Dog Care Articles

Dogs require diligent care: vaccines, physical examinations, a good diet and lots of love. Learn how to care for dogs!

Wellness

Exercising Your Dog

DAILY EXERCISE RECOMMENDED

Exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. Young dogs and healthy adults alike need lots of it, and even senior pets need a regular daily workout to maintain their health. The type of exercise you choose depends on the age and fitness of your dog and your own lifestyle. Dogs are adaptable and are happy to play Frisbee in the park or take long walks in the neighborhood.

Exercise is one of the best ways to spend time with your pet. It’s especially important for large breed, working, and active breed types. Dogs are wonderful athletes and most adapt to even strenuous exercise, provided they have had adequate opportunity to “train” and the environmental conditions are not too extreme.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Daily exercise is recommended unless the weather is especially dangerous or a medical problem limits your dog’s activity. If there is a medical problem, consult your veterinarian about exercise limitations. Keep in mind that obese dogs and those with heart and lung diseases may have a problem, and be sure to consult your vet before starting a new regime.

Be certain your dog has plenty of water available at all times, and provide a place to cool down out of the sun. When the temperature drops below freezing, exercise should be limited, unless your dog is really used to this weather. This will often vary with the breed and hair coat. If the wind picks up to more than 10 mph, be careful to prevent hypothermia or frostbite. If your dog is shivering, get him back indoors or in some form of warm shelter. If you live in an area that gets cold and icy, remember that road salt can burn your dog’s feet. Don’t forget: even in cold weather, an exercising dog needs plenty of water.

Almost all dogs, especially those with heart and lung problems and those with thick hair coats, are likely to have trouble with hot and humid conditions. It’s better to exercise in the early morning or evening when the heat is less than 80 degrees and the humidity is less then 30 percent (avoid hot and humid conditions).

Feeding Your Adult Dog

WHAT SHOULD YOU FEED?

Your dog knows that what’s on your plate is infinitely better than what he’s eating at the moment – and you may be tempted to prove it by giving him some. Before you do, remember that good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential elements for good health in a dog. And that means watching your canine’s caloric intake carefully.

Your dog needs plenty of fresh water and should be fed good quality food in amounts just right to meet his energy requirements. Inadequate or excess intake of nutrients can be equally harmful.

Most dry dog foods are soybean, corn or rice based. Some of the better brands have meat or fish meal as the first listed ingredient. Although higher priced, they are worth looking into. Dogs eat less of the higher quality products, thus reducing the cost. Dry dog foods also have greater “caloric density” which means simply, there is less water in a cup of food as compared to a canned food diet. This is not a big issue for our smaller canine friends, but large dogs may have difficulty eating enough volume of canned food to fulfill their caloric needs (because they also get a lot of water in that food). Overall, the choice of “dry” vs. “canned” vs. “semi-moist” is an individual one, but larger dogs (such as those greater than 30 pounds) should be fed a dry or semi-moist food in most circumstances

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are necessary for energy. Dietary requirements for dogs can vary according to activity and stress levels and medical history. Dogs expend energy in many different ways. For example, outdoor dogs are likely to experience increased levels of exercise and thus require a higher percentage of protein and fat for energy production than a dog who stays indoors most of the time. Dogs in various life stages [including puppy (“growth”), adult and senior (“geriatric”)] require different amounts of nutrients. Special situations such as pregnancy and nursing puppies can dramatically affect nutritional needs. Working dogs need more calories, while the “couch potato” needs less (just like us!).

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is an organization that publishes regulations for nutritional adequacy of “complete and balanced” dog and cat foods. Your pet’s food should conform to minimal AAFCO standards. Diets that fulfill the AAFCO regulations will state on the label: “formulated to meet the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profile for…(a given life stage).

RECOMMENDATIONS

· AAFCO Standards: All foods should conform to AAFCO standards (check the label). This indicates the manufacturer is following the national consensus recommendations for dog foods.

· Food Type: The choice of canned, semi-moist or dry food is an individual one, but if your dog is more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred as the base diet for its greater caloric density (more calories per volume of food). There are a number of excellent dog food manufacturers.

· Water: Always provide plenty of fresh water.

CONSIDER YOUR DOG’S AGE

· For puppies (less than 8 to 9 months and less than 30 pounds): Feed your puppy a consistent canned, semi-moist or dry dog food designed for puppies. If your dog weighs more than 30 pounds, dry food is preferred for greater caloric density.

· For adult dogs (8 to 9 months to 6 years): Feed your dog a consistent canned, semi-moist or dry dog food designed for an “adult” dog.

· For senior dogs (over 7 years): Feed your dog a consistent canned, semi-moist, or dry dog food designed for a “senior” dog.

CONSIDER YOUR DOG’S BODY WEIGHT

· Underweight dogs: Feed your dog 1 1/2 times the “usual” amount of food and make an appointment to see your veterinarian about your dog’s body condition. Consider switching to a food with higher protein and fat content.

· Lean dogs: Many healthy dogs are a bit thin, especially active young male dogs. Consider increasing total daily food or caloric intake by 25 percent. Weigh your dog every week if possible to chart progress.

· Chubby dogs: If your dog is a bit overweight, try increasing the daily exercise routine. Gradually increase exercise over 2 weeks unless limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, cut out all treats and reduce daily intake of food by up to 25 percent.

· Fat or obese dogs: Stop all treats except vegetables. Increase exercise gradually over 2 to 3 weeks if not limited by a medical condition. If these measures fail, reduce the total daily food amount by 25 to 40 percent, switch to a low fat/high fiber diet, and call your veterinarian to discuss your plans. Inquire about prescription-type reduction diets that can really be effective while providing balanced nutrition.

MEDICAL PROBLEMS

Always consult your veterinarian first regarding any specific foods or dietary adjustments required for a dog with heart, kidney, intestinal or liver disease, or for a dog with cancer. Special dietary measures may also be important for dogs with allergies, certain metabolic diseases, or other medical conditions.

