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What Is an Emotional Support Dog?

If you have owned a dog, you know there are many benefits to having one, from getting out for exercise to loyal companionship. The presence of a dog is critical to some people with disabilities just to function daily. The emotional support provided by their pet allows them to deal with challenges. These pets are known as emotional support animals (ESAs). 

Emotional Support Dog

An emotional support dog is a pet that provides comfort and relief to those with disabilities. They provide security and love which relieves at least one symptom of their owner’s disability. These animals are often used to help those with anxiety, mental or emotional conditions.

These animals are prescribed to owners who need emotional support and stability. These dogs do not perform tasks for their owners, but simply improve their quality of life through emotional connection and support. Since the dogs are not required to perform tasks, there is no specific training needed.

Vs Service Dogs

A service dog is categorized as medical equipment for their owners. They are trained specifically to perform certain tasks their owners cannot complete on their own. Some examples are seeing eye dogs that help their owners cross the street or dogs that help owners do chores around the house. Service dogs are permitted to go places most pets cannot go because their owners need their help.

Airline Travel

“Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) a service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability; or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support. Documentation may be required of passengers needing to travel with an emotional support or psychiatric service animal” explains U.S. Department of Transportation.

Owners must have written proof from a licensed physician or mental health professional to qualify for this benefit.

Airline Guidelines

The U.S. Department of Transportation further explains the guidelines that airlines use to determine whether an animal is a service animal:

  • The credible verbal assurances of an individual with a disability using the animal;
  • Looking for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags;
  • Requiring documentation for psychiatric support animals and emotional support animals; and
  • Observing the behavior of animals.
  • Emotional Support and Psychiatric Service Animals- Airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advanced notice for service animals that are emotional support animals and psychiatric service animals. 

Housing

The Fair Housing Amendment Act of 1988 helps emotional support animal owners qualify for pet-free housing at no extra charge. No other entities such as motels, libraries, theaters or public areas must abide by these laws. In these areas, these pets are considered pets and have no additional rights.Qualifications for Getting an Emotional Support Dog

You must legally qualify to do so. A psychologist, therapist or psychiatrist must write a prescription letter in the proper format. The letter must state the name of the patient, that they are under the care of the practitioner and the type of disability that exists. In addition, the letter must state how this disability negatively affects at least one activity in life. The practitioner must also clearly state they are prescribing an ESA as an essential part of mental health treatment. In order to be legal, this letter must be written on the practitioner’s letterhead and dated. The license number of the professional and the state in which it was issued is also required.

Disabilities that support getting an Emotional Support Dog are serious mental or emotional health conditions. You may qualify to obtain an ESA if you have one of the following conditions: depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, seasonal affective disorder and panic disorder. 

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

One of the most important decisions to make for your dog or cat is whether you spay or neuter them. It can be the best decision for their long-term welfare.

Spaying

Spaying is removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet. It is a veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and offers lifelong health benefits.

Neutering

Neutering is the removing of your male dog or cat’s testicles. This procedure will vastly improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.

USA Today cites “that pets who live in the states with the highest rates of spaying/neutering also live the longest. According to the report, neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs”.

The reduced lifespan seen in unaltered pets is typically caused by the pets' natural urge to roam outdoors and fight with other animals, and unfortunately, they also can be hit by cars. 

Avoid Overpopulation

“Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide, more than 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually. Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100 percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats”, reports The Humane Society.

Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers of unplanned litters that could be prevented by spaying or neutering.

Prevent Disease

Spaying helps prevent breast cancer and uterine infections, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. The best protection from these diseases is spaying your pet before her first heat. Neutering your male provides major health benefits, especially preventing testicular cancer. 

Behavior

Neutered dogs and cats focus their attention on their human families. Unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Early neutering can help your animal avoid many aggression problems. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam, and fighting with other males. Spaying / neutering will reduce or eliminate excessive barking, mounting, and other dominance-related behaviors.

Call today at 770.438.2694 to get more information or to schedule an appointment for your animal to get spayed or neutered.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Dog Parks Around Smyrna, Georgia

Want to bond and feel wonderful at the same time? Take your dog on a field trip to a dog park. Get some exercise and socialize with other pets. Breathe in the fresh air. Take a break from life. Watch your beloved pet have fun and play. Dogs LOVE to be off-lease, run, play and hang out with other dogs. It is good for both of you.

Here are a few Dog Parks around the Smyrna, Georgia area: 

Burger Park

Type: Off-leash

Address: 680 Glendale Place, Smyrna, Georgia

Phone: 770-431-2843

Smyrna’s first off-lease dog park. This walk-in only site has fenced play areas for large and small dogs, drinking fountains, and seating. Burger Park is located just west of Windy Hill Road and south of South Cobb Drive in Smyrna and is adjacent to Belmont Hills Elementary School. If planning to attend, be sure to park at Belmont Hills Elementary.

