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Morris Foundation for Animals Golden Retriever Research
University Animal Hospital Nominated for Small Business of the Year in Tempe!
Tempe Chamber of Commerce Finalist Award University Animal Hospital
University Animal Hospital Celebrating 50 Years of Accreditation 

What You Need to Know About Animal Noise Phobia

Unusually loud noises can disturb beloved pets. Pets may hide or exhibit distress during thunderstorms and celebrations, including the Fourth of July. While annual displays of fireworks attract the attention of the community and is a way our nation celebrates its patriotism, many dogs and cats do not care for such loud demonstrations. Understand more about animal noise phobia to help your pet feel safe and secure during unusual periods of loud noise.

Look for Signs of Animal Noise Phobia

Dogs and cats can exhibit various levels of distress from thunderstorms and loud noises. Degree of anxiety can differ. Your pet may be exhibiting animal noise phobia when he or she:

  • Snuggles, trembles or attempts to hide. Responsible pet owners can help their pet by reducing exposure to the noise and the elements.
  • Screams, howls, demonstrates destructive behavior, or hurts themself in an attempt to escape. This situation may be more than a

    pet owner can handle on their own. Intervention from a veterinarian behaviorist or using prescribed behavioral medication may be necessary to reduce the stress on a pet and make it less likely that they will injure themself when upset.

Your dog or cat can express a range of behaviors demonstrating their stress. Treatment depends on their level of animal noise phobia.

Reduce Environmental Triggers

Pet owners can reduce an animal’s exposure to the elements and decrease their anxiety. Veterinarians recommend:

  • Closing any curtains or blinds to reduce the visual displays of the storm or celebration.
  • Keep the lights on.
  • Put on the TV or radio to create familiar noise inside to keep animals calm.
  • Permit the animal to hide in a safe place if it allows him or her to relax.
  • Exercise your pet before a storm or loud experience may occur. This will help decrease feelings of anxiety and can lower the level of a pet’s reaction.
  • Stay calm yourself and attempt to engage the pet in an activity that they enjoy.

These actions are useful for pets that experience lower levels of animal noise phobia. For animals demonstrating behaviors at the higher end, medication or behavioral intervention may be the best solution.

Loud noise can frighten cats as well as dogs. Sirens, thunder, and fire crackers can cause discomfort to sensitive ears. The stress can impact their mental and physical well-being, depending on the level of noise phobia that they express. Cats and dogs can experience animal noise phobia. Intervention begins at reducing their exposure to the noise and their stress during the experience. Consult a veterinarian to determine the best approach for your pet’s animal noise phobia case.

You Can Help Your Pet

Cats and dogs thrive in calm and loving environments. Avoid punishing pets that eliminate or become destructive during a storm. Beyond the immediate need to reduce a pet’s anxiety during an incident, working to slowly desensitize your pet to specific noises is possible with collaboration with an animal behavior doctor. Your understanding of your pet’s stress is key to helping them begin to cope with their animal noise phobia.

Pet owners can reduce the intensity of stress in the life of a pet. Animal noise phobia is a condition that you can positively impact. You can improve your pet’s sense of well-being. Dr. Amber Naig, a staff behavior doctor at University Animal Hospital, guides pet owners in treatment of animal noise phobia. Contact 480-968-9275 to schedule a consultation and learn how to treat animal noise phobia in your pet today.

Exercising With Pets: Is There a Limit?

Part of your duty as a pet owner is to make sure that your pets stay in great shape. Exercising with your pets may be the best path to reaching this goal; however, you should be careful! Here are some of the pros and cons of exercising with your pets.

The Pros of Exercising With Your Pets

Your pet will motivate you to exercise. If you do not have a human partner to keep your energy level up, then a pet can be a great second to help you burn through those plateaus. You will do the same for your pet, believe it or not.

If you exercise on a schedule, then your pet will begin to function as a real life alarm clock. Pets tend to enjoy life on a schedule, and you can actually train your pet to bring you its leash and go outside at a certain time. This is an invaluable asset for people who live alone and who may not have the motivation to exercise on a consistent basis.

Exercising with your pet will extend the life of your pet and save you money on medical bills later on in its life. Pets are no different from humans: Sedentary humans and pets do not live as long, nor do they have as high a quality of life. There are simply too many health benefits to stay inside when the world outside is calling you and your pet.

