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Do Dogs Need Sweaters? How to Keep Your Pal Warm in Cold Weather

As cold weather slowly arrives around Katy, you bundle up. But what about your dog? Should she be bundling up too? If you’re curious whether a sweater would do any good, read on! For many pups, a sweater or coat is more than just a fashion statement.

Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Many dogs have fur long enough to protect them from low temperatures. Other types of dog could use a little help! If your dog fits into one of the categories below, it may be time to do some clothes shopping.

1. She’s a Puppy

A puppy absolutely should wear a coat in cold weather. Since she’s so close to the ground, the extra protection can help them keep comfortable as they play outside or go through potty training.

2 Easy Ways to Potty Train Your Puppy

Also, if you have a puppy that will need a sweater later in life, puppyhood is the right time to start training them to be comfortable in clothing.

2. She’s a Smaller Breed or Has Shorter Legs 

Just like puppies, smaller breeds sit close to the ground and can benefit from sweaters. If your dog is a small, miniature, or toy breed, she generally won’t be able to retain enough body heat to keep comfortable during the colder months, especially if she also has shorter hair.

These small breeds are just a few examples:

  • Chihuahua
  • French bulldog
  • Toy terrier
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Corgi
  • Dachshund
  • Basset Hound

3. She Has Short Hair

Even larger pups that are short haired or groomed to have short hair, like poodles, can benefit from sweaters in the wintertime. Without the long fur, they have a hard time retaining heat.

do dogs need sweaters

4. She’s a Senior

Senior dogs, just like humans, tend to get colder more easily, and are more prone to problems like arthritis that can be made worse by the cold.

5. She Has a Medical Condition 

If your dog is ill or has a weak immune system, put her in a sweater or coat before she heads outside. Even young dogs with medical issues benefit from the extra layer!

6. She Recently Had Surgery

Recent surgery could make your dog susceptible to other illnesses. If she dog an operation, talk to your vet about post-op care to see if she needs a sweater on colder days.

When Does My Dog Need a Sweater?

Bundle her up when:

  • It’s 45 degrees or colder outside, especially if she’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes
  • It snows
  • You’re inside and you don’t like to run the heater often

How to Find the Perfect Outer Layer!

When looking for the perfect sweater or jacket for your dog, fashion is fun, but keep substance in mind too!

Look for the Optimal Material

Dog coats and sweaters come in a variety of materials, and what works for one dog may not be best for another.

Wool, for example, can be wonderful for very low temperatures, but your pup may find the material itchy. In this area, a better choice is probably a mix between wool, cotton, and acrylic. A poncho is a good choice if it’ cold and raining or snowing and your dog doesn’t need something extra heavy. Fleece is also an option.

No matter what type of sweater or coat you choose, observe your dog to make sure she’s comfortable in it!

Vet Tip: Invest in outerwear that’s easy to clean. There’s no doubt your pup will get it messy!

Make Sure It Fits Well

While you might want to bundle up to the point that you can barely move in your winter clothing, that’s not the best for your pup. To ensure her sweater fits your dog properly, check around her collar and chest. You should be able to fit two fingers between the coat and the dog.

Chose a coat that covers her stomach but leaves room for her tail and allows her to go to the bathroom. A coat that works for a female dog may not work for a male pup.

Avoid Dog Sweaters with Sleeves

Sweaters and coats with sleeves are cute, but they’re very rarely practical. They can restrict your dog’s movement and make her uncomfortable. Whichever sweater you choose, make sure your pooch can move normally.

Try It on At the Store

Dog coats and sweaters have sizes (extra small, small, large, and extra large), but these are general guidelines. If you’re buying clothes at a pet store, ask if your pup can try the sweater on before you purchase it.

What If My Dog Doesn’t Want to Wear a Sweater?

If your dog isn’t used to a sweater, she may be reluctant to put on clothing, no matter how warm it keeps her. As with most dog behavior, training can do great things! The earlier you start, the easier it will be for your dog to get comfortable. Follow these steps, and make sure you have treats on hand for every step of the process!

Step 1: Show your dog her sweater, allowing her to sniff it. Repeat this for a few days.

Step 2: Rub the sweater on her fur gently to get her accustomed to the texture. Repeat for a few days, holding the sweater against her fur for longer each time.

Step 3: Put the sweater on your dog for short periods of time. After each success (and treat), put the sweater on for longer.

Even with training, not all dogs respond positively to clothing. If she refuses to wear a sweater or jacket or refuses to move once it’s on, limit her time outside in cold weather with it on to just a few minutes.

Sweaters look great on dogs, but they also serve an important purpose! If your dog needs a coat, do your shopping for the perfect fit before winter arrives, or put it on her Christmas list. She’ll be cozy and fashionable!

12 Gifts Your Dog Will Love!

Where & How to Find a Puppy!

Are you thinking about bringing a new family member home? If you’re considering a puppy, you may be wondering where you can find the perfect one! Here’s how to select the right pup for your family.

What Adopting a Puppy Means

If you’re still in the early stages of considering adding a puppy to your family, there are a few things you should consider, especially if this will be your first dog or pet. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have time to care for and entertain a dog?
  • Will he be home alone a lot?
  • Do you have the time and patience needed to train a puppy?
  • Do you have the finances to support a new family member?
  • Who will take care of your dog if you go on vacation?
  • Are you prepared to care for your puppy for its entire life? (Some dogs can live up to 18 years!)
  • Is your whole family on board? (It’s often not advisable to give a puppy or another pet as a present. Find out why here.)
  • Are you prepared for all the challenges that come with owning a dog? (Bathroom accidents, medical emergencies in the middle of the night, old age, and more)

Consider This Before Adopting a Puppy

Selecting the right dog for your family is a process. Your living situation could affect the type of dog you bring home. Here are some things to ask yourself before finding a puppy:

Where Do You Live?

