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.

Preparing for Winter as a Pet Owner

Beautiful black dog with snowflakes on them.

When the cold temperatures set in, you winterize your home, salt your walkways, and get a flu shot… but what about your pets? Your furry friends also require some special provisions to keep them warm, healthy, and happy through snowy days and cold nights. Read on to discover ways to protect your pets and ensure that the purrs and tail wags last all winter long.

Keep Your Pets Warm

Since they can’t start a fire or put on a sweater, your pets rely on you for comfort. Inside pets and outside pets have very different needs in the winter:

Inside pets: If your cat or dog lives in the house with you 100% of the time, you don’t have to worry much about frostbite and hypothermia. But if your home feels a little too chilly to you during the winter, your pets are probably thinking the same thing. If you want your pal to be cozy, make sure to provide extra blankets. If they frequently sleep or lounge on non-carpeted floors, consider purchasing a bed just for them so they don’t have to lie directly on the floor.

For dogs in particular, think about when you’re walking them. If your routine now has them walking in the dark when temperatures are significantly lower, consider changing it to walk them during daylight hours as much as possible.

Outside pets: Pets that live outside are at risk of frostbite and hypothermia during very low temperatures. The general rule is: If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. Your pet’s fur keeps him warm, but lying on the cold ground with no shelter will leach the heat out of their body no matter how much fur they have.

Get ready for winter by making sure your outdoor pet has a shelter that is tight, free of drafts, and doesn’t let rain in. Get them off the cold ground with thick wool blankets. You can put the bedding on top of a pallet to lift them even higher off the ground. It’s best to make provisions for keeping your pet inside when temperatures drop significantly. Huskies and other cold-weather breeds might be okay sleeping in a waterproof kennel, but dogs not bred for cold climates will suffer in very cold weather.

Protect their paws

The pads on your dogs’ and cats’ paws are just like your fingers – they’re not protected against the cold and can dry out in the winter. Keep a towel by the door, as well as any treats or toys needed to help keep your pet in one place. When your pets enter from outside, stop them at the door and check their paws. Clean and dry them, making sure to dry between their toes and remove any snow or ice. If your dog is going to be outside a lot during snow and ice, consider investing in some specialized booties to keep their paws clean, warm, and dry. You can also purchase protective wax for your dogs’ paws that forms a barrier against ice, snow, and chemicals.

Watch out for winter hazards

Winter brings extremely cold weather, as well as many fun and festive traditions. Both of these can represent added risks for your pet, so be aware of the following items:

  • Holiday lights – They provide a festive flair, but they can electrocute your pet or present a fire risk when chewed on. Keep them out of your pets’ reach!
  • Holiday decorations – Even non-electric decorations pose a threat to your pets if ingested. Tinsel, ornaments, wrapping paper, and anything new and shiny could be tempting for your pet to chew on and swallow. Keep them out of your pets’ reach, or don’t leave your pet alone with them.
  • Fireplaces & space heaters – Your pet may want to snuggle close to a space heater or fireplace for warmth, which could result in singed fur, burns, or house fires. Never leave your pet unsupervised around an open heat source.
  • Winter treats – Winter activities often involve a slew of baking and cooking. Trays of gingerbread cookies, warm apple pies, and Christmas hams sitting on counters can present a tantalizing temptation to your pet. Keep these treats out of reach of your furry friend to prevent hurt tummies and ruined dinners.
  • Salt/De-icers – If you live in an area with frequent snowfall, it’s common for cities and homeowners to use salt and de-icing products on sidewalks and walkways. Be mindful of walking your dog over these – they can dry out paws and are often toxic if ingested. Avoid walking in those areas, or protect your pet’s paws with booties or wax paw protectors.
  • Antifreeze – This chemical is used to keep cars running in cold weather. It tastes sweet but is highly toxic. Puddles of antifreeze in garages and driveways can be tempting to pets, so clean it up as soon as there is a spill.

Contact Germantown Veterinary Clinic for Any Winter Pet Woes

Winter presents several new challenges for pet owners, but with the right preparations in place, you can rest assured that your furry friends will be safe and happy. However, mishaps can occur in spite of the best-laid plans. If your pet eats your ornaments, gorges on your holiday meal, or shows signs of frostbite, give us a call.

We provide emergency care during regular business hours (call 240-252-7467) and after hours at the Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Rockville (call 301-637-3228). You can also contact us online with any questions about keeping your pet safe this winter.

