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6 Easy Ways to Change a Pet’s Life

There are lots of recognized special days throughout the year, some important and some just silly fun. Change a Pet’s Life Day (January 23, 2021) is one that really hits home with us.

This special day promotes pet adoption and appreciation of the important work animal rescue organizations do through their employees, volunteers, and donors.

6 Easy Ways You Can Change a Pet’s Life | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Many pets have a rough ride before they find a loving home, and many never make it out of the shelter alive.

The ASPCA estimates 6.5 million pets enter shelters in the United States every year, but less than half of them are adopted.

Sadly, 1.5 million pets are euthanized.

You can make a huge difference in the life of a pet by choosing to adopt. With so many unwanted and abandoned pets in shelters, it feels more urgent every year.

Here are six things you can do that can genuinely make a difference in a pet’s life:

1. Adopt a pet from shelter or rescue organization if you can.

If you’re in the position to adopt a pet, it can be a very rewarding step (for a waiting pet, and for you as well) to welcome one into your home.

Pet owners live longer, happier, and healthier lives.

2. Sponsor a shelter pet.

If you can’t adopt a pet, many rescue organizations welcome pet sponsorship, a means of financially supporting a pet until it is adopted.

3. Donate time and/or resources to a shelter or rescue organization.

Rescue organizations depend upon volunteers and donations. Donations of pet food, blankets, towels, leashes, collars, carriers, and most importantly, money are welcomed by most rescue organizations.

Time is also needed – fostering  pets, walking dogs, socializing kittens, cleaning kennels, answering phones, and assisting with events.

4. Spay or neuter your pet.

Please don’t add to the problem by allowing your pet to increase pet overpopulation through unplanned litters.

5. Take the time to train and socialize your pet.

Sadly, more than 40% of pets surrendered to shelters are done so for behavior problems.

6. Microchip and ID your pet.

Many pets entering shelters are lost. Microchips and collar tags are an extremely important part of helping return those pets home. Unidentified pets have a much slimmer chance of being found by their families.

Thanks for supporting Change a Pet’s Life Day! Together, we make a difference.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs

Despite the popular misconception, fur alone is not enough to protect dogs from the elements. Like people, dogs have varying degrees of cold tolerance.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Hypothermia in pets

Even the hardiest breeds are susceptible to hypothermia. Pets can die from hypothermia, where decreased core body temperature decreases circulation to organs, brain, and limbs. Luckily, hypothermia can be easy to avoid by taking a few precautions.

1. Ask Us About Cold Weather Protection.

Arthritis can worsen in the cold months, increasing stiffness and discomfort. Several key strategies can help keep your older dog comfortable and active in cold weather, and we’re eager to share this information with you at your next appointment.

2. Know Your Dog’s Cold Tolerance.

Although all dogs are at risk in cold, wet weather, some are better able to handle a dip in temperatures. Huskies and other Artic breeds are certainly more comfortable in cold weather than breeds such as grey hounds. Consider that old, young, thin-coated, and wet dogs are at greater risk for hypothermia.

3. Take Shorter Walks With Your Dog.

All dogs need daily exercise year-round, but in extreme temperatures, shorter, more frequent walks are preferable to extended walks. Don’t forget about playtime at home, either.

7 Cold Weather Tips for Dogs | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

4. Beware of Antifreeze & Sidewalk De-Icers.

Antifreeze dripping under cars can be deadly to dogs, even in small amounts. And rock salt used to melt ice on sidewalks and road ways can cause irritation to dogs’ paws. Take care where you walk your dog to avoid these substances.

5. Some Dogs Need Warm Sweaters or Rain Coats.

Small dogs have a larger surface area for their body size and benefit from a warm, dry coat or sweater during cold weather. Dogs with short fur, even large dogs such as Whippets or Vislas, also appreciate dog clothing. And any dog would benefit from a rain coat around here this time of year!

6. Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Too Long.

While dogs need exercise, they also need warmth and comfort. Leaving dogs outdoors in the cold make them miserable and some develop frostbite or die. Make sure your dog has access to a warm, comfortable place to rest and isn’t outdoors too long when temperatures are low.

