Cat Care

Frequently Asked Questions About Cat Checkups

Unlike people, pets often cannot tell owners when they need medical attention. Owners can look for signs that the pet is sick or injured, but some medical issues are not symptomatic. Additionally, pets require regular checkups and vaccinations. The care required for pets varies widely depending on the age of the pet. Puppies and kittens and senior dogs and cats, require different levels of care than healthy adult pets. Most people are not aware, for example, that puppies should be fed three times a day until they are six months old. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about pet checkups:

How Often Should You Take Your Cat to the Vet for Well Checks?

While every cat should see a vet at least once a year, many vets recommend a well check every six months. The number of visits also depends on the age of the cat. Kittens and senior cats require more frequent visits than adult cats. A veterinary clinic can provide a schedule of visits based on the age and health of your cat.

What Should You Expect During a Cat Well Check?

After the question “how often should you take your cat to the vet,” the question asked most often is probably “what should I expect during a well check.” Aside from vaccinations, a vet clinic will often conduct a blood test, a stool test, and, possibly, a urine test. The blood test is intended to determine whether the cat has feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, as well as other diseases. The stool test is intended to determine whether the cat has parasites. A urine test may be conducted if the vet suspects diabetes or other problems with the cat’s kidneys.

How Often Should You Take Your Cat to the Vet for Vaccinations?

The recommended cat vaccination schedule can be very complicated. A veterinary hospital can best schedule the vaccinations depending on the age of the cat. Briefly, however, you should expect to vaccinate your kitten as often as every three to four weeks until they reach sixteen weeks of age. After reaching sixteen weeks, booster vaccinations are recommended about every one to three years, depending on the vaccination. The core vaccinations recommended include rabies, feline distemper, feline herpesvirus, and calicivirus.

Animal Hospital: A Safe Place for Your Cat

It’s important to vaccinate your cat when he or she is a kitten, so that your kitty can live a long, healthy life. You should start your kitten’s vaccine regime when it is 6 to 8 weeks old. There are must have vaccinations and optional vaccinations.

Must Have Vaccinations

  1. FPV: Also known as feline distemper vaccination, this vaccination protects your cat from one of the most devastating diseases for felines: feline enteritis or parvovirus. If your kitten contracts this virus, it will die.
  2. FHV: This is an upper respiratory infection that can be fatal to your kitten. Sneezing and watery eyes, symptoms of a cold, are the usual first signs. However, this is no ordinary cold.
  3. FCV: Similar to FHV, this is also an upper respiratory infection that can be deadly. If your kitten is infected, it may get pneumonia and die.
  4. Rabies: Most pet owners know of this dreaded disease. There is no cure for rabies. It must be vaccinated against. Moreover, the law requires this vaccine and a booster at year one (if your cat is younger) and every three years following.

Optional Vaccine

  1. Feline Leukemia:This is considered an optional vaccine, but it is highly recommended that you inoculate your kitten against this disease. According to Pet Place, it is the leading cause of death for cats, and it is highly contagious.

Professional Care at an Animal Hospital

How often should you take your cat to the vet or to an animal hospital? First, if your cat is in need of immediate medical attention and it is after your veterinarian’s office hours, you should take it to an animal hospital. Otherwise, regular check ups at a veterinary clinic are recommended

You should ideally take your cat to the vet once every six months. You want to keep your cat in optimal health and this is a good way to catch early signs of trouble and treat if needed. Cats age faster than humans, so two times per year is not taking your cat to the vet too often.

Whether your cat is young or old, a visit to the vet every six months will keep your cat in good health and give you peace of mind. A physical exam along with blood work will be your vet’s primary tools to diagnose any medical issues in your cat. The physical exam includes weighing your cat, checking it’s skeletal structure, ears, eyes and mouth. The blood work is designed to detect abnormalities and thus get ahead of any serious medical issue.

Be sure to keep a journal, a list, or make notes regarding your cat’s health. Keep the record of your cat’s health somewhere visible. This will also help you remember to take the item with you when you visit the vet. Having a health record will prove valuable to your veterinarian. Your cat’s good health is worth it!

Is My Cat Fat? How to Recognize When Your Pet Is Overweight

A pet is perfect in the eyes of their owner, but too many treats can lead to health problems down the line. Unfortunately, it can be hard to determine when a pet’s weight has become an issue.

While puppies should be fed three times per day until they reach six months old, portion size still matters. Whether you’re living with a fat cat or a pudgy puppy, here are some tell-tale signs they should go on a diet.

