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DIY Home Pet Care For Cats

DIY Home Care For Cats

Do I need to bathe my cat? What should I feed my kitten? My cat is scratching the mirror…is that normal

Whether you’re living with a new kitten or have shared your home with cats for years, cat behavior can raise a lot of questions. At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we’ve heard them all and are always happy to share our answers: 

  • Do you need to bathe your cat: Maybe! 
  • What should I feed my kitten: Quality kitten food. 
  • Is that…normal? As normal as a cat can be. 

This article addresses common questions, such as those above, about cat diets, health, fitness, and grooming. Keep reading for detailed answers to questions about DIY home pet care for cats to keep them happy, healthy, and safe.

Feline Health and Fitness

When you adopt a kitten, it’s hard to imagine that tiny bundle of energy turning into a lazy loafer. However, many cats without opportunities to exercise will do just that. So how do you give your cat a workout? It’s simple: play with them! 

In the wild, cats exercise every day while hunting their meals. Creating opportunities for your pet cat to practice her hunting instincts is all you need to give your cat a workout. Buy cat toys of various sizes and textures so she can exercise her instincts to stalk, chase, pluck, and rake her “prey.” Wand toys, laser pointers, and small toy balls can all get your cat moving and keep her activity levels healthy. 

Cat training also contributes to your cat’s overall well-being. While most new puppy parents expect to engage in training, some new cat parents are unsure how to train a kitten. Cats are just as trainable as dogs, though they require a different approach. You might be surprised by all the tricks your cat is capable of! 

Finally, take a look around your house and try to see it from your cat’s perspective. Is your home set up to allow your cat to eat, explore, and use the bathroom safely and comfortably? 

  • Cats are not pack animals, and most will feel most comfortable eating away from other pets. If you have dogs in the house, in particular, try to provide your cat a safe place to eat, either in a separate room from the dogs or in an elevated position. 
  • Scratching and climbing are instinctive behaviors in cats. Cat condos, climbing toys, and scratching posts provide enrichment for indoor cats and give them an outlet for these feline instincts. 
  • To minimize the potential for soiling or territorial behavior, you should always have one more litter box than you have cats. If you have one cat, your home should have two litter boxes; for two cats, you should have three litter boxes, etc.  

DIY Cat Grooming

Cats are most comfortable in familiar places, so car rides and trips to the groomer can be stressful. Luckily, you can complete most cat grooming from the comfort of home.

Bathing your cat

Cats are fastidious groomers and do a good job keeping their skin and coat clean. Some cat breeds don’t require regular baths, but hairless and some long-haired breeds need regular bathing. Senior cats and those with skin conditions may also need targeted cleaning. Your vet will help you determine your cat’s needs and the best schedule and methods for bathing her. 

Cleaning your cat’s ears

If your cat recently had ear mites, an infection, or another medical issue, your vet may prescribe an at-home ear cleaning regimen and solution. Your cat’s condition will determine the frequency and method of cleaning, which your vet will discuss with you. Cats with otherwise healthy ears do not need at-home ear cleaning. 

Brushing your cat’s teeth

Many cat parents are surprised to learn they should be brushing their cat’s teeth daily to prevent periodontal disease. It’s best to acclimate a cat to tooth brushing when they’re kittens, but even older cats can get used to the process detailed below. 

  1. Lay your cat on a flat surface on her side, or hold her in your lap. 
  2. Gently pull back your cat’s lips. 
  3. Using a toothbrush and paste designed and approved for cats, concentrate brushing on the canine teeth and large cheek teeth until your cat accepts the activity. 
  4. Once your cat tolerates toothbrushing, begin including all her teeth, brushing for approximately thirty seconds on each side. 

Clipping your cat’s nails

Indoor cats need regular nail trimming to keep their nails comfortable and conditioned. Most cats benefit from monthly nail trimming, though your vet can help you identify the ideal schedule for your cat. If you’re new to trimming cats’ nails, ask your vet if they recommend specific tools and to show you how to hold and safely trim your cat’s nails before you try it at home.

DIY Cat Diets Treats and Food

Veterinarians typically endorse cat diets that favor canned or moist food over dry food, though a mix of canned and dry food may be appropriate if suggested by your vet. Your cat also needs access to fresh, clean water at all times. Home-cooked cat diets, raw food diets, grain-free diets, and other niche feeding approaches touted by internet “experts” are rarely recommended or endorsed by vets. Unfortunately, many well-meaning pet owners unknowingly cause harm by feeding their pets homemade diets from unknown or untested sources. 

Good quality cat food is vital to your cat’s health. Cats are carnivores and evolved to get their daily nutrients from animal products. A cat’s prey is dissimilar from many of the animal products consumed by humans, however. Quality cat food, formulated to fulfill cat’s unique nutritional requirements, combines precise amounts of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fatty and amino acids. 

Healthy cat food is also optimized for each feline life stage. Kitten food formulas contain higher amounts of protein and specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, which are necessary during the first year of life. Food formulated for adult cats, senior cats, pregnant and lactating cats, and cats with health conditions meet cats’ unique daily needs at other life stages. 

Food allergies are the third most common allergies among cats, and some of the most common cat allergies are beef, lamb, and soy. Before you make any changes to your pet’s diet, you should always discuss it with your veterinarian. They can also help you choose healthy cat treats and snacks for your cat for supplementary feedings or training rewards. 

Conclusion

While many cats get used to being groomed and will tolerate if not enjoy some grooming activities, others are less agreeable. If your at-home cat grooming attempts have failed and you’re ready to bring in a professional groomer, don’t search “cat grooming near me” just yet. First, talk to your vet and ask if they can recommend someone.  Similarly, your vet should be your first (and, usually, only) source for questions about your cat’s diet, fitness, and overall health. 

 At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we provide comprehensive and compassionate care focused on your cat’s overall health and wellness. Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped for complete care, including routine wellness visits and vaccinations, sick visits, diagnostics, and surgery. Contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our experienced vets for your cat or kitten. 

