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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

December is Safe Pet Toys and Gifts Month



One of the joys of being a pet owner is watching your dog or cat enjoy playing with a toy that you picked out especially for him. Toys help meet your pet's need for stimulation while also providing him with exercise and entertainment. An added bonus is that having a decent stash of pet toys keeps your dog or cat from becoming destructive with your personal or household belongings. It's also important to keep in mind that your pet needs toys for different reasons, such as activity, comfort, and distraction.
Selecting Safe Dog Toys
Since dogs can range from a few pounds to more than 100 pounds, you need to make sure that the toy you choose is appropriate for your dog's size. Additionally, make sure the toy doesn't have small parts that are easy to swallow, such as buttons, strings, and plastic eyes. We recommend avoiding toys with polystyrene beads or nutshells as these present a choking hazard.
Hard rubber toys, rope toys knotted at both ends, and tennis balls all appeal to your dog's instinctual need to chew. Kong or busy box toys that hide a treat inside will keep your dog motivated to interact with the toy until she uncovers the treat.
Toys to Give Your Cat
Cats are easily entertained, so don't feel like you have to spend a lot of money on toys. If your cat is like most, he may be more interested in the box the toy came in than the toy itself. According to International Cat Care, the two things a cat wants from a toy are that it moves and that it gives her an opportunity to interact with her owner. Homemade items, such as rolled up newspaper or the cardboard center of a roll of paper towels, work just fine.
A fishing-rod type of toy is a great choice for any cat. You hold one end in your hand while dangling the other end containing a small toy just out of your cat's reach. Batting at the toy allows him to release energy while feeling like he has successfully captured his prey. Flashing a light on the wall and having your cat chase it can also prove entertaining. Toy mice containing a small amount of catnip should inspire even the most dedicated napper to get up and swat it around a few times. It is especially important for indoor cats to have access to a variety of toys to alleviate boredom and help them get their exercise.
Order Safe and Fun Pet Toys from Our Online Store
 Did you know that we offer gifts for dogs and cats from nine different categories in our online store? Skip the hassle of shopping at a crowded discount store or pet store this year and have your pet’s gifts delivered to your home instead. 
Minnesota Veterinary Hospital wishes you the happiest of holiday seasons. 

Photo Selection: absolutimages / Getty Images


Signs of Cancer in Dogs and Cats You May Overlook



Because dogs and cats age much faster than people do, pet owners often mistake symptoms of cancer for normal aging. Many are unaware that cancer is the leading cause of death in pets, especially dogs over age 10. Since November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Minnesota Veterinary Hospital would like everyone who owns a dog or cat to be aware of the following symptoms of cancer:

• Abnormal discharge: Bleeding, diarrhea, expelling pus, or vomiting are not normal and should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. A distended or bloated stomach may indicate that the pet is showing signs of internal discharge.
• Appetite change: Disinterest in eating or refusing to eat at all could indicate an oral tumor that makes chewing and swallowing difficult for the pet.
• Body and breath odor: When cancer occurs in the anal region, nose, or mouth, it can produce highly offensive odors.
• Coughing or breathing difficulty: When cancer has spread to a pet's lungs, it usually causes frequent coughing and even gasping for air.
• Elimination changes: The dog or cat may urinate or defecate more frequently or less often. His or her stools may also be loose or bloody.
• Lethargy: Pets that sleep more, seem depressed, and are less willing to engage in exercise or play may be exhibiting early signs of cancer.
• New lumps or bumps: A hard mass that wasn't there before could indicate an internal tumor.
• Non-healing wounds: When a cut or wound doesn't heal in a normal amount of time, it may be cancer that is preventing it from healing.
• Pain: Limping or refusing to use one of the legs may indicate a tumor growing on a bone.
• Weight loss: If you haven’t put your pet on a diet, any sudden weight loss should be checked by a veterinarian.

Never Dismiss Symptoms
While these 10 symptoms don't necessarily mean cancer, we recommend scheduling an immediate appointment if you notice any of them. It is important to determine whether cancer or another health issue is causing problems for your pet. His or her regular veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination and order diagnostic tests to figure out exactly what is causing the symptoms. 

If it is cancer, we will begin treating it right away so your pet can remain comfortable and have a good chance of overcoming it. While a cancer diagnosis is difficult to hear, the staff at Minnesota Veterinary Hospital are dedicated to helping your pet survive and thrive in spite of it. After all, November is Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

Photo Credit: Eriklam / Getty Images


FDA Warns of Danger of Unregulated Online Pet Pharmacies



In response to the many fraudulent online stores selling pet medication, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to pet owners in early 2015. Anyone dispensing veterinary medication must abide by FDA regulations to ensure the safety of animals nationwide. A common practice of unregulated online pet pharmacies is to entice pet owners by promising cheap medications without the need for a prescription. Another practice that led to multiple complaints to the FDA is online veterinary pharmacies that sell counterfeit or expired drugs. Sometimes the product received was not even for the right species of animal.
Pets Must Be Personally Evaluated to Receive a New Prescription
Federal regulations require a veterinarian to examine a patient personally before writing a prescription to treat an illness or injury. However, disreputable online pharmacies find a way around this law as well. The owners of these websites, who often have no veterinary training at all, state that they will evaluate a pet based on a health form the owner completes. Not only does that not usually happen, but the person placing the order may receive drugs in the wrong strength and size for the pet’s condition. The medication may not even be appropriate for the health condition or injury.
One common complaint to the FDA is online pharmacies dispensing heartworm medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs to pet owners without a valid prescription. Dogs, cats, and other companion animals that take these medications need to be closely monitored by a licensed veterinarian. These drugs also require a blood test prior to getting started with them. Obviously, an unregulated online pharmacy can’t analyze the results of a blood test to prescribe the correct medication.
Obtain Your Pet’s Medication from Minnesota Veterinary Hospital
When your pet’s veterinarian writes a new prescription for your pet, he or she will give it to you directly. If your pet needs refills or maintenance medication, we offer the option of ordering from My Vet Store Online. If you click on Medications, you will notice that you can order from one of nearly two dozen categories. Some of these include antibiotics, pain management, gastrointestinal, and insulin. You can order a single dose of medication for home delivery though the Easy Dose It program as well as set up repeat monthly shipments. 
When you receive veterinary medicine from Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, you have the assurance of knowing that it has FDA approval. In addition, individual manufacturers guarantee the quality and reliability of their products. With something as important as your pet’s health on the line, it just isn’t worth taking the risk to save a few dollars. 

Photo Credit: naumoid / Getty Image