pet news


Recognizing when to take your pet to the new 24/7 Pet Urgent Care Center at Animal Health Services

animal health servicesIt is midnight on Sunday and you wake up to the sound of the dog vomiting. You sigh and go to clean it up – good thing Fido is cute. But then he throws up again … and cowers in the corner shaking. Your irritation turns to concern. Is this an emergency? Should you be heading to the vet?

This is a question pet owners find themselves faced with every day. While vets do not have a set of rules that confirm whether something is an emergency or not (is the dog throwing up every 15 seconds or every 30?), they do have guidelines that help them direct you. Vets know it’s hard to think clearly when you’re fuzzy friend is in distress, particularly in the middle of the night, so it’s best to keep your assessment simple. Look at the big picture – is the problem getting progressively worse? Does your pet’s breathing look distressed? Is there a change to the color of their gums (usually a pretty pink, now a white or bluish hue)? Is there bleeding? When you try to pat them do they cry as if in pain? Is their belly distended or hard to the touch? Can you tell they’ve gotten into something? All of these things would warrant an emergency trip to the doctor.

Now getting to the doctor in the middle of the night is just a drive around the corner to “Your Neighborhood Vet!” Animal Health Services is pleased to announce the opening of their new 24/7 Pet Urgent & Critical Care Center opening March 4, 2011. Unlike the common pet emergency center, this 24/7 Pet Urgent & Critical Care Center will go beyond handling emergencies. The center will be a lifeline for those pets requiring late or overnight diagnostics, care after surgery, ongoing medical treatments and other services not typically offered after hours elsewhere. The center is fully equipped with the diagnostic tools to determine what is causing a pet’s illness, not just treat the symptoms.

The 24/7 Urgent & Critical Care Center will be overseen by Signe Plunkett, DVM. Dr. Plunkett has over 25 years of emergency and critical care experience here in the Valley. She is the nationally recognized author of the textbook, Emergency Procedures for the Small Animal Veterinarian and has been published in several veterinary periodicals and journals.

Routine and referral veterinary pet appointments will still be offered during the daily business hours. However, urgent care, critical care and emergencies are still taken 24 hrs a day, seven days a week.

For more information visit or call us at 480-488-6181.


Horse Safety During Trail Rides


equine news bannerFor a horse owner, few things are better than taking a leisurely trail ride with your equine companion. Taking in the surroundings… breathing the fresh air … gently swaying back and forth in the saddle … can make the hours slip away like seconds. But as peaceful as trail rides with your horse are, there are certain "rules" a horse rider should follow to ensure that a foul surprise doesn't interrupt the experience.

The first key to a safe trail ride is a sense of comfort with your partner, and that goes for both you AND your horse. Trail rides often have many surprises in store, ranging from birds suddenly darting out from trees overhead to cars zooming by too quickly. Such incidents can easily startle your horse, and when this occurs it is essential you convey a sense of ease to your partner lest he bolt or rear.

A trail ride is NOT the time to introduce your horse to new experiences unless the trail ride itself is a planned and controlled lesson. Horses may often be required to backup, perform 180 turns in tight quarters, cross pools of water, maneuver over fallen trees or debris and much, much more. Make sure your horse can perform these necessary moves and/or requests, because if they cannot you might find yourself in a bit of a pickle on the trail.

Unless the trail ride is a training lesson, you should use a horse that is already comfortable being a leader and a follower. During most trail rides the horses will ride in a formation, but if for whatever reason that formation breaks up you don't want a one-trick pony that will panic being placed in a new role.

Never ride alone! Even the best horse can panic and do something silly when you least expect it. Even the best rider can lose his balance and fall. And although riding helmets do offer good head protection, I've seen many injuries ranging from badly sprained ankles to broken necks. A helmet can only offer so much protection.

Know your horse. The more familiar you are with horses and their body language, the better you can recognize potential trouble signs such as tensed muscles, pinned ears, etc. By knowing your horse, you can help take his mind off potential "boogey men" every time his attention floats away from the task at hand.

It also helps to be aware of your surroundings such that you can anticipate potential trouble spots. Although your horse might be initially spooked, if he sees that you're aware of the "problem" and have dismissed it as a non-threat, chances are he will relax.

Be careful not to take this too far. A great rider is constantly alert, but he's also in complete control of his movement and emotional state. For example if you hear a car approaching from the rear, it's NOT a good idea to hold your breath and tense up like many riders unknowingly do. Those are nervous reactions that have a high probability of convincing your horse that the car is a threat. An alert rider predicts threats and reassures their horses upon exposure.

Food and water are controversial topics when it comes to trail rides. If you undergo a strenuous or extended trail ride (more than an hour or two) you will want to be aware of your horse's food and water needs.

Some riders will never allow their horses to drink water during a trail ride, fearful that cool water from a pond can cause colic. This is a semi-accurate concern – you definitely do not want to allow your horse to drink too much water in the midst of that work or he can colic. But by the same token if your horse becomes too dehydrated he can still colic, this time due to waste compaction caused by a lack of liquids required by the digestive system. I personally feel it's safe to allow your horse to drink for approximately one minute – you want to allow him enough liquids to function, but not so much as to cause ill health.

As far as food goes, the trail is no place for a grain-only diet. Sometimes horse owners are tempted to bring nothing but grain since grain is easy to transport, but horses require a majority diet of hay, grass and other forms of forage.

There are a multitude of considerations that go into safe horsemanship, so clearly this article was not to be an all-inclusive look at trail riding. But as long as you keep the above horse safety tips in mind at all times, you'll already be one step ahead of many.
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