Table of Contents

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 

The tips, tricks and techniques for teaching your dog to swim

There are numerous reasons why it is a good idea to get your dog comfortable traversing water.

You may be compelled to teach your dog to swim as a fun, cooling activity during hot summer months or see it as an opportunity for exercising and increasing stamina. If you have a pool or live near a large open body of water, swim lessons become imperative for safety reasons.

But where to start? The right answer is not simply heading to the ocean and dragging your canine into the surf.

First of all, swimming is not instinctive, like sniffing or barking. Dogs must be taught, and even then, not all breeds are natural swimmers. Bulldogs, dachshunds and pugs, for instance, experience difficulty or cannot swim at all, while spaniels, poodles, setters and retrievers often take easily and joyfully to water. Starting young, when it is easier to cultivate positive associations, is optimal for most dogs.

Slow and steady

The learning process should be completed in steps that likely will span several days and sessions. Use a lifejacket or flotation device for all breeds when starting out, and even longer for lightweight dogs or those whose body types are not as compatible with swimming (for example, barrel-chested or short-legged dogs). Fill each lesson with praise and treats for accomplished goals.

For your beginning lessons, choose a quiet, peaceful setting, where your dog will not be bothered or distracted by excessive noise and activity. Don’t drag your dog into the water; instead, use vocal instructions and commands.

“Don’t force the dog,” Wendy Diamond, the founder and editorial director of Animal Fair magazine, told TODAY. “If they don’t want to do it, don’t force them to do it.”

Start in shallow water, and let your dog get acclimated to the wet, cold environment, advises petMD. If your dog is comfortable, move on.

Keeping her on a leash, allow her to walk into deeper water until she has to start paddling. Try throwing a ball or standing a few feet in front of your dog and drawing it to you with a treat or toy, suggests the American Kennel Club.

Teaching proper technique

To prevent your dog from overusing her front legs, offer her support under her midsection or hindquarters, which will induce her to use the back legs, as well. As you progress, remove the lifejacket, and eventually the leash – but only when your dog is at the appropriate skill level.

“The leash should not come off until she is able to swim unassisted and is consistently returning to you when called back,” petMD states.

If at any point, your pooch seems stressed out or overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to move back toward solid ground. Your ultimate goal is to alleviate your dog’s fear of water and swimming, and help her feel a positive association to the activity.

To guide your doggie swim lessons, here are a few important safety tips:

  • You cannot throw a dog in the water and expect it to swim.
  • For extremely small dogs, you should start in a tub or wading pool before introducing them to deeper, and especially moving, water.
  • Even when your dog knows how to swim, don’t leave him unattended at a lake or the ocean. Dogs, particularly those who are good swimmers, can keep going farther out and end up lost.
  • Show your dog the right way to exit the water onto a boat, dock or dry land. If you are in a pool, show him the location of the stairs and how to use them for entrance and exit.

Boarding Your Pet

So, it’s time to go out of town for business or for a family vacation and your pet isn’t allowed to go. What do you do?

You bring them to University Animal Hospital. Along with veterinary services, we also provide boarding services for your furry friends. There are many factors to consider when boarding your pet and we are here to help you learn all the information you need.

The first thing to remember is that boarding places have certain requirements for your pets. Make sure to check the website or call before you set up any dates. To find out what we require at University Animal Hospital, read our boarding requirements form.

The next important factor to consider is when your pet will be able to stay at the boarding facility and for how long, so you can plan your vacation accordingly. University Animal Hospital is open seven days a week for boarding, with various check-in and check-out times, at your convenience.

You also want to make sure you’re pet is going to be as comfortable as possible during their stay. Some things to consider are: What is provided to your pet? What are you allowed to bring from home, like their own food or any medicines they could be taking? And what are some special treats you can give your pet? We ask that you DON”T bring beds, bedding, bowls or toys and we ask that you do not leave cat carriers, collars or leashes.

A few things we offer during your pet’s stay at University Animal Hospital include:
•    Dry Food
•    Fresh Water
•    All Bowls
•    All Bedding (If pet is not destructive)
•    Litter and Litter Boxes

Special Treats (Add-Ons to the overall stay)
•    TLC Play Time in Yard
•    Happy Hour Kong or Frozen Pupscicles
•    Diabetic Care and Doctor Supervised Boarding

You never want to have to worry about your pet while you are away from them. That is why it is so important to choose a boarding facility you know your pet will love. When boarding your pet at University Animal Hospital, you can be assured that our Pet Care Technicians will take excellent care of your pets while you are away. Our clients have been trusting us for over 50 years to take care of their pets.

For all other information about our boarding facility at University Animal Hospital, visit our boarding services page on our website or call us at (480) 968-9275 to book your pet for their own vacation.

