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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Are You Ready to Adopt a New Pet?

Sharing your home and life with a pet can be immensely rewarding. It's also a lot of responsibility. Sadly, many dogs and cats are surrendered to animal shelters or just dropped somewhere to fend for themselves because people underestimate everything involved in pet ownership. Some pets find another home only to repeat the cycle and others are euthanized before they can find their permanent home. That is why it's so essential to thoughtfully consider all that caring for a pet entails.

Your Decision Will Affect You for Years


According to the American Humane Association, the average lifespan for dogs is 12 to 15 years while cats can live 15 to 20 years. The little puppy or kitten you bring home today will age rapidly and require your care for a lifetime. Before you act on a whim, be sure to think about the following:
  • Are you anticipating any major changes that might affect your ability to care for a pet, such as a move, new job, getting married, or having a baby?
  • What do you plan to do if someone in your household is allergic to the new pet or can't get along with her?
  • If the pet is for your children, are they responsible enough to care for him? Are you willing to take over the duties if they don't meet them or when they move out on their own?
  • Can you afford to care for a pet? Click here to see what you can expect to spend the first year and beyond.
  • Are your current living arrangements a good set-up for a pet? An older cat may do just fine in a one-bedroom apartment, but an energetic puppy could annoy the neighbors and become destructive.
  • What will you do with your pet when you travel for business or go on vacation?
  • Are you willing to get your pet immunized as well as spayed or neutered?
  • How will you handle behavioral issues such as chewed up furniture and inappropriate elimination?
  • Do you have time to play with and exercise your pet?
  • Will your pet spend most of her time alone?
These are a lot of questions, but it's important to honestly reflect on your answer to each one of them. Even if you decide that now isn't the best time to adopt a pet, that doesn't mean you can't revisit the issue later.

Establish a Veterinary Relationship Right Away

If you decide you're ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership, one of the first things to do is schedule a check-up for your new dog or cat at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital. We will get your pet started on a vaccine schedule and complete a full head-to-tail exam. We also recommend spaying or neutering your new pet as soon as possible if he or she is not yet altered. Congratulations on your new family member and we hope to see you soon.
Photo Credit: Rozowynos / Getty Images

What Are Hot Spots and What Can You Do About Them?


Your dog or cat can develop hot spots, also known as acute moist dermatitis, due to a combination of moisture and bacteria on her skin. As the condition becomes more bothersome, you will notice her licking, scratching, or biting her skin to try to relieve the discomfort. This only makes the problem worse. Some of the most common causes of hot spots include lack of grooming, flea allergies, mange, food allergies, and tick bites.
Hot spots can be more of a problem during the hot and humid months of summer. The excess moisture on your pet’s skin provides a warm, moist place for bacteria to multiply. Be sure to groom your pet consistently and to check his skin for signs that he could be developing a hot spot.

Symptoms of Hot Spots in Dogs and Cats
Companion animals with hot spots typically have at least a few of these symptoms:
  • Pus build-up or oozing from a sore
  • Swelling not otherwise explained
  • Constant chewing, licking, and other attempts to relieve the discomfort
  • Raised or red lesions
  • Brown or red coloring in or around the area
  • Odor coming from the area of the hot spot
If you notice any of these signs, please contact us to schedule an immediate evaluation for your pet.
Treat Hot Spots and Preventing Future Outbreaks
The best way to prevent your pet from developing hot spots in the first place is to keep her skin healthy. This includes regular grooming and year-round parasite protection. Your pet’s fur is more likely to attract moisture if it’s matted, which in turn can attract parasites. Sometimes the excess scratching, biting, and licking is due to a behavioral cause rather than a medical one. In either case, the staff at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital can help you develop a treatment plan.
The first thing we do for an animal with hot spots is to trim the fur around it and clean the area using a mild anesthetic. Cortisone cream may be useful if your pet has severe itching. We have a wide range of flea and tick, grooming, and other products that can help you treat and prevent your pet’s hot spots in our online store. Summer is short enough as it is. Make sure your pet has a fun and safe summer by treating hot spots right away.

Pets Get Allergies and Asthma Too

It’s prime allergy season, which is why the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation chose May for its awareness campaign. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month was designed with humans in mind, but it’s a great opportunity for pet owners to learn more about the prevention, symptoms, and treatment of these conditions as well.
Signs of Asthma in Dogs and Cats
The cases of asthma in companion animals is growing because of their increased exposure to pollution in the environment. Cats are far more likely to develop the condition than dogs. However, many people don’t recognize the symptoms as asthma because they assume their cat is trying to cough up a hairball. Some of the most common triggers of asthma in pets include:
Household dust and dust from cat litter
  • Pollen from trees and grass
  • Fumes from car exhaust
  • Mold and mildew
  • Fireplace and tobacco smoke
  • Chemicals and household sprays, such as perfume and cleaning products
Your pet will cough and wheeze when she is experiencing a flare-up of asthma, but displays no symptoms in between bouts. If your dog or cat develops severe asthma, she will cough, wheeze, pant constantly, and breathe with an open mouth every day. Left untreated, these chronic symptoms can be life-threatening. It’s common for pet parents to confuse asthma symptoms with kennel cough, which is why seeking immediate treatment is so important.

Typical Allergies in Pets
Allergies in companion animals typically fall into one of these four categories:
  • Food: An allergy to food can develop at any age and isn’t necessarily due to a diet change. Wheat, soy, beef, and chicken are among the most common ingredients in commercial pet food that cause allergy symptoms. If your pet requires a prescription diet, you can order the food in our online store.
  • Fleas: Some dogs and cats are especially sensitive to flea saliva. If your pet is allergic to it, he may scratch himself to the point of drawing blood due to severe skin irritation.
  • Contact: Allergy triggers in this category include anything that touches your pet’s skin, such as shampoo.
  • Inhalant: Pollen, dust, and smoke are all examples of inhalant allergy triggers. Your pet develops a reaction after breathing them in.
You can usually tell when a person has allergies due to frequent sneezing, a stuffy nose, or watery eyes. It isn’t always as obvious with pets. Your dog or cat will likely lick or scratch herself excessively to try to get rid of the discomfort. Unfortunately, this can cause additional irritation to the skin that could lead to an infection.
How to Help Your Pet with Allergies or Asthma
Please contact Minnesota Veterinary Hospital right away if your notice excessive scratching or licking, wheezing, or coughing in your dog or cat. We will evaluate your pet by asking about his home environment and diet and then run some laboratory tests. This helps us isolate the cause of the symptoms. Most pets with allergies or asthma respond well to medications used to treat their condition. You may need to make minor changes at home also, such as switching food brands or making sure no one smokes around your pet.