How to choose the right animal hospital

Your pet can suffer from the same medical problems as humans, when you or a member of your family require treatment in a hospital it is not difficult to choose which one to go to, often this is not the case should your pet become ill. You will want your pet to receive the same caring, compassionate treatment and attention as you expect for yourself; your pet is one of your best friends, a true companion and it is important that the animal is in good hands. When it comes to choosing the right animal hospital for your pet, regardless of whether it is for a routine checkup or something more serious, here are a few tips that can help.

Finding the best animal hospital is similar to finding the best electrician or plumber, in the greatest majority of cases recommendations come from friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers. It certainly is not rare for people to keep pets, it will not take long for you to get a list of animal hospitals that people have had good experiences with as well as those hospitals to avoid.

One important key to locating the right animal hospital is to begin looking before you need one; waiting for an emergency is not the time. The hospital should be reasonably close to your home and a veterinarian should be available at any time in the event of an emergency situation.

It is important that you take the time to make the right choice rather than have to rush the decision. This is so true should there be an emergency; not all facilities offer around the clock service, if you wait until the need arises and it happens to be an afterhours situation, it may take valuable time to locate one that does. If the hospital that you are interested is not staffed around the clock with a veterinarian, make sure that emergency care is available from nearby emergency clinics.

Make sure that the hospital accepts your pet. There are hospitals that treat many different species; there are others however that only treat dogs and cats while there are still others that only treat dogs or cats, not both. Some animal hospitals also treat what might be considered as an exotic pet such as hamsters, guinea pigs, etc.

Before you make your final decision take a tour of the hospital facilities, you will want to see cleanliness and organization as well as seeing staff members that truly care for their patients.


How to Pick a Veterinary Hospital

When you have to choose a veterinary hospital, there are certain things to evaluate. Not only do you want a clean, established practice, you also want reliable, respected staff members and happy animals. Look at the services and support they provide, ask a lot of questions and bring your pet in for an introduction prior to making an appointment.

Preventative Services

Be selective and proactive when trying to find your new veterinary hospital. The providers should have exceptional skills when treating ailments, but they should also be proactive in prevention, like All Creatures Hospital. Some preventative options you should look for include:

  • Preventative Medicine Programs
  • Immunizations
  • Puppy and Kitten Health Care Packages
  • Mature/Senior Pet Programs
  • Spay and neuter surgeries
  • HomeAgain Microchips

Surgical Services

Even though you immunize and follow all preventative practices, your pet may need surgery or treatment of some kind. We understand how stressful that can be, so we do our very best to make sure you’re as comfortable as your pet.

Our trained anesthetic techs ensure that your pet is constantly monitored and always safe. We have Board Certified Specialists in Veterinary Surgery and Veterinary Radiology, Ultrasound and Cardiology. You should make sure that anyone interacting with your pet during a surgical procedure is highly trained and qualified. This is nothing you want to take for granted, especially when you trust them with the well being of your beloved furry friend.

Specialty Services

The practitioners at All Creatures Hospital provide services that extend beyond standard practices. Your new veterinary hospital should do the same. Your provider should offer oncology and cancer treatments, like we do. You also want to make sure your new vets have experience with oral health care in pets.

Overall Experience

Whether you’re just stopping in for an initial introduction or facing a long-term treatment plan, your experience should be filled with positive interactions, knowledgeable staff and encouraging words. You’ll know when you find the right veterinary hospital for you and your pet. You will look forward to visiting the staff and practitioners, and always feel welcome and comfortable. Your experience should leave you and your pet happy and healthy.


Safe Halloween Fun – tips to remember:

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is flooded with calls every Halloween from worried pet owners. Here are the top 5 tips to keep your pets safe:

1. Lock candy safely away. Kids love to stash candy in their rooms, but a dog’s keen sense of smell will lead him to even the most cleverly hidden treasure. Contact a veterinary professional right away if your pet does get into Halloween candy, especially if it contains chocolate or is sugar-free and contains xylitol.

2. Don’t leave glow sticks lying around. Glow sticks are used to help keep kids safe while they are out in the dark. Pets (especially cats) find these glow sticks to be a lot of fun as well, and we commonly get calls about pets puncturing the sticks. While most of them are labeled as non-toxic, they do have an extremely bitter taste and we will often see pets who bite into them drooling and racing around the house. A little treat or sip of milk will usually stop the taste reaction.

3. Keep your pet identified and visible. There are a lot of extra people on the streets at Halloween, and that combined with strange costumes can spook pets and cause them to bolt. If you take your pet out after dark, make sure he or she wears a reflective collar and is securely leashed. And make sure your pet has proper identification on the collar.

4. Calm your pet. Even pets who are kept indoors may experience intense anxiety over the large number of strangely dressed visitors. Keeping your pet away from trick-or-treaters may do the trick, but if you think more will be needed be sure and speak with your vet well in advance about options to help calm your pet.

