5 Tips for Better Walks With Your Dog

5 Tips for Better Walks With Your Dog

April is Canine Fitness Month, and we’re using the opportunity to emphasize the importance of exercise for dogs while also providing our clients with some advice to make it easier to help their dogs get enough exercise on a daily basis.
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Why Exercise Is Important for Dogs

Dogs need regular exercise to keep their bodies and their minds healthy. Without enough exercise, they risk becoming overweight which can cause a variety of serious health problems. They also risk developing joint problems. Additionally, dogs needs exercise to stay mentally fit. Regular movement and play keep your dog’s mind busy, enriching their daily lives and slowing the aging process. Without enough exercise, dogs often become depressed and anxious, and they burn energy by acting out aggressively or destructively.
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5 Tips for Better Walks With Your Dog

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1. Don't Pull Back on the Leash

Dogs have an opposition reflex which results in them naturally pulling back on the leash if a human pulls on it to slow them down. Instead of pulling when they pull, try changing directions and rewarding your dog with a treat when they follow. Eventually, your dog will learn to walk with a loose leash and get used to your slower pace.

2. Bring Plastic Bags

Come prepared to clean up after your dog with a pocket of plastic bags.

3. Get a Dog-Walking Harness

If your dog still pulls a lot, do not attach a leash to their collar. Instead, fit them with a harness that has leash attachments on the back and/or chest area. This will be much safer for your dog and prevent them from injuring their neck (and the delicate parts inside it) while pulling on the leash.

4. Let Them Sniff and Explore

Dogs’ noses are incredibly sensitive, and smell is one of the most important ways they explore the world. To ensure they feel enriched on their walk, let them stop to sniff new smells and even follow a scent trail.

5. Visit Dog-Friendly Locations

If you plan to go further than once around the block with your dog, then be sure to research hiking trails and footpaths first to ensure dogs are allowed.
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Lifestyle and Nutrition Counseling With Our Woodland Park Veterinarian

To learn more about the importance of exercise for your dog and how to create a healthy daily routine for your pet, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian at Compassion Animal Hospital in Woodland Park.

Your Essential Guide to Bringing Home a Pet

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Your Essential Guide to Bringing Home a Pet

Getting a pet is an exciting experience, but many people don’t fully appreciate the gravity of the situation. Even if you’re bringing home a relatively stationary pet (i.e., a fish or turtle), it takes a lot more time, effort, and money than you might realize. So, it’s imperative to prepare yourself and your home as much as possible before bringing your new friend to live with you. Here are our top tips for what to do before bringing home a pet.

Step One: Buy Pet Products

First and foremost, you need to have all the essentials ready to go for your pet once it arrives. For dogs and cats, these items can include collars, leashes, food and water bowls, and beds. While you might be tempted to go overboard with “fun” products like toys, it’s best to wait and see how your pet reacts. Many pet owners have bought supplies and toys that wound up going to waste. Overall, start with the basics and work your way up from there.
In addition to these products, don’t forget about pet food. Aim to have at least a month’s supply on hand so that you’re not at risk of running out too soon.

Step Two: Pet-Proof the House

If you’re bringing home a dog, cat, or some other animal that will roam free, you need to make sure it won’t cause damage or harm itself in the process. For example, dogs love to chew on things, particularly when they’re bored or stressed out (i.e., when left home alone for extended periods). Likewise, cats like to scratch surfaces to keep their claws from getting too long.
Ideally, you should do your homework to discover what specific pet-proofing needs to be done. Also, consider elements like baby gates, child-proof locks on chemicals, and a crate in which to put your pet when you’re gone.

Step Three: Consider Your New Pet's Needs

Dogs are often the most high-maintenance pets because they require constant care and attention. However, cats can also need lots of effort, including playtime and scratch prevention.
Another point to consider is your living arrangements. For example, if you live in an apartment building, how easy is it to take your dog outside to do its business? Can you utilize pee pads or fake grass to your advantage? Do some research and see how your situation can impact your new pet’s needs.

Care for Your Pet With Compassion Animal Hospital

Another essential component of bringing home a new pet is knowing where to take it for checkups and emergency services. Compassion Animal Hospital is there for you, no matter your pet or its needs. Contact us today to find out more.