Help Your Pet Cope with Separation Anxiety When You Return to Work

While humans lamented the shelter-in-place orders that forced them to stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, pets all over the world rejoiced as their companions no longer left them alone for long hours during the day. However, as businesses begin to reopen and pet owners return to work, these furry friends might not take too kindly to the sudden change in routine.

For the past eight months, your pets have grown accustomed to having your company throughout the day. While some may adjust without issue to your sudden return to work, others might struggle with separation anxiety due to your absence. Helping your pet cope with separation anxiety as you return to work isn’t always easy, but there are simple steps you can take to ensure your pal stays as paw-sitive as possible.

Understanding Separation Anxiety in Pets

What Is Separation Anxiety?

Just like humans, animals delight in having a routine they can trust, and that provides them with a sense of stability. Think back to how you felt when the coronavirus outbreak started: You may have felt scared, withdrawn, depressed, or even self-destructive. Pets experience these same feelings when their routines are turned upside down.

Separation anxiety is categorized by a severe aversion to being left alone. Pets can demonstrate a broad range of symptoms that can indicate to their owners that they have a real problem with being left to their own devices. It’s important for pet owners to understand when and if their furry friend has such an issue so they can help them adjust accordingly.

Signs Your Pet Has Separation Anxiety

There are a number of different ways in which your pet can communicate to you that they have separation anxiety, including:

  • Pacing
  • Hiding or appearing withdrawn
  • Relieving themselves in the home (or outside the litter box if you have cats)
  • Scratch marks on windows and doors from trying to escape
  • Destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging, scratching, etc.
  • Hypersalivation (excessive drooling)
  • Increased barking, whining, crying, etc.

Sometimes pet owners won’t know about their friend’s separation anxiety until they return home after being away for long hours. Perhaps they left you a not-so-thoughtful present in the form of a new carpet stain or a destroyed couch cushion. Don’t worry: You aren’t doomed to a life indoors. There are simple steps you can take to ensure both you and your pet can achieve a greater state of emotional well-being during your hours apart.

Tips for Helping Pets Cope When You Return to Work

Pets are highly intelligent and can be trained to feel more confident when their owners aren’t at home. By using the tips below, you can help your furry friend feel better about spending time alone while you’re at work:

  • Stay Calm: Even though it can make you feel good inside that your pet wants you to stay, it’s important not to encourage anxious behavior by giving them attention when they exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety. Stay calm and only give your pet attention once they’ve calmed down, too.
  • Start Slow: Give your pet a chance to adjust by taking 15-minute breaks apart. Once they’re able to handle 15 minutes away from you, increase the time apart by another 15 minutes, and so on until you feel comfortable in their ability to be alone.
  • Exercise Daily: Make sure your pet is thoroughly exercised before you leave for the day, as this will help them stay relaxed. Give them some more exercise when you get home so they can burn off the excess energy they have pent up from being alone all day as well.
  • Food Puzzles: Leave your pet with a fun food puzzle to keep them entertained while you’re away.
  • Desensitize Objects: Try wearing your shoes inside while hanging out at home and leaving your keys out for your pets to see that these objects aren’t always associated with your departure.
  • Keep Company: Have a friend or neighbor stop by to keep your pet company if you think they need more attention than you’re able to provide with your busy schedule.

Training your pet to be alone without fear is the first step to living a happier, healthier life together!

When to See Your Germantown Vet

In some cases, your pal might have a bit more difficulty adjusting to the change. That’s okay — the veterinary professionals at Germantown Vet are available to help find a treatment that’s suitable for your best friend’s separation anxiety. If your pet has severe anxiety that can’t be cured through training, reach out to our team to schedule an appointment and begin their path to wellness today.

What to Do When Your Dog Swallows Something They Shouldn’t

Have you ever heard the expression “dogs eat anything”? If you own a dog, you know firsthand that from time to time, they get curious and occasionally try to ingest something that they shouldn’t.

We’ve all heard the stories of a dog having to be rushed to the ER to have their stomach pumped ― or of a dog who ate a foreign object, passed it, and was back to normal immediately after. But there’s no way to know which outcome is likely for your dog, so what should you do when they eat something they shouldn’t? Should you take him/her to the vet or wait to see if it passes? Check out what our veterinary experts have to say.

For emergency vet services, contact Germantown Vet online or call us at 240-252-7467.

Signs Your Dog Ate Something Foreign

If your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it may mean that they have likely ingested something foreign or toxic:

  • Vomiting or gagging
  • Painful abdomen
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in typical behavior
  • Changes in bowels (diarrhea, constipation, etc.)