The Cons of Exercising With Your Pets

First of all, you cannot run with a dog that has not been trained! If you have not trained a dog to run on a leash and ignore the many distractions of the road, you may end up with a dog that your neighbors hate, a lawsuit or worse. Make sure that your dog knows how to behave in public before you take him out for extended exercise sessions. Under no circumstances should you exercise with your pet off of the leash, especially if you have a more dangerous breed of dog!

You must be careful with puppies, kittens and other baby pets. Their joints have not yet developed enough to run for extended periods. According to most veterinarians, you should wait until your pet is at least one year old before you begin exercising with it using any organized regimen.

If you try to exercise with your pet on extended walks, your pet may take this opportunity to relieve itself at random points. You must be ready to clean up after your pet, especially if you go exercising through a neighborhood with private property. Do not let your pet relieve itself on private property under any circumstances, or you may find yourself dealing with an angry homeowner’s association or a judge.

Do not take your pets to run out on an extendable leash. Most pets are too fast for humans to react with the leash limit if they run off or get scared or distracted.

Here in the desert we must be very careful in the warmer months.  If the pavement is too hot for your hand or foot then it is too hot for your pet’s paws.  Also heat stroke is a real threat, even in the spring and fall when temperatures are moderate.  Please be aware.  Once your pet exhibits the signs of heat stroke, it may be too late.  Exercise may have to be done after dark, or at dawn, or in extreme heat indoors.

Like us, our pets have to be conditioned.  Start with a short walk and slowly extend the speed and distance as you both get into better shape. If you have any questions about exercising with your pet, please call us at University Animal Hospital.  Be safe and have fun!

My cat stays inside all day why do I need to take my cat to the vet?

On average, indoor cats live ten years longer than their outdoor cousins. Your indoor cat may be protected from many health issues by a relatively pampered lifestyle, but he or she shares one important trait that makes it wise for you to keep up with regular physical exams. Looking back at the heritage of cats, they will hide their illness or weakness as self-preservation because predators target weak or sick animals. Your cat may appear perfectly fine to you when in reality he or she may be hiding a very serious illness or disease process.

Here are some diseases that are common to cats: arthritis, diabetes, thyroid trouble, kidney issues along with teeth and gum problems. As your cat ages, these diseases become more and more likely

to occur. The only way to discover these diseases is by having your cat examined and blood work done at least once a year and in some cases, twice a year. Some of these diseases are treatable with medication, surgery, or a change in diet. If your veterinarian spots these health issues soon enough, you could gain precious, additional months or years with your cat.

How do I safely get my cat to the veterinarian?

  1. The safest way is to put your cat in a carrier that you have familiarized your cat with so your cat is comfortable in it. Leave the carrier out in the open at home with comfy bedding and favorite toys in it so your cat gets

    used to it long before travel needs to occur.

  2. Some people have good luck with pheromone products like Feliway, which can be sprayed in the carrier and can make your cat feel better.
  3. Consult the American Association of Feline Practitioners (http://www.catvets.com/cat-owners/find-vets-and-practices) for cat friendly practices and many more tips on taking your cat to the veterinarian.

So what can you expect when you bring your cat in for a physical exam?

  • Your veterinarian will take your cat’s temperature, heart rate and pulse. Your veterinarian will listen to your cat’s heart and lungs and have a good look at the eyes, ears and mouth, and feel for any lumps.
  • Your cat’s weight is monitored at all visits and your veterinarian may advise changes in diet or feeding schedule to ward off obesity. Obesity is the leading cause of diabetes in cats.
  • Based on the exam and your discussion with your veterinarian, there may be a need for additional screening tests of your cat’s blood and urine.
  • Your veterinarian will advise you on any vaccines your cat may need and how often those vaccines need to be administered, based on the lifestyle of your cat.

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet: 5 Tips to Help You Through the Grieving Process

Although there are people who have difficulty understanding the devastation a pet owner feels when his or her pet dies, the majority of us share a deep bond with our pets and realize it is natural for pet owners to experience feelings of sadness and grief. For all of us at University Animal Hospital, our pets are family members; therefore, we understand the pain associated with the death of a pet. While you cannot hasten the grieving process, you can use the five tips below to comfort yourself as you move forward.

  1. Accept Your Need to Grieve

Exhibiting feelings of sadness, loneliness and/or fear does not represent weakness. These are normal reactions to the loss of a beloved pet: therefore, you should never feel ashamed about the sadness you are experiencing.

  • You Cannot Rush the Grieving Process: Everyone Grieves Differently

The grieving process can last anywhere from a few days, a couple months to several years; either way, it is a personal experience for each pet owner. The grieving process cannot be hurried: Be patient with yourself, allowing the process to unfold naturally.

