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How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling

How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.comWith Washington’s phased-in approach to school re-opening, many Seattle-area students are doing a combination of distance learning, hybrid learning, and homeschooling.

Incorporating your dog or cat into your child’s at-home education is a fun way to enhance your child’s learning.

  • Pets can be the focus of a unit of study.
  • Pets can motivate your student to problem-solve, practice responsibility, and become a proficient reader.

Let’s explore the many ways your furry family members provide built-in opportunities for learning.

Pet Care

How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.com

Caring for a pet not only teaches your child to be responsible, it also helps them practice empathy, creative thinking, organizational and time-management skills.

Caring for a pet means understanding and meeting their basic needs, such as daily feeding, changing their water, grooming, cleaning up after them, and keeping the home environment as clean as possible.

It also means learning:

  • How to handle and treat a pet appropriately
  • Which foods are nutritious and which are dangerous for your pet
  • Why pets require regular veterinary check-ups and vaccines
  • How to provide comfortable and safe play and sleep areas. This might involve planning or constructing a dog house or a cat playground or obstacle course.

An important part of pet care for dog owners is taking them on daily walks. Exercise is great for both your child and your dog, and the need for a walk is the perfect excuse to take mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks to burn off energy.

“Recess” is also the perfect time to have active play sessions with your cat or dog.

Emotional Support

How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.com

Adjusting to the “new normal” isn’t easy. Adults and children alike are experiencing heightened anxiety and stress. Doggy kisses and kitty snuggles are surefire ways to boost morale and provide the companionship we crave.

Social Skills

If your child is accustomed to being around other students and teachers all day in a school setting, the absence of in-person interaction can be disconcerting. While pets aren’t great at carrying on conversations, they are good listeners. Your child can practice their reading skills by reading aloud to a pet.

They can boost their confidence in speaking to the teacher during Zoom sessions by practicing a presentation to an audience of dogs and cats.

Lesson Plans that Include Pets

You can also include pets as an integral part of the curriculum. Here are some subject-area ideas to try:

Language Arts

How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.com
  • Write a story about your pet.
  • Write a story or essay from your pet’s point-of-view.
  • Illustrate your story and bind it into a handmade book.
  • Read the completed story to your pet.
  • Learn to pronounce and spell the names of dog and cat breeds (Dachshund, Rottweiler, Lhasa Apso, Sokoke, Khaomanee, and Siamese are challenging).


How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.com
  • Measure and weigh your pet’s food.
  • Create a chart, spreadsheet or budget that shows the weekly cost of food, toys, and veterinary care for your pet.
  • When learning addition, multiplication, or even calculus, your child can create story problems that include your pet.
  • Compare and contrast the impact of adding a new pet to your household.


  • Study different breeds of cats and dogs and identify the unique traits of each breed.
  • Study animal behavior.
  • Learn about animal organ systems: respiratory, circulatory, skeletal, nervous, digestive, and reproductive.
  • Discover why cats typically sleep 13-14 hours per day, or 70% of their lives (this can also be a math lesson).

History and Geography

  • Read books and watch documentaries about when and where certain breeds of dogs originated, and the purposes for which they were bred (herding, hunting, racing, retrieving, guarding).
  • Learn the history of domesticated cats.
  • Study the role of cats in ancient Egypt.
  • Learn about animal rights, animal preservation, and endangered species.


How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.com
  • As your child teaches their dog to shake hands or fetch, discuss the effects of positive and negative reinforcement.
  • Build a maze and study whether your pet can make their way through it to find their favorite treat.
  • Discover why cats narrow their eyes, do a “slow blink,” or purr.
  • Compare normal pet behavior with behaviors that develop when a pet is ill or anxious.

Pets as a Career

How to Incorporate Pets into Homeschooling | atlanticvetseattle.com
  • Join 4H or Scouts to learn about raising and training many types of animals.
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter.
  • Visit a therapy dog training program.
  • Learn about the types of jobs that allow you to work with cats and dogs: veterinary technician, veterinary nurse, pet psychologist, veterinarian, veterinary epidemiologist, veterinary radiologist, veterinary nutritionist, groomer, pet sitter, service dog trainer, and many more!

You’ll find hands-on activities, lesson plans, and book studies at American Kennel Club Educator Resources.