PREFERRED FOOD

There are a number of prominent manufacturers of high quality dog foods, including Iams® (Eukanuba®), Hill’s® (Science Diets®), Nature’s Recipe® products, Nutra Max®, Purina® and Waltham®, among others. Follow the label recommendations, but use your own judgment in determining how much to feed.

Gastrointestinal Parasites In Dogs

GASTROINTESTINAL PARASITES IN DOGS

Gastroenterology & Digestive Diseases

WORMS

Most people are aware that their pets have worms, but just what are these worms, where do they get them and how do you get rid of them? When pet owners talk about worms, they are really talking about all gastrointestinal parasites. And there are several gastrointestinal parasites that commonly affect our dogs and cats.

ROUNDWORMS

Roundworms are visible in your puppy’s stool or vomit. They are long and thin, similar to thin spaghetti. This parasite can pass through the placenta (only in puppies), through the milk (puppies and kittens) or be ingested (puppies and kittens). Some animals become infected after ingesting another animal with roundworm eggs. It is thought that nearly all puppies are born with roundworms since they pass through the placenta. In kittens, most become infected after nursing.

The roundworm that affects dogs is Toxocara canis. The roundworm that affects cats is Toxocara cati. The roundworm Toxascaris leonina is shared between dogs and cats. The roundworm eggs are very resistant to chemicals and weather and remain infective in the soil for years, which can result in repeated reinfection.

Typically, the eggs are found on the soil or grass. As the dog or cat walks by, the eggs are picked up on the animal’s fur. During normal grooming, the animal then ingests the eggs. After reaching the stomach, the eggs hatch. The developing larvae continue to mature in the small intestines and become adults in about three to four weeks. At this point, the mature worms are able to reproduce and shed more eggs. These eggs pass out the intestines in the feces. Once in the soil, the eggs will become infective in about one week.

WHIPWORMS

Whipworms are another type of gastrointestinal parasite that affects dogs. The most common whipworm is Trichuris vulpis and it is a significant cause of large bowel diarrhea. The whipworm eggs are quite resistant and can live in the environment for up to five years.

Typically, a dog becomes infected after ingesting eggs from the environment. The eggs then hatch once they reach the stomach. It takes about three months for the eggs to mature to adults and being shedding eggs. The adults then burrow into the small intestine and feed on blood and tissue. The eggs are intermittently passed in the feces and become infective in about one month. Since the eggs are not shed all the time, repeated fecal examinations may be necessary to diagnose whipworm infection.

HOOKWORMS

Ancylostoma caninum is the most common hookworm in the dog. Ancylostoma tubaeforme is the most common hookworm in the cat. The eggs are relatively susceptible to cold weather and the eggs are usually destroyed after a hard freeze. Hookworm infection can occur as the worms pass through the placenta, are spread during nursing, penetrate through the skin or are ingested.

After ingestion, the eggs hatch in the stomach and develop into adults into about two weeks. If the larvae penetrate the skin, it takes about four weeks for the larvae to mature. Once mature, the worms begin reproducing and shed eggs in the feces. It then takes two to eight days until the eggs are infective. The adult worms attach to the lining of the small intestine and feed on blood. In a severe infection, profound anemia can occur.

GIARDIA

Giardia are pear-shaped, one-celled organisms that infect the small intestine of dogs and cats. Most cases of Giardia in young animals cause explosive, watery diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and an unkempt appearance. Adult animals are capable of harboring the infection without showing clinical signs.

The eggs are susceptible to chemical disinfection. Once ingested, the infective cysts develop in the small intestine. Diarrhea can begin as early as five days after exposure and cysts can appear in the feces one to two weeks after exposure. Most domestic animals contract Giardia from drinking contaminated pond or stream water.

TAPEWORMS

Tapeworms are very common in dogs and cats and, despite what you may think, rarely cause illness. Most people see the tapeworm egg packets as they pass out the rectum and crawl on the animal’s fur. These egg packets, referred to as proglottids, contain multiple eggs and appear about six to eight weeks after ingestion of an infective tapeworm egg. In order to become infective, the tapeworm egg is either ingested by a rodent, rabbit or flea. The egg then matures and becomes infective. Eggs or egg packets eaten after they pass out in the stool are not infective and do not result in more tapeworms.

There are two types of tapeworms, Taenia and Dipylidium. Taenia tapeworms are acquired when an animal ingests an infected rabbit or rodent. Dipylidium tapeworms are acquired when an animal ingests an infected flea. Once the tapeworm egg is ingested, it hatches in the stomach and begins to invade the walls of the intestines. The worm then matures to a larva and then to an adult. About 35 to 80 days later, the adults begin to shed egg packets, which pass in the stool. The adult tapeworm can survive in the intestine for about seven to 34 months.

Animals infected with tapeworms may scoot on the floor since the egg packets tend to crawl on the skin, causing itchiness.

COCCIDIA

Coccidia are intestinal protozoa that invade and infect the lining cells of the small intestine. There are many species of coccidia and almost all domestic animals can become infected. Of the numerous types that infect dogs and cats, Isospora is the most common. Coccidia spread when an animal eats infected fecal material or an infected host, such as a small rodent. Many researchers maintain that virtually all dogs and cats have been infected with the organism at one time or another during their life.

Most coccidial infections are harmless, cause minimal symptoms and are eliminated by normal body defense mechanisms. More serious coccidial infections cause severe watery or bloody diarrhea and are often seen in high-density confinement situations such as kennels, catteries and pet shops.

Grooming Your Dog

GROOMING YOUR DOG

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

A GUIDE TO GROOMING

Although it’s often overlooked, grooming is an important part of your dog’s health program. Routine brushing and combing removes dead hair and dirt and prevents matting. Because it stimulates the blood supply to the skin, grooming also gives your pet a healthier and shinier coat.

