7 Benefits of Exercising Your Dog: Why Fit Leads to Fabulous

exercising in the coldLack of exercise. It’s bad for you. It’s bad for your dog. When you consider the benefits of regular exercise, you might get up and dance with your dog, which isn’t a horrible idea, by the way.
Take a look at these seven benefits of routine physical activity for your pet:

1. Gain strength and protection. A dog that exercises has stronger bones and more defined muscles that help him avoid injuries.

2. Overcome obesity. And also overcome everything associated with it: heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes, arthritis and even depression. Happy dogs live longer!

3. Discover even more health benefits. The list of good things continues! Active dogs don’t usually have digestive problems, and they’re less likely to develop urinary infections. (Think of how many patches of grass your dog christened on your last walk.) Exercise is a great stress-reducer and will help your dog rest and sleep better at the end of the day.

4. Look for better behavior. Regular exercise means your dog uses excess energy on the trail and not on tearing apart your sofa. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

5. Boost your dog’s confidence. Maintaining a regular routine of walks or outings to the park will help a shy dog get used to others and be more outgoing. Naturally nervous dogs are less nervous, and you may see less anxiety for dogs with separation issues. Overall, your dog will be happier because any running, jumping, chasing activity is more interesting than your sofa.

6. Jumpstart your own fitness craze. You and your whole family could benefit from your dog’s fitness. One study conducted by the University of Western Australia found that seven in every 10 adult dog owners logged 150 minutes of physical exercise per week. Another Australian study reported that having a dog in the house cut the risk of childhood obesity in half. *

7. Create a stronger bond with you. Your dog’s favorite activity is whatever you’re doing. Spending active time outdoors with your dog rocks her world – and gives her another reason to adore you.

Do you have your sneakers on yet?? Getting fit with your dog can be a lot of fun – and can certainly lead to fabulous.

Of course, you’re going to have to get used to hearing “You look marvelous, dahhhling!”

*The Bark

Dog Agility: For You & Your Dog?

dog agility trainingIt’s a dog’s nature to hunt, but most dogs today don’t develop skills that could help them capture their next meal over hill and dale.

Dog Agility is a sport where dogs compete against the clock and against other dogs to complete a field course similar to what a hunting dog might encounter in the wild. Started in 1978 in England, this just might be the fun sport you and your pet are looking for. The best way to get started is to take classes. Here are 4 benefits you don’t want to miss:

Sweat for fun and profit. Even a high-energy dog can get a great work-out that challenges his mind and body with agility training. These movements and drills can help your dog get healthy – an incredibly profitable status!

Wild thing, you make my heart sing! Exercises for your pet like running fast, walking over a raised wooden walkway, getting through tight spaces, and stopping on command fulfill your dog’s inner desire to track and hunt.

Do run, run! If you’re not careful, you may find yourself running alongside your favorite competitor(s), having fun and getting more fit. One study done by the University of Massachusetts that closely monitored oxygen consumption and heart rates of dog trainers during dog agility training showed that the trainers’ levels of exercise could be defined as moderate to vigorous.* Cool work out!

Be true, Bleu. Agility training can help you bond with your dog. You’ll spend quality time together as you both practice, learn signals and build trust.

If you’re new to the idea of agility training, take a look at obedience classes or canine good citizen classes. Every dog starts somewhere! In Burlington, you may want to check here for class opportunities.

If you have any questions about your dog and his fitness level, give Town N Country a call. We’d love to get you started on the right paw.


Vaccinating Your One-of-a-Kind Cat

feline Your cat may sleep on the arm of your sofa while you watch television or run across your pillow in the wee hours of the morning. He may charm your visitors with a quick affectionate brush against their legs or hide under a piece of furniture until they leave. She may have a taste for a certain brand of cat food, or he may display a penchant toward an accessible backyard bird buffet.

Every detail points to a very individual creature – which is why at Town N Country, we don’t have one size fits all vaccination recommendations for your cat.

