• Feeding Your Degu Properly to Promote Good Health

    If you’re looking for an unusual pet to welcome to the family, consider a degu. These small rodents are native to the West Andean region of Chile and live together in communal groups, which is why some experts recommend that you get two or more together if you are going to have degus as pets. Most are very tame when they are domesticated at a young age, and they love to explore, which makes them fun pets for families. If you choose to have degus, then the first step is making sure that there is a veterinarian in your area that offers exotic pet care, so that care is there when you need it. You will also need to learn about their diet and make sure you have access to the right kinds of food to keep them healthy. Here is what you need to know about feeding your degu a healthy diet.

    Native Diet

    In the wild, about 60% of a degu’s diet consists of fiber. They eat the vegetation that grows in the Andes and the surrounding plains. They typically spend hours each day scavenging for food. In addition to vegetation, they will eat bark, seeds, and shrubs, depending on the season and what is available to them. In the wild, degus need a large amount of calories to prevent weight loss, so they often forage for food and store it in their burrows for times when they cannot otherwise find an adequate supply.

    Degus at Home

    Degus that are pets need far fewer calories than wild degus. Feed your pets a mixture of guinea pig food and hay, or look for a food that has been specifically crafted for degus. Avoid foods that contain molasses or sugar, as degus are very prone to diabetes. Your veterinarian can recommend the right mix of food and hay to ensure that your degus stay healthy.

    At Chastain Veterinary Medical Group, many of our veterinarians have special training in exotic animal care, and we love to welcome your degus, snakes, ferrets and other pets to our animal clinic. Schedule an appointment at our animal clinic by calling Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or by calling Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas at (972) 239-1309.

  • What Are Some of the Signs That Your Bird Is Sick?

    It’s always difficult to know when your pet needs to see a veterinarian, but birds can be particularly challenging to read. If you notice the signs in this video happening with your bird, considering calling your veterinarian to make an appointment.

    Birds puff up their feathers for warmth and comfort. If your bird is sitting with his or her feathers puffed most of the time, he or she may be ill. You should also consider calling the animal clinic if your bird doesn’t eat for a day.

    Chastain Veterinary Medical Group offers care for dogs, cats, birds, and exotic pets in Dallas and is ready to help your sick bird feel better as quickly as possible. Schedule an appointment at our animal clinic by calling Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or by calling Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas at (972) 239-1309.

  • What to Expect from Our Pet Grooming Services

    Regular grooming is an essential part of keeping your pet as healthy as possible. At Chastain Veterinary Medical Group, we’re pleased to offer pet grooming as one of the services we provide at our animal clinic. Our professional pet groomers will keep your pet looking and feeling his or her best, and you’ll get the peace of mind of knowing a veterinarian is always close by when your pet is getting groomed.

    Our professional pet groomers perform services for all breeds of dogs and cats. Your pet can get a bath and hair trim so he or she feels fresh and looks—and smells—great. Our nursing and kennel staff also offer basic pet grooming services at our pet hospital, including no-charge nail trims, ear cleaning, and anal sack emptying. Flea dips, fur de-matting, and wings and nails treatments for birds are also available.

    You can make an appointment for pet grooming in Dallas by getting in touch with Chastain Veterinary Medical Group. You can reach our staff to schedule a visit for your pet by calling (972) 239-1309.

  • FAQs About Caring for a Ferret

    Ferrets make fun and unusual pets for families who are looking for a companion other than the traditional cat or dog. Although ferrets have only become popular as family pets in the past 50 years or so, they have actually been domesticated for more than 2,000 years and they integrate into most households easily. If you’re considering adding one of these high-energy, playful pets to your household, here are the answers to some of the questions you may have about caring for your new ferret, from finding veterinarian care to picking the best food.

    Do ferrets need vet care?

    Just like other pets, ferrets do need veterinary care. Your veterinarian may recommend preventive care visits once or twice per year, plus regular vaccinations and flea and heartworm preventive medications. Ferrets should also be spayed or neutered between six and 12 months of age. This is especially important if you plan to have more than one ferret, but it will also protect even solo ferrets from health complications.

    What do ferrets eat?

    Ferrets need meat and animal fat in their diets because of their high metabolisms. Avoid ferret food that is fish-based. Despite the prevalence of this kind of ferret food, many ferrets don’t eat fish and it is not healthy for them. You should also avoid food that has high vegetable or grain content. Ferrets are picky and dislike stale food, so only buy enough food for a month at a time.

    Are ferrets good pets for kids?

    Ferrets tend to nip when they play, which can scare young children. Although ferrets can be trained to play gently, it is usually recommended that you wait until your kids are at least 12 before getting a ferret. With younger children, both the ferret and the child can be hurt during play.