7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home

In Part 1 of this series, we shared practical tips for teaching your cat or dog appropriate “office behavior” when you’re working from home.

What happens when you return to a job that’s outside your home?7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home | atlanticvetseattle.comWhen you’re not around full-time, your pet won’t receive as much playtime, exercise, and the on-demand snuggles to which she has become accustomed.

  • Will your pet panic?
  • Will both of you experience separation anxiety?
  • How will you adjust to being apart all day?

When you are at home during your off-hours, will your pet cling to you 24/7, whining and scratching at the door while you’re taking a shower?

How can you gradually ease your pet into a routine that includes being left alone for much of the day?

Preparing your pet for the transition

Training your pet to be emotionally independent is similar to teaching her appropriate home-office behavior.

In our article on home-office training, we suggested that you not “reward” attention-seeking behavior (such as incessant vocalizing or plopping atop your keyboard) by petting or scolding your pet. Instead, provide her with activities that will keep her occupied and content.

In the same manner, you don’t want to unintentionally “reward” your pet for behaviors that may occur when you’re away from home, such as:

  • pawing at windows and doors when you leave
  • howling and whining
  • chewing or destroying your personal possessions while you’re away
  • soiling in the house

These behaviors are distress signals that your pet is feeling anxious or bored, and needs help learning to self-soothe.

If you know that you’ll soon be working outside the home, begin weaning your pet away from you now, and establish routines of what life will be like when you’re away.

Your pet needs practice regulating their emotions when they’re not by your side (or on your lap).

7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home | atlanticvetseattle.com

Step 1:

Start by restricting your pet’s access to you. Crate train your pet or set up a pet gate in an area where they can see you, but not be in physical contact with you.

Step 2:

After they’ve become comfortable with being physically apart but still having visual contact, train them to be alone. Have an active play session with your pet or take them for a long walk. After they’ve had a chance to release pent-up energy, put them in another room with a food puzzle or a favorite toy to keep them entertained. Close the door. Check on your pet regularly at first, gradually increasing the intervals of their time alone.

Step 3:

Help your pet get used to the idea of you being away by leaving home more frequently. Give them a chew toy or food puzzle to work on while you’re gone. Gradually increase the duration of your time away.

Whether you stay away from home for a few minutes or a few hours, focus on making every “goodbye” and “hello” consistently calm, casual, and positive. This will help your pet understand that your comings and goings are normal.

Step 4:

Gradually ease your pet out of your work-from-home routines. Pets are very routine oriented can be demanding if you abruptly change their regular schedule. To help them acclimate to a new schedule, try this: If you feed your pet every morning at 8 a.m., change that up by feeding them at 7 or 9 a.m. This will help them learn to cope with random deviations in their schedule or move to a new schedule altogether.

Step 5:

Don’t take your pet outside to play or on a walk during hours you will normally be at work. Your goal here is to help your pet get used to new routines.

Step 6:

If you have nearby neighbors, let them know that you’re returning to work. Ask your neighbors to listen for signs of distress, such as incessant barking, and to let you know what they observe so you can adjust accordingly. Or consider some of the new pet-cams so you can keep an eye on how your pet is adjusting to your new schedule.

Step 7:

Engage the services of a neighbor, friend, or professional to pop in a couple of times throughout the workday to walk your pet or to take your pet on a playdate.

If your pet has trouble adjusting

Getting started now will help make your pet’s adjustment to your new routine go more smoothly. A gradual transition to more independence, instead of an abrupt change, will help keep your relationship with your pet healthy and her quality of life in a positive realm.

If the transition back to working away from home does not go well, here are six suggestions to consider:

7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home | atlanticvetseattle.com

1. Doggie daycare

This alternative can help energetic dogs who enjoy the companionship of other dogs. Look for a facility that provides space to run and play and includes a variety of activities to physically and mentally stimulate your dog.

2. In-home dog sharing

Some dogs don’t thrive in doggie daycare and crave more human one-on-one interaction. Consider teaming up with another pet owner who works a different schedule and take turns “co-parenting” each other’s dogs.

3. Come home for lunch

If your workplace is close to your home, take your lunch break at home and spend quality time with your pet.

4. Add another pet

Much like adding a second (or third) child to a family, adding another pet can enrich everyone’s lives. It also means adding responsibilities, training, and an adjustment period. Here’s a helpful article from the American Kennel Club on the pros and cons of getting a second dog.

