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Nutrition Tips for Dogs from Your Little Rock Veterinarian

Just as with humans, good nutrition and exercise are key to keeping your dog healthy and happy. And just as with human nutrition, the internet is teeming with information, reviews, and advice that can be overwhelming.

You’ll find yourself weeding through advertisements masked as advice, supplement companies trying to sell the next cure-all, and plenty of make-at-home advice. Some of this information is helpful, but some can be so poorly balanced that it may even harm your dog.

So, how do you know what’s best for your furry friend? Today, we’ll discuss some tips for dog nutrition that will keep your barking buddy healthy:

Feed High Quality Food

It’s one of the biggest debates you see in the pet food world: Canned food vs. dry, commercial vs. home prepared. Both wet, canned food and dry, kibble-style food have their advantages.

Canned food can have a higher percentage of protein, but it also spoils if left out too long, and can contribute to dental problems due to its’ soft, no-chewing-necessary form. Dry food is more convenient, less expensive overall, and can help keep teeth cleaner with each crunch. However, it can also contain more fillers, may not have as much protein as wet food, and the low moisture content means your dog will need to drink more water.

Most dogs will thrive on dry food, but some pickier eaters and those with specific dietary needs will need canned. Another popular feeding option is home-prepared food. Keep in mind that a high quality commercial pet food has science and research on it’s side, and is a sure safe bet for Copper’s health.

Homemade food is a viable option if your dog has severe allergies or other medical needs that require specific ratios or easy digestibility. If you are unsure about which type of food would be best for your dog, ask the veterinarian.

Switching food? Take it slow.

When you are switching food brands or even “flavors,” you’ll want to transition slowly to the new food, not just abruptly start a fresh new bag or can. Starting a new food can cause stomach upset and diarrhea.

Mix the new food in with the old food, starting with about 25% of the new food mixed with the old for a few days, then 50/50 old and new, and transition over the course of several days to even up to two weeks to the new food.

Slow it Down

If Barkley seems like he is inhaling his food faster than a vacuum cleaner, you may want to take some steps to slow him down. Eating too fast can cause your dog to swallow air, which can lead to a potentially deadly condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV).

Scattering food across the floor or patio, folding the kibble into a towel for them to “hunt” through, or using a slow feeder bowl or puzzle feeder can help.

Don’t Overfeed

Sure, Jim’s big brown beggin’ eyes are sweet, but giving in to his snack desires too often can lead to too much Jim around the middle. Obesity is just as much an epidemic in dogs as it is in humans.

Be sure you are feeding the right amount of food. Most brands offer a feeding chart on the bag based on weight. Of course, if you have questions regarding how much to feed, consult Dr. Brian Barron. Keep treats as special “sometimes” rewards, and when training, account for the additional treat volume when feeding their regular meals. If you feel that you dog is packing on the pounds, discuss weight control food options with your veterinarian.

Beware of harmful human foods

Many “human” foods are fine to share with your dog, in fact some trainers use cheese, hot dogs, and chicken liver pieces as “high value” rewards, but be aware that not everything we eat is safe for your dog.

Some foods can simply give them an upset stomach and may cause vomiting and diarrhea, such as tree nuts, dairy in large quantities, onions, and garlic. Other people foods can make them extremely sick and even cause life threatening conditions and should be avoided at all costs. These include chocolate, grapes. alcohol, and the natural sweetener Xylitol.

The main takeaway here is that you should feed your dog a high quality diet, with moderate amounts of good quality treats, and be aware of any changes in their eating habits, weight, or behavior.

If you have questions about your dog’s specific nutritional needs, be sure to ask the veterinarians at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic!  We can advise you on the best food and treat options for your dog. During March 2019 just stop by and mention this article for 10% off any in-house treat purchase!

7 Common Things that Lead to Accidental Poisoning in Pets

We all want our pets to live long happy and healthy lives, but unfortunately, there are several things in our homes that can lead to accidental poisoning in our pets. Awareness is the key to preventing accidental poisoning emergencies. 

What may be good for humans may not always be good for your animals when it comes to food and medicine. A general rule of thumb is that if it is bad for your child, it’s bad for your pet. In honor of the National Poison Prevention Week (March 18th-24th), we’ll show you 7 different groups of toxins that you should avoid exposing to or giving your pet:   

 1. Household Products 

Unsurprisingly, most common household products that are harmful to people to ingest are also bad for your pets. Antifreeze, paint thinner, pool chemicals, and common cleaners like bleach and drain cleaner are considered toxic and can result in stomach, respiratory problems, and renal failure. 