7. Dogs Should Always Have Access to Fresh Water, Even When Outdoors.

Be sure your dog’s water bowl isn’t frozen and don’t use a metal bowl outdoors in cold weather because your dog’s tongue can get stuck! (Think of the flag pole when you were a kid). Heated water dishes are available for outside to prevent frozen water dishes.

Why is My Cat Suddenly Sneezing So Much?

When your cat sneezes, she is releasing high-pressure air from her nose and mouth.

Why is My Cat Suddenly Sneezing So Much? | atlanticvetseattle.com

A few sneezes a day is fairly normal, but when kitty sneezes consistently over a period of days, you may want to bring her to visit us, as she could have an upper respiratory infection.

While most sneezing is caused by a viral infection, other causes of sneezing could be bacterial, fungal, a foreign body (see our article on Foxtails), or a tumor.

When to Call Us

Give us a call at 206.323.4433 if you notice these other symptoms along with sneezing:

  • Runny eyes
  • Squinting
  • Nasal discharge (clear or yellow)
  • Swelling around the nose or a misshapen nose
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Drooling
  • Bloody discharge from the nose
  • Inappetance/anorexia
  • Pink eye signs
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Noisy  breathing or increased difficulty breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

We’ll give your cat a thorough exam and may run some tests to confirm the type of infection.  If treatment is needed, we’ll recommend a course of action.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide

The cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL (called the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans) is a very important ligament in the stifle (knee) joint in pets.

This tiny ligament’s job, along with the caudal cruciate ligament and collateral ligaments, is to stabilize the stifle joint where the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) bones meet. Because cats and dogs stand on 4 limbs, the angle of their stifle joints put constant stress on the CCL, even while only standing.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.

Some cases of CCL rupture occur acutely – from trauma such as a fall, stepping in a hole, hit-by-car, or other high-force injury to the stifle.

However, most CCL ruptures are caused by slow, gradual degeneration of the ligament. Rupture may be partial or complete. In many cases, it starts as a partial tear and progresses to a full rupture of the ligament over time.

Following the rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament, the stifle becomes unstable. When the dog or cat places weight on the limb, this instability allows the shin bone (tibia) to slide forward relative to the thigh bone (femur).

The stifle feels like it is “giving way,” causing pain and severe lameness. To avoid pain, the injured pet automatically shifts its weight to the “good” hind leg. This weight shift causes the other leg to do “double duty,” putting it at much greater risk of rupturing the other CCL.

Cranial cruciate ligament injuries are most likely in older, large breed, and overweight dogs.

The causes for CCL rupture are related to the age, breed, size, body condition, and activity of the pet, as well as its conformation. Obesity plays a large factor in CCL ruptures. While not nearly as common in cats, CCL tears are one of the most common problems veterinary surgeons fix in dogs.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Certain dog breeds are predisposed, such as:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundland
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Akita
  • Bernard
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The injury is more common in spayed and neutered dogs, and is part of the reason veterinarians now recommend delaying spay or neuter surgery for large and giant breed dogs until the dog is 1-2 years of age.

Overweight pets are at higher risk for cruciate ligament injuries

Any dog or cat can tear its CCL ligament, but overweight pets are at significantly higher risk. Slimming to a healthy weight is a very important part of the prevention and healing process after a CCL rupture.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.comAdditionally, overweight pets will have more difficulty moving around while recovering from surgery, which can result in prolonged healing and pain.

A healthy weight and body condition reduces the stress on the injured joint, as well as stress on the other stifle’s ligaments.

Ideally, performing surgery to stabilize the injured stifle and address the excess weight can be done simultaneously, improving pets’ overall health and comfort, minimizing the development of severe arthritis, decreasing the risk of similar injury to the other hind leg, and getting them on the road to recovery as soon as possible. If your pet is overweight, our doctors would be happy to work with you develop a plan to help him/her slim down to a healthy weight.

How we diagnose CCL injuries

Typically, lameness is diagnosed with:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Complete physical exam and gait analysis
  • Radiographs (X-rays)
  • Lyme disease test

Often, when assessing a stifle injury, pets require a brief sedation to allow the doctor to manipulate the painful stifle. This manipulation is called the cranial drawer test and is used to assess for excessive joint laxity.

