Ash Veterinary Clinic


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Fall into preparation for Winter

                It is time to think about any danger that may present itself to your furry family members during the fall and winter seasons.  The most common thing pet owners think about is the weather.  When the weather begins to change and we see lower temperatures, it is important to provide your pets with a safe and comfortable place to wait out the winter months.  Whether your pets are indoor only, outdoor only, or a little of both, they all need some of the basic requirements for survival.
First, food and shelter rank highest when considering all pets.  If your pet is outdoors for any fair amount of time, you will want to check food and water bowls for freezing water or change in the appearance of the food.  If you provide fresh, clean water then chances are they will not want to drink out of the ponds streams and standing water which are common places for intestinal parasites to be present.  To provide fresh water requires changing and checking it frequently.  I use a heated a heated water bowl so freezing is not an issue.
The next important thing is a safe and tolerable environment.  Many dogs and cats prefer to be outside regardless of the temperature.  Having a dog house inside a barn or garage, bedded with straw or blankets work well.  For my outdoor barn cats and even for those that come in and out, I take a rubber storage container with the lid on it, turn it upside down (so the lid is the floor), cut out a hole in it resembling a doggy door and place in a secure place with straw or blankets.  You can also stack them if you have more than one cat. Since cats enjoy hunting, I will allow them to hunt during the day and then I offer dry food in the evening.  Dogs that are not artic or winter breeds can get frostbite if their outdoor accommodations are not adequate.  As far as rodents, reptiles, and birds, do not forget to check the location of their cage for cold drafts, direct heat, or loud surroundings that may lead to an abundance of other health issues.
The next important matter concerns the diet and exercise of the pet.  As it is true for us humans, the pets tend to have less exercise in winter months which means owners need to decrease the amount they are feeding and decrease treats.  Remember not to “kill your pet with kindness” by feeding and treating them too much.  We know they do not fill their own bowls so it is our responsibility to keep them healthy.
Last, we have to talk about the vectors that are present all year round in Michigan.  The most common misconception by owners is that fleas and ticks are not present in fall and winter.  This could not be further from the truth.  I treat more flea allergy dermatitis patients in the fall weather because not only are the fleas trying to find a place to stay all winter, many owners stop giving the flea preventions thinking that they disappear with the first frost.  Do not be fooled.  Your pet does not have to be itchy to have a flea problem and fleas do not live on your pet.  Fleas live everywhere including couches, closets, creases in wood or ceramic floors, etc.  The only way to be sure they do not pick them up is to use a veterinary approved product for prevention.  If you would like advice on which products we recommend, do not hesitate to call us.
Another common vector we think goes away in the fall and winter are mosquitos.  While their presence decreases as fall approaches, there is no such thing as an outdoor only mosquito.  Since mosquitos transfer a serious and potentially fatal disease of heartworm, the prevention must be given year round.  It is recommended to test your dog once a year and required to use the prevention every month in order for the products manufacturer to guarantee the product.  An exam and heartworm test is required each year by most veterinarians because we cannot prescribe any medication to a patient that has not had an exam within the last year.  Also, no product is 100% and some patients may vomit the prevention without owners knowing, which means they did not have prevention one of the months and could possibly be infected.  The preventions are reasonably priced so it is cheaper to buy one month of medication than it is to order any fast food meal at any restaurant.  Obviously it is worth it to prevent rather than have to treat the disease at a cost of $1000-$2000.  We hope for all pets a parasite free fall and winter but if you find that you need to discuss the dangers of parasites specific to your pet, feel free to call us at Ash Veterinary Clinic at 734-782-2827, email us at or visit us online at 

[4:06:25 PM] Dianne Raftopoulos: