Shelby Humane Society Bark in the Park and Paws for a Cause
Veterans Park Alabaster
7305 Hwy 119, Alabaster, AL 35007
Free admission – community event with City of Alabaster Parks & Recreation
9 am – 2pm
Don’t miss the best family-friendly and dog-friendly event this fall – Bark in the Park presented by Shelby Humane Society! Bring the pups out (or come looking to add a new one to your family) to Veterans Park in Alabaster and enjoy contests, weenie dog races, a vaccine clinic, dozens of vendors, food trucks & pet treat trucks and the Beneful Dream Dog Park.
Held Saturday, November 4th - Paws for the Cause is a certified 5k off-road cross-country race through the beautiful Veterans Park in Hoover. The course takes you on a path through the park around the lake and through tree-lined trails surrounding the park.
The Kid Fun Run and 1 Mile Pet Walk allows children to explore the park and you to show off your dogs while they are getting some exercise too! All dogs that participate will receive a special prize.
About Shelby Humane Society:
The Shelby Humane Society is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1977 with the mission of rescuing and rehoming the neglected and homeless pets of Shelby County. We provide care to over 5,000 dogs and cats each year and house 200-350 adoptable cats and dogs at any given time.
Welcome Dr. Stephen LaRocca
Welcome! Dr. Stephen LaRocca joined our Valleydale Animal Clinic family in 2017. Dr. LaRocca received his veterinary degree from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine and has a special interest in soft tissue surgery, internal medicine and emergency veterinary medicine. Outside the vet hospital, he enjoys spending time with his wife (who is also a veterinarian) and daughter, scuba diving and playing bass guitar. His pets include a medley of five rescue dogs and two rescue cats.
New App & Pet Health Records Portal
Thank you for allowing Valleydale Animal Clinic to be your partner in your pet’s health! Beyond providing your family with veterinary care, we offer you two options to view your pet’s medical records 24/7 and contact us to request appointments or prescription refills.
Through our NEW and upgraded mobile PetPage app or online portal, you can easily:
* Access your pet’s medical records including vaccination history
* View upcoming services due
* View scheduled appointments
* Request an appointment time or request a prescription refill
* Earn reward coins for being loyal clients! Redeem coins for a credit on your account. (If you used our previous app and loyalty rewards, we will transfer your points to your new account!)
To Download PetPage App
1) Access Google Play or Apple Store by clicking one of the links below (you must be using your mobile phone in order to install the application).
Google play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.allydvm.comet&hl=en
Apple Store link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/allyconnect/id920690093?mt=82) After you have installed and opened the app on your mobile phone click the “sign up” button on the home page of the app. Enter your email address, choose a password and click the blue sign up button. 3) You will then be sent a confirmation email. Click the link in that email. Check your SPAM folder if you do not see the confirmation in your inbox.
To Access Pet Records Online (Not on Smartphone App)
You can access your upgraded pet health records without a smartphone here through your online portal. You will need to sign up before logging in. Use your email address as your username.
WARNING: Rabies Confirmed In Our Area
WARNING: RABIES CONFIRMED IN OUR AREA! The Department of Public Health has confirmed two separate incidences of rabies in our area of Birmingham/Shelby County near Oak Mountain and Indian Springs. One cat and one raccoon attacked by a dog both tested positive for rabies within the past two weeks.
Rabies vaccinations are REQUIRED by state law for all pets over 12 weeks! Do not let your pets lapse on their vaccines for their safety as well as yours.
To discourage wildlife such as raccoons from coming onto your property, do not store pet food outdoors and keep bowls inside when not in use. As a safety precaution, keep watch on your pets while outside.
If a human is bitten by an animal or pet believed to have rabies, seek medical attention at a hospital immediately for a rabies test and vaccine. If a rabies test is positive, it will be reported to the county health department.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that infects the brain and spinal cord of mammals. The virus is spread from exposure to saliva or nervous tissue from an infected animal, usually through a bite. Scratches or saliva contact with a mucous membrane are also considered as exposure risks to rabies.
Rabies is preventable if proper treatment is given before symptoms occur, but is fatal once symptoms are present.
July 4th Safety Tips for Pets
Birmingham pet owners - Fourth of July traditions can be dangerous and frightening for pets. Take precautions to keep your pets safe before, during and after July 4th festivities. More pets go missing in Birmingham and Hoover around July 4th than any other time of year – don’t let it happen to your family!
