Announcement: Offering Special Pets High-Quality Care

Thank you for entrusting us with your pet’s health and happiness. As pet owners ourselves, we know the great joys our furry friends can bring to our lives, and sadly, we know the heartache that comes with saying goodbye.

Because of the deep bond we have with pets and their owners, we are honored to have the pleasure of partnering with you through all phases of your baby’s life journey. We are proud to offer pet lovers a place where all of your needs can be met.

We look forward to meeting you and your pet soon!

Dr. Steve Hotchkiss and Staff

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Comments Off on Announcement: Offering Special Pets High-Quality Care January 19th, 2009

Protect Your Pets from the Deadly Heat

The owner was frantic. Just an hour before, his Boxer, Rocky, was playing in the yard. Now he was in our treatment area listless, unable to walk, and his temperature was over 110-degrees — he was suffering from heat stroke. Moments later, another man arrived with his neighbor’s Golden Retriever whom he found dead in the back yard. On this sad day, the Texas heat claimed the lives of both of these beloved pets.

Every summer, many dogs find their way to Metro West Emergency Veterinary Center after spending just a few hours in the hot sun.

It’s important to remember dogs don’t sweat like we do. Cooling themselves by panting, dogs use the moisture evaporating off their tongue as a means to lower their body’s temperature. Anything overwhelming this natural cooling system leads to heat stroke.

Normally, a dog’s temperature ranges from 100 to 102.5-degrees. In cases of heat stroke, temperatures over 106-degrees are considered to be an emergency situation – temperatures over 110-degrees can be fatal in a matter of minutes.

This level of hyperthermia can affect every major body system, so it’s imperative you bring your pet in right away if you suspect overheating.

Dogs who succumb to heat stroke often show the following symptoms:
• Vigorous panting
• Inability to stand, or weakness while standing
• Thick, ropy saliva, literally foaming at the mouth
• Bright red mucous membranes, although some dogs may show pale or even muddy gums.

Heat stroke can affect any dog, although dogs with short faces, such as Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Bulldogs may be at higher risk due their inability to effectively pant and cool themselves.

Many people believe that their pet will be fine outdoors. However, inadequate shade and/or water can affect even the most seasoned outdoor dog. And when it’s as hot as it is today, just a few minutes outdoors can be too much.

Interestingly, heat stroke in cats is very rare. Most animal experts believe that cats are extremely good at finding the coolest spots to lay and also avoid the excessive, excitatory exertions that many dogs seem to thrive on.

If you find your dog vigorously panting, immediately move the pet out of the environment and into a cooler place. Getting the pet into a shady area with a fan running on him can be very helpful. Using cool — not cold — tap water on the extremities and trunk can also help to effectively lower the body temperature, as well as rubbing alcohol placed on the skin of the stomach. Do not use ice or extremely cold water. Although it seems logical, extreme cold will cause surface blood vessels to contract, forming an insulating area that traps heat in the body, delaying the cooling of the vital organs. If your dog doesn’t recover quickly, get him here as soon as possible.

Without these life saving steps, many dogs might lose their lives to the “dog-days” of summer. But quick-thinking owners and a skilled veterinary team like ours can help get them back on their feet in no time.

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Comments Off on Protect Your Pets from the Deadly Heat July 31st, 2012

How Do You Become A Veterinarian?

When traveling on an airplane, it’s not unusual for our veterinarians to hear from their seat mate, “Oh, I always wanted to be a veterinarian!” which is usually quickly followed by a show-and-tell of photos and a bevy of questions from the complex to, “Why does my dog eat his own poop?” Veterinary medicine consistently ranks among the most respected and admired professions. Pet owners and animal lovers do think highly of veterinarians, but many don’t know the incredible schooling that these animal doctors must complete.

Additionally, when asked what a veterinarian does, most people will respond with a phrase about “taking care of animals.” While that is certainly true, most are unaware of the incredible diversity of careers found in the veterinary profession. Not only do veterinarians care for our companion animals and our livestock, but they are also found doing important research that benefits both people and pets or even helping governments track and prepare for newly-emerging diseases. Veterinarians are active in the military, our food inspection services, in the public health sector and even in designing new foods and medications to help animals.

So, what does it take to become a veterinarian?

First, good grades throughout high school and an undergraduate program in college are essential. Course work should be strong in math and sciences, but it is also important for the student to be well rounded. As an example, communication courses are vital as the majority of veterinarians will need to effectively explain complex medical diseases and terminology to pet owners or ranchers and farmers.

These early years are also a great time to focus on finding a job or volunteer opportunity that gives hand on experiences with animals. Animal shelters often accept school age volunteers, but don’t forget about the possibilities offered by Future Farmers of America programs or the local 4H. These days, weeks and months of working closely with animals can help a prospective veterinary student understand the challenges of animal care.

After a minimum of two years of undergraduate work, the process for applying to veterinary school can begin. Competition for the open spots is extremely fierce. There are 28 schools of veterinary medicine in the United States with 4 in Canada and another 4 located in the Caribbean. Compare that to the 134 human medical schools in the US! Also, each of these universities generally only accepts about 100 students for each veterinary class, meaning that about 3000 slots are available for each new class. Again, human medical schools graduate about 20,000 new doctors each year.

Once accepted, new veterinary students will find that their school days will be very regimented and filled with an incredible amount of information. For the first two years, the focus is on the sciences.   Lectures on the anatomy of various animal species, physiology, microbiology and many more subjects are the focus on the student’s days.

Then, as the students progress into their third and fourth years, all of the information they committed to memory can now be used in a practical manner as they move towards more hands on work in the veterinary teaching hospitals and labs. We have hosted many 4th-year veterinary students who have interacted with our doctors and clients as they learned the important skills of client interaction. These students have assisted with emergencies, surgeries, dental procedures, and routine wellness appointments.

When graduation finally arrives, the learning and education process is not over for these brand new animal doctors. In order to practice veterinary medicine, new graduates must pass national and state board exams. Then, even as they are learning the expertise of daily routines at their new job, continuing education (CE) is a requirement of all veterinarians. This CE helps veterinarians stay on top of a variety of technological and treatment protocol changes.

Some veterinarians continue their education, specializing in areas like dentistry, radiology, or even lab animal medicine. There are almost 40 different specialty organizations and veterinarians who seek to become a specialist may add another 4-6 years on to their education.

As you can see, becoming a veterinarian not only takes passion and intelligence, but a fair amount of sacrifice and commitment as well. The degree of “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine” or “Veterinary Medical Doctor” is one of diversity and certainly a rewarding profession.