Radiographs are used to evaluate the stifle for signs of joint laxity, increased joint fluid, arthritis, and other potential – but much less common – disease processes that can cause similar lameness and pain, such as bone cancer.

A test for Lyme disease, which can cause lameness through joint inflammation, is also warranted.

A new diagnostic option: Orthopedic Ultrasound

An exciting new branch of ultrasound technology is gaining acceptance for smaller animals — orthopedic ultrasound. First used in equine medicine, it allows veterinarians to study injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in a completely non-invasive and non-painful way. It’s particularly helpful when the cause of a lameness isn’t 100% obvious on physical exam.

Orthopedic ultrasound is more sensitive for soft tissue injuries than radiographs, which are better for evaluating bones. In addition, ultrasound costs less than MRIs and CAT scans and doesn’t require anesthesia. At worst, a patient may need light sedation to perform the ultrasound.

Ultrasound allows the doctor to “see” ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage, guiding the recommended treatment plan. It can be used to determine if an ACL is completely torn, requiring surgery, or only partially damaged, which may heal with strict adherence to an 8-week rest and therapy plan. It can also be used to monitor the healing of a tendon or a ligament.


Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Surgical Options – Most Common Choice

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is by far the most common cruciate surgical repair technique used in dogs. TPLO involves improving the biomechanics of the stifle by changing the angle of the top of the shin bone, called the tibial plateau.

In this technique, the top of the tibia is cut, rotated, and stabilized in place with surgical plates and screws. The change in the angle of the tibial plateau makes the stifle feel stable to the dog when weight-bearing, despite the ruptured ligament.

The success rate of TPLO surgery is high, with most dogs returning to normal or almost normal function. In one study, 98% of owners reported excellent, very good, or good outcomes. Because of the high degree of success, it has become the treatment of choice in large-breed and/or athletic dogs.

The most common complications with TPLO surgery include infection (approximately 6%) and implant loosening or failure.

Another surgical approach to CCL repair includes the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA). The TTA technique is sometimes used an alternative to TPLO in large dogs. It also aims to restore the biomechanics of the stifle.

Alternatively, two Extracapsular Surgical Repair Techniques aim to recreate the stifle-stabilizing function of the CCL by strengthening the tissues surrounding the stifle. These techniques are usually reserved for cats and medium-to-small dogs. While providing comfort, they are often not as effective in returning the stifle to full athletic function.

We now offer TPLO and other surgical cruciate repair procedures at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Board-certified veterinary surgeon, Dr. Eric Hoots, has partnered with us to provide TPLO and other surgical options for pets with cruciate ligament rupture at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Hoots has been providing specialty and advanced surgical care for pets since 2002. Pets are admitted and medically supervised by one of our doctors, who also manages the pet’s follow-up care.

Physical rehab therapy at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe

Unlike 15 years ago, pets that undergo orthopedic surgery these days are no longer confined to crates during the recovery periods, but encouraged to exercise in a controlled and precise manner to increase their strength, maintain range-of-motion, and hasten healing.

Appropriate exercises can also improve pets’ comfort, help with weight loss, reduce scar tissue formation, and improve their quality-of-life — who doesn’t get achy and sad when forced to lie around?

A growing specialty, Certified Veterinary Rehab Therapy experts like our Dr. Tricia Munroe provide physical rehabilitation therapy in a specially-designed clinic setting similar to a physical therapist’s office for humans. Dr. Munroe, who is also certified in acupuncture, can develop and monitor a custom exercise and therapy plan to:

  • increase strength in the injured limb or spine
  • maintain joint range-of-motion
  • promote weight loss and general well-being
  • reduce pain and promote healing

Dr. Munroe uses a variety of treatment modalities, including specific exercises, stretching, acupuncture, and laser therapy. She also teaches pet owners how to help their pets exercise at home with precise exercises tailored to the pet.

What about cell therapy?

