dogs Train More Easily Than Others

The first step to understanding if you can train your dog off-leash is knowing if her breed easily grasps this exercise. Some breeds are much better at walking off-leash, but it depends on the individual dog in the end.

Labrador retrievers have been trained for years and over generations to retrieve. Reliable and obedient, they return to your side. Golden retrievers are similar.

Australian shepherds are a hyper bunch, meaning walking off-leash could be the perfect exercise for them without wearing their owners out.

Doberman pinschers are “Velcro dogs,” even if they do have a higher prey drive than others. Early training is essential for them.

Shetland sheepdogs are also “Velcro” pups. On-leash or off, at home or outside, they’re rarely far from their owners.

A few other breeds that do particularly well training off-leash are vizslas, German shepherds, and border collies.

Don’t see your dog’s breed here, or have a mix? Don’t worry! That doesn’t mean she can’t learn. It depends on her personality and how she takes to training.

Know the Law of the Land When You Walk Off-Leash

 

train dog off leash

One of the most important aspects of training your dog to walk off-leash is understanding the rules wherever you are. The state of Texas doesn’t have official leash laws, but it’s not uncommon for specific cities and towns pass their own rules. In Houston, for example, it’s illegal to walk your dog without a leash.

Laws vary from place to place, and there are sometimes exceptions.

Okay at the Dog Park

One of the most common places dogs are allowed off-leash is the dog park. Before you unclip, ensure you’re at an official dog park; not all qualify!

Okay on Your Property

In general, your pup is also allowed to be off-leash in your yard, as long as the yard is fenced and not accessible to the public.

Okay on the Trail

Hiking trails are another great place to walk your dog off-leash. Just like laws in public spaces, the rules for these places vary. Check them out before you and your best friend head off for a hike.

Remember: If you’re planning to travel with your dog, check the local laws before you unclip her leash. Walking off-leash where you’re not allowed can result in a fine. In Katy it’s $500 for each offense.

Understand the Risks

No matter how well you train your dog to walk off-leash, accidents can happen, even if you’ve followed every guideline and suggestion. The environment can be unpredictable, your dog could become startled, or another dog could start a fight with yours. To minimize the risks, proper training is vital.

Before attempting to walk off-leash, be sure your dog understands basic commands, like, “sit,” “stay,” and “come.”

For the safety of your dog and the animals and people around you, never walk your dog off-leash unless you are positive she is ready, well-trained, and follows your commands immediately. And don’t feel bad if your pup doesn’t seem to get the hang of off-leash walking! A stroll at the end of a leash can be just as rewarding.

If your dog is exhibiting behavior problems that make it difficult to walk her—on- or off-leash, give us a call! We offer behavior counseling for both dogs and cats.

Breed Spotlight: Bulldog

Bulldogs are currently one of the most popular breeds of dog! In 2016 they were rated fourth-most popular in the United States. With a distinctive face, they’re also easily one of the most recognizable breeds. (If you have one, you know you attract attention everywhere you go!)

The History of the Bulldog

Exactly when this breed emerged is not hammered down, but it’s believed to be the 13th century in England. Their name, ‘bulldog,’ is intertwined with their history. They were bred for the sport known as ‘bullbaiting.’ In this event, a pack of dogs was pitted against a bull, with bets placed on the outcome. The breed as we know it today is very different since this sport was outlawed.

During the height of bullbaiting, bulldogs were bred to be ferocious and brave, with large jaws capable of bringing down a bull. Their well-known underbite, which they still have today, allowed them to bite onto the bull and hold on. Their wrinkles also came from their bullfighting days. They deflected blood away from bulldogs’ eyes during a fight.

When the sport was outlawed in 1835, along with other blood sports involving animals, dog fighting became popular underground. The bulldog no longer fit the needs of this “sport.”

Since then, bulldogs have been bred with other dogs. The result is many of the bull terriers we know today. Since they were no longer needed for bullbaiting or dog fighting, bulldogs were being forgotten as their own breed.

Out of a desire to save them, people began breeding them to be companions, rather than fighters. Their aggression was bred out. Now patience, affection, and obedience are their main traits. Docile and sweet, bulldogs are popular in the United Kingdom and the U.S.

bulldog facts

 

Bulldog Basics

There are three types of bulldogs:

  • American
  • French
  • English

American bulldogs are larger than English bulldogs. They grow up to 125 pounds and 25 inches tall. With longer limbs and a more athletic build, they are faster and tend to be more hyperactive. While English bulldogs are considered lapdogs and stay indoors, American bulldogs love the outdoors. They’re often used as working dogs by farmers and hunters.

French bulldogs are considered descendants of the English bulldog.