WHEN TO START

Start regular grooming when you first bring your dog home and make it a part of his routine. Purchase a good-quality brush and comb and get your dog used to being handled. Praise your dog when he holds still and soon he will come to enjoy the extra attention. Some breeds have special grooming needs, so ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice on particular equipment necessary for your pet.

BRUSHING

Your dog’s skin and hair coat reflect his overall health and nutritional status. Many dogs maintain a healthy skin and hair coat with minimal assistance; others – especially some long-haired or curly-haired breeds – require regular brushing. For most dogs, a good brushing once or twice a week will do the trick.

BATHING

The need for bathing depends on the breed of dog, his skin type and hair coat, owner preference and just how dirty your pet gets. Bathing your dog every month or two isn’t unreasonable, but some dogs will need more frequent cleanings. A good rule of thumb is to bathe your pet only when his coat gets dirty or begins to smell “doggy.”

When bathing your dog, make sure to rinse all the soap out of his coat. If he has persistent problems with scratching or flaky skin, he may need a special medicated shampoo or have a skin problem that your veterinarian should examine.

SKIN PROBLEMS

Skin problems – including fleas, ticks and mites or allergies and infections – are common among dogs. Most conditions are manageable with early detection and treatment. If you notice excessive scratching, hair loss or flaky skin, contact your veterinarian. If your pet is continuously exposed to fleas and ticks, speak to your veterinarian about products to minimize the impact of these parasites on the skin. Remember that a consistently poor hair coat with lots of skin flaking may indicate a deeper medical problem.

EARS

Ears may also require cleaning, especially in dogs with oily skin or allergies. This is a delicate task and is probably best left to your vet. However, if your dog is easy to handle (and there is no chance that you will be bitten), you can learn to do this chore yourself. To remove excessive wax and debris from the ears, consider an ear cleaning every two to four weeks. Ask your veterinarian about products you can use at home, and be sure to ask for a demonstration of proper ear cleaning techniques.

NAIL TRIMMING

While clipping nails is a painless and simple process, it takes practice and patience to master the skill. Ask your vet to show you the correct technique, then get started by getting your pet used to having his paws handled. Once you start using the clippers, go slowly: Try clipping just a few nails in one sitting. Maintain a regular schedule and be persistent. Your pet will eventually develop patience and learn to cooperate.

How To Control And Prevent Fleas On Your Dog

HOW TO CONTROL AND PREVENT FLEAS ON YOUR DOG

Dr. Doug Brum
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

UNDERSTANDING THE FLEA

For millions of pets and people, the tiny flea is a remorseless enemy. The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.

When a flea bites your dog, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of dogs become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of dogs – flea allergy dermatitis.

If your pet develops hypersensitivity to flea saliva, many changes may result.

· A small hive may develop at the site of the fleabite, which either heals or develops into a tiny red bump that eventually crusts over.

· The dog may scratch and chew at himself until the area is hairless, raw and weeping serum (“hot spots”). This can cause hair loss, redness, scaling, bacterial infection and increased pigmentation of the skin.
Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your dog may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your dog carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood. If one dog in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house.

If you see tapeworm segments in your dog’s stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them. The flea can act as an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Through grooming or biting, the animal ingests an adult flea containing tapeworm eggs. Once released the tapeworm grows to maturity in the small intestine. The cycle can take less than a month, so a key to tapeworm prevention is flea control. Anemia also may be a complication of flea infestation especially in young kittens.

THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE FLEA

The flea’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

· Eggs. The adult flea uses your dog as a place to take its blood meals and breed. Fleas either lay eggs directly on the dog where they may drop off, or deposit eggs into the immediate surroundings (your home or backyard). Because the female may lay several hundred eggs during the course of its life, the number of fleas present intensifies the problem. The eggs hatch into larvae that live in carpeting, cracks or corners of the dog’s living area.

· Larvae. The larvae survive by ingesting dried blood, animal dander and other organic matter.

· Pupa and adult. To complete the life cycle, larvae develop into pupa that hatch into adults. The immediate source of adult fleas within the house is the pupa, not the dog. The adult flea emerges from the pupa, then hops onto the host.
This development occurs more quickly in a warm, humid environment. Pupa can lie dormant for months, but under temperate conditions fleas complete their life cycle in about three weeks. The inside of your home may provide a warm environment to allow fleas to thrive year round.

FIGHTING THE FLEA

Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot on insecticides.

In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which required leaving the house for several hours, have been used twice in 2-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.

Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infect your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.

The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.

TREATMENT & PREVENTION

As one might expect, flea control through these methods is very time consuming, expensive and difficult. The good news is that currently, with the newer flea products on the market, flea control is much safer, more effective and environmentally friendly. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.

It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet’s life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective.

Labor And Delivery In Dogs

General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Theriogenology

BE PREPARED

Giving birth can be a frightening, confusing and painful experience for both the dog and the owner. Knowing and understanding normal labor and delivery, as well as proper pregnancy care, can help make the process go more smoothly and help you know what is normal and when it is time to get the veterinarian involved.

GESTATION

In the bitch, a female dog, gestation lasts 63 days. Knowing the exact time of conception, however, is difficult since a bitch can be receptive to the male before and after ovulation. For this reason, the time from breeding to delivery is usually somewhere between 58 to 70 days. Your veterinarian can help narrow this time frame by examining the cells of the vaginal wall.

Be aware that just because your bitch bred does not mean she is pregnant. Some dogs will even show signs of pregnancy and not really be pregnant. There is a phenomenon in dogs known as false pregnancy or pseudocyesis. For confirmation of pregnancy, an examination, with ultrasound and possibly X-rays by your veterinarian, is suggested.