Stem cells are the basic cell precursors from which all other types of cells are generated. All specialized cells, such as muscle cells, nerve cells, blood cells, etc., originated from stem cells. Under the right conditions in the body or laboratory, stem cells can divide to self-renew and recreate new, functional tissue.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Stem Cell Therapy and other biological injections, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), have gained much attention in the last few years as potential alternatives to surgery and have created a flurry of research. These “cutting edge” therapies may eventually have the potential for several applications in both human and veterinary medicine. Researchers are developing techniques with the hopes of treating bone fractures, restoring diseased cartilage in arthritic joints, healing ligaments and tendons, and reversing type 1 diabetes.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are thought to promote the repair response in diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “Stem cells have been called everything from cure-alls to miracle treatments.”

The techniques are still considered experimental. Most stem cell therapy, if using adult stem cells collected from the patient’s own body, is considered safe because it minimizes the risk of unwanted reaction. The most common side effects are temporary swelling and pain.

Is stem cell therapy truly effective? The jury is still out.

When used to help treat orthopedic disease, adult stem cells or platelets are harvested from the patient’s own body (typically from abdominal fat, blood, or bone marrow). The cells are processed in the lab, and then injected into the patient’s affected joint with the goal of decreasing inflammation and promoting healing.

Stem cell therapy or PRP may help a pet with a partially-torn CCL rebuild the ligament and make it stronger. If the CCL is completely ruptured or degenerated, stem cell therapy may be used to strengthen the other ligaments of the stifle.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are currently quite expensive.

We are still evaluating the science behind the variety of stem cell therapy and PRP treatment options available for dogs and cats, and will likely offer the therapy in the future when we are satisfied that the techniques are effective.


Conservative nonsurgical treatment options for complete CCL rupture are recommended less often by veterinarians because they have a lower success rate of returning a pet to normal function and a lower satisfaction rate amongst pet owners.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Conservative options may be considered an alternative when surgery is not an option; for example, when a pet also has significant heart disease, making anesthesia ill-advised.

Non-surgical options have historically included:

  • cage rest
  • extended exercise restriction (several months)
  • appropriate pain medications
  • cartilage protectant medications
  • weight control

Non-surgical options have improved somewhat with advances in physical rehabilitation and recent improvements in custom leg braces used to support, protect, and align the injured limb.

Custom-made braces can be expensive and but may be helpful in small dogs if tolerated – some dogs will not. To be effective, the dog must wear the brace at all times. Lack of comfort and skin irritations, sometimes severe, are the most common concerns.

What happens if you don’t repair a torn CCL?

An untreated CCL tear can lead to a myriad of consequences and a cycle of pain, decreased mobility, and diminishing quality of life due to:

  • Chronic pain caused by joint laxity and the development of arthritis. While pain medications tend to help and improve the limp, they do not fix the tear. As time goes by, pain may decrease to some degree, but it stills hurts, especially once arthritis sets in.
  • Osteoarthritis, or inflammation in a joint. Arthritis is a life-long condition for which there is no cure. While anti-inflammatories and joint supplements may help, they don’t “fix” the arthritis and their effectiveness can decline over time. In addition, as pets age, they may develop liver and kidney problems that require us to curtail or forgo anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Decreased range-of-motion in the stifle due to the development of scar tissue. Without surgery to stabilize the wobbly stifle, the body attempts to create stability with scar tissue. Unfortunately, this scar tissue is hardly ever strong enough to keep the stifle stable, leading to pain, arthritis, stiffness, and decreased range-of-motion.
  • Muscle loss and weakness in the injured leg due to lack of use. Pets with an ACL tear move a lot less overall. And when they do move, they will shift their weight to the other three limbs and carry the injured limb. It’s the use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon. By decreasing their exercise, they lose muscle all over, putting other joints at risk because of the loss of joint-stabilizing muscles. The injured limb will have the post pronounced muscle atrophy.
  • Changes in gait and posture that negatively affect the other three limbs and spine.
  • ACL tear in the other leg. When the ACL tears in one stifle, pets will shift their weight to the other hind leg, often leading to an ACL tear in the opposite leg.
  • Weight gain due to inactivity. Pets with chronic lameness become inactive couch potatoes, losing muscle, and frequently gaining weight. The added weight puts more pressure on the joints, leading to more pain and more of the consequences above.
  • Meniscal tears. Meniscus are an important cartilage cushion in the stifle. Left untreated, up to half of dogs with ACL tears will end up with a torn meniscus, causing more pain and more of the consequences above.