5. Check those costumes. Costumes can be fun for the whole family. If you are planning on dressing up your best bud, ensure that the costume fits well and isn’t going to slip and tangle the pet or cause a choking hazard if chewed on. Never leave a costumed pet unattended.


15 minutes to a better bond with your dog

Got 2 Minutes?

Pet With Purpose Instead of zoning out watching SNL and absentmindedly patting your pup, focus on your dog while you pet him. Like people, your dog can tell when he has your attention. Feel free to spill about your day, even. Your BFF—best furry friend—will appreciate the extra effort and it will have a cathartic effect for both of you.

Got 3 Minutes?

Hide and Sniff Hide your dog’s favorite treat somewhere fairly easy to sniff out, then guide her along with the appropriate level of hints and praise: good girl, you’re very close! The positive vibes and subsequent reward will put the pep back in her paws.

Got 10 Minutes?

Mutt-ssage Connect with your dog by giving her a relaxing massage. Start with slow strokes from head to tail, then target specific areas by scratching behind the ears, cheeks, under the chin, bridge of the nose, and between the eyes. Gently rub in a circular motion with three fingers, going down the neck and around the shoulders; then keep the motion going from the buttocks down the thighs. Give gentle squeezes down each leg. Finish by walking your thumb and forefinger down each side of the spine to the base of the tail and come full circle with several slow full-body strokes. By giving a regular, thorough massage, you’ll be able to familiarize yourself with your dog’s normal lumps and bumps and will notice any changes that may warrant a check up. You’ll also be able to tell if there are sore or tender spots that needs attention. Remember to keep it light and gentle, though; leave the deep-tissue work to the professionals!


Bonding and reading your cat’s behavior

Signs Your Cat Loves You

Even though your kitty is standoffish sometimes and may even disappear for hours, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you. To learn to love like a cat, simply watch what she does and imitate her, understand that she’s a child who never grows up, and appeal to her senses. Here’s how:
Be on the lookout for these affection-showing moves:

The head bump. It’s her way of saying hello, by using the oil glands in front of her ears to greet you as if you’re a cat and leave her scent on you. She sees you as one of her clan, so bump her right back.

The butt presentation. When your cat backs up to your face and lifts her tail, she’s waiting for you, her mom, to clean her. If you gently blow at her rear end, she’ll think that this is what your cleaning style is and will go on about her business.

Kneading you or “making biscuits.” If you maneuver yourself into the right position, you’ll get a free massage out of this one. This is another sign that Kitty-Face thinks you’re her mom, since she’s trying to get milk out of you. It also means she’s happy.

Licking you. Your cat may think you taste good, but grooming is actually a social practice to establish a common scent among a clan of cats. In other words, she’s claiming you as one of her own. The exfoliation is an extra added bonus.

Gumming you. This is another way Kitty-Face blends her own scent with yours, establishing a common “family scent.” Take advantage of it by feeling all of her teeth to gain her trust for when you actually need to be in her mouth.

Read Cat Tail Wagging, What Different Wags Mean

Appeal to Her Sense
Show her you love her through your touch and your voice.

Sing to her. In your little kitty voice. Whether you have talent or not. She doesn’t care.

Greet her. Tell her “hi” and say her name, even if you just saw her a minute ago. She’s choosing to be near you, which is a big deal to a cat.

Meow back. Imitate her sound exactly, and she’ll think you’re one of her kind.

Carry on a conversation. She meows, you talk. Just make up what she’s asking and answer what you think she wants to know.

Tell her what she wants to hear. Cats seem to know what the word “beautiful” means, especially in reference to them. Hearing it makes them very content.

Give her a neck massage. Kitties are very alert and watchful, holding their head up almost constantly. Relax her with a gentle neck massage to pamper her.

Hold her hand. Stroke her paw, both on top and underneath on her toe pads, and loosely wrap your hand around her paw. This should feel good to both of you.

Getting in touch with her inner kitten

Nurturing her inner kitten will strengthen your parent-child bond and provide hours of fun.

Play fetch. Cats like this game almost as much as dogs, especially Bombays. Rather than balls, toss items they can easily fit into their small mouths, like toy mice.

Turn the faucet on. Drinking water is good for your cat, and is even more fun from a running tap. Plus a flowing stream encourages water play.

Indulge their sense of fun. Being brought a palmetto bug may not be much fun for you, but it’s Kitty-Face’s way of showing you what a great huntress she is and that you’re worthy of her prey. And in the world of kitty, that’s a very big compliment.

You’ll probably come up with even more ways of bonding with your cat as you get to know her on a deeper, more intimate level. But one thing’s for sure, you’ll have a very happy kitty — a cat that loves you!