Indoors-only cats need Rabies and Distemper (AKA Feline Panleukopenia, Calci and Rhinotracheitis/Herpes Virus) vaccinations. These are considered CORE vaccines by the American Academy of Feline Practitioners. Cats allowed to go outside must have these, but will most likely need additional vaccines. Take a look at this disease and vaccine primer so you’ll know what to expect:

CORE vaccines
1. Rabies. NC state law requires that all cats and dogs be vaccinated against rabies by four months of age. Rabies affects the central nervous system, evidenced in a cat’s radically changed behavior – including aggression. Purevax® Feline Rabies vaccine is Town N Country’s Rabies vaccine of choice because its state-of-the-art technology administers immunity without unnecessary proteins or adjuvants. SOME adjuvants have been implicated with certain risks like vaccine-site reactions, inflammation, or even vaccine-site-associated TUMORS. Some owners ask about 3-year Rabies vaccines. These vaccines are associated with the aforementioned risks. Town N Country vets trusts PureVax® vaccines to protect the lives of one-of-a-kind cats – like yours.

2. Feline Distemper Vaccine – this is a combination vaccine that includes vaccination against Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia. This vaccine is considered a CORE vaccine for all cats, even indoor-exclusive cats. Although indoor cats may not come in contact with other cats, there is concern for boarding visits, hospital visits, traveling and transmission of disease from the owner’s clothing or shoes. These diseases are highly contagious and many cats don’t survive the disease.

NON-CORE Vaccines
3. Feline Leukemia. Particularly dangerous for young cats, Feline Leukemia causes lymphoma in a quarter of infected cats and contributes to other diseases because it suppresses the immune system and bone marrow production. Vaccines are only recommended for multi-cat households, cats that spend anytime outside, and all kittens. Often a cat that’s infected with Feline Leukemia exhibits no visible symptoms. Kittens should be vaccinated for the first year of their life because of their high susceptibility to the disease.

4. Feline Immunodificiency Virus. Vaccination against this serious disease should be administered to cats of multi-cat households and those that spend anytime outside. This disease is most commonly transmitted via the saliva of infected cats or by transmission from mothers to their kittens. Many cats can live a long, normal life until their immune system’s function drops dangerously low. This is when cats become highly susceptible to infectious diseases.

If you’ve added a kitten to your family or you think your cat may need a booster, give us a call. Before we decide what shots and preventions your cat needs, we’ll discuss your cat’s habits, health, age and preferred environment. It’s a simple step you can take to protect your pet.

Emergency! 13 Emergencies That Need Immediate care

tncphotoSplit second decisions can save your pet’s life. Would you recognize these animal emergencies? Take a look at 13 conditions* that should send you and your pet to the nearest vet emergency room STAT:

1. Seeing red? When you see your pet bleeding from the nose, mouth or rectum, seek medical attention immediately. Other emergency situations include coughing up blood or blood in urine.

2. Still seeing red? Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes warrants a quick trip to your local vet ER.

3. Taking your breath away? When your pet is choking or coughing or gagging continuously or having any difficulty breathing, seek prompt care.

4. Noticing an untouched litterbox? Inability to urinate or pass feces as well as obvious pain associated with urinating or elimination are great causes for concern.

5. Has she been drinkin’? When your pet won’t drink for 24 hours or more, something’s greatly amiss.

6. In a pig’s, dog’s or cat’s eye? Don’t delay treatment with any injuries to your pet’s eye(s). You would hate to discover 48 hours later that medical attention administered sooner could’ve saved your pet’s vision.

7. Telltale evidence? Don’t second guess yourself if you find an overturned bottle or empty gum wrappers. Poisons like antifreeze, Xylitol, chocolate or rat poison can cause a painful death. Quick intervention saves lives.

8. Feeling hot? Heat stress or heatstroke can be scary. Look for excessive panting, drooling, an increased temperature, lethargy, staggering and vomiting. Cats may restlessly look for a cooler spot and groom excessively.