Why Is My Cat Peeing on Laundry?

Inappropriate urination is the leading cause of cats being surrendered to shelters. While there are a number of underlying causes, they can generally be broken down into medical causes, behavioral causes, or a combination of the two.

Why Is My Cat Peeing on Laundry? | AtlanticVetSeattle.comMedical causes

When cats choose somewhere besides their litter boxes to urinate, veterinarians look for health concerns such as such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, crystals in the urine (a potentially life-threatening situation in male cats), bladder stones, or bladder inflammation caused by an infection or even stress.

Laundry on the floor offers a soft, welcoming place to try to relive the pain. This pain can lead to behavioral-inappropriate urination due to a learned aversion to the “offending” litter box seen as the source of pain by the cat.

Behavioral causes

Conversely, behavior may be the underlying cause of inappropriate urination in and of itself. Domestic cats are very, very closely related to wild cats who live in groups of related female cats, roaming and defending territories of about 10 acres.

We humans, who love them, often force them into unnatural situations where they feel crowded, bored, or anxious.  Squabbling between cats or a dog, strangers in the home, noise, or a scary event that occurred while they were using the litter box (intimidation by another cat or a washing machine buzzer, for example) can also be the underlying cause.

Litter box causes

Other times, the litter box isn’t up to a cat’s standards (think Port-o-Potty at a trailhead in August) or she doesn’t care for the perfume or texture of the litter. Cats do have texture preferences for a number of the things they do naturally, including urinating. Some cats prefer softer substrates, such as laundry or plastic bags on the floor, instead of cat litter (especially pelleted or old-fashioned clay litter). Other cats don’t seem to care.

Two rules of thumb we champion

You can never have too many, too large, or too clean litter boxes.

 You need one litter box per cat, plus one, and one on every floor of the house.

Determining the cause of inappropriate urination

Figuring out the underlying cause of inappropriate urination starts with a thorough history and complete physical exam, including a urinalysis that is run right away (not sent to the lab) to look for crystal formation, blood tests to look for diabetes, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism.

Often, we will also recommend bladder imaging, such as X-rays or an ultrasound, to look for bladder stones and possibly at kidney health.

If all tests check out, we’ll explore possible behavioral causes. Here is where a house call visit from a veterinarian experienced in cat behavior can be very helpful in assessing life from the cat’s point of view.

Fortunately, there is hope for most cats that are urinating outside the litter box if the problem is addressed quickly, before it becomes a more serious medical issue or a habit, if it’s a behavioral issue.

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Do you ever get stir-crazy after staring at the same four walls at home?

If so, you understand how your indoor cat might be feeling. They long for adventure, too! Cats are not far from their wild ancestors who spent their days and nights hunting for food, defending their territories (typically up to 10 acres, much larger than our homes and apartments), and caring for young.

Boredom can lead to serious medical and behavioral issues in cats, including:

  • Over-grooming and other compulsive behaviors
  • Intercat aggression (if you have more than one cat)
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Eating things they shouldn’t
  • Excessive scratching
  • Attention-seeking, such as nipping or climbing your leg for attention

We mean well – we provide a nice home and all the food they need – but perhaps we forget their active brains and athletic bodies. Unlike their canine friends, who get to go on daily walks and visit dog parks, cats need indoor activities to keep them stimulated and happy.

Here are some activities that use your cat’s natural tendencies and help them avoid the consequences of life in a “country club prison.”

Provide Vertical Space

Being up high helps cats feel more secure. A carpeted cat tree or condo creates a safe zone from small children, dogs, or other cats. An elevated perch also satisfies your cat’s climbing and clawing needs.

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

You can purchase or build a DIY vertical space that includes a series of perches, shelves, runs, hiding spots, and scratching poles. If possible, position the kitty tree near a window so your cat can watch what’s happening in the world.

