10 Tips for New Dog Owners

Young woman smiling and sitting behind dog, petting the dog's cheeks.

You’ve been anticipating this moment for what feels like fur-ever. The day you can finally bring home a 4-legged best friend of your own. But with all the excitement from you and your new canine pal, it can be easy to overlook some of the things you and your dog need for a lasting, loving friendship.

1. Get established with a trusted vet – yes, even if your dog is already “fixed”

As you’re building trust with your dog, you’ll also want to develop a relationship with a vet that both you and your dog can trust. Some clinics, like Germantown Vet, offer services specifically for new pet owners to look for parasites, make sure all vaccines are current, and even help with plans for nutrition and behavior.

2. Learn about typical dog behaviors & want they mean

Do you have that friend who seems to be the “dog-whisperer”? They always seem to know exactly what any animal is thinking. You may not be Dr. Dolittle, but learning about common dog behaviors will help you understand what Rover is trying to tell you, and build a better friendship with your dog.

3. Take time to get to know each other

It’ll take some time for you and your dog to “sniff each other out,” so try to be patient if it takes longer than you expect for your pet to warm up to you – how would you feel if you suddenly found yourself living with new people in a new home where you haven’t smelled every corner yet?

4. Routine, routine, routine

Establish a routine for your furry pal as soon as possible. When are meals? When do you go for walks? How about those potty breaks? The fewer adjustments to your dog’s daily schedule, the better. And if you work long hours away from home, consider signing up for a trusted doggy daycare service early on.

5. Go easy on the dog toys… for now

While you’ll want to equip your home with basics like a bowl and a leash, you won’t know what really makes Fido’s tail wag until you get to know him better. Some dogs couldn’t be happier with more than just a big yard to get the zoomies out. Try introducing just one new toy at a time until you find his favorite way to play.

6. Feed them the right things

Before any dinner-table begging begins, learn everything you can about not only what your dog can eat, but what your dog should eat. Remember that some common human foods are fatal to dogs, and learn what to do if your dog eats something he shouldn’t.

7. Decide whether to microchip

Depending on how old your dog is, he may already be microchipped. Microchipping your dog keeps them safe, bringing you peace of mind. If you’re on the fence, talk to a trusted vet about the right choice for your dog.

8. Don’t believe everything you hear

You’ve probably heard more than a few myths about dogs, and you may even do some research (likely why you’re on this page right now!). But remember that the best way to learn about your new canine friend is to spend time together.

9. Find a trusted pet resort before going out of town

Life happens, from fun travel plans to emergencies. But before any of that comes up, make sure to find a caring and professional pet resort that you don’t have to think twice about booking.

10. Get ready for a rewarding world of fun

Sure, dog-ownership can be a lot of work, but so many people have dogs because the relationship built is so rewarding.

Find a lifetime of friendship with your new dog by scheduling a New Pet Owner visit at Germantown Vet – call our team at 240-252-7467 today!

How to Know If Your Pet Has Heart Disease

Cat in the sun

Pet parents are often in tune with their furry one’s health, picking up on the first sign of distress. But did you know one of the biggest threats to both cats and dogs is also one of the hardest to recognize? Heart disease is known as a silent killer because many of its symptoms can be masked as common animal behaviors and can strike suddenly. The good news is you can still be proactive in protecting your pet from heart disease, and Germantown Vet can help.  

Types of Heart Disease & Symptoms to Watch For

There’s more than one kind of heart disease that affects pets. The first is valve disease (when the valve thickens and becomes distorted) and is more common in dogs. The other is a disease of the heart muscle and is more commonly seen in cats. There are four classifications of this type, which you can learn more about here.

As with any serious illness, early diagnosis is incredibly important to the effectiveness of treatment. The only way to know which type of heart disease is affecting your pet is with proper testing from a trained professional. You should schedule an appointment right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Fainting or collapsing
  • Changes in behavior
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased respiratory rate and effort
  • Coughing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Cyanosis (purple coloration of the gums), if the heart failure is severe enough

As we mentioned earlier, some of these symptoms are also normal animal behaviors (cats being lethargic, anyone?). However, we’re talking about excessive behaviors that aren’t part of their usual routine, such as a loss of interest in food or playing. A cat’s respiratory distress often shows itself through vomiting or rapid, open-mouthed breathing. Another key sign in cats is difficulty walking, particularly in the hind legs, as a result of blood clots.

