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Why Dogs Can Walk on the Cold Ground on “Bare Feet”

If you like to dress your dog in a sweater during the winter, you may also want to get booties for your dog to protect his or her paws from the cold ground. However, your dog’s paws are made to tolerate any contact with cold surfaces, including snow and ice. While we humans need to wear thick socks and insulated boots to prevent frostbite, the circulatory system in the paws of our dogs has adapted to allow them to handle the cold. As soon as the temperature starts dropping, our staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital gets questions from our clients about whether or not their dogs need paw protection from the cold. We would like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions to help you understand why dogs can walk on the cold ground on “bare feet.”

Why Dogs Can Walk on the Cold Ground on "Bare Feet" Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

How do my dog’s paws stay protected from the cold?

According to VetStreet, researchers in the 1970’s investigated how wolves and foxes could hunt on their feet for extended periods in bitter cold temperatures. These researchers found that the temperature of the feet of these animals remained around 30 degrees Fahrenheit even when dipped in water of about minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit. The foot temperature is just warm enough to keep tissue from freezing and cool enough to prevent a large amount of heat loss through the paws. The reason for the stability of the foot temperature has to do with an infusion of blood to the paws that protects them from becoming too cold. Not too long ago, researchers at Azabu University in Japan tested this theory on dogs and came up with similar results.

How does my dog’s body stay warm when he or she walks on cold ground?

Thanks to a countercurrent heat exchange system in the blood vessels in dog paws, your dog’s body temperature is not greatly affected by walking on cold ground. The veins in the paws of your dog run parallel to the arteries. The arteries bring warm blood to the paws from the heart and transfer this heat to the neighboring veins. Less heat is lost from the body through the paws because the blood in the arteries is cooler when it gets to the paws. Similarly, your dog’s body is not cooled from the paws because the cold blood from the paws is warmed up as it travels to the heart. This helps conserve heat and prevent heat loss.

Are there any incidents where I would need to put booties on my dog?

Yes, dog booties and other types of winter footwear do serve some purposes. They give added paw insulation, prevent ice balls from getting lodged between foot pads, and protect against potentially toxic deicers on the sidewalks. Additionally, remember that just because your dog’s paws can stay warm, this does not mean your dog can be out in the cold for an unlimited time period as dogs are vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite.

Questions about protecting your dog from cold weather? Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to learn more tips on keeping your dog warm this winter.

Understanding Pet Food Allergies

If your pet displays symptoms you can’t seem to understand — itchiness that’s either localized or over his whole body, frequent ear infections, skin infections, or hair loss — his food could be to blame. Just like people, pets can suffer from food allergies that cause a variety of symptoms and a lot of discomfort. It’s estimated that up to 15 percent of dogs suffer from allergies, and of those, 10 percent of allergies are food related.

Understanding Pet Food Allergies Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

What causes food allergies in pets?

As with people, food allergies occur when your pet’s immune system responds to food. As your pet’s immune systems responds to that food, your pet will experience uncomfortable symptoms, usually itchy skin or a skin rash, but potentially stomach pain, diarrhea, or vomiting. For animals, the protein in food triggers an allergic response most times. The common culprits are beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, eggs, and fish, as well as soybeans, wheat, food dyes, and food preservatives.

How can I tell if my pet has food allergies?

As we mentioned, the number one indication that your pet has food allergies will skin irritation, rash, or itchiness that does not go away. Food allergies are not seasonal; the symptoms will persists as long as your pet continues to ingest the allergen. If you suspect your pet has a food allergy, the only way to be sure is to identify and eliminate the allergen from his diet. This is most often done through an “elimination diet,” which can take up to 12 weeks to complete. There are blood tests that can help to detect a food allergy, though they generally are used to steer the elimination diet rather than pinpoint an allergy because they are not specific enough.

With an elimination diet, your pet will eat specific food that is devoid of the suspected allergen. All other food items, including rawhides or other chewing items and flavored medications, will be restricted to avoid the suspected allergen. It can take several weeks for the allergen to be totally out of your pets system, so his symptoms may initially persist. Once your pet seems to be free of allergy symptoms while on the elimination diet, your vet may begin to reintroduce foods to try to determine which food in particular your pet is allergic to.

How will my pet’s food allergy be treated?

Initially, your vet may need to prescribe medication to deal with the symptoms of your pet’s food allergy, such as a skin infection, ear infection, or severe gastrointestinal symptoms, as they often will not clear up without medical intervention. Ultimately, your vet will use the elimination diet to find a healthy, balanced diet that is free of your pet’s allergens. That diet will keep your pet’s allergy symptoms from returning. While it can be a long, frustrating process to pinpoint what is triggering your pet’s allergies and find the right long-term diet, the hard work will pay off with a pet that is healthy and free of the discomfort of allergies.

Ways to Keep Your Indoor Cat Healthy

Having an indoor cat has many benefits for both you and your pet. They live longer, are less likely to develop many diseases that they would face in the wild. Protected from weather, cars, and predators, there containment gives you peace of mind. Keep your cat entertained and happy so they don’t get bored or depressed by using some simple tricks.

Keeping Indoor Cats Happy - Nashville TN

If your cat is a fan of catnip, it’s almost necessary to put the stuff wherever you can. They love it, and you will love seeing your cat reach that state of bliss. Plant it in a jungle-like setting with other cat friendly plants that aren’t toxic. Stuff it into toys and rub it on cat trees to encourage scratching. Use anything that gets them active and moving around. Play with your cat using a flexible rod with an affixed feather, or even the beloved laser pointer to keep it active. Make sure not to point it directly in their eyes though. Cheaper toys can be just as entertaining though. Any sort of box they can climb into, or wads of paper are perfect alternatives. Anyone with both kids and cats knows the usefulness of wind-up cars or bugs. Interactive activities are fun for both you and your pet, just get involved! Videos of wildlife or screensavers on your computer are a more passive entertainment for you. Sit back and relax while your cat attempts to swat at the animals on the screen.