No ribs here

For both cats and dogs, a healthy pet should have easily identifiable ribs when you search for these bones. If you have trouble finding the grooves of their ribs, even under a thick coat, this means that they might be overweight.

However, visible ribs are a sign that your pet is underfed or not getting the right nutrients in their diet. This is vital when you start to engage in a diet for your pet since you don’t want them to lose too much weight.

Poor hygiene

Cats are able to clean themselves by licking their fur. If they’re unable to reach fur patches on their body because of their weight, you might start to notice skin irritation or stray fecal matter on your kitty. Most dogs will also clean themselves following a trip to the bathroom, but obese animals will have trouble reaching these sensitive spots.

If a cat or dog is unable to clean themselves because of their weight, a variety of health issues can occur. Your best bet is to take them to your local animal hospital or veterinary clinic for a check-up and a nutrition plan.

Know their breed standard

If you’re living with multiple pets in the house, it can be easy to compare them to each other. For example, a lithe cat might make your small dog look even chubbier than usual. Your English Bulldog might also seem massive compared to your teacup Yorkie.

However, your pet’s weight is impacted by a variety of factors, including their breed and age. Because of this, it’s natural for an older Bulldog to weigh much more than your Toy Poodle. Talk to your local vet clinic for more information on breed standards and weight ranges for your pet’s age.

While we might love the look of a fat cat, their health is more important than those adorably chubby cheeks. For more information on how much your pet should weigh, rely on the veterinary clinic you can trust: Sykesville Veterinary Clinic.

3 Common Reasons Your Cat Is Vomiting and What to Do About It

If your cat is vomiting, you’ll want to know why like a good cat parent. Very few people know the truth behind feline vomiting.

It’s time to demystify this topic once and for all.

Here are 3 reasons why cats throw up:

1. Why Your Cat is Vomiting: Hair Balls

Vomiting in cats is a normal behavior, but not normal enough to ignore. On average, cats vomit twice per month, usually from hairballs.

Anything more than that is a cause for concern.

Because cats self-groom with their tongues, a lot of that hair winds up in their digestive tracts. If your cat is constantly hacking up hairballs, then you have a problem.

Try brushing your cat a few times a week to get rid of any excess hair that might become hairballs. You can also take your cat to the groomer every 6 months or so. There’s also special “hairball” formula treats and food you can invest in.

2. Your Cat’s Eating Habits

Your cat’s eating habits can be one of the causes of vomiting. For instance, your cat eating something off the floor that doesn’t agree with its stomach might result in vomiting.

How fast does your cat eat? Eating too fast can cause cats to vomit. Breaking up wet food into smaller chunks can slow down your cat’s chowing.

If you serve your cat wet food, you might be in the habit of putting your kitty’s leftovers in the refrigerator. Your cat’s food being too cold can cause vomiting.

If you want to keep serving your cat leftovers, make sure the leftover wet food has warmed to room temperature before serving.

Some cats that lived in situations where food was scarce. They tend to eat a lot of food at once, but this can cause vomiting. If this is your problem, change your cat’s diet and serve your cat small portions throughout the day.

If your cat’s eating habits are fine, then it’s time to face the unsettling truth:

3. There’s Something Wrong With Your Cat

Why do cats throw up? If it’s not for any of the aforementioned reasons, your cat is probably sick. Frequent vomiting in cats is a sign of a serious medical condition.

Monitor your cat’s behavior and look for other symptoms. Is your cat vomiting (especially with blood present), having diarrhea, being lethargic, dehydrated, losing weight, or eating and drinking less? If so, you’ll have to visit the vet.

There are many conditions that your cat vomiting could be a symptom of. Your veterinarian will need to run tests to narrow down a diagnosis.

If your cat vomits, wait for 2 hours afterward until you reintroduce food and water. You can also feed your cat a bland diet of boiled potatoes, skinless chicken, and plain rice.

Treat Your Cat With Care

More than half of the cats in the United States haven’t seen a veterinarian in the past year. Please don’t wait if you think your cat needs to go to the vet.

Around 81% of American cat owners see their cats as self-sufficient enough to take care of themselves. This is wrong. Your cat needs your help. If your cat is vomiting, it’s your responsibility to make sure everything is okay.

Invest in your cat’s life and learn more about preventative care for cats. It’ll bring you closer to your feline friend.

5 Human Foods Cats Can’t Eat

Does your furry friend get into mischief from time to time? Cats are known for having a mind of their own in addition to how cute and cuddly they can be. It’s not unlikely for them to find unusual places to lounge or to scratch at some of your furniture every once in a while.

