Creative Exercise Routines for Your Dog and Cat

If you’re trying to provide exercise for your pet, it’s great to get creative. Varying your pet’s exercise routine helps develop new brain pathways, prevents boredom that can result in unwanted behaviors, and offers options for pets with physical limitations, like seniors. Here are some exercises you can try with your pet.

Exercise Routines for High-Energy Dogs


When a regular leash walk doesn’t wear out your pooch, ramping up the speed may help. When you go out for a jog, why not bring your dog with you? Jogging is best for dogs who already have good leash manners. If you attach a larger dog’s leash to your waist, be sure to use a breakaway connection for safety.

Laser Pointers

Laser pointers are another way to help pets burn off steam (you can use them with cats too). Never point a laser at your pet’s eyes. Let your pet “catch” the light sometimes as a reward. For dogs with obsessive tendencies or OCD, it may be best to find another game or limit laser pointer time.

Hide and Seek

Have one person hide while another holds the dog back. Then, release the dog to go find the missing person. When your dog makes a find, offer a reward like a small treat or a favorite toy. Did you know this is how search dogs begin their training?

Obstacle Course and Agility

Obstacle course games build confidence and dexterity. You can set up cones and tunnels in your backyard and ask your dog to move through them in different combinations, looking to you for direction. You may also want to seek out an agility class in your area, to learn how to navigate trickier courses at top speed, including in competition.


Playing fetch is great for helping your dog exercise while also working on manners. Have your dog sit before each toss and release the retrieved object on command. Water retrieving is an excellent alternative when the temperature soars and your dog still needs hard exercise.

Suggestions for Seniors and Dogs with Limited Mobility


When you break out the yoga mat, have your dog join you in some basic up-down movement. If your senior dog is losing its hearing, this is the ideal time to teach hand signals for obedience. Use basic commands like “sit,” and incorporate a little stretching or massage at the end. You can use essential oils, like lavender, to increase relaxation.

Blowing Bubbles

Many dogs love to follow and chase bubbles. For dogs who can’t move fast, keep the bubbles nearby, and let them paw at them. Try one of the new bubble liquids scented for pets, and your companion will be even more intrigued. Hint: your cat will love bubbles too.

Find the Treat

Hiding a treat for your dog to find can be a wonderful way to keep your dog’s mind active even when it can’t go too far. You can hide a biscuit under a towel, or use a toy designed to release small treats as your pet noses it around the floor. Some cats like this activity too, and it’s great for inclement weather.

Exercise to Reinforce Behavior Modification


The leash walk is the perfect time to work on behavior modification with your dog. At every corner, for example, give a “sit” command. If your dog pulls or doesn’t listen, try using a nose halter. You can also keep your dog at heel by having treats nearby. No pockets? Use a clip-on rock climber’s chalk bag, found at outdoor stores.

Tour of the House

When you have housework to do, or when the weather is too harsh to go outside, clip your dog to your side with the leash and travel the house together. Your pup will love bonding with you this way, and like walking outside, you can work in essential obedience training. You’ll also know your pup isn’t getting into any mischief while you’re occupied.
Exercise for Cats

Feather and Chase Toys

Take advantage of your cat’s natural curiosity and prey drive to provide more exercise. Feather toys, wands, and other chase toys can be fantastic for keeping your cat engaged for hours. If your cat has a tendency to eat things it shouldn’t, keep the toys stowed when you’re not there to supervise.

Kitty Obstacle Course

Cats love to use obstacle courses. Ideally, they like to be up high in a room, which you can accomplish with feline perches or even nailing old tires and milk crates to the wall of a basement or garage. There are now even cat agility courses and competitions!

Harness Walking

For cats who yearn to be outside, leash walking on a harness, which is more escape-proof than clipping to a collar, is heavenly exercise. While immunizations are recommended even for indoor cats, they’re vital if you take your kitty outside. Most cats need a little time to get used to a harness and being on a leash, so start inside and work your way gradually to the great outdoors!

For more information about your pet’s exercise needs, get in touch with Harbourside Animal Hospital today. We’re here to help you keep your animal companions happy and healthy.

True or Lie – Indoor Cats are never Exposed to the Outdoors.

This is a lie.

Indoor cats are exposed to the outside all the time. Think about every
open door or window. Think about how many times you may have found a bug or lizard (Florida) in your home. That’s the outside coming indoors. Mosquito’s carry heart worms and cats can easily be exposed. All it takes is one bite. There is no treatment for heart worm disease in cats. Prevention is the key!


People coming and going can bring in pests on themselves or clothing. Potted plants and potting soil can bring parasites into the home. Potting soils may be positive for roundworm eggs, hookworm eggs and toxoplasmosis. Many cats love to get into potted plants to play or dig.
Many cats also have access to screen porches or pool areas. Technically, those are outside spaces as there is even more access to parasites and pets. Cats eat lizards and water bugs, which can carry parasites and infest your cat.


