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Freddie Mercury of Queen was famous for many reasons, but his 10 cats only cared that he doted on them. Truly a hero to cats, Mercury gave his precious felines their own rooms in his London mansion and called to speak to them when he was on the road.

While Mercury certainly wasn’t the most colorful pet owner of the modern age (after all, Salvador Dali owned an ocelot named Babou), he’s a great reminder of the power of pet ownership – and its rich history.

Roles Central to Our Survival

There is growing evidence that people have kept pets since ancient times. The animals found in graves and depicted in artwork aren’t limited to cats and dogs. Instead, the connection that people have had with animals covers the entire range of the animal kingdom. Over the centuries, we have revered and loved them, but that doesn’t mean they were fully understood.

Man’s Best Friend

There isn’t a lot of hard data regarding ancient pet ownership, but many scientists believe humans domesticated dogs at least 15,000 years ago (some think it could date as far back at 30,000 years!). A grave uncovered in Germany in 1914 confirmed the presence of a young puppy buried with a man and woman. These remains date back to the Paleolithic era (about 14,000 years ago) and reveal that the puppy was cared for at the time of death.

Dogs evolved from wolves and were likely trained to be useful in hunts. There is also evidence to suggest people depended on them to help herd other animals and protect them from attacks. Domestication of early dogs likely began when hunters killed a mother wolf and brought her pups back to camp. The animals became docile when cared for, and over a period of numerous generations, their appearance began to change.

Ancient Cats

Proof of feline domestication is somewhat younger than, and not as prolific as, that showing canine domestication. A grave found on the island country of Cyprus revealed the 9,500 year old remains of a human and a wild cat buried together, though there is some speculation that cats actually started to be domesticated about 12,000 years ago.

Archaeological evidence in China from approximately 6,000 years ago suggests that cats helped humans farm by keeping rodent populations in check. About 4,000 years ago, cats were firmly embedded in Egyptian culture, being worshipped and even mummified. Held in the highest regard, cats symbolized the goddess Bastet in the Egyptian pantheon.

A recent study, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, actually provides strong evidence that, unlike dogs, cats domesticated themselves. This should come as no surprise to all those familiar with the independence and intelligence of our feline friends. They know a good deal when they see it!

Evolution of Pet Ownership

Owning pets, or co-existing with them, is thought to have been built on their overall usefulness to us. Over time, in nearly every civilization and culture, we adopted them and they adapted to living among us.

The modern age of pet ownership extends to countries around the world. The high rates of pet ownership are in Argentina, Mexico, Russia, and the United States. With more than 86 million cats and 78 million dogs in America, we strive for responsibility, awareness, compassion, and companionship in co-existing with our four-legged friends.


If you have additional questions about pet ownership, our staff at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic are always happy to help you.

The post Pet Ownership Has a Long and Rich History (and It Just Gets Better!) appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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Simply put, dealing with allergies is no fun. To make matters worse, the initial signs of allergies in pets can be confusing. Instead of sneezing, runny eyes, and hay fever, a pet’s allergies are usually expressed dermatologically.

These allergic responses can be cause by either their food or by allergens they are exposed to in their environment. Indoor environmental pet allergies can be especially frustrating to deal with because they can occur at any time of the year.

Understanding and managing triggers can go a long way toward providing relief for your pet.

Not Respiratory

Indoor environmental pet allergies are commonly triggered by allergens found in most homes. Pollen, dust mite feces, dust, dander, wool, cotton, mold spores, chemicals, and other airborne allergens can cause a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. Skin and ear infections, as well as other health complications, can eventually occur along with:

  • Extreme scratching of the paws, armpits, ears, mouth, belly, and eyes
  • Inflamed skin that may be hot to the touch
  • Hair loss
  • Strong odor
  • Scaly, flaky, or greasy skin

Indoor environmental pet allergies can be miserable for an animal to combat without intervention or support.

Immune Response

When a pet is allergic to certain environmental allergens, their immune system is reacting to something that otherwise wouldn’t trigger a response. Their skin becomes itchy and inflamed, and they may even start to pull out their hair. Trauma and inflammation of the skin can lead to secondary yeast or bacterial infections.