New Testing Options for Cats

Heart disease is particularly dangerous to cats, as one in six cats can be born with or develop the illness in their lifetime. This can happen at any age (young or old) and affects both indoor and outdoor cats.

A cat owner’s main line of defense has always been annual vet check-ups, but a new option has emerged in the last few years that could detect heart disease even earlier. It’s a blood test called proBNP, and it’s actually been used in humans for years. It can also be used to screen dogs, but it’s especially beneficial for cats. The proBNP test is a simple, inexpensive blood test that can be done in most veterinarian offices. It measures stretching of the heart due to disease, and can establish a baseline of a cat’s heart condition without a more expensive echocardiogram. Plus, if your young cat had a relative with heart disease, the proBNP test is a way to check for genetic predisposition.

Germantown Vet Can Help

At Germantown Vet, we understand how difficult it can be when a pet is sick. Our trained and experienced technicians are here to guide you through the process, from wellness checks to specialized testing (including the proBNP blood test) at our state-of-the-art facility for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

You can trust your furry loved one to our care! Call Germantown Vet today at 240-252-7467 or visit us online to learn more about our heart disease services.

The Truth Behind 6 Dog Myths

As the pet-owning population becomes more educated on the facts about dog behavior, there are still a number of dog behavior myths that persist. Some of these myths can be detrimental to your relationship with your dog, so it’s important to know what’s true and what isn’t.

When it comes to training and living with your dog, these are six common dog behavior myths you shouldn’t believe:

Dog mouths are cleaner than human mouths

Dogs actually have just as much bacteria in their mouths as humans, just different varieties.

A dry nose means a sick dog

If your dog’s nose is dry, it isn’t necessarily a sign of illness. Dry noses are usually a sign of sunburn (more common in dogs with pink noses) or allergies.

Dogs can’t see color

Dogs can see colors on the blue and yellow spectrum; however, they don’t have the cone receptors in their eyes to pick out red and green. Regular dog vision is closest to a human with red-green colorblindness.

Dogs only eat grass when they’re sick

Dogs of all shapes and sizes just love a good graze. Dogs will vomit occasionally, after eating certain kinds of grass or eating too much, but it doesn’t indicate that they’re sick.

A wagging tail means a happy dog

Yes, it is true that happy dogs wag their tails, but so do aggressive or agitated ones. Dog body language is much more involved than just setting the tail to “on” or “off.” Gaze, posture, facial expression, and ear position, along with the tail cues, create a range of expressions.

Dogs age 7 years for every human year

In reality, dogs mature much faster, and their size and weight play a large role in their life span – so it’s different for each dog.

Did you find these debunked myths about dogs interesting? Want to learn more about our services here at Germantown Vet? Contact our team online or call 240-252-7467 today!

Can Dogs Get Colds?

Since your canine companion lacks the ability to verbally communicate, any signs of discomfort or illness can be immediate cause for alarm. Are you experiencing cold symptoms and are worried that you might give your sickness to your dog? Is your dog sneezing, coughing, having a bout of the sniffles, or showing other signs that you would attribute to the common cold? Read on to learn more!

Have more questions about your dog’s illnesses? Contact Germantown Vet online or call us at 240-252-7467.

Do Dogs Get the Common Cold?

Medically speaking, dogs do not suffer from illnesses that we call “the common cold.” The viruses that are suspected to cause human colds have no impact on doggie bodies, so if you were worried about giving your furry buddy your cold (or catching theirs), you needn’t be concerned. This said, dogs certainly do get colds of a sort—it’s just from different viruses.

Interestingly, even though the viruses are different, dog colds show pretty much identical symptoms to human colds. Common symptoms for dog colds include:

  • Sneezing and sniffling
  • Coughing
  • Runny or congested nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild lethargy

Generally, dog colds are no more serious or threatening than human colds. They often come and go within a small handful of days, at which point your pet should return to normal. Treatment usually involves simply ensuring your pet stays hydrated by offering water and good-quality wet foods.

If you want to, your dog might also benefit greatly from some chicken noodle soup, which offers a good nutrition profile, hydration, and warmth that can ease symptoms—just avoid varieties that include onion or garlic!