While you may not consider it important at first, where you live can absolutely affect your adoption decisions. Apartments, for example, may not be best for a more active dog, and they may not be big enough for larger breeds. If you want a puppy that needs a lot of exercise, like a border collie, a yard with room to run around is best!

Apartment complexes and home insurance companies may also restrict the breeds you can bring home. Some dog breeds that are generally prohibited include:

There may be others that are blacklisted.

Do You Have Kids?

Some dogs can be great with children; others not so much. It’s important to pick a dog that gets along with the whole family. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and beagles are three great examples of puppies that are generally wonderful with kids due to their laid-back natures.

Other breeds are fantastic in other family situations, but may not be happiest with children around. Dalmatians, for example, can be jumpy and need calm. Chow chows can have a quick temper and may to bite when upset or riled up.

On the other hand, it’s important to note your kids’ ages and personalities. Younger children may not understand completely how to care for a young dog, especially smaller breeds like the chihuahua, and could accidentally hurt your new puppy.

Do You Have Other Pets?

You may already have furry family members. Don’t forget about them when choosing a dog! If you have a cat, basset hounds, beagles, and papillons are great examples of breeds that get along with others. Bluetick coonhounds and whippets, though, have a strong prey drive and can pose a risk to cats, kittens, and other small animals.

Some dog breeds also get along with dogs better than others. Golden retrievers, Corgis, and Irish setters generally make wonderful companions for dogs.

How Much Attention Can You Give Your Dog?

Your new puppy will need—and demand—your attention. If you work a full-time job, you’ll want a dog that is okay being alone most of the day. When you get home, how much patience or energy will you have to spend with your new family member?

Consider these things when it comes to your spare time:

  • How much grooming will the puppy need? – Some dogs, especially with longer fur, need more grooming than others. You’ll need to dedicate time each week to this task.
  • How much energy does the dog have? – Adopt a dog that matches your energy level. If you like sitting around doing nothing, find a pup that shares this interest.
  • How much time do you have for training? – A well-trained puppy grows into a well-trained dog, and remember: Some dogs learn faster than others!

find a puppy

How to Find a Puppy

Now that you’ve asked yourself those questions and have an idea what you’re looking for, it’s time to find your puppy! Here are some places you can look for your newest family member:

Local Shelters and Animal Rescues

One of the best places to find your new puppy is at a local rescue or shelter. They always have dogs that are looking for homes and often have puppies. And don’t think you can’t find purebred dog at a shelter. You’ll be surprised! Often, you can also put in a request for a particular dog, and the shelter will call you when one arrives.

If you’re not sure which dog is right for you, ask the workers. They spend so much time with the animals that they usually get to know their personalities inside and out! They will likely be able to help you find a great fit if you tell them about your:

  • Living situation
  • Family
  • Needs and wants
  • Lifestyle

Adoption Red Flags

Pet Store

Many pet stores carry puppies, but it’s important to do your research into selecting a store. Some buy from puppy mills, which may mean health problems for your new pet and is potentially supporting unethical breeding practices.

If you find the pet store gets their dogs and other pets from reputable sources, you may just find your new family member there!

Professional Breeders

There are hundreds of professional dog breeders. From goldendoodles to German shepherds, it’s possible to find the exact breed to fit your lifestyle, family, home, and needs.

Much like pet stores, the key is finding a reputable and professional breeder. Do research into the breeds that pique your interest, and check official websites regarding those dogs. They will often supply the contact information of established and trustworthy breeders to ensure you bring a well-bred and healthy puppy home. The American Kennel Club, for instance, has its Breeder Referral Search here.

There are several red flags to keep an eye out for when searching for a dog from a breeder:

You’re not allowed to see his parents This could mean the dog is being sold secondhand, the parents have health issues, or the mother is constantly pregnant.

The breeder won’t meet you at their home This could mean they’re from a puppy mill and not a reputable breeder.

They offer three or more breeds Many breeders only focus on one or two breeds. If the breeder you’re looking into focuses on several, it could point to a puppy mill.

There’s no contract Generally, breeders care about what happens to their puppies when they leave their care. A contract includes paperwork that states the new owner will spay or neuter their new family member, care for the puppy, and return the dog if they decide he is not for them.

The breeder promises the dog is “perfect” There is no way to tell for sure that a puppy is absolutely free from genetic issues or will have a specific temperament. If a breeder makes extreme or excessive promises, it could point to problems.

Finding your puppy is an exciting and wonderful time. Knowing what to look for and how to find it makes the start of this new relationship even better! Ask yourself the important questions to narrow down the right breed for you and your family. Once you know what will fit your needs, it’s time to start your search. Whether you’re getting your puppy from a shelter, a breeder, or a pet store, the time you take now will help ensure you select a healthy and well-cared-for dog.

If you’re bringing home a new puppy, a check-up is always recommended—and we’d love to meet him! To schedule your pup’s first appointments and get him on a vaccination schedule, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.

The shots your puppy needs

6 Tips to Prevent Your Cat from Scratching Your Furniture

One of the most commonly asked questions by cat owners is how to stop their cat from scratching the furniture. It’s a frustrating side effect of the wonderful experience that is cat ownership! Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep your cat from scratching your furniture. Read on to learn more.

Why Do Cats Scratch Furniture?

To solve the problem, it helps to know why it happens. Here are four of the main reasons cats scratch furniture:

1. She wants to stretch.

Scratching allows your cat to stretch her entire body, from toe to toe. It also gives her the chance to flex her feet.

2. She’s maintaining her claws.

Claw health is essential to your kitty’s overall health. Overgrown claws can embed themselves in her paws. Scratching allows your cat to get rid of the dead outer layer of nail.

Want to trim your cat’s nails?

3. It’s a stress reliever.

Just like playtime, scratching allows your cat to work off excess energy.

