How important are your pet's annual exams?

Who doesn't admit that at one point or another, you skip your pet's annual vet visits?  Sure, you know it's good for them, "but hey, they're healthy, thriving, and I really could save that cash this year!  Of course I'd take them in a heart beat if they were actually sick!"  Sound familiar?  

The truth is, your pet's annual veterinary exam is similar to your own annual physical exam.  It is the act of taking responsibility for your own health, so that you maintain a healthy life, or you are prepared in the event that your doctor discovers any medical issues that went unnoticed.  Going to the vet has that same preventive measure for your pet.  Annual visits help you stay on top of your pets health with costs that are usually manageable, while providing you with time to plan ahead should your vet discover anything new.  However, those pet owners that skip annual vet visits are often overwhelmed when it is discovered that their pet is not only suffering, but that they have a full blown illness that requires treatment.  Since a diagnosis like this is sudden in these situations, many pet owners may find themselves unprepared, and unable to cover the costs of their pet's required treatment. As a sad result, it is not unusual that many of these same pets end up at local animal shelters.  And, the relinquishment of sick animals in the shelter system not only adds to overcrowded shelters that already have limited medical resources, but these type of animals are more likely to be euthanized.  

Santa Monica, California veterinarian Dr. Karen Heard, of Vet 2 U LA, offers great advice that will help you to keep your pets healthy, while doing your part to reduce overcrowded shelters:

"It makes a lot of sense to schedule a yearly veterinary exam for each one of your pets. Some medical problems can occur gradually. Ear, skin and dental problems often fall into this category. These are often missed by pet owners but can cause chronic pain or discomfort. Other medical problems are more easily treated if they are found earlier. Liver, kidney and weight management problems are examples of this.
When animals grow very elderly, generally 10 for dogs and 12 for cats, they need to be seen even more frequently. At least twice yearly would be best. Conditions are developing for them more rapidly and they don't have the resources to adapt to them that younger animals have.  Your veterinarian is best equipped to determine how often your individual pet should be seen."
Karen Heard, DVM - Owner and Director of Vet 2 U LA mobile veterinary service in Santa Monica, CA, has volunteered her services at local animal shelters.  Here she exams "Patia," a shelter cat before her adoption.

Karen Heard, DVM - Owner and Director of Vet 2 U LA mobile veterinary service in Santa Monica, CA, has volunteered her services at local animal shelters.  Here she exams "Patia," a shelter cat before her adoption.

Doesn't that skipped annual exam seem a whole lot cheaper now?!  It is, and in more ways than one.  Don't let your pets pay the ultimate price with their lives: schedule AND keep your pets annual vet exams!  

For more information on Dr. Karen Heard, need veterinary advice , or to schedule your pets next vet exam with her mobile practice, visit: Vet 2 U LA


Debunking The Myths of Microchipping Your Pet!

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When we think about our beloved pets, the worst thought we can fathom is that one day, they will pass on.  However, the fact is, the chances of your pet getting lost are a lot more likely than you think!  And unless you are prepared, chances of finding your pet, or having them returned are slim.  However, providing your dog or cat with a collar and ID, AND having them microchipped are your best chances of your pet being found and returned to you!  Nevertheless, many pet owners still view microchipping their pets as an option, rather than a necessity.  Let’s explore the myths that continue to lead more and more animals in shelters, and debunk them with facts!


Myth: “But all my pet needs is a pet ID tag attached to his collar, and my pet is bound to be returned!”

Fact:  Collars come off, can be taken off, and most cat collars are designed to breakaway for safety.  No collar, means no identification.  And no identification is your pet’s reservation to a bed at an animal shelter.  Microchipping provides for a permanent back up plan to retrieving your pet’s identification because your pet carries the chip on their body for it to be easily scanned. 


Myth: "Microchipping is a life threatening surgical procedure that is excruciating for pets!"