July 4th Pet Safety Tips – Prior to Celebrating:
• Make sure pets have ID tags with up-to-date information securely attached.
• If your pets aren’t microchipped, schedule appointment for microchip insertion. This simple procedure greatly improves your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost.
• If your pets are microchipped, make sure your contact info is up-to-date. Contact your microchip registration agency anytime your address or phone changes.
• Take a current photo of your pets.
• Talk to us about stress-relieving products such as Feliway, Adaptil, Zyklene and prescription medications such as Trazadone that can modify behaviors and calm pets.
• Make sure your home and yard are secure. Choose the safest area for your animals and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure.
Pet Safety at July 4th Celebrations:
• Leave pets at home when you go to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can be frightening and risk them from becoming spooked and running away. Pets can stay with us at our boarding facility!
• Consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
• If you’re hosting guests – Place notes on exit doors and gates reminding guests to keep closed.
• Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
• Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from pets and don’t let pets get near your barbecue grill while it is in use or still hot.
• Avoid the urge to feed your pets table scraps. Be careful to keep them away from these common foods that are toxic to pets.
• Remember that too much sun, humidity and heat can be dangerous to pets. Keep them inside when it’s extremely hot/humid; make sure they have access to shady spots and water and know the signs that a pet may be overheating.
• Never leave your pet in your car when it’s warm outside. Vehicle interiors heat up much faster than the air around them, and even a short time in a locked car can be dangerous to pets.
Pet Safety After July 4th Celebrations:
• Check your yard for fireworks debris. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat. If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets, such as food skewers.
Canine Influenza (Canine Flu) - Protect Your Pets
Birmingham Pet Owners - Canine Influenza (Canine Flu or Dog Flu) Confirmed in the Southeast - Some Cases Fatal
Although only a few confirmed reports of canine influenza (canine flu or dog flu) in Alabama, many states in the Southeast US have reported dozens of cases, with at least 6 being fatal to date. Valleydale Animal Clinic wants you to be aware of symptoms of canine flu disease and that we offer canine flu vaccines (combined strands) to protect your pets.
Canine Influenza (Canine Flu) Transmission - How is Canine Flu Spread?
Canine influenza is spread via respiratory secretions (via coughing, barking and sneezing) and contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.
The canine flu virus can remain alive and able to infect on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours and on hands for 12 hours.
Strands of canine influenza have been reported to infect cats (dog to cat or cat to cat) and there is some evidence that guinea pigs and ferrets can become infected.
Canine Flu Symptoms - How Do I Know if My Dog Has Canine Flu?
Two clinical syndromes have been seen in dogs infected with canine influenza virus:
Mild form: Soft, moist cough that persists for 10 to 30 days, loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, sneezing, discharge from the eyes, and a thick nasal discharge.
Severe form: High fevers (104ºF to 106ºF) and have clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort, aside from the symptoms of the mild form.
Cats: Upper respiratory illness, such as runny nose, congestion, lip smacking, excessive salivation, lethargy, fever, and anorexia.
Please watch for any of these symptoms of dog flu and alert Valleydale Animal Clinic if you witness any immediately.
Valleydale Animal Clinic in Birmingham has canine influenza vaccines (canine flu vaccines) and anyone is welcomed to have their dog vaccinated. The dog flu vaccine does require a booster 3 weeks after the first dose and then annually.
Will the Solar Eclipse Affect My Pets?
Although there is little evidence to confirm the effects the solar eclipse will have on your pets, here are some tips to keep your pets safe:
- Animals may confuse the change in the light levels as nighttime and implement their pre-bedtime behaviors.
- Pets, especially dogs, often mimic people. If everyone is looking up, dogs may follow their eye gaze too.
- Take precaution with your dogs if they are outside during the eclipse as not to damage their eyes.
- Scientists, zoos and the media are asking for people to observe wildlife and their pets during and after the eclipse to see if any changes in animal behavior may occur.
- However, most indicate that crowds and noises (some cities having large viewing parties), will be more frightening to pets than the eclipse itself.
Hopefully, you get to enjoy the solar eclipse experience!
How Old Is My Pet in Human Years?
How Old is My Pet in Human Years?
Birmingham pet owners, as your dog and cat ages - their healthcare needs become greater. Since pets age at a faster rate than humans, Valleydale Animal Clinic recommends an exam every six months after your pet reaches age 7 in order to ensure your older pet is happy, healthy and pain-free.