4. She’s marking her territory.

Scent glands can be found in your cat’s paws, and the act of scratching helps her mark her territory around the house. If you have several cats, it’s a way of communicating, but even one-cat homes tend to find this behavior.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Scratching Your Furniture

There are several ways to keep your feline friend from her destructive scratching:

1. Introduce Cat-Scratch Posts and Toys

If your cat doesn’t currently have any cat scratch posts or toys, she will naturally be attracted to your furniture! It’s important to give her her own space for scratching, or she will quickly turn on your couch for the reasons above. Even if you use the other tips in this list, this one is a must.

Scratch posts and trees are wonderful solutions and can provide your cat with extra enrichment too, like dangling toys and cozy places to sleep. Another option is a cardboard box specifically designed to be a scratching tool. It can be placed on the floor or hung from a doorknob.

Placement absolutely matters when it comes to introducing cat-scratch toys, especially if your furry friend has never tried them. Try adding them in front of her favorite furniture spots, so she associates the new items with scratching. Don’t hide them away. If your cat scratches to mark her territory, she’ll want to scratch something that’s in the middle of it all.

If your cat seems especially wary of the new household addition, encourage her to use it by putting cat nip on the post or toy. But be patient: It may take time for your cat to begin using the cat post or toys. Consider rewarding her with treats when she does use the correct item, rather than your couch or chair.

2. Use Products like FELISCRATCH

One item we recommend at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital is FELISCRATCH by FELIWAY®. Scratching posts, as recommended above, can be extremely helpful to redirect scratching, but some cats are a bit reluctant to use them.

FELISCRATCH works by encouraging your cat to scratch in the correct places and will help her understand exactly what the scratching post is for. Application is simple, making this a very easy way to help keep your pet away from your expensive furniture. If you’re having trouble getting your cat to use the scratching post, talk to us about FELISCRATCH.

3. Deter Your Cat with Tape or Aluminum Foil

Cats tend not to be fans of tape and aluminum foil. If you’re working on getting your cat to stop scratching the furniture, enlist the help of one of these household items!

Place double-sided tape or tin foil on your cat’s favorite area. She will not enjoy the sticky feeling or the texture and may start to avoid the area.

4. Protect Your Furniture

Consider covering the tempting furniture with sheets you don’t mind getting hairy or ripped while your cat learns to use a scratching post. Tucking the sheets in tightly to prevent your cat from getting under them and scratching away anyway.

how to keep cats from scratching furniture

5. Spray the Surfaces

Just like tape and aluminum foil, cats turn their noses up at some scents. Using a scratch-deterring spray can help keep her clear of her favorite upholstery spots. Always use a cat-friendly spray, as some sprays and scents can be harmful to your pets.

6. Trim Your Cat’s Nails

Trimming your cat’s nails can help reduce her need to work off the dead outer layer of her claws. Using the right tools (Never use human nail clippers!), you can trim off the sharp end of her claws every week or every two weeks.

To learn how to trim your cat’s nails, visit our blog post on the subject. If you’re not comfortable performing this task yourself, it may be best to bring them to a professional groomer.

Getting your cat to stop scratching your furniture is a process; it won’t happen overnight. Declawing your furry friend may seem like a quick and easy solution to your furniture-scratching problem, this procedure is actually detrimental to your pet. The process involves amputating her digits to their first joint, which is comparable to cutting off your fingers at the last knuckle. This procedure has the risk of complications during and after and could even change your cat’s behavior and habits.

Thankfully, there are many effective and humane methods to stop your cat from scratching! The first step is always to introduce a cat-scratching post or toys and encourage her to use it. Combined with other tricks, such as double-sided tape, trimming her nails, and scratch deterrents, you can work towards getting your cat off her couch-scratching addiction.

If your cat’s nails need a good trim, our professional groomers can help! Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387 to make an appointment. We can trim your companion’s nails, make sure she’s in good health, and offer suggestions for cat-scratching solutions.

Ding-Dong Woof! How to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the Door

If your dog barks at the mailman or even a falling leaf outside, she no doubt barks at the door every time she hears a knock or the doorbell rings. The upcoming holidays bring trick-or-treaters, Thanksgiving guests, and New Year’s Eve party-goers—and lots of barking.

Good news: You have time to work on breaking your pup’s noisy habit!

Why Do Dogs Bark at the Door?

There are two common reasons dogs bark at the door:

  1. They’re scared.
  2. They’re excited.

The right way for you to correct your dog’s behavior depends on her reason for barking, so first you have to recognize it.

A Scared Dog

If your pup is scared of a knock at the door or the doorbell, common signs are:

  • Tucking her tail between her legs
  • Ears down
  • Shaking
  • Pacing
  • Hiding
  • Lowering her head

It’s common for dogs to be afraid of the doorbell ring as it can be painful for sensitive ears, and sudden loud noises can be startling.

An Excited Dog

If your dog is excited, you might see her:

  • Jumping
  • Running
  • Pacing in anticipation
  • Panting
  • Full-body tail wagging

3 Ways to Stop Your Dog from Barking at the Door

There are several ways to go about stopping your dog from barking at the door. You can try one or a combination, but it’s important to remain consistent and not give up after a few attempts. Breaking her of her habit takes patience and persistence.

1. Ignore Her

While your first reaction when your dog barks may be to tell her to be quiet or yell at her for misbehaving, remain silent instead. Yelling can make your pup’s barking worse as it adds on to the noise she’s already responding to. Giving your dog any kind of attention could also encourage her behavior.

If silence is your tactic, act like she doesn’t exist when she starts barking. Don’t look at her, touch her, talk to her, or allow any other interaction to happen between her and you or anyone else. Only give your barking dog attention once she has quieted, or consider giving her a treat when she has completely stopped barking to encourage the silence.

2. Train Your Dog to Understand New Commands

Just like your pup learned “sit” and “stay,” two commands you may want to teach her are:

  1. “Speak”
  2. Quiet

Start with speak. When your pup performs it correctly, give her a treat.