Fact:  Getting a microchip for your pet is not a surgical procedure.  Although it is often performed by vets, it can also be performed by a trained animal professional.  A needle is used to insert the grain of rice sized microchip (yep, it is as big as a single grain of rice!)  under your pet’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades.  The procedure is quick and painless, and very similar to a human getting a simple injection.  While the pinch may feel annoying, it’s over in seconds.  That’s it!  The implanted microchip has a unique set of numbers that can be picked up and read by a scanner.  The owner can then register their information with the microchip company with their pet’s number.  After that, when your pet is scanned for a microchip, the owner’s information can be retrieved through the microchip company.


Myth: "Microchips cause cancer!"

Fact:  There are a small number of dogs that have developed tumors at the location of the microchip.  These incidents are very rare, and pale in comparison to the millions of animals that have had chips injected safely with no side effects.  As a pet owner you must weigh what is more important to you:  the small statistic of a microchip causing cancer, vs, the higher likelihood that your pet may get lost someday, and the life-saving benefit that microchipping offers you to have your pet returned home.


Myth:  "The microchip travels along my pet’s body so it can get lost somewhere for no scanner to find it, or it will just stop working."

Fact: HomeAgain microchips, which are the most commonly used by pet professionals and pet owners, have a “patented anti-migration feature to help ensure that the microchip will stay in place so that it may be easily located and scanned.”  Also, the microchip is a permanent ID that will the last life of your pet, or up to 25 years.  So your pet’s microchip won’t be hitchhiking around his body for kicks anytime soon. 


Myth: "If my pet is lost, even with a microchip, he can end up in an animal shelter and shelters don’t care!"

Fact:  All shelters carry scanners, and most carry universal scanners that can read any type of microchip.  It is standard practice that when an animal is impounded, the first step is to pull out the scanner and scan your pet.  Once they retrieve the microchip number, they call the company that manufacturers the chip, and the company releases the owners information.   If there is a registered owner on the chip, they are contacted immediately.  The reality is, shelters would rather have them back home with you, than adding to their overcrowded system.  Also, veterinarians have scanners, so in the event that a person picks up your dog and does not want to take him to a shelter, vets have the same resources to help track down a lost pet owner with their microchip information.


Myth: "Microchipping is expensive!"

Fact:  Getting your pet microchipped is as low as $15.00.  Most veterinarians, and animal shelters offer microchipping at a very low cost.  Registering your chip with your microchip company may require additional minimal fees because they offer you the opportunity to set up an membership account, keep your information up to date, add additional contacts, and the ability to add photos, and descriptions of your pet.   


Myth: "Ok, my pet has a microchip.  No need for a collar now!"

Fact:  A collar with an ID and microchips work best together.  If your pet is lost, the average person who finds your pet will not own a microchip scanner.  If your pet has a collar with an ID, they can contact you directly, and your pet can return home immediately.  Without an ID or collar, that same person would have to take your pet to a vet or animal shelter for your pet to be scanned for a microchip.  While your pet may be returned through information on their microchip, having no collar with an ID on your pet may cause a delay in getting them home safe.


The facts remain:  microchipping is inexpensive, easy and painless to your pet, and the most effective tool in recovering our precious animal relatives.  Recent statistics regarding lost pets suggest that 1 out of 3 pets will get lost in their lifetime, and 90% of lost pets will never return home.  By providing your dog or cat with a collar and ID, AND a microchip, it increases their chances of being found by 50%; you can beat the odds of your pet becoming a new resident at an animal shelter!  And by doing so, you are doing your part to help control the pet population in the animal shelter system. 


For more information about microchipping, visit : HomeAgain

Best 3 Reasons To Spay & Neuter Your Pups

If you have owned a dog, chances are, at one time you had to (or will have to) decide whether to spay or neuter your pet.  The idea of sterilization often intimidates many as it means to essentially eliminate any possibility of your pet producing an adorable offspring…somehow that seems sad.  The truth is, there are a variety of positive and life-saving reasons to spay and neuter your dog!  Here are our top 3 picks:

1.      Spaying and Neutering can prevent major illness and may keep your dog healthy!

Spaying your female dog before their first heat cycle will help prevent uterine infections and breast cancer which is fatal in 50% of female dogs. In males, if neutering is performed before 6 months of age, it helps to prevent some tumors, testicular cancer, and the enlargement of the prostate gland.