Good senior pet health care requires attention to several factors:
- Diet and weight management
- Joint health
- Cancer screening
- Heart disease screening
- Dental maintenance
- Diabetes screening
- Function of thyroid, kidneys, and liver
- Eye and vision health
- Pain management
Regular Preventative Care Exams are Important for Senior Pets
Regular exams and testing allows us to determine what is normal for your pet. Knowing these results help us detect any abnormalities or problems early. When diagnosed early, many conditions can be successfully managed leading to better outcomes for your pet and treatment costs can often be reduced.
Valleydale Animal Clinic has developed a comprehensive senior wellness program designed to meet the changing needs of your pet as he or she ages. Our senior wellness program includes:
- Complete physical exam - evaluates the heart, lungs, eyes, ears, abdomen, joints and skin
- Intestinal parasite exam – Check for worms
- Early Disease Detection Testing:
- Urinalysis – detects ph balance, crystals in urine, abnormal cells and any signs of urinary tract infection or bladder cancer
- Full biochemisty test and bloodwork – evaluates the liver, kidneys thyroid levels, blood sugar levels, white blood cell count, red blood cell count and platelet count.
- Ocular pressure check
- Blood pressure check
*We may also recommend further diagnostics based on exam and test results.
Ways to Reduce Pet Stress While at the Vet
Birmingham/Hoover pet owners - Regular veterinary exams are important for all pets to live long, healthy & happy lives! We recommend all pets, even indoor cats and pets that appear healthy, have two exams each year to help us help you identify problems before they become serious.
We realize coming to the veterinarian can be stressful on your pets (and you). As well, boarding your pets while you travel out of Birmingham can cause anxiety when they are in a new place with unfamiliar sights, sound and smells.
Here are tips to help make your next visit to Valleydale Animal Clinic easier on you and your pet:
- Kennel/Crate - Introduce your pet to a crate or kennel before it comes time to travel to the vet.
- Bring the carrier out ahead of time to become accustomed to it. Leave the door of the open so they can explore as they please. Reward if enters the crate.
- Go on fun rides and reward with treats during and after.
- Consider placing stress-reducing products in or around the carrier (see below for our recommendations).
- Hiding places - Pets might feel safer when they can hide. Provide a blanket in the crate to hide under or to cover and give your pet a sense of protection.
- Consider placing stress-reducing products on the blankets (see below for our recommendations).
- Car rides – Place your pet’s crate in the floor of the front seat to provide a visual barrier as well as calming white noise from the engine running.
- Safety belts specially adapted for dogs are also available.
- If your pet gets car sick, ask us about strategies to alleviate the symptoms.
- Practice sessions - Call ahead to our vet clinic to find out when there is a quiet time to visit.
- Your pet can calmly walk around the building and exam room. Use treats and positive praise with your pet as you tour around.
- Distractions - Bring favorite treats/toys for reassurance.
- Come hungry – Pets will be more receptive to treats given at our vet clinic if hungry.
- Schedule a training consultation - Valleydale Animal Clinic has a Certified Dog Trainer on staff. Our Kennel Manager Meg can work with your dog on crate training and behaviors and if needed, refer you to a vet behavior specialist.
Valleydale Animal Clinic's online store has products such as Zylkene, Feliway and Adaptil that can help during these and other stressful situations (such as storms, fireworks or visitors to your home).
- Zylkene is a supplement derived from casein (a protein in milk) that can be given to cats or dogs to help them cope with stress. Administered as a capsule or mixed with water before or during the stressful period, Zylkene helps increase their ability to cope with change and can reduce their coping mechanisms. Read more about Zylkene...
- Feliway is a synthetic feline pheromone that mimics a cat’s natural pheromone used to mark their territory as safe and secure. Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security to help comfort and reassure cats. Multiple products are available including carrier wipes, diffusers and sprays. Get more tips on traveling with cats from Feliway...
- Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone mother dogs emit after giving birth to help their puppies feel calm and secure. Dogs of all ages recognize this pheromone throughout life and Adaptil reduces stress and stress-related behaviors. Multiple products are available including collars, diffusers and sprays. Get more tips for traveling with dogs from Adaptil...
Call us at 991-5416 or ask about these products at your next appointment.
New Year Resolutions for Healthy Pets
New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pets – Let us be your partner in your pet’s health in 2017!
