In-home pet care

A great deal of your pet’s care takes place in the home. Here are some basic guidelines for your cat or dog. Click on the bar for details.

FEEDING AND WATERING

ADULT CATS should ideally be fed dry or canned food twice daily. Canned food is preferred, to add moisture to the diet to help prevent or lessen urinary tract disease and to help maintain a healthy body weight. Ask your veterinarian for specific diet recommendations. Keep fresh water available at all times and consider cat water fountains to encourage water intake.

KITTENS should have access to food and water at all times. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding age-specific diets and feeding schedules.

HOUSING AND LIFESTYLE

INDOOR CATS – Cats love vertical space. If at all possible, have cat trees available that they can sleep in and play on, and boxes they can play on and hide in. Scratching posts are recommended for exercise and entertainment; sprinkle the post with catnip to increase its appeal.

OUTDOOR CATS – It is always safest to keep cats indoors to prevent disease, vehicular trauma, poisonings, and animal attacks. However, if a cat must be allowed outdoors, it should only be during daylight hours. Most attacks by other animal attacks occur at dawn, dusk, and in the evenings.

LITTER BOXES – Households should have 1 more litter box than the number of cats (e.g., 2 cats, 3 litter boxes). Scoopable litter is preferred, and should be scooped twice daily and the litter box completely cleaned once weekly with soap and hot water. Litter boxes without hoods are preferable.

TOYS – Cats love laser pointers, cat nip/cat-nip filled toys, and other toys that stimulate their hunting instincts; however, avoid toys with small parts, strings, and bells, and inspect toys daily to see if any worn pieces could pose a choking hazard.

GROOMING – Cats can be brushed once daily to help prevent or lessen hairballs. A hairball remedy such as Laxaire may be needed if hairballs persist.

DENTAL HYGIENE – Tartar control treats (CET treats) or diets (Hills T/D) may also help slow tartar formation. These will all help to lengthen the time between dental cleanings.

HEARTWORM AND FLEA PREVENTION – Heartworm and flea prevention are recommended every 30 days, year round, for outdoor and indoor cats. We sell Advantage Multi, a convenient combination product that contains both heartworm and flea prevention in the same medication.  It also treats intestinal parasites and ear mites, which can be helpful with outdoor cats.

FEEDING AND WATERING:

ADULT DOGS should have access to fresh water at all times. They should be fed twice daily with a high quality diet that is appropriate for life stage (puppy, senior, adult maintenance), or for a specific medical condition (such as urinary diets, weight loss diets, etc.). Ask your veterinarian for specific diet recommendations.

PUPPIES should have access to water at all times, and generally recommend feeding three times daily until 4 months of age. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations regarding age-specific diets and feeding schedules.

HOUSING AND LIFESTYLE:

OUTDOOR ENCLOSURES: Dogs that are allowed outdoors must be provided with a shady enclosure; but in Central Texas we recommend that you keep your dogs indoors between 10am and 6pm in the summer to avoid temperature extremes. It is also recommended to postpone activities during these hours to prevent heat stroke. – Short nosed (brachycephalic) breeds (such as English bulldogs, Pugs, Pekingeses, Shih Tzus, Boxers, Pugs, and Boston terriers) should be kept indoors when temperatures exceed 80 degrees, since they overheat much more quickly than other breeds. – Puppies and small-breed dogs should not be left unattended outside, to prevent attacks from birds of prey. – Unspayed females and unneutered males should not be allowed outdoors, to prevent escaping through fences and accidental matings. During thunderstorms and fireworks, dogs should be kept indoors so they don’t escape from the yard and get lost.

TOYS: Durable toys such as thick rope toys, Nylabones, and Kongs (hardrubber toys that can be filled with peanut butter) can be provided. Avoid toys with small parts, and inspect toys daily to see if any worn pieces could pose a choking hazard.

POTTY TRAINING: The decision of whether to crate train, or to train puppies to potty outside, may depend on the individual puppy’s household and lifestyle. Owners should consider that puppies can only “hold their bladder” for about one hour per month of age (for example, a 3-month-old puppy can only hold his or her bladder for 3 hours).

OBEDIENCE TRAINING: Training is recommended for puppies to help them acclimate to the household and learn proper manners. We can recommend several trainers who are excellent with general puppy classes; some can also address individual behavioral issues. Puppies should not go to public parks, etc. until finished with the puppy vaccination series.

GROOMING: Dogs that shed often may need to be brushed daily. Baths can be given as needed. Avoid flea baths, as they can dry the skin and cause itchiness. Oatmeal shampoos are best, as they are gentle on the skin.

DENTAL CARE: Daily brushing is recommended. Always use a pet-safe toothpaste (human toothpaste products can make pets sick). Tartar control treats (CET chews or Oravet treats) or diets (Hills T/D) may also help slow tartar formation. These will all help to lengthen the time between dental cleanings.

HEARTWORM PREVENTION AND FLEA CONTROL: These products are recommended every 30 days, year round. We carry several different types of heartworm prevention and flea control.  Please discuss your pet’s lifestyle with the veterinarian so they can recommend the ideal product for your pet’s needs.

NAIL TRIMMING: Different dogs have different nail trimming needs. Active dogs that do most of their walking on pavement or rough surfaces rarely need nail trims, whereas those who walk on soft surfaces or are not very active may need more frequent attention. Dewclaws (the “thumbnails”) often grow longer since they do not contact the ground, and can grow into the paw pad if left unattended. We can instruct you on how to check your dog’s nails and perform nail trims at home, or we can trim them for you in our office.

ANAL GLAND EXPRESSION: Most dogs do not routinely need anal gland expressions. Dogs that scoot on their bottom, lick their bottom, have discomfort when sitting, or turn around and look at their hind end, may need their anal glands expressed. If anal glands become full, they may become infected or rupture. If you suspect your dog may be having this problem, an examination is recommended. Early treatment can lead to better comfort.