Tips on making your walks even more enjoyable!

Happy National Walk Your Dog Week!

It’s no secret that our dogs make excellent exercise partners. They’re great at keeping us motivated, and they never complain. Even when we’re sticking to the same old path every day the dog is excited and ready to go.

Unfortunately us humans aren’t always so optimistic: we find taking the same old route every day a bit dull. Luckily there are a few simple ways to change up our daily dog walking routine and turn it into something more exciting and enjoyable.

Once or twice a week find a nearby park or new neighborhood to explore and enjoy the change of scenery. The new sights, sounds, and smells will make your walk more exciting for the both of you.

For our dogs a walk is more than just exercise, for many it’s their daily opportunity to explore the outside world. Take a few minutes on your walk to stop and let them sniff around, it’s their way of exploring the world around them. Taking a few sniff breaks will add a lot of mental and sensory stimulation to their walk.

When was the last time you took a stroll with a good friend? Instead of catching up via text invite a friend over for a nice leisurely walk. Enjoy the simplicity of some nice face to face conversation, and if your friend has a dog invite them over for a double dog walk.

Do you normally walk at a leisurely pace or fairly quick? Switch gears and take more time to enjoy the scenery, or pick up the pace to add some intensity to the walk.

Apps like Wooftrax & ResQWalk have made it easy to raise money for your favorite rescue organization while you walk. They’re pedometers that track your distance and donations are based on performance and distance.

Stop for a couple minutes to catch up with your neighbors as you’re walking by. Most dogs love a bit of extra attention, and it’s an easy way to stay up to date with what’s going on in your neighborhood.


Back to school separation anxiety

In households with school-aged kids, summers are typically full of fun for everyone in the family – including the dog. But what happens when the kids head back to school in the late summer and the house is suddenly quiet and lonely?

With this sudden change in daily routine, your dog  may experience depression or separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from the people they’re attached to.

Signs your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety include destructive or anxious behaviors like:

Attempting to escape from the house or yard
The good news is there are things you can do to help relieve your pup’s distress. Here are some tips to help your dog overcome the “back-to-school blues.”

1. Schedule an appointment with your vet. Your dog’s anxiety might have an underlying medical cause or your vet might have some additional ideas to help relieve your dog’s stress.
2. Consider preparing Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or some other favorite treat. Working to get the treat out will provide your dog a distraction from his stress and hours of enjoyment and mental stimulation while you’re gone.
3. Check out some doggie day cares in your area. A day or two of supervised play and exercise may be beneficial to your lonely dog.
4. Take your pooch for long morning walks to get him plenty of exercise and tire him out.
Spend quality time with your dog when you are at home; include him in family activities to assure him he’s still an important part of the family.


Keep your outdoor cats cool

It is hard to believe that we are posting about heat in September but since we live in Southern California, this is a legitimate concern – we are having a HOT week.
Here are some tips on how to keep outdoor cats cool:
  • Supply cats with a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Alley Cat Allies recommends using a narrow bowl with more depth to reduce the rate of evaporation during hot summer months. Offer several bowls in various locations on your property.
  • Freeze a bowl of water the night before and place it outside during the heat. Ice is a treat for any cat, but the frozen water keeps the bowl and water cool as it melts.
  • Offer shady spaces for your cat to escape the direct sunlight. Creating shady areas can be as temporary and simple as placing a cardboard box on its side or as long-lasting as constructing a dog house or planting a tree.
  • Avoid tethering or confining your cat on hot days. The spot where your cat is confined may start off shady, but the change in light can render the spot in full sun during another part of the day. Afford your cat the ability to seek out a cooler spot during the heat of the day.
  • Groom your cat on a regular basis. Remove dead fur and matted clumps that trap heat against the cat’s body. Speak to your veterinarian to find out if trimming or shaving the cat’s coat is a viable option.
  • Wet down your cat. Some cats will allow you to rub them with a wet towel or soak them with a hose, however most domestic cats are averse to water. Dampen your hands before petting your cats. As the water evaporates, it cools the cat.
  • Apply a pet safe sunscreen to outdoor cats who are out and about during the hottest parts of the day. Sunburn not only poses a long-term cancer risk, but burns trap in heat and make temperatures seem worse than they are. A pet safe sunburn can keep your cat from feeling too warm.

Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Month

This month, in honor of responsible dog ownership month, we feature some guidelines for responsible pet ownership.
Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations. Responsible pet ownership includes:

– Committing to the relationship for the life of the pet(s).
– Avoiding impulsive decisions about obtaining pet(s), and carefully selecting pet(s) suited to your home and lifestyle.
– Recognizing that ownership of pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.
– Keeping only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.
– Ensuring pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date
– Adherence to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.
– Controlling pet(s)’ reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter thereby helping to address animal control and overpopulation problems.
– Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.
– Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian.
– Socialization and appropriate training for pet(s), which facilitates their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.
– Preventing pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment, including proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.
– Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to the pet(s)’ age, breed, and health status.
– Advance preparation to ensure the pet(s)’ well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.
– Making alternative arrangements if caring for the pet is no longer possible.
– Recognizing declines in the pet(s)’ quality of life and making decisions in consultation with a veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia)


Wildlife and pets

Today, on national wildlife day, we would like to give you some tips on keeping your pets safe during hikes, camping trips, or even in your back yard!

Behavior Modification

Option 1: Keep pets indoors.  The fact is keeping pets indoors is the best way to protect your animal from the dangers posed by wildlife and cars. Your pet will be protected from not only injury but also contracting potential diseases.
Option 2: Keep pets inside yard.  This method isn’t as secure as option 1 as wildlife can often approach your animal. There are some ways to increase the protection.
Pets can be kept inside yards by a variety of means.

Electronic-invisible (normally for dogs)
Leashes–normally for dogs
Fences–both dogs and cats. Search the Internet for “pet fences”

Physical Barriers (to keep wildlife out)

Sometimes, fences have to be able to not only keep pets on your property, but also to keep other wildlife from entering your property.

Fence type is determined by the kinds of species you are seeking to protect your pet against.

Coyotes. Fence should be at least 6 feet higher than the surrounding terrain. Some claim a device known as the “coyote roller” is effective in making smaller fences coyote proof by preventing the coyote from gaining a foothold and pulling himself over. However, the fence should be at least 5 feet high before installing this device. Fences must also be secure to the ground (better to have them buried in the ground) to prevent coyotes from crawling under the fence.

Skunks and similar animals. Install a 4 foot fence with 12 inches of the fence buried one inch below the ground surface, bent away from the property at a 90 degree angle. This fence skirt will stop an animal from digging underneath the fence to gain entry into the property.
Raccoons.  See skunks.  Fence should be as tall as possible. To prevent climbing, install an electrical wire near the top of the fence (if legal) or angle the top portion of the fence to prevent further climbing.  Pay special attention to corners of the fence as these are often neglected.

Out and about

Dogs off leash can disturb nesting ground birds, chase, injure or kill small mammals, deer, etc – keep your dog on a leash!

– Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.
– Always supervise pets when outdoors, particularly at dawn and dusk.
– Avoid going near den sites and thick vegetation.
– If you find an animal carcass, leave the area, it could be a kill that a cougar is guarding or will be returning to.
– Make noise while hiking.
– Do not allow dogs to play with or chase wildlife.
IF YOU ENCOUNTER WILDLIFE: Keep your dog leashed and under control.
Always give the animal a clear escape route. Do not crowd the animal; doing so could make it stressed and unpredictable.

– Stay calm, do not run.
– Pick up small pets and children.
– Appear as big and as loud as possible.
– Stomp your feet, and clap your hands.
– Shout in a loud, authoritative voice.
– Throw sticks or rocks at the animal if it approaches.
– Do not turn your back. Face the animal and back away slowly.
– If attacked, fight back!
– Rattlesnakes: stop and listen to where the rattle sound is coming from. Don’t jump or run. Slowly back away.
– If a deer knocks you down, curl into a ball, protect your head and lie still until the animal retreats.

House Cats and Wildlife

House cats, due to their predatory nature, do pose a threat to wildlife populations such as songbirds and small mammals. Free-roaming house cats can be an attractant to bring wildlife, like coyotes, into a neighborhood. The cats themselves are often at risk of being preyed upon by larger predators like coyotes, foxes, raccoons, cougars, skunks, raptors and domestic dogs. The human safety risk is higher once wild animals find a food source close to urban areas. Cats can also contract diseases like rabies, from coming in contact with wildlife.

Training Your Cat to Become an Indoor Cat
To protect our pets and wildlife, here are some tips to turn an outdoor cat into a happy indoor cat.

– When acquiring a new cat, keep it inside from the start.
– Gradually decrease the amount of time your cat spends outdoors and increase the time indoors. This may be easiest to do during the winter months.
– Provide indoor activities such as cat condos, window perches, interactive toys, and scratch posts.
– Offer fresh cat greens often.
– Provide an outdoor enclosed and covered room, patio or run. The cat can access the safe outdoor area through a cat door or window door. There are several commercial cat runs and outdoor cat exploring cages available at pet supply companies.
– Consider leash training to supervise the cat’s time outside.

Protecting Pets:
– Keep vaccinations current.
– Spay and neuter.
– Do not let pets outside at night.
– Provide a reflective collar with identification and a bell to warn wildlife of the cat’s presence.
– Keep cats indoors during the spring baby bird season.
– Trim your cat’s nails every one to two weeks