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Keeping your pets happy and healthy

Taking care of our four-legged friends

Few parts of life remain untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, but one area seeing spikes in business might surprise you. Since last spring, pet owners have been flooding veterinary clinics.

“People have had more time to actually interact with their pets,” Animal Emergency Center Veterinarian Troy McNamara says. “Either they had more free time to get preventative care done or they realized something didn’t seem right.” Whether you’re quarantining with your cat or you’re Zooming with your dog, McNamara’s tips will help you keep your pet healthy. 

Be careful with your pets in cold weather

Pets may have fur coats, but fur doesn’t shield them from serious conditions like frostbite and hypothermia. McNamara says owners of outdoor pets should ideally bring their pets inside for the winter. If that’s not possible, he suggests keeping pets in a garage free of antifreeze, chemicals or pest poisons, which can all harm pets. “If they absolutely have to stay outside, they need an insulated house just like people do,” McNamara stresses. 

Pet owners should limit the time their pets spend outside in cold weather, especially if they aren’t used to being outside for extended periods. “If it’s freezing or below, it’s good practice to give them just enough time to go to the bathroom and get back inside,” McNamara adds.

Cold weather also presents danger when animals sneak out. McNamara says it’s important to pet-proof your home so your pet can’t escape and get stuck outside in the cold. 

Watch what your pets eat

“A large part of our caseload is some form of gastrointestinal upset,” McNamara says. To avoid problems like these, he states pet owners shouldn’t feed animals things they shouldn’t eat or aren’t used to eating. “It’s holiday time. Don’t leave cookies out on the counter. Don’t feed them the turkey bone,” he says. It’s also important to keep other potentially harmful items, like trash cans and human medicines, inaccessible to pets.

“There’s never a 48-hour period of time where we don’t see an animal get into some form of marijuana or THC product,” he discloses.  

Make sure you’re giving your pets proper preventative care

This means vaccinating your pets, giving them preventative medications, making sure they exercise and taking them to the vet regularly. Puppies and kittens need about four veterinary visits in the first four months of life. Adult animals should visit a minimum of once a year. “Once they’re geriatric, they need to be going in twice a year just for checkups. It’s kind of like people if you think about it. The older we get, the more frequently we have to go in and have a physical and lab tests done.” He also asks that pet owners remain patient through longer wait times and new COVID protocols like curbside service at the vet. 

If you think your pets may be having health problems, watch for changes in diet, weight and behavior. “Sometimes the signs of illness are very subtle, a change in temperament or attitude may be the only signs your pet shows you,” McNamara states. In general, he advises pet owners to use common sense and caution when caring for their four-legged family members. “Seek care earlier rather than later,” McNamara stresses.

For more information on what services the Animal Emergency Center can provide as well as a blog on pet safety, visit AECTulsa.com.

Whether you’re quarantining with your cat or you’re Zooming with your dog, McNamara’s tips will help you keep your pet healthy.

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