Cabin Fever - Helping Your Pet with the Winter Blues

January in the Treasure Valley--snow or rain falling, fog lingering, the sun hiding, and everyone shivering! With these extra short days ‘cabin fever’ can set in for all of us---pets included.

A pet’s pent-up energy may result in destructive and negative behavior. A restless or bored dog may exhibit unusual vocalizing (barking, howling, whining), have accidents indoors, scratch at doors, and/or chew on furniture, carpet, or shoes. In an effort to save your sofa and your sanity, here are a few ideas to help the whole household cope with cabin fever.

Getting outside. While people are busy, out and about at work or school, the dog often remains home and on particularly wet, cold, or snowy days, this may mean he remains indoors the entire day.Veterinary Blog - When Pets Get Cabin Fever During Long Dark Winter Months If temperatures are not sub-zero and walkways are cleared of ice and snow, make an effort to bring your dog outside every day. A quick walk (even to the bus stop or around the block) will help release some energy.

Interactive Toys and Treats. On those wintery days when illness, weather, or a busy schedule keeps you inside all day, utilize an interactive toy. There are numerous toy options that enable you to hide a treat inside and keep your pet occupied and trying to find it. These toys provide both mental and physical stimulation. 

Playing Indoors. If you have stairs, try running your dog up and down a few times. A game of fetch up and down the stairs would also make a great workout. Long hallways, an empty garage or basement, or other safe indoor areas will serve as a nice ‘plan B’ in place of winter walks. Even a quick a game of tug while you catch the news or during a commercial break will engage your dog and help her relieve some energy. Note: senior dogs may be more inclined to slumber through winter days and nights, gently help them stay active, too.

Plan a play date. If your dog has a furry friend, an indoor play date could be a great way to release some energy. In addition, there are numerous doggy day camps around the Treasure Valley that offer a place for indoor exercise and socializing with other dogs. A visit a few days a week may be the solution for a bored, lonely dog.  

Don’t forget your feline. Cats who are accustomed to being indoors and outdoors during milder weather may become restless and bored as well. Schedule a little extra play time with a favorite toy to keep them entertained.

Sometimes, on these extra gray days in Southwestern Idaho it feels like spring is a long, long way off. If you feel some “Winter Blues” sneaking up on your household, make some time for play. Your pets will thank you—and you’ll end up feeling a little brighter and lighter yourself. 

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Classes for Pet Owners at WestVet: Dog First Aid and Cat Litter Box Information

In today’s Veterinary blog: Pet Owners invited to join WestVet Veterinarian Professionals for Community Education Classes.

Each month WestVet specialists, doctors, and technicians provide Continuing Education seminars to enable veterinary professional to maintain Idaho state accreditation. In addition, we partner with Boise Schools Community Education program to provide informational classes for pet owners. Here the early 2015 courses at WestVet:

Dog First Aid Courses. Join WestVet’s Nursing Directors Pam Knowles and Erica Mattox for American Red Cross Dog First Aid.Dog First Aid Classes at WestVet with Boise Schools Community Education, Winter 2015 In this important course, you will learn the critical skills that may save your best friend's life! Topics include canine breathing, cardiac emergencies, identifying symptoms of stress and illness, as well as preventative advice on emergency preparation. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to practice CPR skills, rescue breathing, muzzling, and bandaging work.

Two sessions are available. You may register HERE.

For more information about the American Red Cross Dog First Aid Course, click HERE

Participants receive a certificate of completion from the American Red Cross.

Help! My Cat Won’t Use the Litter Box! New for spring 2015, Dr. Hazel Carney, Feline Behaviorist, will provide help for owners whose cats are opting to forgo the litter box in favor of the carpet, the closet, or behind the couch. Help My Cat Won't Use the Litter Box - Pet owner classes with WestVet and Dr. Hazel Carney Dr. Carney recently co-authored and published the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) veterinary owner guidelines on preventing and overcoming house-soiling issues with cats.

Don’t be discouraged! There is help for these finicky felines. Learn the simple environment changes that can create a more inviting space for your cat.  Class designed for both long-time owners and new cat families, too. You may register for this course HERE. This course is a 2-for-1, one person registers and two may attend.

All classes with Community Education include a tour of the WestVet Emergency Hospital.  

We hope you will join us for class this year!

Our employees volunteer to teach with Boise Schools Community Education; all tuition and fees support this important program in the Treasure Valley. If you have any questions, you may contact them at 208.854.4047.

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VetStart Youth Veterinary Class Spring 2015 at WestVet

Calling all animal friends and future veterinary professionals! Our VetStart Youth veterinary classes are returning in 2015.