Why My Pet Should Get Neutered or Spayed

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When you get a new pet, it’s imperative to get it checked out by your vet. If your new furry friend is young, your vet will likely recommend spaying or neutering the animal. However, some pet owners may not understand why it’s necessary. Since this procedure is relatively expensive, some owners opt out.
Unfortunately, quite a few issues can stem from not spaying or neutering your pet. Let’s break them down:

Better Temperament

Animals have a strong desire to procreate, which is why female dogs and cats go “in heat” twice per year. During this period, the female tries to get impregnated, and their hormones are all out of whack. For males, the desire to mate is strong, leading to temperament issues, such as aggression or friskiness. So, spaying or neutering removes this drive and makes your pet much more agreeable.
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Better Health

Unfortunately, reproductive organs are prone to diseases and congenital conditions. Cancer is relatively common in both males and females. So, the longer your pet lives, the more likely it’ll develop one of these issues. Removing these organs ensures that your pet can live longer and maintain a much healthier and more full life.

Better Companionship

Pets form bonds not only with their owners but other animals in their vicinity. If you don’t spay or neuter your pet, you might notice more fighting, biting, and aggressive behaviors. These problems can only worsen if you have multiple pets within the same household. Overall, you can keep a much calmer and friendlier atmosphere by ensuring all your pets are spayed or neutered.
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Reduced Chance of Unwanted Pets

Realistically, the only reason to keep your pet’s reproductive organs is if you’re trying to breed it. If you have a female cat or dog, there’s a greater chance of her getting pregnant if she isn’t spayed. For males, there’s the possibility of your pet impregnating other animals, both domesticated and feral. Either way, unwanted pets can crowd shelters and sometimes, they’ll get put down. It’s best to avoid the whole situation altogether.

Get Your Pet Spayed or Neutered at Compassion Animal Hospital

Don’t risk your pet’s health! We offer comprehensive spaying and neutering practices that will keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Contact us to see what we can do for your companion.
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5 Ways to Keep Your Pet Safe During Winter

While we love getting outside and playing in a winter wonderland on milder days, as we all know, winter presents safety hazards for everyone, including our pets. To make sure we all get to enjoy the colder season and all the fun snowy days can bring, be sure to keep the following safety tips in mind for your pets.
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5 Winter Safety Tips for Pets

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1. If It's Too Cold for You, It's Too Cold for Them

Many people assume that since their pets are covered in fur, they can tolerate cold weather better than people. This, however, isn’t usually the case, as temperature tolerance is largely dependent on your pet’s breed, weight, and also the temperature range that they’re used to.
If it’s too cold outside for you, then it’s too cold for your pets, and they should be brought inside. If your pet has a warm shelter outdoors, make sure that their bedding and shelter stay dry.

2. Remember That Water Freezes

Be sure your pet always has access to fresh, unfrozen water when they’re outdoors with a heated water dish.

3. Wash and Dry Paws After Playing Outside

Winter means ice, and ice means lots of isomalt and salt on the sidewalks. These chemicals are toxic and dangerous for our pets who can end up licking them off of their paws after playing outdoors. Be sure to wash and dry your pet’s paws when you come inside from the frozen outdoors.

4. Remember to Dry Off

When your pet romps around in the snow, they can wind up getting wet. This not only puts them at risk of getting too cold but it can also dry out their skin, leading to itchiness and coat problems. Keep a towel handle for drying off after walks.

5. Try Booties and/or Paw Balm

The cold, dry weather of winter can irritate your pet’s paws and even leave them calloused, cracked, and bleeding. We recommend training your dog to wear dog socks or booties. However, if they won’t tolerate walking in these, then try adding a bit of soothing moisture by applying a pet-safe paw balm to their paw pads every day.

Schedule a Winter Checkup for Your Pets in Woodland Park

For more winter safety tips and health and wellness for life, remember to schedule your pet’s annual or biannual checkup with Dr. Cooper at Compassion Animal Hospital. Regular wellness and preventative care appointments are essential to your pet’s health and happiness.

How to Tell if Your Pet Has Allergies

Our pets can suffer from allergies just like people. When the immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance (an allergen) as a threat and attacks it, this causes the symptoms we associate with allergies.
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How to Tell If Your Pet Has Allergies: Signs and Symptoms

Pets sometimes get allergy symptoms that look similar to a person’s – i.e. runny nose, itchy, red, and watery eyes, nasal congestion, and sneezing.
However, most commonly, allergies in pets cause symptoms that differ from the symptoms of allergies in humans. These common symptoms of allergies in pets include:

Types of Allergies in Pets

Different types of allergies affect pets, and the treatment or lifestyle adjustments needed to address the allergies differ depending on what’s affecting your pet.
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Environmental Allergies

Some pets suffer from allergies to allergens in the environment such as pollen, dust, mold, smoke, or perfume.

Flea Allergies

Pets are commonly allergic to the saliva of fleas. If your pet has fleas, a simple medicated bath and parasite preventative can help.

