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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!

Keep Your Pets Safe This Halloween

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many families, but it can be a difficult day to be a pet. Whether you are heading to a party, taking your pet trick or treating, or handing out candy at home, there are a number of ways that homeowners can keep their pets safe on Halloween.

Choose pet costumes carefullyKeep Your Pets Safe This Halloween - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Pet costumes are a cute and fun way to get your animal into the holiday spirit on Halloween. However, it is important to choose a pet costume wisely to avoid overstressing your dog or cat.

– Avoid costumes that are held on by rubber bands. Costumes or costume pieces that are held on by rubber bands can pose a danger to pets; if they chew off the rubber bands, they can choke or cause intestinal injuries. Likewise, they can cut into or irritate skin or fur.
– Ensure the costume does not obstruct your pet’s vision. With lots of new sights and smells on Halloween, having obstructed vision can make even gentle pets snappy.
– Make sure pets are comfortable. Not every pet likes being dressed up! No matter how cute they may look, ensure your pet is comfortable in their costume.

Keep pets away from the front door

Move both cats and dogs to a different area of the house before trick or treaters begin to arrive. The constant opening and closing of the front door can be too tempting for many pets, who may see it as an opportunity to escape. Likewise, dogs, in particular, are often stressed by repeated knocking on the door or ringing of the doorbell. If your pet is particularly sensitive to noise, consider sitting outside on the porch to avoid too many people approaching the house and overstressing your pet.

Bring pets inside

Unfortunately, many beloved pets have fallen prey to pranksters on Halloween. Keep pets inside to keep them safe – and to prevent them from being stressed by so many people walking by.

Be careful around lit pumpkins

Pets are often attracted to bright lights – particularly when it is dark in the room. Many curious kitties have gotten burned while trying to play with a lit candle; extinguish candles or leave other lights on in the room to reduce the risk of injury to your pet.

Never give candy to pets

As a general rule, animals should not be fed people food. This is especially true on Halloween when many types of candy are extremely harmful to pets. Safety concerns with Halloween candy include:

  •  Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, which is toxic to pets.
  • Sticks: Lollipops, suckers, candy apples, and other treats often have hard sticks. If swallowed, these can cause choking or damage to the digestive system.
  • Foil wrappers: In addition to causing intestinal blockages, foil wrappers can become as sharp as razors when swallowed. This can lead to serious damage to the digestive system and other internal organs.

Keep your pet safe this Halloween

While it’s possible to include pets in the Halloween festivities, it is important to take steps to keep your pets safe on October 31st. For more Halloween safety tips for pets, contact 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Best Fall Hikes For You And Your Dog In Nashville

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Middle Tennessee. Mild temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and beautiful fall foliage make spending time outside fun for all members of the family – including those with four legs! Whether you are a hardcore hiker or simply want a man, child and dog in naturechange from your usual walk routine, there is a hiking trail for you! The following are five of the best dog-friendly walking and hiking trails in the Nashville area.

1. Percy Warner and Edwin Warner parks

Located only 15 miles southwest of Nashville, the Warner parks occupy more than 3,200 acres of forest, fields, and trails in southwest Davidson County. With 16.75 miles of hiking trails on 8 different paths, there are trails for every level of expertise; choose a different trail each visit to cover everything from wooded hills to open meadows and babbling streams. One particularly interesting hike includes a visit to the once-working quarry that along the Harpeth Wood trail, a 2.5-mile hike. Dogs are welcome in Warner Parks as long as they are on a leash. For additional fun with your four-legged friend either before or after a hike, make sure to stop by the leash-free Edwin Warner Dog Park to play within the fenced-in area.

2. Otter Creek Trail Road at Radnor Lake

The Radnor Lake Natural Area has some of the most beautiful views in Middle Tennessee! As a Class II Natural Area, jogging, hiking, and pets are not allowed on the trails as they can disrupt or upset the natural ecosystem. However, pets are welcome on the Otter Creek Trail Road, a 2.5-mile paved roadway around the lake that offers plenty of opportunities for scenic views of the lake between the hills.