A good way to prevent an accidental poisoning is to keep these household products out of the reach of your pets. Keep the toxic products out-of-sight in closed storage or place them high on shelves to avoid accidental spillage. Just as you would child-proof any potential household danger, you should pet-proof your house as well. 

 2. Human Medications 

While most human prescription medications are life-savers for people with medical conditions, even a small dose can be potentially fatal for our pets. Some of the more harmful medications include: 

  • Antidepressants 
  • Blood pressure medications 
  • Prescription anti-inflammatory and pain medications 

Over-the-counter medications can also present an accidental poisoning hazard for pets. Pain medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen. In fact, a single 200-milligram ibuprofen tablet can be toxic for most small or mid-sized pets. 

Remember to always consult your veterinarian about giving your pet any kind of medication even if it is over-the-counter and designed for the pet. Just like humans, pets can overdose or have unintended side effects from using even prescribed veterinary drugs. Some of the more easily overdosed medications include painkillers and de-wormers, so be sure to always administer the veterinarian-recommended dosage. 

SRVC has both in-house and online pharmacy services to make sure your furry friends have the medicines they need.  

3. Human Food 

We all love to treat our furry friends to a treat now and then, but not all treats are created equal. Many foods that are safe for humans are actually poisonous for our pets. Dogs are often in the spotlight since nearly 91% of calls to the Pet Poison Hotline involve dogs. Some of the foods to avoid accidental poisoning in dogs include: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Avocado 
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate 
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts  
  • Onion and Garlic 
  • Xylitol (often found in a surprising amount of foods) 

Many of the same foods can be toxic to cats as well. Since cats tend to be smaller than most dog breeds they are more susceptible to fatal accidental poisoning from even a small amount of human food.  

If you ever have any questions about what human food you can and cannot feed your pet, consult your veterinarian. In order to be safe, only feed your pet food and diets made specifically for your pet. 

 4. Rodenticides 

Rat poison and other rodent poisons can cause accidental poisoning when ingested by your pets. Symptoms of this type of poisoning often do not present themselves until several days after ingestion. If you suspect your pet to have consumed rodenticides or eaten a poisoned rodent, you should take your pet ASAP to your emergency veterinarian.   

In order to avoid accidental poisoning from rodenticides, be sure to keep the poison out of the reach of your pet, avoid setting traps near any pet common areas, and alert your neighbors when you set any traps. 

 5. Flea and Tick Products 

These products may be helpful for preventing flea and tick infestations, but they can accidentally poison your pet if not used carefully. Often the problem involves your pet eating one of these products or a small pet receiving more of the product than prescribed. Always talk with your veterinarian about how much you should give your pet even if it is an over-the-counter flea and tick product designed for your pet. Oftentimes veterinarians can prescribe your pet flea and tick medication that is not only more effective but would be administered at a safe dosage for your pet.

 6. Plants 

One of the most overlooked ways a pet can be accidentally poisoned is by plants. House and garden plants were originally taken from natural environments where they employ chemicals and toxins for self-defense. Some plants that can present dangers to both cats and dogs include: 

  • Azaleas 
  • Daffodils (bulbs) 
  • Lilies 
  • Rhododendrons 
  • Sago Palms (seeds) 
  • Tulips (bulbs) 

What if you have one of these plants in or around your house? For dogs, simply putting the plants out of reach will likely eliminate the problem. For cats, it can a little trickier since they like to climb things. We recommend avoiding having any type of toxic plant in a cat household, especially lilies since they can cause severe liver damage with only a couple bites.

If you want more information on what types of plants are toxic to your pets, visit the ASPCA Toxic Plant List website to learn more.

 7. Lawn and Garden Products 

Are you landscaping or fertilizing your yard? Be sure to keep your pets away from the lawn or garden since many of these products can cause accidental poisoning if ingested. Once the products have dissipated within a week or two, then you should be able to let your pet run around in the affected area. Also, avoid allowing your dog to roll in fertilizer mainly because it smells and no one likes a stinky dog!