Food Allergies

Pets also can be allergic to certain proteins or other ingredients in their food. An elimination diet can help determine the ingredient that’s affecting your pet and feeding your pet a special pet food formulated for allergies in the future can help.

Acute Allergies

Acute allergies are fairly rare and include those that induce a more serious allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock. This reaction might include a rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing and requires immediate emergency veterinary attention.
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Pet Allergy Treatment With Our Woodland Park Veterinarian

If you’ve noticed any of the above signs or symptoms of allergies in your pet, we strongly encourage you to schedule an examination with Dr. Cooper at Compassion Animal Hospital. Dr. Cooper can talk with you about your pet’s symptoms, environment, and diet while performing a thorough physical examination.
After determining the underlying cause of your pet’s allergy symptoms, we’ll work with you to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. There are a variety of treatments available for pets with allergies including both strategies to relieve symptoms and help address allergies at their root cause.
To learn more about pet allergies or to schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact Compassion Animal Hospital today.

Fun Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Cats

Fun Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Cats

Quirky, derpy, snuggly, aloof, playful, lazy, fuzzy, and frisky are all words that are often used to describe one of mankind’s favorite pets, Felis catus, the domestic cat. While each cat is wildly different with its own personality and unique features, these animals are a delight to live with and a wonder to care for.
So, to get to know your resident enigma a little better, here are a few fun facts about cats that you probably never knew!
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10 Fun Facts About Cat

1. Carnivores through and through, cats’ taste buds cannot taste sweetness.
2. Other than kittens trying to get attention from their mothers, cats usually only meow at humans and not at each other.
3. Purring has healing powers for both cats and people. Their purrs vibrate at frequencies between 25 and 150 Hz, which creates ideal conditions for stimulating bone and muscle growth and repair.
4. Despite popular belief, cats are actually lactose intolerant and should not be fed any dairy. No more bowls of cow’s milk for those kittens!
5. Cats spend about 15% of the day grooming, 70% sleeping, and the remaining 15% on eating and antics.
6. A cat’s ears can move independently of each other and rotate 180-degrees, making them better able to hear the rustle of a pack of treats or catnip blowing in the wind.
7. On average, a cat’s hearing is at least five times sharper than most human adults’ hearing.
8. A group of cats is most commonly called a clowder, but it can also be referred to as a cluster, clutter, or glaring.
9. When your cat “boops” you, rubbing its head against you, this is not only a sign of affection but also a way for your cat to mark you as its territory.
10. When your cat gazes at you, blinking slowly, this is a sign of trust and affection.
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Unravel Even More Feline Fun With Our Woodland Park Veterinarian

If you’re a lover of cats, and have one or a few of your own at home, then we encourage you to establish veterinary care at Compassion Animal Hospital in Woodland Park. Our veterinarian, Dr. Cooper, loves caring for felines of all ages by providing personalized care to each unique patient.
To learn more about caring for your cats or to schedule your cat’s next veterinary exam, we welcome you to contact our office today.

How to Stop Your Cat From Scratching the Furniture

How to Stop Your Cat From Scratching the Furniture

Pets can be fairly destructive in our homes, and cats scratch for a variety of instinctive reasons like maintaining healthy claws, helping them stretch, marking their territory, and just because it seems to feel good.
However, you don’t have to live with clawed up, scratched, and torn furniture just because you love cats. There are some ways that you can help discourage your cat from destroying your nice things, without putting them in pain or at risk by having them declawed.
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6 Tips to Keep Your Cat From Scratching Your Furniture

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1. Provide Better Alternatives

Cats are going to scratch. Period. So, to discourage them from ruining your furniture, provide them with more attractive alternatives that are actually made for scratching. Add a few scratching posts to different areas of your home where your cat tends to scratch. Be sure to provide posts that offer different textures (sisal rope, carpet, cardboard, or turf) and differently angled surfaces.

2. Try Cat Scratch Tape or Spray

Special double-sided tape that sticks to furniture or specially scented sprays can discourage your cat from scratching treated furniture.

3. Homemade Deterrents

You can also try to deter your cat from scratching the furniture by hanging aluminum foil from the backs of your sofa or chairs.

4. Vinyl Guards

You can also purchase specially designed vinyl guards that are designed specifically to protect the corners of your furniture from kitty claws.

5. Nail Caps and Mittens

If your cat still hasn’t given up on the furniture, then we recommend trying nail caps or socks/mittens for your cat. Nail caps are small, plastic covers that fit over your cat’s claws, preventing them from scratching. Mittens or socks are just what they sound like, cloth covers that fit over your cat’s paws to prevent them from scratching.

