Keeping Them Well: Pet Wellness Care for Your New Pet

new petA new year has begun, and we’re sure that some of you have added a new pet to your family this holiday season! New pets are such an exciting way to add love and fun to your home, but they also take some adjustment as you become familiar with your pet’s health needs and personality. There’s a lot to learn about keeping your new pet healthy – from exercise and nutrition to pet wellness and preventive care. At Androscoggin Animal Hospital, it’s our job to help you learn the best ways to keep your new pet healthy, and we’re excited to get started!

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Why Pet Wellness Care Matters

Puppy and microscopeMost of us drag our children, and ourselves, into the physician’s office once per year for a checkup. We get weighed (perhaps not the best part of the visit), poked and prodded a bit, our doctor may order a few age appropriate tests, and we’re on our way.

Regular pet wellness exams are just as important for our four-legged family members as they are for us. An annual physical exam is, by far, one of the best investments you can make in your pet’s future. By tending to your pet’s health and wellness now, you are helping to ensure that he or she is healthy, happy, and by your side for years to come. Continue…

My Cat is Panting, Should I Worry?

A cat panting.

Panting is perfectly natural for pooches. They pant when they’re happy, pant when they’re thirsty, and pant in your face when they just want attention! 

Cats, on the other hand, are rarely caught with their tongues hanging out. It’s perfectly normal for a cat to indulge in a few deep breaths after a bout of active play, but if your cat starts panting heavily for no discernable reason, a call to your pet’s doctor may be in order. 

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Options for Dealing With Your Destructive Dog

A dog chewing on a shoe

Chewing and playful biting are fun and cute when your pet is a puppy, but what happens when she grows up to be a destructive dog? These behaviors can demolish property and impact your ability to trust your pet at home. 

Know that your dog is not doing this to you out of spite or to get revenge for leaving them all day or not sharing your pizza crust. This behavior comes from a place of anxiety or unbridled energy levels.

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Down Cujo! Why Is My Small Dog Aggressive?

Small dog barking

While the image of a slobbering rottweiler or a menacing pack of pit bulls might be what comes to mind for most when aggressive dogs are discussed, our smaller canine companions are not exempt from this description. They may not have quite the bad rap that dobermans or German Shepherds can have, but pint-sized pups can carry quite the pugnacity as well. 

Understanding why the aggressive small dog has so much attitude can help pet owners to better train and enjoy their pets. No judgement here from the staff at Androscoggin Animal Hospital, we are here to help. 

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What Do Pet Vaccines Really Protect Your Dog From?

A cute puppy in front of a blue background

Most of us know that our pets should be vaccinated, but few really understand what pet vaccines are needed and why. Vaccines are an essential part of your pet’s preventative care. Even a little indoor lap dog needs some vaccinations, and Androscoggin Animal Hospital wants to help you to better understand why we recommend them.

Pet Vaccines as Part of Preventive Care

Similarly to human medicine, our veterinary team recommends pet vaccines in order to prevent serious disease in our dog (and cat) patients. 

A vaccination allows the body to learn how to mount an effective immune response against a particular virus or bacteria so that if it is exposed at some time down the line, it is better able to defend itself.

Some vaccinations provide complete or near complete protection against the disease while others just help to decrease the risk of serious infection. Regardless, pet vaccines are a powerful tool when it comes to keeping our furry friends happy and healthy and are a cornerstone of pet wellness care

Not all pets need all vaccinations, and not all vaccinations are created equal. Our veterinary team takes pride in assessing each patient to determine what vaccinations are necessary. We also utilize quality vaccinations that are stored and administered appropriately to ensure effectiveness.  

Understanding Your Dog’s Vaccinations

So what are all these vaccinations that you see in your pet’s reminders? When it comes to dog vaccinations, we can divide them into core (necessary for all dogs) and non-core (to be given based on risk factors).