Be sure to protect your indoor cat with monthly heart worm preventative and monthly (or using an every 3 month) flea preventative. Ask us about which preventatives are best for your pet. There are topical options, oral options and/or combinations.
#welovepets #welovecats #fleas #ticks #heartworms #parasites #prevention #Tampa #CCAMC #HarboursideAnimalHospital

Risky Prescription Purchases – Not Worth It!

The Risk of Purchasing Medication Online and Without a Prescription.

There has been a trend noted of pet’s not getting proper refills of medications.  When owners are surveyed, they report that their pets are on preventatives.  However, when compared to medical records, no refills were approved, authorized or prescribed.  THIS IS A BIG CONCERN.

Prescription medication for people and pets is a huge industry.  Pharmaceutical costs continue to rise and rise.  So, it makes sense that consumers would like to save money when possible.  However, the purchase of online mediations (especially those without a written prescription) may wind up costing you more money in the long run as well as the potential to harm you and your pets.

  • Every day, 20 new illegal pharmacies appear on the internet, as reported by the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies.
  • 62% of medicines purchased online are fake or substandard, as indicated in a Report from the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines.
  • 89% of illegal online pharmacies do not require a valid prescription, as found through NABP’s review and analysis.

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, “Buying from rogue online drug sellers puts consumers at risk of:

  • Receiving pills that contain such fillers as drywall and rat poison
  • Having your financial and other personal information stolen
  • Having your email inbox flooded with spam that could infect your home computer with viruses

In the worst cases, people have died from receiving counterfeit medications that didn’t treat their serious medical conditions.”

Do not purchase medications if it’s from an online site that is in the following list:

Heartworm, flea and tick preventatives are guaranteed by the manufacturer when purchased from your veterinarian.  This means the manufacturer has certain provision in place for your pet’s wellbeing should the medication cause issues or not perform as indicated.  You lose this guarantee when purchasing online from non-approved websites.

Don’t take a risk with your pet’s health (or your own) by purchasing medication from unverified websites and from sites that do not require a prescription. They do not have your pet’s best interest at heart and are only looking for profit.


Reading Recommendations for Training (Dogs & Cats).

Reading Recommendations for Training (Dogs & Cats).Dr. Sophia Yin’s 2 books – “How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves” and “Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right”.

Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., Brenda Scidmore – “The Puppy Primer”

American College of Veterinary Behavorist and Karen White – “Decoding Your Dog”

Gwen Bailey – “The Perfect Puppy”

David Weston – “Gentle Modern Method of Dog Training”

Debbie and Kenneth Martin – “Puppy Start Right” and “Puppy Start Right: Foundation Training for the Companion Dog”

Ian Dunbar’s free copies of “Before You Get Your Puppy” and “After You Get Your Puppy”

Kersti Seksel – “Training Your Cat: A New Approach to Caring for Your Cat and Protecting Wildlife”

The Truth About Pet Birth Defects | Daily Treat Feature by Dr. Hodge

Dr. Hodge was recently featured on as a guest blogger discussing the importance of Pet Birth Defects Awareness.

What causes pet birth defects?

Most of the causes are unknown. Abnormalities to the mother’s metabolism, trauma or extreme body temperature variations can cause birth defects. Infections and exposure to chemicals or drugs can also cause. Some are more common in certain breed of pets as well, indicating there may be an inherited component.

Some of the common defects may be noted at birth or shortly thereafter. Cleft palates, umbilical hernia, inguinal hernia, and limb deformities can be readily visible. Other abnormalities that may be subtler, such as heart murmur, will require veterinary examination. Some defects such as retained testicles or liver shunts may not be seen until the pet is maturing or older, which may also be true of heart murmurs.

All newborn pets should be presented to the veterinarian shortly after birth for a physical exam to evaluate them for birth defects that may not be visible or known to the owner. The veterinarian can also discuss treatment options if there are abnormalities noted.

Treatments for common pet birth defects

Cleft palate: Puppies and kittens with cleft palates should be fed with a bottle that has a long nipple that allows the food to go beyond the cleft into the back of the throat, but in front of the voice box. A feeding tube inserted into the stomach may be needed for severe cleft defects until surgery can be performed. A recheck of the pet’s weight should occur daily to ensure the pet is getting the proper amount of nutrition and growing. Surgery can be performed at 3-4 months of age. Lack of proper nutrition can quickly exacerbate a pet’s condition and may result in mortality.

Limb Deformities: Since newborns don’t walk, this may not be an issue until they start trying to crawl or walk. Ensuring that the newborns get access to the mother for nursing or bottle-feeding may be needed. The ultimate treatment depends on the limb(s) affected and will change as the pet grows. Padded braces or splints may be needed. Carts with wheels can allow pets to be mobile. These can be made for front or rear limb deformities. Surgery can assist some pets with limb deformities. Self-trauma needs to be prevented as these pets may harm themselves trying to move around or walk.