6. Trim Your Cat's Nails

One of the reasons cats scratch is to maintain the health and length of their claws. If you keep them trimmed regularly, their paws will stay comfortable, and they won’t feel as compelled to scratch as before.
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Feline Lifestyle Enrichment Advice From Our Woodland Park Veterinarian

At Compassion Animal Hospital in Woodland Park, we want to help all of our patients live their best animal lives, and this means providing our clients education on the proper ways to enrich their pets’ environments and daily lives. To learn more about discouraging your cat from scratching and addressing other potential behavior problems, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with our veterinarian today.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Paws?

It’s normal for all dogs to lick their paws from time to time, as a part of their regular self-grooming routine. If yours, however, always seems to be licking or biting at its paws, it could be an indication of something deeper going on, and our veterinarian at Compassion Animal Hospital in Woodland Park can help you get to the bottom of it. The following are some of the more common reasons why some dogs lick their paws excessively.
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6 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Be Licking Its Paws

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1. Food Allergies

Dogs can be allergic to different ingredients in their food, and one of the symptoms of allergies in pets is itchy inflamed skin and paws. If your dog’s licking its paws, and they appear red or swollen, allergies could be the cause.

2. Skin Irritation

Sometimes dry weather, hot pavement, or icy sidewalks can irritate the skin on your pet’s paws. You can soothe them with a dog-safe paw balm or consider protecting your dog’s paws with booties.

3. Musculoskeletal Pain

When a dog experiences persistent pain or discomfort, they instinctively lick, chew, or bite at the location of the pain. Excessive licking can indicate arthritis or an injury affecting the area.

4. Parasites

As your dog goes out exploring the world, they can easily pick up parasites like fleas and ticks on their paws, and the parasites can easily hide between your dog’s toes. Be sure to thoroughly check your pet for parasites after playing outdoors and always use a parasite preventative medication.
Our veterinarian can help you choose one that will be safe and effective for all the residents of your household.

5. Foxtails

Foxtails are barbed seeds from foxtail plants that pose a safety concern to dogs. Dogs can get these stuck in their fur, where they then work their way into the skin of the paw, causing pain, irritation, and even infection.

6. Anxiety or Boredom

Sometimes, bored or anxious pets will groom and lick themselves excessively. Try adding more exercise and enrichment to your pet’s day.
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Relief for Your Dog's Itching in Woodland Park

If your dog has been working on its paws more than usual or exhibiting any other unusual behavior or symptoms, we recommend scheduling a checkup with our veterinarian at Compassion Animal Hospital. We can take a look at your dog’s paws, talk with you about your dog’s lifestyle and other signs or symptoms you might have noticed, and work with you to determine and treat the underlying cause.

Choosing Healthy Food for Your Pets

Choosing Healthy Food for Your Pets

A healthy body starts with a balanced diet and good nutrition. In fact, many health conditions in pets can be addressed and improved with dietary adjustments.
Choosing food for your dog or cat, however, isn’t always as simple as choosing healthy food for yourself. Dogs and cats have different digestive systems and body chemistry than humans do, so a healthy diet for a pet doesn’t look exactly like our own.
Thankfully, there are lots of great pet food formulations available ready-to-go, complete with all the calories and nutrition your pet needs.
We recommend selecting pet food for your pet based on your dog’s or cat’s specific lifestyle, health, weight, age, size, and medical history. The following pet food brands, however, are a good place to start:
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Top-Recommended Dog Food Brands

Top-Recommended Cat Food Brands

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Raiding the Pantry for Your Pet

There are a variety of human foods that make good snacks or treats for your pets, too!
Good snacks for dogs include plain, boiled chicken, rice, chopped carrots and green beans, unsalted and unsweetened peanut butter with no xylitol, watermelon (with the seeds and rind removed), blueberries, plain popcorn (no unpopped kernels), and bananas in moderation.
Cats can enjoy a snack of tuna, mackerel, chicken, or beef – be sure to avoid overly salty meats to prevent dehydration and salt poisoning. They can also enjoy cheese, bananas, and pumpkin.
Just be careful when feeding your pet human foods to be sure it doesn’t contain ingredients toxic to dogs or cats. Since their digestive systems are so different from ours, certain foods that are safe for people are actually quite dangerous for pets. Some can cause mild illness while others can be fatally toxic.

Nutritional Counseling and Weight Management With Our Woodland Park Veterinarian

If you’re struggling to find a healthy diet for your pet, if your pet is overweight, has arthritis, suffers from allergies, or has a sensitive stomach, our veterinarian can help you choose the right food to meet your pet’s unique health and nutrition needs.
To learn more about selecting pet food, treats, and nutritional supplements for your dog or cat or to schedule a nutritional counseling appointment, we welcome you to contact Compassion Animal Hospital today.