Once you’re confident she has learned “speak,” it’s time to start on the quiet command. Tell your dog to speak. When she does, say, “Quiet.” As soon as she stops “speaking” (making noise or barking), she’s earned a treat! Continue this process until she understands both commands as well as “sit” and “stay.”

how to stop dog barking at door

3. Exercise Her

Dogs can tend to bark more if they are full of energy. Lots of exercise can keep their energy levels low at home and keep them from becoming bored. When your dog is tired, the doorbell or a stranger at the door may not seem as interesting as it once did.

Make sure you’re playing with and walking your dog enough. Do some research on her breed to understand if she needs more physical and/or mental exercise to stay happy and healthy.

Pro Tip: Training sessions don’t have to wait for someone random to come to your door. Ask friends or family members to help out! Have them ring the doorbell or knock on the door at different times of the day that you know about but your pup doesn’t. These give you the opportunity to practice her training.

Extra Help with a Barking Dog During the Holidays

During the holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving, traffic to your front door is likely to increase. This can be frustrating if your dog barks every time someone shows up. Even if she’s trained, this time of year can be overwhelming.

If your dog isn’t quite trained with the tricks above, consider doing these things to prepare for knocks at the door:

Set Up a Quiet Room

For Halloween in particular—when strangers come to your door one after the next—create a quiet room for your dog away from the front of the house. Set up her bed, crate, and a radio or TV—if she likes that low hum of noise.

Have Someone to Stay with Your Dog

While a quiet room can be great, some dogs may not take well to staying alone in a room all evening. You may want to have someone, like a dog sitter, stay in the room with them.

A dog that barks at the door is stressful for you and for the dog as well! Approaching your dog’s behavior with understanding and proper training can help her relax and learn to quiet down even when guests arrive. Starting as early as possible in your dog’s life and ahead of the holidays, in particular, can make everyone’s experience more relaxed.

If you recently brought home a new puppy or have a dog who has issues like separation anxiety or aggression that causes them to bark at the door, come see us for behavior counseling. Call 281-693-7387 to schedule an appointment!

7 Easy Halloween Treats for Your Spooky Pup!

Halloween is just around the corner; don’t leave your pup out of the fun! He can absolutely be a part of this spooky holiday and even take part in trick-or-treating. Below are seven great examples of Halloween treats for dogs that you can find online or make at home!

Human Candy Is Not for the Dogs

As much as we like to share everything with our dogs, human candy should never be given to them. Most people know that chocolate is bad for dogs. That’s because of two ingredients—theobromine and caffeine—that are toxic.

But there are other foods, snacks, and ingredients that can be found in your trick-or-treat bag that you should keep away from your pup, including:

  • Raisins
  • Citrus
  • Dairy
  • Salt
  • Xylitol (also commonly found in gum and baked goods)

It’s always a good idea to stow your candy and snacks out of reach of your pets and to keep a sharp eye on furry friends during the holidays. If you suspect your dog ate a food or snack that is toxic to them—or you watched them do it—bring him to your veterinarian right away.

Spooktacular Dog Treat #1: Pumpkin FroYo Bites

You only need a few ingredients, plus an ice cube tray, to make Pumpkin FroYo Bites!

  • 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt
  • ½ cup canned pure pumpkin (Canned pumpkin is better for dogs than fresh!)
  •  ¼ cup water

Mix the ingredients together, and spoon the mixture into the ice cube tray. Once the bites are frozen, they make a wonderful October treat for your dog.

Spooktacular Dog Treat #2: Halloween Brownies

Healthy Hound Bakery has plenty of delicious treats for your dog, including Halloween Brownies. No chocolate is harmed in the making of these brownies! Instead, they’re concocted with pumpkin and carob.

This online bakery also has plenty of other Halloween-themed dog treats, including

Head to their website to see their full selection.

Spooktacular Dog Treat #3: Skeleton Bones Dog Treats

This unique Halloween dog treat requires a fun, bone-shaped cookie pan that you can find on Amazon. You’ll also need:

  • 2½ cups non-bleached flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1½ cup water
  • 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt.

Simply mix, and freeze!

These treats will take you about one-and-a-half hours, plus time for freezing.

halloween dog treats

Spooktacular Dog Treat #4: Pumpkin Cubes

Pumpkin cubes are 100% pumpkin, so your pup gets all the health benefits of this awesome gourd. And they’re super easy to make. All you need is

  • Canned pumpkin
  • An ice cube tray

Simply put the pumpkin into the tray, and freeze!

You and your dog will enjoy pumpkin’s benefits to his digestive system, fur, and skin.

Spooktacular Dog Treat #5: Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Pooch Treats

With the health benefits of pumpkin and the deliciousness of peanut butter, your dog will love this  combination.

Gather together:

  • 2½ cups whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

You should also have cookie cutters (Halloween-themed would look great!), a bowl, and a baking sheet.

To make Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Pooch Treats, follow this super easy recipe.

 

Spooktacular Dog Treat #6: Sweet Potato Dog Treats

Pumpkin isn’t the only fall food that can be a treat for dogs. Sweet potato is also wonderful to create Halloween-themed treats with. All need are:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cooking spray
  • A microwave

Learn how to make Sweet Potato Dog Treats by following this recipe.

Spooktacular Dog Treat #7: Sweet Potato Pretzel Dog Treats

Following the sweet potato theme, Sweet Potato Pretzel Dog Treats are another autumn-themed snack perfect for Halloween.

You should have:

  • 200g fresh sweet potatoes
  • 1¾ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 1 beaten egg

You will also need to have a baking tray and baking paper. To see exactly how to make these pretzels, check out the recipe here. The pretzel shape makes this recipe especially fun for kids!

Halloween is about sharing. Why not include your furry friend too? Remember to feed him dog-friendly snacks and not human food. These wonderful Halloween dog treats will keep your dog happy and healthy while still sharing in the holiday spirit!

If you suspect your dog got into the Halloween candy or ate something else harmful to him, contact your veterinarian right away. To speak with one of our staff about the signs and symptoms of chocolate consumption or other toxic items, please give us a call at 281-693-7387.