An outdoor cat yard or catio is an inviting outdoor space for a cat to explore, play, and lounge during warmer weather. You can put cat trees and toys inside the catio. For catio ideas, read our article, “How to Keep Your Cat Safe Outdoors.”

Toys & Games

Just like us, cats need both novelty and predictability. If you give them the same toy every day, that would be like us being forced to watch the same rerun television show daily – we’d quickly tire of it. Cats bore easily if you use the same play tactic over and over, so vary the games on a daily basis.

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Cats also need predictability in the form of a scheduled routine when they can depend upon you to be ready for play. Choose a playtime that works for your schedule, such as every evening after supper (younger cats need 2-3 play periods a day).

Your cat is designed to hunt its own dinner. You can simulate this behavior and satisfy their inner hunter with toys. You can spend loads of money buying expensive cat toys, but some of the “toys” cats love best are free or low-cost items you may already have on hand:

  • Paper bags (handles removed for safety)
  • Crumpled-up pieces of paper
  • Foil balls
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Cardboard rolls from toilet paper or paper towels. Use a sharp pencil to poke holes in the tube. Put a few treats inside to rattle around, and then fold the ends of the tube down to keep the treats inside for a little bit while your cat bats the tube around.
  • Alphabet magnets
  • Ping-pong balls
  • Hair band tied to a string (pull it across the floor)
  • Laser pointer (take care not to shine these in your cat’s eyes). Hide treats in a new location and use the pointer to gradually guide your kitty toward the hidden area, allowing her to “kill” the treat.

Kitty Ping-Pong

Put two or more ping-pong balls in a large cardboard box or an empty bathtub. Close the drain stopper and encourage your cat to jump in and bat the balls around.

Cat Maze

Cut holes in a bunch of boxes and create a maze:

Alphabet Game

Place a few alphabet magnets on the lower half of your oven, dishwasher, or fridge (as long as you don’t mind the appliance getting scratched), or on a magnet board. Your cat will love batting the letters around. Who knows… kitty may even learn how to spell some words!


Cats love to chase and pounce, so buy some inexpensive catnip-filled toys, door-mounted toys, motion-activated balls and battery-operated toys to keep your cat entertained.

Like small children, cats get quickly bored with their toys, so rotate in one or two at a time. Twice a day, set a timer for 5 minutes and play with your cat. Test a variety of squeaky mice, funky feathers, twirly tops, and dangly doodads.

Take extra care to put away small toys when you’re not actively supervising your cat – you might be surprised at the number of toy mice and hair ties we’ve had to surgically remove from kitties’ digestive tracts.

KONG offers a huge variety of cat toys, from the popular Kitty KONG toy and treat dispenser to a laser teaser ribbon.

Scent Enrichment and Foraging Games

You can also bring the outside in (provided your cat is current on vaccinations and deworming). Select some rocks, leaves, sticks, and tree branches to stimulate your cat’s senses.

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Put leaves in a box and toss in a few treats for your cat to hunt for.

You can also hide food puzzles or food balls around your home (or under rocks and tree branches) so your cat can practice their foraging skills. Place treats in a new hiding spot each day.

Cats quickly get used to smells, so rotate new “scented” items in regularly.

Exercise Wheel or Treadmill

There are exercise wheels made specifically for cats (they look like giant hamster wheels). You can also train your cat to walk/jog/run on a human treadmill, as shown in this hilarious video.

Begin the personal training when your kitty is young, if possible. Start at a slow speed and gradually increase the pace.

Training & Tricks

Similar to their canine counterparts, cats can be trained to sit, lie down, roll over, shake hands, high-five, come when called, walk on a leash, and yes… jump through hoops.

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

You can even teach your cat to skateboard!

This video includes tips for teaching your cat a new trick.


Video & Audio

Environmental Enrichment Activities for Indoor Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Some cats like watching TV, particularly when the “shows” are designed for cats. This 5-hour YouTube video pairs relaxing music with birds flying around.

Your kitty may also enjoy videos that feature aquariums, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and of course, mice.