When many people think about a bulldog, they’re thinking of the English variety. English bulldogs have shorter legs with a wider, ‘sport-like’ stance. Their heads are large and broad. Of course, they have the distinctive face they’re known for.

Size of the English Bulldog

When fully grown, an English bulldog only weighs about 50 pounds and stands just over a foot in height.

Coat and Color of the English Bulldog

They have a fine, smooth, glossy coat that is short. The skin itself is soft and loose. They come in 10 different colors and even 4 variations of markings, but standard colors are:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • White
  • A combination of red, yellow, and white

Life Expectancy of the English Bulldog

English bulldogs tend to live between 8 to 12 years.

Health of the English Bulldog

The short head and snout can lead to health issues, mainly revolving around the:

  • Nose
  • Teeth
  • Eyes
  • Respiratory system

Overheating is a concern because bulldogs don’t pant enough to cool themselves, like other dogs do.

It’s also important to maintain regular grooming to keep infections away from their wrinkly skin.

Bulldogs Make Great Pets! 

Attitude of a Bulldog

Today’s bulldogs are patient, obedient, and great with children. Because they’re affectionate, they’re generally nice toward strangers, but they still have a courageous streak from their fighting days. They’ll defend their turf if they feel they need to.

They’re happy to please their owners and generally get along great with other pets in the home.

Training and Exercise of a Bulldog

Bulldogs only require moderate exercise. They’re more than happy to sit by their owner’s feet. Since they’re prone to being overweight, exercise is an important part of their lifestyle, especially as they age.

The fact that they don’t need much exercise makes them great for city-dwellers. Even a jaunt around an apartment building gets their little legs working!

While they tend to be stubborn, it’s entirely possible to train them with the right encouragement and reinforcement.

bulldog facts

Fun Facts about Bulldogs!

Their distinctive appearance isn’t the only reason bulldogs are a huge standout!

  • Bulldogs are one of the most popular choices for mascots. They represent teams at the University of Georgia and Yale University. Some of these schools and other institutions even use live dogs to represent their teams!
  • Bulldogs represent branches of the military, including the Marines and the 3rd Infantry Division of the Army.
  • Brigitte, also known as Stella on Modern Family, was the first bulldog to win a Golden Collar Award.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman, and Zac Efron are just three of the many celebrities that love and own bulldogs.
  • Prime Minister Winston Churchill was often compared to a bulldog because of his jowly looks and tenacious attitude.

Ask just about anyone, and they’ll be able to describe a bulldog to you in a heartbeat. They’re that recognizable! If you’re interested in adopting this beautiful dog, check out local shelters. If you’re looking for a breeder, research one that is reputable and certified.

Once you’ve brought your wrinkly playmate home, schedule their first appointment for vaccinations at Cinco Ranch Vet! We’ll make sure your newest family member is in tip-top shape. Call us at 281-693-7387.

8 Truly Unique (and Useful) Haircuts for Cats!

Many haircuts for cats are for their comfort, but who says your kitty can’t be comfortable and stylish! Check out these unique haircuts for cats.

1. Lion Cut

haircuts for cats

Perhaps the most well-known of all haircuts for cats is the lion cut. Mostly done on long-haired breeds, it gives the household cat the appearance of its cousin, the lion. Your kitty will be shaved, except for her:

  • Shoulders
  • Head
  • Neck
  • Feet
  • Tip of the tail

This leaves a mane and tufted tail, just like the well-known Big Cat.

While it looks adorable, this cut has plenty of purpose. Long-haired cat breeds are prone to matting. Even with routine brushing, mats can occur, especially in hard-to-reach places like her lower back and stomach. Mats can be extremely uncomfortable for your cat as they tighten and pull on her skin. As your cat ages, she’ll become less flexible, so mats will be more common. If your cat absolutely hates the brush, a lion cut is almost a necessity.

In these hot Katy summers, this cut does wonders for keeping your kitty cool!

Two common breeds that often get the lion cut are Maine coons and Persians.

2. Comb Cut

haircuts for cats

Source: Catster

A comb cut is very similar to a lion cut, but instead of shaving, the fur is trimmed extremely short in the same pattern.

It can perform the same tricks, cutting back on the amount of mats in your cat’s fur while also reducing shedding and hairballs.

If your cat is prone to skin problems, this cut allows you to easily inspect her while she stays comfortable!

3. Panther Cut

haircuts for cats

Source: PetCareRx

In the opposite direction of the lion and comb cuts is the panther cut. Your groomer will shave your cat almost completely, only leaving fur on her head and legs. Occasionally, the tip of the tail isn’t shaved either, but this depends on your style sensibility and your cat’s preference.