3. Gordon House and Ferry Trail

Enjoy the outdoors – and learn more about American history – by hiking the Gordon House and Ferry Trail along the Natchez Trace Parkway. An easy one mile hike, this route takes you past the Gordon House, the home of ferry operator John Gordon and one of the few remaining buildings associated with the Natchez Trace. A 10-minute walk from the house takes you to an original section of the Natchez Trace and the Duck River ferry site.

4. Shelby Park and Greenway

Located along the Cumberland River, the Shelby Park and Greenway is a slice of nature tucked away in the heart of Nashville. Hiking the trails in the fall lets you take advantage of the beautiful changing colors of the dense foliage. The main trail is paved, but there are plenty of side trails to allow for additional exploration. Dogs must be on a leash, but can be let off the leash to explore in the fenced off-leash dog park.

5. Day Loop Trail at Long Hunter State Park

Long Hunter State Park is located just 20 miles southeast of Nashville and features trails for all experience levels. Day Loop trail is amongst the most popular; while 4.5 miles long, this easy to moderate trail provides several scenic overlooks of Percy Priest Lake. Pets are not permitted on Bryant Grove Trail, Couchville Lake Trail, or the Nature Loop Trail but are permitted on all other trails at Long Hunter State Park.

There are a number of pet-friendly walking and hiking trails in the Nashville area to allow dogs and their owners to enjoy the outdoors together! Want to know more of our favorite dog-friendly spots in Middle Tennessee? Contact 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Pet-Friendly Places in Nashville

Our hometown of Nashville is widely known for how friendly it is to tourists and new residents. This hospitality also extends to pets too. Our dogs and cats are part of our families, so it makes sense to be just as welcoming to them as their owners. As the first choice for a veterinary clinic in East Nashville, 5 Points Animal Hospital knows the best places you can bring your dog along to join in on all the fun you have in Nashville. We would like to share with you some of our favorite dog-friendly restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and trails.

RESTAURANTS

sad and lonely dog sitting in carOne of the most important reasons why we chose to open a clinic in East Nashville is how much this part of the city loves dogs. You will find every type of cuisine in our neighborhood, and many of the restaurants welcome leashed dogs. Dog-friendly restaurants on the Eastside include Eastland Café, Pomodoro East, Calypso Café, Drifters, Batter’d and Fried, Rumours East, Two Ten Jack, and Pied Piper Creamery.

If you do not live in East Nashville, you can find more eateries in other areas of the city where you can bring your pet such as Urban Grub, The Slider House, The Southern, Puckett’s Downtown, Mellow Mushroom, Coco’s Italian Market, and the Red Bicycle. For a complete list of all 190 dog-friendly restaurants in Music City, check out Bring Fido.

BARS AND COFFEE SHOPS

When you need a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, you do not need to leave your dog at home alone in Nashville. Some of our favorite coffee shops, include Bongo Java, Portland Brew, the Frothy Monkey, Sam & Zoe’s Coffeehouse, Fido, and The Jam Coffee House, allow pet owners to bring their dogs with them. You can also bring your pet with you to any Starbucks with outdoor seating.

If you are thirsty for something a bit stronger, Nashville is known for its nightlife. There are many bars that let your dog hang out alongside while you have a cocktail. Some of the most dog-friendly bars across Music City include Honky Tonk Central, M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers, Tailgate Brewery, Fat Bottom Brewing Co., Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen, Beyond the Edge, Bar Louie, Two Bits, Village Pub and Beer Garden, Tin Roof, and the Red Door Saloon.

PARKS AND HIKING TRAILS

Your dog needs exercise to stay healthy and happy, and Nashville is fortunate to have a few dog parks where you can let your pet run off-leash and play with other dogs. Our personal favorite is Shelby Dog Park here in East Nashville, and you can also visit dog parks at other Metro Parks including Centennial, Edwin Warner, Two Rivers, and Riverfront.

If you have a Labrador Retriever, Border Collie, Siberian Husky, or a breed of dog who loves to hike, you are in luck as Nashville offers scenic and dog-friendly trails at the Shelby Bottom Greenway, The Trails at Fontanel, Richland Creek Greenway, Radnor Lake State Park, and Stones River Greenway.

Want to know more about the many pet-friendly places here in Nashville? Contact us today at 5 Points Animal Hospital to find out more information. We are located in the heart of East Nashville, we are here for all of your veterinary needs!

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