Company Blog

Road Closures for 2015 Country Music Marathon

Since the 2015 Country Music Marathon is coming this Saturday, April 25, we wanted to provide information about road closures around the clinic for our clients. This will also affect those coming in from outside the East Nashville area. See the PDF below for a full list of road closures.

Why Do Cats Have Such Strange Eating Habits?

Lots of people have their own personal diet plans, and nutritionists don’t always agree on which one is best. The same can be said for our cats and their diets. Our cats have some strange ideas about what counts as food, some a little more off the wall than others. While it’s understandable that kibble and canned food every day might motivate a search for a few new supplementary delicacies from time to time, their choices never seem well thought out. These mysterious meal preferences and habits never cease to amaze us.

Cat Eating Habits - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal

Cats most commonly eat multiple small meals throughout the day, but some owners notice differences in the way their cats eat their meals:

  • Some cats gulp down their food like prison inmates, whereas others are more finicky and only pick at their food.
  • Some cats have been known to grab mouthfuls of food and run off to some hidden location to eat it before ultimately coming back and beginning the process all over again.
  • Some cats will eat only at specific times, when they think no one is around, or are completely disinterested in eating altogether.
  • Some cats are fond of hunting and will leave dead trophies for their owners.

There could be several reasons why your cat is disinterested in the food you’ve provided. The first is one that humans experience as well. We all love fresh food, and our cats are no different. If your cat has had the same food sitting in its bowl all day, it quickly becomes unappetizing. Try opening a new can of wet food, which almost always brings a cat running. A common concern, especially with indoor cats, is boredom. Cats like to hunt for their food and could be tired of you providing it for them. A foraging toy could help in this case, which makes your cat work to get its food out of the container.

If you’re providing your cat a vegetarian diet and have noticed changes in their behavior, the quick fix would be to cease with this particular diet. Cats rely on many nutrients provided from meat, including taurine or vitamin B12. Plant-based foods can’t satisfy their nutritional needs. The ideal diet would mainly be made up of protein and fats derived from small prey caught by a hunting cat. Again, however, it’s your decision and responsibility to monitor your cat’s diet and make adjustments, as you deem necessary.

Whatever your cat’s unique eating behavior may be, you must fully grasp the context in which he or she does this to gain a clearer understanding of the method to this madness. Both wet and dry cat food have nutritional value for your cat; some prefer the taste of one to the other, but providing both options is recommended. Dry food is better for your cat’s teeth, while wet food can be better for strong bone and muscle development. There are merits to both food options. Ultimately, the decision is yours, but it’s always recommended to consult your vet.

Unexpected Ways You Could Be Hurting Your Dog or Cat

You love your pets and go above and beyond to spoil them. You may, however, be inadvertently doing more harm than good depending on your chosen methods. Do any of the following apply to you?

Are You Hurting Your Pet? - Nashville TN - 5 Points

  • You feed your pet from the table
  • You’re using the wrong collar or the wrong size collar
  • You don’t take care of your pet’s teeth
  • You leave food out all of the time
  • You let your pet be a couch potato
  • You feed your pet a vegan diet
  • You don’t take your pet to the vet for annual exams
  • You don’t secure your pet when you’re in the car
  • You feed your pet real bones
  • You yell at your pet when he or she does something wrong

If you answered yes to any of the above-listed scenarios, it’s not the end of the world. Your pet, more likely than not, hasn’t been irreparably harmed by it. However, if you continue on this path knowing that you’re harming your pet, things can worsen quickly and you could be at the point of no return in no time.

It’s Time to Eat

Feeding your pets from the table can lead to severe health problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, and pancreatitis. There are several people foods—raisins, grapes, onions, cooked bones, chocolate, etc.—that are highly toxic to our pets as well. Pets that are fed table scraps may also start refusing to eat their regular food.

Just as feeding your pets table scraps can be harmful, so too can feeding them a vegan diet. This is especially true in cats, as they are what are referred to as obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to survive. This is because the protein in animal tissue has a complete amino acid profile; amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Plant proteins don’t contain all the amino acids critical for the health of obligate carnivores. They cannot digest plant-based foods efficiently, nor do plant-based foods provide the nutrients felines require.