Lake Court Dog Park

Type: Wooded Multi-use Park Off-leash

Address: 3804 Lake Drive, Smyrna, Georgia

Phone: 770-431-2842 

Lake Court Park is located in the southwest portion of Smyrna on Lake Drive. The park is heavily wooded, fenced and includes a playground, volleyball court, pavilion with picnic tables, off-leash dog park with separate sections, and an open grassed playfield.

Lewis Dog Park

Type: Off-leash

Address: 475 Campbell Hill Street, Marietta, Georgia

Phone: 770-794-5601

Bring your pet for some off-leash exercise at this fenced dog park.

Overlook Dog Park

Type: Off-leash

Address: 200 Morgan Falls Road, Sandy Springs Georgia

Phone: 770-730-5600

Dog park near the Chattahoochee River with two separate sides for large and small dogs.

Piedmont Dog Park

Type: Off-leash

Address: 400 Park Drive NE, Atlanta, Georgia

Phone: 404-875-7275

Piedmont Dog Park is an off-leash park in the downtown area of Atlanta, Georgia. Dogs must be leashed when entering or exiting the off-leash area of the park. Owners must clean up after their pets. No more than 3 dogs per person are permitted in the park. There is a specific area designated for small dogs under 30 pounds. No puppies under 16 weeks old are permitted in the off-leash portion of the park. The park has benches available for owners to sit while their dogs play.

Sweat Mountain Dog Park

Type: Off-leash

Address: 4346 Steinhauer Road, Marietta, Georgia

Phone: 770-591-3160 

Sweat Mountain Dog Park is fully-fenced with separate areas for small and large dogs, shade trees, water fixtures, clean up stations, and benches for the humans.

Tolleson Park

Type: Off-leash

Address: 3515 McCauley Road, Smyrna, Georgia

Phone: 770-431-2843

This scenic public park also includes an off-leash dog run with separate areas for large and small dogs.

Dog Park Rules

Most dog parks have a set of rules. Here are some general guidelines at a dog park:

  • Use at your own risk
  • Owners are responsible and liable for actions of their dog
  • Dogs must be kept on leash until inside the double-gated entry
  • Handler must have a leash at all times
  • Dogs must be under voice control and in sight of handler
  • Handler must be at least 18 and children must be 12 years or older to enter
  • Handlers are limited to two dogs only
  • Dogs must be licensed and vaccinated with tags displayed on collar
  • Only dogs less than 30 lbs. may enter in the small dog area
  • Spike collars are not permitted
  • Handler must clean up and dispose of waste and litter left by their dogs and must cover holes dug by their dogs
  • No glass or alcohol permitted
  • Liquids are allowed. No human or dog food, treats, or smoking permitted
  • Commercial activity and professional training is prohibited

Not allowed in off-leash areas:

  1. Vicious, dangerous or aggressive dogs
  2. Puppies less than six months
  3. Sick dogs
  4. Dogs in heat

“A visit to a dog park can benefit both you and your pet. If you enjoy fresh air, exercise, meeting people, and watching dogs at play - consider making it a habit” explains AAA State of Play

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Sounds really scary. That’s because it is. Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease”, warns American Heartworm Society.

Pet MD states that “dogs suffering from heartworm disease are parasitized by the organism Dirofilaria immitis, a nematode (roundworm) commonly referred to as the heartworm. The severity of heartworm disease in dogs is directly dependent upon the number of worms present in the body, how long they’ve been there, and the response of the host (dog)”.

Damage

It can cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. Prevention is by far the best option.

Symptoms

Typical signs of heartworm disease include exercise intolerance, coughing, and poor body condition.

Types

There are four classes of Heartworm Disease.

  • Class I – Asymptomatic, meaning they exhibit no visible symptoms, or minimal signs such as an occasional cough.
  • Class II - coughing and intolerance to a moderate level of exercise. Class III - generalized loss of body condition, more extreme exercise intolerance, labored breathing, and a pot-bellied appearance associated with fluid accumulation in the abdomen as a result of right-sided heart failure.
  • Class IV - Caval syndrome caused by the presence of so many worms that they block the flow of blood into the heart.

Causes

Bites of mosquitos that carry the infective heartworm larvae spread heartworms to dogs. The larvae migrate through the dog’s body until they reach the heart and blood vessels within the lungs. The process that takes about six months.

Factors of risk for heartworm disease include exposure to mosquitos, residence in endemic regions, and lack of proper preventative medications.

