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COVID-19 Precautions & Procedures

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Dear Valued 5 Points Animal Hospital Clients,

As you are all aware, given the constant news about COVID-19, coronavirus poses a serious health risk to each and every one of us. We want our valued clients to know that our goal at 5 Points Animal Hospital will be to continue to provide essential medical care to the pet’s in our community while maintaining an environment that minimizes any potential health risk to our clients and our staff.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has published guidelines for veterinary practices to follow that will help us to achieve that, but there are some differences from our standard operating procedures.  Effective immediately, we are limiting in-person patient exams by prioritizing the scheduling of on-site appointments for patients who have essential healthcare needs such as:

Pets who are sick or injured.

Adult pets who need wellness services on a pressing timeline or who have concurrent symptoms of illness.

Puppies and kittens who need wellness services.

Pets who are on medications that require monitoring visits or refills on a regular schedule.

We will continue to treat every patient as an individual and thoroughly investigate their health care needs on a case by case basis in order to determine how we can safely and efficiently care for each one in a timely manner.  This may be best achieved by scheduling an immediate on-site visit, scheduling an on-site visit in the future, or scheduling a phone call with one of our doctors to discuss their individual health care needs further, so please call us to discuss how we can best serve you and your pet!

For clients who visit us, we ask that you do not enter our building, but instead call us when you arrive on our premises at 615-750-2377, and one of our staff members will come outside to assist you. All additional communication during your visit with our doctors or staff members will be by phone, and WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE as we navigate these new challenges. We welcome drop-off appointments if that is most convenient for you and look forward to your call at 615-750-2377 to discuss how we can best serve you and your pet!

 

Best regards,

The 5 Points Staff

Common Questions For New Puppy Owners

Congratulations! You are the proud pet parent to a new puppy!

Whether you had a pet growing up, currently have a pet in the home, or you are a first-time dog owner, bringing a puppy home can be both an exciting and stressful experience. Many new puppy owners have lots of questions: what do I feed my puppy? What kind of toys are best? Do I need to buy a crate? How long can my puppy be alone?

Common Questions For New Puppy Owners - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalWhile your vet is often the best resource for information about your new puppy, we’ve compiled a list of the five most common questions new dog owners have.

1. What do I need to buy for my puppy?

Pet stores can be overwhelming! With aisles and aisles of food, treats, collars, toys, and more, it can be difficult to discern what are the must-haves for puppy. Before bringing your new four-legged friend home, there are a few essentials to stock up on. Your new puppy will need:

  • An appropriately-sized dog crate. Dogs are pack animals; a crate gives them a small, snug space of their own. Dog crates should be big enough for the dog to turn around and lay down comfortably, but not so big that there is room for the puppy to potty inside the crate. Have a puppy that is going to grow much bigger? Some large crates come with a movable grate that allows you to adjust the size of the crate as the dog grows.
  • A leash and collar. Introducing your puppy to a collar, leash, or harness early will make learning how to go on walks easier. Most puppies do not enjoy the leash at first; avoid dragging them along, and let them go at their own pace as they learn.
  • Food and water bowls. Establish a spot in your home where the dog’s bowls will go. Afraid of spills? Look for silicone mats that can be placed underneath the bowls to catch water spills or stray food.
  • An enzyme cleaner. Even the best-behaved puppies have accidents! An enzyme cleaner is the best choice for puppy accidents. In addition to removing stains and odors, they help remove odors only dogs can detect; this reduces the chance puppy will potty in the same spot again.

2. What food should I feed my puppy?

Just like people, puppies eat three times a day! Puppies of all breeds should eat puppy food; this ensures they are getting all the nutrients they need to grow. Your veterinarian can help you determine which food choices are appropriate for your puppy and the amount your puppy should be eating based on his breed, age, and weight.

Before buying any dog food, check with the breeder or shelter to find out what food the puppy has been eating. Even if you plan on changing his diet, make sure to do so slowly. Transitioning to new food can be done in seven days; days one and two should be a mix of ¼ new food and ¾ old food, days three and four are a mix of ½ new food and half old food, days five and six are a mix of ¾ new food and ¼ old food, and day seven is all new food.

