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For most people, the term “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” refers to the holiday season. For us dog lovers, we often refer to the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” as puppy season! The holiday season is often the time of year when a new furry member is introduced into the family. Not only are people bringing puppies home, but there is also an increase in dog shelter adoptions. We encourage you to help make a shelter dog’s holiday extra special this year.

Regardless if you are bringing home a 8 week old puppy or 10 year old “young at heart” pup, you’ll want to find a Veterinarian that you can take him to for checkups or illness. While your dog may be healthy now, you don’t want to be rushing around trying to find a Veterinarian if he were to suddenly become ill. It is important to find a Veterinarian that is not just close to you based on location, but someone who you are comfortable with. After all, you and your Veterinarian will be making important health decisions for your dog. We put together these 5 must ask questions when interviewing Veterinarians, so that you can be sure you find the perfect match.

1. Where did you attend veterinary school?

This is a basic question that any pet parent should be asking. This gives you insight into your Veterinarian’s education. This is also a good way to inquire about any continuing education that your Veterinarian may participate in and his surgery experience. Not all Veterinarians perform surgeries outside of routine spay and neuters.

Photo Credit: @skylakeanimalhospital

2. How many doctors are in the practice?

It is important to not only know how many Veterinarians are in the practice, but also who they are. There may be times when your Veterinarian is out of the office and you will need to see another Veterinarian within the practice.

In addition to knowing who the other staff Veterinarians in the practice are, it is a good idea to inquire about any services they may or may not perform and if they see emergency cases when your Veterinarian is out of the office.

3. What are your payment options/package deals?

It’s good to know if your Veterinarian’s office offers any type of payment plans or if payment is due up front. This can help you to prepare for unexpected Vet bills.

And while most practices require payment at the time of service, many practices offer puppy and/or senior packages. Puppies require frequent veterinary care, which leads to higher than normal veterinary bills. To offset this expense, many practices offer puppy packages, which give you discounts on exams during your puppies vaccination series and/or bundled vaccine pricing.

As for our “young at heart” senior dogs, many practices will offer discounts on certain days for senior dogs or offer a senior package that mimics the puppy discount package with discounts on annual exams and testing. It’s just as important for your senior dog to have routine blood work tests as it is for a young dog.

Photo Credit: @drscrewloose_toy
Photo Credit: @drscrewloose_toy

4. Who do you recommend during off hours/emergencies?

More than likely, your Veterinarian’s office is not open 24/7, 365 days a year. In addition to asking who your Veterinarian recommends in case of an emergency, ask if his practice has a magnet for the 24/7 pet hospital that he recommends for your home. While it may be unsightly, keep this magnet on the side of your refrigerator in case of emergency or better yet, add the animal hospital as a contact in your phone so you can easily access it. It can be hard to remember the name of an animal hospital that you do not regularly go to during a stressful emergency.

Along with this, you should inquire about overnight stays if your dog needs to have surgery at your Veterinarian’s office. Not all practices have staff members that stay overnight. This may require you to transport your dog to a nearby pet hospital for overnight monitoring.

Photo Credit: Blue Pearl Vet

5. Does your practice offer an on-site pharmacy?

Most of the time, it’s ideal for you to get any prescriptions your dog may need while your at your Veterinarian’s office. Ask your Veterinarian if they are able to give you same day prescriptions for any medications they may prescribe to your dog.

Photo Credit: Rolesville Pet Care

A cheaper alternative to buying your medications from your Veterinarian’s office for non-emergency prescriptions is to ask your Veterinarian for a written script for any prescribed medications. You can have your dog’s prescription filled at your local pharmacy. Unfortunately, you can’t use your insurance to fill these medications but they are often much cheaper than your Veterinarian’s office.

These are the basic starting point questions to help you decide which Veterinarian you are most comfortable seeing. Keep in mind that this person will be helping you care for and prolong the life of your dog, so you may want to go into further detail when interviewing for a new Veterinarian. (i.e. vaccine protocols, raw food stance or anything else that may be important to you as a dog parent!)  And don’t be shy, ask your fellow neighbors or local social media dog parents who they recommend.