Pumpkin Season… for Dogs? 5 Health Benefits & How to Give Pumpkin to Your Pup

It’s pumpkin season! You’ve seen it flooding your social media feeds, all over commercials, and advertised in stores. Believe it or not, pumpkins can be used for much more than pumpkin spice lattes and Jack-o-lanterns. They’re delicious and healthy for your dog as well! There are plenty of ways to use the gourd during the fall season—or year-round.

1. Pumpkin for Digestive Health

Pumpkin can do great things for your dog’s digestive system, especially if she’s suffering from diarrhea or constipation. It helps with both! Fiber rich, pumpkin contains vitamins A, E, and C and also includes potassium and iron. Do be careful how much pumpkin you give your dog; too much vitamin A can be dangerous. A couple teaspoons a day is best.

Dog diarrhea could be a sign of a more serious issue, especially if constant or bloody. Constipation could also point to problems, such as a foreign obstruction. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog is dealing with either type of bowel movements. If your pup is cleared by a doctor or the problem is because of a change in diet, a few teaspoons of canned pumpkin can be truly beneficial.

Your dog ate something she shouldn’t have

2. Pumpkin for Urinary Health

Pumpkin is a wonder for your dog’s urinary health. Pumpkin seeds, in particular, can get rid of kidney stones, and the oil from the seed and gourd can assist with incontinence.

3. Pumpkin to Deworm Your Dog

No dog (or owner) wants to deal with worms, but if you do, stock your pantry with pumpkin. The gourd’s seeds provide relief! They’re often used as a natural remedy for tapeworms and roundworms. The omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Pumpkin for a Glossy Coat

Those same fatty acids can do wonders for your pup’s coat, nourishing it and leaving it shinier than before pumpkin season!

5. Pumpkin for Weight Loss

If your dog is on the heavy side, and you need to reduce the amount of food she eats each day, replace the missing food with pumpkin to ensure she finishes with a full—healthy—stomach.

Instead of using fatty treats, try pumpkin substitutes. The gourd is 90% water, which provides an excellent extra source of hydration.

How to Give Pumpkin to Your Dog

Choose Canned Over Fresh

While both canned and fresh pumpkin can be beneficial to your dog, plain canned pumpkin has more vitamins, fiber content, and nutrients. This is due to the high water content in fresh pumpkin. It’s also easier to get canned pumpkin, as it’s sold year-round in stores!

Crush Up the Pumpkin Seeds

If you want to give your dog pumpkin seeds, you can simply crush and grind them into your dog’s food. They can eat whole seeds, but these should be fed one at a time and kept to a minimum.

Seeds can go bad quickly, so you have two options:

  • Use them fast, or
  • Roast them.

Roasting them allows them to last about 30 days. Throw bad seeds away, as they can be toxic.

Never Give Your Dog Pumpkin Pie

Delicious as it is for humans, never give your dog pumpkin pie. Some pumpkin pie filling contains xylitol, a toxic ingredient for dogs. Always stick to canned or fresh varieties, or seeds.

Don’t Add Any “Flavoring”

While you may like to add things to your pumpkin dishes, keep it as simple as possible for your pup. Do not add salt to the seeds or pumpkin, but also avoid spices, flavors, and preservatives.

pumpkin for dogs

Getting Creative with Pumpkin for Dogs

While 1 to 2 teaspoons of pumpkin (or tablespoons for big guys) is best for dogs, you may want to mix it up a little, so pumpkin season is fun for them too!

Toy Filler

Mix cooked pumpkin, banana, plain unsweetened yogurt, and peanut butter together. Put this concoction into one of your dog’s stuffable toys for her to lick out!

Ice Cream

Using the same ingredients as the pumpkin filler above, freeze the mix. This is a delicious cold treat on a hot summer day and keeps your dog occupied for longer.

A Dinner Topper

Mix pumpkin puree or mashed pumpkin with plain yogurt, chicken or beef broth, rice, and water. Pour it over your dog’s dinner to add a bit of flavor!

A Hollow Pumpkin

You don’t want to give your pup an entire pumpkin, but a hollow pumpkin can provide hours of fun. Add some treats or food, and it becomes a puzzle for your pup to enjoy with a reward at the end.

Who says pumpkin season is only for humans? Pumpkin is for the dogs! It can be an absolutely delicious and beneficial treat for your pet, encouraging better hydration, fur, skin, and weight. There are endless possibilities for this treat when it comes to your dog, and she’s sure to enjoy it year-round.

While adding pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can provide wonderful health benefits for your dog, if your pet is experiencing any medical problems, it’s important to take her to a veterinarian before giving her this treat. You should also ask your vet if it’s okay for your pup to have pumpkin if she suffers from diabetes.

If you have questions about the benefits of pumpkins for your dog, schedule an appointment with us! Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.

3 Mosquito-Borne Illnesses That Affect Pets & How to Prevent Them

When most people think of mosquitoes, they imagine the itchy bumps left on their skin and the diseases they carry that can affect humans. Have you thought about whether mosquitoes can affect your pet? Can your dog get West Nile virus?

There are a few illnesses mosquitoes can carry that you should know about if you’re a dog or cat owner. Then you can help protect and care for your pet when you’re out and about during mosquito season!

1. West Nile Virus

One question we hear is: Can my dog or cat get West Nile virus?

While your pet can catch this disease from mosquitoes, it isn’t one owners generally need to worry about. A study conducted on pets and West Nile found that both dogs and cats are very resistant to the disease. Dogs that were infected had such low measurable quantities of the virus that it would be very unlikely they would transmit it to another mosquito if they were bitten again.

Very few pets die from West Nile virus infection. In a study from 1999, 5% to 11% of dogs had the virus, but none of their owners reported signs of their pets being sick.

When symptoms do (rarely) occur, they can include:

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Neurological problems

If your pet is displaying these symptoms, your veterinarian will check for more likely causes first, as they’re rarely caused by West Nile virus.

