Featured Care Guides

10 Household Plants That Are Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

Asparagus fern (also called emerald feather, emerald fern, sprengeri fern, plumosa fern, and lace fern) is toxic to dogs and cats. The toxic agent in this plant is sapogenin—a steroid found in a variety of plants. If a dog or cat ingests the berries of this plant, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain can occur. Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) can occur if an animal is repeatedly exposed to this plant.

A Pet Owner's Guide to Flea Control

Fleas are blood-feeding parasites that can infest many species of birds and mammals. Although fleas on dogs and cats don’t infest people, fleas may bite people if an area is heavily infested. Flea infestation is one of the most common medical problems veterinarians see, and pets suffer greatly from this condition. Flea bites can trigger severe allergic reactions in some pets. The intense itching caused by flea infestation causes pets to scratch and bite themselves. This can lead to skin wounds, skin infections, and general misery for your pet. Even if your pet is not allergic to flea bites, fleas can transmit serious diseases, such as bartonellosis (the bacteria that causes “cat scratch disease” in people), and other parasites, like tapeworms.

ACTH Stimulation Test

Glucocorticoids (primarily cortisol) and mineralocorticoids are two important types of hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids help regulate numerous complex processes in the body and participate in critically important functions.

Addison's Disease

Glucocorticoids (primarily cortisol) and mineralocorticoids are two important types of hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Under normal conditions, the brain releases a hormone called adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) that stimulates the adrenal glands to release their hormones. Addison’s disease occurs when the brain doesn’t release adequate amounts of ACTH, or the adrenal glands fail to release their hormones in response to ACTH. The medical term for Addison’s disease is hypoadrenocorticism.

Administering Medications to Your Cat

The first part of successfully administering medication to your cat is to ensure that you understand the instructions for giving the medication. These instructions include route of administration (for example, by mouth, into the ears, or into the eyes), dosing frequency (for example, once daily, every 12 hours, or every 8 hours), duration of treatment (for example, 7 days, until gone), and other special considerations (for example, give with food, follow with water).

Administering Medications to Your Dog

The first part of successfully administering medication to your dog is making sure that you understand the instructions for giving the medication. These instructions include route of administration (for example, by mouth, into the ears, or into the eyes), dosing frequency (such as once daily, every 12 hours, or every 8 hours), duration of treatment (for example, 7 days, until gone), and other special considerations (for example, give with food, follow with water).

Adopting Instead of Buying a Pet

While the estimates vary, approximately three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized (“put to sleep”) each year in the United States because too few people spay or neuter the pets they have, too few adopt their new pets, and too many give up their pets. Because space at shelters is limited, staff members must make the difficult decision to euthanize healthy animals that aren’t adopted within a certain amount of time.

Aggression in Dogs

The most common and serious behavior problems of dogs are associated with aggression. Canine aggression includes any behavior associated with a threat or attack (e.g., growling, biting).

Avian Nutrition

It is a common misunderstanding that seeds are a sufficient diet for companion birds. After all, wild bird feeders are filled with seeds, right? However, while wild birds enjoy the seeds people provide, they also eat a wide variety of other foods, including plants, insects, nectar, and, for some species, other small animals. In the wild, the same is true for cockatiels, parakeets, macaws, and other parrots. In their natural setting, these birds consume an almost unbelievable variety of foods.

Bladder Stones and Kidney Stones

Bladder and kidney stones are hardened accumulations of minerals found in urine. Common minerals involved include struvite, calcium oxalate, and urate. Dogs and cats can develop stones anywhere in the urinary tract. Stones can form in many different shapes and sizes.

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

Periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss and affects most dogs before they are 3 years old. Bacteria from periodontal disease can spread to affect other organs and cause illness. One of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease is to brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis—daily, if he or she will allow it.

Canine Arthritis

Arthritis is a joint problem that can reduce mobility and cause pain. Often seen in older dogs, arthritis can by caused by injury, infection, the body’s own immune system, or developmental problems. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis (osteo = bone; arthr = joint; itis = disease) or degenerative joint disease. Normally, joints form smooth connections between bones. Osteoarthritis involves thinning of joint cartilage (a protective cushioning between bones), buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of bony growths within the joint. Over time, this can lead to reduced joint mobility as well as pain. Osteoarthritis affects one of every five dogs.