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Comments Off on How Do You Become A Veterinarian? April 3rd, 2012

Top Products for Pets

The ever growing pet product market ranges from fashion to fun, exercise to IQ puzzles, gourmet pet foods and treats….and everything in between. These products are available on on-line pet specialty sites, at pet boutiques and in many superstores. 

In considering which new products to purchase, it’s important to evaluate what your pet will enjoy, if the product provides healthy, fun activity and the value to your pocketbook. Here’s a look at some innovative products by major categories.   

EXERCISE & PLAY products are dually beneficial. Look for pet-engaging toys with healthful options such as the following products:

1)    The Hydro Freeze® family of toys. This toy product group provides hours of dog-chewing, fetching fun while simultaneously hydrating the dog. The award winning HydroBone® is now being joined by their new HydroBall® and HydroSaucer®.

2)    If your pet needs more exercise than you have time for, check out the DogTread® treadmill. It provides great fitness at home, and there will be no more traipsing out in the rain, snow, or mud with Fido!

3)     Let your pet go wild with the Bubble Buddy® (pictured above)! This bubble blower, specially designed for dogs, uses SCENTED bubbles…like chicken or bacon! Just sit back, blow the bubbler, and let the dog exercise while chasing those tasty bubbles!

4)    For those tough pups, try Kong’s Wubba…specially designed for durability and keeping your pup entertained!
 
BOREDOM or BEHAVIOR ISSUES can be positively handled if you have the right product.

5)    The ThunderShirt® (pictured above) has a calming effect on the pet’s nervous system and has proven successful for that anxious canine, especially during summer storms. This helpful product will be available for purchase soon at Hulen Hills Animal Hospital and The Grand Pet Resort!

6)    Felines are not forgotten either when it comes to good therapeutic products! Cats that suffer from cabin fever, can safely enjoy the outdoors in their Kritter Kondo®. This easy-to-set up enclosure gives the cat a fun way to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment.

7)    A great indoor cat product is the eco-friendly cathouse system® (pictured above). These cardboard kitty play houses are foldable, stackable and changeable and they provide hours of play fun for indoor cats.

NUTRITION AND FEEDING PRODUCTS. You can even find innovation on the pet food aisle!

8)    Award winning and very popular KONG®  continues  to introduce new toys for dogs and cats (pictured above). Their new KONG Wobbler® dispenses food while providing entertainment too. And now KONG® has come out with KONG Stuffin’®- a pepperoni-paste filler for the KONG toys!

9)    New pet food diets are released almost every week. We like Royal Canin products. We strongly advise everyone to consult with one of our veterinarians to find the right food for your pet!

10)    Veterinarians know the importance of fresh water…so much so that a veterinarian invented the fresh-flowing Drinkwell Water Fountain® system for cats and dogs.

11)    Pooches LOVE treats. We LOVE Pink Poodle Gourmet company (pictured above). These beautiful and tasty treats will be available for purchase at The Grand Pet Resort soon!

TRAVEL & SAFETY PRODUCTS. Today more folks are traveling with their pets, and there are many great travel and safety products available.  There’s everything from GPS collars for tracking that wayward pet to cute pet themed totes, safety belts, and of course—haute couture for the pet traveler. Fun travel products are sure to add charm to Fido’s adventures.

With so many new and great pet products in the marketplace, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Key things to look for include: Award winning designations, American- made, Eco-friendly, and, of course, veterinarian endorsed products. Other important factors to consider when selecting the right products are your pet’s age, agility, and interests.

With a little research on-line or through your veterinarian, you’re sure to become an educated pet product consumer…and a real hero to your pet too!

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Comments Off on Top Products for Pets September 12th, 2011

Wylie Survives the Deadly Parvovirus

You might not know what Parvo is, but if you have an unvaccinated adult dog or are the proud parent of a new puppy, you should keep reading. Parvovirus is a disease that can kill your dog and break your heart. It’s shed into the environment through an infected dog’s feces. It’s extremely contagious, and, amazingly, the virus can stay alive in grass and dirt for years, meaning a simple walk through the neighborhood can put your unvaccinated pooch at risk!

Parvo is a viral infection that attacks the lining of the intestinal track causing severe, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, fever, vomiting and weight loss. The infection interferes with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, which causes a dog to become dehydrated and completely defenseless against the aggressive and deadly virus. Krista, whose newly adopted American Bulldog puppy named Wylie (shown above) battled Parvo, said, “We knew something was really wrong when he started sleeping 24/7 on the couch and hardly moving.”

Puppies are especially at risk of the disease. That’s why it’s important to keep new puppies close to home until they’ve received a complete cycle of vaccinations (which takes 3 – 4 visits). Unfortunately for Wylie, he came in contact with Parvovirus when he was about 6-weeks old. Although he’d already begun his cycle of vaccines, his immunity against Parvo had not yet developed.  Krista first noticed that Wylie stopped eating. Then he started having “projectile” diarrhea. A simple test determined he was Parvo positive. Krista remembers the moment she and her family got the news from Dr. Hotchkiss, “We were all devastated and completely heartbroken. Even though we only had him for a couple of weeks, we had already fallen in love with this little guy.”

Like most Parvo patients, we hospitalized Wylie so our medical team could combat his symptoms and keep him hydrated while his immune system fought the virus. Since the disease is an infection, there is no real cure for it and, sadly, about 25% of infected dogs die from severe dehydration, secondary bacterial infections, and shock.  Although Parvo is a terrible infection, we’ve had a lot of success saving the ones we have a chance to help. Thankfully, Wylie is a survivor. As Krista recalls, “The staff told us that Wylie was a fighter and that this was one of the best Parvo puppy cases that they had seen because of his speedy recovery,” Krista recalls.

Let’s hope that after his rough start, Wylie’s life is filled with refreshing romps in the pool, long naps on the couch, savory treats, and loving hugs and kisses from Krista and his adoring family. 