What to Do If Your Pet Suffers Accidental Poisoning

  1. Stay calm and act fast – Although most toxins absorb quickly, if you act swiftly you can potentially prevent damage by taking your pet to the local emergency veterinarian.  
  2. Safely remove the toxin – Be sure to remove any more of the toxin from the pet’s reach so they cannot ingest any more of the toxin. 
  3. Contact your veterinarian immediately – During regular hours, bring your pet into SRVC. However, after hours you can either bring your pet to the local emergency clinic or call the main poison hotlines: 

 

Emergency Veterinarian for Accidental Poisoning in Little Rock, Arkansas 

Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic offers many emergency services to help with accidental poisoning or any additional veterinary services for your pet. Be sure to get your pets regular check-ups at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic in Little Rock. Book an appointment today!

Important Information from Your Little Rock Veterinarian about Canine Influenza Outbreak

Canine influenza (CI), or dog flu, is a highly contagious viral infection that is considered to be a Type A influenza virus. At present, two strains of canine influenza virus have been identified in the United States: H3N8 and H3N2.

Influenza viruses can quickly change and give rise to new strains that can infect different species. Both strains of canine influenza identified in the U.S. can be traced to influenza strains known to infect species other than dogs., but at some point, these viruses acquired the ability to infect dogs and be transmitted from dog to dog.

Canine H3N8 influenza was first identified in Florida in 2004 in racing greyhounds. It is thought this strain developed from an equine H3N8 influenza strain that jumped from horses to dogs. Since being detected in 2004, canine H3N8 influenza has been identified in dogs in most U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Canine H3N2 influenza was first identified in the United States in March 2015 following an outbreak of respiratory illness in dogs in the Chicago area. Prior to this outbreak, reports of canine H3N2 influenza virus were restricted to South Korea, China and Thailand. It was initially identified in dogs in Asia in 2006-2007 and likely arose through the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus – possibly from among viruses circulating in live bird markets – to dogs.

As of May, 30 states have reported H3N2 infections and 42 (including Arkansas) have reported H3N8 cases.

These cases are primarily associated with movement between AKC dog shows, but have spilled over into pet dogs, and there is major concern the outbreak will continue via AKC shows. NOTE: Last weekend’s AKC show scheduled in Texarkana, AR was canceled as a precautionary measure.

Get Your Dog Flu Vaccine at Your Favorite Little Rock Veterinarian

The most important step to prevention is to vaccinate dogs against the canine influenza viruses, so please call us to schedule an appointment. Just like human flu vaccines, the H3N2 CIV vaccine may not completely prevent infection but will make it less likely. Additionally, if a vaccinated dog does get infected, the disease is likely to be mild and of shorter duration. The vaccine can also protect against pneumonia.

Canine influenza is not currently a reportable disease in Arkansas. However, the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission has broad authority to respond to animal disease outbreaks including quarantine and additional actions if deemed necessary by the State Veterinarian.

The Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory offers canine influenza testing on nasal swabs. Please contact the laboratory for additional information.

Additional information is also available at the American Veterinary Medical Association website.

How to Help Your Pet Live Longer with Good Dental Care

Regularly Visit your Little Rock Veterinarian for Dental Check-Ups

Our team will perform a complete dental exam and will then recommend oral care and/or a treatment tailored for your pet. Treatment can involve professional teeth cleaning and polishing, and dental surgery (tooth extraction) if necessary. Drugs may be prescribed to complement the treatment: antibiotics or local antiseptics during some days or weeks in order to fight bacterial infection.

Do not hesitate to ask us if your pet suffers from bad breath or decreased appetite.

Preventive Dental Care at Home

Dental home care is critical in the prevention of periodontal disease. It is also a key factor to make the effects of professional dental cleaning last longer.

You can help delay the first professional dental cleaning with appropriate dental care at home starting as early as possible in your pet’s life.

Brushing, chewing, rinsing, food or water additive: All of these are good ways to prevent the accumulation of dental plaque and bacteria on your pet’s teeth and help them live a long, happy life.

Bad Breath: The Evidence of Periodontal Disease

Imagine never brushing your teeth… for years. That’s what happens to your pet without proper dental care. Bad breath is not a normal condition for dogs and cats. It is evidence of a very serious condition: periodontal disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?

It’s the scientific name given to disease of the gum and surrounding tissues of the teeth. Periodontal disease occurs when there is an excess build-up of dental plaque that is further infected by bacteria and mineralized into tartar. More than 85% of dogs and cats suffer from some stage of periodontal disease.

Bad breath rarely originates from intestinal or liver problems; it comes from poor oral health. And, without proper oral care, periodontal disease can have very serious and irreversible consequences.