5. Provide toys and treats designed to stimulate interest and enjoyment

Dogs, in particular, love to chew, but when they’re distressed or agitated, they tend to chew the wrong things. We recommend chew toys and treats from KONG and West Paw. These companies make a wide variety of chew toys, including toys packed with a few treats and a little peanut butter for dogs, or a timed feeder for cats.

For more ideas, see our article: Why Dogs Chew Stuff, and How to Encourage Appropriate Chewing.

6. Work with a veterinary behaviorist

For cases of moderate-to-severe separation anxiety, you may want to consult with a behaviorist or ask about prescription anti-anxiety medication. To be most effective and to avoid pets doing harm to themselves and their home, these measures need to be implemented at the earliest sign of separation anxiety.

If you think you and your pet need this level of assistance, please submit an appointment request or call 206.323.4433 to make an appointment or so we can discuss medications and possibly, a referral.

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog

Many work-from-home pet parents tell us they’re happier, less stressed, and are getting more exercise because of the constant company of their pet.

An added benefit of being around our pets all day is that we’re noticing potential symptoms of illness or injury at earlier stages and are scheduling important veterinary care on a regular basis.

On the other hand, pets who incessantly beg for our attention can distract us from our work. Like this:

Cats on the Keyboard

You’ve probably been on a Zoom call where someone’s cat (perhaps your cat) stuck its nose into the camera, meandered across the keyboard, jostled the device, or disconnected the call.

Cats love the warmth of a computer and they can’t resist the enticing movement they see on the screen. Plus, they like being the center of attention. When they sprawl across your keyboard and you “reward” them by petting them or talking to them, they think, “This is a great place to be. I’ll just stay here!”

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

This attention-seeking behavior is not conducive to meeting work deadlines. Instead of reinforcing the behavior, train your cat to break the habit by setting up a comfortable, warm deskside bed or by placing a cat blanket on a cleared-off shelf or windowsill. Reward your cat with attention and praise when it settles there.

Purposeful Playtime for Cats

Make sure you give your kitty plenty of love and attention when you’re away from the keyboard. Cats need mental challenges and purposeful playtime.

Schedule two or three 10-minute play sessions each day. The first one should take place before you start work.

This will tire kitty out a bit and will prepare them for naptime in their deskside bed. During each playtime, actively engage with your cat, rotating toys every few minutes.

Destructive Dogs

Dogs aren’t as keen on keyboards as cats are, but when they get stir-crazy, dogs can bark incessantly, chew things you don’t want them to touch, and generally destroy things.

They, too, need lots of mental and physical exercise. Try these 6 brain games to keep your dog’s mind healthy.

Pre-Workday Quality Time

Before you begin your workday (and again, later in the day), take your dog for a walk. Walks help keep their muscles strong, their joints limber, and their brains sharp. They’re good for you, too!

Prior to starting work, take 20 minutes to play scent games, puzzle games, hide-and-seek, and other interactive games.

Time spent together will deepen your bond and will tire your pup out, which helps deter negative attention-seeking behaviors such as whining and barking.

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

When you’re on a video or phone call, keep your dog busy and distracted by giving them their favorite toy or a frozen treat.

Create a consistent routine by setting up a space for your dog that’s independent of your workspace. It might be a crate or a gated area in your home. It should be comfortable and your dog should feel safe and relaxed there. Give your dog toys and treat puzzles to keep them engaged on their own.

Reward Appropriate “Office” Behavior

The most important thing to remember when working at home with pets is not to reward attention-seeking behavior. When they commandeer the keyboard or whine, paw, or nudge you, don’t talk to them or pet them. When you respond to these behaviors, it signals your pet that they will always get your attention by doing these things.

Don’t punish or scold your pet for these behaviors, either. Instead, thoughtfully provide your furry friend with activities that will keep them occupied and content. Reward them with a treat when they exhibit appropriate office behavior.

5 Steps to Introducing a New Kitten to Your Resident Cat

“My cat wants a kitten to play with!”

Well… maybe.

5 Steps to Introducing a New Kitten to Your Resident Cat | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

While your resident cat may be laid back and good-natured, all cats are territorial. Adding a tiny, frisky fluffball may trigger panic, jealousy, moodiness, aggression, and other negative behaviors in your resident cat.