CANINE PARVOVIRUS FACTS

  • Canine Parvovirus is a serious, often deadly disease of dogs. Parvo causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and can be especially devastating to puppies.
  • Canine Parvovirus arrived in the US in the late 1970s causing great concern among dog breeders, dog showers, veterinarians and all pet owners. Fortunately, development of effective vaccines helped check the spread of Parvo.
  • The treatment for Parvovirus can be extremely expensive depending on the severity of the strain. Treatment can range from $1,000 to $10,000 and beyond.
  • The cost of the annual vaccine that protects a dog from Parvo is $9.
  • Oprah Winfrey rescued two Cocker Spaniel puppies named Ivan and Sadie from a shelter in Chicago in 2009. Sadly, Oprah’s dog Ivan died of Parvo soon after his adoption. After a lengthy stay at a veterinary hospital, Sadie survived the disease and is now well-known for being one of the mogul’s most steady companions.
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Comments Off on Wylie Survives the Deadly Parvovirus August 16th, 2011

Sugar-Free Gums and Treats are Bad News for our Pets

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is commonly used in sugar-free candy and gum, as well as baked goods and toothpaste. Introduced to the United States in 1975, xylitol has become an increasingly common way to satisfy a sweet tooth while promoting a healthy lifestyle. This sweetener has little effect on human blood glucose levels, making it useful for people with diabetes who are trying to control their blood sugar levels. Additionally, xylitol has been approved by the FDA as a way to prevent tooth decay. Although this sweetener has health benefits for people, xylitol has serious toxic effects in our canine companions!

Xylitol has long been known to cause hypoglycemia, or abnormally low blood glucose levels, in dogs. Within 30 minutes of ingestion, xylitol can cause the pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin. This encourages the dog’s muscle and fat tissue to use too much blood glucose. The result, hypoglycemia, has devastating effects on a dog’s neurological system, which can lead to seizures or death. Symptoms of hypoglycemia are often lethargy, confusion, sudden blindness, stumbling, and shaking. More recently, xylitol has been shown to cause acute liver failure within 72 hours of ingestion.

Even small doses of xylitol can cause a pooch to become gravely ill. Only 0.1 gram of xylitol per 2.2 pounds of body weight can cause hypoglycemia, while only .5 grams can cause liver failure. Since a piece of sugarless gum can have between 0.3 and 1 gram of xylitol, it will only take a few pieces to poison a dog. There are 190 grams of xylitol in 1 cup of the sweetener. This means that if a recipe for 12 cupcakes call for a cup of xylitol, a 50 pound pup can become ill after eating 1 cupcake!

If you suspect your canine companion has ingested a product containing xylitol, it is important that a veterinarian intervenes as soon as possible. Xylitol can be digested and reach maximum levels in the body in as few as 30 minutes. Treatment focuses on managing the results of xylitol poisoning, which involves a great deal of intensive supportive care. A patient will be placed on I.V. fluids to help flush xylitol from the bloodstream. Additionally, a veterinarian will closely monitor liver enzymes to watch for signs of liver damage, as well as check blood sugar levels so that low glucose can be supplemented as needed. At Hulen Hills, this important care occurs around the clock. 

The best treatment is to avoid giving pets access to products containing xylitol. Many times, xylitol toxicity happens when a pooch gets into a purse or bag containing sugarless gum. If such an accident happens, remember that our doctors and staff are available to help 24 hours a day!

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Comments Off on Sugar-Free Gums and Treats are Bad News for our Pets December 15th, 2010

Pancreatitis and Your Pet’s Health

Holiday dining often incorporates foods that are higher in fat and more heavily seasoned than summer fare. The season, after all, lends itself to turning inward to home and family. Our pets often join us as we celebrate, and we can be tempted to share our meals with our fur-babies. Nina, one of our nurses, reminds us that feeding our four-legged kids from the dinner table can lead to a serious medical condition known as pancreatitis. “Our pets may love the rich food we eat, but too often table snacks leads these guys straight to us!”

When a pet eats a high-fat meal, the pancreas can become inflamed and begin to leak digestive enzymes, a process akin to the organ digesting itself.  Known as pancreatitis, this condition is common when pets have a diet that is consistently high-fat. But it only takes one high-fat meal to cause pancreatitis, as Barry (the white poodle pictured above) found out after eating a lamb shank as a special treat! Barry had many of the symptoms of pancreatitis, including lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and a very painful abdomen.

It takes a lot of love to help a pet through this illness. Pancreatitis is usually treated using supportive measures, meaning that Hulen Hills’ veterinarians and nurses work together around the clock to aggressively control a baby’s pain, and to hydrate and nourish them while giving the pancreas time to heal. Barry was with us for several days while Nina and the rest of our staff helped him recover. Barry’s mom reports that he is 100% back to normal, which gives us the satisfaction of a job well done!

The best defense against pancreatitis is to ensure your pet is eating a diet that is not too high in fat. We know that giving our pets a special treat is one way we show our love, and that it can be hard to say no when our babies want a bite of our delicious meals. Replace bonding over food with bonding during a walk or play. Nina offers a unique way to show your baby special attention. “One of the best parts of the holidays is snuggling under the covers,” says Nina. Instead of giving your pet a chocolate chip cookie, offer them a treat by inviting them to snuggle with you!

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Comments Off on Pancreatitis and Your Pet’s Health December 15th, 2010

Protecting Pets from Kennel Cough

Coughing. Hacking. Sneezing. Runny noses. We all know that cold season is upon us, so many of us take steps to keep the sniffles at bay. We may wash our hands more often, give a wide berth to anyone who sneezes, and take supplements to give our immune systems an advantage over attacking viruses.  But did you know your pooches need help to ward off their own colds?

Colds in dogs are commonly referred to as “kennel cough” or “infectious tracheobronchitis.” These terms describe a variety of highly contagious respiratory infections. Krista, a member of The Grand Pet Resort and Salon’s Guest Services team, knows a lot about keeping The Grand Guests safe from this condition. “It’s important that our Guests have a fun and healthy stay with us,” Krista says. Fun is easy to achieve at The Grand, since Krista can offer Guests activities such as play dates, pool time, and personal displays of affection.

Keeping Guests healthy at The Grand takes a bit more work. “We always make sure our environment is clean, and that our Guests’ medical needs are met,” Krista says. “A Guest who doesn’t act normally or shows symptoms of illness is taken to Hulen Hills Animal Hospital so that a veterinarian can examine and, if needed, treat them.” Yet, all this hard work isn’t enough to prevent a pup from catching kennel cough.

The most effective way to prevent kennel cough is to keep the environment free from the pathogens which cause kennel cough by ensuring guests are vaccinated.  “A regularly vaccinated pet is at a much lower risk of contracting kennel cough, so we require that all of our Guests are vaccinated for their stay,” Krista explains. The specific vaccine that protects dogs from kennel cough is Bordetella.

Following this recommendation, all pooches staying at The Grand must receive the Bordetella vaccine once every six months, in addition to a number of other vaccines that are required each year.