Handling Indoor Environmental Pet Allergies

We are committed to helping pet owners figure out what’s triggering their pet’s allergies. This may involve testing and medication to attain a positive outcome.

Allergy testing helps us identify what’s causing the allergic response. Intradermal skin testing entails injecting very small amounts of potential allergens (such as pollen, mold, grass, etc.) into the superficial skin layers. Pets do not feel any pain or discomfort because the test is conducted after they receive a mild sedative/analgesic.

Measuring the allergic response to the pure allergen under the skin is what helps us understand what’s going on.

Connecting the Dots

Once we know more about triggers in a pet’s environment, we may attempt desensitization through allergy shots or oral allergy therapy.

Antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, antifungals, topical medications, and more can significantly ease pet allergies.

The Long View

Allergens, like mold, can be present year round. However, when pets spend more time indoors during the winter months, their sensitivity can skyrocket.

Pet owners never want their best friends to suffer, but because indoor environmental pet allergies can be so hard to pin down many pets don’t get help right away. Take care to watch your pet closely for even subtle shifts in behavior. If you notice that they are excessively licking at certain areas, biting at their skin, and generally displaying discomfort, it’s time to address your concerns.

The post A Closer Look at Indoor Environmental Pet Allergies appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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Laser surgery for pets suffering from certain skin conditions is one of the innovative ways that Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic and Dr. Duclos strive to provide the best care to our pet patients. Read on to learn why we are so proud to offer expertise in this area.

All About Laser Surgery for Pets

Surgery can often be an intimidating experience for pet owners. Anesthesia, surgical complications, and post-operative healing can all be big worries to overcome. When pets with dermatological conditions need surgery, be it to decrease the size of mass or growth, remove abnormal tissue, or something altogether different, we want to give them the absolute best care possible.

Instead of a traditional scalpel blade we utilize a surgical laser.  Surgical lasers are also called CO2, or carbon dioxide, lasers. They work by discharging electricity through a gas-filled tube, producing a fine stream of infrared light. This light is not visible to the naked eye, but is very powerful and able to cut through most soft tissues.

Laser surgery for pets offers many advantages over a traditional scalpel blade. These include:

  • Minimal bleeding
  • Shorter anesthesia times
  • More precise action
  • Decreased pain
  • Decreased risk of infection
  • Increased healing speed
  • Less scar formation

All in all, veterinary laser surgeries tend to be shorter and safer with less recovery time and sooner return to function. It is a win for the patient, pet owner, and surgeon.

A Leading Expert

When surgery is needed for pets with dermatological conditions, laser is often the best choice. Not only are we fortunate enough to be able to offer this service, we are also extremely proud to have one of the leading experts in the use of the laser at our disposal.

Dr. Duclos has extensive experience using the carbon dioxide laser and is a great resource for the veterinary community. He has even published several articles on the topic. In this blog spotlight, we took the opportunity to ask him a few questions.

Q: Are there situations where a traditional surgical approach is a better choice than the surgical laser?

A: Not really, though possibly some surgeries of the intestine would not allow for the CO2 laser to be used. This is because of the gas in the intestine, which could pose a fire risk.

Q: What kind of aftercare is typical for a pet undergoing laser surgery?

A: After care is generally the same as with any surgery. Keep the pet from licking or chewing out the sutures. Restrict movement when indicated, such as when the surgery site could be damaged by movement. The aftercare length of time depends on the type of surgery, however it is usually takes about half the time as scalpel surgery for the pet to return to full function.

Q: How much more quickly are pet patients able to return to normal function with laser surgery versus traditional surgery?

A: In a recent study in Portugal, comparison between scalpel and CO2 laser for spay and neuter procedures showed that the CO2 laser groups healed faster and had less scar formation than the scalpel surgeries.

Q: Have you travelled to teach or lecture elsewhere on the topic of laser surgery in pets?