The panther cut is a solution for cats that are prone to extreme matting, especially on the back of the neck as they age.

4. Stripe Style

haircuts for cats

Source: CatsinCare

In the stripe style cut, your cat’s fur is left completely alone on her head, face, and tail. Her body is shaved, and her legs are half-shaved. This gives her the appearance of wearing snow boots and a Santa beard! You can also choose to trim your kitty’s fur close to the skin rather than shaving.

This look is a great choice for cats that overheat or mat easily.

5. Enhanced Pattern Cut

haircuts for cats

Does your cat have a unique pattern? While cutting down on hairballs, this trim really brings out the natural colors and pattern of your kitty. Stripes especially pop! If your cat has long hair, check out an enhanced pattern cut! Want to highlight a specific pattern or color on your cat, ask your groomer to trim along the pattern line!

6. Egyptian Cut

haircuts for cats

If you own an Abyssinian, you probably know her breed originated in Egypt. Sometimes long fur can change her unique appearance, even if she’s generally short haired. An Egyptian cut, which is a trim, brings back that look her breed is well known for!

7. Dinosaur or Dragon Cut

haircuts for cats

Source: CatsinCare

Lion cuts and comb cuts are very popular choices for cats, but if you want to mix it up a bit while still helping your kitty reduce mats and hairballs, go for the dinosaur cut! It serves all the health purposes of the lion cut while keeping your kitty stylish.

This unique look is also known as the:

  • Dragon cut
  • Stegosaurus cut
  • Mohawk cut

8. Teddy Bear Trim

A teddy bear trim is a complex look for cats that should only be done by a professional groomer. The fur has to be prepared perfectly, which means proper cleaning and trimming with the right equipment.

In this look, also known as a comb trim or the cat’s pajama trim, the fur is trimmed an inch or less, (depending on the type of cat you have) with the fur around her face and tail customized to look its best.

This trim is a low-maintenance option for cat owners, while also providing benefits like less shedding and fewer hairballs. It’s also a great choice if you’re not a fan of the more extreme options, like a lion cut.

These are some of the most popular, yet unique haircuts for cats. They have true benefits for kitties, especially if yours has longer hair or is prone to hairballs, mats, or extreme shedding. And they’re great for preventing overheating in high temperatures like we have.

If you’re interested in getting a unique haircut for your cat, take her to a professional groomer! Cats can get a bit feisty when groomed, and you want your furry friend to stay safe and stylish. Ready to schedule an appointment for your kitty, or want some insight into the best cut for your cat? Give Cinco Ranch Vet a call at 281-693-7387.

2 Tested Methods to Potty Train Your Puppy: It Can Be Done!

Bringing a new puppy into your family is an exciting time! In between the treats, playtime, and walks, you’ll soon find proper training is necessary, especially potty training. But how do you potty train a puppy? Sometimes it can feel like quite a task. Turn to our step-by-step guide to training your pup right! You’ll find tons of tips, plus two tried-and-tested tactics.

Before You Start to Train Your Puppy, Know This!

Potty Training Is Crucial

A pet that doesn’t know where to go to the bathroom can ruin carpets, floors, walls, furniture, and other items, and lead to frustrated owners. It can also make traveling or boarding your dog tricky. Poor potty training is one of the top reasons puppies are brought to shelters.

Potty Training Takes Patience

This stage in your puppy’s life takes time. You’ll have to draw on your consistency, patience, and commitment. If you don’t follow through on what you know about the training, you’re likely to experience plenty of household accidents, and potty training could take longer than it would have otherwise.

Keeping a schedule is one of the best ways for you to keep track of your dog’s behavior and make sure you’re on top of what your dog needs. Try tacking bathroom breaks onto:

This will help your pup learn their routine and that of your family too!

“How Do I Potty Train My Puppy?”

There are a few different ways to potty train your newest family member. You may want to use a combination of techniques that work for you and your dog. The supplies you’ll need for each tactic will vary, but you should definitely have at least two things:

1. A collar and leash

2. Treats for encouragement!

No matter what tactic you use, follow these seven tips:

1. Keep a schedule for meal times, removing food when your pup is finished eating – This will help regulate his bowel movements.

2. When outside, always take your pup to the same spot to go to the bathroom – He’ll soon learn what going to that spot means.

3. Even in your yard, early on, stay outside with your puppy as he uses the bathroom – This will help him feel safe and stay focused.

4. Have treats ready to give your puppy when he goes to the bathroom in the correct place – Rewarding positive behavior reinforces positive behavior!

5. Never yell at your puppy, punish him, or stick his nose in his waste if he has an accident – This will only cause him to associate you with fear.