- Schedule two veterinary appointments this year - Pets need regular veterinary care to live long, healthy & happy lives. The best time to bring your pet in is for a wellness exam. Seeing your pet when he or she is feeling good gives veterinarians a baseline to use in case of trouble. We will also use these appointments to update needed vaccinations and discuss early disease detection blood and lab tests and wellness profiles. Call 991-5416 or request your appointment online now!
- Discuss annual dental cleanings - Besides just bad breath, poor dental health causes pain and can lead to heart, liver and kidney disease. Call 991-5416 or request your appointment online now!
- Don’t skip out on their exercise - Regular exercise maintains a healthy weight, builds strength and endurance and reduces behavior and medical problems associated with inactivity. Depending on breed, age and size, activity levels will vary, but do not let the winter months keep you from jogging or walking your dog. Most dogs will retrieve balls or toys for hours if you will toss it for them! Encourage cats to be active with toys or chasing laser pointers.
- Consider training – Beyond learning the basics of sit, stay and come, effective training can help your pet become a successful member of your family and build a strong bond between you. Starting early as a puppy or soon after you adopt is best, but training can be applied to all ages. You can teach an old dog new tricks! We have an American Behavior College Certified Dog Trainer on staff who conducts private and group lessons.
- Provide heartworm prevention - Heartworm disease, a potentially life-threatening condition, is prevalent in Alabama because of mosquitoes. Heartworms live in the heart, blood vessels and lungs of an infected pet. While treatment is available, prevention is much safer and without side effects. Even indoor pets need to be on heartworm prevention – there are numerous products available including monthly pills, topical options or an injectable from our veterinarians. Call 991-5416 or request your appointment online now for a heartworm test!
- Log into your pet portal - 24/7 access to your pet's medical history, retrieve pet ID cards with vaccine information, browse our extensive library of educational tools related to your pet's health, view and request appointments and set up medication dose reminders and shop our online pet pharmacy & supply store.
- Download our new Valleydale Animal Clinic app - Earn loyalty rewards points!
- Keep them looking & feeling fresh & clean - Regular bathing & grooming maintains healthy coat, skin and nails and can detect skin conditions.
Thank you for letting us be your partner in your pet's health! Refer new clients to Valleydale Animal Clinic - Let us help even more Birmingham pets! We appreciate your recommendations of us in our Share the Care program - both you and the new client you refer receives a $20 credit!
Shop 24/7 our Online Pet Pharmacy & Supply Store
Did you know Valleydale Animal Clinic offers you the convenience to shop online 24/7? Have pet prescriptions, food and supplies delivered to your door!
Birmingham/Hoover pet owners - Our online pet pharmacy & supply store with home delivery provides affordable, quality pet medications, food and supplies delivered to your home when you need it.
Our home delivery program includes:
- Online Pet Pharmacy & Store - accessed through our website and available 24/7 so you can shop from home at your convenience.
- AutoShip- any item can be set up for automatic shipments at regular intervals so your pet’s medication is at your home when you need it.
- Free Shipping – any orders $49 and over and on RemindMe qualify for free shipping (exclusions apply)
Shop online and browse our selection of safe, authentic pet products including:
- Pet Prescriptive Drugs
- Pet Medications
- Pet Dietary Supplements
- Flea, Tick, & Heartworm Preventatives
- Pet Food & Nutrition Products from Royal Canin and Hill’s
- Pet Ear, Eye & Skin Care Products
- Pet Supplies
Benefits to you and your pet:
- Necessary items delivered right to your door
- Convenience for when you do not have time to visit us at Valleydale Animal Clinic
- No need to carry heavy items to your car
- Reminders to provide medications on certain days
- Special discounts and incentives provided by suppliers
- Product guarantees from our manufacturers
- Security - all sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted. After a transaction, your private information will not be stored.
Share the Care - Earn $20 Credit
Let Valleydale Animal Clinic help even more pets! We appreciate your recommendations of us in our Share the Care program - both you and the new client you refer receive a $20 credit on your account.
A Share the Care card must during the new client's first appointment with us and with your name provided as the referral.
PIck up a few of our Share the Care cards to always have with you in case you come across someone needing a veterinary relationshp like you have with Valleydale Animal Clinic.
Thank you for allowing us to be your partner in your pet's health!