Canine Bladder Infections

The bladder is an expandable sac, like a balloon, that lies toward the back of the abdomen and is part of the system that removes waste from the body. Urine flows from the kidneys through the tube-shaped ureters and into the bladder, where it is stored before being eliminated from the body through a tube called the urethra.

Canine Distemper

Canine distemper is a serious contagious disease caused by canine distemper virus (CDV), which attacks the respiratory, stomach/intestinal, and brain/nervous systems of dogs. It can also infect ferrets and many wild animals, including raccoons, skunks, minks, weasels, foxes, and coyotes. The death rate can reach 50%, and animals that do recover are often left with permanent disabilities. There is no effective treatment, but virus-associated disease is largely preventable through vaccination.

Canine Heartworm Testing

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs, cats, and up to 30 other species of animals. It is caused by parasitic worms (heartworms) living in the major blood vessels of the lungs and, occasionally, in the heart. These worms are transmitted (as microscopic larvae) through the bite of an infected mosquito. The scientific name for the heartworm parasite is Dirofilaria immitis.

Canine Influenza

Canine influenza virus (CIV) was first detected in 2004 in racing greyhounds in Florida. Investigators learned that this new canine influenza developed when an equine influenza virus adapted to infect dogs. This was the first time that an equine influenza virus had been found to “jump” from horses to dogs. According to Dr. Cynda Crawford of the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, canine influenza does not infect people, and there is no documentation that cats have become infected by exposure to dogs with CIV.

Canine Nutrition

A high-quality, complete and balanced diet is important for the health and longevity of your dog. Among other benefits, a proper diet helps build strong bones, promotes healthy gums and teeth, protects immune function, and results in a lustrous haircoat. Unlike cats, which are carnivores (meaning that they must eat meat), dogs are omnivores, meaning that they can eat meat and plants as their primary food sources.

Canine Obesity

Obesity (the storage of excess fat) is usually caused by excessive food intake and insufficient exercise. According to estimates, 40% to 50% of dogs are overweight and 25% of dogs are obese. Obesity is more common in older, less active pets. Dogs that are fed homemade meals, table scraps, and snacks are more likely to be overweight than dogs that are fed only a commercial pet food.

Canine Pancreatitis

The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen that is involved in helping the body digest food. The pancreas releases enzymes (proteins that are involved in chemical reactions in the body) into the digestive tract to help break down fats and promote digestion. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the condition is referred to as pancreatitis.  

Canine Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus is a deadly disease that is caused by the canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) virus. The virus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system of puppies and dogs. It can also attack the heart of very young puppies.

Caring for African Grey Parrots

One of the most intelligent birds ever studied, the African grey parrot has an amazing ability to imitate human speech and precisely mimic sounds within the environment (for example, ringtones and doorbells). African grey parrots can be affectionate, entertaining, and rewarding companion animals; however, owners must be knowledgeable and conscientious to fully enjoy the qualities of African grey parrots. These birds prefer a routine schedule and a stable environment within their enclosure, and they require a substantial amount of interactive time with their owners to develop a trusting, enjoyable relationship. Therefore, African greys may not be appropriate for people who work odd hours, travel frequently, or spend a substantial amount of time away from home.

Caring for Amazon Parrots

Amazon parrots are highly intelligent, very outgoing, and renowned talkers. They adapt well to captivity, adjusting easily to their cage or aviary (enclosure). However, Amazon parrots require a great deal of mental stimulation. Without the proper attention, social interaction, and toys, Amazon parrots can develop behavioral problems. People who are willing to devote a considerable amount of time to their parrot will have a delightful companion pet for many decades.

Caring for Aquatic Turtles

Although aquatic turtles are clean, quiet, and relatively easy to care for, they require a proper environment to stay healthy. Provide a clean cage, a good diet, and adequate heat and light, and your turtle should be a good companion for 20 to 30 years.

Caring for Bearded Dragons

A bearded dragon can be a good choice for a pet reptile. These charismatic lizards from Australia are friendly and relatively easy to care for. They grow up to two feet in length and can live up to 10 years. If they are fed and housed properly, they can provide many years of companionship.