Cats have specific preferences when it comes to music. Felines don’t usually like “human” music such as heavy metal and pop (and they’ll probably turn up their nose to the soundtrack from Cats).

Cats are attracted to soothing nature sounds, new age and classical music. If you want to create a playlist, cats enjoy the sound frequencies of the piano, harp, cello, and flute – instruments you’ll hear in compositions by Vivaldi, Puccini, and Tchaikovsky.

Discerning cats might love this soundtrack by The Piano Guys of “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen. The song includes themes from Vivaldi’s Winter.

You and your furry friend will enjoy listening to it together!

4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Away from Your Cat

Gingerbread houses. Turkey and ham. Glittery tree ornaments. These holiday delights can be irresistible to your cat, but they can also be dangerous.

4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Your Cat Away From | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Here are 4 quick tips to keep your kitty safe and healthy during the holidays.

1. Don’t feed your cat leftovers or table scraps.

Fat-laden holiday foods can contribute to inflammation of the pancreas, causing discomfort and digestive trouble.

2. Don’t give the cat a bone, especially a poultry bone!

Cats love to jump on tables and steal things the second your back is turned. Keep cooked turkey bones out of your cat’s reach. These sharp bones can splinter and get stuck in your cat’s throat or digestive tract or cut into intestinal tissues.

3. Don’t feed your cat raw turkey giblets, kidneys, liver, or necks.

Since we’re talking turkey, when you’re prepping your turkey, double-bag the “innards” that are included inside the raw turkey and dispose of them. Raw meats are often contaminated with bacteria that can cause diarrhea, cramps, and upset tummies… or worse.

4. Keep kitty away from the Christmas tree.

This is a tough challenge, because cats love to play with the shiny, dangling ornaments and tinsel. They also enjoy drinking the toxic water at the base of the tree, climbing the tree, knocking over the tree, sharpening their claws on the trunk… you name it!

Both  artificial and live trees pose risks to your cat.

  • If they eat the needles off a live tree, it can puncture their intestines. If they eat the needles off an artificial tree (which is usually sprayed with fire retardant), they can experience intestinal blockage or thyroid disease.
  • If they swallow tinsel or ornaments, they can experience internal cuts and intestinal blockage.
  • If they chew dangling tree lights or extension cords, they can penetrate the insulation around the cords and get a severe tongue burn or electric shock.

5 Tips for Cat-Proofing Your Tree

4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Your Cat Away From | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

To deter your curious kitty from exploring or chewing on the tree, try spritzing a bitter apple spray, Citronella oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon or orange scent around the tree. Cats don’t like citrus scent, so you could also scatter orange peels under the tree.

To keep your cat from drinking chemically-treated tree water (which can be highly toxic), wrap aluminum foil over the base filled with water.

To stop kitty from chewing the bottom branches, spray the bottom limbs with tabasco sauce.

When hanging ornaments, tie them on with string or twine, rather than metal hooks (but be vigilant, as cats like to eat string, too!). Hang your most delicate decorations near the top of the tree.

Most importantly, keep your cat out of the room where the tree is located unless you are carefully supervising your cat!

6 Benefits of Veterinary House Calls

Most pets enjoy coming to see us. However, your furbaby may have a different opinion on the subject (we understand and don’t take it personally).
6 Benefits of Veterinary House Calls | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

You may want to consider a veterinary house call – a blend of our commitment to exceptional veterinary care and old-fashioned service, brought to your door.

House calls allow us to observe pets in their natural environment, which can prompt wonderful discussions about their care.

Benefits of house calls

1. Shy pet?

Many of our patients are more at ease in the comfortable, familiar, and calm environment of their own home.

2. Multiple pets?

A veterinary house call may be easier than bringing several pets to the clinic.

3. Pet with mobility issues?

Senior pets, pets with arthritis, or those neurologic problems may have a hard time getting around. We can come to you instead!

4. Busy schedule? Small children?

With a veterinary house call there’s no traffic and no waiting.

5. Don’t drive? Hate traffic?

Let us come to you! House calls are scheduled weekdays for pets who live within our service area in the following ZIP codes:

  • 98040
  • 98108
  • 98118
  • 98122
  • 98134
  • 98144

6. On a budget?

House calls can also be added to your pet’s Wellness Plan, a budget-friendly way to provide all the recommended preventive care for your pet.