A: Yes, I have taught and lectured in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Most recently, I presented a talk titled “Excision and Ablation of Various Dermatologic Lesions in the Dog and Cat” at the American Laser Study Club’s 2nd annual symposium in Phoenix, Arizona. Last September I was also an invited speaker at the 5th Annual Conference of Laser Medicine in Augsburg, Germany, hosted by AniCura. While there I gave lectures on CO2 laser procedures and moderated a practical session where attendees were given the opportunity to have hands on training using the CO2 laser on tissues.

Q: Can you share one case that you feel had a dramatically improved outcome as a result of the use of laser surgery?

A: Interdigital cysts, a condition that causes dogs to have bloody draining lesions between the digits of their paws, is dramatically improved with the use of CO2 laser surgery. Once treated with surgery, most dogs do not experience a reoccurrence of the draining lesions and have normal paws.


Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic is committed to being the best in the business when it comes to the care of your pets. Offering expert laser surgery as an option is just one more way that we accomplish this goal. Please let us know if you have questions about this service, we are always happy to help.

The post Laser Surgery for Pets at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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With Spring in the air, it means trees, grasses, and flowers everywhere are in bloom. While this is a welcome change in weather, those who suffer from spring allergies may have a slightly different outlook.

Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones who are affected by the change in season. Many pets experience seasonal allergies, although the symptoms they display can be quite different. The more you know about spring allergies in pets, the better equipped you’ll be to get your companion the help they need.

Allergies 101

An allergy results when the immune system overreacts to the presence of an innocuous foreign particle. Some people and pets are genetically inclined toward this immune response. Some of the allergens that cause problems for pets include tree and grass pollen (most common), dust/dust mites, mold, fleas, and certain food items.

Springtime Scratching

Unlike humans, who typically experience upper respiratory reactions to pollen and other airborne particles, spring allergies in pets usually manifest as itchy skin, also called “atopy.” Some signs that your pet may be dealing with spring allergies include:

  • Excessive scratching or licking of the paws, legs, belly, and/or groin area
  • Pawing at the face, eyes, or ears
  • Head shaking
  • Red, scabbed, or swollen skin
  • Red or inflamed ears
  • Foul odor
  • Watery eyes

Hotspots (sores caused by excessive licking and scratching) are a big concern when it comes to skin issues. Untreated hotspots can lead to secondary infections and cause unnecessary pain and suffering for your pet.

Getting a Handle on Spring Allergies in Pets

Spring allergies can pose a serious health risk to your pet. If you suspect your pet is suffering from allergies, please schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible. We can pinpoint the cause of your pet’s atopy and work together to develop a plan that may include prescription medications, over-the-counter antihistamines, immunotherapy, or medicated shampoos/creams.

You can also help your pet at home in the following ways:

  • Soak your pet’s paws daily to ease inflammation and to prevent tracking allergens into the home.
  • Bathe your pet regularly using a hypoallergenic shampoo/conditioner as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Vacuum and dust your home on a regular basis to prevent the buildup of allergens.
  • Wash pet bedding, blankets, and pillows weekly.
  • Feed your pet a high-quality diet, and ask your veterinarian about omega-3 fatty acid supplements (found in fish oil).

Protect your pet’s skin and overall health by taking preventive measures against spring allergies and remaining alert to possible triggers. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at the Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic with any questions or concerns.

The post The Pollen Problem: A Closer Look at Spring Allergies in Pets appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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Simply put, allergies in pets are no fun. To make matters worse, the initial signs of an allergic reaction can be confusing. Instead of sneezing, runny eyes, and hay fever, pet allergies are expressed dermatologically. Indoor pet allergies can be especially frustrating to deal with because they can result from environmental allergens. Understanding and managing triggers can go a long way toward providing relief for your pet.