NUTRITION

Once pregnancy is confirmed, proper care of the mother-to-be is very important. Before breeding, make sure she is up to date on all her vaccinations. It is not recommended to vaccinate your dog during pregnancy. Also, make sure she is dewormed and tests negative for a bacteria known as Brucella. This bacteria can cause abortion in dogs and is also contagious to people.

After breeding and conception, most bitches do well during the first 4 to 5 weeks of pregnancy and do not need any special treatments. Things start to change during the last trimester (week 5 to 6). The babies start to rapidly develop and this results in a significant nutritional drain on the mother. At this time, you may want to consider gradually changing her diet to a growth type diet or a food specifically made for pregnant or lactating bitches. Continue this diet throughout the remainder of pregnancy and until the puppies are weaned. Vitamins or other supplements are not recommended nor needed. With a proper diet, your dog will receive the proper amount of nutrients. Excessive amounts can actually result in birth defects.

Do not begin feeding your dog a higher calorie food before the last trimester. This can lead to weight gain and fat deposits. This has the potential to cause difficulty in maintaining the pregnancy and can result in problems delivering the puppies.

PREPARING FOR DELIVERY

As the time of delivery approaches, you may want to make a whelping box to provide a safe and clean area for your dog to deliver. Whelping boxes are intended to be easily accessed by the mother but escape proof for the new arrivals. You can use wood, Formica or any building material that is easy to clean. Make the box large enough for the bitch to comfortably stretch out. Make sure the sides are just low enough for the mother to step over and place the box in a warm, dry, draft-free area. If possible, try to choose a quiet and secluded area. Initially, place newspapers on the bottom of the box for easy clean up. Once all the puppies are born, place blankets or towels to provide some footing for the puppies. Be aware that you must get the bitch used to the whelping box before the birth. If not, she may make her own decision on where to have the puppies – and this may be a closet, a pile of fresh clean laundry or even in the middle of your bed!

An additional suggestion is to have your dog examined by a veterinarian toward the end of pregnancy. A thorough physical exam, along with ultrasound or X-rays can help determine how many puppies you can expect. This way, you will know when she is done delivering and not just in another resting phase between pups.

LABOR AND DELIVERY

As the time of delivery approaches, twice daily monitoring of the bitch’s body temperature will help alert you to the impending birth. About 24 hours before the beginning of labor, there will be a temporary drop in the body temperature. Normal temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Twenty-four hours prior to labor, the temperature can drop to 98 to 99 F.

LABOR STAGE I

After the temperature drop, stage I labor begins, characterized by restlessness and anxiety. You may notice panting, pacing, refusal of food and maybe vomiting. Nesting behavior begins. This is the time to place her in the whelping box (hopefully she is already accustomed to the box). After getting settled in the whelping box, you may notice her dragging clothing or fabric to the area to form a comfortable bed. You may want to remove any clothing as whelping begins or these pieces of clothing may be permanently stained.

This stage of labor typically lasts 6 to 12 hours. At the end of stage I, the cervix is completely dilated. If your dog has not started whelping within 24 hours after beginning stage I labor, veterinary assistance is recommended.

LABOR STAGE II

Stage II labor is defined as the part of labor when the puppy is delivered. Visible contractions begin. The abdomen tenses and the bitch begins straining. This action will appear similar to the bitch trying to have a bowel movement.

The first puppy should be delivered within 1 to 2 hours of the onset of contractions and straining. Veterinary assistance is strongly encouraged if the first puppy is not delivered within 2 hours after the onset of contractions.

After delivery of the puppy, the bitch may enter a resting phase that can last up to 4 hours. Active straining will begin again and more puppies will be delivered. If you know there are additional puppies yet to be born and the resting period is longer than 4 hours, veterinary assistance is necessary. This resting phase may not occur after each delivery. Sometimes, several puppies may be born rapidly.

LABOR STAGE III

After delivery of a puppy, the bitch may enter stage III labor. This is the time when the placenta, after birth, is delivered and usually occurs 5 to 15 minutes after delivery of the puppy. If multiple puppies are born rapidly, several placentas may be expelled together. After the passage of the placenta, the bitch will return to stage II labor. She may continue the resting phase or begin contracting. Throughout whelping, the bitch will fluctuate between stage II and stage III labor until all the puppies are born. It is very important to keep track of the number of placentas. There should be the same number of placentas as puppies. If a placenta is retained in the uterus, the bitch will eventually become quite ill.

WHELPING

As soon as the puppy is born (whelped), the mother should immediately start cleaning the puppy. She should begin vigorously licking the puppy, remove him from the amniotic sac if still present and chew the umbilical cord. The bitch may even ingest the placenta. This is not necessary and, sometimes, can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Prompt removal of the placentas can help you keep track of how many placentas she has passed.

Those puppies that are born still in the sack need immediate help. If the mother does not open the sack and begin cleaning the puppy, it is up to you to help. Tear the membrane of the sack and begin cleaning and rubbing the puppy with a clean dry towel. Cleaning other puppies may be necessary if the mother is not showing much interest in her newborns. Tie off the umbilical cord about 1 inch from the belly wall using string, thread or dental floss. Cut the cord off on the other side of the tie. Clean and rub the puppy vigorously until you hear crying. Place the puppy back with the new mom and make sure she allows the puppies to nurse.

Being prepared to assist and understanding newborn puppy care is essential to help the mother and her babies through these first steps of life.

Obesity In Dogs

Dr. Rebecca Remillard

Nutrition

OVERVIEW

Obesity is defined as the excessive accumulation of body fat. Between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are considered obese or are likely to become obese. It is the most common nutrition-related health condition in dogs in our society.

The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise. When regular caloric intake exceeds the energy burned, the excess is stored as fat. As little as an extra 1 percent caloric intake can result in a 25 percent increase over ideal body weight by middle age.

Most owners don’t recognize that their dogs are overweight until they take them to the veterinarian for another reason. Most pets begin slowly gaining weight and only a historical review of body weight reveals the insidious nature of this condition.