You may want to spend time alone or request a leave from work during the early stages of your grieving process. It is okay to cry, feel angry, find moments of joy and laugh. The time will come when you are ready to move on.

  • A Helper Animal or Working Dog Complicates Grieving

If a pet plays a major role in an individual’s life, the grieving process becomes even more complicated. In a case such as this, the individual is grieving the loss of a companion, a coworker and possibly his or her own independence (i.e., a guide dog).

  1. Honor Your Pet’s Memory

Donate to The Humane Society or another charity in the name of your pet. Consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. If you enjoy writing, making music or painting, dedicate your latest creation to your pet.

  1. Openly Express Your Grief

Hiding your emotions causes the grieving process to be even more painful: As you grieve, talk about how you feel. If you are a parent and your children are also working through the grieving process, talk with them about their feelings. Reassure your children that feeling sad is okay and express your own sadness.

  • You Should Not Expect Everyone to Understand

There are people who disregard the loss of a pet: Most likely, they believe a pet’s death should not hurt as much as the pain felt with the loss of a human life. These individuals may not have a pet or cannot appreciate the love and companionship that a pet provides. Avoid arguing about the appropriateness of your grief; instead, realize that support may come from individuals outside your circle of friends and family.

  1. Have a Memorial

Holding a memorial for your pet can assist you in overcoming your loss. Hold a memorial to reminisce about the fun times you and your pet shared. The memorial can be private or with your friends and family. Write a letter or create a photo album that you can leave by his or her urn, or burial spot.

  1. Find Others Who Know the Pain Associated with the Loss of a Cherished Pet

Participate in a local pet grief support group: Individuals who participate in these support groups are familiar with the devastation related to the loss of a beloved pet.

If you live in or near Phoenix, consider participating in the Companion Animal Association of Arizona’s Pet Grief Support Group:

Companion Animal Association of Arizona, Inc.

Pet grief support group meets from 9:00 – 10:30 AM the first Saturday of every month

Hospice of the Valley

1510 East Flower Street Phoenix

To learn more, contact Marty Tousley at (602) 995-5885

Holiday Pet Hazards

As we approach the holidays, there are some pet hazards we wish to share with you:

Chocolate – Chocolate contains ingredients that can be toxic to pets. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. While dogs are the most susceptible, cats and other species may be affected, too. It is best to avoid letting any of your pets eat chocolate. If they have eaten chocolate and show signs of anxiety, agitation or vomiting, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Poinsettias and holly – These traditional holiday plants can cause mild irritation to a pet’s mouth and may cause minor drooling, decreased appetite or vomiting. Seek veterinary care if these signs progress.

Mistletoe – In small amounts, mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal irritation, possibly resulting in drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Larger amounts could cause more severe harm. Consult veterinary care immediately if your pet has eaten any mistletoe.

Electrical cords – Pets can easily be electrocuted if they chew through holiday light cords, which are usually thin and not insulated. Respiratory distress is a sign of electrocution, as well as a burn mark across the lips or tongue. Consult veterinary care immediately if your pet has these signs.

Tinsel – While it makes a beautiful decoration, tinsel can be deadly to your pet if swallowed. It can easily cause an intestinal blockage and leakage of the consumed material into the abdomen. If you suspect your pet has eaten tinsel, and it has a loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, seek veterinary care.

University Animal Hospital wishes everyone and their pet families a safe and happy holiday season and New Year!

Cats and dogs are increasingly developing diabetes

Many people may be unaware that, just like in humans, pets can develop diabetes. An animal may not be able to produce an adequate amount of insulin or their bodies may not be able to use the insulin in a normal way. The following information discusses the increase of diabetes in pets, some of the symptoms pets may have, and how to care for a pet with diabetes.

An Increase in Diabetes

There has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the number of pets being diagnosed with diabetes. It’s estimated that approximately one in 1200 cats will develop the disease while one in 200 dogs will be diagnosed with diabetes. Pets can suffer from both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. While some causes of diabetes are either genetic or caused by certain autoimmune diseases, just like in humans, diabetes is often preventable in pets as well. Obesity and a lack of exercise are the primary reasons pets will develop this condition. Interestingly, while both overweight dogs and cats are more susceptible to the disease, male cats are more likely to get diagnosed while female dogs are more likely to get diabetes.