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DIY Home Pet Care For Dogs

DIY Home Pet Care For Dogs

Whether you’re a first-time adopter or a long-time dog parent, life with a dog comes with lots of fun and affection, not to mention a few surprises. At Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, we know your dog’s health and happiness are your top priority. That’s why we’re always happy to help pet parents find answers to their canine concerns. 

When it comes to concerns or questions about your pet’s health, your first call should always be to your veterinarian. However, with a bit of knowledge and advice, many pet care basics can happen right in your home. Whether you’re trying to solve a puzzling puppy training predicament or crate training conundrum, keep reading for useful DIY home pet care tips.

Canine Health and Fitness

During their first year of life, puppies make canine fitness seem like it’ll take care of itself. Even energetic puppies benefit from a regular exercise routine, though. Exercise helps dogs burn off energy and keep fit while stimulating their minds. At any age, a bored dog is more likely to seek out novel experiences (like shoes to chew on, garbage to dig through, and mail carriers to bark at) than a dog who enjoys regular age- and breed-appropriate exercise. 

Exercising your dog is easy and fun for both of you. You can work out with your dog by walking or running together, hiking, playing fetch, or swimming at a nearby (pet-friendly) beach. Many obedience dog training exercises, such as retrieving, also provide energy-burning and mind-stimulating opportunities. 

When inclement weather keeps your pup indoors, you can still find plenty of ways to get him the exercise he needs. Running up and down stairs, on a treadmill, or setting up a game of hide-and-seek with healthy treats or a favorite toy can all provide physical and mental stimulation. If you’re crate training your dog, you can work on basic commands like “place,” “stay,” and “come” to give your dog some mental stimulation and reward his progress with energy-burning games of tug, fetch, or chase.

How much exercise does your dog need?

In general, puppies benefit from several short exercise sessions throughout the day instead of one or two longer walks or play sessions. Exercise requirements for adult dogs vary widely by breed. High-energy breeds like Giant Schnauzers and Golden Retrievers have different exercise needs and abilities than French Bulldogs or Bologneses, for example.

Senior dogs may develop arthritis or other conditions that require modifications to their regular exercise routines to avoid discomfort or injury. Talk to your vet about your dog’s exercise needs and limitations. Even young, high-energy breeds may need their humans to put the breaks on play sessions if they have underlying health concerns exacerbated by over-exertion.

DIY Dog Grooming

Dog grooming does more than keep your pup looking his best—it also helps keep him healthy. Regular bathing and frequent brushing can help identify signs of fleas, ticks, cuts, scrapes, and other possible sources of infection that could cause illness or other complications. 

If you’re a new dog owner, some dog grooming tasks, like nail trimming and tooth brushing, can seem intimidating. Before firing off a search for “dog grooming near me,” you should know most dog grooming is easily accomplished at home, even if it means getting within drooling distance of your Cane Corso’s canine teeth. 

Most dogs will tolerate at-home bathing, brushing, and other routine tasks that keep them clean and comfortable–and some will even love it! Though your dog’s breed, age, and activity levels will all contribute to their necessary grooming schedule, the sample schedule below offers a basic outline of what to expect: 

Daily

Protect your dog’s teeth and gums by brushing them daily. Brushing your dog’s teeth is easier than you might expect. Learn how here if you’ve never done it before. 

Weekly

Weekly brushing reduces shedding and keeps your dog clean in between baths. Some double-coated and seasonally-shedding breeds require more frequent brushing. 

Monthly

Your dog’s breed and activity levels will influence how often you need to trim their nails. In general, plan to trim your dog’s nails monthly and adjust your schedule as needed. 

Most flea and tick preventatives require monthly re-application. If you’re not sure when to re-apply your dog’s flea and tick protection, review the label instructions or talk to your vet so you can keep your dog protected year-round. 

Your dog’s breed and other factors will determine how often, if ever, you need to clean his ears. If your dog is a frequent swimmer or has a history of ear infections, your vet may recommend monthly ear cleanings in between visits. You can learn the right way to clean your dog’s ears here

No matter the frequency, it’s important you only use products specifically designed for canine ear cleaning. All at-home solutions, including vinegar, baby wipes, and even water, should be avoided, as they often do more harm than help. 

Quarterly

Unless your vet instructs otherwise, most dog breeds require routine bathing only a few times per year. 

Yearly

Schedule your dog’s annual wellness exam, vaccinations, and dental cleaning. 

DIY Dog Diets Treats and Food

Healthy dog food

Dog diets contain nutrients from a mix of meat, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Dogs and puppies need a well-balanced diet of quality dog food designed to meet their nutritional needs. You should feed your dog a diet appropriate for their life stage and breed size. For example, healthy dog food for an adult Akita will differ significantly from a Maltese puppy’s healthy diet. 

Quality commercial kibble and canned dog food contain all the ingredients your dog needs to stay healthy. Some pet owners express an interest in feeding a home-cooked or raw diet. Unless your veterinarian recommends and oversees a home-cooked diet plan, commercially-prepared dog food is likely the safest and healthiest adult dog food.

  • At best, home-cooked diets are expensive and labor-intensive without providing health benefits to dogs. 
  • At worst, they are inadequately nutritious and can lead to adverse health outcomes with potentially devastating consequences for their dogs. 
  • Home-cooked diets are never appropriate for puppies, pregnant or nursing dogs, or overweight adult and senior dogs. 
  • Raw food diets are unsafe for you and your dog and are never recommended regardless of whether they’re prepared at home or commercially.  

Healthy dog treats

Healthy dog treats, whether store-bought or homemade, shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily food intake. Most owners find their dogs are happy to snack on many commercially-available dog treats. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) maintains a regularly-updated list of VOHC-accepted products for dogs you can use to help shop for healthy treats. 

Still, many wish to prepare homemade dog treats, whether to allergens and sensitivities or to make use of available ingredients in the home. An easy DIY dog treat your vet will likely approve of is dehydrated fruit and vegetables. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables are tasty and chewy, making them appealing, healthy, low-calorie snacks for dogs. 