Dogs that are overweight may experience difficulty breathing or walking or they may be unable to tolerate heat or exercise.

DIAGNOSIS

Veterinary care should include diagnostic tests to determine overall health and to provide recommendations for weight loss.

Diagnostic tests may include:

· A thorough veterinary examination, including an accurate measure of body weight and an assessment of body condition score. A historical review of changes in your dog’s body weight is often helpful in establishing a pattern of weight gain and may help identify a particular event or change in environment that relates to the increase in body weight.

· Routine blood work including a complete blood cell count, serum profile and urinalysis are necessary to determine if there is an underlying disease. If the results of these tests indicate a problem, additional tests are warranted to specifically identify the condition before starting a weight loss program.

· Assessment of your dog’s current daily intake of all food, treats, snacks, table foods and exercise schedule is important in the development of a successful weight loss program. Clearly if the calculated caloric intake exceeds the calculated daily energy requirement of the dog at an ideal body weight, then excessive caloric intake is the cause of the obesity.

TREATMENT

Treatment of any concurrent or underlying disease that affects obesity is recommended.

· Lower your dog’s daily caloric intake by changing the dog food product (there are several diets formulated for weight loss) or the amount fed daily.

· Increasing fiber or water intake may sometimes be necessary to satiate your dog.

· Increase exercise activity. To enhance exercise, a variety of leashes and toys are available.

HOME CARE

Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program. It may be helpful to maintain a log of intake (food and treats) and weight to monitor progress. It might be most effective if one person takes charge of feeding your dog, but all members can help exercise him.

To achieve significant weight loss, the diet must be changed to a therapeutic veterinary diet specifically designed for weight loss. Simply feeding less of your dog’s regular food is rarely, if ever, successful. Owners must be willing to measure exactly the amount of food offered and minimize treats. If treats are necessary, offer low calorie snacks such as air popped popcorn or a piece of vegetable (such as a carrot).

Re-check visits are essential every 4 to 6 weeks to monitor the weight loss since adjustments to the feeding plan are often needed. As your dog approaches ideal body weight, caloric intake must be reduced further to maintain weight loss.

Most dogs require an 8 to 12 month weight loss plan to reach their ideal weight. Most dogs do achieve ideal or near ideal body weight when the owner and family members are committed to improving the pet’s health. Most owners continue feeding the weight loss diet, only at a higher food dose, to maintain their pet’s ideal weight.

Specific recommendations depend upon the underlying disease. For obesity due to:

· Excessive caloric consumption. Once an ideal weight has been achieved, a low calorie food should be continued, treats and snacks should be minimized and the exercise program continued.

· Diabetes mellitus. Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor insulin dose and effectiveness. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

· Hypothyroidism. Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor thyroid dose and effectiveness. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

· Blood thyroid levels should also be checked regularly particularly if the dog is losing weight.

· Hyperadrenocorticism. Regular recheck visits are necessary to monitor medical management. Body weight changes should also be checked regularly.

DIET RECOMMENDATIONS

PREVENTION

· Hill’s Prescription diet w/d®

TREATMENT

· Eukanuba Glucose-Control®
· Eukanuba Restricted Calorie®
· Eukanuba Weight Loss Formula®
· Hill’s Prescription diet r/d®
· Waltham Calorie Control®
· Purina CNM OM-FORMULA®
· IVD Mature® or IVD Hifactor®

INFORMATION IN-DEPTH

There are several causes of canine obesity, but whether your dog is overweight because of overfeeding or because of a disease process, he is still taking in more calories than he is using.

Obesity in pets is more commonly due to over-eating (excessive caloric consumption) than disease. The most common cause of obesity is a chronic consumption of calories greater than actual daily energy requirement. Excessive dietary calories are stored as body fat.

Other causes of obesity are due to an altered energy metabolism. Some diseases and conditions can contribute to obesity. These include:

· Diabetes mellitus. There is a relationship between obesity and diabetes, where overweight and obese animals become insulin resistant. These animals often begin to show the early signs of diabetes mellitus which are excessive drinking, excessive urinating and hunger. As the disease progresses, the dog eventually loses weight.

· Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease). This condition occurs when the dog’s adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol. Affected animals do not usually gain weight, but rather have a fat re-distribution to the abdomen and therefore have a potbellied appearance which mimics weight gain.

Call your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog is overweight, or if your pet begins experiencing difficulty breathing or exercising or appears unable to get comfortable. Also, have a veterinarian examine your pet to determine if these abnormalities are present before instituting a weight loss program.

VETERINARY CARE IN-DEPTH

DIAGNOSIS IN-DEPTH

Your veterinarian will want to determine the cause of your dog’s obesity before deciding upon treatment. Diagnostic tests that your veterinarian may wish to perform include:

· A thorough physical examination, including an accurate measure of body weight and an assessment of body condition score.

· Assessment of your dog’s current daily intake of all food, treats, snacks, table foods and exercise schedule.

· Routine blood work including a complete blood cell count, serum profile and urinalysis. If the results are normal, obesity is probably the result of excessive caloric intake and decreased energy expenditure. However, if the results of these routine tests indicate a potential problem, additional tests are warranted to specifically identify the condition.

Additional diagnostic tests may include:

· Blood and urine glucose (sugar) levels. Diabetes mellitus can be diagnosed based upon detecting high blood glucose level and the positive detection of glucose in the urine. Sometimes a series of blood glucose measurements are needed to confirm the diagnosis.

· Urine cortisol:creatinine ratio. Hyperadenocorticism should be suspected when the ratio is high.

· ACTH stimulation test. An adrenocorticotrophic hormone stimulation test is used to better diagnose hyperadenocorticism.

· Low dose dexamethasone test. This test, used in concert with the urine cortisol:creatinine ratio and an ACTH stimulation test, yields a definitive diagnosis of hyperadenocorticism.