3. I have to go to work! How long can I leave my puppy alone?

Puppies crave interaction, play, and attention – particularly in the first three to six months of life. Plus, they can’t hold it very long! If you work fulltime and cannot return home frequently to check on and let out the puppy, consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to provide part-time care for the first few months of puppy’s life.

4. Can I crate my puppy?

Crate training is an important part of having a new puppy. For most dogs, their crate is a safe, protected space where they can rest and relax away from the hustle and bustle of the family. Crate training is also a good way to make sure your puppy is safe and contained – and out of trouble – while you are out of the house.

Like any kind of dog training, crate training should start slowly. Puppies 8-10 weeks old should only be in the crate for about 30-60 minutes at a time; 11-14 week old puppies can be crated for 1-3 hours, while 15-16 week old puppies can last 3-4 hours at a time. The older puppy gets, the longer they can tolerate being in their crate. Outside of the crate, puppies should get lots of human interaction and attention!

5. Am I picking up my puppy too much?

Puppies, like babies, cannot be spoiled by holding them too much! In fact, holding your new puppy is an excellent way to introduce them to the sights, sounds, and smells of the world. Before puppies are fully vaccinated, it is important to limit their exposure to harmful diseases; carrying them on a walk or holding them as you sit outside exposes them to new things from the safety of your arms.

Take care to pay attention to your puppy’s cues while you are holding them. If they are wriggling, crying, whining, or nipping, they may be overwhelmed or overtired. Try to encourage habits you want to continue as your puppy grows. While a mastiff puppy might be lap-sized, you may not want a 150-pound dog as an adult jumping into your lap! If you have a large breed puppy, try sitting on the floor next to them and letting them rest their head in your lap.

The addition of a new puppy is an exciting time! The professionals at 5 Points Animal Hospital are always here to help with any questions you have about your new puppy along the way!

Toxic Christmas Decor For your Pet

Decorating for Christmas is a staple of the holiday season for many families. Trees, lights, tinsel, ornaments, stockings, mistletoe, poinsettias, and more can be found in Toxic signmost homes – yet many pet owners are unaware of the dangers lurking in their holiday décor.

Studies have found that as many as 70% of homes are decorated with holiday items that are harmful to pets. Even the most responsible pet owners may accidentally bring an unsafe product or plant into their home unknowingly. Likewise, traveling with your pet over the holidays can expose them to a variety of potential dangers in other people’s homes.

Before you deck the halls with boughs of holly (yes, live holly plants are toxic to animals!) take the time to research what decorations may be harmful to your favorite four-legged friend. Owning a pet doesn’t have to turn you into a Scrooge; there are a variety of pet-friendly holiday decorations that will keep your home holiday-ready and your cats and dogs safe.

The following list of toxic décor items – as well as some alternatives to try instead – can help you avoid any holiday decorations that may harm your pet. By keeping these items out of your home, you can ensure you and your four-legged friend have a safe and happy holiday season.

1. Holiday plants

Many live holiday plants are toxic to pets! To avoid your pet becoming ill, opt for artificial versions of Christmas trees, poinsettia plants, and mistletoe. Another option is to keep live greenery out of reach of pets, such as hanging a real pine wreath on the front door.

  • Christmas trees. Dogs and cats alike love to explore Christmas trees. Unfortunately, live trees can be a hazard to pets. Ingesting tree needles can irritate the mouth and stomach; this can lead to excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Likewise, eating a large number of needles can cause serious digestive issues including GI tract blockages and possible bowel perforation. Trees that are treated with chemicals or other preservatives can further upset a pet’s stomach, particularly if they drink the Christmas tree water.
  • Poinsettia and Peace Lilies. These plants are toxic and should be kept out of reach from pets at all times. Peace Lilies are especially toxic to cats.
  • Mistletoe. Most store-bought mistletoe plants have had their toxic berries replaced with plastic berries. When small amounts of mistletoe are eaten, mild nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can occur. Unfortunately, large ingestions can cause cardiovascular and neurological symptoms.
  • Christmas cactus. Christmas cactus do not have serious toxicity for pets. For pets brave enough to bite into a cactus, however, ingesting them can cause mild GI symptoms – as well as significant mouth irritation!
  • Amaryllis. The bulb of this popular Christmas flower is more toxic than the blooms. While eating amaryllis flowers can cause vomiting and diarrhea, ingesting the bulb can lead to muscle weakness, tremors, and seizures.
  • Holly. All parts of the holly plant can upset the GI tract of pets. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy are common after ingesting holly.