Common dog allergies

Cleaning products, chemicals, environmental factors, and even food can all trigger dog allergies. Dogs can develop allergies at any time, even if they’ve never shown signs of it before. Chronic ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea, and itchy or rashy skin may all be symptoms of an allergic reaction. 

Your vet can help identify potential allergens in your dog’s environment and suggest a course of treatment to help with symptoms. She may also recommend and oversee an elimination diet to identify food allergies or sensitivities. While any food can cause an allergic response, common dog allergies include:  

  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Dairy products 
  • Eggs
  • Lamb 
  • Soy

Conclusion

When you have questions about your furry family members, the caring and experienced team at Continental Animal Wellness Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, are here to help. Our practice focuses on our pet patients’ health and wellbeing, incorporating behavioral health and traditional medicine to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. Our state-of-the-art animal wellness facility in Flagstaff, Arizona, is equipped for complete animal care, from vaccinations and routine wellness checks to behavior consultations, sick visits, and more.  Contact us today to schedule a visit for your dog or puppy. 

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How to Remove Fleas From Your Pet

How to Remove Fleas From Your Pet

There are lots of things that can make your pet itch, but fleas are the first culprit that come to mind for most pet owners. When fleas shelter in your pet’s fur and start biting, they cause serious discomfort, and can even lead to grave illness. 

If your pet has a severe flea infestation, the signs can be hard to miss. Once an infestation is in full swing, you may even be able to see fleas hopping about on your pet’s fur and skin. Adult fleas are small but, at 1 – 8 mm, they’re visible to the human eye. They are wingless insects with flat bodies that appear black, brown, or dark red. Though they cannot fly, they are fast moving–though you may be able to catch one or two between your fingers to confirm your suspicions, removing them will require a more measured and meticulous approach.

While we generally recommend to speak with your veterinarian about flea preventatives, here’s everything you need to know about removing fleas from your pet:

How do Pets get Fleas?

Pets can pick up fleas pretty much anywhere, but there are places they’re more likely to encounter them. During warm weather, fleas look for cool shady places in backyards, dog parks, and other areas where they can shelter in vegetation. You or your pet can bring home hitchhiking fleas anytime you enter an area where fleas are sheltering.

Many pet owners treat their yards with flea and tick repellent products, but fleas in neighboring yards and parks still pose a risk of exposure. Whether fleas enter your home on your dog’s back or your child’s pant leg, they can spread to other pets in the house and lay eggs that lead to future infestations.

How to Spot the Signs of Fleas on Your pet

Your pet may let you know right away that they’re in pain by scratching and whining, but some animals can mask their discomfort. Thankfully, fleas leave behind some telltale signs that pet owners can use to identify and eradicate fleas before they become a bigger threat to otherwise healthy pets. 

Brushing your dog or cat every week is recommended, and this is a good time to look for signs of fleas, as well. You may see signs of flea bites or, in some cases, even bald spots or raw wounds or scabs. 

“Flea dirt” is sometimes the only evidence of fleas that owners will see. Though the name may suggest otherwise, these black flakes in your pet’s fur are actually flea feces. Using a fine-toothed comb or flea comb can help you remove flea dirt from your pet’s fur. Once you’ve removed a few flakes, you can confirm your suspicions by pressing them against a white piece of paper with your finger. If it’s flea dirt, it will leave behind a reddish smudge.

Fleas on Dogs

Dog fleas symptoms can include: 

  • Scratching
  • Gnawing
  • Hair loss
  • Biting
  • Small, red, pimple-like bumps
  • Matted hair
  • Open wounds or scabs
  • Black flakes on skin and fur
  • Pale gums
  • Restless, irritable, or unusual behavior

You can find fleas anywhere on your dog’s body. Fleas on dogs tend to flock to a few favorite places, including the thick fur around your dog’s neck and near the tail, groin, rear legs, and belly. Bites typically appear as small, red bumps and may appear in clusters or lines. 

If your dog has an allergic reaction to flea saliva, they may scratch with such frequency that they break the skin. Not only does this cause your pup pain, but it can lead to secondary infections that require further treatment. Dogs can also develop anemia or become host to tapeworms as a result of flea infestation.

Fleas on Cats

Cat fleas symptoms include: 

  • Scratching
  • Excessive grooming 
  • Hair loss
  • Avoiding areas in your house
  • Acting agitated or restless
  • Scabs or open wounds
  • Small, red, pimple-like bumps
  • Black flakes on skin or fur
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy

Some pet owners find it’s more difficult to find fleas on cats. When a cat has fleas, you may notice they’re more restless than usual. They may excessively scratch, chew, or lick the same spot on their body, or you might notice them shaking their head and scratching at their ears. 

Cats are fastidious groomers and can groom evidence of fleas out of their coats before you see them. Using a flea comb, you may be able to find flea dirt or fleas themselves, though the absence of either doesn’t mean they aren’t there. If your cat is scratching and you don’t know why, a visit to the vet is in order. 

Left unmanaged, fleas can cause more than just itching. Fleas can lead to anemia and severe hair loss in cats, and may expose your cat to tapeworms or the blood-borne parasite haemobartonellosis. 

How to Remove Fleas From Your pet

Before you invest in flea shampoos or treatments, talk to your veterinarian. If your pet has flea allergy dermatitis (an allergic reaction to fleas), hot spots, open wounds, or other skin irritations, the chemicals in flea treatments and shampoos may cause more irritation. With your vet’s guidance, removing fleas from your pet will include some or all of the following steps: 

  1. Bathe your pet with a vet-approved flea shampoo or with mild soap and water. 
  2. Comb your pet using a fine-toothed flea comb, paying close attention to the areas around the neck and tail where fleas most commonly feed. Flea combs are designed to remove fleas, flea eggs, and flea waste from your pet’s coat. After each pass of the comb, dunk it in hot soapy water to kill the fleas. 
  3. Your vet may recommend a flea treatment product to kill any remaining fleas on your pet. Make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions when applying topical solutions or administering oral treatments, and follow up with a visit to discuss preventative flea treatments. 
  4. Once you’ve eradicated a flea infestation on your pet, stay vigilant looking for future signs of fleas, and continue using the flea comb once a week to look for signs of re-infestation. Follow your vet’s advice to identify the best flea treatment for dogs and cats in your home, and make sure to maintain the regimen unless your vet says otherwise. 

