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September is Happy Cat Month!

We don’t need another excuse to spoil our pets, but this month is Happy Cat Month! Here at 5 Points Animal Hospital every day is dedicated to your special animal, but since this month emphasizes our favorite felines, we are giving you some key pointers to remind you how important it is to keep your cat healthy and happy!

Happy Cat Month - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal

Entertainment

Playtime is an essential part of every cat’s day. A time to let loose and explore allows the cat to stay mentally and physically active. Allotting a certain amount of time each day to sit down with your cat and entertain it using new toys, string, feathers, etc. will not only be relaxing for you, it will make your cat happy as well. Use this time to practice simple training. Teaching your cat to stay off of counters or to sit are both useful and fun tricks that will strengthen your relationship with your animal. There is no need to use a ton of treats during play. Cats like to work for their food. Consider investing in a scratch post to save your sanity and your sofa, all while allowing your cat to exercise its claws. This is a normal feline behavior, so having a place to do that will make both of you happy!

Health

Some people are afraid to let their cat outside, but have no fear! Having an enclosed “catio” is useful for letting your cat roam around outdoors unsupervised. Walking your cat is another option. Depending on its temperament, taking your cat for a tour of the neighborhood in a harness will allow it to explore while being attached to a leash that you control.

All of the above points are necessary for a healthy pet, but some issues require more thought than others. Bring your cat, and your questions, into 5 Points Animal Hospital! We love our kitty visitors!

Caring for Your Senior Cat

Whether you’ve had your cat since it was a kitten or have recently introduced a senior cat into your household, it is important to keep in mind that it may need different care than a young or adult cat. Being more aware of not only the general health of your cat, but also ensuring that it maintains proper nutrition and exercise, are incredibly important in keeping your senior cat around for many years to come.

Sleeping Senior Cat - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal

Normal changes

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) considers the term “senior” to describe cats between the ages of 11 and 14 years. Past 15 years of age your cat is considered geriatric, however, that term doesn’t take into account its playfulness! Even though you may see a reduced amount of curiosity and enthusiasm in your senior cat, this is a normal change: they can become more stable and more relaxed as time passes. Your cat could also become slightly more cranky or intolerant of excess noise or different surroundings, depending on the breed.

Recognizing abnormal changes

Regardless, it is important to keep an eye out for changes that occur in your pet’s demeanor and physical appearance. Health issues like heart disease, cancer, and deafness, among others, could develop without your knowledge if close attention is not paid. Your cat may mask symptoms of sickness, so it is important that you monitor for changes in habits like grooming or litterbox usage. If your cat is above or below the recommended weight for its breed, it is susceptible to other health issues such as diabetes or improper nutrition.

What you can do about it

The most basic concern should be your pet’s comfort. Making sure your senior cat can get around easily in your house is important for its continual repose and happiness. Convenient access to the litterbox, food, and water, may require some relocating, but it is definitely worth the love you will receive in return! Your cat may show signs of struggle during eating or gaining weight over time, so talking to your veterinarian about dietary changes may become important. Besides what you can do at home, taking your cat in to see us at 5 Points Animal Hospital at least every six months will prolong its life as long as possible and allow us to oversee and supervise any health issues that may occur. During a normal exam, we will ask you about your cat’s health history and give us an opportunity to track changes, if there are any, between visits. Any appearance changes will be noted by measuring muscle tone, heartbeats and breathing, as well as feeling for any abnormal changes around the stomach and neck.

With any questions, we’re here for you! Caring for a senior pet can be stressful at times, so don’t hesitate with asking questions! We want your pet to live a long and healthy life.

Doggie Dumpster Diving – How to Stop It

There is nothing worse than returning home from a long day at work and finding the contents of a trash can spread out on the floor. Whether it is a small bathroom wastebasket or the kitchen bin containing the remnants of last night’s supper, it is an upsetting and gross occurrence that could be a regular issue with your pet. Puppies and adult dogs, alike, can take part in this habit. Unfortunately, as much as you try to train your dog not to upset the trash, your dog may not be able to help his attraction.

Doggy Dumpster Diving - Nashville TN

The majority of experts agree that early humans domesticated wolves, which is why we have the sweet, loving creatures that we call dogs today. These wolves were drawn to the fragrant smells of food and trash, and were therefore easier to domesticate as they became increasingly dependent on humans to provide a consistent meal. Even though your dog is well fed, there is still an instinct to explore different scents that aren’t familiar to them.

Once the trash is upturned, the fun really starts. There are tasty treats to eat or chew on, and items to toss around and shred on your carpet. If your pet is bored, it is an easy game to play with the contents of your trash, especially if it means getting your attention. It can become a developed behavior to play with trash if the dog continues to receive more of your time.

The most straightforward solution to the problem if it continues to persist is to remove the attraction. This could mean relocating the trash can to a pantry or cabinet, or simply just remembering to close doors that access the bin when you are not in the room; it’s a simple habit that easily rectifies the situation. Taking away the temptation quickly hinders the continuation of your pet’s habit, and makes your house a cleaner, and much less stinky, place to live. Putting a lid on the trash may also help in hindering some dogs, especially smaller breeds, from trying to access the trash.