Symptoms of Diabetes in Pets

There are several symptoms pets can have that may be an indication they have diabetes. A few of the more obvious signs that a dog or cat may have developed diabetes include excessive thirst as well as an increase in the amount of urination. Weight loss and lethargy may also be signs of diabetes in pets. A pet that has normally been very active and has increasingly become sedentary in a short amount of time may very well be suffering from a health condition. A few other symptoms a pet may also develop include unusually sweet-smelling breath or a urinary infection. If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Caring for Pets with Diabetes

Making sure a pet receives proper nutrition

and adequate exercise are the key components to keeping them as healthy as possible. You should have a daily exercise routine for your pet to follow that is compatible to the animal’s individual needs. Talk to your vet about providing a diet that provides all the necessary nutrients your pet may need but that is as low calorie as possible. Treatment options may include a high fiber diet or certain oral medications that can help stabilize glucose levels. Many pets may require insulin injections to adequately regulate blood glucose. This type of insulin treatment is usually based on weight. Spaying a female dog may reduce the chance of diabetes since hormones can affect blood sugar levels. The following are some recommendations that are specific to cats and dogs.

  • Dietary Tips for Cats – It’s recommended that carbohydrates be cut out of a cat’s diet as much as possible. Dry food is also not a good choice. High protein, moist food is often the best choice for a cat. It’s also

    recommended to give the cat insulin within an hour after eating to offset the rise in blood sugar from the food.

  • Dietary Tips for Dogs – It’s suggested that dogs eat a diet that has 30 to 40 percent of the calories from protein. A diet high in fiber may also help to fight the blood sugar fluctuations that occur after eating. Both cats and dogs that are diabetic should visit a veterinarian several times a year for checkups.

How to Identify and Address Cat Anxiety Disorder

Furry felines are a beloved member of the household. Cat owners know that cats, like people, have moods and can become irritated. Cats express stress in unexpected ways that can be easily misunderstood or overlooked. In addition, some symptoms mimic a medical condition that requires a veterinarian’s intervention. You need to know what to look for in order to help your cat feel safe and stay healthy.

Look for These Signs

Cats can develop upset stomachs and intestinal distress just like their human counterparts. Some of the results of cat anxiety can cause your feline friend to experience inflammation and changes to the frequency of his or her urination and bowel movements.

Cat anxiety symptoms include:

  • Increased frequency in urination
  • Painful urination
  • The possible presence of blood in the urine
  • Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box
  • Diarrhea

Bladder inflammation can result in a blockage that can be deadly when left untreated. Immediately bring your cat to your veterinarian anytime your cat is frequently going to the litter box to urinate, this is especially true for male cats.

Medication and sometimes a diet like Hills C/D Stress can help to calm the condition. This is an area where cat

anxiety disorder symptoms can resemble medical conditions such as arthritis, stomach upset or a bladder infection. A visit to the vet is strongly suggested.

General behaviors can change when cats are:

  • Over-grooming and developing bald spots
  • Excessively meowing or crying
  • Chewing or eating unusual items, such as cloth
  • Exhibiting restlessness, walking back and forth guarding the home
  • Demonstrating unusual withdrawal from the area and hiding under beds, closets or preferred nooks

Any changes in your cat’s behavior can be indications of illness. In order to rule out illness, a visit to your veterinarian is always the first step. Once your cat has been handed a clean bill of health, we can concentrate on eliminating stress factors that are causing the behavior.

Determine the Cause of Cat Anxiety

Document the symptoms and try to determine when the behaviors first began. Your veterinarian will inquire as to the start of the symptoms. Find the reason for the change in order to address the issue. Help your cat return to her calm and natural state.

Parasites and Physical Discomfort

Claws that are excessively long can cause pain. Overgrown nails are easy to resolve. Flea infestations are worse but can be addressed with the right flea-control program and by taking steps to remove any fleas from the home.

Environmental Triggers

Loud noise can frighten cats and cause them discomfort. They are particularly sensitive to changes in volume. Turn down the music and reduce the cat’s exposure to fireworks and thunderstorms. Reduce the amount of stimuli she receives when the noises are outside the home. Close any curtains, put the TV on at a minimal and provide hiding places until the event is over.

New environments can cause a change in behavior. A change in location while owners are traveling or have moved

into a new home may cause stress and

it may take time until your cat can feel secure in the new space. Medication may help in the interim.

Provide the Comfort She Needs

Cats benefit from a calm and stable home environment. Reward your cat immediately for good behavior and avoid yelling for misbehaving, as it will make the situation worse. If your cat seeks you out in times of distress, give love and compassion. Offer a variety of activities for “challenging play” –indoor cats need mental engagement. Your loving attention will help your cat to thrive.