Like the human cold, kennel cough can be spread through the air. An infected pup will shed the infection-causing pathogens by coughing or sneezing. The bacteria and viruses become aerosolized, like the tiny bit of oil in cooking spray. Any nearby pooches can catch the same illness simply by breathing in the germs. 

If your pup shows symptoms of kennel cough at home—such as coughing, sneezing, and runny nose or eyes—it’s best to let them rest away from other pets until you can schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Krista and the rest of the Guest Services team will ensure every Guest checking in for an overnight stay at The Grand has gotten these shots. She is also able to offer a convenient service if a Guest hasn’t had the vaccinations required. She can arrange for pets to visit Hulen Hills Animal Hospital, which is located right next door, and the medical staff there will update the vaccines that are due.

Krista finds all of her hard work to keep The Grand Guest’s happy and healthy very rewarding. “My favorite part of the day is when pet parents come to pick up their babies after boarding with us,” Krista says. “Seeing their faces when they pick up their babies who got great care while they were here reassures us that we are all doing a great job! We hate to see our babies go, but look forward to them coming back!”

If you have any questions about The Grand Pet Resort and Spa or our vaccine requirements, feel free to contact us at (817) 989-PAWS.

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Comments Off on Protecting Pets from Kennel Cough December 15th, 2010

The Dangers of Ethylene Glycol

Recent frosty days and freezing nights remind many of us to prepare for winter. Sweaters are brought out, firewood is stacked, and our vehicles need to be winterized — including changing the antifreeze. Such preparations sometimes lead to ethylene glycol poisoning, which effects over 10,000 dogs and cats a year, and is the most common form of pet poisoning in the United States.

Ethylene glycol is the primary ingredient in antifreeze, making up 95 to 97% of the product.  A tiny amount of antifreeze is enough to cause pets to become dangerously ill. Only a teaspoon or two will poison a cat, while three tablespoons will poison a fifteen pound dog. A dog only needs to ingest 2 to 3 milliliters of ethylene glycol per pound of body weight to get a lethal dose of the toxin; cats only need to ingest 0.64 milliliters for the same effect.

Dr. Trista Pleimann, one of our emergency veterinarians, says that what makes ethylene glycol such a dangerous and common form of poisoning is that the toxin’s sweet smell and taste appeals to an animal’s sweet tooth. “Dogs and cats are attracted to sweetness because sweetness suggests that a food has a lot of energy,” Dr. Pleimann explains. Dogs and cats will ingest large quantities of antifreeze to take advantage of what they perceive to be a good source of energy. 

When looking for clinical signs of ethylene glycol poisoning, Dr. Pleimann advises pet owners that the toxin has an immediate and a long-term affect on the body, and that the symptoms of each depend on how long it has been since the pet drank the antifreeze as well as the amount they drank.

Antifreeze is rapidly absorbed and metabolized once it has been consumed. Thirty minutes after drinking antifreeze, a pet can appear to be drunken or wobbly, a condition known as ataxia. Pets may also drink excessive amounts of water, and urinate more frequently. The toxin can also irritate the stomach lining, causing the dog or cat to vomit.

Within three hours of ingestion, the level of ethylene glycol in a dog or cat’s blood has usually reached its peak. “Eventually, the drunken, ataxic behavior lessens,” says Dr. Pleimann, “and the pet appears to be recovering.” However, this stage is the biological equivalent of fool’s gold because at this point the ethylene glycol will begin to damage the pet’s kidneys.

Preventing the patient from metabolizing ethylene glycol is essential to effectively treating antifreeze poisoning. When the liver and kidneys process ethylene glycol, the toxin is broken down into three individual toxins: glycolic acid, formic acid, and oxalate. The resulting toxins then cause severe kidney damage, resulting in a condition known as uremia, in which the kidneys can no longer remove waste from the dog or cat’s body. They may become lethargic and dehydrated, or may develop diarrhea, mouth ulcers, rapid breathing and seizures. “Once the kidneys are damaged to the extent that the dog or cat develops uremia,” Dr. Pleimann explains, “there is no good treatment for antifreeze poisoning.”

When Dr. Pleimann suspects that one of her patients has been poisoned by antifreeze, the first step is to do a blood test to confirm the presence of the poison in the patient’s blood stream. “In about 15 minutes, we know whether the pet is positive or negative for ethylene glycol,” she explains. “Because the poison is a type of alcohol, it is absorbed very quickly. Speed is the key to treating antifreeze poisoning.”

The best treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning requires a great deal of TLC, and, usually, for the pet to be hospitalized. During that time, our nurses and doctors will keep the patient pain-free and comfortable while administering an antidote and fluids and monitoring for kidney damage with blood tests. Since our team is always here, subtle changes and improvements in the pet’s health can be observed all day and night.

Dr. Pleimann stresses that the best treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning is prevention, and offers the following tips for keeping your baby safe:

  • Store antifreeze in sealed, clearly marked containers, out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Regularly check your vehicle(s) for antifreeze leaks.
  • Clean up any antifreeze spills immediately and dispose of any antifreeze-contaminated rags or paper towels in a sealed container.
  • Switch to a brand of antifreeze that contains propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is not as toxic as ethylene glycol.
  • Never allow pets access to the area when draining radiator fluid from a vehicle.
  • Use products that do not contain ethylene glycol.
  • Do not allow pets to drink out of or walk through puddles as water runoff may contain antifreeze from other vehicles.
  • If your pet may have walked through antifreeze, wash the pet’s paws when finished with the walk.
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Comments Off on The Dangers of Ethylene Glycol December 15th, 2010

Protecting Ourselves, And Our Pets, From a Killer!

It’s a scenario that happens all too often as urban sprawl encounters rural ranch land and wooded areas. Looking out your window, you see your beloved dog in an all out battle with a raccoon, or even worse, a bobcat! After breaking up the fight, your mind races as you check your dog for wounds and wonder about the chance of rabies.

Every year in North America, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) monitor the prevalence of rabies. Thousands of wild animals test positive every year and, despite mandatory vaccines for pets, hundreds of cats, dogs, horses and other domestic animals contract this killer as well. The good news is that rabies cases in people and domestic animals have decreased throughout the 20th century.

Laws may vary slightly, but all states require dogs to be vaccinated against rabies. Many also require cats and pet ferrets to be vaccinated as well. For most pets, an initial vaccine after 12 weeks of age starts the series and this vaccine is “boosted” when the pet is a year old. At Hulen Hills, after your pet receives its first “one-year” vaccine, we will follow up the next year with a “three-year” vaccine. 