TREATMENT IN-DEPTH

Therapy recommendations are dependent upon the underlying cause of the obesity. Take your dog to your veterinarian for a complete work-up before beginning a weight loss program to rule out major diseases.

Recommendations for obesity due to excessive caloric consumption:

· Lower your pet’s daily caloric intake by 50 percent of that required for his ideal body weight.

· Change the pet food product to one designed for weight loss and containing:
– less than 340 kcal per 100 grams of food on a dry matter basis

– between 5 to 10 percent fat

– between 10 to 30 percent crude fiber

– greater than 25 percent crude protein

· Feed your pet a prescribed measured amount of food several times daily.

· Give treats only as directed. Use specifically designed low calorie treats or give cooked or raw vegetables.

· Increase exercise activity

· Try getting your pet to swim. Swimming is excellent exercise for patients with orthopedic disabilities.

· Return to your veterinarian for monthly visits for a weight check and appropriate adjustments in meal size.
Recommendations for obesity due to diabetes mellitus:

· Often in the management of diabetes, a dietary change to a veterinary therapeutic diet is necessary for controlling blood glucose levels. The food should contain a moderate level of fiber (5 to 10 percent) with lowered levels of readily available carbohydrates.

· Insulin treatments are individualized to the patient.

· In some cases of diabetes, when the dog loses weight, the clinical signs of diabetes resolve and occasionally insulin treatments are no longer needed.
Recommendations for obesity due to hyperadenocorticism:

· Medical management usually involves initial treatments and maintenance doses of Lysodren® (mitotane). Recheck visits are recommended with an ACTH test every 3 to 4 months.

· In most cases, a weight loss program is not needed to return to an ideal body weight.

Pregnancy In Dogs

Dr. Debra Primovic
General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Theriogenology

OVERVIEW

Pregnancy is the period of gestation when the young are developing in the mother’s uterus. Normal gestation in dogs is 58 to 68 days (the average is 63 days).

The litter size in dogs varies from one puppy to more than 17 in some giant breed dogs. Litter sizes are often smaller in young and old animals and largest when the mother is around three to four years of age.

Conditions that may be confused with pregnancy include false pregnancy, mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), mammary gland neoplasia (cancer), abdominal enlargement due to fluid accumulation or organ enlargement, or pyometra (infection of the uterus).

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

· Nesting behavior (attempting to make a nest by tearing up papers, blankets, etc.)

· Mothering activity (this may include mothering of shoes, toys and other articles)

· Weight gain (which typically occurs after the 4th week of pregnancy)

· Abdominal enlargement or swelling

· Mammary gland enlargement. The mammary glands may be large and secrete milk or serous fluid.

· Abnormal behavior. If your dog does not eat, acts lethargic or you notice excessive vaginal discharge, please call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

DIAGNOSIS

Your veterinarian may perform some diagnostic tests to confirm your dog’s health and to determine if she is pregnant. These include:

· A complete medical history and physical examination

· Evaluating your dog’s heat cycle and any potential breeding episodes

· Abdominal palpation (technique of examining the organs and other parts of the body by touching and feeling). However, puppies can seldom be felt until at least 26 to 35 days after breeding and fetuses can be difficult to feel in some dogs.

· Abdominal radiographs or x-rays. The skeleton of the puppy is visible on an X-ray after 45 days of pregnancy. They will also show other abnormalities, such as organ enlargement or abnormal fluid accumulation, are present.

· Abdominal ultrasound can be used to diagnose pregnancy after 21 to 24 days post breeding. This is a safe and excellent way to diagnose pregnancy and verify the health of the puppies. Ultrasound can also be used to estimate litter size.

Your veterinarian may recommend other diagnostic tests (not typically done with a normal pregnancy) on a case-by-case basis. Tests may include:

· Blood work. Complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry (bloodwork to evaluate the function of the liver and kidneys). There are no practical blood or urine tests available to diagnose pregnancy in dogs.

· Urinalysis

· Heartworm checks (a good idea in all dogs not on prevention)

TREATMENT

· Normal pregnancy does not usually need any “treatment”; however, it is important to see your veterinarian for regular check-ups to ensure the health of your pet.

· It is extremely important that your dog be cared for properly during the pregnancy.

· If your decide that you do not wish to have further litters, or if your pet has significant problems during the birth process, you may wish to have her spayed to prevent further pregnancies.

· Have your veterinarian recheck your dog one week before the due date. The doctor may then palpate for puppies and perform a pelvic exam to establish a rough estimate of pelvic canal size vs. puppy size to try to anticipate problems that might occur during whelping.

HOME CARE

Good nutrition is essential for healthy puppies and mothers so feed your pet a high-quality diet formulated for pregnant or nursing dogs.

· Although nutritional needs change little during the first 4 weeks of gestation, your dog’s nutritional needs nearly double during the last 5 weeks. Your veterinarian may recommend a special diet and/or vitamins for your dog.

· Be sure to provide the increased amounts of food she needs in several small meals each day, rather than feeding it all at one time. It is particularly important to feed frequent small meals during the last part of gestation. A pregnant bitch may not feel like eating much as delivery nears because her abdomen is full of puppies, which leaves little room for the stomach to enlarge. Continue feeding a high-quality diet until after the puppies have been weaned.

· Be sure that fresh water is always available, since pregnancy increases your pet’s fluid needs.

· A moderate amount of exercise is recommended during pregnancy; however, strenous exercise may be harmful. Short periods of gentle play and short walks are beneficial. After the pregnancy check at 26 to 35 days, you should begin exercising your pregnant pet five days a week for a half hour each time.

· If you would like to know more precisely when delivery is near, check the rectal temperature of the mother twice daily from the 58th day of pregnancy until labor begins. Normal rectal temperature varies between 100.5 and 102.0 degrees Fahrenheit. Within approximately 24 hours of the onset of labor the rectal temperature drops nearly two degrees in most dogs.