How to Prevent Fleas on Your pet

To prevent future infestations, you need to consider each of the four stages of the flea life cycle: 

  • Eggs: While adult fleas are pestering your pet, they’re also laying eggs. As your dog or cat scratches, shakes, and plays their way through your house and yard, they leave flea eggs in their wake. 
  • Larva: Larvae hatch from the flea eggs left behind in carpets, furniture, blankets, mattresses, pet bedding, and anywhere else they’ve been overlooked. 
  • Pupa: The surviving larvae form cocoons to complete the pupa stage. 
  • Adults: After pupating, new adult fleas emerge from cocoons, ready to re-infest your pets, your home, and even you.  

To prevent flea eggs from hatching in your home and causing another infestation, wash all bedding, blankets, and pet beds in hot, soapy water. Vacuum carpets, furniture, and window treatments, and sweep and mop all hard floors. It can take up to 4 months to completely eradicate a flea infestation, so you’ll need to exercise patience and caution until you’re certain they’re gone. 

Talk to your vet about an appropriate preventative flea treatment for your pet. There are many over-the-counter flea preventative products available, but they are not appropriate for every pet. Cats are particularly sensitive to some of the chemicals commonly used in flea collars, for example. Before considering cat flea collars, talk to your vet about a safer, long-term solution designed with cat health in mind. 

The ingredients in these products can affect each animal differently depending on various factors. Flea medicine for dogs can lead to serious illness or even death when used on a cat, while flea medicine for cats may not provide your dog with the protection they need. The best and safest flea protection for your pet is the one prescribed or recommended by your vet. 

Conclusion

We know that when your pet is uncomfortable, you want to do everything you can to help. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we share the same goal. Our practice provides comprehensive compassionate care with a focus on our patients’ health and well-being. Whether you’re visiting us with healthy pets for their routine check-ups or one who is feeling under-the-weather, our staff is committed to providing the highest level of care while keeping your pet comfortable and safe. 

Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped to provide complete care for large and small animals, including routine exams, diagnostics, sick visits, and surgeries. 

Does your pet need flea treatment or preventative care? Contact us today to schedule a visit for your pet with one of our veterinarians.

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How to Remove Ticks From Your Pet

prevent ticks on your pet

Compared to snakes and scorpions, ticks look like a small threat. To your pets, though, they can pose a serious risk. Ticks are one of the most common parasites found on domestic pets and can lead to a host of problems for you and your furry family members. 

There are hundreds of tick species throughout the world, but only a few dozen live in Arizona. Of those commonly found in the state, four pose the largest concern for pet owners:

Brown Dog Tick: The brown dog tick is approximately ⅛” and reddish-brown when unfed and turns grayish-blue and can grow to ½” after feeding. Unlike most ticks, brown dog ticks can complete their entire life cycle indoors and cause large home infestations. 

Rocky Mountain Wood Tick: The rocky mountain wood tick is brown and approximately ⅛” when unfed, growing to ⅝” and turning grayish after feeding. They are generally found in wooded areas as well as meadows and lawns. 

Western Blacklegged Tick: Though not as common in Arizona as others on this list, the western black-legged tick is found in Hualapai Mountain Park and may spread to other regions as its host population increases. They have tiny red bodies that are difficult to spot.

Soft Ticks:
Unlike the other ticks on this list, soft ticks do not have a hard outer shell. Soft ticks are more fleshy in appearance and generally attach themselves to birds and rodents, Pets and humans can encounter them in secluded cabins or rural homes experiencing rodent infestations.

Ticks on Dogs

Ticks cannot fly or jump. Instead, they engage in “questing,” which means they crawl up into low shrubs and grass to wait for a potential host to brush up against them. Since dogs frequently enter these environments, they become hosts to questing ticks. Tick-borne diseases, including Lyme Disease, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis, present an ongoing threat to dog health. While most tick-borne diseases are transmitted through tick bites, one (Hepatozoonosis) results when a dog eats an infected tick. In Arizona, dogs who ingest an infected brown dog tick may contract Old World Hepatozoonosis. 

Since vaccines are not available for most tick-borne diseases, a preventative tick treatment for dogs is the most appropriate way to guard against infection. Continue to inspect your dog for signs of ticks or tick bites even when your dog is on a veterinarian-approved tick regimen to avoid him bringing hitchhiking ticks into your home.

Ticks on Cats

Cats are susceptible to various tick-borne diseases, including anaplasmosis, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. They can also contract Bobcat Fever (cytauxzoonosis), a potentially fatal illness transmitted by the Lone Star tick that, thankfully, is not currently common in Arizona. 

Even indoor cats can become hosts for ticks and should be checked daily. While you should always examine your cat’s entire body, ticks are most likely to be found on cats in the areas they cannot reach to groom, such as under the collar, in the ears, and on top of the head. 

Before applying any product for preventing ticks to your cat, consult with your veterinarian. Cats are sensitive to many chemicals, including those found in some tick prevention products for dogs. Your vet can help you select a flea and tick prevention regimen to include as part of an overall feline health and wellness plan.

How are Ticks Dangerous to Your Pet?

Tick bites can lead to several health concerns for your pet, including itching, hair loss, allergic reactions, and infections. Ticks can also transmit several diseases to pets and people. 