To lessen the stress on everyone, follow these 5 steps:

Step 1: Prepare your resident cat before the kitten arrives

When your resident cat recognizes the scent of the new kitten, they are less likely to feel threatened. If possible, take a pet blanket to the shelter or place from which you’ll be adopting the kitten and rub your kitten’s scent into the blanket. When you arrive home, place the blanket in an area where your cat will find it on their own and become familiar with the scent.

If you free-feed your existing cat, switch to meal feeding before bringing home the kitten. Scheduled mealtimes establish a predictable, comforting routine.

Step 2: Prepare your home before the kitten arrives

It’s tempting to put the new kitten and resident cat in a room together and let them duke it out. Don’t do that!

Both cats need time to adjust to each other’s presence before meeting in person (or rather, “in cat”). They also need a safe space to retreat to when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

5 Steps to Introducing a New Kitten to Your Resident Cat | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Prepare separate spaces for each cat that can be shut off from the rest of the home. A utility room, office, spare bedroom, or bathroom might work well. Equip each space with the kitty’s bed, a safe hiding spot, soft items that absorb the cat’s scent, a scratching post, water bowl, food bowl, favorite toys, and litter box.

Step 3: Introduce your cats by scent

A great deal of your cats’ communication is based on scent, so it’s important to create a positive “scent” association for both cats before they meet.

On the day your kitten arrives, put your resident cat in another room with its favorite things (see Step 2). Give your kitten a tour of the home and then settle the kitten into its own private space.

Now you can let your resident cat out of its space. Let your cat smell your kitten-scented hands and clothes and give the cat treats.

During the first few days, allow each cat to explore the other’s territory and get comfortable with each other’s scent without seeing each other.

This video offers helpful tips on how to teach your cats to “scents” each other.

Step 4: Create a socially distanced meet-and-greet

Once your cat and kitten get used to each other’s scents, allow them to see each other through a pet gate, a screen door, or to sniff under the door of the other cat’s “safe room.”

At mealtime, set their food bowls on either side of a closed door (not too close together at first). This lets each cat sense that there’s another cat on the other side of the door.

After both cats begin behaving normally when in close proximity, you can allow them to meet.

Step 5: Informally introduce your kitten and cat

When both cats seem ready to meet face-to-face, without a barrier between them, bring one cat into the room and engage it in active play and/or with treats. Enlist the help of another person, and have them bring the other cat into the room and do the same.

Closely monitor each cats’ body language for warning signs such as hissing, growling, arching, skittishness, hostile actions, and signs of distress. Be ready with blankets to quickly and calmly separate them should either cat become aggressive.

Keep the introduction short, rewarding each cat with praise and treats. As the cats begin to tolerate and accept each other, gradually increase their time together.

As your kitten and cat begin to interact freely, continue to pay close attention to their behavior. Normal, non-aggressive play may include pouncing, running, rolling, batting, hiding, chasing, and competing for toys and attention. Be prepared to separate them quickly should playful behavior evolve into aggressive fighting.

Depending on both cats’ temperaments, the introduction process will take at least a week – possibly much longer.

Be patient with your kitten and cat as they get acquainted. Reward them for appropriate behavior. Before long, your kitties will hopefully develop mutual respect and maybe even a lifelong friendship.

Pandemic Puppies: 15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World

Think about all the ways a child learns to socialize with others from birth through the middle school years.

Now think about a puppy. One month of a puppy’s life is equivalent to approximately one year of a human child’s life. That’s why it’s critical to prepare your puppy to interact with people, other animals, and new situations when they are 8-to-14 weeks old.

Pandemic Puppies: 15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World | atlanticvetseattle.com

While socializing a puppy during a pandemic is more challenging, we can successfully help our pups learn socialization skills. We just have to be intentional about it. Similar to homeschooling our human children, we need to homeschool our puppies.

Think of it as “puppy pre-school.”

Here are 15 fun and easy ways you can socialize your puppy during that critical age of 8-to-14 weeks, to help them develop into a happy, confident, well-mannered dog.

Sight experiences

Pandemic Puppies: 15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World | atlanticvetseattle.com

With face masks required in most public areas, it’s important to get your pup accustomed to seeing humans wearing masks. Inside your home, put on your mask, praise and treat your puppy, and then take off your mask. Repeat until your puppy is unfazed by face coverings.