Your pet will instinctively camouflage any injury or problem. (Think survival of the fittest.) When you observe obvious problems like these, your pet is crying out for medical attention.

9. Seizures and/or staggering.

10. Fractured bones, severe lameness or inability to move leg(s).

11. Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety.

12. Severe vomiting or diarrhea. More than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period would define an emergency. Either symptom may be combined with other problems listed here.

13. Unconsciousness.

Your pet may deal with pain, sickness or other problems in ways not listed here. If you see anything unusual about your pet or have questions about his health, give Town N Country a call. One phone call can give you peace of mind or maybe even save a life. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

*Courtesy of the American Veterinary Medical Association

It’s a jungle in there! Keep Your Indoor Cat Healthy

finn the catFor your pet cat, it’s a jungle out there! Watch the crafty hunter crouch silently in the tall grass, ready to pounce on his prey. See the mighty huntress bring home the fresh meat, to be proudly displayed by the bathroom door. Your lovable tabby cat has a lot in common with lions, tigers and panthers, and even if she’s an indoor kitty, there are some things that just don’t change.

Fresh meat! Like their distant relatives, house cats crave meat. Hopefully your indoor cat isn’t catching critters in your house. Instinct®’s Raw delivers nutrition the way nature intended — and supplies what your cat would seek in his natural habitat. Each flash frozen patty, medallion and chub ensures the best taste and nutritional quality – and you can find a variety of Nature’s Variety Instinct® Raw Frozen diets at Town N Country’s freezer section. Many pet owners see a true turn-around in their pet’s health when they change to Instinct® . For their testimonials, click here.

Protection Needed Indoors or Outdoors. Keep in mind that indoor cats can fall victim to the same diseases that plague outdoor cats. Any unprotected cat is one mosquito bite away from heartworm disease. That’s why it’s so important that your cat receives the recommended vaccinations. Symptoms of heartworms mimic common problems like asthma or pneumonia. By the time the real cause is diagnosed, the unfortunate result can be adult-sized (14-inch) heartworms thriving inside a cat’s small heart and arteries. Prevention is much simpler than treatment. Revolution®, a once-a-month treatment can be applied topically to the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades. And the same topical medication prevents most intestinal parasites, ear mites, fleas and ticks.

Indoors, outdoors, or a little bit of both, if you have questions about how to keep your cat healthy or you’d like to be sure vaccines are up to date, give us a call.

5 Stealthy Problems Your Cat Might Hide From You

cat ailmentsMysterious creatures since the beginning of time, cats can often keep you guessing. At times, your beloved cat may shun you and pretend to be exceedingly interested in his own grooming. At other times, she may jump into your lap and start to purr contentedly.

Even the health problems that can plague your cat can often progress for months (and sometimes years) yet remain mysteriously undetected. With a little vigilance, you can spot and correct these sometimes invisible dilemmas:

1. Periodontal disease. By age three, most cats show evidence of periodontal disease. Tartar builds up, and bacteria accumulated under the gum line will continually flush into the pet’s system, leading to heart, kidney and liver issues. Your best prevention is to introduce the routine of brushing teeth with your young kitten since an early pattern may be more easily accepted. (Starting later works too, but may require a bit more patience.)

2. Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions. Unfortunately, you may only recognize this problem when your cat refuses to eat. This is such a painful problem that when probed under anesthesia, the cat will still react. Yet even when the lesions progress to such a point, your stealthy cat may not show any physical evidence of pain. Think survival of the fittest – and how your cat’s ancestors managed to survive thus far. Again, the habit of teeth brushing can prevent your pet from ever suffering this fate.

3. Obesity. A fat cat is no mystery; he’s usually fed too much, becoming part of a problem that affects roughly half of all cats. While many owners find a nicely rounded cat cute, being overweight leads to problems like diabetes, hepatic lipidosis, various cancers and arthritis. Your cat depends on you completely for her diet and exercise opportunities– talk to your vet about the best approach.