There is also an on-going study that is attempting to determine how long these vaccines provide immunity for our pets.  The Rabies Challenge Fund (www.rabieschallengefund.org) was established in 2005 with a goal of determining how well vaccinated dogs are protected against rabies after five and seven years.

Thankfully, until this and other research is complete, you do have good guidelines to follow when it comes to protecting your pets. 

First and foremost, follow recommendations outlined by local rabies ordinances. These laws are in place to help place a level of protection between potentially rabid wildlife and your family. These vaccinations can also be a life-saver if your pet does come into contact with a wild animal. 

Never assume that your “indoor only” pet is safe from rabies either. Bats, the largest reservoir of rabies in North America, can find their way into homes very easily. Attracted to their fluttering flight or a dying bat on the floor, our pets, especially cats, risk exposure. 

Finally, always contact an animal control officer or wildlife expert if you see a wild animal acting strangely. Because of the deadly nature of this disease, you should never attempt to capture a wild animal on your own.

Although we rarely see human rabies deaths in the U.S., more than 55,000 people die from rabies annually in Asia and Africa. That’s one person every 10 minutes! For those of us in North America, these deaths may seem remote, but we should never lose sight that this killer still lurks in our own backyard!

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Comments Off on Protecting Ourselves, And Our Pets, From a Killer! October 22nd, 2010

Bella’s Big Surgical Adventure

Although you may not know it at first glance, Bella, a 168-pound Mastiff, is one of our sweetest patients! Her intimidating size is far surpassed by her big heart and playful spirit. Bella brings great joy to her family, including her new sister, Gracie, a 3-month old Labrador Retriever. So, when Bella ruptured her cruciate ligament, neither she nor her family were going to let anything stand in the way of getting her fixed and back into action as resident love bug and gentle big sister.  

Like people, dogs have two cruciate ligaments to help provide support for their knees. Their presence keeps the femur and tibia from sliding around and destabilizing the joint. According to Dr. Hotchkiss, repairing torn cruciates is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries he performs. He adds that certain large breeds (Labradors and Rottweilers) show up with this injury more frequently than other pets. (This kind of injury in humans is referred to as a ruptured ACL or anterior cruciate ligament.)

Dogs can rupture these ligaments with sudden twisting movements while running or even from slipping on tile or wet concrete. In Bella’s case, she tore her cruciate while playing with the new puppy. Because Bella had this same injury to her other leg in 2006, her mom and dad knew just what to do.

In most cases, diagnosing a cruciate tear simply requires a veterinarian’s examination and, if the patient is not cooperative, a touch of sedation. Palpation of the knee joint is the key to the diagnosis although it is also a good idea to take x-rays of both knees to look for any other problems.

The next step is surgery. According to industry experts, pet owners spend more than $1 billion dollars on cruciate surgeries for their pets each year. A variety of procedures exist to help stabilize the knee, but most surgeons will utilize one of three procedures. Because of Bella’s anatomy, breed and size, Dr. Hotchkiss determined that a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO) would be the most effective solution.

As with any surgery, cost can be an issue. Some pet owners will question the need for surgery as fibrous tissue in the dog’s body will eventually stabilize the joint. Sadly, this could lead to bigger problems, including severe osteoarthritis or even a rupture of the ligaments in the other knee. Certainly this route only increases the pet’s discomfort. If an owner has the funds for surgery, it’s definitely considered the “gold standard” for treatment.

After surgery, most dogs feel much better. In fact, it’s a challenge for owners to keep their pets rested during the recovery.  Bella’s mom and dad are having her stay with us at The Grand for a while, because it’s hard to keep her calm, especially with the puppy jumping around!  

This 8-10 week recovery period is crucial. Too much activity can delay healing at the site or even cause enough damage that a second surgery might be needed! Bella needs to stay in a crate or small area when she can’t be supervised, go outside ONLY on a leash and only for bathroom breaks until Dr. Hotchkiss says short walks are OK.  And Bella should avoid running, jumping and the stairs until she’s fully healed.

Our doctors have several recommendations to help patients avoid an injury like Bella’s:

First, weight control! Excess weight creates additional stress on joints and can lead to ligament tears.

Next, daily exercise is important. Spending about an hour each day engaged in moderate exercise is not only a good way to keep your dog healthy and limber…it will probably help you, too!

Finally, don’t overdo it!  Since we work all week, most of the time the only chance we have to exercise our dogs is on the weekend. Lack of conditioning makes our dogs vulnerable to injury when they try to overdo it on the weekend. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training, so don’t expect your dog to hike 4-5 miles without building up to it.

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Comments Off on Bella’s Big Surgical Adventure June 24th, 2010

Fleas Really Get Under Our Skin

Fleas are truly a pet owner’s curse and worst nightmare. Designed to survive and efficient at reproducing, these blood-sucking pests can quickly overrun house and home! In addition to causing misery for our pets, fleas have the potential to carry serious, even deadly diseases.

For every adult flea seen on a dog or cat, there are about 95 other fleas in various life stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) around the pet’s environment. The failure to address the juvenile life stages is a primary reason why owners never seem to win any battles against fleas. 

Once on a pet, the flea will start drinking blood immediately and about eight hours later will start to mate with other fleas on the pet. Within about 24 hours, eggs are laid by the female fleas which roll off the pet and into the home/bed/yard. Females can lay 40-50 eggs per day over their lifetime, resulting in more than 2000 eggs added to the environment. Thirty adult fleas can explode into more than 250,000 fleas in less than one month!

Given these huge numbers, it is entirely possible to see live fleas on your pets that have been treated with flea medications. Most topical medications will kill fleas within 1-2 hours after the flea jumps onto the pet and oral products only work when the flea actually settles down and bites the pet.

Likewise, the life cycle of the flea means that new adults are continually present in the environment. Flea eggs are constantly hatching into flea larvae which then spin cocoons. Adult fleas hatch from the cocoons in as little as seven days but some can delay hatching for almost 180 days! Therefore, a single application of a flea medicine will not stop an existing infestation.

So, when you are faced with a flea problem in your home, what steps can help resolve it? First, talk with your veterinarian about effective flea control medications. 

Next, make sure that all pets in the household are treated. Even the “indoor only” cat will need protection from adult fleas hatching in the home environment. Use the products as directed and don’t split doses among your pets.

Continue the treatment until the infestation is gone from the home. If your pet is picking up adult fleas in the yard or at the park, you may need to consider using a flea product all year long.

A home area treatment spray can help eliminate flea colonies more quickly, but be sure to use one that contains an insect growth regulator (IGR). IGRs prevent flea eggs from hatching and flea larva from molting. 