Diagnosis

All it takes is a quick blood test to screen a dog for heartworms. 

Preventable?

“Heartworm disease is preventable with the administration of a heartworm prophylaxis (preventative medication), as recommended by a veterinarian. For dogs who do contract heartworm disease, the prognosis is good for mild to moderate cases with appropriate and timely treatment. Dogs with more severe cases may suffer from serious short- and long-term complications associated with the disease and its treatment. Treating heartworms is expensive and always carries some risk to the dog. It is certainly better to prevent the disease than to deal with its consequences. Without treatment, most cases of heartworm disease are eventually fatal” says Pet MD.

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12:”

(1) Get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm and

(2) Give your pet heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Can Cats Get It?

Yes, they can. “Heartworms represent an increasingly recognized problem in cats. As in dogs, heartworms are transmitted by feeding mosquitoes and, once mature, end up in the right side of the heart and the large vessels of the lungs. For cats, the likelihood of heartworm infection is directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area. While infection rates in cats (not the typical host for heartworms) are lower than in dogs, studies have shown that up 10-14% of shelter cats are infected. Because mosquitoes can transmit the disease, being an indoor-only cat does not prevent a cat from getting infected. Signs of heartworm infection in cats can vary in severity from asymptomatic to sudden death”, explains Pets and Parasites.

To make sure you beloved pet is safe from Heartworm, make sure you have a great Veterinarian to examine your animal and help you keep them safe.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

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Items to Consider When Boarding Your Animal

Dog Boarding

Planning a trip where you cannot take your four-legged family member? Need to make sure your precious animal is safe, happy and well-cared for while you are gone? Make sure you find out these things before you make a reservation. Here are some things to consider doing and/or asking before your trip:

Unannounced Visit Stop by unannounced to check out the place that you are considering.

  • See how responsive and friendly the staff are to you.
  • Witness the animals there or ask to get a tour.
  • How does it smell and feel?
  • Is it clean?
  • You know your animal better than anybody. Will he/she feel comfortable there?
  • Is there enough space in the kennel or boarding arrangement?
  • How do the indoor and outdoor play areas look?

Require Current Vaccinations

Ask about the specific requirements of animals that are boarded there so your animal is protected.

Inspection Certificate Current

Your particular state has laws for an Animal Care Center or Vet that boards animals. Typically, there is an inspection certificate in plain view displayed. If you don’t see it, ask about the laws?

Reviews

Best way to get a feel for the new place is to see what other people are saying about that Animal Care Center or Vet. Find reviews on your search engine browser. You’ll get a pretty good indication of the place through other people’s comments / opinions.

Animal’s Food and Belongings Let’s make your family pet as comfortable as possible. See if they will let you bring your animal’s food, bedding, toys, etc.

Animal Care Information Don’t forget to make up a list of medications, emergency contacts, and special instructions for your loved one and give it to the Center or Vet.

One of the greatest worries for many dog and cat owners is leaving their pets unattended while they are away from home. There may be no place for your pet on a business trip or a family vacation. With Animal Care Center so close to home, there's no need to worry.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

What Disease Affects Over One Million Dogs?

Did you know that heartworms kill a large number of dogs? American Heartworm Society reports that “more than one million dogs currently have heartworm disease. Heartworm is a serious canine and feline health concern that threatens animals in all 48 contiguous states and Hawaii, as well as throughout the temperate regions of the world. April is Heartworm Awareness Month”.

Heartworms Spread

Heartworm is a preventable disease. The disease is spread from animal to animal by mosquitoes. Heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected animals which, can lead to heart failure and damage to other organs. Heartworm positive dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue.

Symptoms

The main systems for both dogs and cats are cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Prevention

Prevention is the BEST treatment. Test annually: If a heartworm-positive dog is not tested before starting their preventive regimen, the dog will remain infected and the disease will progress. Preventive medicines do not kill heartworms and can trigger dangerous reactions and possible death. Test your dogs and cats every year at your annual vet visit.

Diagnostic tests

The earliest heartworms can be detected is 5 months after a dog has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Your vet can run blood tests in order to check for heartworms.

Treatment

Animals can be exposed to the disease for a variety of reasons and need to be diagnosed and put on special therapies immediately. Heartworm treatment is much more expensive than the preventive treatment. Not to mention that it isn’t easy for your sick animal. You could have multiple vet visits for bloodwork, x-rays, hospitalization, and a series of injections. Check with your vet about the options to prevent, diagnose and treat heartworm.