August 15th is Check the Chip Day
August 15th is Check the Chip Day
Microchips greatly increase the chances that pets will be reunited with their families if they are lost or stolen. However, a microchip will only work if the information linked to the chip is correct. Learn more about microchips...
Why should you microchip?
- 1 in 3 pets get lost at least once in their lifetime
- Over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year
- Only about 22% of lost dogs that entered the animal shelters were reunited with their families. However, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was over 52%
Dog and cat microchipping is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects a microchip for pets, about the size of a grain of rice (12mm), beneath the surface of your pet's skin between the shoulder blades. The process is similar to a routine shot, takes only a few seconds, and your pet will not react any more than he would to a vaccination. No anesthetic is required.
Stop by Valleydale Animal Clinic on August 15th to have your pet's microchip scanned by one of our staff members to ensure its accuracy.
Don't have your pet microchipped? Call 991-5416 for your appointment.
Why Do I Need To Vaccinate My Pet?
Pet owners in Birmingham, Hoover, Chelsea and our area, are you asking yourself, "Why do I need to vaccinate my pet?"
- Vaccinations are the best weapon against many viral and bacterial infections in pets.
- Millions of dog & cat lives have been saved through vaccines.
- Vaccines are safe and well-tolerated by most pets.
- Vaccines help your pet live a longer, healthier and happier life!
Vaccinations are highly important while pets are still puppies or kittens, when their young immune systems are developing and need protection to stay healthy. Keeping your pet current as they age on their annual or scheduled vaccines is vital to their health, the health of all pets and even the people in our Birmingham & Hoover community.
During your appointment, Valleydale Animal Clinic veterinarians will provide you with vaccine education, discuss the scheduling of booster shots (if necessary for puppies & kittens) and discuss the need to return annually or on a set schedule.
We will discuss your pet's history, lifestyle and other factors (location, where you go like dog parks, where you travel, etc...) and determine a proper vaccination guideline and schedule.
- Vaccines required/recommended for most dogs (some factors change recommendations)
- Rabies is required by state law.
- Bordetella “Kennel Cough” (we require dogs boarding with us be current on Bordetella vaccine)
- Canine Flu
- Vaccines required/recommended in most cats (some factors change recommendations)
- Rabies is required by state law.
- Feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (FVRCP)
- Feline Leukemia
- Feline IV (FIV)
- Bordetella “Kennel Cough” (we require cats boarding with us be current on Bordetella vaccine)
Call Valleydale Animal Clinic at 991-5416 or request your appointment online for your pet's vaccinations!
Simple Tests - So Many Results
Simple tests. So many results.
Pets can’t say let us know how they feel. Cats especially can hide illness and symptoms from you. You play a key role in helping your pet combat illness and stay as healthy as possible and Valleydale Animal Clinic is your partner in your pet's health.
Diabetes, kidney, heart and liver disease may not show symptoms at onset. Identifying possible diseases and complications early allows us a better chance to develop a treatment plan for your pet.
Valleydale Animal Clinic's Early Disease Detection blood profiles can provide information about your pet’s liver, kidneys and pancreas, blood sugar levels, white blood cell count, red blood cell count and platelet count and can identify infection, inflammation and anemia.
Why do we recommend annual preventative care blood tests on healthy pets?
- Over 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will develop kidney disease
- Over 50% of cats over age 15 are afflicted with kidney disease
- Liver disease is 5th leading cause of death in dogs
- 1 in 200 dogs will develop diabetes in their lifetime
- Overweight cats have a higher chance of developing diabetes
We recommend annual tests on pets 4 & over.
Every pet is unique - so annual testing allows us to determine what a normal baseline result is for your pet. Trending these results over time allows us to diagnose problems early as we can notice changes in your pet earlier. More advanced disease is associated with more complications and it can make treatment harder and more expensive.
Depending on your pet’s age, we offer different blood & lab test packages to allow us to best help you help your pet live a longer, healthier, happier life.
Call Valleydale Animal Clinic at 991-5416 or request an appointment online for your pet’s preventative care blood test profile.
Have We Seen Your Cat Lately?
Birmingham/Hoover cat owners - Have we seen your cat lately?
Common Incorrect Cat Myths:
* Cats are naturally healthier with less problems than dogs
* Feline health problems come from outside and don’t affect indoor cats
* Cats will display visible signs of illness
* Cats are self-sufficient and do not need veterinary care like dogs
Cats are no more or less healthy than dogs and are notorious for hiding illness. You might not know your cat is sick until the illness has become critical and requires more extensive treatment.