WHELPING (BIRTH OF THE PUPPIES)

The more that you can learn about whelping the better prepared you will be for any difficulties that might occur. Once you know that your bitch is pregnant, you should begin preparing for the puppies delivery.

· Provide a whelping box for the mother to begin sleeping in. This will help ensure that the puppies are born in an area that you have chosen. The width of the whelping box should be approximately equal to the length of your dog (including tail) and 1 1/2 times as long. Place a 1 by 4-inch rail around the inside of the box approximately 4 inches from the bottom of the box. This helps prevent the bitch from lying on her pups. This box should be relatively small, with sides six to eight inches high (to keep the pups from crawling out of the nest). The box should be bottomless. The floor should be lined with plastic then paper, and finally with a flannel material on the top.
Tack the flannel to the side of the box after being stretched tautly. The new mother likes to paw in attempts to make a nest. These wrinkles can lead to folds, which can cover and suffocate the pups. Pups nurse until they are tired, not until they are full. The use of flannel sheeting allows good footing for the pups to nurse. Excessive slipping on a slick surface can lead to exhaustion and less nursing. The flannel blanket will need to be washed every day.

· Provide a heat source in the whelping box during the first few weeks of the puppys’ lives. A small light (e.g., a trouble light) placed above a corner of the whelping box is usually adequate, but will depend on the ambient temperature where the box is housed. Pay careful attention to the temperature in the whelping box. You can attach a thermometer to the whelping box to help ensure that the box is maintained at a temperature of 80 to 85 F for the first five days of the puppies lives. The temperature can then be decreased one degree per day after day five. This can be accomplished by raising the height of the light. Place the box in a secluded yet familiar area of the home, away from the family traffic, to allow the mother solitude.

The Importance Of A Recheck Examination In Dogs

Dr. Debra Primovic
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

THE RECHECK EXAM

Delaying or not having a recheck exam can hurt your dog. A recheck examination is an appointment that allows your veterinarian to assess the progress and follow-up on your dog’s disease or problem. Maybe you are thinking you can skip it because your dog is doing better? Even if your dog physically looks and feels better, he or she may not be completely back to normal. Some diseases can progress undetected.

It is often more difficult to treat diseases or conditions that have been going on for a long time or are not thoroughly treated the first time. Consider the possibility that recheck exams may actually save you time and money in the long run. Some chronic diseases can spiral out of control if not closely monitored for subtle changes. This could ultimately lead to more lengthy procedures, hospitalizations, trips back and forth to your veterinarian, and significantly higher veterinary bills.

The recheck visits to your veterinarian will depend on the medical condition your dog has. If the condition is chronic, they may require life long-term treatment.

Recheck exams are a worthwhile investment in your dog’s overall health. By taking your dog in for a “re-check” you are providing your dog the best possible care by allowing his progress to be professionally monitored. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early and thoroughly, your dog will live a much healthier and longer life.

Grief

Euthanasia

Dr. Debra Primovic
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

OVERVIEW

Euthanasia literally means an “easy and painless death.” You may know it as “putting a pet to sleep” or “putting an animal down.” It is the deliberate act of ending life and undoubtedly it is a difficult issue. Pet owners who must make this decision often feel anxiety or even guilt, but when a pet is very ill with little hope of recovery, the question of “When is it time?” becomes most important.

It’s a common situation: Many pets suffer with chronic diseases such as cancer that can often be managed in such a way that life is prolonged, although the quality of life is greatly diminished. For most pet owners this issue greatly influences the decision concerning euthanasia. Certainly, quality of life is a personal judgment; you know your animal companion better than anyone else. And while your veterinarian can guide you with objective information about diseases, and even provide a personal perspective of a disease condition, the final decision about euthanasia rests with you.

VETERINARY CARE

If you are considering euthanasia, some of the following points may help you gauge your pet’s quality of life.

· Pets with chronic or incurable diseases that are given proper medication and care should be able to eat, drink and sleep comfortably without shortness of breath.

· Your pet should act interested in “what’s going on” around him, be able to perform mild exercise and have control of his urine and bowel movements (unless the principal disease affects one of these organ systems).

· Even your ill pet should appear comfortable and free of moderate to severe pain. Of course, whenever there is a chronic condition, some days will be better than others and one should learn to expect the natural “ups and downs” that attend most chronic disease conditions. You need to determine what balance is acceptable.
There are also veterinary issues and medical care issues that may influence your judgment. If your pet is taking medication for a disease condition, ask your veterinarian if side effects of the medicine could be involved with any adverse symptoms such as lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea (but DON’T stop giving prescribed medication until you speak with your veterinarian). Sometimes it is the medicine, not the disease, that makes a pet appear more ill and adjusting the dose or changing the medicine can have a very positive effect.

Of course, some diseases are very difficult, expensive or time-consuming to treat. The medical bills that may accumulate can influence your decision regarding euthanasia. These are practical decisions that must be made relative to your own financial and family situations. Though a lack of financial or personal resources for medical care may be a source of guilt to you, it is better to discuss the overall situation with your veterinarian rather than allow your pet to suffer without proper veterinary medical care.

WILL IT HURT?

The following is a description of a typical euthanasia procedure. If you do not wish to read about this procedure, please close this document now.

Euthanasia is very humane and virtually painless. First, you will likely be asked to sign a paper – an “authorization for euthanasia” (or similar document). If you decide to go ahead you will be given a number of options: you may be present (with the pet) during the euthanasia; you may be absent for the procedure but wish to see your pet after euthanasia; or you may want to say goodbye to your pet prior to euthanasia and not see him again. Once you have decided upon your involvement in the euthanasia process, you will need to decide what you would like to have done with the remains. You can discuss your options with your veterinarian before the euthanasia procedure.