In addition to practicing with face masks, train your puppy to interact with a “stranger” by wearing different hats, gloves, sunglasses, and clothing in the house and yard (do these things one at a time, not all in one day!).

Sound experiences

Pandemic Puppies: 15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World | atlanticvetseattle.com

You want your puppy to remain calm when out in busy, loud public places where sudden sounds are likely to occur. Gradually expose your puppy to a variety of everyday sounds:

  • phone ringtones
  • electronic devices
  • hair dryer
  • vacuum cleaner
  • pots and pans clanking
  • shower or bathtub (running water)
  • microwave
  • radio and TV
  • various forms of music
  • doors opening and shutting
  • doorbell
  • garbage trucks
  • traffic sounds

Watch for signs of stress, and make each new noise exposure experience as positive as possible by rewarding your pup with a treat and acting calm and happy around the sound.

Tactile experiences

Pandemic Puppies: 15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World | atlanticvetseattle.com

Expose your puppy to a new tactile experience each day by introducing them to a variety of surfaces. Never force your puppy to step on these surfaces – allow them to take their time approaching and stepping on new surfaces, and reassure and reward them often.

  • Concrete
  • Linoleum
  • Hardwood
  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Carpet
  • Rubberized doormats
  • Grass
  • Leaves
  • Mud

Of course, go for a walk in the rain so your pup gets accustomed to walking on wet surfaces.

Set up a simple “obstacle course” and encourage your puppy to walk over, under, and around objects with different textures, such as a pillow, cookie sheet, cardboard box, or skateboard.


This video includes practical tips for creating fun socializing events.

Experiences with humans

During social distancing, fewer people will approach, asking to pet your puppy. To help your puppy get used to meeting new people, try these strategies:

  • If you live with others, encourage every member of your household to spend one-on-one time cuddling, feeding, grooming, and playing with your puppy.
  • Prepare your puppy for the different ways people will pet them. Pat them on the head. Scratch under their chin. Pet them against the grain of their fur, praising as you pet. If your puppy gets anxious, stop and try again later.
  • Go for regular, short car rides to get your puppy used to traveling in a car.
  • Drive to a local strip mall and sit in the parking lot. Give your puppy treats as you watch the action.
  • Walk them around in the parking lot or on a sidewalk. When someone approaches, praise and give your puppy a treat until that person passes.
  • Briefly stop and talk with others, while maintaining a safe distance from each other.

Experiences with animals

Practicing social distancing when encountering other dogs is ideal for your puppy, because you don’t want your pup to have a close encounter with an aggressive dog.

When you take your puppy for a walk and they spot another dog and want to stop and watch that dog walk by, let them. This helps your puppy understand that seeing other dogs is normal.

Practice walking past dogs in fenced yards who bark or run along with you. Watch your puppy’s reaction. Reassure your puppy and give them bits of food to reinforce appropriate behavior.

If there are dogs in your neighborhood that you trust to be well-mannered with your puppy, arrange short, positive doggy play dates while maintaining a safe distance from the other owner.

Alone Time

Pandemic Puppies: 15 Tips for Socializing Your Puppy in a Socially Distant World | atlanticvetseattle.com

Learning to be without people around is as important as learning to be with them. While you may be working from home now, if you anticipate returning to a job outside the home, it’s important to create structured alone-time by crate training your puppy.

To help your puppy feel safe and less anxiety when you’re away, get an appropriately sized crate or set up a gated area (here’s a helpful article on how to crate train your dog in 9 easy steps).

Put your puppy in their crate or other safe area for a total of at least 2-4 hours a day. During that time, you and other household members should be in another part of the house.

Snuggle time

Most puppies love to be held, petted, and snuggled. Get your dog used to different types of handling by gently touching and examining their paws, nails, eyes, ears, mouth and tail several times each week (this will prepare them to visit the vet, too!).

Groom your puppy with a dog brush for 3-to-5 minutes per day.

Petting your puppy not only helps them feel more bonded to you, but it’s good therapy for you, too!


Puppies, like humans, thrive on routine. Make sure that your puppy eats, plays, and naps around the same time each day. As restrictions loosen and you begin to transition into your “new normal” life, your puppy will be ready to face the world with confidence.

How to Protect Your Pet from Heartworm Disease

Two of our dog patients have tested positive for heartworm disease this month. That’s the first time we’ve seen this in over 10 years, so we wanted to provide you with some important information about what to watch for in your dog or cat.