2. Breakable or edible ornaments

While glass ornaments themselves are not dangerous, they can become a hazard when broken. Active dogs can bump or jostle a Christmas tree, whereas many cats are happy to find a perch within the branches. Unfortunately, this can cause fragile ornaments to fall – and break. In addition to damaging their paws if pets step on the shattered glass, ingesting it can cause mouth guts and serious GI issues. Consider displaying glass ornaments in a different way, such as on a shelf where they cannot be knocked down.

Edible ornaments such as candy canes, popcorn garlands, or salt dough ornaments should be either avoided altogether or hung high enough on the tree that dogs cannot reach them.

3. Candles

Even in homes without pets, candles should be lit with caution. Keep lit candles high and out of the way of pets, such as towards the back of a kitchen counter. This can prevent burns – as well as your pet knocking over a candle and causing a house fire. For an even safer alternative, consider switching to battery-operated electric candles, which provide the ambiance without the safety risks.

4. Tinsel

Tinsel is unpopular with many homeowners because of the mess it makes. However, it is also toxic to both dogs and cats. While cats are more prone to tinsel poisoning, dogs are at risk too. Ingesting tinsel can cause abdominal pain, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Tinsel and other string-like decorations, such as curling ribbon, can also cause GI blockages or twist around the intestines if ingested.

No matter how you celebrate the holidays, taking a few precautions can help keep you – and your pets – safe throughout the season. For more information on pet safety during the holidays contact the experts at 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Fun Ways to Exercise Your Pet

Regular physical activity can help our animals stay healthy. However, many homeowners find it difficult to get their pets the exercise they need – particularly in the winter months. If the weather outside is too cold for a long walk or to let your pet outside, try these tips to exercise your dog or cat this winter!

Exercise tips for your cat

catCats may spend the majority of their day snoozing – up to 15 hours per day for the average housecat – but they still need regular physical activity to stay healthy. Unfortunately, many house cats are not getting the exercise they need.

Fortunately for cat owners, there are a number of easy – and fun! – ways to help your cat exercise. In addition to the extra physical activity, it also provides an opportunity to bond with your favorite feline. The following are four exercise tips that can help your cat get active.

1. Put their bowl on an elevated surface
One fast and easy way to encourage your cat to move more is by putting their food and water dishes on an elevated surface. This encourages them to work their muscles by jumping every time they want something to eat. Placing dishes on a counter, at the top of a cat tree, or even putting them on a different floor of the house encourages them to move more.

2. Play hide and seek with treats
If your cat is food motivated, create a game out of finding treats! Try putting treats in areas they frequent around the house, such as next to a toy basket, under the couch, or on top of their favorite perch. Hiding treats can improve both mental and physical health as they move around the house and try to remember places you’ve hidden treats in the past. One caveat to this game: make sure not to overdo it on the treats! Treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake.

3. Introduce unique toys
Cats are naturally curious and love to explore; create new and interesting toys with materials you already have around the house to encourage them to move more. Cut one to two holes in a cardboard box and enjoy watching them squeeze in and out or invest in a laser pointer for hours of entertainment watching them chase the elusive point of light. Wadded up tissue paper, an old rabbit’s foot keychain, or ping pong balls can all make unique toys that get your kitty up and exercising.

4. Find your cat a playmate
Despite their reputation as solitary animals, most cats actually enjoy being social with other cats. Adding another cat to your household will encourage both cats to be more active through daily play and interaction. Not ready to add a new pet to the family? Set up kitty play dates with friends or neighbors.

Fun ways to keep your dog active

dog running with ballDogs need daily exercise. In the winter, unfortunately, cold temperatures, snow, and short days can limit dog owners’ ability to take their four-legged friends on the long walks they need. While daily walks are an extremely important part of keeping a dog healthy, there are a variety of fun ways to keep your dog active – even when stuck indoors.