4. Litterbox Tribulations. Follow your nose, and your cat’s litterbox reveals everything that’s going on. Your cat can’t hide symptoms like increased urination, abnormal defecation or completely missing the box. Any of these tell-tell signs may signal a bigger problem or disease. Talk to us about your observations.

5. Hairballs. First of all, hairballs are not normal – and indicate a problem. Cats are created to groom themselves, digest hair and eliminate it without issue. Lethargy, reduced appetite, gagging and hairballs may be symptomatic of gastrointestinal problems or disease. Give us a call, and let’s set up an appointment for an examination.

Now that you’re aware, your cat’s under-the-radar health challenges won’t escape your attention. Today’s prevention can go a long way to solving tomorrow’s health conundrums and helping your enigmatic cat live a long and healthy life. Call Town ‘N’ Country, and let’s get started.

Hot Dogs and Cool Cats: Preventing Heat Stroke in Your Pet

heat strokeThe truth is that dogs and cats sweat very little. Dogs sweat a bit from their paws, and cats sweat a smidgen from their paws and tongues. You might notice that cats groom themselves more frequently on hot summer days while dogs pant to cool themselves.

Your pet’s body isn’t nearly as efficient at cooling as your body is. That’s why pets can be particularly vulnerable to heat stroke. Any dog or cat can be vulnerable, and some breeds – like Bulldogs, Pugs or Pekingese – can be especially susceptible.

Take a look at these signs so you won’t be caught unaware:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • Staggering
  • Seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • Coma
  • Body temperatures of 104-110 F degrees

Treatment should begin immediately:
1. Cool it. Take your pet to a cooler place – in the shade or an air conditioned building to help her cool off. You can place your pet in a tub of cool water for up to two minutes or use a garden hose.

Warning: Avoid icy cold water. Super cold water can cause blood vessels to constrict, slowing down the cooling process. Monitor your pet’s rectal temperature – and stop the cooling once it reaches 103. Cooling too quickly could endanger your pet with Hypothermia and shock.

2. Visit the vet. Even if your pet seems to be fine once you’re inside or in the shade, it’s prudent to have him checked out. Elevated body temperatures affect internal organs like your pet’s liver, brain and kidneys.

3. Find a cool ride. When you take your pet to the vet, cool cloths applied to her head and feet can help her feel comfortable.

Summer time presents scenarios that can quickly lead to heat stroke. Challenges include a vacation spot that’s warmer or more humid than what your pet’s used to, being confined in an area in direct sunlight, overexertion in the hottest part of the day or too much time on hot sand or concrete.

A little prevention means your hot dog plays it cool and your cool cat stays that way.

Photo Credit: santiago nicolau via Compfight cc

How can I stop my dog from barking?!

fleas release meFish gotta swim, bird gotta fly – and yes, dogs gotta bark…but not constantly from morning to dark! With a little patience and consistency, you can train your dog to stop on command.

Take a look at these methods to help your dog bark less and help you keep your sanity:

1. Exercise first. If your dog hasn’t been walked or played with, she has loads of energy to bark at the mail man, the doorbell, or any other slight stimulus. A routine of walking or training exercises can use up some of that excess energy. A high energy dog may require more than one walk daily. A bored, energetic dog especially loves to bark.
2. Stop that! You can choose from many possible methods. Pick one and consistently use it. Probably the most difficult thing for anyone training a dog is the follow through. When you signal ‘stop’ and your dog stops barking for 10 seconds, but then starts again. Don’t give up. Keep going! Wait for your dog to submit.
3. Find your calm. If you’re angry and frustrated, you dog will be the same way — and he won’t follow your commands.
4. Strategically manage movement. If your dog gets excited by anyone walking by your living room window, close the curtains – or move your dog to another room. You can sidestep certain triggers and slowly re-introduce them to de-sensitive your pet to them.
5. Ask a professional. If despite your best efforts, you’re still faced with a very noisy dog, you might want to hire a professional to help your dog break this habit. Often an objective third party can suggest slight adjustments that make huge differences.