When to Be Concerned About Dog Colds

Symptoms should be treated with a higher level of caution and care if your dog is older, very young, or pregnant. In any of these states, dogs have a compromised immune system, which could mean that the cold could potentially rapidly progress into a worse condition, or there could be trouble if a more dangerous issue is misdiagnosed. If your dog with a cold falls into any of these three categories, we highly advise a trip to your trusted veterinarian as soon as possible!

There is reason to be concerned if any cold symptoms coincide with worse symptoms as well. If your pet is also doing any of the following, it’s time to see your vet:

  • Retching and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Prolonged periods of lethargy
  • Cold-like symptoms that last more than a few days

Some of the larger, more concerning illnesses to watch out for can include kennel cough, which is very cold-like but also typically includes loud coughing and wheezing. Canine influenza is also a worry, which includes all cold symptoms in conjunction with an extreme loss of appetite, fever, vomiting, and discharge from the nose and eyes.

Protect Your Pet with Annual Vaccinations

Unfortunately, just as there’s no vaccine that treats human colds (to our never-ending sadness), there’s no vaccine for dog cold, either. However, there is an annual vaccine that you should absolutely make sure your dog is protected by. The canine 5-in-1 is easy to keep up with, and it prevents many of the severe conditions that may be confused with a simple doggie cold.

Treat Your Dog’s Cold at Germantown Vet

As a loving pet owner, you never want to see your companion suffer, and we don’t either!

If you are concerned about the health of your pet and want to find the right solution, reach out to our team to schedule an appointment with our experienced veterinarians today. 

Is My Cat Obese or Just Overweight?

As a cat owner, it’s natural to worry about the health and well-being of your cat. While it’s easy to notice when something is wrong with your beloved furry friend, like they’ve stopped eating or are throwing up, you could be missing something equally pressing – your cat’s weight. You may think your cat is just a little fluffy, but overweight and obese cats face some serious health risks. In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between an obese cat and an overweight cat, and list some tips to get your cat back to a healthy weight.

Overweight Cats

Cats who are overweight could face some serious health problems, including the risk of developing obesity. Overweight cats are defined as cats who are 10% to 19% over the ideal weight for their size, age, and breed. You can try to gauge whether your cat is overweight by assessing their physical appearance. Are you able to see an indentation of the waist from above your cat? Can you feel your cat’s spine and ribs? If you answered no, then your cat could be overweight. If you’re feeding your cat a calorie-dense diet and your cat does not get much exercise, this could result in an overweight cat.

Obese Cats

Obese cats could end up facing a variety of health complications. Your cat is considered obese if they’re 20% or more over the ideal weight for their size, age, and breed. Obesity can lead to a number of complications, including breathing problems and decreased immune function. If your cat has no defined waist and you can’t feel their ribs, then your cat might be considered obese.

Ways to Combat Obesity in Your Cat

While your cat’s ideal weight is dependent on a number of things, there are steps you can take to help combat obesity in your cat and keep your cat generally healthy. These steps include:

Feeding your cat proper portions: Cats’ natural diets consist of high protein and low carbs. Feed your cat protein-rich food in the correct portion size to combat obesity.

Encourage exercise: Your cat needs to burn calories, which is hard if your cat is sedentary. Encourage exercise by playing with your cat or walking your cat up and down some stairs.

Invest in a puzzle feeder: Most cats just need to walk to their bowl for food, which doesn’t encourage activity. Puzzle feeders are bowls that require cats to manipulate the food out of the crevices in order to obtain it.

Ensure any weight loss is gradual: If you’re trying to help your cat lose weight, make sure any weight loss is gradual. Losing weight too quickly is dangerous for cats and could lead to further health complications.

Though we all want our feline friends to be well-fed and happy, maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor to your cat’s overall well-being. By following these tips and scheduling regular checkups, you can ensure that your overweight or obese cat is back to an ideal weight in no time!

Whether you want more information on achieving a healthy diet for your cat or want to get your cat a checkup, Germantown Vet is here for you. Give us a call at 240-252-7467 or contact us online to schedule an appointment today!

Why Is My Dog Chewing His Paws?

Has your furry friend been fixated on his paws lately? While the occasional nibble might not be cause for alarm, continuous paw chewing can be a sign of something more serious. There are a number of possible reasons your dog is chewing his paws, and understanding each will help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the vet.