Like mosquitoes, ticks feed on blood and can transfer pathogens between hosts. Ticks in pets often go unnoticed due to their small size and that they feed in difficult to see places, including within ears and between toes. Once a tick has attached to a host, they may secrete saliva with numbing properties so the host cannot feel them. As a result, ticks can spend several days feeding on a pet without detection. During this time, they can transmit pathogens they encountered in a previous host to its new host through small amounts of saliva. Pets in Arizona are susceptible to several tick-borne diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, Tick-borne Relapsing Fever, and others.

Where to Look for Ticks on Your Pet

While it is common to find ticks on dog paws and ears, ticks can be found anywhere on your pet’s body. Tick nymphs and larvae are frequently found on an animal’s back, while adult ticks tend to seek out warm or sheltered areas of your pet’s body. To complete a thorough inspection, make sure to pay close attention to the following areas: 

  • In and around your pet’s ears
  • Around your pet’s eyelids
  • Around your pet’s tail
  • Under the collar
  • Between the back legs
  • Under the front legs
  • Between the toes

How to Remove a Tick From Your Pet

If you find one or more ticks on your dog or cat, you will need to take care in removing them. Though you may have heard of folk remedies for removing ticks involving matches, petroleum jelly, and other household items, these methods are ineffective at best and can be damaging at worst.

The best way to get a tick off a dog or cat is with sterilized tweezers or a specialty (non-twisting) tick removal tool. 

  1. Take hold of the tick with your tweezers, getting as close to your pet’s skin as possible.
  2. Pull straight up on the tick. Take care not to twist it or squeeze its body, which could cause fluids or parts of the tick to break off and remain in your pet’s skin. 
  3. Clean the bite area with soap and water (with the exception of within the ears or eyelids), then wash your hands thoroughly. Do not allow the tick to come into direct contact with your skin, and be sure to clean and disinfect any surfaces it may have touched. 
  4. Monitor the site of the bite for any signs of rash or infection and schedule an appointment with your vet for an examination.

Remove a tick from your pet

How to Prevent Ticks on Your Pet

There are a number of products, including dips, collars, and topical applications, that provide parasitic prevention for pets. Your vet can help you determine your pet’s risk and choose the best preventative approach based on their knowledge, your pet’s lifestyle, and other factors. Daily tick inspections can also help you find and remove any ticks your pet might encounter inside and outside your home. 

Brown dog ticks present a unique challenge because they can complete their entire life cycle indoors. Of the two years they live, only 2-3 weeks are spent feeding, and they can be hiding high on walls or in cracks the rest of the time. Frequent cleaning of walls, pet bedding, and soft surfaces, such as carpets, curtains, and blankets, can help eliminate them. If infestations grow unchecked, a professional pest control service may be needed.

Get More Information on Removing Ticks

At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we’re committed to providing compassionate, comprehensive care to all of our patients. Our practice incorporates both behavioral health and traditional medicine, and a focus on the health and well-being of the pets we treat informs everything we do.  

We understand your pets are a part of your family, and any visit to the veterinary clinic can be scary for both of you. Our experienced staff shares a commitment to ensuring excellent care and service that promotes your pet’s health and comfort and keeps you informed and engaged in all options and decisions. Our state-of-the-art facility is designed to provide complete head-to-tail care for large and small animals, including routine exams for healthy pets, sick visits, diagnostics, and surgery.   

Do you need to find the right tick prevention protocol for your cat or dog? Contact us today to schedule a visit with one of our veterinarians.

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How to Prevent Heartworm in Your Pets

Heartworm prevention healthy pet

Heartworm is a highly serious disease of dogs and cats that results in damage to vital organs, including the heart and lungs. In severe cases, it can cause irreparable damage or even death to your beloved pet. Part of our role as your local family veterinarian is to open the conversation about ways to help your furry family members live happy, healthy, pain-free lives for as long as possible. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we believe in the importance of year-round heartworm prevention that can be easily incorporated into your pet’s health plan. So, here is everything you need to know about how to prevent heartworm in your pets!

What Causes Heartworm Disease in Your Animal?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is spread through a mosquito bite. Mosquitos are known as an “intermediate host,” meaning that the worms live inside the mosquito for a short period of time as larvae but must be transferred to another host to become infective. When the infected mosquito bites your pet, it transfers the heartworm larvae into your pet’s bloodstream. Cats and dogs then act as a “definitive host,” which means the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside your pet. It takes about 6 to 7 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms in dogs after the transfer from the mosquito. These parasites are called “heartworms” because once they mature into adults, they then live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected pet, causing significant damage to those vital organs. The adult heartworm can life inside a dog for 5 to 7 years, while only 2 to 4 years in a cat. Adult look like cooked spaghetti, with adult males ranging from 4-6 inches in length and females 10-12 inches. The number of adult heartworms that can live inside your dog range from 1 to 250 worms and is known as the worm burden. Heartworms in cats is not as common but it does happen. Due to their smaller body size, heartworms in cats often have significantly smaller worm burdens, but this also means that a cat with only a few worms is considered to have a heavy infection.

How is Your Pet Tested for Heartworms?

Veterinarians can test for heartworms in dogs and cats through a blood test. One is called an antigen test because it tests for the presence of specific heartworm proteins which are released by adult female heartworms into your pet’s bloodstream. This test will detect antigens as early as 5 to 6 months after your pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. We can also perform an antibody test, which will be positive if your dog or cat has had a previous heartworm infestation or if they are infected with only male heartworms. Antibodies can be detected approximately 6 to 8 months after infection. The final blood test detects microfilaria in a pet’s bloodstream. Microfilaria are the initial stages of young heartworm parasites, with the earliest detection being 6 months after initial infection.

What are the Signs of Heartworm Disease in Your Pets?

The severity of this disease is related to how many heartworms are living inside of your pet, how long your pet has been infected, and how your pet is processing the infection. Early on, your dog or cat may not show any symptoms at all. The longer the infection persists untreated, the more severe the symptoms will become. 