Go to The Vet Immediately

If your dog ingests a foreign object, you should take them to the vet right away. If your normal vet is unavailable, call a 24-hour emergency animal clinic and describe the situation. The best thing to do is to allow the professionals to properly assess the situation.

Owners should not wait to see if the object will pass on its own. Do not try to induce vomiting, as there are some foreign bodies that can cause just as much harm coming back out.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Foreign Objects

The best way to keep your dog from ingesting foreign objects is to take preventive measures. One of the easiest things to do if an owner knows that their dog is prone to eating certain foreign objects is to not allow access to them.

It’s also advisable to “dog-proof” your house to limit access to objects. It’s similar to having a baby. When you have a baby, you have to be diligent about keeping doors closed and keeping things off the floor and out of the baby’s reach. When you have a dog that likes to consume everything, you need to do the exact same thing.

If you have any further questions on how to respond when your dog eats something they shouldn’t or on how to “dog-proof” your home, contact our experts at Germantown Vet ― call us at 240-252-7467.

May is National Chip Your Pet Month

Microchips help pet owners reunite with their pets, and the devices are now gaining more awareness. Now, the new technology has become a standard practice for veterinarians and animal shelters.

The technology helps shelters return pets to their rightful owners faster. Locating owners through microchips helps prevent animal shelters from overcrowding, which reduces the stress levels for all the animals.

A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice, and it’s inserted between your pet’s shoulder blades. It has a unique number that’s connected to your contact information. If your pet is lost and taken to an animal shelter, technicians will check for a microchip right away. If your pet has a chip, it will be much easier to reunite you with your furry friend. No worrying about lost collars or tags – your pet’s microchip is unique and permanent, so it offers a lifetime of protection.

May is National Chip Your Pet Month, so take advantage of all the benefits of microchips this month! Call our veterinarians today at 240-252-7467 or contact Germantown Vet online.

Reasons You Should Get Your Pet Microchipped

Wondering if getting your pet microchipped is a good idea? Here are some benefits to using the microchip’s technology:

  • It causes little to no discomfort
  • It can help return your pet
  • It protects against theft
  • It offers peace of mind
  • It lasts a lifetime
  • It is not expensive
  • It takes pressure off animal shelters and rescue centers
  • It can save lives
  • It encourages responsible pet ownership

Choose to Microchip Your Pet This Month!

Microchipping provides you with peace of mind, as an owner – the reality of microchip technology is that it keeps your pet safer and more secure

Choose to microchip your pet this month by contacting our vets at Germantown Vet – call our team at 240-252-7467 today!

Caring for Your Pets During COVID-19

We are all facing unprecedented changes in our work lives, social lives, and family lives during this shelter-in-place response to the coronavirus pandemic. This situation is very difficult for everyone; however, many do not realize the unique challenges pet owners face.

Germantown Vet understands that your furry companions are also affected by the outbreak and that you have to ensure their needs are met during this difficult time.

If you’re worried about whether your pet can get the coronavirus or have any other questions about your pet’s health, contact Germantown Vet online or call our trusted veterinarians at 240-252-7467 today.

How to Care for Your Pet During COVID-19

Many people are enjoying spending more quality time with their furry friends now that we’re staying in at home. However, spending time outside in public with our pets (like at parks) may be more difficult.

To ensure your pet is getting the mental and physical stimulation from the outdoors that he or she needs to thrive during this time, you should consider different ways to keep him or her moving and engaged. Here are some ways to keep your pet moving:

  • Play “hide and seek” with your pet
  • Build an indoor obstacle course
  • Train your pet to use the treadmill

Training Opportunities

Do you have extra time on your hands due to the coronavirus? Now is a good time to use your skills in positive reinforcement training. With some treats and rewards, you can teach even your old pup some new tricks.

Puzzle Toys

During this time, you can also order some puzzle toys online to get your pet thinking. Mental stimulation can help your pet manage the anxiety that comes with learning a new routine, managing with less exercise, and dealing with residual stress from the family during these difficult times.

Indoor Exercise

For some people, going outdoors for regular playtime is impossible during the spread of coronavirus. Now is the time to consider some creative ways to get your pet moving – even if you’re cooped up in your house or apartment. Indoor exercise is a win for everyone, both pets and family.

Look Out for Your Pet During COVID-19

Our pets rely on us at all times, but especially during this difficult time in society. Whether you’re simply looking for ways to keep your pet busy and happy or your pet is handling a sickness or emergency, our team at Germantown Vet is here for you.

Contact our team online or call our vets at 240-252-7467. Germantown Vet applauds your efforts to help your pet(s) make it through the coronavirus pandemic safely.