Not Respiratory

Indoor pet allergies are commonly triggered by allergens found in most homes. Pollen, dust mite feces, dust, dander, wool, cotton, mold spores, chemicals, and other airborne allergens can cause a skin condition called atopic dermatitis. Skin and ear infections, as well as other health complications, can eventually occur along with:

  • Extreme scratching of the paws, armpits, ears, mouth, belly, and eyes
  • Inflamed skin that may be hot to the touch
  • Hair loss
  • Strong odor
  • Scaly, flaky, or greasy skin

Indoor pet allergies can be miserable for an animal to combat without intervention or support.

Immune Response

When a pet is allergic to certain environmental allergens, their immune system is reacting to something that otherwise wouldn’t trigger a response. Their skin becomes so itchy and inflamed, they may even start to pull out their hair. This trauma to the skin can lead to secondary yeast or bacterial infections that help spread the disease.

Handling Indoor Pet Allergies

We are committed to helping pet owners figure out what’s triggering indoor pet allergies. This may involve testing and medication to attain a positive outcome.

Allergy testing helps us identify what’s causing allergic reactions. Intradermal skin testing entails inserting very small amounts of potential allergens (such as pollen, mold, grass, etc.) into the superficial skin layers. Pets do not feel any pain or discomfort because the test is conducted after they receive a mild sedative/analgesic.

Measuring the allergic response to the pure allergen under the skin is what helps us understand what’s going on.

Connecting the Dots

Once we know more about triggers in a pet’s environment, we may attempt desensitization through allergy shots.

Antibiotics, antihistamines, steroids, antifungals, oral and topical medications, and more can significantly ease indoor pet allergies.

The Long View

Allergens, like mold, can be present year round. However, when pets spend more time indoors during the winter months, their sensitivity can skyrocket.

Pet owners never want their best friends to suffer, but because indoor pet allergies can be so hard to pin down many pets don’t get help right away. Take care to watch your pet closely for even subtle shifts in behavior. If you notice that they are excessively licking at certain areas, biting at their skin, and generally displaying discomfort, it’s time to address your concerns.

The post A Closer Look at Indoor Pet Allergies May Lead to Their Environment appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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Savvy pet owners know how overwhelming it can be to take in all of the available information in the age of the Internet. You could literally spend days trying to sort through news stories, new scientific studies, veterinary blogs, and Facebook posts to try to find the best information.

Thankfully, pet owners in Washington state are catching on to the fact that the professionals at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic have done a lot of the hard work for you already. Get yourself up to speed by catching up on our top five veterinary blogs of 2018.

Our Top 5 Veterinary Blogs of 2018

 #5 No Sun? No Problem! Rainy Day Activities for Pets
Most of us enjoy engaging in outdoor activities with our pets when the weather is nice, but what about those days when it’s raining cats and dogs? Are there any rainy day activities for pets that will keep your four-legged pal occupied indoors? Yes! Check out these ideas that are sure to keep your pet entertained no matter the forecast. …Keep reading

 #4 Getting Rid of Ringworm and Other Fungal Infections in Pets
Fungal infections in pets are no fun. There are a variety of fungal organisms that can cause problems for our four-legged friends. Read on to learn about fungal infections in pets and how we can combat them. …Continue 

#3  Corn Chips, Anyone? Why Your Pet’s Paws Smell Like Fritos
“Why do my pet’s paws smell like Fritos?” This is a surprisingly common question that we get here at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic. No, you aren’t imagining things and, no, your dog isn’t getting into your stash of salty treats (at least, we hope not!). …Read on!

#2 Expiration Dates on Veterinary Drugs: Do They Matter?
If your January purge includes decluttering your medicine cabinet, you might find yourself wondering how important those dates stamped on various pharmaceuticals really are. You have half a tube of ointment from that one time Fluffy had an ear infection, a few pills rattling around from when she was so itchy last summer, and almost a full bottle of some type of pain pill from the time she sprained a paw. …Read more

#1 Battle of the Dermatology Titans: Differences Between Atopica, Apoquel, and Cytopoint
Allergies are never fun for anyone. When it comes to animals with allergies, there is no magic solution that works for every pet. Oftentimes, managing allergy problems can require a bit of trial and error to find out what works, and there are a variety of medications and products we may recommend. …Read on!