Danger of Heat to Pets Paws: Keeping Dogs Safe in Summer

When it comes to exploring the great outdoors, your four-legged friend probably seems immune to things like rough terrain and dirt.  In summertime, there are many dangers your dog will face that you need to keep a careful eye out for.  No doubt you are well aware of the deadly danger of leaving your dog in the car, but even saying outside for 15 minutes can lead to signs of heat stroke!  This is especially concerning if your pet is a predisposed breed, but and all dogs are susceptible in the strong Arizona sun.  Did you know that walking on hot surface can do serious damage to your dog’s paws? Here’s information about what can happen, what to look out for, and how to make sure your pup stays cool all the way down to his toes.

What Is the Danger?

Walking on surfaces that are too hot can lead to more than temporary pain (and who wants our best friend to experience even that?). All four of your dog’s feet can get burned, making walking difficult and extremely painful for an extended period of time. Additionally, burned paws are susceptible to infections, which, if gone untreated, can lead to threats to your dog’s health and wellbeing.

What to Look Out For

You should regularly wash your dog’s feet, and use that as an opportunity to check the paws for signs of damage. Here are other symptoms to monitor that will let you know that your dog may have burned his paws:

  • Sudden Limping
  • Not Wanting to Walk
  • Licking or Chewing at the Feet
  • A Color Change of Your Dog’s Paw Pads to a Pink or Red Color
  • Missing Skin or Blisters on the Pads

If you observe these symptoms, do not wait, contact us by telephone at (480)968-9275 right away. It’s important that your dog is treated immediately to mitigate pain and make sure infection doesn’t set in.

Things to consider when traveling with your pet

Travel can be a fun adventure for humans, but it can also become a stressful ordeal for your dog or cat. The good news is, a little planning can make the journey a lot smoother for both of you.

 Is your pet a good candidate for travel?

Does he:

  • stay calm during shorter trips?
  • respond well to breaks in routine?

Is he:

  • in good health and relatively young?
  • up to date on all shots?

General Travel Tips:

Get your companion microchipped and have it wear a collar with an ID tag. That tag should include the pet’s name and your phone number.

Take your pet to an animal hospital for a checkup. You can pick up enough medication for the trip and bring up any concerns. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll need a health certificate signed by a veterinarian dated 10 days or less before departure.

Carry a printed-out photo of your pet, a copy of rabies and other vaccination certificates, and (if applicable) your pet’s signed health certificate.

Purchase a pet carrier or shipping crate that’s USDA approved. Make sure it’s big enough for your pet to stand up, lie down, and turn around in. Line the bottom with bedding.

Assemble a travel kit for your pet. Include:

  • food
  • water
  • bowls
  • a blanket or favorite toy
  • harness and leash
  • medications
  • a scoop or baggies for cleanup
  • grooming supplies

Plane Travel

Book a direct flight if possible.

Exercise your pet before the flight.

Try to keep your animal calm; your vet can share tips. Tranquilizers are rarely prescribed because they can cause medical complications.

If your pet is traveling by shipping crate, remember to tape a bag of dry food to the outside of the crate so airline personnel can feed your pet midflight. Include a tip-proof water dispenser or freeze a dish of water and slip it into the cage.

Mark the crate ‘Live Animal’. Write on it your name, phone number, and include a photo of your pet.

Tell the airline employees that your pet is in the cargo hold. If your plane is delayed or you’re concerned for the pet, ask that airline personnel check on it.

Car Travel

Get your pet used to being driven by taking him on short car trips, then work up to longer ones if your animal tolerates them.

Transport your pet in a crate or carrier that’s secured so it won’t slide. Otherwise, keep your pet in the back seat in a harness secured to a seat buckle.

Schedule frequent breaks.

Check that your accommodation is pet-friendly. Research hotels and campsites ahead of time. Staff will be happy to tell you about their pet policies and any fees.

Never, ever leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle! Even with the windows cracked, the car can become lethally hot in just minutes.

Boat Travel

Animals can get seasick. Try a short test run, for example an hour-long boat ride. Your vet may be able to prescribe seasickness medication.

Call ahead to check if your marina and chartered boat are pet-friendly.

Watch your animal carefully when boarding and exiting the boat.

Have your animal wear a well-fitting flotation device even if it knows how to swim.

Apply animal-safe sunscreen to pets with thin coats, bald patches, etc.

Supply your pet with astroturf, newspaper, or a litter box.

Warning Signs of Animal Distress

If your pet gets to stressed during travel, it could lead to some major health consequences.
Watch out for:

  • shaking and startling at noises
  • barks or meows constantly
  • scratching and chewing on self
  • lethargic; doesn’t

    respond when called

  • glassy eyes
  • panting and racing heart
  • If you notice any of these signs, take your pet to an animal hospital as soon as possible.