6. If you catch your pup in the act inside the house, make a loud noise, such as clapping, to distract him from what he’s doing. Then quickly carry or lead him to the appropriate spot.

7. Regular exercise is a must for any dog, but it can make it easier for them to do their business as well.

Step-by-Step: Crate Training

how do i potty train my puppy

Experts regularly recommend keeping your puppy in a smaller space than your entire home, such as a room, until he’s comfortable in his new atmosphere and trained to go to the bathroom outside. A crate is the perfect solution for this because dogs are den animals and love the comfort of their own space.

Dogs don’t like soiled homes, just like you don’t like your home to feel cluttered or dirty. After time in his crate, your puppy will see it as his “home” and be reluctant to relieve himself inside it.

Supplies for Crate Training:

  • The appropriate crate for your dog
  • Cleaning materials to clean up any crate accidents
  • Bedding for the crate, so your pup is comfortable
  • Fresh water
  • Toys

Choosing the correct crate for your puppy is essential to this strategy. It should be the perfect size for him. He should be able to lie down, stand up, and move around to get comfortable. If you have a puppy that will grow quickly, you may want to consider getting a crate that can be adjusted in size. If the space is too large for your puppy, he could easily pick a corner to use to go to the bathroom, which undermines the entire process.

5 Steps to Potty Training with a Crate

1. Introduce your puppy to the crate. Ensure he has bedding, so he’s comfortable, and fresh water. Add his favorite toy to keep him occupied.

2. When your dog whines, circles around his crate, or starts barking or sniffing, it could be a sign he needs to use the bathroom. Open the crate, and take him outside right away. Don’t wait!

3. Once your dog is comfortable with this process and scratches or whines at the door of his home to use the bathroom, start leaving his crate unlocked.

4. Clean up any accidents your pup has in his crate (or your home) immediately.

5. Reward him for every successful trip to use the bathroom outside!

Tips for Potty Training with a Crate

  • Never leave your puppy in his crate for more than four hours at a time—even less time for younger puppies.
  • If the crate is the right size and your puppy is still going to the bathroom there, stop using the crate as a training tool.
  • If you aren’t comfortable using a crate, use gates to confine your puppy to a smaller space inside your home.

Step-by-Step: Puppy Pads Training

Puppy pads can be a good tool if you are against the idea of crating or confining your family member and someone is home all the time. Puppies generally shouldn’t be unsupervised outside of a crate because they can easily sneak off and have an accident that may take you a bit to find. This method lets your dog know he has the option of going on the pads or outside, so it may take longer to teach your puppy to go outside only (if that’s what you want).

Supplies for Puppy-Pad Training

  • Puppy pads or newspaper

That’s it, though it’s a good idea to have cleaning supplies ready in case your pup misses the pads.

6 Steps to Potty Training with Pads

1. Choose a space or corner of your home you feel is a good spot to lay down puppy pads or newspaper. This space should be easily accessible to your dog. Tile or another hard surface is easier to clean if your pup misses the paper.

2. When your puppy goes to the bathroom in the house, pick him up and move him to the pads or newspaper.

3. Once you have an idea of his bathroom schedule, take him to the pad around that time—regularly. Set alarms to help you remember.

4. Use commands to help your pup associate the pads with going to the bathroom. Many people use, “Go potty.”

5. Give rewards when your puppy goes on the pads or outside.

6. Once your puppy has fewer accidents, it’s time to start training him to only go outside. Over time, slowly move the puppy pad toward the door and then completely outside.

how do i potty train my puppy

Tips for Potty Training with Puppy Pads

  • Regularly change the soiled puppy pads or newspaper.
  • Clean up any accidents immediately.
  • If you are ever away from home for an extended period, a crate is a good idea to prevent accidents, especially early on.

“How do I potty train my puppy?” is one of the most commonly asked questions by new dog owners. Using these tips and strategies can help you and your new family member adjust to your new puppy’s bathroom schedule. Remember that consistency and commitment will take you far!

If you need help or have questions about potty training or any of your puppy’s other behaviors, schedule an appointment with Cinco Ranch Vet at 281-693-7387!

What Is a Pet Microchip, and Why Is It Important?

When you take your new kitten or puppy in for their first checkup, you know to get the first round of shots: distemper, rabies, heartworm, kennel cough, etc. Your vet probably asked you about getting a microchip as well. But why does it matter?

If you’re not sure how a microchip works (or how the process of getting one works), or you’re just not convinced it’s that big of a deal, you’re not alone! Many pet owners don’t understand the importance of getting their new family members microchipped. Read on to find out all the ways it matters for the safety of your furry friend!

What Is a Pet Microchip?