 

Advanced stages of periodontal disease have very serious effects and can shorten your pet’s life:

  • Jaw bone destruction leading to fractures, dental abscesses and tooth loss
  • Intense pain preventing your pet from eating
  • Spreading of bacteria into the blood flow toward other organs (heart, liver, kidneys and lungs)

For more than 30 years, Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic has been serving pet owners and their furry friends across central Arkansas with comprehensive and compassionate veterinary services. Contact us today and let our doctors and techs keep your pets happy and healthy.

On the Road with Fido and Fluffy – Traveling with Pets

Traveling with your pets can be a fun endeavor, especially with the rising popularity of pet-friendly restaurants and hotels. But, much like packing up the kids to go on vacation, there are a few specific details you need to iron out before you go.

What to Pack

Here’s a brief checklist of items you should remember to bring along whether you’re traveling by land or air:

  • Your pet’s food
  • Food and water dishes
  • Bedding
  • Litter and litter box
  • Leash, collar and tags
  • Grooming supplies
  • A first-aid kit (for dogs or cats
  • Any necessary medications.

And if you’re on a road trip, always have a container of drinking water with you!

Pet Health Requirements

When traveling with your pet, you might encounter animal health requirements specific to your destination. As soon as you know your travel details, it’s important to contact your veterinarian to assist with the pet travel process. Factors to consider may include meeting time frames for obtaining a health certificate, updating vaccinations, diagnostic testing, or administration of medications/ treatments. Regulations for traveling in the U.S. are not stringent; however, it’s always a good idea to have your pet’s health records on-hand.

Traveling with your pet to a foreign country, however, can be a little…hairy! For example, if you plan to travel to Australia with your pup, you must follow 20 steps before the government will permit entry! You definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute.

Airplane Travel with your Dog or Cat

Some airlines allow small pets to travel in the cabin with you as your carry-on item while others require pets to travel in the cargo area below. BringFido has an excellent list detailing regulations and fees for most major airlines.

Some general rules for flying with your pet. Make sure you:

  • Use a carrier that is approved by your airline.
  • Have your pet’s vaccinations updated before you leave.
  • Ensure your pet is microchipped in the event he’s lost.

Road Tripping with your Furry Friends

When you take a car trip with your cat or dog, the Humane Society recommends that each (especially cats who are more prone to wandering) be crated. They also say that dog restraints or seat belts are useful for preventing your dog from roaming around the car and being a distraction; however, they haven’t reliably been shown to protect dogs in the event of a crash.

Be sure to also stop for plenty of bathroom and exercise breaks, but always keep a collar and tags on your dog just in case he gets loose. It’s always best when traveling with pets to have another two-legged traveler so one of you can stay in the vehicle if you need to take a rest stop. If you’re solo, make it quick and leave windows open in warm weather.

And, before you go, be sure to search the internet for pet friendly places that welcome your animals. Most places in the U.S. that are pet friendly only welcome dogs, so search for “dog friendly restaurant” and the city you’re visiting.

Most of all, have a great time and fun adventures with your pets!

Kids and Pets – What to Know Before You Adopt

You know the familiar refrain (Heck, you probably even used it yourself back in the day): “But, moooooom! Everyone else has a puppy [kitty] [goldfish] [ferret]!” Or even better, “Dad! Look what followed me home! Can we keep him???” It seems like kids and pets (more often than not) go together like peanut butter and jelly, so adopting a new family member may feel like an easy choice. But, it’s really important to ensure that you don’t enter into pet parenthood with little forethought. You need to take a lot of factors into consideration before you make the leap into being owned by a pet, and the Little Rock veterinarians at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic can help with some advice.

What’s your style?

One of the main things you need to think about when deciding to welcome a pet into your home is your family’s lifestyle. This checklist might be helpful as you go through the pros and cons of adoption:

  • How many kids do you have?
  • How old are your kids?
  • Do you already have a pet?
  • Does anyone have animal fur or dander allergies?
  • What’s the size of your home compared to the pet you’d like to adopt?
  • In what life stage is the pet are you considering (baby, adult, senior)?
  • If you’re considering adopting a dog, do you have a fenced back yard?
  • What’s your daily schedule like?

Thinking through these questions will help you determine what type of pet will fit your family’s dynamic. For example, if the adult(s) in the family work a typical 8-5 job seven days a week, the kids are in school, and also have after-school activities, adopting a puppy might not be the best idea. But, a self-sufficient cat would be perfect!

