Getting Wet with Your Pet: Water Safety for Dogs

July 29th, 2014

Labrador Retriever Hunting in a RiverMontana may be Big Sky country, but it’s hard not to love her waters. From the Yellowstone and Big Horn rivers to Lake Elmo State Park and the natural hot springs hidden away from it all, it’s likely there is somewhere that speaks to your soul. And, as a pet owner, it’s even more likely that you share these places with your dog.

Whether you’re fishing, boating, swimming, or hunting; when you live in Billings, water safety for dogs is something you can’t take for granted. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

Water Safety for Dogs

Water comes in all different shapes, sizes, and speeds; there is no one-size-fits all approach to keeping your pet safe. However, there are a few pro-tips (and plenty of common sense) to keep in mind… Read the rest of this entry »

Puppy Love: Raising the Perfect Pooch through Puppy Socialization

July 27th, 2014

iStock_000017065286_MediumFrom their waggling behinds to their sheer exuberance as they take in the world around them, puppies provide smiles, laughter, and fun for our families. If you have been or are the pet parent to a new little bundle of fur, you may well be aware that puppies also require a lot of time and energy with house training, positive reinforcement, and socialization.

Of course, there are many benefits for us pet owners when we choose to provide the right training to our new pups, such as avoiding accidents, keeping chewing to a minimum, and redirecting the hyperactivity. But, training, socialization, and behavioral cues for a wide variety of situations also protect your pet from injury, accident, escape, or aggression.

As with all training, puppy socialization allows your pet to become used to or adjust to being around a wide variety of situations, people, and settings. This exposure makes it possible for your pet to feel more relaxed and confident around other people and animals. Read the rest of this entry »

On the Road Again: Traveling With Pets

July 25th, 2014

Westie Enjoyin Teton National Park, WyomingSummer road trips and family vacations bring to mind nostalgia and opportunities for making new memories. Not surprisingly, many pet owners choose to include our family pets, especially our canines, on these memory-making road trips to beautiful destinations. If you are planning on traveling with pets this summer, you’re probably wondering how to prepare for the long trip with your pet.

Here are some considerations and tips to ensure a fun, harmonious, and pet-safe adventure.

Before the Journey: Pet-Safe Travel Preparation

  • If you haven’t taken your pet on a long trip before, spend some time acclimating him or her to traveling by going on short, local drives.
  • You buckle-up for safety, and so should your pet. Use a sturdy, ventilated carrier buckled into the back seat for cats and small mammals, or, for larger dogs, a crate that has been secured with a belt, netting, or straps. Some dogs prefer to sit on the car seat and are comfortable using a special seat belt attachable harness. Do your homework on pet restraint systems before you buy, and call us with questions.
  • If you are traveling to a new environment, consider the possible pests, parasites, or wildlife you might encounter. Discuss additional vaccinations and preventatives (such as those for mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) your pet may require with your veterinarian.
  • Not all lodging or campground facilities are pet-friendly. Do your homework in advance by contacting the facility or hotel and inquiring about their pet policies specific to the breed, size, and temperament of your pet. Websites like are great resources in your search for lodging.
  • Microchip your pet and ensure his or her identification tags are current. Include a cell phone number and email on your pet’s ID tags, too.
  • Read the rest of this entry »

    Building Your Own Pet First-Aid Kit

    July 24th, 2014

    iStock_000005766766_MediumWhen you have a minor pet emergency at home, having a pet first-aid kit on hand for immediate care can help a lot. Not only will it allow you to administer any minor care yourself, but it will also give you the supplies you might need to stabilize your pet until you can come in for emergency veterinary care.

    Ideally, a fully-equipped pet first-aid kit will contain most of the supplies you will need for your pet’s situation. It’s also wise to keep a smaller kit in your car for any situation your pet may have while on the go or while camping. Knowing some basic first-aid tips for your pet can also be helpful and we recommend downloading the American Red Cross’ Pet First-Aid app to your phone, for quick reference. Read the rest of this entry »

    Summer Safety for Pets

    July 11th, 2014

    iStock_000004795774_SmallFor most of us, summer means spending more time outdoors with your pet for a little fun in the sun. From basking in the summer sun and hiking the local trails to taking out pets for a swim or on a camping adventure, there’s endless fun to be had when summer comes to Montana.

    But the increased temperatures also mean taking the necessary precautions to ensure your pet remains happy, healthy and hydrated in the heat. So before you head out on your next adventure, consider these tips when it comes to summer safety for pets.