1. Run up and down the stairs
If your house or apartment has stairs, use them as a training tool for your dog! Stairs are great exercise for even the most active pet because they use different muscle groups than running or walking. Stand at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down for your dog; when they retrieve it, call their name and have them bring it to you at the top of the stairs. A few rounds of up and down will help tire even a high-energy dog out!

2. Create an indoor obstacle course
Repurpose things you have around the house to create an obstacle course for your dog. Teach them to jump through hula hoops, run through a tunnel of couch cushions, circle pillars, or jump over a pillow. This is both mentally and physically stimulating and can keep your dog active and occupied no matter the weather!

3. Go on an outing together
Don’t feel like you have to stay at home with your dog! There are lots of dog-friendly stores and restaurants – the most notable being pet stores. Load your dog up in the car and head to your favorite pet store; whether you need to stock up on pet essentials or simply want to walk the aisles, taking your dog on an outing is a great way to provide some enrichment – and exercise – to their day.

4. Try walking on the treadmill
Have a dog that needs additional exercise? Consider training them to walk on the treadmill! With proper training, dogs can walk – or run – on treadmills as a great alternative to outdoor exercise. Begin by introducing your dog to the sights and sounds of the treadmill; next, reward him for standing on the treadmill while it is stationary. Gradually turn on the treadmill to the lowest speed. Make sure to take it slow, never tie or hook a dog onto the treadmill, and even try standing in front of the treadmill with treats for motivation.

Exercise is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. It is very important to choose the right exercise for your pet based on your pet’s individual needs. For more information on how to keep your dog or cat healthy this winter contact 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Cold Weather Tips for Your Furry Friend

Many pet owners wrongfully assume that their furry friend’s fur coat equips them to handle cold temperatures. However, many animals simply aren’t equipped to handle frigid temperatures for prolonged periods of time. These cold-weather tips can help protect your pets when they are playing or pottying outside this winter.

Not all pets can tolerate cold temperatures

Owner holding dog with santa hat onWhile our pet’s fur coats may seem like the perfect protection again winter weather, most pets are not able to withstand freezing temperatures for long periods of time. This is especially true for dogs and cats with short hair – the animal equivalent of wearing a t-shirt in sub-zero temperatures.

In winter, pets need protection from frigid weather and wet, wintry conditions; even animals adapted to cold weather, like huskies, need a warm, draft-free, and dry shelter. In addition, keep in mind that pet’s extremities such as their nose, ears, and paws are more vulnerable to damage during extremely cold weather.

Dressing pets for the weather

When outside temperatures drop, we put coats on; should we put coats on our pets, too?

The answer is yes – to a point. Most cats don’t tolerate clothing; even the most well-mannered cats are unlikely to enjoy wearing a sweater. Instead, save winter weather gear for our canine friends. Coats can help keep dogs warm on walks or when going potty outside. However, don’t leave a dog with clothes on unsupervised; if your pet tries to take them off, it can become a suffocation or strangulation risk.

Protect pup pads

Dog shoes may seem a little ridiculous, but boots are actually an excellent way to protect dog’s sensitive paw pads against snow, ice, and dangerous rock salt. Start by putting baby socks on your dog’s feet at home; this allows them to get used to the sensation of walking with something on their feet. Once they can successfully tolerate the socks, they’re ready to graduate to boots.

Keep outdoor cats safe

While some pet owners transition cats indoors for the winter months, other felines prefer to stay outdoors. In these cases, it is important to provide kitty with a safe, dry space to eat and sleep.

Once nighttime temperatures dip into the high 30s, outdoor pets should have a shelter. Cat shelters can be easy and inexpensive to make and maintain; pre-fabricated pet houses, wooden boxes, or even cardboard boxes can be used as cat shelters. Insulate the sides with plastic, fabric, or foam, then line the bottom with old blankets or bedding. Check the shelter daily to ensure the bedding is dry – and to make sure your cat’s water supply hasn’t frozen.

Putting cat shelters in a garage, on a covered porch, in a shed, or in another protected area can provide another degree of protection from the elements. Likewise, make sure food and water are in a secure area only your cat can access; you want to feed your pet – not the neighborhood raccoon population.

Remember: if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your pet. This winter, follow these safety tips to ensure your pets stay safe and warm – no matter the temperature outside. for more information on winter pet safety tips, contact 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

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