To best serve your cat - we recommend an annual exam with vaccinations & parasite testing and prevention. For the best preventative care as your cat ages, we recommend annual blood tests to diagnose diabetes, kidney, liver, thyroid, renal and heart disease before they become advanced and regular dental cleanings.
All cats, even indoor cats, are susceptible to health conditions and parasites. Diagnosing illness through an examination and through laboratory tests & beginning treatment early can save your cat suffering later if the disease has progressed. Read more about common cat illnesses.
What are some subtle signs your cat might be ill?
* Inappropriate elimination outside the litter box
* Change in food/water consumption
* Change in activity/interaction
* Lack of self-grooming
* Bad breath
* Weight loss or gain (overweight cats have higher chance of developing diabetes)
* Do not assume behavior or physical changes are just "old age". Many are medical problems that can be treated if caught early.
We realize coming to the vet can be stressful on you and your cat. Here are some tips to ease that stress:
Before Your Vet Appointment at Valleydale Animal Clinic
* Top-loading carriers make it easier to place your cat inside - those with top and side opening have additional versatility
* Bring the carrier out several days prior and place a familiar blanket, treats and toys inside the carrier
* Take frequent short car rides to places other than coming to see us
* Practice regular care such as brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing and touching your cat's face, ears, feet and tail at home
* We have products such as Feliway available to calm stress - stop in and purchase before their appointment or order from our online store.
Coming to Valleydale Animal Clinic & At the Vet Appointment
* Use Feliway diffuser, sprays or wipes at least 15 minutes before introducing cat to the carrier - download Feliway tip sheet on how to use Feliway to reduce cat stress
* Come to our vet clinic for visits that don't involve exams or procedures (such as weighing the cat) to create positive associations or just stop by for treats
* Cats travel best on an empty stomach
* Place a towel or blanket over the carrier when driving
* Reinforce your cat's positive associations with the carrier using calm praise
* Let the cat walk out or gently remove from the carrier with calm voices and motions
* Speak softly, because if you remain calm, chances are your cat will too
* After each successful car trip and vet visit, reward your pet with positive attention and treats
Here are questions we are frequently asked about cats.
Q: My cat is strictly an indoor cat so I don't see why he needs any shots.
A: Indoor cats are still at risk for diseases. Also, you can never be 100% certain your indoor kitty won't escape outside or the cat you adopted is not harboring a disease that can be transmitted to other cats. And while indoor cats may be exposed to fewer diseases, indoor cats may be exposed to many disease pathogens. We recommend vaccinations and parasite control measures for all cats regardless of where they spend their time. Prevention is always better and less expensive than treatment.
Q: My cat gets the three-year shots, so doesn't this mean I just take her for an exam every three years, instead of every year?
A: Vaccinations are just one component of the wellness visit. Annual wellness exams are critical to keeping your cat in optimum health, regardless how often vaccines are administered. We recommend more frequent exams for senior and geriatric patients or those cats with medical or behavioral conditions.
Q: It seems like my cats have to get a lot of vaccinations. Do they really need all of them?
A: We determine the vaccinations your cats need based on the results of their health histories, ages and lifestyles at their annual wellness exams. The important thing to remember is serious infectious feline diseases are still prevalent and if your cats are not vaccinated against them, they're at risk.
Q: I adopted a cat from the shelter. He's been neutered, and my veterinarian thinks he's about two years old. My problem is I want him to stay inside and be a housecat, but he keeps crying until I let him out. What can I do?
A: Your cat was probably allowed outside before you adopted him. However, if you continue to let him outside, he's not going to make the transition to becoming an indoor cat. Practice a little tough love and do your best to keep him inside. After all, it's in his best interest because he will likely live a much longer, healthier life indoors. Try making the indoors more stimulating by having play sessions, cat toys and providing a window perch where he can safely enjoy the outside. Over time he will probably adapt and become the indoor kitty you want.
Q: My 15-year-old cat used to lick his hair and keep himself very neat and clean. Lately, I've found some mats on him, and he doesn't seem to spend as much time taking care of himself. Should I be concerned?
A: There are often changes in grooming behavior as cats get older. It's not uncommon for cats to put on a little weight as they age, and he may not be able to reach certain parts of his body. At his age, he may also have some arthritis limiting his mobility and making the grooming process painful. Any cat that stops grooming himself may be showing signs of illness and should have a veterinary exam.