Photo Credit: @drdanthevet

What are some of the questions you asked your Veterinarian when you first met or how did you decide on the Veterinarian that you are currently seeing? We’d love for you to share with other dog parents by leaving a comment below or tagging us on your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter posts with #benebone!

Featured Image: @dr.evanantin

 

It’s that spooky time of year again ….. Halloween! Time to break out your arts and crafts supplies and get your creative juices flowing. By far, our favorite part of Halloween is seeing all the fun, creative, scary and cute costumes dog parents create.

Regardless of what direction your dog’s Halloween costume takes you in, it’s most important to make sure your dog is safe in his costume. These safety tips below will help assure that both you and your dog have a great night of Halloween fun!

Photo Credit: @wallythewelshcorgi

Safety Tips

  • Regardless if you are making or buying your dog’s costume, make sure you properly measure your dog and always go slightly larger to account for your dog’s furry fluff. This is most important around your dog’s neck. Always add an extra ½ inch to allow for any fabric to fit loosely around your dog’s neck. Keep your dog’s eyes, nose and mouth free of any fabric to allow him to see, smell and breath properly.
Photo Credit: Blueberry Pet
  • Stay away from sharp objects. This applies to both objects that could potentially hurt your dog and objects attached to your dog’s costume that could potentially hurt others. Keep in mind that dogs are very social and will often run up to another dog or human quickly. Any costume “props” should be made with soft, safe materials.
Photo Credit: @mrangusscottie
  • Check the ingredients of any face or body paint. There are many non-toxic, safe or even water-based paints that you can use safely on your dog. A few days before Halloween, test a small amount of paint on your dog’s fur to make sure your dog doesn’t have any skin irritations to the paint.
Photo Credit: Pugsleys World
  • LED collars can help save your dog’s life! While these might not match your dog’s costume, this safety precaution is highly recommended if you are taking your dog trick-or-treating with your family during the late evening hours. These brightly lit collars help drivers see your furry friend while crossing the street.
Photo Credit: @kees_chiya
  • Just say no to candy! Candy is an absolute no-no for dogs. Many candies are toxic for dogs and can lead to an unwanted ER visit. If you want your dog to partake on the Halloween treat fun, try giving him some fresh fruit such as blueberries. Luckily, your dog won’t know what he’s missing out on.
Photo Credit: @lifewithweenies
  • Make sure your dog’s ID information is up to date! It is important to make sure that your dog is not only microchipped, but also has a current ID tag on his collar or harness.
Photo Credit: @dania_thebeagle

Remember, Halloween can be a scary and confusing time for dogs. You know your dog best and know if a costume isn’t right for him or if he should stay inside during trick-or-treat time.

In hopes of inspiring you to have a fun and safe Halloween, we’ve collected some of our favorite dog costumes of years past. Check out the gallery below to see all the fun dog costumes and make sure you tag our Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter accounts with #benebone so we can see your dog’s costume! Happy Halloween!

 

Generally, tick season doesn’t “start” until early spring, but with the ever changing weather, experts are predicting that the flea and tick season may begin earlier than the normal May start date. In fact, according to the CDC, this upcoming tick season is slated to be the worst seen to date. While nobody likes to find bugs on their dogs, ticks are much worse than fleas in that they are carriers of Lyme disease. And, while death is not common in dogs diagnosed from Lyme disease, treating Lyme disease is often a costly and lengthy process.

Before you remove a tick, there are some do’s and don’ts that you should be aware of. For instance, do not assume that water will remove a tick. If you return home from your walk and put your dog into the bathtub for a bath, the water, even in warm to hot, will not kill the tick. Just as ticks survive in the outdoors through rain storms, it will live on your dog through a bath.

Photo Credit: @alaup46

Do not “wash” ticks down the drain. Just as they can survive baths, ticks can survive the water you wash down the drain and can crawl back up the drain and into your home.

As soon as you are home, you should remove any of your dog’s clothing (and yours) and immediately put them into the dryer. Ticks cannot survive the heat of the dryer. Run the dryer for a bit, then you can throw them into the washer. After hikes, it’s always important to dry first, wash later.