We are pleased to announce our Spring calendar of VetStart classes. We have two age groups, with content being geared toward the maturity and knowledge of those students; the courses are the same, so just pick the date that works best for your family! Our 2015 dates are as follows:

Kids (ages 8—11) 

Sat., March 14; 10 AM—12 Noon

Youth (ages 12—16)

Thurs., April 16; 6—8 PM


Class is led by Veterinary specialists and professionals who work at our veterinary hospital.WestVet offers Youth Veterinary Classes in the Treasure Valley. If you have a young person in your life that is considering working in the field of veterinary medicine, VetStart classes are a great way for him/her to enjoy some hands-on learning.

Students will practice bandaging, perform veterinary exams, explore x-rays, read microscopic submissions, and more! Plus, each student who enrolls in class will receive take-home keepsakes.

Even better? All proceeds from VetStart tuition will go to The Audrey Pet Foundation, a 501(c)3 non profit fund that provides financial assistance  to pet owners facing economic hardship. WestVet and the Audrey Pet Foundation provide financial support for pet owners in the Treasure Valley who may have financial distressThe Audrey Pet Foundation—affiliated exclusively with WestVet—provides assistance for veterinary emergency and/or specialty treatments. The funds are combined with donated time from our WestVet veterinary specialists. Applicants may receive a discount of up to 50% on their veterinary expenses and care, enabling them to pursue necessary treatments for beloved pets. Eligibility for assistance is based on a sliding scale of income and household size.    

Our previous classes have filled up quickly. We encourage interested patrons to enroll early to secure a spot for the future veterinarian in your life.

VetStart: Veterinary classes for kids and tweens in Idaho at WestVet

How to register for VetStart.

Registration:  Completed and signed form required for each child, you may download the form HERE.

Forms may be returned:  via email; via fax: 208.375.1606; mail/drop off: WestVet VetStart, 5019 N. Sawyer Ave. Garden City, ID 83714

Full payment required to ensure your child’s place on the roster. Please make checks payable to “WestVet;” credit/debit accepted over the phone: 208.375.1600

Who: kids (ages 7-11) and youth (ages 11-16), who love animals!

Dates & Times: 

Kids (ages 8—11) 

Sat., March 14; 10 AM—12 Noon

Youth (ages 12—16)

Thurs., April 16; 6—8 PM

Where: WestVet Animal Emergency & Specialty Center, 5019 N. Sawyer Ave., Garden City, ID 83714.We are located just north of the 50th/Chinden intersection.

Tuition: $45/per child. Your tuition is a donation to The Audrey Pet Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we will provide a receipt via email for 2015 tax purposes.

If you have additional questions, please call 208.375.1600, ext. 346. or contact us via email.

Hope to see you in class at WestVet!

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Welcome 2015! New Year Tips to Keep Your Pets Healthy and Happy

As you embrace the New Year and its promise of change and personal improvement, you can include your furry friends in your 2015 plans.

Here it is again—a brand new year! As our pets fill an irreplaceable part in many of our homes and families, they do need us (their people) to provide a healthy life for them. In today’s blog post, we have a few pet-friendly ideas for a Happy New Year:

Move it—and lose it. If losing a few post-holiday pounds is on your 'to do' list, your pet could be your perfect fitness partner.Happy New Year 2015 with WestVet, 24 Hour Animal Emergency Hospital 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking, running, hiking, cross country skiing) three to four times a week with your pooch will benefit both of you.

While your kitty may not be up for a jog, the time spent chasing and batting a toy will benefit his waistline and temperament. Veterinarians report that keeping your pet at a healthy weight is critical for their long-term health. Bonus: pets think of the work out as play time, they’ll not only be tired, but more content! Dr. Teri Dowdell offers multiple programs and therapies that can help a pet with sports conditioning, weight loss, post surgery recovery and muscle strengthening. Often, just a few treatments combined with at-home exercises will get your pet off on the right ‘paw’ for the New Year.

Make some mealtime rules. Measure food servings; most veterinarians recommend twice-daily feedings. Seek professional input on the type and amount of food. Remember absolutely NO human food. People food contains too much sugar, salt, fat, etc., for four-legged friends. Don’t forget to track the treats! If you, your partner, the dog walker, and the kids dole out a treat or two—it will be too much. Consider counting out a daily portion, when the treats are gone, they’re done for the day.

Maintain a schedule. Pets thrive on routine. When meals, walks, and play time happen at the same time, you may find your pet one step ahead of you—ready and anticipating the next big thing. Cats may become stressed with life changes. These include new babies arriving, college-bound children leaving, a new home, or the addition of a new pet. With a few simple precautions and assistance from your veterinarian, you can help ease your felines into the new family dynamic. Dr. Hazel Carney provides behavior consultations if your kitty is suddenly stressed, aggressive or anxious, and/or not using the litter box.