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic roundworm that lives inside the heart and blood vessels of a dog or cat’s lungs. While the disease is preventable, hundreds of thousands of cats and dogs are infected every year.

How to Protect Your Cat from Heartworm Disease | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

How is heartworm disease transmitted?

Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and is found in every state, every climate, and every season. During the winter months, mosquitoes hang out in warm environments such as garages and greenhouses, which means that pet parents must take prevention seriously year-round.

High-risk cities for heartworm disease

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) the 10 metro areas across the United States that experienced the biggest increase in canine heartworm disease during February 2019 are:

  1. Salt Lake City, UT
  2. Alexandria, VA
  3. Riverside, CA
  4. Topeka, KS
  5. El Paso, TX
  6. Paterson, NJ
  7. Chesapeake, VA
  8. Reno, NV
  9. Modesto, CA
  10. Boise, ID

Notice the prevalence of western states mentioned: Two in California, plus Idaho and Nevada. Heartworm risk has now arrived in Seattle, too.

Bad news, good news

The bad news is that early signs of heartworm disease are generally unnoticeable or invisible. Your pet could appear 100% healthy while the parasites are quietly making themselves right at home. Left untreated, heartworm disease can be debilitating and even fatal.

The good news is that protection is simple: Get your pet tested every year, and administer a heartworm preventive year-round.

Heartworm in cats

Cats are less susceptible to heartworm disease than dogs, but even indoor cats can get infected. The feline version of heartworm disease is different than the canine version. One or two worms feeding on a cat’s lungs can send a cat’s immune system into overdrive, causing inflammation of the lungs and respiratory distress.

Not all cats with heartworm disease show symptoms, but common symptoms include rapid or labored breathing, coughing, decreased appetite, weight loss, and lethargy.

Unfortunately, heartworm disease in cats is lethal and cannot be treated, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats. It’s important to have your cat screened for heartworm disease, and to start your feline on a preventive no later than 8 weeks of age.

Heartworm in dogs

How to Protect Your Pet from Heartworm Disease | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

A single bite from an infected mosquito can infect your dog. In dogs, the disease usually attacks the heart and lungs. Adult heartworms can grow to over a foot in length, wreaking devastation on a dog’s circulatory system.

It’s extremely important to have your dog screened for heartworm disease, and to start your puppy on a preventive no later than 8 weeks of age (Heartworm Society)

If your pet is due for a heartworm screening, needs a preventive, or you’re concerned about the possibility of heartworm disease, call us at 206-323-4433.



10 Things You Need to Know About Heartworm and Your Dog (Pet Health Network)

Five Things You Need to Know About Heartworm Disease and Your Cat (Pet Health Network)

Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC)

7 Ways to Care for Your Pet Without Breaking the Bank

How can you provide the best care for your pets while keeping costs reasonable? By taking steps to reduce the chances your pet will require expensive, unplanned medical care and expenses.

7 Ways to Care for Your Pet Without Breaking the Bank | AtlanticVetSeattle.comHere are some ideas to help:

1.  Get Regular Wellness Checkups

Prevention is always better (and less expensive) than a cure. Pets’ metabolism hums along at a rate 7-10 times faster than our own, so disease processes move faster too. Pets often hide illnesses and your “seems healthy to me” pet may not be as well as you think.

Action Step: Make sure your adult pets (age 1-7 years) are seen by their veterinarian for a complete wellness physical at least once a year, and senior pets (age 8+ years) are seen at least twice a year.

Keep up with the vet’s preventive care recommendations, such as routine vaccinations, internal and external parasite prevention, screening lab tests, and dental care.

2.  Keep Your Pet at A Healthy Weight

So many diseases in humans and pets can trace their origin to being overweight or obese. We see increased rates of arthritis, cancer, and diabetes in overweight pets, as well as more skin problems and urinary tract infections. Overweight pets die at a younger age.

Action Step: Some pet owners don’t recognize that their pet is overweight – ask us about some simple tools we can provide to help determine if your pet’s weight is healthy and be sure to discuss slimming strategies with our doctors if your pet needs help.

3.  Take Care of Your Pet’s Teeth

Dental health is an extremely important part of keeping pets (and people) healthy. Dental disease can lead to tooth loss and oral cancer.  Infection, inflammation, and pain in the mouth contributes to inflammation and infection in other parts of the body, such as internal organs and joints.

Pets with good dental health throughout their life can live 2-4 years longer – that’s often a 25% increase in lifespan!

4.  Regularly Exercise Your Pet

Moderate daily exercise is imperative for cats and dogs to keep your muscles and joints healthy, as well as their minds. No need to run 10 miles, but twice a day walks for dogs (even senior dogs) and daily active play time for cats immensely improves their quality of life, keeping their muscles strong, joints limber, and brains sharp. And it’s good for you too!

5.  Pet-Proof Your Home and Yard

6.  Budget For Well Pet Care & Emergencies

Wellness plans and pet insurance are two products to consider to help avoid unwelcome spikes in your family budget when your pet needs care, whether preventive care or medical care for an illness or injury.

Knowing the difference between a wellness plan and insurance is important.

Wellness plans spread the cost of routine preventive care (routine exams, vaccines, lab work, and procedures such as dental cleanings) you were planning to purchase any way over 12 months. They often include modest perks such as discounts, free nail trims, etc., making routine care a line item in a family budget.

Pet insurance, on the other hand, is useful in the case of unplanned illness or injury, helping to pay for surgery, non-routine laboratory tests, hospitalization – a product that you’re glad to have if your pet needs it, but are actually hoping that he or she doesn’t.

Alternatively, you can “self-insure” and be prepared for an emergency with a pet emergency health savings account by putting away funds each month in a special account reserved just for your pet and having room on a credit card if an emergency comes up before your savings account reaches a sizable balance.

7.  Spay or Neuter Your Pet

While recommendations for the timing of spaying and neutering is evolving with new evidence, the fact remains that unaltered pets are considerably more likely to get lost, develop undesirable behaviors, have an increased risk of certain health problems, and contribute to the pet over-population problem with an unplanned mating. If your pet is not spayed or neutered yet, please discuss this with our doctors.

Why Does My Dog Scoot?

Aargh! Your dog is scooting his butt on the carpet, or the grass, or even worse, the sidewalk. What in the world is that all about?

Why Does My Dog Scoot? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

It’s a pain in the butt – literally!

While most dogs can reach their backend to lick at an itch or an irritation, sometimes a rougher surface is what they think will help relieve the itch or pain “back there.” Unfortunately, scooting can have some undesirable effects on a dog’s tender nether regions, causing skin abrasions and creating a mess on your carpet.

Two major reasons dogs scoot

Overly full or infected anal glands are two of the most common reasons dogs will scoot. Anal glands, located under the skin just to the side of the anus (at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock position) make a smelly, oily substance that dogs and cats use to mark their territory.

Some dogs, such as pugs, beagles, and basset hounds, make a lot more of the substance than required for the job, or the normal outflow tract becomes clogged. The glands’ tiny openings at the anus are near a big source of bacteria (poop), and occasionally, the glands can also become infected and abscessed.

Why Does My Dog Scoot? | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Seasonal allergies

Dogs with seasonal allergies often have itchy butts and will also scoot. The itch can be so severe they’ll cause painful abrasions to the area. Fortunately, some brand new prescription medications, such as CytoPoint and Apoquel bring many dogs safe, welcome relief from their allergy symptoms with minimal side effects.

Serious conditions to be aware of

Unfortunately, a few very serious conditions can also cause dogs to scoot due to discomfort, including rectal or anal gland cancer and perianal fistulas. Rectal cancer is very serious and often life-threatening.

Perianal fistulations, infected tracts around the anus, are most common in unneutered male dogs and German Shepherds of both genders. They are treatable and usually have a favorable outcome than cancer.

Developing a treatment plan

A thorough physical exam, including a rectal exam, by your dog’s veterinarian, is an important first step in determine the underlying cause of scooting and developing a treatment plan that brings relief.

Acupuncture: This Ancient Healing Art Helps Pets, Too!

An ancient healing art developed in China more than 4,000 years ago, acupuncture is a therapeutic technique that enhances a body’s natural healing abilities.

Acupuncture: This Ancient Healing Art Helps Pets, Too! | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Munroe uses acupuncture to treat a dog.

What is Animal Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves inserting very fine, sterile needles into specific points mapped over the body. The needles stimulate circulation, stimulate the release of hormones, and help restore the body’s natural balance.