If you are a new pet owner or haven’t had a pet in years (and look forward to bringing one home soon), you may not have heard of a microchip. Approximately the size of a grain of rice, the tool is used as electronic identification, like an ID card your pet never leaves home without. The information stored on the chip is saved on a database. With the swipe of a scanner, any veterinarian’s office or animal shelter can retrieve your pet’s information straight from the microchip.

Microchips aren’t only for dogs and cats! They can also be used for ferrets, horses, and other small mammals that become part of human families.

Note: The information stored on a microchip can only be accessed if the animal is brought to a shelter or vet and scanned. They don’t act as GPS trackers.

Why Would You Want Your Pet to Have a Microchip?

There is a big, glaring reason to microchip pets: To recover those that get lost. Shelters take in about eight million animals each year. Many of them are lost pets, and few owners ever find them. About 15% to 20% of dogs are picked up by their owners from shelters, and only 2% of cats return home.

Fortunately, most animal shelters and veterinarians have the scanners needed to read microchips’ information. When a shelter worker or vet tech passes the scanner over the microchip, they retrieve whatever information is on it. Usually, it contains the pet owner’s contact information, including:

  • Name
  • Pet’s name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Sometimes email

Some microchips also include the veterinarian’s contact info as an extra precaution if the owner’s information is not kept up-to-date.

If your pet gets lost, you don’t have to wait around for a vet or shelter to call you! Notify the manufacturer of your pet’s microchip. Some manufacturers have a system in place to contact all shelters, rescues, and vets to notify them of your missing animal. Check out this post for even more tips for finding your lost pet.

Need a bonus reason to have your pet microchipped? A microchip can’t get lost.

Collars can fall off or be ripped off. Cats are notorious for getting rid of them. But a microchip can’t be tossed!

Of course, that doesn’t mean your pet shouldn’t wear a collar. If a good Samaritan finds your lost dog or cat without one, they could believe he’s a stray and not approach him. A collar with ID tags is noticeable to passerby.

microchip pets

How Do You Get a Microchip? 2 Simple Steps

Step 1: Go to the vet.

Microchipping a pet is very similar to giving them any shot or vaccination. Using a hypodermic needle, the microchip is implanted, usually between the shoulder blades. If you are getting your pet spayed or neutered soon, that appointment is a great time to schedule microchip implantation. Under anesthesia, your furry friend won’t feel a thing.

Step 2: Do your part.

There are steps you need to take after your pet is microchipped. In most cases, you will have to send a packet of information to the manufacturer of the microchip. This is extremely important. If you forget to complete this paperwork, the manufacturer may not have the information needed to contact you if your cat or dog gets lost and then found.

Don’t forget: This is also the case if you move. Review and update your information regularly to ensure your pet can return home.

If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, make an appointment with your vet to get one! Ask which microchips are commonly used in your area. Most shelters and vets use a universal scanner, which can detect any type of microchip, but some use only specific scanners, meaning your pet’s microchip could go undetected. You may also want to call the shelters in your area to determine if they’re using universal scanners. (If they aren’t, request that they get one!)

Losing a furry family member can truly bring heartbreak to the family. You can take preventative measures by keeping an eye on your animals, not letting them outside alone, and microchipping your pets. All these things can help them stay where they belong, but if they do get loose, don’t give up hope! Some dogs and cats are found days, months, or years after they disappear. One family was reunited after a whopping ten years all thanks to a microchip!

If your pet isn’t yet microchipped, we suggest you make an appointment as soon as possible. If your pet gets out, it’s important they can get back home. Give us a call at 281-693-7387 to learn more about keeping your pet safe today.

Breed Spotlight: Great Dane

You’ve seen them. Whether in person or in pictures, the reaction is always the same: “That dog is huge!”

You’re probably looking at a Great Dane!

Want to bring this gentle giant into your family or just love learning about dogs? Here’s our Breed Spotlight on the Great Dane.

The History of the Great Dane

There’s no mistaking a Great Dane for another dog, but they actually have an intriguing history to go along with their massive size. Although it was recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club) as an official breed in 1887, the exact timing of the introduction of this breed is uncertain. In fact, there were drawings found in Egypt from 3000 B.C. that resemble the Great Dane. These pups were most likely the breed’s ancestors, though they tended to be heavier and more ferocious.

The Great Dane’s appearance as we know it today has probably existed for about 400 years. Originally, they were bred to hunt wild boar in Germany and were most likely a mix between the Irish Wolfhound and the English Mastiff. The traits in Great Danes made them extremely successful in wild boar hunting:

  • Intelligent
  • Powerful
  • Ferocious (at that time)

Today’s Great Dane is different than it was back then. The ferocity needed for hunting was bred out, and gentleness was bred in to create the dog we all know. Now Great Danes are referred to as “Gentle Giants” and known for their sweet temperament and the ability to get along with humans and other animals.

