How-To Guides

Animal hospital in Denver: a dog and cat next to each other looking cute

The veterinary team at Vida Veterinary Care is committed to giving pet owners the tools you need to provide exceptional care to your best friend. Click on the subject in the list below to view instructional information about each one of the following pet care tips:

These tips make the experience of ear cleaning more pleasant for both you and your pet.

Many pets need mild restraint for ear cleaning. Wrapping cats in a towel can help. Small dogs are often better on a lap facing away from you and large dogs on the floor backed into a corner and sometimes a second person to help hold the head.

You will need cotton balls and a recommended ear cleaner. Fill the ear canal with the cleaner and then as you gently massage the cartilage at the base of the ear, you should hear a squishing sound. Next let them shake their head and the use a cotton ball to swab out any debris. If the ears are especially dirty, you’ll probably have to change cotton balls often.

If your pet’s ears seem painful, or if he or she is scratching the ears a lot or tilting his or her head to the side, your pet may need more than an ear cleaning. In this case it is better to have a veterinarian evaluate the ears and make further recommendations.

Pills and Cats

Step 1 – Use one hand to hold the top of the cat’s head by his cheekbones. Tilt the cat’s head back. Because of the structure of a cat’s head, he will be forced to open his mouth.

Step 2 – Place or drop the pill into the cat’s mouth, making sure it is as far back in the mouth as possible.

Step 3 – Rub the cat’s throat to get him to swallow the pill. It is helpful to give some water to be sure the medication doesn’t get stuck in the esophagus. This can be done with a syringe.

Pills and Dogs

Dogs are easier to medicate than cats if they are food/treat motivated. Always try to hide the pill in something tasty such as canned food, peanut butter, cream cheese or other cheese, or Pill Pockets (a tasty treat that can be molded around the medication). If this doesn’t work try these steps:

A dog’s head construction is different from a cat’s and, unless it is a round head breed, tilting the dog’s head back will not force the mouth to open. As a result, the approach used with giving dogs pills is a bit different.

Step 1 – Hold the top of the dog’s muzzle with one hand. Bend the dog’s head back.

Step 2 – With the pill in the other hand, use that hand to pull the dog’s jaw down.

Step 3- Drop the pill into the dog’s mouth, making sure to get the pill to the back of the mouth.

Drops for Dogs and Cats 

The procedure for giving a cat or dog medicine in drops is a little different

Step 1 – Measure out the proper dosage in the dropper.

Step 2 – Hold the head with the tip of the nose up.

Step 3 – Place the dropper in the space between the teeth and cheeks. Squeeze the medicine into the mouth, making sure to empty the dropper. Rub the throat to get her to swallow the medicine.

If you have questions about medications for pets, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Diabetes mellitus is a serious but manageable condition in both cats and dogs. Although it is a life-threatening illness when untreated, most diabetic pets can live full, healthy lives with daily insulin treatment.

Important Insulin Dosage Tips 

To treat your diabetic pet’s condition, you must know how to prepare the dosage and inject the insulin. Most owners are nervous at first, but with practice the process is quite simple and painless.

Be sure that the syringe type matches the insulin type you are using. For example, a U40 syringe is only used with U40 insulin. The syringe is marked with numbers corresponding to the dosage in units. Be sure you are giving your pet the prescribed amount.

Preparing the Needle 

Remove the insulin from the refrigerator and roll it between your palms to mix. Do not shake the vial.

Remove the caps from both the plunger and needle of the syringe.

Pull the plunger back to line up with the number of prescribed insulin units.

Insert the needle into the top of the insulin vial.

Push the plunger in completely to inject air into the vial. This prevents a vacuum from forming.

With the needle still inserted, invert the vial.

Check to be sure that the needle’s tip is submerged in fluid so that you do not draw air into the syringe.

Pull the plunger back to draw the insulin into the syringe. Pull past the dosage mark by a few units.

Look for any air bubbles in the syringe. (If you see bubbles, gently tap the side of the syringe to help them rise to the tip. Gently expel the air by moving the plunger up. When all air is removed, adjust the plunger to the correct dosage.)

Remove your finger from the plunger. Carefully pull the needle out of the vial.

Administering the Dose

Small dogs and cats should be placed on a stable surface. Have someone hold larger dogs.

Give praise and affection to your pet. The process is easier when pets are calm.

Choose an injection site. (For cats, use the side or the back of the cat’s neck. For dogs, the thorax, flank, belly, and back of the neck can be used. Do not use the same spot every day.)

Pull up a fold of skin between two fingers and insert the needle at a 45 degree angle.

Push the plunger all the way in to administer the dose. Gently remove the needle.

The caring veterinarians and staff at Vida Veterinary Care can help you optimize a treatment regimen for your diabetic pet. For more information about feline and canine diabetes treatment, please contact us.

Dropping off your pet for surgery can be stressful for you and for your furry companion. By educating yourself beforehand, you will have a clear understanding of what your pet will experience during his or her hospital stay, and you will be able to prepare your pet for surgery as well as recovery after discharge.