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe, cVMA, CCRT, completed her training and certification in veterinary acupuncture in 2015.

Animal acupuncture should only be performed by a trained and certified veterinary acupuncturist. Dr. Tricia Munroe, cVMA, CCRT, completed her training and certification in veterinary acupuncture in 2015 and has been using the technique to provide our patients with an additional therapy option.

Conditions that Acupuncture Can Improve

More and more pet owners are trying acupuncture for their furry family members. Pain management is one of the most common uses for acupuncture, often in conjunction with a more traditional treatment plan.

Several common conditions effecting animals can improve with the addition of acupuncture treatment, including:

  • arthritis and back pain
  • immune disorders
  • decreased appetite
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • skin conditions
  • intestinal problems (diarrhea and constipation)
  • metabolic problems (liver and kidney disease)
  • anxiety
  • urinary incontinence

During Therapy…

Pets typically relax and enjoy acupuncture therapy. The tiny pinch caused by the needle insertion is very tolerable and often unnoticed. Many pets relax and fall asleep while they wait the 15-30 minutes before the needles are removed.

Acupuncture: This Ancient Healing Art Helps Pets, Too! | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Munroe uses acupuncture to treat a dog.

Initially, Dr. Munroe recommends acupuncture on a weekly basis, but as a pet’s condition improves, treatment sessions are often changed to a monthly or as needed basis.

About Veterinary Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the safest medical therapies, using no chemicals or medications. Veterinary acupuncture was approved as an alternative therapy by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1988. A new development in animal acupuncture is the use of therapeutic lasers instead of needles.

How to Defend Against Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats

When we think of Lyme disease, most of us think, “East Coast problem,” right?

Not so. Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by ticks, is increasing in the Western US, particularly in the Southern Cascades and along the Oregon coast.

Dogs, cats, and humans (along with many other animals) can become infected with Lyme disease when they are bitten by an infected tick that has been attached to the skin for 24-36 hours.

The longer a tick is attached, the greater the chance of infection. The Lyme disease bacteria can establish a long-term infection that affects the heart, kidneys, joints, and brain.

Signs of Infection

Signs of infection include fever, lethargy, lameness, stiffness, pain, vomiting, and diarrhea – signs shared by several other diseases.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats | AtlanticVetSeattle.com
It is important to note that the typical “bulls-eye” rash that commonly effects people with Lyme disease is uncommon in dogs.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is still relatively rare in the Pacific Northwest, but is increasingly showing up on local veterinarians’ “diagnostic radar” of possibilities when a pet presents with the clinical signs of the disease.

Fortunately, new diagnostic tests are available that help us determine infection more quickly. If treated early with appropriate antibiotics, Lyme disease in pets can cured. If treatment is delayed, however, the disease frequently progresses to severe kidney or liver failure and death.

Defending Against Lyme Disease

The first line of defense against Lyme disease and any other tick-borne disease is a rigorous tick control program.

  1. Consider one of the new tick preventives for pets, such as one of the chewables for dogs (Simparica or Bravector) or topicals for cats (Bravecto or Catego).
  2. Keep pets away from potentially tick-infested areas (tall grass, low brush, and wooded areas) if possible.
  3. Conduct a daily tick inspection of yourself and your pet after traversing these areas.

What to do if You Find a Tick

  1. If you do find a tick on yourself or your dog, the tick should be safely removed with tweezers as soon as possible, pulling straight back to make sure the tick is completely removed; otherwise, tick mouth parts can remain embedded and infection is still possible.
  2. The bite area, your hands, and the tweezers should be disinfected.
  3. Save the tick in zippered sandwich bag for identification and possible testing.

If you are uncertain how to safely remove a tick from your pet, please contact us and we will make a same-day appointment to remove the tick from your pet.

Lyme Vaccines

Better Lyme vaccines are now available for dogs travelling to Lyme disease endemic areas – the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic region, and Florida.

The Lyme vaccine does not provide complete protection against the disease, but is still worth considering for dogs travelling to high-risk areas.

  • We recommend beginning the Lyme vaccine series 7-8 weeks prior to your trip.
  • Dogs 12 weeks of age or older should initially receive two vaccines 2-4 weeks apart, then an annual booster thereafter if they travel back to or remain in the high-risk area.

Learn more about Lyme disease in dogs

Learn more about Lyme disease in cats 

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.