Kids and Pet Care

Of course, when you bring home a new pet, the kids are over the moon! They’re so excited that they’ll promise to do all of the pet-care chores! It’s important to realize, however, that once the elation of having a new family member wears off, Mom or Dad will likely be the ones managing those tasks. Starting their pet-care responsibilities from day one will often ensure that your kids get into good habits with their new friend. When making a chore chart, it’s important to consider their ages when you’re determining appropriate pet care chores.

The folks at Parents magazine advise that kids as young as three can lend a hand by helping Mom or Dad feed their pet. As they get older, responsibilities such as walking the dog or cleaning the litter box every day can be added.

Kids and Pet Treatment

While welcoming a new family member can be an exciting time, it’s also extremely important to make sure your kids understand how to act around pets: They’re in an unfamiliar environment and need to be treated gently for the first few weeks. The experts at KidsHealth.org offer a few recommendations. Teach your kids:

  • How to properly handle and pick up pets.
  • To never tease animals or pull their tails or ears.
  • To never bother animals while they’re eating or sleeping.
  • To never take a toy or bone away from a dog.
  • To wash their hands with soap and water after handling pets.

And a couple tips for Mom and Dad to remember:

  • Closely supervise pets and never leave an infant or toddler alone with a pet.
  • Don’t put pets into scary situations. For example, if you know your cat gets nervous around too many people, then put the kitty in another room during parties.
  • Be sure to have your new pet checked out at your veterinarian’s office. The Little Rock veterinarians at Shackleford Road Veterinary Clinic would love to visit with you and your furry friend!

Adding a new pet to the family can be a rewarding and enriching experience. Just take the time to do a little research and self-evaluation to make sure you and your kids are ready for the responsibility. And have fun!

Join Us at the PuppyUp Walk!

Mark your calendars now because we don’t want you to miss the PuppyUp Walk November 5th at MacArthur Park! PuppyUp is a

two-mile walk created to help promote awareness of canine cancer and fundraise for cancer research to benefit both pets and people.

Pre-registration will be going on through November 3rd for $20. After the 3rd, registration increases to $25. Kids under 14 can participate
for free.

Onsite registration begins at 11:00 a.m., and the walk starts at 1:00 p.m. (Check below for the complete schedule). Since 2010, the PuppyUp Foundation has funded $400,000 in cancer research in the areas of osteosarcoma, breast and bladder cancer, as well as mast cell tumors. So, we encourage you to form a team, join a team, or just walk as an individual to help raise funds for this very worthwhile organization.

2016 PuppyUp Schedule

WHEN: Saturday, November 5th, 2016

WHERE: McArthur Park Pavilion – 601 East 9th St. – Little Rock

11:00 a.m.     Registration & silent auction begins
12:30 p.m.    Opening ceremony
1:00 p.m.      Walk begins
2:00 p.m.     Announcements & prizes to top three fundraisers
2:30 p.m.     Silent auction ends
3:00 p.m.     Farewell ceremony

October is National Adopt-a-Dog® Month!

Over the years, dogs have become more than just pets or working animals, they’re now bona fide family members. They sport Razorback T-shirts on game days, go on family vacations, and you’ll even see them hanging out with their humans on restaurant patios that welcome them. But now, more than ever, many dogs find themselves in a position of needing a new family to love. Whether they’re rescues from a puppy mill; they were found wandering the street; or their previous owner had to surrender them, the perfect dog for you is likely available for immediate adoption in the Little Rock area.

In 1981, the American Humane Association named October as Adopt-a-Dog® month to encourage us humans to save the lives of homeless dogs. We don’t have an exact number of how many dogs need a new place to live, but so far in 2016, the Humane Society of Pulaski Countyhas taken in more than 400 dogs. A no-kill shelter, they’ve been fortunate to have adopted out nearly that same number.

If adopting is in your future, where can you go to find your new furry friend? Check out a few of these local resources:

Adoption fees generally range from $25 to $250 depending on the facility, and many times spaying or neutering is included. Also, keep in mind that adult and senior dogs need love, too. Puppies are adorable so they’re most often adopted quickly, but older and special needs dogs would likely be ecstatic to spend their remaining years living comfortably with a loving family. When you adopt, be sure to bring your pet to us for a wellness exam to make sure they’re in excellent health.

If adopting just isn’t an option for you right now, you can always support your local shelter. Donate time, money or supplies such as dog food, leashes, old towels, or toys. Call the shelter to see what supplies or services are needed most.

Adding a new furry face to your family can be an extremely rewarding experience. Make October the month you take the plunge. Adopt a dog today!

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