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Important Things to Know Before Your First Trip to the Dog Park

Dog Park Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital5 Points Animal Hospital is proud to be located in one of the historical neighborhoods in East Nashville, and one of the reasons why we love being in this area is the spacious and friendly dog park at a local city park. A very popular spot with so many dogs, this dog park is also a great place to make friends with your neighbors while you watch your beloved pets enjoy running free off-leash with other dogs. However, it is important to know certain aspects about visiting a dog park, especially before your first time, to ensure both you and your dog have a fun and happy experience. We would like to share a few tips with you to consider before going to a local dog park.

Make sure your dog knows how to come to you when called.

According to The Dog Guide: The Fun Times Guide, the most important command your dog needs to know before going to an off-leash dog park is “come.” Be certain that your dog always responds appropriately to this command. If not, you could be in for a long and frustrating struggle with your dog and possibly with other dogs and owners.

Know the specific rules for the dog park.

Besides the dog park in East Nashville, our city has five other off-leash park areas for dogs, and the rules for all six are generally the same. You should check to make sure that your dog is wearing his rabies tag on his collar because proof of this vaccination is required. While in the past, pitbulls and pitbull mixes were banned from all city dog parks, this restriction has changed. However, you should check to see if the park in your area still has this rule, and keep in mind that any dog that becomes aggressive in the park area must be leashed and removed immediately.

Don’t forget to get in some fun outdoor play interaction with your dog.

Although you may be tempted to huddle up with the other owners while your dog is running free. Of course, it is a lot of fun to watch your dog frolic off-leash and socialize with other canines, but it can be even more fun to bring along a frisbee or tennis ball for a game of catch in an open, wide space with him. Spending a bit of one-on-one time with your dog by calling him to come to you every so often also reminds him that you are still in control.

Want to know about all of the great dog parks Nashville has to offer? Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to find out our special hints and recommendations to help make your dog park experience fun for you and your dog.

Preventing Pet Obesity

According to HealthScope, national studies have found that approximately half of all cats and dogs in this country are overweight or obese. Obesity can cause several chronic health problems for your pet. In addition, it can also shorten his life by as much as two years! A lot of this responsibility falls on you as the pet owner. Why? Your cat or dog depends on you to feed them properly, and to give them opportunities to exercise every day. 5 Points Animal Hospital works hard to prevent pet obesity, and we would like to tell you more about this health problem.

Preventing Pet Obesity Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalWhat health problems are caused by pet obesity?

If your cat or dog is obese, they are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Not to mention, insulin resistance, heart and respiratory disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and various types of cancer! Pet obesity is also hard on your pet’s body. This causes your pet to be at a higher risk of having torn knee ligaments and osteoarthritis. The quality of life for your pet is also affected by obesity. Why? They are not able to run, jump, and play around outdoors as comfortably as they did – before they gained so much weight!

How can I prevent pet obesity?

If your pet is at a healthy weight, the most important things you can do to prevent them from becoming obese? Providing them with a balanced diet and with opportunities for daily exercise. Many pet owners do not realize how quickly their pets can gain weight. Many times it begins with just a few extra pounds. However, as pets get older, their weight gain can get out of control. 5 Points Animal Hospital can tell you the caloric needs of your pet. In addition, we can also recommend the best type of food for them. You should also limit treats and never feed your pet table scraps!

Plenty of physical exercise is also key in preventing pet obesity. Do you not have the time to take your dog on a walk every day? If that’s the case, make sure they have plenty of room outside to be able to run around. Monitor your pet’s weight regularly. You should be able to see and feel the outline of their ribs, their waist should be easy to identify, and their belly should not be sagging when you look at them from the side.

How is pet obesity treated?

5 Points Animal Hospital can work with you to find the right diet for your obese pet. Often, a diet that is high in protein will keep your pet satisfied longer. Although a regular exercise routine can also help to reduce weight, excessive physical activity can be hard on your pet’s bones and joints. Although, this depends on how overweight they are. We can let you know when your pet has reached the weight range that is safe for an increase in exercise.

Is your cat or dog overweight? Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to make an appointment to speak with one of our veterinary staff members. We’ll speak to you about the best way to get your pet to a healthy weight!

The Canine Flu: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

When it comes to keeping your dog healthy, you may not realize that he could become sick with a type of influenza. However, there are specific Type A influenza viruses that do affect dogs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there has been no evidence of humans being affected by canine influenza viruses, these viruses are constantly changing and mutating. Although the risk is possible, the CDC considers canine influenza viruses to be a low threat to humans. Fortunately for dogs, the canine flu is both preventable and treatable. 5 Points Animal Hospital can help you and your dog deal with the canine flu. We can vaccinate your dog to protect him from this virus. In addition, we can also provide the right treatments. We would like to tell you more about the canine flu.

Canine Flu Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalWhat are the symptoms of the canine flu?

Not every dog who has the canine flu shows the signs of this illness. However, symptoms include cough, runny nose, eye discharge, lethargy, fever, and lack of appetite. If you notice any of these symptoms,or if you feel like your dog is not feeling well, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. Although the canine flu usually is not serious, it could develop into secondary bacterial infections that could lead to pneumonia.