    Chastain Veterinary Medical Group offers exotic pet care in McKinney for ferrets, snakes, and everything in between, as well as your family’s dogs, cats, birds, and other animal family members. Schedule an appointment at our animal clinic by calling Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney at (972) 529-5033 or by calling Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas at (972) 239-1309.

  • Spotlight on the Importance of Preventative Care for Your Pet

    Pets, like people, don’t only need healthcare when they are sick. Having regular checkups with the veterinarian is crucial for maintaining good health and reducing the risk of diseases. Skipping routine exams for your pet could put his or her health on the line and lead to the need to costly treatments to fight health conditions that could have been prevented.

    Preventative care for your pet has many different aspects. During checkups, your veterinarian will perform a physical exam to look for signs of injuries and diseases. He or she will also perform screening tests to spot indications of heartworms and other dangerous conditions and provide vaccinations that can prevent your pet from contracting serious illnesses. Spay and neuter services and pet dental cleanings also fall under preventative care and both reduce the risk of everything from cancer and behavioral problems to heart disease and tooth loss.

    Chastain Veterinary Medical Group is here to help you care for your pet at every stage of his or her life with comprehensive wellness services, advanced treatments for illnesses and injuries, and emergency vet care in Dallas. Schedule an appointment for your pet by calling (972) 239-1309.

  • Take These Steps if Your Dog Gets Stung by a Bee

    Dogs love exploring, and sometimes that curious nature can get them into trouble, such as when a bee is lurking in the area. If your dog is stung by a bee, he or she may need to see a veterinarian for treatment.


    Watch this video to learn more about treating your pup after a bee sting. Swelling at the site of the sting is common and can usually be managed by removing the stinger and using cold compresses. However, if your dog shows signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives or breathing difficulties, seek emergency vet care.


    If your dog has a run-in with a bee, Chastain Veterinary Medical Group is here to help him or her get back to normal. For all of your dog’s health needs, call our animal hospital in Dallas at (972) 239-1309.

  • Tips for Getting Your Cat to Stop Biting

    Non-cat families think of claws and scratches when they think of cat aggression, but anyone with a cat will tell you that it’s the teeth that can do the real damage. Cats bite for a variety of reasons, from exploration and play to trying to show you who is boss. In kittens, biting behavior is easy to nip in the bud with training, but in adult cats, putting a stop to bites can be more challenging. If your cat’s behavior is hard to manage, talk to your veterinarian, who can rule out a medical issue and provide advice. These tips will also help.


    Teach Proper Play

    Kittens love to explore their surroundings using their mouths. They will test out everything with their teeth, including your hands and feet. They will also nip while they are playing. Do your best to discourage this instinct by redirecting their attention towards toys and refusing to play in a way that allows biting of your hands and feet. For cats that are particularly aggressive with play biting, give them a time out in a room alone for a few minutes so that they learn that biting doesn’t get them the attention that they want.


    React Like a Cat

    Cats let each other know when biting has gone too far by hissing. You can communicate the same message by hissing yourself. Hiss loudly to interrupt the bite, but use this tool sparingly. If your cat hears it too often, he or she will become immune to it. For kittens, a loud shriek can also stop biting, but don’t do the same with an adult cat, who may become more aggressive in response.


    Avoid Reinforcing the Behavior

    Some cats use biting to ask for food, play, or attention. Don’t give in to what your cat wants after biting. Doing so will tell your cat he or she is the boss and reinforce the behavior. Instead, reward your cat for good behavior, such as rubbing against your legs, so that he or she develops a new way of asking for something.


    The veterinarians at Chastain Veterinary Medical Group can help you navigate the complexities of caring for your cat, from spay and neuter services to cat teeth cleaning. To make an appointment at our veterinary clinic in McKinney, please call (972) 239-1309.


  • What to Do When Your Pets Don’t Get Along

    Animal lovers relish the thought of a multi-pet household, but the pets in question don’t always have the same the idea. There are many reasons that pets may not get along when they live side-by-side, but fortunately, pet parents can help their animals get over their sibling rivalry. Getting your veterinarian involved is crucial. At the animal clinic, you can get confirmation that none of your pets are suffering from any underlying medical issues that are impacting their ability to get along. This advice will also help you keep the peace when your pets have a personality conflict.


    Manage the Introduction

    If you’re adding a new pet to your household, ensuring that you introduce your animals to each other the right way is critical. Introducing cats to other animals requires a slow approach, in which they are kept in separate rooms to get used to each other’s scent and then spend gradually increasing amounts of time together, while you are closely supervising. Dogs are more open to introductions but should be watched carefully. If you notice any signs of aggression, separate the animals and wait for a little longer to slowly being the reintroduction process again.


