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Fun Ways to Exercise Your Pet

Regular physical activity can help our animals stay healthy. However, many homeowners find it difficult to get their pets the exercise they need – particularly in the winter months. If the weather outside is too cold for a long walk or to let your pet outside, try these tips to exercise your dog or cat this winter!

Exercise tips for your cat

catCats may spend the majority of their day snoozing – up to 15 hours per day for the average housecat – but they still need regular physical activity to stay healthy. Unfortunately, many house cats are not getting the exercise they need.

Fortunately for cat owners, there are a number of easy – and fun! – ways to help your cat exercise. In addition to the extra physical activity, it also provides an opportunity to bond with your favorite feline. The following are four exercise tips that can help your cat get active.

1. Put their bowl on an elevated surface
One fast and easy way to encourage your cat to move more is by putting their food and water dishes on an elevated surface. This encourages them to work their muscles by jumping every time they want something to eat. Placing dishes on a counter, at the top of a cat tree, or even putting them on a different floor of the house encourages them to move more.

2. Play hide and seek with treats
If your cat is food motivated, create a game out of finding treats! Try putting treats in areas they frequent around the house, such as next to a toy basket, under the couch, or on top of their favorite perch. Hiding treats can improve both mental and physical health as they move around the house and try to remember places you’ve hidden treats in the past. One caveat to this game: make sure not to overdo it on the treats! Treats should make up no more than 10% of your cat’s daily caloric intake.

3. Introduce unique toys
Cats are naturally curious and love to explore; create new and interesting toys with materials you already have around the house to encourage them to move more. Cut one to two holes in a cardboard box and enjoy watching them squeeze in and out or invest in a laser pointer for hours of entertainment watching them chase the elusive point of light. Wadded up tissue paper, an old rabbit’s foot keychain, or ping pong balls can all make unique toys that get your kitty up and exercising.

4. Find your cat a playmate
Despite their reputation as solitary animals, most cats actually enjoy being social with other cats. Adding another cat to your household will encourage both cats to be more active through daily play and interaction. Not ready to add a new pet to the family? Set up kitty play dates with friends or neighbors.

Fun ways to keep your dog active

dog running with ballDogs need daily exercise. In the winter, unfortunately, cold temperatures, snow, and short days can limit dog owners’ ability to take their four-legged friends on the long walks they need. While daily walks are an extremely important part of keeping a dog healthy, there are a variety of fun ways to keep your dog active – even when stuck indoors.

1. Run up and down the stairs
If your house or apartment has stairs, use them as a training tool for your dog! Stairs are great exercise for even the most active pet because they use different muscle groups than running or walking. Stand at the top of the stairs and throw a toy down for your dog; when they retrieve it, call their name and have them bring it to you at the top of the stairs. A few rounds of up and down will help tire even a high-energy dog out!

2. Create an indoor obstacle course
Repurpose things you have around the house to create an obstacle course for your dog. Teach them to jump through hula hoops, run through a tunnel of couch cushions, circle pillars, or jump over a pillow. This is both mentally and physically stimulating and can keep your dog active and occupied no matter the weather!

3. Go on an outing together
Don’t feel like you have to stay at home with your dog! There are lots of dog-friendly stores and restaurants – the most notable being pet stores. Load your dog up in the car and head to your favorite pet store; whether you need to stock up on pet essentials or simply want to walk the aisles, taking your dog on an outing is a great way to provide some enrichment – and exercise – to their day.

4. Try walking on the treadmill
Have a dog that needs additional exercise? Consider training them to walk on the treadmill! With proper training, dogs can walk – or run – on treadmills as a great alternative to outdoor exercise. Begin by introducing your dog to the sights and sounds of the treadmill; next, reward him for standing on the treadmill while it is stationary. Gradually turn on the treadmill to the lowest speed. Make sure to take it slow, never tie or hook a dog onto the treadmill, and even try standing in front of the treadmill with treats for motivation.

Exercise is an important part of keeping your pet healthy. It is very important to choose the right exercise for your pet based on your pet’s individual needs. For more information on how to keep your dog or cat healthy this winter contact 5 Points Animal Hospital today!

Nail Trimming Tricks

Although it can seem very intimidating, cutting your dog’s nails is actually easier than you may think. Knowing the best steps to take is key for getting comfortable enough to take on this routine grooming task. You should also have the right tools for a safe and proper job. While you can always bring your dog into our office at 5 Points Animal Hospital to have us cut his nails for you, it can be more convenient for you to do this at home. This is especially true if you have a breed that requires a weekly cut. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to make trimming your dog’s nails easier for you and for your pet.

Never underestimate the importance of a good trimmer.

You need to find a sturdy trimmer that you find easy to use. After you have practiced using the trimmer enough to feel comfortable, PetMD recommends getting your dog used to the trimmer. You can do this by holding it close by his feet and giving your dog treats and praise. Do this again the next day, but also squeeze the trimmer so it makes a noise. Do this another day, and your dog should be used to the sight and sound of the trimmer.

Cut from underneath.

You should always cut the nail from underneath and not from the top downward like you would trim your own nails. Stay in the whitish part of the nail and away from the pink area, which is the quick. The quick has blood vessels throughout its part of the nail, which is why a dog bleeds so heavily if his nail is cut too deeply.

Check carefully for the quick if your dog has black hair and nails.

Look at the end of the nail, and you should see that the dead area is whitish or grayish. As you cut deeper, the nail gets darker, and that is where the quick begins. You can also look for a triangular shape with two outer “walls” on the underside of the nail at the tip. This is safe to cut off as there should be no quick in that triangle.

Have some tissue paper handy.

If you should accidentally cut your dog’s nail too short, place a small piece of tissue paper against the bleeding part of the nail. You can also use clotting powder, or even just let it bleed as it should stop within five to seven minutes. If it bleeds longer than that, call us at 5 Points Animal Hospital.

If you would like to get a lesson from our staff on how to cut your dog’s nails, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. We are more than happy to help you be able to do this grooming task without fear.

Dealing with Itchy Allergies in Dogs

Dealing with Itchy Allergies in Dogs Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal HospitalYou will definitely know when your dog is suffering from itchy allergy problems by his constant scratching. Although allergy symptoms in humans can range from itchy eyes to runny noses to frequent sneezing, dogs have mostly skin-related symptoms. 5 Points Animal Hospital understands how hard it is to watch your dog try to relieve himself by scratching, chewing on his skin, rubbing against furniture, and shaking his head, and we are here to help you and your dog find some soothing relief. We would like to tell you more about dealing with your dog’s itchy allergy issues.

Find what is triggering the allergies.

The leading cause of allergies in dogs is flea bites, so you should be sure your dog is on a dedicated flea prevention regimen. Our staff at 5 Points Animal Hospital can recommend the best products for your dog. Dust, pollen, and other irritants can also get into your dog’s fur to trigger reactions. Frequent sweeping and vacuuming will help to prevent this type of allergy problems.

Give your dog frequent baths.

According to Vet Street, you should be giving your dog a bath at least once a week in the spring and summer to relieve allergy issues. If your dog has extra-sensitive skin, you may find that daily baths make a big difference. Regular baths will wash away the allergens from your dog’s fur to keep them from triggering itching and other reactions.

Treat serious allergy problems with medications.

If frequent baths do not seem to provide relief, your dog may have atopic dermatitis, and 5 Points Animal Hospital can help with immunotherapy, also known as hypo-sensitization. This treatment consists of small injections of allergens underneath your dog’s skin. We will show you how to give your dog these injections so that you can administer them at home. Another option we may recommend is medication that will prevent the triggering of allergic reactions instead of treating the symptoms from those triggers. This option can be beneficial as there are no side effects that can occur with the injections.

Keep allergy problems from making your dog uncomfortable. Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to find out more about how we can treat these itchy allergies.

Why Does My Dog Lick?

When you own a dog, you most likely know how much he or she loves to lick you. While most people believe this is how their dog shows affection, licking can mean other things as well. A natural instinct for dogs, licking can play different roles in canine behavior. To help you better understand your dog’s reasons for licking you, 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share with you a list of the different interpretations humans have made in comprehending this mode of communication. We also want to tell you what to do when licking becomes too extreme of a behavior.Why Does My Dog Lick Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Dogs lick to solicit resources.

According to Vet Street, puppies will lick their mothers to let them know they are ready to feed. This type of licking also occurs when lower members in a pack of dogs lick their superiors in hopes of an invitation to be included to dine on prey.

Dogs use licking as a sensory tool.

Our furry friends use their tongues to reach out and touch you just as you would with your hands and fingers. Of course, tasting is another advantage enjoyed when your dog licks you.

Dogs lick to get your attention and to play.Why Does My Dog Lick Image -Nashville, Tennessee - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Licks from your dog can be a simple greeting as well as an invitation to play-fight. Instead of using their teeth, dogs will use their tongues when play-fighting. Once your dog realizes he or she gets more attention from licking, it becomes a learned behavior.

Unfortunately, some dog owners prefer not to be licked. If you feel your dog is an excessive licker, 5 Points Animal Hospital can assist by finding you a veterinary behaviorist or a certified dog trainer who can help your dog be more reserved. Frequently, dogs with obsessive-compulsive behavioral disorders tend to be excessive lickers. A veterinary behaviorist will work with your dog to overcome these issues.

For more information about why your dog loves to lick you, contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. We are happy to help you get to know your dog better.

Why Your Pets Need Exercise

To keep your pet healthy, you should be sure your pet gets enough exercise. While most people know the importance of exercising dogs, many people do not realize that cats also need to exercise. Keeping your pets at a healthy weight is essential in prolonging their lives, and exercise is a great way to make sure your pets do not become overweight. 5 Points Animal Hospital would like to share with you some ideas about exercising your pets and how you can make sure they are getting the exercise they need.Why Your Pets Need Exercise Image - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Cats

Even though your cat may not approach you with a ball in her mouth, she still wants and needs to play with you. Without the mental and physical stimulation from play interaction, your cat could become bored and develop behavioral problems. Since cats are natural hunters, they love chasing things. To give your cat an exciting challenge, The American Humane Association (AHA) recommends inventing a game to play with your cat by giving her something to chase. All you need is a fishing pole-style apparatus with an object that has feathers, streamers, or other items attached on a string. Using quick, short, and jerky motions, move the toy across the room like a bird or insect flying in the air or a mouse running on the floor. Let your cat catch the toy a few times so she will not lose interest in this game. Doing this throughout the day for around 10 minutes each time will create a great bond between you and your cat by sharing fun and silly moments.

Dogs

You may have a fenced-in yard where your dog can run around outside and play, but the AHA feels the best exercise for dogs is walking. When you take your dog on a walk, it gives you special bonding time that improves the mutual communication with your dog. Your dog may also get to socialize with other dogs you may encounter on walks. Walking around the neighborhood, in the park, or on the greenway gives your dog a needed change of scenery that will help prevent boredom, which causes behavioral issues just as it does for cats. Even better, you also get some exercise when you walk your dog. Walking increases strength and endurance, burns calories, and provides fresh air to you and your dog.

Want to learn more exercise suggestions for your pets? Contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital to find out our favorite ways to exercise with our cats and dogs.

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