A Noble Resolution

Among other goals, many pet owners have made a resolution this year to do a better job caring for their furry family. We can help! Be sure to check our veterinary blogs often for the most up to date pet care information.

Of course, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call, either! Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic is here for all of your pet’s skin and allergy needs.

The post The Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic’s Top 5 Veterinary Blogs of 2018 appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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At Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic we enjoy a good myth-busting blog. It is so much fun to see common misconceptions debunked. We are no strangers to battling misinformation in our day-to-day job either, so we decided to embark on our own myth busting session specific to the allergic pet.

Common Myths About the Allergic Pet

When we sit down with pet parents at their animal’s appointments, we hear lots of common misconceptions. While we are sure that there are others, some of the most frequent myths that we must debunk include:

“My pet couldn’t be allergic to that, he’s been around it/eaten it his whole life.”

Allergies are part of the immune response. This means that repeated exposures are necessary to sensitize the body and create a reaction. We have all heard of the person who eats shellfish on a regular basis, but one time that lobster dinner ends up with a trip to the emergency room. Animals can and do develop allergies to things and foods that they are exposed to on a regular basis.

“My pet is on a grain free food, so she can’t have a food allergy.”

Contrary to popular belief, grains such as corn in pet food are rarely responsible for food allergies in animals. Most pet allergies to foods are due to protein sources such as chicken, beef, pork, or soy.

“I heard that you can do a blood test/cheek swab to find out what my pet is allergic to.”

While there are plenty of companies that will take your money and tell you what foods are a problem for your pet, there is simply no scientific data to back up the legitimacy of these tests. Research shows that the antibodies that these tests detect have very little reflection on what actually happens in the gut. To date, the best way to identify pet allergies to food is a hypoallergenic food trial.

“Since my pet is mostly, totally indoors, environmental allergies aren’t possible.”

Not all allergic pets have outdoor allergies. Dust, mold, and dander are common environmental allergens that lurk in all of our homes. Also, anyone who suffers from hay fever will attest to the fact that their outdoor allergies can bother them even when staying indoors.

“I haven’t ever seen a flea on my pets, so I don’t need flea prevention.”

Fleas haven’t become evolutionarily successful by making their presence obvious. These stealthy parasites can cause trouble even in small numbers, especially in animals who are allergic to their saliva. They can be notoriously difficult to find, especially in cats who groom themselves, and can find their way onto even indoor exclusive animals. Flea preventative is important for all pets.

Warding off Bad Information

The perpetuation of myths surrounding the allergic pet comes from well-meaning word of mouth, the advice of those with an interest in selling something, and, in the modern day, information on the Internet.

So how are you supposed to sort through the false information and find the good stuff? Be sure to:

  • Consider your source and any interest they may have in profiting
  • Ask for references to scientific studies
  • Remember that anecdotal evidence isn’t good enough for your pet
  • Ask us for advice– we promise that we have your pet’s best interest at heart

The allergic pet can be difficult enough to navigate without having to sort through a bunch of misinformation. Please remember that the staff at Animal Skin and Allergy Center is here for you every step of the way, so don’t hesitate to give us a call with your questions!

The post Myth Busters: The Allergic Pet Edition appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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“Why do my pet’s paws smell like Fritos?” This is a surprisingly common question that we get here at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic. No, you aren’t imagining things and, no, your dog isn’t getting into your stash of salty treats (at least, we hope not!).

We believe strongly in empowering pet owners with as much knowledge as possible about their pets. Whether it helps identify a future health problem or is just a fun bit of party trivia, finding out why your pet’s paws smell like Fritos is worth the effort!