Understanding the flea life cycle can help you defeat this unrelenting annual pest. Your veterinarian and our staff will guide you towards the best flea product for your needs and can even answer concerns you have about treating the environment.

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Comments Off on Fleas Really Get Under Our Skin June 24th, 2010

Top Summertime Tips for Pet Safety

Summertime! Finally, your chance to relax and unwind! With your sunblock, sunglasses and a good book, you plan to enjoy the day at the pool! Suddenly, you remember your dog is in the yard – unsupervised …surely he will be okay for a couple hours. Or will he?

Summer temperatures might be great for tan lines and boating trips, but the excessive heat and increased outdoor activities could spell disaster for your pets. As the mercury rises, take just a few moments to ensure that your pets are safe and prevent an urgent trip to Hulen Hills for emergency care!

The most common heat-related problem for pets is heat stroke. This is a real emergency for dogs that can be fatal. Even on moderately warm days, an excited dog might show a body temperature increase. Because dogs don’t sweat like we do, they can’t dissipate the excess heat and heat stroke may soon follow.

In the last month, we’ve treated several dogs for heat exhaustion. One German Shephard collapsed after a long run with his owner, a small Pomerarian got too hot while waiting outside of a restaurant while her owners grabbed a quick dinner, a 4-year old Labrador heated up after a long day of running errands with her owner. Sadly, all of these pets passed away, leaving a wake of devastation behind for their greiving owners.

Any outdoor pet can overheat on a warm summer day, but short-faced breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs are at a higher risk. In addition, every year thousands of pets succumb to heat stroke because they were left in cars while their owners ran “just a few” errands. On a 100 degree day, it takes only 15 minutes for the temperature inside of a car to reach 140 degrees. Even on a 70 degree day, temperatures inside a car can soar to over 110 degrees in less than one hour! 

When the sun goes down and the temperatures start to cool, your pets still face many summer challenges. The patriotic holidays are often celebrated with fireworks. The bright flashes and loud bangs are terrifying to some pets and can cause anxiety, stress and even escape. Each year on July 4, our emergency staff ends up tending to the injuries of these frightened pets.

Likewise, some pets react in a similar way to thunderstorms. Normally calm pets may become distressed, destructive and even bite in an attempt to get away from the noises. If your pet has severe thunderstorm anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about it. Often times, we can help by prescribing sedatives to give your dog when you know a storm is coming. Dr. Running has also experienced great results with her anxiety-ridden patients through acupuncture treatments and music therapy.

The warm summer season also brings out a many pests. Fleas and ticks are two examples, but some species of biting flies are very fond of dogs’ ears. Repeated bites can cause a condition that can be serious and difficult to control known as “fly strike.” Make sure your pet is on flea and tick preventatives. We like Revolution because it also protects our pets from heartworm disease. 

It is possible to enjoy the summer with your pets by taking just a few precautions:

  • First and foremost, always be aware of the weather forecast.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended outside or plan heavy exercise on hot, humid days. If your pet is left outdoors, he must have access to adequate shade and fresh water. 
  • When it’s time to run errands, leave your pet at home. Even a few minutes in a hot car is enough to increase your pet’s body temperature dramatically.
  • If you find your pet disoriented, panting excessively or collapsed in the yard, move him immediately to a cooler environment. Use cool wet towels over his back, armpits and groin to help bring his temperature down. Fans are often helpful too. DO NOT USE ICE! Then, get him to Hulen Hills immediately so that we can begin life-saving treatments.
  • If you are planning to take your pets to any outdoor celebrations or cook-outs, find out first if pets are welcome or if fireworks are planned. It might be easier to simply leave the dogs at home rather than risk a run-away or injury. 

Summertime should be a time for relaxation and fun…don’t let a pet emergency spoil your good time.

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Comments Off on Top Summertime Tips for Pet Safety June 18th, 2010

Heartworms Continue to Plague our Pets!

It’s been more than 150 years since a scientist discovered the heartworm parasite of dogs and more than 80 years since the parasite was found in cats. Still, each year hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are diagnosed with this dreaded worm and it is estimated that North American cases are actually in the millions. In all this time, why have we not found a way to combat and stop this plague?

Heartworm disease is devastating to the pet’s health. Spread by mosquitoes, this parasite can grow close to two feet long and takes up physical space in the heart’s chambers and pulmonary artery. This means that the dog’s heart must work harder to push the same amount of blood out to the body. Early signs of this disease include fatigue and exercise intolerance, but later signs can include coughing, fluid accumulation in the lungs or abdomen and death.

For cats, the heartworm larvae prefer the lungs and can cause vomiting, asthma-like symptoms and even sudden death in some cases.

Not only is the pet harmed, but owners are affected as well. Heartworm treatments for small dogs can run in excess of $500 and costs for larger breeds might surpass $1000. Sadly, the case might be worse for cats as there is no approved treatment for heartworms in our feline friends.

Amazingly, we do have an answer to this problem. Safe, effective heartworm medications exist in a variety of easy to use applications. What’s even more incredible is that the cost of a lifetime of preventive for most pets is significantly less than a single treatment for the disease. So, why do pets continue to suffer and die from a preventable problem?

Two radical theories seen on the Internet state that either the heartworm medications are failing or that the parasites are developing a resistance to the drugs. While conspiracy theorists may love these ideas, scientific evidence for both is lacking. Heartworm preventives have a failure rate of less than 1 in 1 million doses. Likewise, the complex life cycle of the heartworm does not lend itself to developing a natural resistance to medications.

Some people look to climate change for answers. Increasing temperatures mean a longer mosquito season and larger potential for transmission to pets. While we are seeing more mosquitoes in previously mosquito-free areas, the likely reasons are changes made by humans. Irrigation of dry areas and increased plantings of trees in certain locales can actually help a mosquito population. More mosquitoes mean more opportunities for transmission of heartworms.

When all the facts are reviewed, the simplest reason for our failure to control this deadly parasite is simply that we don’t give the preventive as we should. Whether it’s forgetfulness or financial concerns, you must realize that you are on the front lines in this battle and your actions could save your beloved pet from Heartworm Disease.

Thankfully, as pet owners, you do have powerful allies in this war. We can help you pick the best heartworm medication for your pet and your lifestyle. If you have questions about heartworm disease, products or treatment, call us to schedule an appointment!