Caring for Chinchillas

A chinchilla can be a delightful pet for the right owner. Chinchillas have delicate skeletons and love to chew on things like electrical cords, so a safe environment is essential. Keep your chinchilla’s health on the right track with a healthy diet, lots of safe exercise, and regular veterinary care.

Caring for Cockatiels

A cockatiel is a small Australian parrot. If you prefer a small bird that may be more affectionate than a larger parrot, does not vocalize loudly, and requires less space, a cockatiel is an excellent choice. Cockatiels are prized throughout the world because of their loveable companionship qualities. They are gentle and easy to breed and enjoy interacting with humans. Cockatiels make soft chirping sounds, whistle (especially the males), and are generally less noisy than most other parrots. Cockatiels are easy to tame as well as inexpensive and simple to maintain; therefore, they are an excellent choice for first-time bird owners.

Caring for Ferrets

Ferrets are quiet, friendly, curious, and playful. They can be trained to come to an owner’s call or a specific sound, such as the squeak of a toy.

Caring for Green Iguanas

Iguanas are among the most popular pet reptiles. They love to bask in the sun or under an ultraviolet light, and they enjoy a diet of leafy greens and vegetables. Many people don’t realize that iguanas can grow to be quite large, exceeding 6 ft (1.8 m) in length. Iguanas should be properly socialized when they are young to ensure that they can be handled as adults. They require specialized housing and regular veterinary care and may not be a suitable pet for everyone.

Caring for Guinea Pigs

Mild-mannered and cute, guinea pigs can be great pets. They're fairly easy to care for, but they do require some special care as well as regular veterinary checkups, comfortable housing, and attention from their owners.

Caring for Hamsters

Hamsters are the most common pet rodent for several reasons. These curious, attractive, and clean little companions are interesting to observe. Hamsters can be a good first pet for children, are easy to care for, and are usually friendly. However, hamsters are nocturnal (most active at night) and have delicate bones that can break easily due to mishandling or falls.

Caring for Leopard Geckos

One of the most common pet lizards, the leopard gecko is hardy and friendly. It can vocalize, lick its eyes, and “wink” its ears. Leopard geckos have various colors and patterns, and their price varies according to their appearance. Housing and feeding a leopard gecko is relatively simple, but some guidelines must be followed to keep these geckos healthy.

Caring for Rabbits

A clean, roomy cage and a nutritious diet are important to keeping your rabbit healthy and happy. Also important is the time you spend interacting with your rabbit: a bored and lonely rabbit can become destructive and even aggressive. Providing the interesting surroundings and companionship that your rabbit needs can help him or her be well adjusted and affectionate.

Caring for Sugar Gliders

Sugar gliders have quickly become a popular pet in the United States because of their many good characteristics: they are clean, attractive, and relatively quiet. Their housing and dietary requirements are reasonable. Sugar gliders are hardy and don't have a lot of health problems. However, before deciding to own a sugar glider, be sure you understand how much commitment and time are required.

Caring for Your New Puppy

During the first 7 to 8 weeks of life, puppies have specific needs for nourishment, warmth, socialization, and excretion.

Cherry Eye (prolapsed nictitans gland)

Like people, animals have upper and lower eyelids. However, they also have a third eyelid on the inside corner of each eye for extra protection of the eye’s surface. Tucked beneath this third eyelid is the nictitans gland, a small, pinkish mass of tissue that helps produce tears to lubricate the eye.

Dental Care

Bad breath in pets may be a sign of periodontal disease that could lead to other health problems. Periodontal disease starts when plaque (a bacterial film) coats the tooth. Plaque hardens (calcifies) into tartar, a thick yellow or brown layer on the teeth. Tartar can irritate the gums, creating an environment where bacteria thrive. As the disease progresses, the gums become tender, red, and swollen and the bacteria continue to multiply. Eventually, the inflamed gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that trap more bacteria and food particles. The gums bleed, the roots of the teeth may become exposed, teeth may become loose, and your pet may feel pain when eating. If the bacteria enter the bloodstream, they can create problems for organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

Dental Cleaning

It’s estimated that 85% of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Periodontal disease is a progressive disease of the supporting tissues surrounding teeth and the main cause of early tooth loss.