Your Pet’s Paws Smell Like Fritos Because…

That fragrant Frito blast coming from your pet’s paws (some people also describe it as smelling like old popcorn) is actually caused by naturally occurring yeast and bacteria between the paw pads. This is usually perfectly normal. There are a variety of reasons for the buildup, including:

  • Sweat – Dogs sweat through their paw pads. This warm, moist environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria such as pseudomonas and proteus, both of which contribute to the yeasty, corn chip-like odor.
  • Proximity to the ground – A pet’s paws are almost always in contact with the ground, and with all of the various surfaces those paws travel across throughout the course of a day, it’s no wonder they pick up a wide assortment of microbes.
  • Hygiene – Pets are always licking their paws, and the additional moisture increases the proliferation of odor-causing bacteria and yeast.
What You Can Do

Just like with people, proper hygiene can significantly reduce any odor that may surround your pet:

  • When bathing your dog, pay special attention to the paws. Spread each pad, and wash and rinse carefully. Be sure to dry each foot thoroughly when bathtime is over.
  • Keeping the fur in between the paw pads trimmed is key to reducing bacterial and yeast buildup. If you’re grooming your dog at home, spread each toe (your thumbs tend to work best), and carefully trim the hair using pet hair clippers.
  • Regularly clip your pet’s nails to reduce the amount of odor-causing dirt and microbes that become trapped underneath.
When to See Us

Although it can be cute when a pet’s paws smell like Fritos, it’s important to remember that not all odors are quite so innocent. A strange or bad smell is often one of the first symptoms of an injury, infection, skin condition, or certain types of tumors, all of which should be treated immediately. Please call us to schedule an appointment if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Foul odor
  • Flaky or crusty skin on the paw pads
  • Redness or swelling on or between the pads
  • Excessive licking of the paws
  • Lumps or bumps on the pads or between the toes
  • Cracked or broken toenails
  • Any injury to the paw, especially if swollen or draining
  • Limping or change in gait

We look forward to seeing you and your pet at your next appointment. In the meantime, keep those paws in great shape with plenty of walks and lots of playtime!

The post Corn Chips, Anyone? Why Your Pet’s Paws Smell Like Fritos appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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Most of us enjoy engaging in outdoor activities with our pets when the weather is nice, but what about those days when it’s raining cats and dogs? Are there any rainy day activities for pets that will keep your four-legged pal occupied indoors? Yes! Check out these ideas that are sure to keep your pet entertained no matter the forecast.

The Benefits of Being Active

More than 50% of pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese, so it’s essential to stay active – even during inclement weather. Mental activity is also important to stave off boredom, which can lead to a host of behavioral issues. Keeping your pet engaged both physically and mentally is better for everyone’s health and happiness.

Consider These Rainy Day Activities for Pets

Check out this list put together by the team at Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic! It includes some great ideas on how to keep your pet active while cooped up inside:

  • Hall ball – Use a long hallway in your home for a little indoor ball. Roll the ball down the hall, and let your dog chase it down and bring it back to you. Still bored? Try throwing the ball up the stairs, and let your dog go wild chasing it around.  
  • New tricks – Cats and dogs can learn new tricks at any age. Choose search-and-sniff, fetch, or dancing. They’ll love the physical and mental challenge! You can also practice your pet’s skills with basic commands. This strengthens your bond and provides your pet with psychological fulfillment.
  • Interactive food puzzles – Purchase a food puzzle for your pet that gets them working and using their natural instincts while doling out a tasty reward. Alternatively, try hiding cat treats on high perches and in cat trees to simulate a hunt and get your feline moving.
  • Search and sniff – Put your dog’s scenting skills to work by hiding treats (or even their regular meal) in different areas around your home. This will keep them busy and encourage a lot of movement and mental exercise.
  • Feather wand play – Get your cat to show off their athletic prowess with a feather wand. They’ll jump, leap, and generally astound you with their moves. Remember to act like prey – no self-respecting mouse would be easy to catch!
  • Play date – Perhaps your dog has a best friend. In this case, a play date could be a great way to spend a rainy day.
  • Shopping trip – Feeling cooped up? Take your dog out shopping at a local pet specialty store, like PetSmart or Mud Bay.
  • Doga – It may sound silly, but yoga with your dog or cat can be fun, help you maintain balance, and strengthen your bond with your pet – oh, and it’s healthy! (Did you know that Doga started at the Seattle Humane Society?)  
  • Grooming – After all that activity, treat your pet to a quiet grooming session. Not only does grooming help keep your pet’s coat looking beautiful, it’s also a great way to stay on top of any developing health issues.