Here are the signs and symptoms for heartworms in dogs:

  • Persistent cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Heart failure 
  • Fluid filled abdomen
  • Caval Syndrome – sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, dark or bloody colored urine.
  • Death

As the severity of the heartworm disease increases over time, heart and lung changes can be visibly seen on chest radiographs. When a dog has not been treated for heartworm and it progresses to caval syndrome, surgery becomes the only option to potentially save your pet’s life. With caval syndrome, the worm burden is so high that they block the flow of blood back into the heart so they must be surgically removed. By this point the damage to your dog’s internal organs are so severe, the surgical procedure becomes high risk to your pet.  

Heartworm disease in cats are not as common as they do not thrive as well inside a cat’s body as they do in dogs. With cats, the onset of the signs of a heartworm infection can be subtle or dramatic. Here are the signs and symptoms for heartworms in cats:

  • Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fainting or seizures
  • Fluid filled abdomen
  • Sudden collapse or death

When Should Your Animal Be Tested for Heartworms?

As with humans, preventative medicine for your pets is always your best course of action in the prevention of many diseases, including heartworm disease. Heartworm prevention should begin with routine blood testing at your pet’s annual physical examination with your veterinarian. Catching any disease early has the best prognosis and is less likely to be a large expense for you as a pet owner. As a veterinary wellness clinic, we also recommend several FDA-approved topical and oral products for heartworm prevention for dogs and cats. All of these are to be administered to your pet monthly year-round for heartworm prevention and do require a prescription from your veterinarian. 

You may be wondering what happens if your pet does test positive for heartworms. Heartworm treatment depends on many factors and it is best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of you and your pet. Some of the treatment options include oral medications, a course of injections, blood tests, x-rays, hospitalization, and even surgery.  Heartworm disease is highly serious so it is important to know upfront that heartworm treatment is expensive and can cause life threatening complications.  As previously stated, the best medicine is heartworm prevention.

Get More Information on Heartworm Disease in Flagstaff, Arizona

If you live in Coconino County and are looking for a comprehensive pet wellness center, Continental Animal Wellness Center is your go-to veterinary clinic. We understand that bringing your pet to the clinic can be scary, especially when you know they are sick but do not know why. At CAWC, we are committed to providing the best care possible to your pet while also keeping you informed and involved in your pet’s health so you can make an educated decision with your veterinarian. From routine preventative care, to sick pet exams, to diagnostics and surgery, we are the local choice for comprehensive pet wellness in Flagstaff, AZ. Contact us today to schedule a heartworm prevention exam with one of our veterinarians.

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Flagstaff, Arizona’s Animal Wellness Center

Group Photo of all the clinic staff

Your pet’s health and wellbeing is our number one priority. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we are proud to be Flagstaff’s Animal Wellness Center. We serve both large and small animals – ranging from dogs and cats, all the way up to horses, goats, sheep, and more! We are here for the life of your pet, starting with that initial visit when they are young or new to your family, to the crucial senior wellness exams to keep them a healthy and active member of your family. In addition to routine preventative care and sick or injured exams (including emergencies), we are also Flagstaff’s go-to facility for other modalities, such as surgery, radiology, and oncology. Our experienced veterinarians and staff are here to support you and your pet, for the life of your furry family member!

Routine Preventative Care in Flagstaff, AZ

Just like humans need a general physician and routine yearly preventative checkup, our pets need a veterinarian and a yearly physical exam too. As soon as a new animal joins your family, you will need to schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians to assess your pet’s current health and design a wellness plan. Our wellness plan will be tailored to your needs as a family, focusing on the health and wellbeing of your animal. We strongly believe in the importance of preventative care for pets because it promotes early diagnosis and treatment of conditions or diseases, which will ultimately help avoid or reduce your pet’s suffering and pain, enhance their quality of life, and extend their life expectancy. Your pet’s wellness plan may include:

  • Annual Physical Exams with Routine Blood Work
  • Vaccination Schedule 
  • Dental Care Advice and Procedures
  • Nutrition Advice or Protocols 
  • Exercise Advice 
  • Behavioral Training Advice
  • Parasite Testing and Treatment
  • And More! 

Wellness and Sick Exams in Flagstaff, AZ

There is nothing more stressful for a pet parent than watching your beloved pet suffer through an illness. Animals cannot talk to you and tell you what is wrong, so you need a trusted veterinarian to help diagnose and treat your family member. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, our skilled veterinarians have the expertise to help treat many illnesses that your pet may face in order to get your pet back to health as soon as possible. What happens during a sick pet exam? It depends on what symptoms your pet is displaying and what our veterinarians discover during the physical examination. Our veterinarian will ask you questions about your pet’s health history and current illness symptoms, and also examine your pets’ overall body condition to include:

  • Eyes, Ears, Nose
  • Mouth and Digestive System
  • Nervous System
  • Lymph Nodes
  • Heart and Circulatory System
  • Respiratory system
  • Abdomen 
  • Skin and Coat
  • Joints, Bones, and Muscles 
  • Urinary and Reproductive System

Bloodwork, imaging, and other testing may be recommended by your veterinarian, depending on the initial physical examination and their discussion with you as the pet owner.

Behavior Consultations in Flagstaff, AZ

As a comprehensive pet wellness center, another service we offer is pet behavioral consultations.  We specialize in behavior issues such as:

  • Aggression: towards other dogs, pets, children etc. 
  • Fear: phobias including thunderstorms and general anxieties.
  • Inappropriate elimination: house soiling, marking, submissive/excitement urination.
  • Separation anxiety
  • Compulsive and repetitive behaviors: circling, tail chasing, excessive grooming, excessive barking, etc.
  • Senior disorders: nocturnal restlessness, cognitive dysfunction, and other anxieties
  • Preventative behavior issues: fear, anxieties, or aggression when introducing new pets or family members such as children.

 

Depending on our veterinarians’ assessment and your goals as the pet owner, we may offer suggestions for supplemental or pharmaceutical therapy, or recommend behavior modification with local Flagstaff trainers. 