Q: My cat has always been great about using his litter box, and he never has an accident. Lately, however, he has started going outside the litter box, not in it. Why is he doing this, and what can I do about it?
A: An abrupt change in your cat's litter box behavior suggests there's something going on with your cat. It is important to keep the litter box clean and to consider recent changes in location or type of litter used. There are several medical conditions associated with his change in behavior, including lower urinary tract disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus. It could also be a sign of arthritis, which makes it difficult for him to get into the litter box. Make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to uncover any medical conditions that could be affecting his elimination behavior.
Q: I recently got a new kitten from the shelter and my older cat is having trouble adjusting. He is hiding behind the couch, and bites and scratches me when I pick him up. Will this change eventually, and is there something I should do about it?
A: It takes most cats a while to adjust to a new household pet. Some cats may be fearful and show it by becoming a bit aggressive, some hide out and some just ignore the whole thing. Overall, all cats are somewhat stressed at any change in their environment. The veterinary professionals at your clinic are skilled in helping you work through behavior issues, just as they are experts in addressing medical problems. They can suggest some strategies that can keep everyone in the household happier.
Warning: Heartworm Risk in Our Area - Protect Your Pets!
It takes one bite from an infected mosquito to break your pet’s heart!
Birmingham pet owners - Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets, particularly in Alabama with the prevalence of mosquitoes. Foot-long worms live in the heart, lungs & blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage and can be fatal if untreated.
How does my pet get heartworms? Heartworms living in an infected dog, cat or wildlife produce baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up these worms and when it bites another animal, the worms enter through the bite wound. Heartworms can grow and live for 5 – 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.
How prevalent is heartworm disease? Heartworm disease is a year-round problem. In Shelby County, 1 in 58 dogs tested positive.
What can I do to protect my pet? Heartworm disease is preventable! Dogs should be tested annually and before starting prevention. Prevention is the safest and most cost-effective option, but treatment is available for dogs (although costly & lengthy). Cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment in cats, so prevention is critical and the only means of protection.
Valleydale Animal Clinic has safe, effective products available that must be administered 12 months of the year to protect your pet:
- ProHeart6 is an injection administered to dogs by a veterinarian that provides 6 months of heartworm plus hookworm protection. ProHeart6 relieves you from having to remember and administer monthly medications.
- Heartgard is given monthly to dogs to prevent heartworms.
- Advantage Multi is applied topically each month to cats and kills adult fleas; prevents flea eggs from hatching, treats and controls roundworm and hookworm infections and ear mites and protects against heartworm disease.
Keep your pets safe from this deadly but preventable disease!
Call us at 991-5416 to schedule an appointment for their heartworm test and to discuss the best prevention options for your pets.
What is the Best Flea & Tick Prevention? Protect Your Pet, Home & Family from Fleas & Ticks
Which Flea & Tick Prevention is Best?
Birmingham pet owners - Springtime means an increase in fleas and ticks, which is bad news for your pets and your family.
Despite their tiny size, fleas and ticks can cause misery for your pet. They can stimulate allergies, cause infections and transmit infections and disease, not only to your pet but to you and your family.
If you see fleas, there are already eggs and larvae developing in your carpets and bedding. Ticks can carry fatal disease like Lyme disease.
Did you know that all flea and tick preventatives are not created equally? Your choice could go a long way in how well your pet is prevented from parasitic infestations. There are a few questions to discuss with your veterinarian in determining the best flea and tick prevention for your pet.
- Is your pet outside often? Do they leave your property? Do you take your pet to remote areas for exercise or in the woods, etc?
- Does your pet have a lot of contact with other pets, like at a dog park, or do you have multiple pets in the home?
- Can you easily remember to regularly give your pet the preventative monthly?
- Do you have a budget in mind?
Valleydale Animal Clinic carries the best flea and tick preventions treatments to cater to different pet lifestyles and family budgets:
- Nexgard is a tasty chew given monthly to dogs to kill adult fleas before they lay eggs and kill ticks.
- Bravecto is a tasty chew given to dogs every 12 weeks. Bravecto kills & prevents fleas and kills ticks (black-legged tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick) for 12 weeks. Bravecto also kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks.
- Advantage Multi is applied topically each month to cats and kills adult fleas; prevents flea eggs from hatching, treats and controls roundworm and hookworm infections and ear mites and protects against heartworm disease.