Barking may come naturally to your dog, but the habit doesn’t need to dominate your life. If you would like to discuss your pet or behavioral issues, give us a call.

Does Your Dog Have the Stormy Weather Blues?

Stormy weather with loud thunder, rain and wind can initiate all sorts of undesirable behaviors in your dog. When the tempest brews, does your dog exhibit any of these symptoms – excessive panting, trembling, hiding, pacing, vocalizing, or being destructive?

dogs and thunderstorms However, stormy weather doesn’t have to mean your pup can’t pull her poor old self together. Take a look at these solutions that can help even the most timid dogs cope:

1. Thundershirts. For many of our clients, the gentle pressure of Thundershirts can calm and give relief in stressful situations.
2. Desensitization. Playing recordings of thunderstorms quietly for your dog can help desensitize her. Every few days, play the recording a little louder. Reassure your dog with a routine that might comfort, like going to his kennel or bed.
3. Short term medicines. When you know a storm is predicted or brewing, a short-acting sedative can bring your pet quick relief.
4. Longer term anti-anxiety medicines. If it’s the season for storms, you may want to consider anti-anxiety meds for a month or so rather than administering sedatives every day or two. With this sort of medicine, you won’t worry about not being home when a storm hits.

Don’t let these stormy weather blues blind any hope you had or drive you mad. Before you start singing the blues about the next storm, give us a call, and let’s talk about what’s best for your pupster. And don’t worry, you both will walk in the sun once more.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Calm

fourth of july and dogIt’s just after dark on the fourth. Do you know where your dog is?

Does the fireworks show send your furry baby skidding into the nearest open closet or under a large piece of furniture? Or does your dog bark incessantly when the first firecracker pops? Take a look at these five calming strategies that could help your pet keep his cool on a hot, noisy night, coming to you very soon:

1. Follow the leader. Your dog watches you closely every day and night. Carry on as usual when the fireworks start, and your dog may do the same. Try not to make the mistake of comforting a scared dog. You can reinforce her skittish behavior and jumpstart a pattern of being frightened of many things.

2. Roll over, Beethoven! Classical or other types of soothing music can truly calm your pet. Turn your music up a little to mask the fireworks’ snapping and popping.

3. Tired dogs don’t jump. July 4th is a great day for exercise and lots of it. Wear your dog out with an extra long walk or a little longer time playing fetch. By the time the sun goes down, your dog may be more focused on settling down to sleep than on jumping up to hide.

4. And the thunder rolled. With the premise that thunder and loud noises in general can start a less than desired behavior in your pet, the Thundershirt has been introduced as an affordable solution. The idea of gentle constant pressure is similar to that of swaddling a cranky human baby – and it works for 80% of the pets that try it.

5. Zen around the collar. Nothing’s happier than a fed, warm puppy. That’s the idea behind AdaptilTM products; you can choose a spray, diffuser or collar to distribute a synthetic copy of pheromones or mama dog hormones meant to soothe nursing puppies, the hormones released by a lactating mama dog for her puppies. Works well for adult dogs as well as puppies. Click here for more information about AdaptilTM.

6. Lend me your ears. Your dog’s ears are much more sensitive than yours. Many dogs benefit from wearing specially designed Mutt Muffs that can block some levels of the noise.

7. Don’t be a pill. When you’ve tried a host of ideas and your pet’s still a quivering bundle of nerves, talk to your vet about anti-anxiety medications and your dog’s usual patterns. A fast- acting variety might be the perfect solution for one rowdy summer night.

Give us a call if would like to discuss your dog’s case with us. Three cheers for the red, white and blue – and a calm, stress-free dog! And both of you have a safe, happy fourth!

Photo Credit: Randy Son Of Robert via Compfight cc