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What You Should Know About Grain-Free Diets

As we come to the end of the year, it is time to take a look back. Certain news stories are very important to remember. For veterinary staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital, one that comes to mind is the grain-free diet trend. When the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sent an urgent message out this past summer to pet owners and veterinarians about the dangers of feeding dogs a grain-free diet, we were not surprised.

We already know foremost the importance of  feeding your pets a well-balanced diet. Unfortunately, thanks to the widespread marketing campaigns of big box stores, pet owners have been misled by false advertising. At 5 Points Animal Hospital, we would like to tell you more about why you should avoid the grain-free craze.

What exactly is grain-free pet food?

a golden playing with a stickConventional dog food typically contains corn, rice, or other type of cereal grain as one of its primary ingredients. While proponents of grain-free dog diets claim that grains are an unnatural source of nutrition for canines. As historically, dogs did not eat grains. Because of the possibilities of allergies and digestion issues that grains present, it seems to be healthier to feed dog a diet that was based on potatoes and legumes. However, even though a grain-free diet is higher in protein than conventional dog food. Studies actually show that it is low in a specific amino acid, taurine. This have adverse effects on your dog’s health.

What can happen to my pet if I feed him grain-free food?

According to the FDA and their warning from July, there had been reports of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs that had been consistently eating a grain-free diet over time. DCM is developing more frequently in breeds like golden retrievers and bulldogs. These breeds are not even genetically predisposed to suffer from this deadly heart disease. After looking at the medical records of the atypical DCM cases, the FDA found that all of the dogs had low blood levels of taurine.

The good news is that if your dog is taurine deficiencies, we can reversed it when found early. If your dog or cat has been on a homemade, vegetarian, or grain-free diet, a blood level check is advised. Contact us today at 5 Points Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment. We would be happy to answer any questions you have about the best diet for your pet!

Questions to Ask Your Vet to Prevent Pet Obesity

All pet owners want their pet to live a long, happy, and healthy life. Keeping up with a regular routine of wellness and preventive veterinary care visits is vital to achieving this goal. Not only are you protecting them from diseases with annual vaccinations, but you can also ask your veterinarian questions about the best ways to prevent harmful conditions like obesity.

Each year, the number of obese cats and dogs is on the increase. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), about 56 percent of dogs and 60 percent of cats weigh are classified as clinically overweight or obese by veterinary professionals. 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share with you a few relevant questions to ask when you bring your pet in for their annual checkup to help them stay in a healthy weight range.

At what weight is my pet considered to be obese?

2 cute pups sittingWeight can be a sensitive subject for both people and pets because of the emotions and stigmas involved. However, you should never shy away from asking us about their weight when you bring them into a wellness visit at 5 Points Animal Hospital. The weight of your pet has the biggest influence on his longevity and quality of life. Obese cats and dogs are at a higher risk for developing arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and other serious health issues.

How much food should I be feed my pet everyday?

Knowing the exact number of nutrients and calories that your cat or dog should be eating everyday is very important in preventing pet obesity. After examining your pet, we can give you a range of calories they need to be at a healthy weight. Because the type, brand, and formulation of food determine the amount of food, you should always check how many cups or cans of food you are feeding them in relation to their caloric need. Remember to include his treats in his daily calorie count too!

How much exercise does my pet need each day?

Generally speaking, dogs need to exercise at least 30 minutes each day, and cats need to play intensely for five-minute periods three times a day. The type of exercise activity make a big difference, and our staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital will give you fun exercise recommendations based on the breed, age, gender, and overall health of your pet.

Preventing pet obesity is key to making sure your pet enjoys a long and happy life. Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to schedule an appointment for your pet’s wellness and preventive care visit today!

The Importance of the Canine Flu Vaccine

When it comes to the health and well-being of your dog, you are the one responsible for making sure your dog has all of the resources to stay happy and healthy, such as eating the best diet available and exercising every day. Another important factor in keeping your dog from becoming sick is to keep your dog on a routine vaccination schedule. With all of the different vaccines available, however, it can be overwhelming trying to stay on track with the few shots that are necessary. As the best professional veterinary clinic in East Nashville, 5 Points Animal Hospital, provides all of the vaccinations that your pet needs as part of our wellness and preventive care services. You may have heard debates on whether every dog needs a vaccination for the canine influenza virus (CIV), and while your dog may never be exposed to the virus, if he were to be, it is highly contagious. Many veterinary clinics do not even keep the CIV vaccine in stock. In fact, we just recently added it to our vaccination options because there have been reported cases of “dog flu” in 40 states, including East Tennessee and Kentucky. To help you understand exactly how important the CIV vaccine is, we would like to tell you more about this virus.Sick dog with Canine Influenza Virus and thermometer in mouth

What exactly is “dog flu”?

First confirmed in 2006 in Asia, this virus, also known as H3N2, appeared in this country in 2015 when rescue dogs were imported to Chicago from Asia. After several dogs at a boarding facility became sick, that company had to quickly close several facilities to disinfect them. However, it was too late as Chicago was experiencing the worst outbreak of an infectious respiratory illness in 35 years. This virus is so contagious that there were over 1,000 cases reported in Chicago, and from there, it quickly spread across the country. Not only can the virus live on surfaces for as many as 48 hours, but it can also live on clothes for 24 hours and on human hands for 12 hours.

How do I know if my dog has been infected with CIV?