Photo Credit: Dr. Marty Becker

Tick Removal Kit

First, before you leave your house for your walk or hike, you should have your “tick removal kit” handy and ready to go as soon as you return home. It is better to have your kit ready then coming home and running wild in your house trying to find all your materials. The items in your kit are relatively inexpensive so leaving them near your home’s entrance at all times shouldn’t pose any problems. And, yes, you should keep your tick removal kit ready at all times throughout the year. Even if you have one warm day in winter, you can be exposed to ticks, as evidenced by my wife finding a tick on her during the month of February in our home of upstate, New York.

Within your kit, you should have a white sheet or blanket. This can be a cheap, even used, sheet or blanket. The key is that it needs to be white in order to easily see any ticks that may happen to crawl off your dog and onto the floor.

Photo Credit: @terraglenanimalhospital

Next, you will need a lint roller. Simply tear off a sheet and place it on the blanket near your dog sticky side up. This will be used to “hold” any ticks you may find on your dog. Since you only use a sheet at a time, this lint roller should last you for years to come!

The next item, a pair of tweezers, will be the item that you may want to invest the most money into, rather than buying the cheapest on the shelf. This is your most important tool when removing a tick. You need to have tweezer that both provides a good grip for your hand, but also provide a good grip on what they are being used to grab.

Finally, you will need a pair of scissors to cut up the lint roller sheet when you are finished. No matter the price of your scissors, as long as they cut easily, they will work!

How to Remove A Tick

As soon as you return home from your walk or hike, remove any and all clothing, harnesses or collars from your dog and throw them immediately into the dryer immediately. Again, the heat from your dryer will kill any ticks that may have clung onto your dog’s accessories.

Lay your white sheet or blanket on the floor and have your dog lay on the sheet. If you have a dog with high energy levels or a dog that doesn’t like to lay still for a period of time, you many need to ask a family member or friend to help keep your dog still. Pro Tip: Try giving your dog a chew toy (perhaps a Benebone) to help keep him occupied as you search for ticks.

Once your dog is laying on the sheet, you can begin to look for ticks. Begin by running your hands throughout the fur over the entire body of your dog. Often, you can feel a tick right away on your dog, as it will feel like a small bump on their skin. Once you’ve completed a initial check of your dog, you will want to go back though for a more detailed check. This should include separating the fur on your dog so that you can directly see his skin. Key areas to check are around the neck and belly areas of your dog.

 

If you happen to find a tick on your dog, do not panic! Stay calm so that your dog also stays calm, as dogs often pick up on the emotions that their humans are experiencing. Once you have the tick in clear sight, with the fur pulled back, grab your tweezers to begin removing the tick.

Photo Credit: @islandlassie

You will want to get the tweezers as close to the skin as possible so that you can remove the head of the tick with the body. Do not twist or rock the tweezers back and forth. Doing this will likely separate the body from the head of the tick. Once your have a deep, firm grip on the tick, you should pull straight up to remove it.

Sometimes, the body will separate from the head when removing the tick. Again, do not panic. If you are able to go back to the site and remove more of the head, begin to do so. If you cannot get any more of the head out of your dog’s skin, leave it be and let nature takes its course. Your dog’s skin will push the rest of the head out, however, if you ever have any concerns, it is best to call your Veterinarian for further instructions.

Once you have the tick removed, place it directly onto the sticky side of the lint roller sheet. This will keep the tick from crawling away while you finish checking over your dog. Please be aware that this will not kill the tick(s). Ticks can eventually unstick themselves and crawl off the paper. If you have questions about any ticks you found on your dog, you can put the lint roller sheet into a ziploc bag and take them to your Veterinarian for further inspection.

Otherwise, you can now grab your scissors and being cutting the lint roller sheet into pieces. Be sure to cut directly through any ticks contained on the lint roller sheet.

While there are many tick preventatives on the market for dogs, it is best to discuss these options with your Veterinarian to find what is best specifically for your dog. Even if your dog is on a preventative, it does not always repel the tick. The tick must bite your dog in order for the tick to die, but in order for Lyme disease to be passed onto your dog, the tick must bite your dog. Therefore, it is always better to be safe and err on the side of caution.

We would love to hear any tricks or tips you have for removing ticks from your dog. Please share your comments below on this blog post or post to Benebone’s Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook accounts.

Ryan Crossett is the owner of @fen_the_aussie. You can read more of Ryan’s work here.