Pumpkin Spice, Cozy Sweaters, and Fall Pet Safety

This dog with a pinecone on its head is ready for a safe fall!
Life’s a breeze when you’re having safe fall fun!

It’s that time of year when the weather turns, the days are shorter, and there is a crisp feeling in the air. Along with the beauty of the season, autumn also brings many familiar tasks, including preparing our yards for winter, cleaning the garage, and holiday decorating. During this busy time of year, don’t forget that these activities can also present some hazards to a curious pet.

The team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is here with some helpful tips on making this fall season wonderful and enjoyable, instead of one marred by a serious pet emergency. Here are some basic fall pet safety reminders for all of our pet-loving friends.

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Dog Barks Decoded: The Meaning of the Sounds Dogs Make

A small white dog is barking. What is the meaning of the sound she's making?
What is your dog trying to tell you?

Dogs are members of the canidae family, which also includes wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals and hyenas. Just as their wild counterparts, dogs communicate with other animals and with us through the sounds they make. 

Most dogs have a variety of vocalizations that are associated with what they want and how they are feeling – from happy to fearful, content or excited, annoyed or agitated.

The meaning of a dog’s sounds are varied and sometimes curious. The team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is here to decipher some of these barks, growls, mumbles, and yips into a discernible dictionary for us humans.

Dogs Make An Assortment of Sounds

Far from the standard “ruff, ruff”, dogs sound off in a variety of ways. Each of these sounds correspond to something your dog is communicating. Let’s explore some of these familiar canine calls.

  1. Barking – A dog may bark as a warning, an invitation, a call of distress, or just because it’s happy. There are many reasons for the bark, but it always means your dog is communicating something. If your dog is distressed or fearful, it may sound off in a repetitive high-pitched tone. Your usual “gruff” and “ruff” sounds generally coincide with happiness or playtime.

    A low-toned bark that sounds like rumbles or growls means that whatever is bothering your dog should back off. A growl can precede a bite and should be taken seriously. If your dog wants something (such as a treat), the bark is sharp and repetitive. Alert barking, as when your dog sees something of concern in the distance, has a high-pitched staccato rhythm. 

    Ironically, wild canids rarely bark, but do whine, howl, rumble and growl. A bark by a wild canid is solely a ‘danger alert’ behavior and a call for backup.
  1. Howls – When your dog howls, is it channeling its inner wolf? Probably not. Howling doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is seeking to join other canids. Many dogs howl at passing sirens, other alarm sounds, bells, and even at us when we howl for fun. In some cases, howling is a form of locating others, including you. It may also be a call for attention when a dog feels ignored, stressed or anxious. 

  2. Whining – Whining is often anxiety based, as in anticipation or worry. It is commonly used as a form of begging to get food, table scraps, or treats. Whining can also be a sign of pain or distress, so follow up with our veterinarian if this is a new or especially pronounced behavior. 
  1. Snorts and low mumbles Whether it’s to get your attention, be allowed on the bed or given dinner, dog snorts, mumbles, or grumbles can mean that your dog wants you to do something. Some dogs have a very expressive number of muffled sounds when they want something from us. These sounds can also be an expression of excitement, as when greeting someone or when the leash comes out and the dog knows it’s going on a walk. 

  2. Growling – Growling is mostly seen in dogs when they are fearful, behaving aggressively, or if something in their environment is perceived as a threat.  If your dog displays aggression, these sounds should be your cue to get your dog away from the situation, strangers, or other pets. Ongoing growling should be addressed with our veterinarian or our Pet Behavior Specialist during a behavior consult.

Occasionally, growling can be a sign of playfulness, especially if your pet is doing something fun or roughhousing with other friendly dogs. Puppies will often play-growl at their peers out of excitement or to get them to play. 

Although a growl is a warning, it is a normal part of dog to dog behavior. Older dogs will often growl at puppies to tell them to behave.

Pitch, Tone, and Duration

The pitch (high, medium or low), frequency (rapid barking vs slow), and duration (time spent barking) all play an important role in what a dog is expressing. 

The more you listen to your dog’s bark and observe your dog’s behavior while barking, the better equipped you will be to understand your dog. It will also help you be more sensitive to what it needs and wants in its relationship with you.  

Seek The Meaning 

Dog sounds are interesting, indeed, and more involved than one may think. They signal what a dog is feeling and thinking, and offer a fascinating domain to explore with our canine companions! Seeking to better understand what our dogs are communicating enriches the special relationship we share with them!

If you would like more information on how to decode your dog’s bark, or to schedule an exam or behavioral consult for your dog, please call us. We are here to help your dog have a great life with you!

Help! My Cat Won’t Eat!

Cat owners typically know when their cat is hungry. Constant meows, chirps, and the circling around your legs are often first clues. Yet, after all that fussing and the meal now in the bowl, it can be surprising and even frustrating when your cat decides not to eat it.

What’s going on when your cat won’t eat? There are several possibilities and they deserve an owner’s attention and action.

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Like a Leaf: Reasons for a Shaking Dog

If only dogs could talk. All of us at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center would have so many questions for them! 