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Is Chewing His Paws

A change in your dog’s behavior should never be ignored. If your canine companion can’t stop licking or chewing his paws, one (or more) of these common causes could be at play:

  • Fleas: These pesky pests could have taken up residence in Fido’s feet, causing him to chew for relief.
  • Allergies: Like people, pets can have allergies to food, chemicals, and the environment. If you had a recent change in diet, environment, or chemicals used around the home, this could be the source of all the chewing.
  • Behavior: Your dog might be suffering from anxiety, depression, boredom, or other behavioral issues. Just like people chew their nails when they’re anxious, depressed, or bored, your furry friend may be doing the same thing.
  • Pain/Discomfort: If you recently went for a long walk or hike, your pet could have stepped on something prickly that’s sticking to their feet. Sometimes, ticks can even lodge themselves between your dog’s toes for an especially irritating experience.
  • Corns: Especially in greyhounds and lurchers, painful growths can develop around your dog’s toes, causing them to lick or chew for relief.
  • Dryness: If your dog has sensitive skin, their paws can dry out and cause them to lick and chew.
  • Infection: Chewing, licking, and biting can indicate the presence of a yeast or other bacterial infection that’s growing in and around your dog’s paws.

As always, monitor your pet’s behavior and symptoms for significant changes or worsening condition. While it may not seem like the worst problem for your furry friend to have, incessant chewing can cause limping, swelling, redness, and bleeding when left untreated.

When to See Your Germantown Vet About Paw Chewing

One of the biggest things to look out for is a sudden change in diet. If this happens, it’s a sure sign that an infection could be to blame. Additionally, if you notice that your dog has started to scratch himself in other areas, you’ll want to have him tested for fleas and other parasites by your trusted Germantown vet. Our veterinarians are here to help no matter what your pet’s condition may be. From dry skin to parasites and everything in between, trust Germantown Vet to get your precious pal back to normal in no time!

Contact our team today to schedule your next vet visit.

Why Is My Dog’s Nose Dry?

Is your dog’s nose lacking its usual characteristic dampness? Before we give more details on dry dog noses, let us put your mind at ease. In most cases, a dry nose is no cause for concern. However, there are some situations when it may be a sign of something more serious.

As a pet owner, it’s important to understand the difference, and when it’s time to call on your local Germantown vet.

Why Do Dogs’ Noses Get Dry?

A damp dog nose is a feature caused by a thin layer of mucus. This mucus is essentially a scent aid, trapping smells so that dogs can get a better feel for what they’re sniffing at. You may also often see your dog licking their nose. This is basically their way of learning more about something by “tasting” the smell of it.

“A wet nose means a healthy dog,” or some variation of that common saying, is something we’ve all heard. However, it’s mostly misguided. We notice that our dog’s noses are wet because our dogs are frequently active while we are around—hunting for a scent, anticipating a treat, and other activities that would engender alertness.  In truth, a dog’s nose becomes dry or wet based on a variety of factors.

A dog’s nose becomes dry and warm when they are sleeping, for one example. Other, more external conditions also apply, such as weather and humidity. Or maybe your dog simply hasn’t licked his or her nose in a few minutes!

Is a Dry Nose Ever Something to Worry About?

Your pet can’t tell you when something is wrong. Because of this, taking careful stock of their health through behaviors and visual cues is very important. A dry nose can be a sign of a larger issue, particularly if it is accompanied by the following:

  • Dry skin or flaking around the nose – Inflammation, excessive dryness that leads to flaking or cracking, or a presence of blisters is your cue to call your vet.
  • Unusual mucus or nasal discharge – Discolored mucus (sickly green or yellowish), a constant runny nose, or nasal discharge can all be clear signs of an infection.
  • Frequent coughing and sneezing – Dogs are actually quite susceptible to allergies, just as humans are. It could be food allergies, dust, pollen, or many others. Your veterinarian can help you to identify dog allergies.
  • Notable shifts in behavior – A sick pup will often display wildly unusual behavior. If yours is suddenly aggressive, refuses to eat, is whimpering, or is otherwise not acting like their usual bouncy self, it’s best to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Call on Germantown Vet Clinic for Dog Treatment in Maryland

If you’re concerned about your pet’s dry nose, or other symptoms are showing, call on Germantown Vet right away! We are dedicated to providing prompt, professional pet care.

Call 240-252-7467 to schedule an appointment any time, or feel free to contact us online!