Vet’s Note: Horses and birds they are most likely to be affected by the virus. If you see symptoms in your horse or pet bird, you should see a veterinarian right away.

2. Heartworm

Heartworm is one disease that all pet owners should be proactive about. It’s the most common disease transferred by mosquitoes to cats and dogs and can prove painful to your pet and expensive for you if you haven’t taken precautionary measures.

Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

Symptoms of heartworm in dogs often don’t show up until seven months after an infected mosquito infects your animal. Once mature, the heartworms will begin to reproduce in your dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. If not treated, heartworm can be fatal.

Symptoms include:

  • Coughing
  • Lack of energy
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abnormal lung sounds
  • Fainting

The best way to prevent heartworm disease in dogs is to use heartworm medication regularly. Your vet can prescribe it to you.

Heartworm Symptoms in Cats

For most cats, heartworm does not reach the adult stage, but even immature worms can cause issues, such as heartworm-associated respiratory disease.

Prevention is a must, as tests may not discover the immature worms, and in cases of infection, many cat owners don’t realize until it is too late.

There is no heartworm medication for cats. If your cat displays these symptoms, take him to the veterinarian immediately:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Fluid in abdomen
  • Coordination issues

can dogs get west nile

3. Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Dog and cat owners generally don’t need to worry about eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), as they’re usually resistant to health effects. EEE most often affects horses. If your pet does display symptoms, he will most likely make a full recovery. In the worst-case scenario, he’ll need supportive treatment.

You should contact your vet if you notice these symptoms in your dog or cat:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Neurological issues

How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Been Bitten by a Mosquito?

Dogs and cats often display the same signs as humans when they’re bitten by mosquitoes! Constant scratching and irritation are most common, along with the red welts people are used to. They may also rub their ears or noses to find relief.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites

You can help prevent the spread of West Nile virus, heartworm, and EEE to your dog or cat by doing a few simple things:

  • Use dog- and cat-friendly insect repellent – Never use insect repellent designed for humans on your pets; it can be toxic. If you do, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Get rid of standing water in your yard, such as bird baths, untreated pools, and collected rain water.
  • Don’t walk your dog during peak mosquito times: dawn and dusk.
  • Use window screens, and replace or repair any tears.
  • Administer preventative heartworm medication – It’s an inexpensive, monthly treatment. Always give your dog his heartworm medication on time and correctly. Missing a dose or administering it late can leave your pet open to infection.
  • Have your dog tested for heartworm – This can be done annually by your vet to ensure your dog is not infected. While heartworm medicine is highly effective, it’s not 100%.

While you don’t have to worry too much about your dog or cat contracting West Nile virus or EEE from mosquitoes, preventative measures should still be taken to reduce the chances of contracting more severe illnesses, like heartworm. Medication and steps to remove mosquito habitats from your property go a long way in pet care, but if yours displays symptoms of West Nile virus, EEE, or heartworms, get him to a veterinarian quickly. Early detection is key to ensuring your pet stays in good health.

Whether your dog or cat is showing symptoms of one of these three infections, you would like to start your pet on preventative measures, or you need prescription refills, visit Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, Texas. To book an appointment or bring your pet in for an emergency, give us a call at 281-693-7387.

The Most Popular Pets in the United States (Besides Cats and Dogs!)

If we asked you to name the most popular pet in the United States, you’d probably say “dog” or “cat.”

You’d be right, but you’d also be missing out on so many other animals that follow close behind! Learn about the most popular pets that American homeowners call part of their families.

Fish

most popular pets

Over 150 million freshwater and saltwater fish call our houses their homes, with 12% of families owning at least one. They’re the third-most-popular pet behind cats and dogs. Freshwater fish, which are easier to care for and generally less expensive, are more common than saltwater fish. Although there are over 142 million freshwater fish, there are under 10 million saltwater pets in the U.S.

If you head to a pet store, you may find the selection of fish overwhelming! Common choices include

  • Neon tetras
  • Guppies
  • Bettas

The Neon Tetra is an excellent “beginner” fish, as it’s easy to maintain and generally happy in groups and smaller environments.

Guppies are another freshwater fish often kept as pets. Easy to care for, they’re beautiful but do require specific tanks and temperatures.

Betta care is different: You can only have one male per tank, and they may need more space than you realize.

Pet stores, breeders, and specialized aquatic stores are great ways to get started with fishkeeping. It’s important to understand:

  • Exactly how much space your fish needs
  • What it eats
  • How it likes its tank arranged
  • How many fish can be kept in a tank

If you’re not sure, speak with an aquatic-store employee or do extensive research to ensure you give your fish the best life possible.

Birds

most popular pets

Another popular pet in the United States is birds, with 6% of households owning16 million birds. Some birds can be quite the commitment. Many parrots, for instance, can outlive humans!

The most popular pet birds?

  • Cockatiels – Affectionate and full of personality
  • African gray parrots – Well-known for their intelligence
  • Parakeets (or budgies) – Easier to care for and not as expensive as cockatiels and African grays

Note: Cockatiels and African grays can be handfuls for inexperienced or unaware pet owners, so be sure you understand the commitment before bringing one home.

Just like fish, each type of bird requires specific cage sizes, toys, and food. Before welcoming a bird into your family, research the species that best fits your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a pet.

Birds can be found in pet stores, but there are also several bird rescues you may want to look into first.

What makes birds great pets?

Rabbits

Smaller animals make up a huge chunk of pets in the United States, and this includes rabbits! These cuties have plenty of personality and love to be social. They do require regular attention and enrichment activities, but if you plan on letting yours out of its cage often, bunny-proofing your home is essential.

most popular pets

Although rabbits may be easier to care for than some animals, they are not low-maintenance. They live for 10 years and should be seen as a commitment, just like a dog or cat.

If you’re looking to add a bunny to your home, consider first looking into local animal rescues and shelters.

Hamsters

most popular pets

Another small animal that is a huge hit in American families is the hamster. Easy to care for and generally inexpensive, hamsters can make a perfect choice for families testing out the pet waters or not ready—or wanting—to make a much longer commitment.