Most other pet birth defects will require aid from the veterinarian. Deformities of the eyes, nose, palate, heart defects, hernias, retained testicles, liver shunts, etc will require veterinary specific care and treatment. This may be a combination of medical and surgical. Home care to maintain a high quality of life will vary and depends on the defects present. Other care is the same as for those pets without birth defects and includes proper nutrition, housing, access to fresh water at all times, proper sanitation, deworming and vaccinations, heartworm preventives, social enrichment and proper handling by all. This is especially important in teaching the very young how to properly handle their new family members.

Click here to read Dr. Hodge’s post on and explore other great articles!

Hurricane Season is Here!

Remember, during a disaster what’s good for you is good for your pet, so get them ready today.

If you leave your pets behind, they may be lost, injured – or worse. Never leave a pet chained outdoors. Plan options include:

  • Create a buddy system in case you’re not home. Ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals.
  • Identify shelters. For public health reasons, many emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
  • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route and keep a list in your pet’s emergency kit.
  • Locate boarding facilities or animal hospitals near your evacuation shelter.
  • Consider an out-of-town friend or relative
  • Locate a veterinarian or animal hospital in the area where you may be seeking temporary shelter, in case your pet needs medical care. Add the contact information to your emergency kit.
  • Have your pet is microchipped and make sure that you not only keep your address and phone number up-to-date, but that you also include contact info for an emergency contact outside of your immediate area.
  • Call your local emergency management office, animal shelter or animal control office to get advice and information.
  • If you are unable to return to your home right away, you may need to board your pet. Find out where pet boarding facilities are located.
  • Most boarding kennels, veterinarians and animal shelters will need your pet’s medical records to make sure all vaccinations are current.
  • If you have no alternative but to leave your pet at home, there are some precautions you must take, but remember that leaving your pet at home alone can place your animal in great danger!
  • Food. At least a three day supply in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. At least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and medical records.
  • Important documents. Registration information, adoption papers and vaccination documents. Talk to your veterinarian about microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
  • First aid kit. Cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape and scissors; antibiotic ointment; flea and tick prevention; latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution. Including a pet first aid reference book is a good idea too.
  • Collar or harness with ID tag, rabies tag and a leash.
  • Crate or pet carrier. Have a sturdy, safe crate or carrier in case you need to evacuate. The carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down.
  • Sanitation. Pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach.
  • A picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you. Add species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar items. Familiar items, such as treats, toys and bedding can help reduce stress for your pet.

Canine Influenza Virus Notice

Chief Veterinary Officer
American Kennel Club

This notice is being sent out to provide up-to-date and accurate information about the Canine Influenza Virus to help prevent the spread of the virus to healthy (unexposed) dogs. The information provided is not intended to alarm dog owners and handlers.

There are recently confirmed cases of the Canine Influenza Virus (H3N2 strain) that was first brought to and identified in Chicago, Illinois in the spring of 2015. The most recent outbreaks concern the following states: Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Canine Influenza Virus is an extremely contagious airborne disease that is easily spread among dogs, and in rare instances, can be contagious to cats. If you believe one of your dogs may have contracted the Canine Influenza Virus, immediately isolate it from other animals and contact your veterinarian.
Here is some additional information about Canine Influenza Virus and tips for how to minimize the risk and reduce the spread of the disease:

Canine Influenza Virus

  • Canine Influenza Virus is spread through:
    • Close proximity to infected dogs(it is airborne and can travel up to 20ft.)
    • Contact with contaminated items (bowls, leashes, crates, tables, clothing, dog
      runs, etc.)
    • People moving between infected and uninfected dogs
    • 80% of all dogs that are exposed to the virus will contract it
    • The virus lives up to 24 hours on soft surfaces and up to 48 hours on hard
  • Some exposed dogs will be subclinical carriers – meaning some dogs will contract and
    spread the virus without showing symptoms.

    • Dogs show clinical signs within 24-48 hours and can shed the virus for up to 28 days
      from exposure.
    • Most dogs will completely recover with proper treatment.
    • Dogs that regularly interact with dogs outside of their own family or frequent places
      where many dogs gather are most susceptible to exposure to Canine Influenza Virus.
    • Dry, hacking cough (similar to kennel cough)
    • Lack of appetite
    • Lethargy
    • Discharge from the nose or eyes
    • Fever (normal temperature is 101 – 102)