Leaving food out all of the time—commonly referred to as free-feeding—can do a tremendous disservice to your pets. This might be what is easiest for your schedule; however, it is the worst for your pet’s health. Pets that are free fed are at high risk for becoming overweight. Who hasn’t snacked when bored, even if you’re not hungry at all? Our pets will do the same thing! Leaving food out all of the time isn’t very sanitary either. The food becomes an invitation for insects, rodents, bacteria, and who knows what else to come into your home.

The Pet Nutrition Alliance is a great resource for learning about what to feed your pet.

Treat Your Pets Right

Allowing your pets to become couch potatoes is along the lines of leaving food out all the time. You’re inviting them to become overweight. Leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to future health problems for your pets and increased vet bills for you.

Using the wrong collar or the wrong size collar can hurt your dog’s throat. The best way to avoid injury, as far as many breeds are concerned, is to opt for a harness rather than a collar, as it takes some of the pressure off of the dog’s trachea and more evenly distributes the force exerted as a result of your dog pulling too hard or too abruptly.

Not securing your pet while in the vehicle can be dangerous for you and for them. If you were to get into an accident, your pet could be injured very easily. If your pet is loose in the car, they could get excited and distract you in various ways, thereby leading to an accident that could injure both of you.

Yelling at your pet when they do something wrong can be emotionally scarring for them. This can cause irreparable damage to as far as his or her overall health is concerned and can lead to atypical behaviors that could lead to an increased chance of injury.

Not taking care of your pet’s teeth and/or not taking him or her to the vet on an annual basis could greatly increase the chances of illness. This can also result in small issues becoming larger ones due to them not being treated in a timely manner. You wouldn’t skip going to the doctor or brushing your children’s teeth, so why would you avoid these activities for your pets? Visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council for more information about dental health for your pet.

Pet owners mean well. We love our animals as if they were members of our families. We go out of our way—some more so than others—to spoil them when we feel it’s necessary. Unfortunately, the road to ruin is paved with good intentions. We encourage you to avoid these common behaviors, and, instead, spoil your pets with love and attention. Spoil them with annual visits to see us so we can love on them, too. Either way, they’ll be much better off!

The Reasons We Do Some of the Things We Do When Seeing Your Pet

When your children are sick, they can verbalize the issue to you. They’re generally pretty forthcoming with their issues, too. Because our pets tend to hide health problems from us, however, seeing your vet on a regular basis will help pick up on these problems, sometimes preventing them from worsening and becoming serious. Your vet can be an objective arbiter and help spot these problems via various methods, some conventional and some a little less conventional. Is it time for you to take your pet to the vet for a wellness exam?

Pet Exams - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Conventional Wellness Exam Techniques

Most wellness exams include a complete physical examination, which is a nose-to-tail inspection for any abnormalities. Your vet will use special equipment, including a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs, an otoscope to view the inside of the ears, and an opthalmoscope to examine the eyes. Your vet will also feel all over your pet’s body for lumps and bumps. In addition, your vet will check your pet’s vital signs—including temperature, pulse, and respiration—and record your pet’s current weight.

Unconventional Wellness Exam Methods

As a vet, we are responsible for using as many of our senses as necessary to treat your pets, as they’re unable to tell us themselves if something is wrong. Being in a hands-on profession, we are continually using our hands to assess your pet’s overall physical condition, even resorting to tickling when necessary. This may seem a little unorthodox to many, but there’s a method to our madness. Seeing how your pets respond to our touch can tell us a lot about their overall health. Healthy dogs will involuntarily begin making a scratching motion when lightly touched, stroked or scratched along the back of the rib cage or the front of the abdomen; healthy cats will involuntarily raise their rear end when scratched at the base of their tail. Both of these involuntary actions tell us that your pet is healthy, whereas the absence of these actions would indicate underlying issues that may warrant additional testing.

It’s natural for us to see our pets sniffing one another. It’s an expected behavior when pets encounter unfamiliar animals. It may shock some pet owners, however, when their vet does the same thing during an examination. Don’t freak out, we haven’t lost our minds. The way your pet smells—from nose to tail and head to feet—can tell us a lot about their overall health as well. No part of your pet should ever smell bad. Sure, your pets breath or butt may not be your favorite smell, but neither should be off-putting, as this is a sure sign of underlying issues that will, again, warrant further inspection.

Your pet may never win a Dancing with the Stars competition—your vet probably won’t either—but his or her ability to move freely on just those hind legs can tell us a tremendous amount about their mobility. A reluctant or stiff pet can be suffering from arthritis or some other injury that has gone unnoticed during the examination. This will cause us to dig deeper to determine the cause of the problem.

As you can see, vets will use scientific and not-so-scientific methods to evaluate your pet’s overall health. Fear not, we do this because we love your pets and aren’t afraid to show it. Sometimes the best tools for evaluation don’t have to suffix –scope attached to them. At 5 Points Animal Hospital, we know that prevention is the best cure to ensure that your pet’s health remains optimal for years to come. Thus, we provide an array of options and services to ensure that your pet’s health remains intact for the long run.

Are You Able to Tell If Your Dog is Anxious or Stressed?

Like their owners, dogs have anxieties and fears. A dog’s anxieties may not be the same as our own anxieties; however, they cause stress and physical reactions just the same. Many dog owners fail to recognize the most common signs of stress and anxiety in their dogs before it’s too late. Learning to recognize these common signals can help you prevent more serious problems later on.

Stressed or Anxious Dog? - Nashville TN

Some of the more common dog anxiety problems

  • Separation anxiety—a condition in which the dog gets anxious when left alone—is a huge problem for some dogs (as well as for some of their owners). Dog separation anxiety usually occurs when there is a shift in their owner’s schedule, thereby disrupting the amount of time we’re able to spend with our dogs. When faced with such disruptions, dogs may get stressed and become destructive.
  • Noise anxiety—a condition in which a dog becomes fearful when exposed to loud or unusual noises—can severely stress out a dog. Some of the more common causes of the offending noises include fireworks, thunderstorms, and garbage trucks. When confronted with any unpleasant noise, your dog may retreat to cover or simply cower until the noise subsides.
  • Travel anxiety—a condition in which your dog becomes unsure and stressed from unexpected moving—is a bit less common, as many dogs enjoy car rides. The stress in this situation comes from doing something new and unexpected.
  • Confinement anxiety—a condition in which your dog gets anxious when he or she feels trapped or confined—can have much the same impact on an affected dog as it would on a human facing the same affliction. If a threat should arise, a confined dog may be unable to escape or flee.

Symptoms of an anxious or stressed dog

When dogs become stressed or anxious, they may engage in certain behaviors to help relieve their stress. For example, when pet owners are anxious or stressed, they may begin to pace, bite their nails, or play with their hair; all of these are commonly referred to as “nervous ticks.” Dogs behave in much the same way. They may also pace, groom themselves, and much more. Some dog anxiety behaviors may result in property destruction, may cause their owners harm, or may simply be undesirable to our human sensibilities. The behaviors can include:

  • Non-stop barking
  • Chewing up furniture, walls, shoes, garbage, and anything else in sight
  • Pooping and peeing in the house, crate, or other confinement area
  • Eating his or her own poop
  • Aggression toward people, dogs, or other animals.

Punishment or other behavioral deterrents will do little to stop these anxious dog behaviors in the long-term because punishment doesn’t address the root of the problem, which is his or her anxiety. In fact, suppression of these displacement behaviors through punishment or other deterrents will only make the problem worse, as these methods will only increase stress and uncertainty levels for the dog.

From mild whining when left alone to full-scale panic attacks, many dogs suffer from anxiety and other forms of stress. While it’s often necessary to involve a professional trainer, and always a good idea to have your vet rule out physical problems, there are many techniques owners can use to address fears, anxiety, and stress in their dogs. Not all dogs will exhibit overt signs of stress or anxiety, however, the better you get at recognizing your dog’s signs, the better you’ll be able to help him or her avoid situations that could cause serious problems down the road. If your dog has been a little out of sorts lately and you’re looking for some behavioral counseling to get him or her back on track, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to help!

Come See Us!

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