Hamsters are a great choice for children, as they help teach them responsibility for a new family member. Hamsters do require enrichment to be happy, so don’t leave yours alone in a boring cage all day.

These animals can commonly be found in just about any pet store, but you may also want to check with local pet rescues. Before bringing the little guy home, make sure any children in the house understand the gentle, proper care this smaller animal will need.

Reptiles

While some people may become uncomfortable sharing a room with a reptile, about 4% of pet owners in the United States call these animals part of their family. With millions of pet reptiles across the country, a majority of owners are Millennials!

What are the most popular pet snakes?

  • Corn snakes – Small and easy to handle; despite the scary “python” name, the ball python is the smallest of them all.
  • Ball pythons – Small and easy to handle; your corn snake could live up to 23 years!
  • Leopard gecko – Has a beautiful pattern but requires special care
  • Bearded dragon – Need plenty of space but can be exceptionally friendly

Some reptiles can be found in pet stores, but you may want to do further research into your options. Consider visiting an exotic pet store if you’re looking to locate a specific species.

Note: Snakes can pose a health risk. Learn more!

most popular pets

These are only some of the most popular pets in the United States. Although dogs and cats are the clear winners, many homeowners also decide to bring birds, reptiles, fish, hamsters, and rabbits into their homes. Other popular choices include horses, turtles, ferrets, and guinea pigs. No matter which animal is your favorite, if you’re searching for a new pet to bring home, it’s important to do your research to ensure both you and your new family member are happy.

Whether you’re welcoming a dog or a corn snake, we’d love to meet them, and checkups on a regular basis are important! Getting it done as soon as possible can help ensure your new family member is getting the pet care it needs for a long and healthy life. Schedule its first appointment with us by calling 281-693-7387.

Dogs Flying in Cargo: Is It Safe?

If you’re planning a flight in the near future, you may be considering bringing your dog along with you. There are two options for flying with your dog:

1. As a carry-on – Typically under a seat

2. In cargo – Below the seating area, where luggage is transported

Unfortunately, not all dogs are allowed onboard as carry-ons. If they’re too large, for example, they may not be able to fly or will have to go cargo. But you may wonder if that’s safe.

Here’s what you need to know about flying your dog in a plane’s cargo hold and what you can do to make your pet as comfortable as possible.

Only Some Companies Accept Dogs as Airline Cargo

Each commercial airline has a different pet policy, especially when it comes to dogs traveling in cargo. Some airlines don’t allow pets to fly in the cargo hold at all. It’s important to note the specific airline pet policies before booking your ticket if you’re considering bringing your pup along.

The three major commercial airlines that allow dog cargo travel are:

  • American Airlines® – Allows pups to fly in cargo (if it’s not too hot) for a $200 fee, as long as you reserve their spot 48 hours ahead of time and have the proper documentation, like a health certificate
  • Delta – Has a separate program called Delta Cargo, which may or may not put your dog on a different flight than yours
  • United Airlines® – Partners with American Humane in a program called PetSafe, which offers temperature-controlled vehicles, stress-reducing measures (such as boarding your dog last), and onsite and offsite kennels

Frontier, JetBlue®, Southwest® Airlines, and Spirit® do not allow pets to fly cargo.

Watch Out for Other Airline Restrictions

If you book on an airline that allows cargo travel, make sure you pay extra attention to the rest of their requirements. Some flights only allow specific dog breeds or sizes, while others restrict the amount of time your pet can fly. Usually pets are only allowed on flights that are 12 hours or less. Most airlines will not let you bring your dog in cargo if you have a connecting flight or are flying internationally.

Don’t forget to let the airline know in advance that you are checking your dog. Many flights have a limited number of pets allowed onboard, so the sooner you notify the company, the better.

You may encounter country restrictions if you’re flying overseas. Australia, for instance, requires pets to spend time in quarantine when they arrive. And pets traveling to Hawaii can only do so with strict documentation and during specific times of the year. It’s important to look at both your airline’s and your destination’s policies regarding pets.

What Is Flying Cargo Like for Your Dog?

When your dog flies in the airline cargo hold, they have a slightly different experience from the luggage even though they’re located in the same area. Your pup’s kennel will be secured separately from the rest of checked baggage, and it will remain there for the duration of the flight.

Each airline handles cargo differently, but in many cases, the pilot and crew can monitor or change the temperature in the cargo hold to help your pet have a more comfortable flight.

What You Need for Your Dog to Fly Cargo

There isn’t much you need to gather for your dog to fly cargo, but every airline and destination is different, so read over the guidelines. Here is a quick list of the things you will probably need to have:

  • An airline-approved kennel that fits size restrictions and is big enough for your dog to stand up and move around
  • Documentation, including ID and vaccination records
  • Food, water, and treats for before and after the flight
  • A clip-on water bottle
  • Collar and leash
  • Food for the kennel (if allowed)

dogs flying in cargo

Help Your Dog Be Comfortable and Safe

There are several things you can do before your flight to ensure your dog is safe as can be while in the airline cargo hold. Work through this list to help your pup prepare:

  • Get a checkup with your vet – Some airlines and destinations require this!
  • Groom your dog, and don’t forget to trim his nails!
  • Take his travel kennel out well before the trip, so he becomes accustomed to it.
  • Give your dog food and water within four hours of check-in time, but not within four hours of the flight (required by the USDA).
  • Ask your airline if you are allowed to put food and water in your pup’s kennel during the flight, or if they will provide some.
  • If you are including a clip-on water bottle, ensure your dog knows how to use it before the flight.
  • Do not give your pet sedatives – They can increase the chance of heart and breathing problems.
  • Consider including a favorite toy or blanket in his kennel.
  • Try to avoid flight connections – If your dog gets lost, it’s likely to be during that transition.