Two to three days after being exposed to this virus, your dog will come down with a cough that is either soft and moist or dry and hacking which can last from anywhere between 10 to 21 days. This cough is typically combined with other symptoms such as lethargy, fever, sneezing, runny eyes and nose, and decrease in appetite. If your dog is officially diagnosed, he will have to be quarantined for 21 days as he is being treated with fluids, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medication since that is how long his cough could last.

Does my dog need to be vaccinated against the canine flu?

If your dog stays in a daycare facility or needs to be boarded or groomed, he is at a higher risk of being exposed, and 5 Points Animal Hospital recommends that you have him vaccinated every year against CIV. If you have a young puppy, elderly dog, or other pet with a weakened immune system, we also feel you should consider giving your dog the CIV vaccine as it could lead to pneumonia. According to PetMD, it may also help to protect your dog by finding a facility that requires all dogs to be vaccinated before they can come inside.

If you are considering to have your dog vaccinated against the canine influenza virus, 5 Points Animal Hospital can help you find out even more information. Contact us today to schedule a wellness check for your dog to keep him happier and healthier.

What Is a Safe Outdoor Temperature for Pets?

Even though the summer season is coming to a close, the weather in the Nashville area can still be hot and humid throughout the fall. Our moderate climate allows us to spend more time outdoors with our pets, but you should still be aware of the temperature What Is a Safe Outdoor Temperature forto keep your pet comfortable at all times. As we get closer to winter, the weather can change from one day to the next, which means it is very important to pay attention to the weather forecast when you are planning an outing with your pet. Since 2011, 5 Points Animal Hospital has been providing professional veterinary care to the pets of East Nashville, and we would like to give you some tips on keeping your pet safe in hot and cold weather.

HOT WEATHER

When hot temperatures are combined with high levels of humidity, your pet faces a greater risk of dehydration and heatstroke, according to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance and Foundation. Here in the Nashville area, it can be uncomfortably humid, which means it is very important to keep a close eye on your pet for signs of heatstroke and dehydration when playing outside on a humid day. These symptoms include panting, drooling, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, and disorientation. To keep your pet safe outside in hot and humid weather, 5 Points Animal Hospital suggests going out in the early morning or late evening hours rather than during the middle of the day, finding shaded walk routes, and bringing along water. One of the most essential things to always remember when the weather is warm is to never, ever, ever leave your pet alone in the car for even a minute. The Humane Society warns that it only takes 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car with its windows partially rolled down to reach 102 degrees on an 88-degree day.

COLD WEATHER

Although it may seem far away, the freezing weather of winter will be here before you know it. Being prepared for snow and ice can ensure your pet stays comfortable all winter long. Any time the temperature drops below 32 degrees, hypothermia and frostbite can occur in pets. If you must leave your pet outside in these conditions, you should provide him with proper shelter, such as a dog house with a solid, raised floor and bedding or straw for insulation, to keep him safe. Make sure your pet has plenty of food and available water that is not frozen. Be aware that even long-haired breeds should never be left outdoors for extended periods of time when the temperature is below freezing.

If it is too hot or cold for humans to be comfortable outdoors, it is likely that the temperature could possibly be dangerous for your pet. 5 Points Animal Hospital is here to help you keep your pet happy and healthy. Contact us to schedule an appointment for his or her routine wellness and preventive care visit.

The Importance of Year-Round Heartworm Prevention

When it comes to heartworm prevention, there is a common misconception about exactly how many months of the year you should be giving a pet his medicine. Since heartworms are typically transmitted to pets by mosquitoes, many people think that their dogs Heartworm Prevention - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospitaland cats do not need to take their heartworm preventive medication when these parasites are dormant during the fall and winter seasons. However, this is far from the best advice when it comes to protecting your pet from heartworms. In fact, the American Heartworm Society, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and other national experts strongly recommend that you should give your pet his heartworm preventive medicine every month all year long as well as have him tested for heartworms every 12 months. Since 2011, 5 Points Animal Hospital has been providing comprehensive and preventive veterinary services to the four-legged residents of East Nashville, and we are here to keep your pet safe from heartworm disease throughout the year. We would like to tell you more about why it is so important to make sure you take heartworm prevention seriously every month of the year.

What is heartworm disease and how does my pet get it?

Affecting dogs, cats, ferrets, and other mammals, heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms that live in the hearts, lungs, and associated blood vessels of these animals. Severe lung disease, heart failure, and other organ damage can result from this serious and potentially deadly disease. The larvae of the heartworms are transmitted to pets and wild animals through the bites of infected mosquitoes. After maturing for six months, the larvae develop into adult heartworms, which can live in dogs for five to seven years and in cats for two to three years. These lifespans mean that the number of worms can increase each mosquito season. This is why it is so important to give your pet heartworm prevention medication every month.

If heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, why do I still need to give my pet preventive medicine against heartworms in the winter?

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworm prevention medication works retroactively, so it can eliminate new infections even if they were transmitted months earlier. Additionally, you should also be sure to have your pet tested for heartworms every 12 months, even if he is on year-round preventive treatment. An infection opportunity could be created if you miss a dose, are late with a dose, or your pet spits out or rubs off his medication.

At 5 Points Animal Hospital, we carry a wide variety of heartworm prevention medication in our East Nashville clinic as well as in our online pharmacy. The best way to stay on top of protecting your pet from this deadly disease is to follow a routine schedule of wellness and preventive care. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your pet.

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