What’s possible in a veterinary house call

We can discuss a variety of topics and conduct any of the following types of examinations during a house call:

Each appointment typically lasts about 45 minutes, allowing the doctor and veterinary nurse to spend quality one-on-one time with you and offer comprehensive health, nutritional and behavioral guidance.

The doctor will review the exam findings with you and recommend a treatment plan for your approval. Most lab tests performed during the house call will typically have results back to you the next day. Following the visit, you can access your pet’s medical records and lab results through our complimentary online pet portal.

Services outside the scope of what we are capable of accomplishing within a house call visit will be referred back to our hospital, where we’ll provide continuity of care and communication through our doctors and staff – folks you know and trust. These cases include those needing hospitalization and intensive care, surgery, and other diagnostic procedures like x-rays or ultrasound.

Hospice care house calls

Click the link to learn about our hospice care house calls.

To schedule a house call, phone Atlantic Veterinary Hospital, 206-323-4433 or email us. Hope to see you soon — at YOUR home!

How to Keep Outdoor Cats Warm in Winter

Insulated cat shelter

We’d prefer your cats are curled up at your feet on a cold winter night, but not all cats want to or are able to live indoors.

Here are some creative ideas for keeping outdoor cats (owned and feral) cozy in winter.

Outdoor Housing

Outdoor cats appreciate a warm place to curl up at night. This insulated cat shelter (pictured above) from K&H Pet Products is perfect for cats who sleep on porches and in garages or barns.

The shelter features a heated bed and two exits with removable clear door flaps to protect kitty from the elements.

Microwaveable Heating Pads

SnuggleSafe Heat Pads are a wonderful means of providing warmth on a cold night without the worry of electrical cords.

They’re used in veterinary hospitals, as well, to keep warm our recovering, young, and geriatric patients.

After microwaving the Frisbee-size disk per the manufacturer’s specific instructions, they provide warmth for 6-8 hours, sans cord.

Help Stop the Spread of Feral Cats

All cats, whether feral or owned, need to be spayed or neutered to help prevent the sad perpetuation of the feral cat problem in the United States.

Feeding unaltered cats, while noble, contributes to the birth of more feral kittens.

Trap/neuter/release programs, such as the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project, provide a safe, no-cost or low-cost means of altering free-roaming and tame/pet cats. These programs help thousands of cats every year.

Sugar-Free Products Containing Xylitol Can Kill Your Dog

A pet owner called us in a panic after their dog ate a chocolate-covered gummy bear.

Since the ingredients weren’t listed on the bag or on the manufacturer’s website, we couldn’t determine whether the gummy bear was sugar-free, potentially containing xylitol.

Sugar-Free Products Containing Xylitol Can Kill Your Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

Xylitol is deadly to dogs, even in tiny quantities.

After a dog eats a product containing xylitol, their blood sugar takes an immediate and irreversible dive, causing them to seizure and die. Treatment is rarely effective.

One stick of chewed sugar-free gum containing xylitol can kill a large dog – it’s that toxic.

Xylitol is a common ingredient in:

  • sugar-free foods
  • yogurt
  • peanut butter
  • baked goods
  • toothpaste
  • candy
  • chewing gum
  • mints
  • laxatives and other human medications

Sorbitol can affect some dogs, but seems to be less toxic in most.

Erithritol, maltilol, stevia, and aspartame are not toxic to dogs.

What to do if you think your dog was poisoned

Call your regular veterinarian or local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. The sooner we can start appropriate treatment, the better.

Call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline: (888) 426-4435 (fee-based).

Or call the Pet Poison Helpline (fee-based).

Learn more about dog hazards and toxins

This article on our blog warns you about 19 household items that can poison your dog

Animal Poison Control Center Podcast

Download a free mobile app from the Animal Poison Control Center that will:

  • help you identify over 300 potential hazards and toxins found in and around the home
  • provide crucial information about the severity of the problem
  • suggest critical next steps
Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.