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Comments Off on Heartworms Continue to Plague our Pets! April 9th, 2010

Source of Sparky’s Long-Term Pain Uncovered

Sparky arrived in a lot of pain. His owner said he couldn’t get comfortable and was having a hard time getting around. She told us he had a long history of back pain, in fact this handsome fella hadn’t felt very good for 4 ½ years! He’d even been to an orthopedic specialist in Dallas who did a CT scan and determined Sparky’s spine was normal and not the cause of his discomfort. Sparky’s owner also told us that he belched a lot, had some flatulence issues and often cried out in pain. All of this history led Dr. Hotchkiss to order a complete medical work up, including blood work and chest and abdominal radiographs.

The x-rays revealed what appeared to be a rotated stomach, more commonly known as Bloat. Because Bloat can happen very quickly and can kill a dog before its owner even has a chance to wonder what happened, this potential diagnosis still didn’t explain Sparky’s long history of suffering. But because it seemed to be his immediate problem, Dr. Hotchkiss proceeded with emergency surgery.

To his surprise, he didn’t find a twisted stomach at all.  What appeared on the x-rays as an enlarged stomach that had folded over on itself actually was a greatly inflamed section of the small intestine (the duodenum). So inflamed, in fact, that what is normally the width of your finger, was larger than the entire stomach – a condition we’d never seen before! Without a doubt, this was why Sparky had felt so cruddy for so long!

The swollen duodenum formed a pouch big enough to fit a grapefruit (remember, it’s only supposed to be the width of your finger!). Inside the pouch were three golf ball-sized accumulations of hair and food along with about a quart of fluid. Because of the chronic dilation, the small intestine had lost much of its ability to contract and move food through to the stomach.

Dr. Hotchkiss removed what had been rotting in Sparky’s small intestine for so long. He then reduced the size of the swollen duodenum by resecting the “extra” tissue using a stapling device, much like a gastric bypass procedure in humans. Check out the photo below that compares the size of a healthy segment of Sparky’s intestine to the swollen part. Even after it was reduced in size, it still remains 4 times the size it should be. Hopefully with time and healing, the swelling will continue to reduce and will eventually regain its normal size and function.

After the surgery, Dr. Hotchkiss is guardedly optimistic. That means he’s concerned, but hopeful that Sparky will make a full recovery. 

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Comments Off on Source of Sparky’s Long-Term Pain Uncovered March 26th, 2010

Poison Prevention Week for Pets

Poison Prevention Week is an annual observance started in 1961 that is designed to highlight the dangers of poisonings and how to prevent them. Although originally created to focus on preventing poisoiningsof children and adults, this week is a great time to discuss potential dangers to our pets as well.

Xylitol, a sweetener found in many sugarless gums, desserts, and other baked goods, can be toxic to our canine friends.  The compound can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, or, in some cases, liver failure.

Human pharmaceuticals are also on this “most common” list.  Through accidental or purposeful ingestion, many pets are sickened by over the counter pain relievers (such as aspirin, Tylenol® or NSAIDs like Aleve®).  Another common poisoning occurs when our pets get into an owner’s antidepressant medications. For cats, Adderall — a combination of mixed amphetamine salts used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — has quickly risen to become one of the most common and dangerous of these pharmaceutical threats. The flavor of Adderall has proven to appeal to the finicky feline palate. And that’s bad, because a single 20 milligram capsule could kill the average size cat.

With Easter approaching, many families will chose flowers to decorate their homes. Flowers of the Lily family can be deadly to cats and ingestion of a few petals or even the pollen can cause severe kidney failure.

Chocolate is another potential poison that is prevalent during Easter. Dark chocolates and baking chocolates are more dangerous than milk chocolate, but enough of any chocolate can cause abnormal heart rhythms, vomiting, and hyperactivity in dogs.

Springtime also puts people in the mood for yard work and cleaning. Be wary of using certain fertilizers for your lawn and garden if they contain organophosphates and/or carbamates. These poisons can cause severe seizures, respiratory failure and death in pets.

Many pets will find pest control products, like snail bait or rodenticides. Rat poison toxicity will eventually kill the pet without intervention and treatment.

Sometimes, severe damage can be avoided with prompt medical attention. If you see your pet ingest any of these poisons, call us for help — or just head on in. We’re here 24-7 and are ready to help you through any emergency situation.

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Comments Off on Poison Prevention Week for Pets March 16th, 2010

Pet Parasites Don’t Take Vacations!

Pets share our homes, our kitchens, and, in some cases, even our beds.  Unfortunately, they might also be sharing some unwanted guests – WORMS! Unlike fleas and mosquitoes who sometimes give us a break during colder weather, these parasites can cause problems all year long!

Most people don’t realize it, but most puppies and kittens are born with roundworms, hookworms or even both. In the vast majority of cases, these worms are passed from mom to the babies either during pregnancy or during nursing after birth. Left unchecked, these tiny monsters can cause poor growth, diarrhea, vomiting, or even death in young animals.

Adult pets aren’t immune to these parasites either. Pets who consume other animals’ feces, eat grass, or even those who catch and eat infected rodents might end up with bloody, runny stool or vomiting caused by the worms.

But beyond their immediate effects on the animals, there is an even more sinister side to these pests. Both roundworms and hookworms are zoonotic, meaning that they can be passed to humans. Children are especially susceptible and can suffer blindness, seizures or organ dysfunction. In extreme cases, young children have lost an eye to roundworm infections.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that almost 14% of the U.S. population is infected with roundworms. That’s nearly 40 million people! Why aren’t we aware of this danger?

The answer lies in the life cycle of these parasites. After the larval worms make their way to the puppies’ digestive tract, they mature into adults over a 3 week period of time. Then, the real danger begins. Adult female worms begin shedding enormous numbers of eggs into the environment. It’s not unusual for more than 200,000 eggs to be shed every single day by a single female. 

Now, imagine a mother dog with a litter of 9 puppies. Including mom’s contribution, even if each pup had only one female worm, more than 2 million eggs are being deposited daily into the yard where the puppies…and your kids, play. Multiply that by the number of days until the pups get an initial de-worming and you can see why this is a problem that has not gone away.

Roundworm eggs are also very hardy, able to survive for about two years in the environment. This makes places such as dog parks or other areas where dogs roam, potential danger zones for becoming infested. Dogs can even pick up roundworm eggs during the winter time! 

Thankfully, hookworm eggs are often killed by freezing temperatures, but in areas of the Southeastern U.S., hookworm larva can survive in sandy soil, emerging to penetrate bare skin. In people, this infection causes an intense itching sensation along with redness and swelling along the migratory track of the hookworm larva. Dogs often present with hair loss on all four feet and thickened, damaged skin on the lower legs.