Four years after Great Danes were recognized by the AKC, the was formed.

great dane dogs

The Basics on the Breed

Height

Almost everyone knows a Great Dane on sight. “Large” doesn’t even begin to describe them. Males tend to be 32 inches at the shoulder or higher, while females start at 30 inches. When standing on hind legs, they can reach over seven feet tall! Zeus, a Great Dane from Michigan, was a whopping 7’4”!

Weight

This breed weighs between 120 and 150 pounds, but they can easily get up to 200. Their size makes obedience training a good idea, even though they tend to be more relaxed than other dogs.

Coat

Great Danes come in a wide variety of colors, including:

  • Fawn
  • Black
  • Tiger stripe
  • Gray
  • White with black patches
  • Harlequin
  • Black
  • Mantle (white with a black “blanket”)

Although their hair tends to be shorter, they do shed quite a bit. Still, they require only weekly grooming.

Life Expectancy

Sadly, since the Great Dane is such a large dog, they have a short life expectancy of 6 to 8 years, with some reaching 10 years old. Thanks to their nature, even the short amount of time with them is a wonderful time.

Why Great Danes Make Great Pets

Friendly and Easygoing

Although their size can be intimidating to some, Great Danes really do live up to their “Gentle Giant” nickname. They are friendly to almost everyone, including pets and other animals. They’re easygoing and extremely patient, even with children. Danes love to play and a need to please makes for much easier training.

Cuddly and Loyal

Beware: Great Danes are lapdogs in jumbo size! Although they absolutely can’t fit in your lap, it doesn’t mean they won’t try. They love being with the family and want to be in the thick of it all. And though they’re happy to meet strangers, they won’t fail to show their courage if they feel the family is in danger. This aspect of the ancient dog was maintained.

This breed tends to be on the quiet side, barking only when absolutely necessary. Obedient and dependable, they make wonderful family companions.

The Cons of Danes

Even though Great Danes make absolutely great pets, it’s important to note that due to their size, they require spacious homes. Although they’re patient and easygoing, when they’re young, they do tend to be quite energetic, partaking in the zoomies.

They should be walked about two to three times each day and receive a fair amount of attention. Left alone for too long, they tend to become barkers, and their barks are booming. A person considering adopting a Great Dane should be prepared to commit time and dedication to their new dog.

great dane dogs

Cool and Fun Facts about Great Danes

There’s more to the Great Dane than its size! Here are some cool fun facts about this dog breed:

  • The Great Dane, although it is a German dog, has a French name in English. It was translated from “Grand Danois” which means “Big Danish.” Even this name doesn’t make sense, as the dog is not connected with Denmark!
  • It’s known as the “Apollo of Dogs” for its impressive size and elegance.
  • There seems to be evidence of a dog resembling the Great Dane in Chinese Literature from 1121 B.C.
  • The Great Dane is ranked the 14th most popular breed in the world by the AKC.
  • Be careful what you leave on the tables! Due to their size, they can easily reach up and grab those snacks.
  • The most famous Great Dane is probably Scooby Doo.
  • Even though Great Danes are known for their height, Irish Wolfhounds tend to be just a tiny bit taller; however, Zeus, the Great Dane, was the tallest dog ever.
  • Juliana the Great Dane won two Blue Cross medals: one for peeing on a bomb that fell in her house in 1941 and the other for warning of a fire. Meanwhile, Nuisance the Great Dane was enlisted in the US Navy!

Great Danes truly are wonderful, one-of-a-kind companions. Courageous but with gentleness bred in, they’re unique family members who love to be in the center of it all. If you’re considering adopting one, take into the time and devotion this breed needs. They require special care, partly due to their size, so further research is essential before you bring one home. If you have the time and room to give this breed, your love and companionship will be paid back tenfold.

If you’ve recently adopted a Great Dane or another dog, it’s time to schedule a vet appointment! Call us at 281-693-7387. We look forward to meeting your “Gentle Giant!”

How Old is My Puppy? How a Veterinarian Makes Their Best Estimate

If you just adopted a new dog, you may be asking yourself, “How old is my puppy?” It can be difficult to tell on your own, but it’s must-know information. Not only will half the people you meet on a walk ask you, but your dog’s age can have a big influence on his:

  • Activity level
  • Required medications
  • Dietary needs

You don’t have to guess! Your veterinarian can give you a close estimate.

If you brought home a new fur baby, it’s time to schedule an appointment! A check-up is a must for any new pet. Give Cinco Ranch Vet a call at 281-693-7387 to see how healthy your dog is, get his first shots, and receive an age estimate.