But, one thing you absolutely can’t let your cat do, is eat whatever’s in the kitchen. Most cats stick to their kibble and special treats. Still, sometimes, they take it upon themselves to get a taste of scraps on the floor or something you’ve left sitting out.

The good news is not all human food is harmful to cats. Here are foods cats can’t eat that you definitely need to watch out for, though.

1. Chocolate

You’ve heard this rule if you’re a dog owner, but it’s worth reinforcing it for cats. Do not give your pet chocolate! As delicious and tasty as it can be for you, it can cause serious stomach issues for them.

Not to mention, cats can develop a lactose intolerance as they age. This makes any amount of chocolate twice as bad if it is milk chocolate or made with something like caramel.

2. Citrus

While chocolate is kind of an obvious no-no, you may not be aware of how harmful citrus can be. Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit have a similar digestive effect as chocolate.

They can cause an upset stomach which leads to a lack of eating. Or, citrus may be the reason for your cat’s vomiting or diarrhea.

3. Grapes

It’s one thing to deal with a stinky litter box for a few days and another to have to rush your cat to the vet. That can be the case if your kitty eats a few grapes. Grapes are highly toxic to animals.

They can cause death in cats and dogs, or lead to long-term issues if the animal survives. Grapes may result in kidney failure in your little one.

4. Garlic

Another food to watch out for is garlic. When cats eat garlic, their red blood cells suffer and they may get anemia. You can’t spot this with your naked eye, but a suddenly lazy cat or lightened gums are the only signs you need in order to tell that your cat has gotten into the garlic.

5. Tomatoes

Last but not least, tomatoes. Tomatoes are highly poisonous vegetables to cats.

They can cause digestive problems that go beyond a little bit of vomit or stinky poops. The symptoms are strong enough to require emergency care right away. This goes for tomatoes of all kinds, shapes, and sizes.

What to Do When Your Cat Gets Their Paws on the Human Foods Cats Can’t Eat

If you think your cat has eaten any of the foods above, take them to see the vet right away. Also, keep in mind there are other foods cats can’t eat, so be careful when giving them treats of human food or feeding them scraps.

Always make sure you cook your cat’s food all the way through if you like to prepare it yourself and try to buy the highest quality kibble for them if you can. Every part of their diet counts.

For more preventive care insights for cats, click here!

Why You Should Get a Pet from a Shelter

Would you like to have a cuddly little cat to curl up to you? Or maybe you’d like a sweet little puppy to play with! Animals are remarkable creatures with a lot of love to give. If you like to return love to a deserving animal, please consider adopting from your local humane society.

How do pets end up in shelters?

It’s rarely ever that a pet is relinquished to shelter because something was “wrong” with it. Remember: There are no bad pets, only bad owners. Occasionally, an owner might ask that a pet be re-homed due to moving, allergies or budget constraints. No matter what reason the animal has for being in a shelter, it’s never their fault. They still have a lot of love to give.

Shelter animals are healthy

This is for sure; they’re healthier than they’d be on the street! The first thing a shelter does with an animal in their care is screen for health problems and tries to treat them. The animals at these shelters receive regular veterinary care plus volunteers to make sure they’re free of parasites. Often, the fees for vaccinations and spaying or neutering will be included in the adoption fee.

If you would like a puppy or a kitten

Understandable. Part of the joy of being a pet owner is watching them grow from a tiny puppy or kitten and training them yourself. If this is what you want, then shelters are not in any way hunting for puppies and kittens. If breeding is unchecked, one cat and her offspring could produce 420,000 kittens in seven years! A dog and her offspring with breeding unchecked could have 67,000 puppies in six years! However, do keep in mind the older animals need homes too. If you’d prefer a dog who’s already been trained and is ready to slow down and grow old with you, maybe the older dog is best.

If you would rather have a bunny rabbit….

Then hop right down to your local animal shelter some weeks after Easter. Many people get live rabbits as Easter favors, only to find they’re not up to the full task of caring for such a fragile animal. If you know you’ve got what it takes to care…really care…for a rabbit, you might find some bunny at your local animal shelter. Unfortunately, some people who take in exotic animals like ferrets or guinea pigs and find they’re not up to the task think it will be fine to abandon such an animal. If the animal is lucky, they’ll be found by an animal shelter and given to a competent guardian.


Protect Your Pets: Recommended Cat and Dog Vaccination Schedule

Food, water, and a little bit of love. These are the things we strive to give our pets.

But what about taking them to the vet and ensuring they are healthy? Unknown to many people, there are timelines of what shots pets need, based on their age.