  • The best protection is vaccination. There is now a single vaccination for both the H3N2 and H3N8 strains of the virus. The vaccination requires a booster shot two weeks after the initial vaccine. Vaccination provides the best chance of immunity within 7-14 days of booster shot.
    • Isolate sick animals and keep them isolated for up to 30 days after symptoms subside.
    • Practice good sanitation. Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas such as tables, bowls, leashes, crates, etc. Allow items to thoroughly air dry for a minimum of 10 minutes before exposing dogs to them. Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas
    • Wash your hands frequently, ideally between handling different dogs. At the very minimum, hand sanitizer should be used between handling dogs.
    • Use disposable gowns or wipe down clothing and shoes with a bleach solution between dogs or after leaving an area where dogs congregate.
    • Food/water bowls should be made of stainless steel instead of plastic because scratched plastic is hard to fully disinfect.
    • Treatment of Canine Influenza Virus requires veterinary assistance. If you believe your dog may have Canine Influenza Virus, please contact your veterinarian immediately. Untreated, the illness may progress to pneumonia or other, more serious problems. H3N2 can lead to severe secondary pneumonia which can cause extremely sick dogs with potential fatalities.
    • Most dogs take 2-3 weeks to recover from the illness.
    • Any dog suspected of having Canine Influenza Virus should be immediately isolated from other dogs and should not attend dog shows, day care, grooming facilities, dog parks, or other places dogs gather. Dogs are contagious for up to 30 days once they have started showing symptoms.
    • Contact your veterinarian to let them know that your dog may be showing symptoms of Canine Influenza Virus. If your dog is going to a veterinary hospital or clinic, call ahead to let them know you have a suspected case of Canine Influenza Virus. They may ask you to follow a specific protocol before entering the clinic to minimize the spread of the disease, including waiting in your car until they are ready to examine your dog.
    • Keep sick dogs at home and isolated from other dogs and cats until you are certain the illness has run its course (typically 3-4 weeks).
      Consideration for Event Venues
    • Use a bleach and water mixture diluted to 1-part bleach x 30 parts water to disinfect common areas including show floors, grooming tables, ring gates, in-ring examination tables and ramps, and x-pens. Allow solution to completely dry (at least ten minutes in order to assure virus has been killed). Bleach breaks down quickly so solution should be made daily. Keep in mind that bleach becomes inactive in UV light. If mopping use two buckets so as not to cross contaminate areas.
    • When wiping down hard surfaces paper towels are preferred over cloth.
    • Consider having two exam tables at every ring so that they can be cleaned and allowed
      to air dry frequently in between classes.
    • Provide hand sanitizer in each ring and in grooming areas.
    • Exhibitors should consider grooming dogs at their cars instead of using grooming areas where dogs are in very close proximity.

Written by Dr. Jerry Klein, a veterinarian in the emergency room at Chicago’s largest veterinary emergency and specialty center. He was personally involved in treating hundreds of dogs sickened by the H3N2 virus during its initial outbreak in Chicago in spring of 2015.

What’s There to Howl About?

Siberian Husky dog howling

Howling….why do dogs do it?

We know that howling is a non-specific behavior.  It can occur when a dog is stressed or distressed, territorial, in a situation where there is no way out, or in response to some other stimuli, such as noise, like a siren.

Wolf-like breeds (Huskies, Malamutes, etc) are more like their ancestors who howl to alter an enemy they are ready for a tussle or to help members of their family return safely.  So, this howling can be seen as a warning or as a come home signal.

When howling is a problem, then behavioral training is needed.  Training can help to determine the cause of the howl and the methods to best reduce its occurrence.  Keeping a dog occupied, mind at work and play can help avoid unwanted howling.  Playing music or the TV can help drown out noises that can stimulate howling.  And a dog with plenty of exercise is a tired dog and let likely to howl out of stress or anxiety.

Why do dogs (and some cats) eat grass??

1800290_692546867443455_926235046_n  There are many reasons why a dog (or cat) may eat grass. However, most veterinarians’ consensus is that pets will eat grass as a way to reduce, eliminate or relieve GI upset, nausea, parasites or possibly infection.  Many pets will eat grass and then vomit.  It’s the purging act that the pet seeks.  Generally, the pet will feel better after vomiting.  Seek veterinary care if this is occurring on a repeatable basis.

Another school of thought is that these pets may be craving a nutrient that they are not getting with their diet and is found in grass.

Lastly, some pets may just like the taste of chlorophyll in the grass or the texture of the grass blades.

Anesthesia….Need to Know!

anesthesia_dog_surgery  Almost every pet will need general anesthesia at some point in their life.  With today’s excellent pre-anesthesia physical examinations, modern anesthetic drugs and protocols, advanced monitoring and prompt recovery, pet anesthesia has never been safer.  Read this article by Robert D. Keegan, DVM.

Dr. Keegan is a board certified veterinary anesthesiologist.  Didn’t know those existed in veterinary medicine?  Well they sure do, as well as a host of other specialties.  Dr. Keegan is an
Associate Professor with the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Washington State University.  Click the link below to read Dr. Keegan’s article.

Your Pet is Going to be Anesthetized…