Surgery in Flagstaff, AZ

We offer many different surgical options for pets, but the one surgical procedure we recommend to all dog and cat owners is to spay or neuter your pet. Spaying or neutering your pet helps control the pet homelessness crisis which results in many healthy dogs and cats being euthanized each year because there simply are not enough homes for them. Additionally, there are medical and behavioral benefits to spaying or neutering, including cancer prevention, especially mammary cancer in females, and prevention of roaming away from your home in search for a mate or undesirable territorial behaviors. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, our veterinarians are experienced in spaying and neutering small animals of all sizes and ages. We understand that no surgical procedure is minor from a pet owner’s perspective, but it is a routine procedure for us at Continental Animal Wellness Center, and we are here to answer any questions you may have. 

Orthopedic Surgery in Flagstaff, AZ

Hopefully your pet will never need surgery other than being spayed or neutered, but as with human beings, life happens and sometimes your pet will need other surgical procedures, including orthopedic surgery.  At our facility, we have a surgical suite for soft tissue and orthopedic surgeries that is equipped with both a CO2 surgical laser to minimize surgical bleeding and decrease pain. We also have cold laser therapy to aid in the healing of surgical incisions by decreasing inflammation and increasing blood flow to the surgical site. Our veterinarians have experience in a wide range of soft tissue and orthopedic procedures, so your pet will be in good hands.

Digital Radiology and Ultrasonography in Flagstaff, AZ

At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we offer digital radiology and ultrasonography services. Digital radiographs can give us information on bone and joint disease, abdominal organ size and displacement, and heart/lung evaluation. We also perform full-mouth dental radiographs when your pet is undergoing a dental cleaning in order to evaluate the health of your pet’s teeth at the root level. We offer ultrasonography to further evaluate abdominal organ architecture if your pet is exhibiting organ disease. We have a relationship with a board certified radiologist who can interpret our radiographs and provide valuable insight for the care of your pet. Let us know if you suspect your pet might need our radiology or ultrasonography services and we would be happy to help you! 

Oncology Care in Flagstaff, AZ

Learning that your pet is suffering from cancer can be very scary for you as the owner of your beloved friend. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we offer oncology consultations and evaluations in order to suggest the best therapy for your pet by providing information about your options and assisting you in choosing the right treatment protocol for your family member. We are here to answer any questions you have about cancer in your pet and what to expect during and after treatments. 

Diagnostics in Flagstaff, AZ

As part of an illness or injury exam, your veterinarian may order diagnostics testing, including fecal analysis, bloodwork, and urinalysis. We offer bloodwork diagnostics in our clinic laboratory, as well as sending samples to an outside reference laboratory. Used in conjunction with our radiology and ultrasonography services, we can get a better understanding of what may be causing your pet’s illness or injury and create a wellness plan to get them back to optimum health. 

End of Life

The most dreaded and heartbreaking time for a pet owner is when faced with end of life decisions for their pet. We want our pets to live forever, but we also don’t want them to suffer. End of life services are tough for everyone, including our veterinarians and staff, but it is a service we offer to help support you and your pet during the most difficult, painful, and tragic time. At Continental Animal Wellness Center, we offer caring and compassionate relief either in our office or in the privacy and comfort of your home. 

Questions? Contact Us To Learn More!

Have you been searching for a “pet wellness clinic near me”? Look no further than Continental Animal Wellness Center. We are Flagstaff, Arizona’s go-to veterinary wellness center. We do it all! From that initial health visit when you first bring home your new companion, to routine annual checkups, surgeries, and more!  We are a family-oriented veterinary clinic and would love to welcome you and your new pet into our family. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced and caring veterinarians. We have a host of online client forms and information on how to prepare yourself and your pet for your appointment or medical procedure here, which may answer some of your frequently asked questions. You are always welcome to call or email us and we will happily answer any questions you have!

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How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection to Your Dog or Cat

Subcutaneous fluid administration involves injecting fluids into the space under the skin (subcutaneous tissue) so it can be absorbed slowly into the body. While you may be nervous to administer sub Q fluids at first, we’re here to demonstrate how to give a subcutaneous injection to your dog or cat at home.

Hey everyone. It’s Kayla from Continental Animal Wellness Center. I’m here today to show you how to administer subcutaneous fluids (sub Q fluids) at home.

Step 1: Measure the Fluids

So, first off we have our fluid bag that contain, so I’ve already pre-marked it just so I know how many I’m giving so I can give the recommended amount. It already has a line in here, and I did bleed the line. What that means is that you open everything up here and you let the water run completely out so that there’s no bubbles or air into your line.

Step 2: Giving the Subcutaneous Injection to Your Dog or Cat

All right. And here I have Riley. He’s going to be our test subject today. So basically what I’m going to do here is I’m going to uncap this needle, and then when I start, I’m actually going to go over here to Riley. And I’m going to go ahead, and while keeping this needle completely sterile, I’m going to go ahead and grab just a chunk of his fur right on the back here. And you kind of can’t see because he’s pretty fluffy, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to make a little triangle here with my hands, right. And then right at the base of that triangle there, you’re just going to give him a poke.

You make sure that needle is in by just pinching that, you just want it to be under the skin, not through the other side. And from there, you’ll go ahead and lift your bag all the way up. Making sure that needle stays in, go ahead and open everything in your line completely. Go ahead and open this up. And by opening this up, you just roll that up this way. That is all the way up now. This is open. It’ll go up ahead and you’ll go ahead and just squeeze that bag, and you’ll see that nice even streaming there. That means that that is flowing. So you want to make sure you’re doing that.

While you are squeezing the bag, you want to go ahead and check your needle and make sure that there’s no fluids coming out anywhere else. If there are fluids coming up then your needle has been either poked all the way through or has come out. You’re going ahead and just squeezing that bag until they get the recommended dosage.