First Steps to Determining a Dog’s Age…

Start with the Information You Were Given

If you’ve adopted from a shelter, were given a dog by a family member, or adopted from Craigslist or a flyer, it may be possible you know exactly how old your dog is already. The family member or original owners can likely tell you, and shelters often keep detailed records on dogs dropped off by previous owners or that came in from other shelters.

This is information you can relay to your vet to help them make their estimate.

Know How Dogs Age—by Breed and Size

Different sizes and breeds of dogs age differently. Larger dogs stay in puppyhood longer. They tend to be considered puppies until they are 2 years old, while smaller and medium-size dogs are thought to be adults by 15 months at the latest.

It’s also important to look at just how long different-sized dogs live. Large dogs have shorter lifespans; Saint Bernards, for example, tend to live between 8 and 10 years. English Springer Spaniels—medium-sized dogs—generally live 10 to 14 years, and Yorkshire terriers reach the age of about 16. Knowing these ages and when your pup might reach senior status can help you determine his age now.

how old is my puppy

 

How Your Vet Estimates the Age of Your Puppy

Determining the exact age of a puppy is much easier to do than estimating the age of an older dog.

Teeth

Teeth provide a wealth of information! For example, milk (or baby) teeth only start to appear at one month old. Your pup’s permanent canine teeth arrive at about five months, and the rest of his teeth, including back molars, will come in over the next two months. As your pup nears one year old, ridges and bumps will be visible along their incisors, but these will wear down as they age.

Behavior

Puppies, in general, are easy to spot due to their rambunctious nature.

Physical Features

Large paws and ears, loose skin, and, of course, small size are all signs that a dog is still in puppyhood.

How Your Vet Estimates the Age of a Dog Past Puppyhood but Not Yet a Senior

As a dog gets older, it can be a bit more difficult to pinpoint his age.

Teeth

Tooth wear is a great indicator: The ridges of a one-year-old are about half worn away by four years old. By seven years, those ridges and bumps will be completely gone.

Dental disease can also be an indicator, but breed type and size come into play here. For example, smaller dogs tend to be more prone to dental disease than large pups. This isn’t an exact science, however. Although tartar tends to build up starting around age four, some dogs won’t get tartar until they’re seniors.

Looking at changes in your pup’s teeth and behavior can help narrow down his age, but during this time period, it can be hard for even a vet to have an exact answer to the question, “How old is my dog?”

How Your Vet Estimates the Age of Your Senior Dog

Breed and Size

For each breed and size of dog, there is a different year at which they reach “senior” status. For example, a larger dog that doesn’t live as long as a smaller dog may hit senior status at only age six.

Physical Signs

Signs of a senior dog that a vet looks for include:

  • Hearing or vision loss
  • Fat pads on the lower back or elsewhere on the body
  • Fur turning white or gray
  • Decreased muscle
  • Cloudy eyes

Behavior

Less—or less enthusiastic—playtime can also be a big indicator of a senior dog.

At this age, special diet, medications, and extra care may be needed to ensure your pup’s health. If you notice cloudy eyes, a limp, indoor “accidents” even though he’s housebroken, or cataracts, make an appointment with a vet for your senior pup. Even though they are less active at this age, there are plenty of ways to help them be more comfortable in their golden years.

how old is my puppy

Why Age Matters

Knowing the age of your puppy is essential to taking care of your newest family member because age is vital to understanding their needs, from dietary to play! If you’re unsure what diet your dog may need based on their age, ask your vet for suggestions. Knowing how old your pup is can also help you prepare for his senior years when it comes to medication, comfort, and overall medical needs.

If you recently brought home a new puppy or dog, schedule an appointment as soon as possible with your veterinarian. We’ll help ensure your new pup is healthy, administer their first shots, spay or neuter them, and provide them with a microchip and an age estimation. Call us at 281-693-7387 to schedule your dog’s first appointment. We’re looking forward to meeting them!

Help! My Cat is Skittish: 5 Tips to Help Her Come Out of Her Shell

Some cats are very confident. They are friendly to anyone who comes into your house, they run to the door when there’s a knock, and they don’t even shy away from the vacuum! But just like humans, every kitty is different. For every gregarious cat, there’s a skittish cat that jumps at the smallest noise or shies away from strangers.

If your cat is skittish, don’t fret! There are things you can do to help your furbaby come out of her shell. First, it’s important to understand why she might shy away from people, things, noises, and smells.

Why Is Your Cat Skittish?

A cat can be skittish simply because it’s part of her personality, but sometimes outside factors make a kitty skittish or cause her shyness to be worse.