Preparing Your Pet the Night Before Surgery

Veterinary staff will inform you of all pre-surgical preparations. Since your pet will be placed under general anesthesia, an examination and blood screening is done prior to surgery. Some anesthetic agents are processed through the kidneys and liver and the blood panel will confirm that these organs are functioning optimally. Blood cell counts will detect signs of anemia or if any infection is present. If you notice any signs of illness in your pet prior to dropping off for surgery—such as vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, or decrease in appetite prior to being fasted—be sure to alert the hospital staff.

Your pet will need to fast after midnight the night before surgery, meaning no food overnight. Pick up the food bowls either at midnight or before bedtime, whichever comes first. Your pet may have water overnight; remove the water bowl when you get up in the morning. Puppies and some toy breeds should not be completely fasted, as these little ones are prone to low blood sugar. Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian what will be best for your individual pet.

Your Pet Has Been Admitted. What Happens Now? 

Your pet will be dropped off early in the day. If necessary, a sedative will be administered to calm your pet. An intravenous catheter will be placed for your pet to receive fluid therapy during the surgery and recovery periods, which will keep your pet hydrated and also play a role in helping to maintain ideal blood pressure. Your pet will be induced with an injectable anesthetic agent, the anesthesia will be induced, and then your pet will be intubated (breathing tube placed down the trachea) and placed on an inhalant form of anesthesia. Your pet will be surgically prepared and hooked up a monitor that will ensure vital parameters are maintained throughout the procedure.

While these proceedings are taking place, be proactive by preparing an area in your home for your pet’s recovery over the days following surgery. Upon discharge you will be provided with a list of post-surgical instructions for your pet’s recovery period.

Call Vida Veterinary Care to learn more about how you can prepare for your pet’s surgery.

Trimming your pet’s nails is not always an easy task. If clipping is started when your dog is a puppy or your cat is a kitten, he or she may be more accepting of the procedure. But there are a few tricks that could make it easier.

Trimming a Cat’s Nails 

While a few cats sit happily and allow you to clip their nails, many need restraining.

The simplest way to restrain a cat is to lay your cat across your lap, using your forearms over his neck and back hips to keep him there, but some cats do just fine sitting normally in your lap.

The best clipper to use for cats is a human nail clipper.

Cats can retract their claws so once you have your pet restrained on your lap, gently use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze the claw so you can see it.

Most cats’ claws are clear. The “quick” of the nail is the pink part visible at the base of the nail. This is where nerves and blood vessels are. If you cut this it will be painful for the cat and will cause the claw to bleed. Aim to cut about 2mm above the quick.

If your cat likes treats, it is always a good idea to reinforce nail trims with tasty treats.

Trimming a Dog’s Nails 

Restrain your dog either by using your forearms over his body or with the help of another person.

There are several types of nail trimmers available. Contact us for our recommendations.

Dog nails are often dark, which makes it’s difficult to see the quick. To reduce the risk of cutting into the quick, dark nails should be cut in several small cuts. As you cut, check the color of the cut away surface. Initially it will be a mottled color at the top and a lighter color at the bottom. As you approach the quick, you will see a pinkish or black oval start to appear. Stop cutting at this stage.

Trimming Nails for Small Animals Including Guinea Pigs and Rabbits 

Other animals may also need their claws clipped, especially animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits.

The best cutters to use are human nail clippers.

If your pet is particularly wriggly, wrap him in a blanket or towel.

Sit with the animal on your lap, facing away from you.

Hold your pet with its back against your body, supporting it with your free hand around his chest.

As with cats, cut 2mm away from the quick.

Your pet’s oral health is one of the most important parts of overall health. When your pet’s teeth have tartar and plaque built up on their surfaces, the bacteria embedded can cause organ damage and dental disease, resulting in daily pain. Some of the reasons we often recommend professional dental care to our patients are:

The presence of periodontal disease, which may manifest itself in the form of red gums, infections, and receding gums.

Excessive tartar buildup.

Bad breath.

Deep chips or cracks in the surfaces of teeth.

Tooth loss.

Many of these serious dental problems can be avoided through appropriate, ongoing dental care. Identifying potential dental problems early can help us to prevent the advancement of serious oral conditions, allowing your pet to be pain-free and not have tooth loss. At each visit, we will evaluate the oral health of your pet and make recommendations for prevention and treatment.

For more information on what you can do at home to prevent dental disease visit Veterinary Oral Health Council or American Veterinary Dental College.

Professional Dental Care for Your Pet

When your pet comes into our practice for a professional dental cleaning, the process includes:

General anesthesia to reduce your pet’s stress and discomfort during their procedure.

Cleaning (above and below the gum line) using modern, safe ultrasonic scalers that our veterinarians and technicians have been specially trained to use.

Polishing of each tooth.

Fluoride treatments to help address inflammation, strengthen enamel, and reduce tooth sensitivity.

Dental x-rays, when indicated, to evaluate the tooth under the gum line.