Prolonged periods of stress can impact your cat’s health. Speak to Dr. Amber Naig, our staff behavior doctor at University Animal Hospital, or your veterinarian to determine the right approach to help your pet. You can email Dr. Naig at dr.naig@universityvet.com or call 480-968-9275 to make an appointment.

Beware of Candy Overload

The importance of pet safety at Halloween

Beware of candy overload:

Too much Halloween candy can be a problem. Especially true of chocolate and sugar free treats.

Everyone Stay Calm:

How anxious does your pet when the doorbell

rings? What I it rings 30 times and some very load and strangely dressed goblins are at the door. Keep your pet away from the commotion and sometimes a sedative may help.

Doggy Dress Up:

Be careful of dressing up your

pet. If you want to put a costume on “Fido” make sure it fits and does not hamper normal movements. Especially be cautious of any restrictions around the neck.

Identification:

There is lots of commotion, doors opening and many people on the streets. Make sure if your pet gets out they have good identification and that their collar is on securely. A reflective collar would be a good idea.

Glow Sticks:

Used often to help keep our kids save as they walk the neighborhood. The contents can be irritating if bitten into.

Dog Anxiety Disorder: How It Happens and How to Fix It

Man’s best friend can be many things: loyal, lazy, affectionate, protective, kind, goofy, and, unfortunately, even anxious. Due to any number of external stressors, a dog’s mood can swing from calm and collected to anxious and uncomfortable in a matter of minutes. If this anxiety is regular and continues over long periods of time, it can be perilous to a pet’s health.

Put Fido at ease by identifying the cause of his dog anxiety disorder and remedying it.

Symptoms of Dog Anxiety

When humans are anxious, they display repetitious, nervous behaviors: nail biting, leg shaking, finger tapping, pacing, etc. Dogs act in similar patterns.

Examples of dog anxiety symptoms include:

  • Uncharacteristic aggression towards people and other animals
  • Eating poop
  • Urinating or pooping in areas where she is not allowed to do so, such as the carpet or her crate
  • Incessant barking
  • Gnawing on walls, rugs, furniture, or errant pieces of clothing
  • Pacing

Some people try to fix these anxious habits through punishment—don’t. That stress, combined with the fear

of misunderstanding you, will likely only make your dog’s anxiety worse.

Types of Dog Anxiety

No one dog is the same; the same goes for the causes of anxiety. Knowing how to identify the anxiety stressor is key to fixing the problem.

Travel Anxiety

New things—especially new things your dog doesn’t understand—are highly stressful for most dogs. Traveling, which often sees your pet put in a crate in a moving vehicle over an extended period of time, can be a peak form of this stress. The experience takes something familiar such as your pet hanging out in a crate and makes it unfamiliar. The crate is now moving!

In this environment, the dog is treated to a number of external stimuli that are distracting, confusing, and exciting, but now is unable to move to explore them.

 Separation Anxiety

Odds are, your dog loves you and depends on you for comfort, food, and entertainment. Seeing you is the highlight of the day. Unfortunately, this ceaseless love can come with a downside: separation anxiety.

When you leave to go to work or

the grocery store, your dog sits at the door whining for your return. Ideally, he or she will move on, but some dogs aren’t as skilled in that arena and develop separation anxiety.

Confinement Anxiety

Every animal has a fight or flight instinct—it’s a natural part of development. When a dog is coerced into a small space (such as a crate) over long periods of time, they lose access to both of those defense mechanisms. They’re trapped, unable to move much, and are likely scared.

Not having the ability to move, even in wholly peaceful environments, may cause your pet confinement anxiety.

Noise Anxiety

Loud, unexpected, and seemingly unknown noises such as thunderstorms, fireworks, and heavy machinery, can set a dog on edge. This is especially true if they occur over long periods of time. Your dog’s instinct is to go after the noise, run or hide.

Treating Dog

Anxiety

If your dog is experiencing anxiety, you can practice desensitization, foster a calming environment, and/or use medication.

To foster a calming environment, consider giving your dog a routine, a calm demeanor on your part, and relaxing massages in times of stress. You are their ultimate beacon of relaxation.

Get your dog used to stressors in small doses, and provide them with treats when they react well. This works particularly well for loud noises and confined spaces. For separation anxiety, leave your home with little fanfare multiple times, and reward them if you return and they are preoccupied elsewhere and have not done any damage.

When medication seems to be necessary, feel free to consult your veterinarian or our staff behavior doctor, Dr. Amber Naig to decide what kind of medication your dog needs. These can substantially boost the quality of your pet’s life and the relationship you have with your pet.