Another option is to teach your dog to “leave it,” which takes a long process of slowly allowing the dog more alone time with the bin, and giving praise and treats after every session. Eventually, adding temptations like food and tissue paper into the trash will be the ultimate test to see if you can leave your pet by itself for any length of time.

If the problem persists, feel free to give us a call at (615) 750-2377. We can talk through your frustrations and find the best solution for you.

Dog Tricks Aren’t Just for Fun

Everyone enjoys when Fido, or in Seattle’s case, Frodo, does an exciting trick to make everyone laugh. It brings people together and provides enjoyment. Tricks can be extremely entertaining and fun, but many tricks play double-duty, giving purpose and motivation to teaching your dog basic commands, and beyond. They can provide safety, security, and purpose to your animal’s life, as well as create a stronger bond between human and pet. Regardless of the situation, there are many reasons to teach your animal tricks, past the basics of “sit” and “stay”. “Roll over” and “go to your spot,” among others, give peace of mind during stressful situations to both you and your pet.

Teaching Dogs Tricks - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Safety

Several tricks can provide peace of mind for you and your family to ensure that your pet lives a long and healthy life. In your own home, commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “go to your spot” keep your animal out of your hair, and out from under your feet. Teaching your dog that it has a spot to call its own, whether a bed, chair, or crate, can provide very useful during stressful situations where the dog could cause an accident being in the way. This trick is perfect for mealtimes, when the last distraction you want is your dog begging at the table. The command moves your pet out of the situation, therefore minimizing the habit long-term. In the real world, “come,” is extremely useful when the dog escapes from the leash or its backyard. This command is useful regardless of where you live, but especially if you live in a city. Roads have proved deadly for animals of all sorts and sizes, don’t let your pet be one of them! Use “come” to retrieve your pet out of a potential threat, and keep it safe and sound.

Security

When your pet is feeling anxious or over-excited due to outside stimuli, there are several steps you can take to calm your pet down. There will be instances where you want to distract your pet from other dogs or animals like birds or squirrels, or from small children, in which case using the commands “roll over” and “spin” will create a diversion and entertain your pet until the animal or child leaves or is removed from the situation. If your pet loves the “play dead” command, use it to check for ticks, fleas, or skin issues. This is a house-saving (in the case of fleas), and even life-saving trick that could save you and your family from a lot of hassle down the road.

With a solid dose of training, your pet will not only listen to you and follow your commands, it will be all the more safer and secure for doing so. You can ensure your dog’s safety inside and outside your home with the right training, but it’s also up to you to make sure it gets regular check-ups with 5 Points Animal Hospital. A pet with great obedience training still needs proper vaccinations to prolong its life. Call us at (615) 750-2377 for any questions you may have.

How to Trim Your Dog’s Toenails

Most dogs are like your typical 2-year-old: they hate having their nails trimmed. Much like a young child, if you start with a regular trimming routine at an early age, they’ll grow somewhat accustomed to the process and will be much more amenable to having it done. Nevertheless, some dogs will happily sit in your lap throughout the process (please, consider yourself blessed if your dog falls into this category), whereas others may require some form of restraint.

Learning to Trim the Nails of Your Dog - Nashville TN

Getting Yourself Acquainted with Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Your vet or vet tech is a good place to begin if you’re unsure on the correct way to trim your dog’s nails. He/she will be able to give you pointers and/or physically demonstrate how to take care of this very important chore. Oftentimes, understanding what not to do is more important than anything else, as this will help you avoid putting your dog through unnecessary and unwanted pain (and possible bleeding). Nevertheless, accidents do happen (even with the most experienced nail trimmers) and it’s also advisable to know what to do in the event that something doesn’t go according to plan.

Knowing How to Safely Restrain Your Dog Can Help to Avoid Injuries

There are several methods you can use to assist with the nail trimming process if your dog is especially uncooperative:

  • Try placing your dog on a table that is approximately waist-height for you. You’ll need to stand to the side of the table that is opposite to the nails you intend to trim. You’ll need to place your upper body and arms across your dog’s body (try not to place too much bodyweight on the dog, as this could cause him/her to get more nervous). When trimming the nails, it’s best to try to hold your dog’s head down with your forearm to expedite the process. Pick up your dog’s paw with the hand attached to the forearm that’s holding the dog’s head down and hold the clippers in the opposite hand.
  • If the previous method isn’t successful, try laying your dog on his/her side with their back pinned against you. Lean over the dog and grasp the paw with the hand closest to your dog’s head (while using the rest of your arm to keep his/her head on the table). Hold the clippers in your opposite hand.
    You’ll also want to avoid cutting your dog’s nails too short (the dark part of the nail—the quick—is where the blood supply is), as this can lead to unnecessary bleeding and discomfort. When cutting the nail, try clipping a little bit at a time; if the nail feels spongy, stop cutting immediately, as you’re cutting into the quick!

Your dog is a valued member of your family. As such, you’ll want to make sure you take every opportunity to keep him/her happy (the same as you would with any other family member). The entire 5 Points Animal Hospital family wishes you many safe nail trimmings from here on out. If you’d like us to demonstrate the process for you during your dog’s next visit, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’d be happy to oblige!

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