Dental Exam

The term dental disease in dogs and cats is very broadly used to describe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (inflammation of the bone and other support structures around the tooth). Another term commonly used to collectively describe these two conditions is periodontal disease.

Dewclaw Removal

Dewclaws are the toes on the inner edge of your pet’s paws. They look like thumbs because they are up higher than the other four toes and they don’t touch the ground when your pet is walking. Some pets only have dewclaws on their front paws, whereas others have dewclaws on their front and rear paws. Some pets are born without any dewclaws, and others are born with extra ones.

Ear Cleaning

Ear cleaning can help treat or prevent ear problems. Some pets are prone to ear problems and may need regular ear cleanings between veterinary visits. Ear cleaning can help remove dirt and wax that can prevent medications from reaching inflamed areas. It can also get rid of allergens and microbes that may contribute to inflammation or infection.

Fecal Flotation and Giardia Test

Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and microscopic intestinal parasites (like coccidia and Giardia) are relatively common in pets, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t cause serious illness. Young, sick, or debilitated pets can even die if they are heavily infected with parasites. If your pet has parasites, accurate diagnosis, including identification of the parasite(s) present, is important to determine the best treatment and help ensure a full recovery. Fecal diagnostic tests, such as fecal flotation and Giardia testing, are an important part of this process.

Flea and Tick Prevention

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort for your pet and can also cause serious diseases.

Rabbit Nutrition

Rabbits make great pets: they are easy to keep; can be litterbox trained like cats; and can live a long, healthy life, providing many hours of enjoyment. The average life span of a domestic rabbit is 6 to 10 years. If kept outdoors, rabbits need to live in a secure location safe from predators. If rabbits are kept indoors, the house must be “bunny proofed” to remove items that rabbits could chew and destroy or that could be harmful, such as electrical cords. Rabbits need to be kept in a clean, climate-controlled environment with fresh water and good nutrition. Pet rabbits typically live longer than rabbits for commercial use, so the goals for feeding pet rabbits differ from those for production rabbits.

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. All warm-blooded animals, including wild animals, dogs, cats, and humans, are susceptible to it. Once clinical signs appear, rabies is generally fatal. However, the disease is also generally preventable through vaccination.

All Care Guides

10 Household Plants That Are Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

Asparagus fern (also called emerald feather, emerald fern, sprengeri fern, plumosa fern, and lace fern) is toxic to dogs and cats. The toxic agent in this plant is sapogenin—a steroid found in a variety of plants. If a dog or cat ingests the berries of this plant, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain can occur. Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) can occur if an animal is repeatedly exposed to this plant.

Read More

10 Ways to Help an Arthritic Dog

Here are tips to manage this condition and minimize your dog’s discomfort.

Read More

A Pet Owner's Guide to Flea Control

Fleas are blood-feeding parasites that can infest many species of birds and mammals. Although fleas on dogs and cats don’t infest people, fleas may bite people if an area is heavily infested. Flea infestation is one of the most common medical problems veterinarians see, and pets suffer greatly from this condition. Flea bites can trigger severe allergic reactions in some pets. The intense itching caused by flea infestation causes pets to scratch and bite themselves. This can lead to skin wounds, skin infections, and general misery for your pet. Even if your pet is not allergic to flea bites, fleas can transmit serious diseases, such as bartonellosis (the bacteria that causes “cat scratch disease” in people), and other parasites, like tapeworms.

Read More

ACTH Stimulation Test

Glucocorticoids (primarily cortisol) and mineralocorticoids are two important types of hormones produced by the body’s adrenal glands. Glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids help regulate numerous complex processes in the body and participate in critically important functions.

Read More

Abdominal Radiography

A radiograph (sometimes called an x-ray) is a type of photograph that reveals the body’s internal organs. The procedure for obtaining a radiograph is called radiography. Radiography is a very useful diagnostic tool for veterinarians because it can help obtain information about almost any organ in the body, including the heart, lungs, and abdominal organs, as well as the bones.

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