Core Dog Vaccinations

  • Rabies—Rabies is a serious disease that is almost 100 percent fatal when contracted. It is also a zoonotic disease, meaning humans can contract it from infected animals. Due to its serious nature, Maine requires all dogs to be vaccinated between 12 and 16 weeks of age and then again annually. Triennial vaccinations may be given with an appropriate vaccine and after the first annual booster is administered. 
  • DHPP (Distemper combination)—The distemper vaccine is actually composed of four different vaccinations in combination. Canine distemper, canine hepatitis (also called adenovirus 2), canine influenza, and parvovirus are all very serious diseases. Vaccination of puppies several times until they reach four months of age is recommended. Boosters are typically given annually thereafter.

Non Core Dog Vaccinations

  • Leptospirosis—Another zoonotic disease, leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is found in wild animal urine. Infection can cause serious liver and kidney problems in both pets and people, which makes this vaccine a frequently recommended one for most dogs. 
  • Bordetella —One of the primary offending bugs in canine kennel cough, Bordetella can cause upper respiratory issues including a very persistent and very contagious cough. This vaccination is typically recommended for social dogs who will spend time around other pets in grooming, training, boarding, or play scenarios. 
  • Canine influenza —Another very contagious and potentially serious respiratory bug, the canine influenza virus is a little newer on the scene, but this is definitely a vaccination to consider for social butterflies. 
  • Lyme disease—Carried by ticks, Lyme disease is a serious bacterial disease that can cause fever, joint pain, and kidney problems in our canine companions. In Maine, this disease is endemic, and the vaccination is often recommended in conjunction with good tick prevention in at-risk pets. 

Pet vaccines are an important part of keeping your animals and human family healthy and thriving. If you have questions about our recommendations for your pet or vaccines in general, please contact us. We are always happy to help.

Woof! Woof! What? The Meaning Behind Dog Barks

A dog barking
What is your barking dog trying to tell you?

Most loving dog owners are sure they know what their dog is thinking and feeling at all times. The problem is that our furry friends don’t come with a bark dictionary, so we are left wondering what each sound actually means. 

If your dog is the chatty type, we can help decipher those barks into a relatable vocabulary. The team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital is here to explain the meaning behind dog barks.

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Should You Leash Your Pet?

A dog out for a walk

In Maine it is “unlawful for any dog, licensed or unlicensed, to be at large, except when used for hunting.”

Of course, “at large” refers to a dog not under the immediate control of an owner in public places. Sure, there are many dogs that don’t get into any trouble while away from home. But to ensure their own health and safety – not to mention the wellbeing of the public – it is imperative to leash your pet dog while outdoors.

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They Do What they Want, But Do Cats Want to Swim?

A cat chewing on a pair of glasses

You may think, “When cat’s swim!” could very well be the equivalent of “When pigs fly!” 

While it is true that some cats detest water, you may be surprised that some don’t. 

Amazingly, certain breeds are not only open to the idea of exploring water but welcome opportunities to play and even swim in it. Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Turkish Vans, Manx, and Abyssian can easily take to the water, given the chance and a proper introduction.

Just Keep Swimming?

You may be surprised to learn that cats can swim incredibly well. In addition to some breeds actually enjoying the water, all cats naturally move in ways that resemble basic survival swimming. 

But How Do I Teach a Cat to Swim?

Many cat owners have found success by positively introducing their cat to water at an early age. The more they get used to water, the better. Kittens are more apt to acclimate to water if it’s part of their overall socialization process. But, if you approach the introduction with patience and a gentle hand, a cat of any age can learn that water is a-okay. 

Keep the splashing to a minimum and never never force cats to enter the water. Likewise, be sure the water is a comfortable temperature. 

Swimming itself presents certain challenges, some of which you may not have anticipated. For example, be sure that your cat knows how to safely exit the water. Ramps or a feline-friendly ledge can work wonders, but make sure your cat understands that.

Our Amazing, Astounding Cats

If you have questions about teaching cats to swim, overall feline behavior, cat wellness, our veterinarians and staff are always here for you!