Tips for Flying with Your Dog Stress-Free

When Your Dog Shouldn’t Fly Cargo

Not all dogs were made for flying, especially for flying as checked baggage. Breeds with snub nosesbulldogs, pugs, and boxers—are usually banned from flights. These breeds find it difficult to breathe, and high altitudes can make it worse. Other types of dogs may be banned by specific airlines (like mastiffs, spaniels, and others), so double-check with your airline to ensure your dog meets their requirements.

Your dog probably also shouldn’t fly cargo if he is particularly anxious. Flying can be a lot even for humans, and being separated and flown cargo can be pretty scary to a pet that doesn’t know what’s going on.

Don’t check your dog if he’s very young or very old. Older dogs may have trouble dealing with the transport, while many younger dogs, especially 12 weeks or younger, may be barred from flying.

There Can Be Risks

There can be risks when flying your dog as cargo, so due diligence and research before selecting your flight are essential. Pets that fly can be more susceptible to:

  • Heat stroke
  • Respiratory problems
  • Hypothermia
  • Heart issues

A vet check-up before you fly is essential to seeing whether your furry family member is fit enough to travel as cargo.

Booking direct flights and taking a photo of your pet in case he gets lost may help you avoid more serious problems.

If your dog isn’t up for flying cargo, you can consider other alternatives like boarding him or leaving him with a trusted pet sitter. If you do plan on checking your dog as cargo, research is the most important step you can take to ensure both a safe flight for your pup and a stress-free flight for you.

Are you planning to travel with your dog? We highly recommend a check-up before he takes off! To book your pre-flight appointment, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.

Breed Spotlight: Ragdoll

If you would love a lap cat, you’re definitely up the Ragdoll’s alley. This breed is known for its extremely laid-back temperament. All it wants to do is hang out with you! If you’re thinking about welcoming this wonderful cat into your home, here are some facts you should know about the Ragdoll cat.

History of the Ragdoll

The Ragdoll breed is one of the newest purebred cats, created in 1963 in California. The breeder was looking for a beauty of a feline with a gentle, loving personality. All Ragdolls today can trace their history back to a cat named Josephine, which had long, white hair and Siamese markings. Josephine can be credited with achieving quite a feat, as the Ragdoll is currently the fifth most popular cat breed!

After a few years of controversy and rumors about the breed, the Cat Fanciers Association started allowing Ragdolls in 1993. The first time the breed could compete was just 18 years ago, in 2000.

Basics of the Breed

The Ragdoll is no small adult cat. It represents stiff competition for some of the largest cat breeds in the world, the Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat. Males can weigh up to 20 pounds when fully grown, with females reaching up to about 15 pounds. It will take your Ragdoll about four years to reach her full weight.

Ragdolls come in four different patterns:

  • Bi-color
  • Mitted
  • Van
  • Colorpoint

and in six different colors, including:

  • Blue
  • Chocolate
  • Lilac
  • Red
  • Cream
  • Seal

The Ragdoll’s coat is extremely soft, plush, and silky. And although they can be known for their bright blue eyes, those lookers can also come in blue-green or gold varieties.

This cat breed tends to live between 12 and 15 years, but many have been known to live beyond 15. One Ragdoll—fittingly named Rags—lived to the ripe, old age of 19-and-a-half.

Why Ragdolls Make Great Pets

ragdoll cat facts

There’s no denying it: Ragdolls make amazing pets. Often called a “puppy cat,” this breed is well known for its gentle and affectionate personality. Laid-back, yours will love to shadow you around the house, enjoying nothing more than being by your side or in your lap.

Due to their friendly personality traits, Ragdolls tend to get along with dogs, children, and most other cats (though they definitely prefer humans and even dogs to other cats). They love to be picked up and held like babies. In fact, The name “Ragdoll” comes from their ability to go limp while in your arms or lap out of pure happiness. There’s no denying this trait is adorable!

Playtime also has benefits for the Ragdoll. Often playing with claws retracted, the cat can be trained to walk on a leash, play fetch, perform tricks, and follow commands. During playtime, yours will probably stick to the floor, rather than seeking out high points. It’s one breed of cat that won’t be climbing up curtains but is happier to lie by your feet. This behavior all stems from its desire to be close to you. Privacy is nowhere to be found with a Ragdoll.

Want to try walking your cat?

Ragdolls are generally easy to care for. Although they need weekly grooming for their coat, it usually consists of a quick brush through to remove any tangles.

This breed is one-of-a-kind! Adaptable to just about any environment and friendly with strangers, pets, and children, the Ragdoll can be the perfect addition to any home. They’re patient and tolerant with children, happy to greet you after your long day at work, and glad to sleep behind your head at night. If you’re looking for a cat that will always be there for you, you’ve found it in the Ragdoll.

Fun Facts About Ragdolls

  • Ragdolls tend not to meow a lot, which makes them perfect for apartments and condos.
  • All Ragdoll kittens are white, but patterns start to appear after about 10 days. Their coat color doesn’t fully develop until they’re about two-and-a-half years old!
  • This breed of cat often loves the water! And as a testament to their love for you, they may even want to join you in the shower.
  • The current resident cat of the Algonquin Hotel in New York City is a Ragdoll named Matilda. The hotel has been caring for rescued cats since the 1930s.

The name “Ragdoll” really does sum up exactly what this cat is all about. They love to be in your presence, picked up, cuddled, and loved. Your attention is what they crave, and they’re more than happy to turn into a ragdoll in your arms. They’re also a great pet if you have children or other pets, as long as the kids know to be gentle with this gentle giant.

If you’re thinking about adopting a Ragdoll, first check out local shelters, Ragdoll rescues, and smaller cat rescues. You may get lucky and find the perfect one. If you decide to look for a Ragdoll breeder, research is essential. Check their credentials and references to ensure you’re adopting a healthy cat from a reputable breeder.

Are you thinking about welcoming a Ragdoll into the family? Congratulations! Don’t forget to schedule an appointment for the new member to ensure she’s healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations. Call us at 281-693-7387 to schedule your cat’s first appointment.