    Reward Friendly Behavior

    When your pets cooperate with each other, reward the behavior with praise and treats. If you see your pets playing together, engage in play with them, and take notice when they are sitting quietly together and praise them. They will begin to recognize that getting along gets them both what they want—attention—and will repeat the behavior to get it again.


    Resist the Urge to Force It

    In some instances, pets just need some time to figure it out. Don’t allow your animals to fight, which can be dangerous for them and to you, but don’t try to force them to interact. As they become more accustomed to each other, the rules of their relationship may naturally fall into place.


    Your veterinarian at Chastain Veterinary Medical Group can also assist with behavioral tips to help you maintain peace in your pet-filled household. We also make it easy to get all of the care your pets need in one place at our pet clinic in McKinney, including preventive care, spay and neuter services, and pet grooming. To find out more about our services or to make an appointment, call (972) 239-1309.

  • Tips for Keeping Your Pet Calm During a Vet Visit

    No matter how much you love your pet’s veterinarian, there’s a good chance that your animal isn’t fond of his or her visits to the pet hospital. Fortunately, if your pet experiences anxiety when it’s time for a vet check-up, there are several things you can do to make appointments more comfortable for him or her, not to mention for yourself and your vet. Try this advice for making your pet’s next animal clinic visit less stressful.

    Consider the Carrier

    Not all pets have to ride to the vet in a carrier, but if yours will be confined to one for his or her vet appointment, re-introduce it well before the big day. Get the carrier out about a week before your appointment, and leave the door open. Put some treats and toys inside, and let your pet get used to going in and out of it. Make it comfortable with a towel or some bedding, and consider using a calming pheromone spray inside it. Once it’s time to put your pet inside for your vet visit, the carrier won’t seem so scary anymore.

    Drop by to Say Hello

    Did you know that you can swing by your vet’s office between appointments? Periodically drop in at the animal clinic with your pet in tow to say hello. A lot of people do this. Give your pet a chance to hop up on the scale, and of course, to get a treat or a good ear scratching from the clinic staff. Your pet will get used to the smells and sounds of the office on these low-key visits, so that his or her own check-ups won’t feel so foreign and scary.

    Ask Your Vet

    For some pets, getting over anxiety about vet visits isn’t a simple process. If your pet won’t adjust to pet clinic appointments, ask your vet about sedative medications that could help. With these meds, your pet will feel relaxed during appointments, so the whole process is faster and more comfortable.


    The friendly team at Chastain Veterinary Medical Group always works to make pets and their parents feel welcome and at ease at our animal clinic in Dallas. Make an appointment at one of our AAHA-accredited animal hospitals by calling (972) 239-1309 for Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas, or by calling (972) 529-5033 for Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney.


  • What Are the Dangers of Obesity in Dogs?

    Uncommonly seen white beagle face piebald dachshund.

    Obesity is a serious health crisis not just for humans but for pets as well. For dogs, being obese leads to a long list of health risks that can ultimately lead to pain, digestive problems, and even early death. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, talk to your veterinarian. Reduced-calorie foods, exercise plans, and dietary changes can all help your pup get back to a healthy weight. Here is a closer look at some of the potential dangers of obesity in dogs.


    Being overweight puts excess pressure on your dog’s joints. Over time, this wear and tear can lead to arthritis. When your dog develops arthritis, it becomes harder for him or her to go up and down stairs, jump up on beds, go for walks, and play. Thanks to the limits that joint pain puts on your dog’s ability to exercise, he or she will be prone to even more weight gain. In addition to joint damage, excess weight can also cause damage to the ligaments and muscles that surround the joints.

    Heart Disease

    Excess weight causes your dog’s blood pressure to increase. The increased pressure means that the heart has to work harder to pump blood. As the heart works harder and harder, it may become damaged. Heart disease and congestive heart failure are both common in dogs who are overweight.

    Decreased Stamina

    Even a modest weight gain can significantly tax your dog’s system. With every step, his or her muscles, lungs, and heart have to work harder than they were built to do. As a result, your dog will become sluggish and less interested—and able—to do things he or she once loved, such as going for walks or hitting the dog park. Lower levels of stamina lead to a decreased quality of life for your pup, and the excessive strain on his or her system can lead to a shortened lifespan.

    Help is available for overweight pups at Chastain Veterinary Medical Group. Talk to our veterinarians in Dallas or McKinney about dietary changes for overweight dogs, as well as safe activities for building up your dog’s exercise tolerance again. Make an appointment at one of our AAHA-accredited animal hospitals by calling (972) 239-1309 for Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas, or by calling (972) 529-5033 for Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney.