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The Dangers of Heatstroke for Pets

As we head into summer here in the Nashville area, the heat and humidity can be unbearable at times for pets and people. Although you are ready to include your dog in your plans to have some fun in the sun, you need to be aware of the dangers of heatstroke for your pets.

To make sure your dog stays cool and comfortable this summer, 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share some tips from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) for preventing, detecting, and treating heatstroke. Knowing what to look for and how to react could mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends this summer.


man hiking with dog on his backIf you think heatstroke is only possible from the heat and humidity outdoors, you should think again. Hot, humid, and unventilated areas inside can also be very dangerous for pets. You should never, ever leave your pet alone in a parked car, even with cracked windows. Before you leave for work each day, you should always make sure your dog has access to fresh water and air conditioning in your home. 5 Points Animal Hospital recommends going for your daily walk with your pet in the early morning or late evening to avoid the extreme heat during the middle of the day.


Knowing the signs of overheating is crucial to keep your pets safe from the risks of heatstroke. Be on the alert to excessive panting and drooling, slight weakness, increased heart rate, stupor, and difficulties with breathing with your pet. Severe heatstroke symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and seizures. You should also be aware that pets with shorter noses such as bulldogs, boxers, pugs, and Persian cats, are at a higher risk for heatstroke.


You should begin a cooling method as soon as you notice any of the signs of heatstroke in your pet. Suitable cooling methods include placing a fan in front of your pet, rubbing his paws and abdomen with cotton balls that have been saturated with rubbing alcohol and wrapping your pet in towels that are soaked in lukewarm water. You may think that cold water is a better choice, but you should not cool your pet too rapidly as this is harmful. Once you have started to cool your pet down, you should seek medical attention for them immediately.

Heatstroke is a serious health condition for pets and could even be fatal. For more information about keeping your dogs and cats safe during the hottest days of summer, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. We are here for all of your comprehensive veterinary health needs.

Common Everyday Foods that Pets Should Avoid

Dogs love to eat just about everything they can get their paws on, and cats are so curious that they tend to get into anything they are able to. This gives pet owners a huge and important responsibility. Pet owners need to know exactly which types of everyday foods are harmful to their cats or dogs.

Once you know what is toxic to them, you can make sure that these foods are never within close reach of them. If you suspect that your pet has eaten any of the foods listed below, you should call us immediately at 5 Points Animal Hospital or the (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center.

Fruit and Nuts

woman hugging her dogWhile small doses of citrus fruit may result in minor stomach aches, ingesting large amounts of the essential oils and citric acids found in citrus fruit, seeds, stems, leaves, and peels can irritate or even depress the central nervous systems of cats and dogs. Your pets should also steer clear of grapes and raisins, as eating them can lead to kidney failure. Pecans, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts that contain high amounts of oils and fats can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis in dogs and cats. Eating macadamia nuts may make dogs weak, vomit, tremble and feverish.

Salt, Sweeteners & Spices

If you entertain often, your dog may try to sneak snacks from guests or even look for crumbs & leftover plates. Be careful with salty items like potato chips, popcorn, and pretzels because eating too much salt causes excessive thirst and urination. Sweets like candy, gum, and baked goods can also make your pets ill. The sweetener xylitol can lead to liver failure in your pets, as xylitol is found in many sugar-free gums. Spices like garlic, onions, and chives in large amounts are very irritating to pets’ stomachs and can lead to anemia. Cats are more susceptible, but dogs are at risk as well.

Chocolate, Coffee, & Caffeine

Chocolate, Coffee, & Caffeine all come from cacao seeds, or cocoa beans, which contain methylxanthines, which can make pets very sick. When dogs and cats eat them, methylxanthines can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, heavy breathing, hyperactivity, abnormal heartbeat, seizures, tremors, and even death. Dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous to pets. Chocolate should be avoided altogether. All foods and drinks that contain caffeine should be avoided.

Meats High In Fat & Raw Meat

Meats with high-fat content and raw meat can cause inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea and in some cases pancreatitis. Whenever you suspect that your pet has eaten food that could be harmful, you should treat it as a serious situation. Please note the amount of the food that was ingested, and then contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital as soon as possible. You can also call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 to have your pet taken care of as quickly as possible.

How to reduce thunderstorm induced stress and anxiety in your pet

While not every dog or cat is afraid of thunderstorms, it is definitely not out of the ordinary for pets to become nervous and scared when theythunderstorm hear the roar of thunder. If you have a puppy or kitten, you may not know whether or not your pet has this phobia since most pets develop this fear between the ages of two and four years old. Unfortunately, your dog or cat could become more anxious as they get older as thunderstorm fear can worsen as dogs and cats age. Since the Nashville area frequently experiences thunderstorms during the spring and summer months, our staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share a few tips to help ease the anxiety storms can bring to your pet.

Provide a safe place inside your home.

Provide your pet with space where they feel comfortable and safe. If your pet sleeps in a crate or spends time in a crate while you are not home, your pet may feel comforted by being in their crate. If you have a wire crate, try covering it with a sheet or towel to make it more like a haven for your dog or cat. Don’t forget to put your pet’s favorite items, such as toys and bedding, as well as food and water bowls, in the space.

Provide a distraction for your pet.

While not every pet will respond to play during thunderstorms, you can try to play with your pet to engage them and distract them from the weather outside. Be sure to use their favorite toys and to give your pet their preferred treats when you play. 5 Points Animal Hospital also recommends that you play soothing and calming music such as “Through A Dog’s Ear” or “Through A Cat’s Ear” to help reduce the stress and anxiety caused by loud crashes of thunder and lightning.

Use research-based products to reduce stress and anxiety.

Studies have proven that dogs can be calmed during thunderstorms by using the baby swaddling principle. A tight garment, such as the Thundershirt, can give your pet a sense of comfort by providing mild pressure to the body.

Pheromone therapy with products such as Feliway and Adaptil can also be helpful in reducing storm anxiety.

For more advice or questions on how to reduce your pet’s storm anxiety call 5 Points Animal Hospital at 615-750-2377. We are happy to discuss your pet’s specific needs and ways that we can help your pet be more relaxed and comfortable during thunderstorms

Protect your pet from heartworm disease

Heartworm disease can have devastating health effects on your pet. When it comes to heartworm disease, prevention is the best treatment. Avoiding heartworm disease consists of monthly preventative treatments and an annual heartworm screening test. At 5 Points Animal Hospital, your pet’s health is our top priority. We want to help you understand what heartworm disease is and what you can do to help keep your pet safe from heartworm disease.


What are Heartworms?sick German Shepard with doctors hand


Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted by mosquitoes when they bite your dog. When a mosquito bites your dog, it transfers heartworm larvae into your dog’s bloodstream. Once this happens the larvae will grow until they reach adult stage approximately seven months later. The adult heartworms will then move to your dog’s heart and lungs, where they will reproduce quickly, compromising your dog’s pulmonary system. Initially, there are no symptoms of the disease, but once the lungs and heart are infected, your dog may develop a cough, raspy breathing, and they will become winded easily when taken out for a walk. If not treated, heartworm disease, also known as dirofilariasis, is potentially fatal.  Some infected pets show no signs of heartworm disease.


Heartworm disease has been recorded in all 50 states, so there is nowhere in the United States where you can avoid this parasite. That’s why, no matter where you live, it is important to protect your pet from heartworm disease.


Preventative Treatment


It is impossible to tell if a mosquito is carrying the heartworm parasite. The best option for your pet is preventative care. This is done by giving your pet heartworm preventative every 30 days and making sure that your pet receives an annual wellness checkup and annual heartworm screening test. Because heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal illness, we at 5 Points Animal Hospital strongly recommend bringing your dog in for annual heartworm testing to ensure that your pet is free of the disease. The American Heartworm Association also recommends that pets be tested annually for heartworm disease even if they are on monthly heartworm preventative.


It is our goal at 5 Points Animal Hospital to help you to provide the best care possible for your pet.  Please ask your pet’s veterinarian which heartworm preventative would be right for your pet.

Our online pharmacy can be helpful for providing heartworm prevention that will protect your pet from heartworm disease.  You may also purchase your pet’s heartworm prevention in the clinic.

Please protect your dog from heartworm disease. If you have questions about heartworm disease or prevention or to schedule a wellness exam or heartworm testing call us today at 615-750-2377. We look forward to helping you protect your pet!

Canine Flu in Nashville: What You Need To Know

Man’s best friend is definitely the canine. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III) about 60.2 million U.S. households own a dog as a pet for a grand total of 89.7 million! It is our responsibility as pet owners to provide the best care for our pets that we are able to offer.  Part of caring for our pets includes prevention of life-threatening diseases through appropriate vaccination. This is particularly important when a species-specific virus such as CIV is spreading and reaches your area.  Unfortunately, there have been confirmed cases of CIV in Nashville.

Canine Influenza: What You Need to KnowBlack lab laying on a couch looking at the camera

  • Canine influenza [], or dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs.
  • Both strains of canine influenza have been reported in Tennessee, and now Metro Nashville.
  • These viruses are not seasonal.
  • Canine flu H3N8 originated in horses, spread to dogs, and now spreads between dogs.
  • Canine flu H3N2 originated in birds, spread to dogs, and can now spread between dogs and from an infected dog to cats.
  • Dogs housed in kennels and shelters are most at-risk.
  • Almost all dogs exposed to canine flu will become infected.
  • The CDC assessed canine influenza as “low risk” of becoming a threat to humans.
  • Canine influenza can lead to pneumonia in otherwise healthy dogs.
  • The virus is spread through respiratory droplets produced through coughing and sneezing of infected dogs.  The virus can also be spread indirectly via people or objects (clothing, bowls, leashes, collars, kennels).

Signs and Symptoms of Canine Influenza

It may be difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of canine flu, especially if your pet already has respiratory issues. The most obvious signs are cough and runny nose, however, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite may also occur. Some dogs may have no symptoms at all while others develop pneumonia and severe illness. Secondary bacterial infections may also arise during the infection. The severe form of this disease which includes the symptoms above including pneumonia can be life-threatening or even fatal. Since it is spreading across the U.S. and cases are now reported in Nashville, pet owners should have dogs checked out for any changes in health. Coughing in dogs is most often caused by kennel cough, collapsing trachea, bronchitis, asthma, and heart disease—all reasons to visit the vet!

Pet Diagnosis, Treatment, and Routine Care

As with any other disease, prevention is best!  If your dog has not already been vaccinated for CIV, please make an appointment today to have your dog vaccinated.  Call us at 615-750-2377 to schedule your dog’s appointment to be vaccinated.

If your dog has symptoms that point to canine flu, it’s important to call your veterinarian. Your dog may be just fine at home with supportive care, but he or she may need fluids or medications to help with recovery. Seeing your vet and having your dog properly diagnosed may help to stop the spread of canine flu among your own pets and other dogs you may have contact with. Let your vet know that your dog is showing symptoms so that the clinic can take necessary precautions.

Trust 5 Points Animal Hospital with Your Dog

We urge you to take your ill dogs and puppies to the veterinarian so proper diagnosis and treatment can be completed.  Trust your furry loved ones with 5 Points Animal Hospital, we can help prevent canine flu in your healthy dogs too. Bring in your dogs to be vaccinated and prevent canine flu altogether. Schedule with 5 Points today by calling 615-750-2377.

Remember to exercise caution when caring for your pets, making sure to wash hands, maintain routine care at your local veterinarian, and keep them updated on all vaccinations.

Still have questions about canine flu? Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to ask the experts.

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