Step 3: Removing the Needle

As soon as they have gotten the recommended dosage, you’re going to go ahead and close that back off. Roll that all the way down, all while leaving the needle in so that you don’t spray yourself with any of the fluids. Then when you go ahead and pull that needle out, you’ll go ahead and put your finger just right over that, to make sure that it doesn’t bleed all the fluids out of there. And then any blood or fluids that you see just dribbling out is not to be unexpected. That is completely normal.

There usually will be a larger bump right here too when you’re done. That’s just the fluids under the skin. They will disperse over time, and that’s how they are absorbed and administered. And other than that, go ahead and cap your needle and you’re all finished.

 

Keep your pet healthy!

We hope you enjoyed the video and feel more confident when giving a subcutaneous injection to your dog or cat, from the comfort of your home. If you have questions, call us or schedule an appointment for your furry friend. Our team at Continental Animal Wellness Center is here to help keep your pet healthy!

To learn more, check out our second video blog about Sub Q injectsions!

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How Do You Give a Dog a Sub Q Injection?

After your dog’s health appointment at Continental Animal Wellness Center, you may find yourself in the position of having to give your dog a Sub Q injection at home. While you may be nervous at first, we’re here to show you how to administer subcuntaneous (Sub Q) fluids at home – and it’s easier than you may think!

 

Hey everyone. It’s Kayla from Continental Animal Wellness Center. And today, I’m going to be showing you how to do a sub Q injection at home.

How to Do a Sub Q Injection at Home

First, we have our needle and syringe, and we want to make sure that our needle always stays sterile. So we go ahead and take that off. You don’t want it to touch anything until we get to whatever we are injecting that day. So we’ll poke there, draw up whatever amount we need. I will go ahead and just draw up 1.5 for now, so right at that meniscus line. Pull that out. Go ahead and cap our needle. And now we are ready to give our injection.

And with that injection we just pulled up. We’re going to go ahead and uncap that. And with that needle sterile, we’re going to go ahead and pull up on his skin. See I’m making a triangle right here with that. We want to poke at the base of the triangle. So we’ll take that, poke right at the base there, and then you want to make sure that the needle is in. You can kind of feel it under the skin and not through the other side. And then we’re going to go ahead and draw back just a little bit, make sure that there’s no flash of blood in there. And then you can go ahead and give your sub Q injection, pull that out. And then after that, you’ll go ahead and recap and dispose of that needle.

Contact us with questions about your pet’s health!

Our team at Continental Animal Wellness Center is here to keep Flagstaff pets healthy! If you have questions about administering Sub Q fluids at home, contact us!

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How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears may seem daunting if you don’t know where to start, but with a dog ear cleaner, a handy helper, and a tasty treat nearby, we know you can do it! If your dog loves rolling around in the mud during Flagstaff’s rainy season, dives right into in Lake Mary, or just loves that fresh and clean feeling that comes with an ear cleaning, we’re here to help! With a few simple steps, you can keep your canine’s ears healthy and clean. If you’re a cat lover instead, follow these steps along with your feline friend!

And today we’re going to show you how to clean your dog’s ears.

This is Tilly and she spends a lot of time outside in the dirt, and so she’s here for a maintenance cleaning.

What type of pet ear cleaner should I use?

We recommend using this MalAcetic Otic Cleanser when you clean your dog’s ears because it has evaporative properties. Unlike water, if any excess liquid is stuck in the ear, it will evaporate and prevent ear infections. This ear cleaning solution is also all natural and hypoallergenic, so it’s a great choice for most pets.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

Okay, so now we’re just going to pour some liquid into her ear there, and it’s important to massage the ear cartilage so that all of the ear cleaner can get in the ear. We’ll do that for about 30 seconds.

Quick Tip: Have a second hand to help you in this process!

Now we recommend cleaning her ear with either cotton balls or gauze pads. We don’t recommend Q-tips because her eardrum is right around the corner of her ear and it’s very sensitive, so we don’t want to get it. Now we’ll just go in here and clean it out there and get all that dirt out, as well as the excess ear cleaner. It’s important that you never want to go further into the ear then your hand can go, and we just wipe it out; and one ear’s done.

All right, now we will repeat on Tilly’s next ear.

Now Tilly is feeling nice and refreshed. Some important things to know before cleaning your pet’s ears are, if you have any suspicion of a foxtail or infection in the ear, it’s important to bring them in to see us first. Also, if they have a head tilt or develop a head tilt after an ear cleaning, it’s also important to bring them in to see us. Maintenance cleaning should be no more than once a week.

And also, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or contact us to learn more about cleaning your dog’s ears!

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Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Hi everyone, Morgan here at Continental Animal Wellness Center. And this is Delilah. Today we’re going to show you how to brush your dog’s teeth. Brushing your dog’s teeth is an important step in preventing dental disease and other complications, and it’s probably easier than you think!

Dog Dental Cleaning Can Prevent Dental Disease

Dental disease is a real thing that can occur in your pet’s mouth and brushing their teeth can help keep their gums healthy and prevent this.

Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Your Dog or Cat

Choose an enzymatic toothpaste for your pet:

It is important that you get an enzymatic toothpaste. The enzymes in this toothpaste target plaque, and does not have to be rinsed.

Don’t use your own toothpaste because human toothpaste has fluoride and other detergents that cannot be swallowed by our pets. Also, do not use baking soda or salt because these are high in alkaline content, and if swallowed, it can upset the acid balance in your pet’s stomach.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth is easier than you think!

For first time brushers, put a bit of toothpaste on your finger and invite your pet to lick at and then slowly try and get it on their gum line and their teeth around.

Once they’re used to this, then you can use a toothbrush and brush their teeth in a circular motion, getting their teeth and their gums all the way back in their mouth.

How often should I brush my dog’s teeth?

For best results, brush your pet’s teeth three to four times a week.

Schedule Your Pet’s Annual Dental Appointment

We also recommend getting your pet a yearly dental to see Dr. Bruchman or Dr. Dobbin so they can take a closer look at your pet’s mouth and up underneath that gum line.

Contact us to schedule your pet’s dental appointment (and check out this Dental Package for a special deal!)