CatsCats are atypical hosts for heartworms, but they can be infected. The symptoms are similar to those in dogs, however most cats do not have adult worms, they have a shorter life cycle for the parasite. Unfortunately, cats run the risk of misdiagnosis because it is rare; however, heartworms can still cause organ damage and respiratory diseases.

Visit the American Heartworm Society for more resources and to get the facts about heartworm disease.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Grooming Tips In Between the Groomers

Are familiar with the correct way to groom dogs and know what is best for your particular breed? Well a quality professional dog grooming company does. Make sure you talk with your groomer and find out how often you should bring your dog in for grooming to keep him/her looking and feeling their best. Between visits, it is important that you continually groom your pet as well.

The following tips will help you to maintain your dog’s teeth, skin, fur and overall health.

Coat Brushing

Brushing your dog will help remove the loose fur and helps with shedding. It removes debris, dead hair, dirt and odors by distributing natural oils. It helps with detangling and eliminates matting. An added benefit is that it helps with circulation by stimulating the skin. After brushing you can use a metal comb gently to get to the direct source of the matting.

Bath Time

To keep your dog smelling great give them a bath. You can use doggie towelettes, dry shampoos and regular shampoo and conditions. You have plenty of choices to remove outside allergens, dirt and bathroom residue. They can be helpful in-between your grooming appointments.

Trim Nails

Depending on your dog and how fast their nails grow, you should try trimming somewhere between 2 and 6 weeks. You might be able to get by with trimming just the very tip in between professional grooming.

Clean Ears

At least monthly, clean your dog’s ears to prevent infection. Bacteria and/or wax in their ears can cause infection. Ask your groomer specific instructions on your breed to stay on top of it in-between groomings. If you have a doggy that loves the water, dry their ears each time after swimming.

Teeth Brushing

Ideally, brush your dog’s teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week, or even daily if you can. Make sure you only use dog toothpaste. Human toothpaste has ingredients that can make your dog sick.

Clean Eye Goop

Call your Vet if you see signs of irritation, funky smell or redness as Conjunctivitis could be the problem. Excessive eye “goop” can cause serious issues. Dogs with heavy discharge or tearing in the corners of their eyes can get crusty or create infection. You can clean with warm wash cloth. If that doesn’t work, talk with your Vet about using a dog Tear Stain removal from your local pet supply store.

Face Washing

Washing your dog’s face is important especially if you have a dog with a flat face like a Pug, Bulldog or Shar Pei. Face washing prevents smell, direct and oil build-up in the wrinkles and folds of their skin. Bacteria can build up and create infection. Warm washcloth or baby wipes work well. Call your Vet if you notice bumps, odor or redness.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.

Six Signs That My Pet Needs Dental Care?

We love our animals just like a family member. Unfortunately, they can’t speak and tell us they have dental problems like a child can. Your pet's teeth are so important. “Vets say 85 percent of canines over age 4 have some form of gum disease,” reported by Animal Planet.com.

Regular inspection of your pet’s mouth is important to catch dental disease in the early stages. Here are some signs that you need to get your pet into the vet.

1. Tartar Build-Up

Tartar may appear as a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth, close to the gumline. Plaque is a gummy substance that forms on the teeth within a few hours after a meal. Within 24 hours, plaque begins to harden by combining with salts that are present in the saliva. As the plaque continues to accumulate and mineralize, it eventually transforms into tartar.

2. Bad Breath

Redness or bleeding along the gumline may indicate gingivitis. If food particles and bacteria are allowed to accumulate along the animal’s gumline, it can form plaque, which, when combined with saliva and minerals, will transform into calculus. This causes gum irritation and leads to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis.

3. Drooling

“There’s normal, healthy slobber that helps your dog eat and digest. And then there’s Niagara Falls. Too much drool, or hypersalivation, can be a sign of illness” states Pets Web MD.

4. Pawing at the Mouth

Often, dental pain, abscesses, and periodontal disease can cause your dog to paw at his mouth, rub his muzzle after eating, or even try to get at his ears. Skin irritation can occur from the pawing and scratching, which can lead to a mistaken case of allergies.

5. Difficulty Chewing

Oral dysphagia can be caused by paralysis of the jaw, tongue paralysis, dental disease, swelling or wasting away of the chewing muscles, or by an inability to open the mouth. Animals with oral dysphagia often eat in an altered way, such as tilting the head to one side or throwing the head backward while eating. Food packed in the cheek folds of the mouth without saliva are also typical signs of oral dysphagia.

6. Loose or Missing Teeth

Your dog's happy, carefree life should be unbothered by dental concerns, right? Think again. Frequent problems include crooked, cracked or loose teeth, an infection or an abscess.

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

A professional dental cleaning removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the teeth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gums. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.