How Often Should Your Pet’s Teeth Be Cleaned?

National Fresh Breath Day is August 6!! There is nothing worse than getting a greeting from your pet with some not-so fresh breath. Just like humans brush their teeth to keep them healthy and strong, it is important that we treat our pet’s teeth with the same care. There are some major health benefits to keeping your dog’s teeth clean and breath smelling fresh.

Keeping their teeth clean can prevent bad breath, oral diseases and other health problems. Some of the most common problems associated with not cleaning your pet’s teeth frequently enough include:
•    Gum disease
•    Periodontal disease
•    Oral tumors
•    Kidney Disease
•    Heart Disease
•    Liver Disease
•    Diabetes
•    Fractured teeth
•    Feline stomatitis
•    Tooth resorption

Most of these also contribute to bad breath, which is something we all try to avoid, whether it’s in ourselves or in our pets. To help give you a little bit more information about the best way to handle bad breath and to help you keep your pet’s mouth clean, our doctor has answered a few questions:

How often should our pet’s teeth be professionally cleaned?
•    There is not an exact frequency to how often. Indicators that a dental cleaning is necessary should be discussed during your pet’s physical exam.

What about at home?
•    Brushing should be performed every day, this will help prevent tartar accumulation and gingivitis.

Does the type of food you feed your pet affect their tooth health/breath?
•    We used to believe that dry food is better in preventing tartar accumulation and dental disease, but recent reports have shown wet vs. dry food does not make a significant difference. The only real factor in reducing dental disease is regular brushing.

What about those toothbrush shaped treats? Do they work?
•    Not really, but boy are they delicious!

Protect your pet from heat stroke this summer

It’s summertime in Arizona and that means daytime temperatures that go well into the triple digits and provide little relief at night. We all know to stay indoors and out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day. In addition to protecting yourself and your family from the heat, are you also keeping an eye on your pet for signs of heat stroke? We all know the dangers of leaving animals in parked cars, but there are other risks. Your veterinarians at University Animal Hospital offer some advice on how to detect heat stroke in your pet, how to prevent it, and how to treat your pet for heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke

Recognizing the signs of heatstroke, or hyperthermia, in your pet is critical to making sure she gets the necessary treatment to lower her temperature. Breeds with shorter noses and those with heavier coats are at a higher risk. Also pets that are overweight, older, or have had medical issues with poor heart or lung function may be at a higher risk. Some of the common signs of heat stroke in animals include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Heavy drooling
  • Dark red and/ or dry and sticky tongue and gums
  • Body temperatures of 103 or higher
  • Decreased urination
  • Rapid or irregular heart beats
  • Vomiting
  • Staggering or stupor

Treating heat stroke

If you think your pet has heat stroke, get him out of the heat or into some shade immediately and take him for emergency attention with your veterinarian. Before taking him to the vet, try to lower his body temperature. DO NOT PUT YOUR PET INTO THE POOL OR A COOL BATH. This can actually make the situation worse. Instead, wrap cool, wet cloths around his paws and head and in his armpit areas on his front and back legs. Only use cool water, ice water can actually be counterproductive if you lower the temperature too quickly. Offer your pet some ice cubes to lick, but don’t force any ice or water into your pet. Even if you are able to lower your pet’s temperature, and he seems normal, take him to the vet to make sure he is not dehydrated or suffering any other complications.

Preventing heat stroke

The best way to keep your pet safe this summer is to take appropriate steps to prevent him from overheating or getting heat stroke in the first place. First be aware of how your pet might be at risk. Does your pet spend a lot of time outside on a tether? Make sure your pet has access to shade all day. If you rely on a dog house or shelter, make sure that it is actually cooler inside. Another good idea is to give your pet a cool bath before leaving for the day. This should help them to stay cooler throughout

the day. If your pet stays indoors, make sure the house stays cool enough during the heat of the day. Indoor and outdoor pets need regular access to fresh cool water. Automatic pet waterers are available if you are out of the home for most of the day. Plan your long walks or jogging during the cooler hours of the day. Make sure to take water for your dog as well as yourself. Taking your long walk in the early hours of the day is the safest time. Not only will the air temperature be cooler, but any sidewalks or pavements that you walk or jog on should be cool and not pose an additional threat of burning your pet’s paws or providing additional radiant heat.

Summers in Arizona are very hot and can pose dangers to your furry family members. Take care to protect them this summer

and take quick, appropriate action if your pet shows signs of heat stroke. The veterinarians at University Animal Hospital can treat pets for heat stroke, dehydration, and other summertime risks, but your best bet is to keep them cool and hydrated.

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 ( 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