2.      In male dogs, neutering can make a positive impact on unwanted behaviors such as excessive marking, aggression towards other male dogs, roaming, and eliminate the need for sexual mounting.

Because of testosterone, unneutered males have a natural instinct to mark their areas with their urine, they have increased aggression towards other male dogs, and they will roam beyond their home in pursuit of a female dogs in heat to mount.  Neutering helps to stabilize your dog’s hormones, reducing the desire to urinate excessively, they are less likely to engage in competition with other male dogs, and since sexually based mounting will diminish, so will the intense urge to roam!  While neutering is no quick fix for behavior training, overall, you will have yourself a much less anxious pup!

3.      Spaying and Neutering pets can help lower euthanasia rates in shelters!

After deciding that allowing their dog or cat to have puppies or kittens was an excellent idea, many people quickly become overwhelmed, and relinquish their litters to animal shelters to unburden themselves.  As a result, private and public animal shelters are saddled with overpopulation of dogs, and even more cats.  There simply are not enough people willing to adopt so many animals.  Plus, there are not enough resources within these facilities and programs to care for each and every animal that comes through their doors.  It is because of this, that euthanasia continues to be a method used in helping to control the pet population in shelters.  Therefore, if most people sterilized their animals, this would help to ensure that a lot less lives would be lost, and the shelter systems can focus on rehabilitation, rather than making room (that they do not have) for more animals. 

There ya have it folks!  The next time you think “gosh, wouldn’t it be cool if my dog had a litter of pups just like him or her?”  Remember, by sterilizing your dog, you are helping your dog to not only be healthier and so much happier, but you are contributing to the reduction of euthanasia rates, and helping to save the lives of countless dogs and cats.  There is nothing sad about that!


For more information on spaying and neutering your pet, visit:

Keeping Your Dog Cool On Hot Summer Days

We all know it's tough to want to exert yourself, let alone stay comfortable during those hot summer days!  Nevertheless, your dog's exercise is non-negotiable. So here are some tips to keep your pups cool during activity, while still enjoying some fun in the sun!

1.  The sun is at its most intense during the midday to afternoon hours.  Walk your dog in the morning or evening where temperatures are cooler.

2. If your schedule does not permit early or late walks, limit your dogs walks to half the time, take it slow, and keep to the shade.  

3.  Consider purchasing booties sold at most pet stores that will protect you dogs feet from the heat.  These booties can also be used during the winter to project your dogs paws from the cold.

4.  Your pup's skin is also sensitive to UV rays, so protect them from burning by using sunscreen.  Search for specific formulas suited for dogs, and ask your veterinarian for recommendations. 

5.  Keep your dog hydrated!  Carry bottles of water during walks, have bowls of water in and round play areas, in your yard, and in his or her crate.  Consider adding ice to the water on those especially hot days.  

6. Use the hot weather as an excuse to bathe your dogs more often, or even take a swim.  Swimming is a good source of exercise, and if you join your dog in the dip, it can be a great bonding experience.

7.  Consider purchasing kiddie pools for your yard for your pup to play in and stay cool!

8.  Be sure to provide plenty of shade in your yard if your dog spends most of his or her time outdoors

9.  Look for signs of dehydration.  Dogs do not sweat, so keep an eye out for panting, excessive drooling, or your dog becoming lethargic.  Your dog may appear pale, eyes may be blood shot, and if you pull his/her skin back, it may have a slow bounce back.   If you observe any of these symptoms, take your dog out of the heat, cool your dog with wet towels, and call your veterinarian immediately. 

10. NEVER leave your dog in a parked car, NOT even if the car is running with the AC on!  Even with the windows rolled down, temperatures can rise to deadly degrees, and your dog may become panicked, pant more, causing him or her to dehydrate more quickly.  Plus, leaving your dog in a parked car is illegal in most cities.

Keeping your dog cool, means keeping your dog safe and even happier!  Happy Summer!