How can the canine flu be prevented?

There are vaccines available for both strains (H3N8 and H3N2) of the canine influenza virus. Fortunately, 5 Points Animal Hospital has these vaccines in our office. We can talk to you about the chances of your dog being exposed to either of these strains. If you decide to have your dog vaccinated against the canine flu, we can do so.

How is the canine flu treated?

If we find that your dog has been exposed to the canine flu virus, we can provide supportive care to help your dog mount an immune response. This care involves medication to make your dog feel more comfortable. Plus, we’ll give them plenty of fluids to keep your dog hydrated. If your dog has developed a more serious bacterial infection, we can prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics to fight the infection.

At the time of this writing, no cases of canine influenza have been documented in Nashville. Having said that, there have been 4 documented cases in East Tennessee thus far. The virus appears to be spreading across the country at a steady pace. Therefore, we want to make sure that we are providing protection for our patients by offering a vaccine for canine influenza.

A healthy dog is a happy dog! Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to make an appointment for an examination in our office. We can give you tips on how to keep your dog as healthy as possible!

Identifying Ear Infections In Your Dog

Do you see your dog scratching at his ears over and over? if so, it could be a sign of an ear infection! Canine ear infections are more common than you might think, especially dogs with floppy, large ears. These include Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), 20 percent of dogs are estimated to suffer from some type of ear disease, including three types of ear infections. 5 Points Animal Hospital knows you want your dog to be as healthy and comfortable as possible. Treating ear infections in dogs is just one of the many comprehensive veterinary services we provide in our East Nashville office. To help you identify an ear infection in your dog, we would like to tell you more about this common dog ailment.

Identifying Ear Infections in Your Dog Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalTYPES OF EAR INFECTIONS

The three types of canine ear infections have to do with which part of the ear is infected. The least serious type of ear infection that can affect dogs is called otitis externa. This type of ear infection involves an irritation of the cells that line the outer ear canal. The other two types of ear infections, otitis media and interna can be more serious. Why? They affect the middle and inner parts ear, as a result of infection spreading from the external ear. This can lead to loss of hearing, facial paralysis, or other issues. Since early treatment of them is so important, you should be aware of how to identify ear infections!

SYMPTOMS OF EAR INFECTIONS

  • Constant ear scratching.
  • Whining when scratching.
  • Head shaking.
  • Strong and unpleasant odors.
  • A dark-colored discharge coming from the ears.
  • Swelling in the area.
  • Redness inside the ear canal.

CAUSES OF EAR INFECTIONS

Dogs are more prone to ear infections because of the shape of their ear canal, which is more vertical than one of a human. Also, a dog’s ear canal is typically shaped like the letter L. This makes them more prone to hold water. Unfortunately, this moisture creates a prime environment for the growth of bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fungus. These can all cause allergic reactions and infections!

Other causes of canine ear infections include:

  • Thyroid and endocrine disorders.
  • Mites and other foreign bodies inside the ear.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Meningitis.
  • Encephalitis.

If you notice any of the symptoms we mentioned in your dog, you should contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital as soon as possible! Our expert veterinary staff can make a proper diagnosis, which is crucial to successfully treat your dog’s ear infection.

Why You Cannot Shave All Breeds of Dogs

Summertime in Nashville usually means hot and humid weather, and many dog owners think they need to shave their dogs to keep them cool and comfortable. However, shaving certain dog breeds can ruin their coats as well as their natural abilities to cool down. 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to tell you if your dog falls into this category.

Which breeds of dogs should never be shaved?

According to Dogs Naturally, there is a “no shave” rule for double coated dogs. This includes the northern breeds like Huskies and Malamutes as well as herding breeds like Golden Retrievers, Border Collies, Aussie Shepherds, Shelties, Newfoundlands, and Bernese Mountains.Why You Cannot Shave All Breeds of Dogs Image - Nashville TN - Five Pints Animal Hospital

What does “double coated” mean?

These dog breeds have two layers of hair to protect them from cold temperatures. The outer layer is made up of long guard hairs that can keep cold water and ice from their bodies, and the softer undercoat layer grows close to the skin to keep them warm. In the summer, these breeds shed most of the undercoat, and the long guard hairs work to keep them protected from sunburn and to insulate them against heat. Without the undercoat, air is able to circulate and keep these dogs cool.

Why should double coated dogs not be shaved?

Shaving can change the texture of the coats and ruin the natural process of keeping these dogs cool. After being shaved, the undercoat starts growing back very quickly before the long guard hairs. Once the top coat begins to grow back, the texture feels much different. It can be like Velcro and attract burrs, grass, seeds, and anything else that your dog touches. Even worse, the combination of these two coats growing in at the same time will make your dog even hotter since the undercoat will keep air from circulating. The changed texture of the long guard hairs will actually absorb heat from the sun to make your dog overheat.

If you have a double coated breed of dog, you should never shave him in the summer. For more helpful tips to keep your dog cool during the hot and humid Nashville summer months, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital.

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