We hope this has generated some helpful ideas for rainy day activities for pets. Did we miss something? Call us and let us know!

The post No Sun? No Problem! Rainy Day Activities for Pets appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic | Pet Hea.. by Animal Skin And Allergy Clinic Staf.. - 8M ago

For pet owners who have a yard, it’s important to consider certain factors such as size and accessibility. If a four-legged friend is very lucky, they’ll also have someplace to enjoy a good nap and take in scenic views of wildlife. As an extension of your home, backyards are usually safe for pets provided they’re fully fenced, reinforced, and gated. But what about not-so-obvious dangers to pet safety?

Pest-Free Zone

We all like to think our backyards are clean and pest/parasite-free, but, unfortunately, we can’t control the great outdoors. We can, however, do our part to reduce the impact bugs have on our lives.

Fleas, ticks, and heart worm-carrying mosquitoes are threats to overall wellness. Certainly, the risk of exposure increases during summer months, but a year-round parasite preventive is necessary for full protection. New preventatives that keep fleas and ticks off our pets are now available as monthly chewable tablets or as treatments applied topically. Additionally, you can help prevent contagious diseases through routine vaccinations.

To further support pet safety in the backyard (and keep parasite-carrying rodents and raccoons away), be sure to:

  • Eliminate areas that harbor parasites, such as standing pools of water, overgrown areas, shady, damp spots, thick underbrush, and wood piles.
  • Secure trash bins and compost heaps to keep scavengers out.
Growing so Close

To fully address pet safety in the backyard, you’ll need to know what’s growing out there. There many kinds of flowers and plants that are toxic to pets. Amaryllis, daffodil, oleander, azalea, lilies, milkweed, begonias, and baby’s breath are just a few examples. Likewise, sago palms and aloe vera plants can also be dangerous.

Insidious Weeds

Many pets like to chew on grass (really, anything that’s green), including plants that are generally considered weeds. While sampling whatever’s growing out back may seem harmless, many weeds, such as foxtail, devil’s weed, deadly nightshade, and more, can cause injury or illness.

Always inspect your pet’s muzzle, legs, and paw pads for any unwelcome “hitchhiking” yard debris. If you use fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, or rodenticides, be sure your pet is never exposed.

Allergies and Pet Safety

Pollen production from trees and flowers is at its peak during spring and early summer. However, there are numerous species that cause pet allergies through the fall, as well. Humidity also increases mold and fungi. Creating a backyard that reduces the effects of allergies can save your pet a lot of discomfort. Possible suspects of irritating skin allergies include:

  • Oak
  • Birch
  • Willow
  • Poplar
  • Juniper
Don’t Forget the Mulch

Many landscaping beds contain mulch, but some products can threaten pet safety. Red cedar mulch can cause irritation through skin contact, and products like cocoa mulch are toxic if ingested. Make sure that whatever product you use is considered pet-safe.

Water Features

Whether it’s a pool, pond, or fountain in the backyard, pet safety must be considered. Certainly, drowning is always a risk, but algae and bacteria-laden ponds or fountains can also be dangerous. Products designed to manage these problems should always be secured, as they may contain harsh chemicals.

The Human Element

While it is not something that any of us like to contemplate, there are dangers to your pet other than the flora and fauna of your outdoor spaces, namely other people. From the negligence of accidentally leaving a gate open to the purposeful theft or poisoning of your pet, the people in your neighbor could potentially be a serious threat to your four-legged friend. To try to mitigate this risk, it is good to stay informed regarding any local mishaps or crimes involving the mistreatment of animals. Additionally, if you live in a busy area or one that has experienced these types of issues in the past, it might be advisable to make sure your pet is supervised while in the yard.

As always, our staff is available to assist with any questions or concerns you might have about pet safety and wellness.

The post Pet Safety in Your Own Backyard appeared first on Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic.

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