Read on to discover more about the recommended vaccination schedules for cats and dogs. You’ll learn what’s best for your pets and how to help them stay healthy no matter what their age.

Knowing the Cat Vaccination Schedule

Cat vaccinations are broken down into different timelines within a cat’s life. This includes:

  • Baby kittens who are under one year old
  • Cats that are young adults, ages 1-5
  • Older cats ages 5-10

With cats, there are some vaccinations they can skip, depending on their lifestyle.

Indoor cats don’t need feline leukemia if they are kept indoors religiously. Although these treatments don’t cause harm to a cat when they are young, there’s no need to subject the animal to them if they don’t go outdoors.

We recommend all cats be given heartworm prevention year round, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats, as this is a mosquito transmitted disease. As well, there is no vaccine available for heartworm prevention.

Use your own judgment when deciding what is best for your pets. Regardless of their lifestyle, all cats need vaccinations to protect against rabies.

Understanding the Dog Vaccination Schedule

Dog vaccinations get a little tricky. Like the cat, they are broken down along the following timeline:

  • Puppy, for the first year of life
  • Young dog, age 1-5
  • Older dog, ages 5-10

Dogs go outside more often than cats since they need walks to relieve themselves. For pet owners that take their mutts to the dog park, there are certain procedures they need to follow to ensure protection.

Rabies is always required for dogs. Owners that don’t get the vaccination and license their dog find themselves at risk for fines.

Studies show that once a dog reaches the older adult phase, they don’t need certain vaccines, such as parvo or bordetella. Always talk to your vet, and look to your dog’s age, health, and lifestyle for cues.

The Needs of Older Pets

Older pets have special needs.

They get tired quickly, have weaker immune systems, and don’t spend as much time outside. A whole list of vaccinations isn’t a necessity for pets once they reach the mark of ten years or older.

Dogs or cats that have cancer, or other diseases that contribute to a weaker immune system don’t need the same vaccinations a healthy puppy would.

Since these dogs aren’t running outdoors as much, and have developed immune systems, vaccinations do they bodies more harm than good. When in doubt, talk with your vet and ask them questions about your dog’s health.

The answers may surprise you, and help you feel comfortable with your decision.

Let Us Help

Taking care of your pets is a lifelong process that goes on until the last day. You don’t have to figure it out alone.

We are happy to help you and your pet at whatever stage of life they are at.

If you have questions about the dog vaccination schedule or aren’t sure how old your pet is, give us a call. We are here to help, whatever your needs are.

CATNIP Facts for Cat Owners

While cats are known to be far more independent than dogs are, these furry creatures are also playful and agile that love to be held, petted, and cuddled with. Cat owners know how little grooming their pets require, and will do just fine with a moderate amount of attention. But as cat owners ourselves, we usually just cannot get enough of cuddling with them or especially the sound of a cat purring. One of the ways to make your cat purr as a result of her having a pleasurable experience is through the magic of catnip.

Catnip is a member of the mint family which has a unique effect on cats. Also known as Catmint, Cats’ plant, Cat cocaine, and Kitty crack, about two-thirds of all cats react to catnip the intensity of which can vary. It is completely healthy for it to be used for cats. Cat owners can use it to train, entertain, and also make their cats perform exercises. Cats lesser than six months of age, that are not sexually active do not respond to Catnip.

So what exactly happens to Cats when they come in contact with catnip? The main ingredient Nepetalactone is a mild hallucinogenic that gives cats a high. It makes them behave hyperactively and are rarely aggressive. The effect stays for about 10 minutes and the cats do not experience any hangover after it. It is also not addictive and has a great shelf life if stored in a freezer.

Check out this infographic from CatsPhD to check out other facts related to Catnip. Learn about other herbs that have a similar effect on cats, and how catnip affect humans does.

Infographic created by

How to Choose the Best Pet Food Brands for Your Pet

We all know how the value of a healthy diet. But maintaining a healthy diet is easier said than done.

That’s especially true when it comes to our pets. There’s no shortage of competition when it comes to the pet food market. In fact, global pet food sales exceeded $75 billion in 2016.

Our pets rely on us to give them quality food. When it comes to your dog or cat, you only want the best.

With so many pet food brands to choose from how do you know which is best? Here are some tips on finding the best options for your pet.

Quality Meat & Protein

One of the most important things to look for in an animal’s food is quality protein from real meat.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends dogs have between 18 and 22 percent protein in their diet. Cats need a similar amount of protein to maintain a healthy diet.