Here’s how to check for those filthy fleas…
Step 1 - Have your pet stand over a white countertop, bed sheet or piece of paper.
Step 2 – Using a flea comb, comb your pet from from head to tail and examine the fur and exposed skin as you work. Pay particular attention to the back of the neck, the base of the tail and the insides of the legs and armpits. These are favorite hiding spots for fleas.
Step 3 – Examine the flea comb. Look for evidence of fleas. This may include jumping fleas themselves or flea poop and eggs, which look like salt and pepper.
Step 4 - Shake the dirt from the comb and her fur onto the white sheet so you can see the black specks. To distinguish normal dirt from flea feces, sprinkle a little water over the specks. If it's flea dirt, the black specks will turn reddish-brown. That’s because it is actually flea droppings, which is digested blood.
Step 5 - Look for small, irritated red spots on the skin that can indicate bites. These can occur anywhere but are most common in warmer areas of the body.
Step 6 - Scratching can be a sign there are fleas on your pet. However, itching and scratching alone is NOT a sign and may indicate other conditions that need your attention.
How to check for ticks:
Step 1 - Check your pet before you go inside, or just inside the door, to lower the chance of a tick coming into your home.
Step 2 - Comb through your pet’s fur with your fingers. Press gently so you can feel any bumps on the skin. Ticks can be as small as a pinhead or as big as a grape. Be sure to check your pet’s feet (including between the toes), inside the ears, and around the face and neck.
Step 3 - If you find a bump, part your pet’s fur so you can see the skin. Look for a black, brown, or grayish-brown bug. You might only see the tick’s body, or you might see its legs, too.
If you find fleas & ticks then don’t hesitate to call us at 991-5416.
Ways to Reduce Pet Stress While at the Vet
Regular veterinary exams are very important for all pets. Even indoor cats and pets that appear healthy need at least two veterinary appointments each year to help you identify problems before they become serious and help them live long, healthy, happy lives.
We realize coming to the veterinarian can be stressful for your pets (and you!) As well, boarding your pets while you travel can cause anxiety when they are in a new place with unfamiliar sights, sound and smells.
At Valleydale Animal Clinic, we have products such as Zylkene, Feliway and Adaptil that can help during these and other stressful situations (such as storms, fireworks or visitors to your home).
- Zylkene is a supplement derived from casein (a protein in milk) that can be given to cats or dogs to help them cope with unusual situations. Administered as a capsule or mixed with water before or during the stressful period, Zylkene helps them increase their ability to cope with change and can reduce their coping mechanisms. Read more about Zylkene...
- Feliway is a synthetic feline pheromone that mimics a cat’s natural pheromone used to mark their territory as safe and secure. Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security to help comfort and reassure cats while are in a challenging situation. Multiple products are available including carrier wipes, diffusers and sprays. Get more tips on traveling with cats from Feliway...
- Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromone mother dogs emit after giving birth to help their puppies feel calm and secure. Dogs of all ages recognize this pheromone throughout life and Adaptil reduces stress and stress-related inappropriate behaviors. Multiple products are available including collars, diffusers and sprays. Get more tips for traveling with dogs from Adaptil...
Valleydale Animal Clinic can administer Zylkene, Feliway or Adaptil to your pets while they board with us for a small fee (varies based on product, size and breed).
Call us at 991-5416 or ask about these products at your next appointment.
Beyond these products discussed, here are some tips to help make your next visit to Valleydale Animal Clinic easier on you and your pet:
- Kennel/Crate. Introduce your pet to a crate or kennel before it comes time to use it to travel to the vet. Once your pet accepts and uses the crate, the crate can be used to transport your pet to and from our clinic.
- Hiding places. Some pets feel more comfortable when they can hide. Provide a blanket in the crate for your pet to hide under. You can also use a blanket to cover the crate and give your pet a sense of protection.
- Car rides. Consider placing your pet’s crate in the floor of the front seat to provide a visual barrier as well as calming white noise from the engine running. Safety belts specially adapted for dogs are also available. If your pet does get car sick, ask us about strategies to alleviate the symptoms.
- Practice sessions. Call ahead to our clinic to find out when there is a quiet time to visit. During the visit, your pet can calmly walk around the building and exam room. Use treats and positive praise with your pet as you tour around.
- Distractions. Bring your pet’s favorite treats/toys to give them something positive to focus on during the visit.