Your cat is programmed by nature to love heights, especially because they love looking down on the world and everything they think is theirs. If the budget allows, getting them a cat tree with multiple levels is the best way to give your cat the best view in the house. Installing the cat tree near a window with a bird feeder is going above and beyond, but make sure there aren’t any other cats running around outside that could make your cat anxious or mad.

Keeping your home safe and sanitary are both important factors in keeping your cat thriving. Besides making sure that your home is free from food and plants that could make it sick, it’s good to know the signs in case something happens. Monitoring your cat for changes in its mood and energy level will help you diagnosis a problem more quickly. Lack of enthusiasm for food, water, or play is more obvious, but constant sneezing or panting can also be a sign that something is wrong. Taking your cat for its yearly exams is just as important as monitoring. We look for problems that you might not have noticed, and we take the important steps in ensure that your cat is in the best health possible. Call us here at 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Knowing If Your Pet Is Depressed, and How You Can Help

Some may find this as a surprise, but animals suffer from depression just like humans, they just exhibit symptoms in a different way. Humans have the ability to express their feelings of hopelessness and sadness, but animals have their own set of signs that their owners need to be aware of. Keeping an eye out for changes in behavior or new stimuli that may encourage onset depression will keep you and your pet happy and healthy for years to come.
Any change in behavior that lasts more than a few weeks is something to note and mention to your veterinarian the next time you visit, but these signs in particular could point to depression as the main source.

Pet Depression - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal

Becoming withdrawn:

For dogs especially, this is a very significant change. If your animal begins to hide from you or stays inactive for a longer amount of time than normal, it would be a good idea to track other aspects of its life for changes. A dog might take much longer to come to you when called, where as before he or she would race to your side. Cats won’t respond to stimuli like a feather or a ball in the same way; lacking interest is a telltale sign of depression. Both species will decrease the amount of food they consume, up to 50 percent. If the decrease in activity level and food consumption is very gradual, it could simply be a slowing due to old age or arthritis. A sudden change in mood is not likely caused by those occurrences, and we should be contacted if this happens.

Big changes:

A lot of times, a big disruption in your pet’s daily schedule will cause a negative response. This could come in the form of having a baby or moving into a new home. It also occurs with losing an owner or pet friend, or being adopted into a brand new family. No doubt you are also stressed with the changes, but it is important to transition your pet to the new conditions. Spend additional time with them; even if they don’t immediately become excited over a toy, give it time. Be patient as you explore new things together. Walks to different parts of the neighborhood and new toys to play with can help mentally stimulate them.

What to do if you see a shift in behavior:

If you suspect your pet has depression, continue to monitor them for a couple of weeks. It may be that your pet simply needs time to adjust to new stimuli, and will quickly recover. During this time call us if you become concerned or if your pet stops eating completely. This could be caused by something more extreme.

Give us a call with whatever concerns you may have. We are here to help you and your pet!

Why You Shouldn’t Use Online Pet Pharmacies

Everything is so accessible these days! It takes two clicks to purchase anything off of Amazon these days, and I don’t have to change out of my pajamas to change my entire wardrobe or buy my groceries for the week. Convenience is the best part of technology, but there are some things that should never be purchased online. Medication, in general, should never be bought on the Internet. Specifically, pet prescriptions can endanger not only your financial security, but also your pet’s health.

Online Pharmacy Dangers - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal

What is the problem with buying prescription drugs online?

We’ve all been there. Time is of the essence, and the commercials make it seem so easy! Go to this website, buy your medication, and you are done. Right? In reality, online pet pharmaceutical companies are not even allowed to purchase from certified veterinary pharmacies. Legally, a physical examination has to be performed on the animal, in-person, before a medication can be prescribed. This applies especially to heartworm preventative medication and NSAID’s (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Giving heartworm prevention to a dog that is already infected with heartworms can result in negative reactions. The same can be said for NSAID’s, which should be used only with regular monitoring by a veterinarian.

Why would these companies counterfeit drugs?

The easiest answer is money. It is incredibly profitable, even with lowered prices, to sell counterfeit or inferior product. Medication that looks exactly like what you would find in a veterinarian’s office may be expired or improperly stored. If your pet’s drugs have been affected by water or kept at the wrong temperature (either too hot or too cold), the effectiveness of the drug is weakened. Some companies even replace the pills with capsules filled with anything available, even pest poison or drywall. Your animal’s health aside, putting your personal and financial information into their website could result in a stolen identity or credit card fraud.

I really am pressed for time. How do I know a website is reputable to buy from?

Most importantly, look for the following seals of legitimacy on the websites. If the website ends with “.pharmacy” and/or has a VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site) stamp, they have gone through screening by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), which regulates pharmacist licensure. Watch out for companies that sell medication without a prescription or tout a fake claim. If the prices seem extremely low compared to your veterinarian, think twice.

We understand the tempting convenience of online pharmaceutical companies, but for your pet’s physical health and your financial wellbeing, bring your pet in to see us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. We will not only go through a full physical exam, but any medication your pet needs will be accompanied by knowledge that you and your animal are given the best care possible.

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5 Points Animal Hospital | 1103 Woodland St., Nashville, TN 37206 | Click to Call Us Now