Unfortunately, many pet food brands have become adept at deceiving customers. They indicate that their food contains “meat” without specifying the protein source.

Look for brands that include specific protein labels. Pet food should be high in protein and include multiple types of meat like turkey, lamb, chicken or beef.

Avoid Chemical Preservatives

It’s never too late to change your pet’s diet.

One positive change you can make is to avoid chemical preservatives. Some pet food brands use additives and preservatives that can harm your animal.

Common preservatives you should avoid include Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT), and Propylene Glycol (PG). Consuming these preservatives can cause long-term health damage and even lead to cancer.

Another preservative to avoid is Ethoxyquin. It’s an approved food additive used in animal feed that’s also used in pesticides. Long-term consumption can damage your pet’s liver.

Find brands that use natural preservatives and look out for these chemical preservatives.

What are the best pet food brands?

Pet owners are always on the lookout for the best pet food brand. There are a number of high-quality brands. However, it’s hard to call one brand superior.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing pet food. You need to find a food brand that matches your pet’s age, health, and dietary restrictions.

First evaluate whether you have a growing, mature, or senior animal. You should then decide whether your animal needs dry food, wet food, or freeze-dried food. Keep in mind whether your animal needs special food, such as grain-free dog food.

Once you weigh these factors, you should look for brands that come highly recommended by experts. Your local veterinarian should have a few recommendations of good brands for your pet.

You can also look at FDA’s pet food guidelines. Make sure that your preferred brand is in line with their standards.

You want a brand that is safe, reliable and a good fit for your pet. Weigh all of these factors to find the best brand for your animal.

Taking Care of Your Pet

Are you looking for more advice for your pet? We can help. We’re the little vet with a big heart.

Check out our list of services to see how we can help you today.

7 Pet Safety Tips: Avoid an Emergency This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly, not the season to be panicked.

The holiday celebrations can be a very dangerous time for your furry family members. From decorations to harmful foods, hazards are everywhere.

The last thing you want to worry about is your dog or cat getting sick. You want to enjoy spending time with your family, not rushing your dog or cat for emergency pet care.

Read about these seven pet safety tips to keep your fur babies safe this holiday season.

1. Stick to Pet Food

Pet owners sometimes feel guilty that they’re eating delicious food while their pets look at them with those cute eyes and beg for a treat. You might think, “What’s the harm in giving them just a little?”

For starters, bits of bone in the chicken or turkey leg can get stuck in their throats. Or it may splinter, causing cuts and abrasions inside their digestive tracts.

Other foods are outright toxic. Hopefully, you already know not to give dark chocolate and grapes to dogs. Spices such as sage can cause upset stomachs, while nutmeg can cause seizures to pets.

2. The Folly of Decking the Halls with Holly

Like many foods, some plants used as decorations to create the holiday ambiance are unsafe for pets.

Catwoman famously said that mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it (but a kiss is even deadlier). This applies to regular cats as well.

Holly and the sap of poinsettia can cause vomiting when ingested. Other plants that are toxic when consumed are amaryllis, balsam, and cedar.

3. Hold Onto Your Drinks

Celebrations and drinking go hand in hand. Still, you might want to keep your drinks in your hand.

Alcohol can be very harmful to pets and they might be tempted to take a sip out of an unattended glass. Keep temptation at bay by keeping glasses out of reach.

4. Stranger Danger

Your furry friend will be around lots of unfamiliar faces, from visiting relatives to delivery people. This can cause them to feel anxiety and stress, increasing the likelihood to bite.

It’s probably safer for everyone (especially kids) if you put your pet inside their crates. It’s also easy for your pet to escape with all the people coming and going.

5. Caution: Decoration in Progress

If you could make your pet wear a hardhat, now is the time. Hazardous things for your pet are everywhere during this festive period.

The Christmas tree can topple over and crush your pet if not secured properly. If your pet eats ornaments such as tinsel and glass balls, surgery is the worst consequence. Chewing on electrical cords is another potential threat.

6. Health Is the Best Gift

We love giving and receiving gifts, but you have to be careful if you have pets. The materials used to wrap gifts such as wrapping paper, ribbons, and strings can cause intestinal blockage.

Batteries in toys can cause acid burns. Small batteries can also be easily swallowed and removal may require surgery.

7. Mittens and Kittens

Animals can be very sensitive to temperature changes.

Prepare your pets for the cold weather with winter coats or gear, especially if they’re getting on in age.

Emergency Pet Care Is Available

Sometimes, things happen no matter how careful you are.

For emergency pet care services, you can call or visit us anytime.