1. She’s in a new environment.

This is the number-one reason a cat is anxious. When you bring home a new cat, she needs some time to get used to the house, family, and any other pets you have around—with all their sights, smells, noises, flavors, etc.

Bringing a new member of the family home is an exciting time as you get to know each other, but your cat may not feel as overjoyed as you right away. She’ll need her space as she explores her new home.

skittish cat

2. She doesn’t know how to act around humans.

Some pets, especially if they transition to a home from a shelter or the streets, may have had very few interactions with humans. It will take time before they feel safe around you and others.

Socialization is essential to overcoming your kitty’s anxiety, but bad socialization can have a negative effect. Mistreatment by a previous owner takes time to overcome.

3. She has a medical issue.

This could be the case if your cat’s anxiety started recently and wasn’t a part of her personality before. Behavioral changes and problems could be a sign of an underlying medical issue. Take your fur baby to the vet to rule any serious issues out.

Tips to Help Your Skittish Cat Come Out of Her Shell

If your cat is a bit anxious and you’ve ruled out underlying causes, here are some tips to help her come out of her shell:

Tip #1: Prevention

If your new cat is a kitten, prevention is the best way to avoid or reduce the chance that she’ll grow up into a skittish cat. Early socialization is essential. Introducing your kitty to new people, sights, objects, sounds, etc. while she’s young will help her be more comfortable with those things and new things she encounters as she ages.

Ensure your cat meets a wide variety of people in your life, especially family members, friends, or neighbors who come over often. Cats that grow up without meeting men early in life, for example, could make a trip to a male veterinarian or technician difficult for you!

Tip #2: Provide a Calming Atmosphere

An important step in helping a skittish cat overcome her anxiety, whether she’s young or old, is providing a calming atmosphere. In general, but especially in known stressful situations, avoid loud music, ask your children to quiet down, and turn down the TV a bit. Try not to yell at your cat, a family member, or another pet.

Be sure nothing chases your cat, like children or other animals. Although kids are naturally curious and excited about a new pet, chasing your cat could create lasting negative effects. The outcome could be scratched arms as well as more fear for your furry family member.

If your cat has a favorite place to hide, spend time with her in that space. Speak softly, and show her that everything is okay and she’s safe with you. An occasional treat or two can do wonders as well!

Tip #3: Give Her a Place to Go

Cats, whether they’re normally skittish or not, do not like their escape routes being cut off. Suddenly being trapped is distressing. Make sure your cat has easy access to her favorite hiding spots.

If you don’t have one already, consider buying a cat tree. Cats love to be up high. It helps them feel at home, comfortable, and safe because they can see their domain. This could be a great compromise for you and your cat: She’s in the room with the company that normally stresses her out, but she gets to be there on her terms.

Tip #4: Play

Relaxing play (and treats!) can also help your skittish cat come out from under the bed or her favorite hiding place. A feather wand or laser pointer is a quiet toy that may pique her interest. When playtime is over or she’s emerged from her lair, reward her with treats and praise.

If your cat isn’t taking the bait, try giving her more space with the toy. Allow her to smell it and investigate. Don’t rush her. Stay low to the ground to appear less threatening. Perhaps sit on the floor, speak in a soothing voice, and show your kitty that play and treats can be a great time for both of you.

Tip #5: Be Patient

The best thing to do for any skittish cat or kitten is to be patient. Their behavior is not going to change overnight. You never want to force your cat to sit with you or be around strangers. This will only reinforce her anxiety about her environment.

A soft voice, a gentle hand, and plenty of time can go a long way in calming your kitty.

Is Your Cat Shy Around Strangers Specifically?

If your cat is perfectly fine around the family, but runs when a stranger comes to the door, you can help her overcome her fear. This takes time and patience and shouldn’t be forced (Never lock her in a room with a stranger.), but it is possible!

Start with distance. When a new friend or neighbor comes to call, see what distance your cat is most comfortable with regarding the stranger. Don’t have the human get any closer than that. Practice this every time the stranger comes over. If your cat ever gets too anxious about how close they are, have your friend back up until your cat is comfortable again.

As you work toward progress, reward your kitty with treats and praise. Playtime may also help her associate the stranger with positivity.

The most valuable piece of advice when it comes to a skittish cat is: Be patient. Whether she’s new to your home or just afraid of strangers, giving your cat time and space to overcome her fears can do wonders. Forcing her to socialize can only do more harm than good.

If your kitty is suffering from anxiety and is still skittish after you’ve worked through these steps, give us a call, so we can rule out medical causes. Once that’s done, we’d be happy to talk through options for behavior counseling, so we can get your furry friend feeling fancy free as quickly as possible!