    Staying Hydrated

    Keeping your pet hydrated in the hot summer weather is essential, so make sure your pet has access to fresh drinking water throughout the day. Usually this means having more than one water dish available to your pet, located at different spots in the yard and house. Read the rest of this entry »

    Fourth of July Pet Safety

    July 2nd, 2014

    iStock_000023839723_SmallAlthough you and your family may enjoy the awesome fireworks and local festivities surrounding the Fourth of July, these celebrations can pose a number of problems for your pet’s safety and well-being, making Fourth of July pet safety a must for any responsible pet owner.

    Your pet can become incredibly distressed by the loud noises, bright lights, and large crowds that accompany the Fourth. This distress can manifest itself through stress and fear, resulting in timid or aggressive behavior; or your pet may try to escape, and end up a Fourth of July statistic (July 5 is the busiest day for local animal shelters). Your pet’s health is also at risk during this time of year, when not-so-pet-friendly picnic foods and alcoholic beverages can easily end up within your pet’s reach.

    Help keep your pet safe this week by following these Fourth of July pet safety tips… Read the rest of this entry »

    Pet Escape: Reining in Your Escape Artist

    June 13th, 2014

    iStock_000009884821_SmallSome pets like to live a little dangerously. No matter what you do, it seems that these daredevils are not happy to be confined to your property. While a little adventure can be good from time to time, it can also be a dangerous indulgence for pets who are not supervised.

    If you have a pet that regularly escapes your yard, it is important to take steps to prevent and discourage that behavior. Your pet is safest at home, or at least under your direct supervision. Here are a few tips on how to control pet escape

    Escape-Proof Your Yard

    Sometimes preventing your pet from getting out of your yard is as simple as securing your borders a little better. Take a walk around your property and look at things from your pet’s point of view. Be sure to mend any broken fencing or other escape routes. Read the rest of this entry »

    Billings Animal Family Hospital Open House

    June 6th, 2014

    SoCuteThis Saturday, June 7, Billings Animal Family Hospital will be holding its annual open house from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.! We hope you will come say hi, meet our amazing staff of veterinarians, technicians, and service staff, and take a tour of our beautiful facility.

    As you may know, we’ve gotten quite a bit of new equipment and done some remodeling over the past year, making Billings Animal Family Hospital one of the most tech savvy veterinary practices in the Billings area.

    We’d love for you to come see what we can offer you and your pet, and how our new equipment can benefit your pet’s health and wellness care.

    In addition to exploring all we have to offer in our newly updated practice, we’ll also have local vendors on-site, including Marty Golden from Big Sky Dog Training, Tony Barone from Bark Busters Dog Training, and the Invisible Fence Company.

    Likewise, we’ll be running special promotions on Senior Wellness blood testing and Wellness Packages for your furry family, as part of the fun.

    We will also be providing snacks and beverages for those in attendance; and everyone who comes will get a goodie bag to take home, too (Yay! SWAG!). If you download our new app, and like our Facebook page, you’ll also be entered eligible to win a secret prize, in addition to your goodie bag!

    Please note, however; that while we usually welcome our furry friends, this event is just for people. So please: leave your pets at home… It’s too hot to have them in the car, anyway!

    We hope to see you on Saturday!


    Troubleshooting Pet Weight Loss

    May 30th, 2014

    Young papillonSometimes weight loss in pets is a good thing; but if you are suddenly noticing ribs on Fluffy or Fido it can be cause for concern. If your pet is losing weight, it is important to ask yourself why it is happening. Weight loss can be a normal physiologic occurrence, but sometimes it is a symptom of a problem.

    What Causes Pet Weight Loss

    If you understand how and why people lose weight, you can easily understand why pets lose weight. A pet’s body weight is a function of the
    calories he or she consumes and the calories that are burned. A decrease in your pet’s intake or an increase in the amount of energy the pet is using on a daily basis will result in the loss of weight. Read the rest of this entry »

    Helping Your Senior Pet Get the Most Out of Summer

    May 28th, 2014

    iStock_000016978232_SmallSummer is finally here and it’s likely that you can’t wait to get outside with your pet.

    This may be especially true if you have a senior pet, who has probably felt cooped up indoors for too long and is aching to soak up the sunshine and stretch the old bones a bit. However, spending winter indoors has probably meant limited exercise for your arthritic pet, which can have a negative impact on your senior pet’s summer fun, if you don’t take it a little easy.

    While the prospect of enjoying the yard, the lake, and long walks is exciting to you both, it’s important to start slow and not rush into any extreme activity. After all, you wouldn’t want to jump up off the couch and run a marathon at 60, and neither does your pet. Read the rest of this entry »