Complete routine veterinary visits. An annual physical exam by your family veterinarian is critical to your pet’s good health. Routine Veterinary Exams can help keep your pet healthy, see a specialist when your pet needs advanced care.Veterinary records will help you track your pet’s weight, vaccines and preventative care medications, and any other significant changes. Call and schedule your pet’s 2015 appointment today!

Seek specialty care when needed.  A veterinary specialist could save your pet’s life.  They partner with your family veterinarian to provide the highest level of care available. Your pet may benefit from seeing a specialist if they are not responding to treatment or have an aggressive or advanced illness. Specialists have completed rigorous, advanced training in one specific area of veterinary medicine beyond earning their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. WestVet is pleased to offer the services of 12 veterinary specialists to pets and their families.

Train it up. If your pooch could benefit from some better manners, consider a training course. Training for your dog often becomes training for YOU on how to be consistent, firm, and clear in both commands and expectation. Bonus: the time spent together will strengthen the relationship and bond with your pet.

Update contact Information. Ensure that your pet has a well-fitting collar with current contact info on their tags. If you and your pet become separated, ID tags and a current city pet license are the quickest way to return your four-legged friend home. Don’t forget to update microchip information; many companies enable you to do so online in a matter of minutes. 

Happy 2015—make it a great year for your furry friends, too!

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2014 Holiday Safety Tips: Avoiding Veterinary Emergency Visits

The holidays are filled with families, friends, fun, and occasionally, an emergency veterinary visit; here are a few safety tips to keep your pets home and healthy.

Holiday Décor.  Live Christmas trees need water--your pet may think this new decorative bowl is a perfect place to get a sip. Not so. If the water is stagnant it will become a breeding ground for bacteria. If a pet drinks it he/she may end up with diarrhea and/or nausea (not a fun way to celebrate the holidays with a house full of company! ). In addition, other Christmas plants can be harmful. Avoid Veterinary Emergency Visits During the Holidays. Tips to Keep your pet safe.Holly, if ingested, may cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause those same issues, as well as cardiovascular problems. Several varieties of lilies can cause numerous internal issues for cats. You may find it's best to use silk floral decor to ensure that none of your pets take a nibble when you’re not looking.

The feast. Human food is only for humans. We have seen pets that helped themselves to an unattended plate, nosed through the trash, and/or opened a food-related present under the tree (with their keen sense of smell, dogs can sniff out the wrapped goodies pretty easily). Common food exposures during the holidays include: chocolate, bread dough, fruitcake, alcohol, and medications. Remind your guests to keep their medications safely packed away during their visit.

Careful with the cocktails. If your pet sips an unattended alcoholic drink, he or she could become weak, ill, and even slip into a coma—possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A house bursting with guests. While many guests will offer extra attention and affection to your pet, some people or children are wary of pets. It’s best to keep furry household members away from the noisy festivities. Pets that are not accustomed to children may become easily startled or frightened. This could result in a nip, a bite, a scratch, or a hiss—and tears and contention all around. Tips to keep your pets safe during the holidays; WestVet 24/7 Emergency Veterinary HospitalKeep everyone happier by kenneling your four-legged friends in their own space, complete with fresh water and a place to cuddle. Another potential issue arises when visitors bring their pets. Pets innately become territorial if feeling threatened from a visiting pet, a situation ripe for a fight and an animal injury.

Tinsel, lights, and candles. Curious cats love glittery things. Ingested tinsel can be extremely dangerous. If eaten it may result in an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery. Open flamed candles could burn your pet and/or be tipped over and cause damage to your home. Also, watch the strings of lights--no nibbling or playing with electrical cords!

Give great (and safe) gifts. Choose safe pet toys. If your dog likes to tear her toys apart, be aware that squeakers and plastic eyes/noses could become lodged in an animal's esophagus, stomach, or intestines. This includes cats who shred their toys. If particles and pieces become stuck internally, surgery may be required.

Snow globes. Keep these knickknacks in a safe place. Some snow globes contain ethylene glycol— a highly toxic substance to pets. If broken, the sweet smell may attract your pet to lick it up, leading to a potentially fatal intoxication.

Many of these tips were adapted from the ASCPA’s holiday safety tips. During the holidays they receive numerous calls from pet owners. If your pet ingests something they should not have, you may contact the Animal Poison Control Center at their toll free number 1.888.426.4435 with questions. In addition, WestVet remains open 24/7 to provide emergency and critical care to pets during the holidays.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our Treasure Valley friends, we hope it is a joyous and happy time for you and your family!

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