Despite the language barrier, dogs still do communicate with us. By watching their body language and facial expressions, it is possible for us to see that our canine companions actually are saying something. When you observe a new behavior, pay attention, as it is just another way your pet could be telling you something you need to know. A shaking dog is a great example of this.

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Don’t Get Burned: The Facts On Pets and Sunscreen

It’s easy for most pet owners to assume that the haircoat worn by our pets is sufficient in keeping them safe from the sun’s damaging rays. To a certain extent, our pets’ haircoat does protect them from many of the elements, but there are good reasons for additional sun protection, including, pet-safe sunscreen.

At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we’re happy to explain the ins and outs of pets and sun protection, and give you some pointers on keeping your pet protected and comfortable while enjoying summer days in the sun.

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Managing Epilepsy In Pets

Epilepsy is the main cause of seizures in pets and a commonly diagnosed neurological disorder that we see at our facility. Witnessing a seizure in your pet is a frightening experience, and it’s an event that any pet owner would want to understand and address right away.

The team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is here to help you navigate the difficult challenges that can occur during your pet’s life. Epilepsy can be one of those challenges and if it becomes a problem for your pet, helping you understand it is an important first step in managing it.

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Recognizing And Treating Brain Tumors In Pets

No pet owner wants to hear that their beloved companion has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The good news, however, is that this frightening problem is one that we don’t see very often. And, thanks to today’s cutting-edge veterinary technology, many of the brain tumors that are diagnosed in pets are treatable. 

In the event it is determined that your pet has a brain tumor, gathering information is essential for making the best decision for your pet’s treatment and long term health.

Your team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is here to help you navigate the many questions that may arise with a brain tumor diagnosis and the treatment options that are available.

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Frito Feet: Why Do My Dog’s Paws Smell Like Corn Chips??

Have you ever noticed a strange, yet somehow familiar smell emanating from your dog’s paws?

You’re not alone. Often referred to as ‘Frito’ feet, this curiosity is real and can have dog owners scratching their heads and wondering why their dog’s paws smell like corn chips! 

At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we never shy away from life’s tough questions! Stay tuned as we tackle the strangely pleasant phenomenon of Frito feet.

It’s Only Natural

It is the combination of harmless bacteria and fungi that is responsible for that yeasty (Frito-y) smell on your dog’s paws.

Just like humans, dogs are covered in these organisms and as they walk around, both indoors and outdoors, they pick up dirt and other debris that settles in between their toes.

Once combined with the sweat that exists there naturally, you have the perfect growing environment for the odor-causing offenders – hence, the Frito feet smell.

When Frito Feet Become A Problem

Most pet owners don’t mind the subtle smell of Frito Feet, but if the smell becomes overwhelming, it can indicate a yeast overgrowth or infection. If it is accompanied by other symptoms, it can indicate an underlying health condition. 

While yeast infections in a dog’s paws are relatively common and usually treatable with medication, they can be especially problematic for pets with allergies or compromised immune systems by causing serious secondary infections or dermatological problems that can be difficult to treat. Schedule your pet for a check-up with our veterinarian if you notice any of the following:

  • Corn chip smell coming from the ears
  • Excessive licking/chewing at the paws or other parts of the body
  • Raw or red ears or skin
  • Injury to the paws
  • Hair loss

Proper Paw Care

Grooming your pet’s paws should be a part of your regular pet care routine. Keep your dog’s tootsies at their best by:

  • Bathing your dog on a regular basis at home (or by our professional groomers), paying special attention to the areas in between the toes. Use a pet-specific, hypo-allergenic shampoo and dry between the toes afterwards.  We carry these shampoos in our lobby and online stores, and are happy to help you select the one best for your pet   
  • Keep the fur between the toes trimmed to minimize odor-causing sweat and debris buildup. Depending on the dog, this may best be done by a professional groomer. Your dog’s nails should also be clipped on a regular basis (if you can hear their nails clicking on a hard floor, they are too long).
  • Make sure the paws are wiped clean and thoroughly dried when your dog comes in from outdoors – especially if the paws are wet or muddy.

Whether your dog has Frito feet or not, the paws play an important role in your dog’s comfort and life-long mobility. Let’s keep them healthy! Don’t hesitate to give us a call for more information or to schedule an exam with our veterinarian or a grooming appointment in our Grooming Salon. We are always happy to help your pets have great lives!

Anemia in Pets

Anemia is defined as a deficiency in the number of circulating red blood cells in the body. It is a relatively common health condition in humans – especially in women, due to low iron levels.

In pets, however, anemia is often the result of chronic disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, trauma or other medical condition. 

Understanding Anemia

Red blood cells have no nucleus, DNA, or internal structures, but they serve a vital role in the body in that they contain hemoglobin, which is a protein that carries oxygen.

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Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism in Pets

Thyroid gland disorders can cause numerous health issues for pets and is a common problem that we see at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center. As in most medical conditions, the earlier thyroid disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome is for your pet. 

Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism in Pets

The thyroid gland is located in the neck, near the larynx, and is controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain. The thyroid gland is essential for regulating the body’s metabolic rate and does this by producing hormones that keep it in balance – the most important one being thyroxine. When the thyroid gland doesn’t function properly, the resulting hormone imbalance can wreak havoc with the body’s metabolism. 

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