Due to the prevalence of these worms in our pets, we have developed “strategic de-worming” protocols as a means to help protect both people and pets. Starting with puppies and kittens, we routinely administer de-worming medication.  In addition, we urge pet owners to use Revolution, a monthly heartworm prevention product, that contains medication to control these intestinal parasites. Both dogs and cats should use Revolution every month, all year round!

Parents should teach children to wash their hands after playing with the pets or playing in the yard where pets defecate. Since the eggs are microscopic, you won’t see any evidence on the kid’s hands, but a thorough washing will help insure these parasites won’t end up infecting your children.

It’s also a good idea to check your pet’s stool sample routinely. The short life cycle of these parasites means that a severe infestation can occur quickly. Also, many other parasitic worms and protozoans pose some danger to our pets and these can all be found with a routine fecal sample. As you know, we do a stool sample test twice a year during your pet’s wellness exam. We also administer a de-wormer twice a year, to kill any parasite that may be lurking.

Our pets are a big part of our lives and we want to share as much as we can with them. Playing it safe and following our guidelines for de-worming  could mean that you can share a much longer, healthier life together!

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Comments Off on Pet Parasites Don’t Take Vacations! March 16th, 2010

Help Your Pet be Fit for Life

Did you know that more pets than ever are overweight? According to a recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 44 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats are too plump for their own good. Obese pets are prone to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, skin and haircoat problems, and a shortened lifespan.

Our staff is committed to helping owners help their pets shed unwanted pounds. Our doctors will prescribe a prescription diet that’s low in calories and high in protein — a combination that helps fill your pet up while limiting their caloric intake.

We’ll enter your pet’s information into our Fit for Life software and a weight loss goal and meal plan will be generated.

You’ll return with your pet once a month to get weighed to gauge their progress. One of our nurses will partner with you along the way to give you advice, encouragement, and to help Fido overcome any weight loss challenges.

Once Fido reaches his goal weight, he’ll be rewarded with a free bag of prescription food.

If you’d like your paunchy pet to participate in our new Fit for Life program, call us at 817-731-3733 to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.

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Comments Off on Help Your Pet be Fit for Life January 19th, 2010

Treats Can Add Pounds to Pets

Portly pets dig their treats. It’s not just the treat they love, but the pagentry that surrounds getting it — the click of the pantry door, the sweet sound of their owner’s voice declaring what a good dog they are, the slight pause of the treat just shy of their awating tounge. But owner beware, a few treats here and there add up and can be the source of your pets added baggage.  When a medium-size dog is allotted 500 calories a day, just a few 50 calorie treats a day really makes an impact on his waistline!

Our doctors want you to know that dogs can love low calorie treats, too. A green bean or a baby carrot are just a few calories a piece. And an ice cube is free! Just make sure the show remains the same. After all, it’s your love and attention that they really crave most of all.

Just check out the calorie count of some of the most popular treats that we give our dogs:

Fast Food Treats

McDonald’s Hamburger 260 calories

McDonald’s Cheeseburger 310 calories

1  McDonald’s Chicken Nugget 42 calories

Sonic Vanilla Ice Cream Cone 180 calories

MilkBones

Small Biscuit 20 calories

Medium Biscuit 40 calories

Large Biscuit 115 calories

Extra Large Biscuit 225 calories

Grillin’ Bites 30 calories

Alpo

Liver Snaps 13 calories

Al’s Grill Treats 35 calories

Purina

Beggin’ Strips 30 calories

Busy Bone – Dental Bone Large 600 calories

Busy Bone – Dental Bone Small 309 calories

Cheweez Chew Strips 60 calories

Cheweez Rolls Small with Meaty Middles 171 calories

Cheweez Rolls Large with Meaty Middles 211 calories

TBonz 42 calories

Purina One

Adult Biscuits 33 calories

Large Breed Biscuits 84 calories

Healthy Weight Biscuites 26 calories

Pedigree

DentaBones Small 105 calories

DentaBones Medium 188 calories

DentaBones Large 300 calories

Jumbone small 270 calories

Jumbone regular 560 calories

MarrowBone 39 calories

Scooby Snacks

Zoinks Bone 22 calories

Burger 22 calories

Drumsticks 19 calories

Cheese Wedge 18 calories

Mystery Machine 45 calories

French Fry 9 calories

Meaty Bones

Small 27 calories

Medium 60 calories

Large 93 calories

Misc.

PupPeroni 24 calories

Snausages 25 calories

Jerky Treats 21 calories

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Comments Off on Treats Can Add Pounds to Pets January 19th, 2010

Keeping Pets Safe in the Frigid Weather

As Fort Worth woke up to frigid temperatures in the 20s today, folks were chilled to the bone — and so were our pets! Although they come ready-made with fur coats, they still need our protection during the cold days of winter.  Below are some cold weather tips to make sure your pets are just as warm, cozy, and safe as you are:

  • Although some pets are conditioned to cold weather, you should bring outdoor pets indoors if the temperature drops below 20-degrees Fahrenheit. Puppies, kittens, and short haired pets should come inside anytime the temperature goes below 40-degrees.
  • For pets with long hair, proper grooming is essential to help them maintain a layer of warming air within their coat. Pets who are heavily matted cannot keep themselves as warm. If your outdoor dog is matted, just give The Grand a call at 817-989-PAWS. The salon staff does a great job getting dogs ready for the long winter season! 
  • If your pet must stay outdoors, be sure to provide a shelter. A good “house” will have three enclosed sides, will be elevated off the ground, and will contain generous amounts of bedding such as straw or hay. In cold weather, bigger is not always better. A house just big enough for your pet will warm up faster and retain heat better than something that is too big.
  • Your pet will need access to fresh water that isn’t frozen. Use heated water bowls and replenish them frequently.
  • Antifreeze is a common and deadly pet poisoning during colder months. Did you know that antifreeze has a sweet taste, so pets will readily lick up any that has spilled? If you spill antifreeze, dilute the area well with water and sweep excess water into a rocky or sandy area. Cover area with soil to keep pets from licking at the rocks. If you suspect your pet has consumed any antifreeze at all, head to Metro West right away.
  • Cats love to warm up underneath car hoods. If your car is kept outdoors, or if cats have access to your garage, be sure to pound on the hood of the car prior to starting it. Every winter, we see many cats that are killed or injured grievously by fan belts and moving engine parts.
  • Pets should not be left alone in vehicles due to the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia.
  • Monitor all pets around wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and space heaters. These can cause severe burns!
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Comments Off on Keeping Pets Safe in the Frigid Weather December 15th, 2009