The Importance of Proper Pet Socialization

Four happy dogs at a party

If your terrier or tabby could talk, he would tell you that properly socialized pets are happier, more well-adjusted animals! Plus, you’ll rest easier knowing your pet is better equipped to adapt to new people, places, and other pets. 

If you’re wondering how to socialize a dog or how to socialize a cat, our team at Brownswitch Pet Hospital has some tips to get you started. But before blending furry friends in a social gathering, make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and parasite prevention.


The Big Easy & Beyond: Winter Pet Activities in Louisiana

A boxer stands by a lake.

When people outside of Louisiana think of our climate, they may think only of weather extremes during Hurricane season. While we do receive our fair share of heat, rain, and wind, our little corner of the world is rarely seen as having “winter weather.” That doesn’t stop people and their pets from hunkering down at home until, say, March or April. It doesn’t have to be like that at all. In fact, with our list of winter pet activities in Louisiana, you and your pet can get out and about to some incredible local destinations.


Reasons to Spay and Neuter Pets

A puppy and kitten look at the camera.

Puppies and kittens are cute, and no one at Brownswitch Pet Hospital is going to argue that point with you. Why then, do we counsel most pet owners to spay and neuter their adorable animals? Spay and neuter is a major part of responsible pet ownership and there are several compelling reasons to do so for your pet. 


Why Pet Wellness Exams Are So Important

A vet examines a puppy.

Everyday you do things that support your pet’s health and happiness. From selecting the best dog food to picking out the perfect squeaky toy, your activity in your pet’s life matters.

Brownswitch Pet Hospital feels strongly that your involvement in pet preventive care is huge as well. Regular pet wellness exams are essential for long and healthy lives for our four-legged family, and we would like to share why.


What Should I Feed My Pet?

A dog and cat eating natural food from a bowl.

Walking down the pet food aisle or watching commercials aimed at pet owners can make it really difficult to figure out how to feed your furry friend. Everyone seems to have a different opinion when it comes to the best pet diets, but how do you find your way through the noise and choose the best nutritional options for your pets? Brownswitch Pet Hospital has some helpful tips:


Common Allergies in Dogs and Cats and How to Treat Them 

A dog with allergies scratching.

If your pet’s days are punctuated by bouts of sneezing or scratching, he might be suffering from allergies. At Brownswitch Pet Hospital, we take allergies and dermatology seriously, and we will do all we can to pinpoint the culprit that’s pestering your pet and alleviate that nasty itch! 


Why Should I Microchip My Pet?

A dog walking on a leash.

At Brownswitch Pet Hospital, we like to include microchipping as part of one of your first wellness visits with us to ensure you and your pet can stay happily together. Many of our patients have asked “why should I microchip my pet,” and we wanted to give you some more information about the benefits of this procedure for you and your furry friends. 


Why do I need to give heartworm preventative to my dog?

Heartworms are a deadly parasite that are spread by mosquitoes. If there are mosquitoes living in your area (welcome to the south), then your pet is at risk of acquiring heartworms.

Dogs are the normal host for heartworms, though some cats and ferrets can also be infected.

Heartworms are spaghetti size worms that live in the heart of animals infected with heartworms. These worms eventually cause heart and lung damage that leads to death. The worms will produce small babies (called microfilaria), that circulate throughout the dogs bloodstream. When a mosquito bites a dog with heartworms, it will suck up blood along with the baby heartworms. When the mosquito bites a second dog, the baby heartworms are transmitted into the second dog. These eventually end up in the heart where they start their damage. These worms will then start producing babies, and the process continues.

The treatment for heartworms is a 10-12 week process that consists of arsenic injections. This treatment can be both toxic and expensive.

What heartworm preventative does is that it destroys the baby heartworms before they can make it to the heart. We will start puppies on heartworm preventative at 7 weeks old and keep them on it for life. It is given year round in the south because we can have mosquitoes flying around at Christmas time.

There are many options for heartworm preventative, ranging from monthly oral to topical treatments. Dogs over 6 months old can also be given a multi-month injection.

Why It’s Important to Socialize Your Puppy

Puppy socialization is the act of exposing the puppy to many of the experiences and stress-producing situations that will occur in a dog’s life.  Lack of puppy socialization can lead to aggression, fear biting, and other behavior issues.  The best time for puppy socialization is between 7 to 16 weeks of age. 

Puppy socialization should include exposure to new sights, smells, sounds, and surfaces. This includes learning to be handled for grooming and bathing and getting them used to have their feet handled so they are not afraid of nail trims.  Having them exposed to new people and other fully vaccinated dogs in a controlled situation is also very important.  Alone time will also help prevent separation anxiety as they mature. 

Since we don’t want to put the puppies at risk until their vaccinations are completed, we can do certain things to minimize exposure to disease while still socializing the puppy.  This would include 1) strollers or backpacks to keep the puppy off the ground but still able to see the neighborhood 2) Having the children dress up in hats, costumes, or sunglasses to expose the puppy to different clothing 3) Taking the puppy to the shopping center while they sit in the car with the owner to see different people and sights.

Why Vaccinations Benefit the Health of Puppies

This question is sometimes asked, “Why do puppies need vaccinations?” The answer to that question is that newborn puppies receive protective antibodies from their mothers while they are in the womb and after they nurse their mother in the first few days after birth.  These protective antibodies start wearing off around 6 weeks of age. 

Between 6 and 8 weeks of age is when we will start vaccinating these animals so that they can slowly build up immunity to these deadly infections, such as Parvovirus and Distemper virus.  These vaccines will be given every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppies are 16 weeks old.  At that time the majority of dogs will be protected in case they are exposed to any of these viruses.  That is why we recommend that owners keep the puppies close to the house and yard until this immunity is achieved. Taking young puppies to the dog park or to areas where other dogs have been is not a great idea until after the last vaccinations.