Wow! The last couple of months has been… such a departure from our "norm."
We're working on transitioning back into our old ways of doing things while hanging on to the new habits we've developed. So we wanted to take some time to discuss a few relevant topics in animal health that come around each year at this time.
- May is "Asthma and Allergy Awareness" month and "Mental Health Awareness" month
- June is "Adopt a Shelter Cat" month
- Pet Appreciation Week is 6/7 - 6/13
Ok, let's dig in!
Pets and Allergies
Springtime. It's all fun and games until the pollen starts falling. Next thing you know, it seems like all of Central Texas is covered in a mustard yellow fog and we're surviving on tissues, antihistamines, and nasal spray! But what about our furry companions… have you noticed any subtle… or not-so-subtle changes in their behavior like chewing, licking, or biting their skin?
These are classic symptoms of allergies. Dogs and cats can have seasonal allergies, just like humans, but they present differently. While we humans struggle to manage our itchy eyes and runny noses, dogs and cats primarily feel it in their skin. If you think you're pet may have seasonal allergies, or if you know your pet has seasonal allergies, please take a moment to read this article from Texas A&M. It's a quick read and it has a lot of great info!
"Allergies in Pets" by College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University
The important thing to remember is that if your pet is suffering from allergies, they will need a physical exam by a doctor. That will allow your pet's veterinarian to see where the allergies are affecting your pet; if there is any kind of secondary infection, and what kind of treatment plan will benefit them the most. As the article stated, all pets respond to allergies differently.
We have 2 great products in our hospital to help with seasonal allergies in dogs. Depending on your pet and your family's lifestyle, one may work better for you than the other. Apoquel is a tablet that can be given daily and Cytopoint is an injection that can be given around once a month.
If you've thought about talking with your pet's veterinarian about whether or not your pet may have seasonal allergies, download the Itchy Dog Questionnaire that will help you know what to look for and help your vet find the right treatment plan for your dog.
The other, less common kind of allergies animals suffer from are food allergies. This article from Tufts University is a wealth of information and can give you a head start on understanding what your pet may be going through and how to help them. Keep in mind, there is a lot of bad information from some well-meaning sources on the internet about food allergies in pets. Talk to your pet's doctor first, and don't automatically switch to a grain-free diet. Dogs and cats that have food allergies are primarily allergic to animal proteins. (See article above.) Dogs especially need grains in their diet. To learn more about the potential risk of grain-free dog foods and what we recommend to feed your pet, click here.
Mental Health and Pets
This is a subject that we felt was important to discuss considering that society is currently dealing with a pandemic that has forced us to isolate ourselves from others. Statistics are showing an increase in complications that arise from a lack of access to mental health treatment and support. So how does this relate to having a pet? The human-animal bond is a powerful one and can be of great benefit to our mental well-being. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has partnered with the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute to further our understanding of how owning a companion or therapy animal can enrich our lives. You can read more about this fascinating topic here.
The practical ways that your pet can help you through the COVID-19 restrictions are:
- Stick to your daily routine of waking to feed your pet
- Spend time being active with your pet inside and outside, depending on what kind of pet you have
- Try some in-home grooming with lots of treats for reinforcement
- Google "DIY games for pets" and try one of the hundreds of ideas to have fun with your pets
- Have a regular nighttime routine with your pet
All of these can have positive benefits for you and your furry or feathered friends. Comment on this post with what you've done to make the most of your time with your pets!
Adopt a Cat Month
Any local shelter will tell you that every month is "adopt a cat" month. The 2 shelters here in Georgetown are always in need of people to give loving homes to felines, either through foster or adoption. The ones who are least likely to be adopted are black cats, cats with special needs, and senior cats. Speaking from personal experience, adopting a senior cat was one of the best things I've ever done. She was an amazing girl! And while we may not have them as long, they are no less in need of love and care in their twilight years.
May 3rd is also Specially-abled Pets day, so you knock 2 things off your list at once by adopting a cat with special needs. They are equally as awesome as other cats, they just need someone who will advocate for them. So if you and your family are looking for another companion in your home, now is the perfect time to help out an animal in need!
Pet Appreciation Week
Also not a concept to be confined to just a week, but it is a good reminder that we can always show our furry and feathered loved ones how much we value them. Buy them their favorite treats, give them some extra love… just do whatever you can to let them know that life wouldn't be the same without them.