Euthanasia is usually performed by a veterinarian. The most typical procedure involves an intravenous injection of a barbiturate anesthetic given at a high concentration (overdose). In general, the euthanasia is rapid, usually within seconds, and very peaceful. Your pet will just go to sleep. On rare occasions there may be a brief vocalization or cry as consciousness is lost; this is not pain although you may misinterpreted it as such.

Within seconds of starting the injection the anesthetic overdose will cause the heart to slow and then stop, and any circulation in the body will cease. As the heart stops and the blood pressure decreases, the unconscious animal will stop breathing, circulation to the brain will cease and your pet will die peacefully.

Once your pet has died, you might observe involuntary muscle contractions or respiratory gasps about one or two minutes after the loss of consciousness and circulation. Again this is not evidence of pain or consciousness, but instead, it represents a physiologic response that occurs whenever the brain is deprived of circulation. The unconscious animal may also lose bladder or bowel control. Veterinarians often cover the pet immediately after injecting the euthanasia solution to partially shield the pet owner from these physiologic responses, which may still be disturbing.

HOME CARE

Keep your pet as comfortable as possible during any chronic illness or disease. Encourage him to eat and drink, unless your veterinarian has asked you not to do so, and keep him clean and dry. Speak with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding the diagnosis or treatment of your pet’s disease.

Pet loss by natural causes, trauma or euthanasia is always difficult, and there are pet loss support groups available throughout the country. If you have specific questions about euthanasia or you would like more information about pet loss support groups, please contact your veterinarian.

Explaining Pet Loss To Children

Alex Lieber
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

PET LOSS & CHILDREN

Death and dying are two of the hardest facts of life to explain to children. Very often, the death of a family pet is a child’s first encounter with this immutable law of nature. How we handle this event can have a far-reaching impact on our children’s understanding of death and dying.

Eleven-year-old Maria, for instance, was used to greeting her cat Feifel every day after school. One day, he didn’t appear. Maria and her mother found Feifel under a bed, breathing weakly. The veterinarian said Feifel had heart disease. He might be able to save him, but Feifel was 14 and suffered from several other age-related problems.

His quality of life would only grow worse. The most humane course to take was euthanasia. Later, her family held a memorial service, and Maria wrote poems about him.

AN INFORMAL GUIDE TO A CHILD’S PSYCHE

At 11, Maria understood euthanasia and the finality of death. It didn’t make the grieving and sense of loss any easier, but she knew that all living things eventually die. After some time, she was able to remember her pet with more love than hurt.

But children younger than Maria often view their relationship with a pet as indefinite. They don’t understand that animals run on a different biological clock, or that illness or injury may make euthanasia the best option.

At all ages, honesty is the best policy, says Marty Tously, a bereavement counselor. “That means using the words death and dying, and explaining the permanence of death. You do it gently but without confusing what dying actually means.”

Tously is a counselor with the Pet Grief Support Service. She says that a child’s ability to understand what death means depends on his/her emotional and cognitive development, but outlined the generally understood guideline of how children perceive death and dying:

Under 2: A child can feel and respond to a pet’s death, based on the reaction of those around him or her. A child picks up the stress felt by family members, no matter what the cause.

2 to 5: The child will miss the animal as a playmate, but not necessarily as a love object. They will see death as a temporary state – something like the way leaves fall off a tree in fall but grow back in the spring. As they perceive the trauma around them, however, they may regress in their behavior (e.g., thumb sucking).

5 to 9: Children begin to perceive death as permanent, but they may indulge in “magical thinking,” believing that death can be defied or bargained with. This is also the period when children recognize a correlation between what they think and what happens. For instance, a child may resent taking care of the pet and wish – however briefly – that the pet would die. If the pet then dies, the child is often consumed with guilt. Parents need to reassure children that they did not cause the pet’s death.

10 and up: Children generally understand that all living things will eventually die, and that death is total. Understanding and accepting are two different things, however. They may go through the normal stages of grief that grownups do: denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression and acceptance. (To learn about the stages of grief, see the story Coping with Pet Loss.) Or they may react in other ways:

· Depending on the age, the child may regress (sucking their thumb or temper tantrums that they had outgrown).

· An older child may withdraw from friends and family for a while. Schoolwork may suffer and they may seem uninterested in extracurricular activities.

· Children may fear abandonment. If a pet can die, then they may reason that their parents could die as well.

· Children often become intensely curious about death and what happens to the body. They may ask for details that you may find uncomfortable to explain. These are questions you should answer in a straightforward, gentle and careful manner.

DO’S AND DON’TS

Tously explains that the worst course of action is to lie (to say the animal went away) or to use confusing euphemisms, such as the phrase “put to sleep.” Children will eventually learn the truth, and lying can breed resentment and destroy trust between parent and child. “Later in life, when the child learns the truth, they’ll wonder what else the parent lied about,” she says.

Likewise, euphemisms can cause anxiety or confusion because children take what you say literally. “If you say a pet is put to sleep, the child may suffer sleep anxiety,” says Tously. She recalls one child who was told his cocker spaniel just “went away.” He awaited his dog’s return, and upon learning the dog had been buried wanted to unearth the dog. “If you say ‘God has taken your pet because he was special,’ the child may resent God, and fear who might be next.”

· Be open and honest. This includes the pet’s health and euthanasia. “If a pet is terminally ill and needs to be euthanized,” Tously says, “the child needs to be told as soon as possible by the parent.” Again, avoid those tempting euphemisms that cloud understanding, such as telling a child the pet was put to sleep. Use the words death and dying to make your meaning clear.

Some children want to be present during euthanasia and most will be very curious about the process. Tously says you should answer their questions. As for allowing the child to be present, some veterinarians are firmly against it; others say it depends on the child’s age and maturity.

· Make sure the child understands what “dying” means. Explain that the animal’s body stopped working. Depending on your religious beliefs and what the child can understand, you might explain the concept of a soul. However, it is important for the child to know that the pet has died and will not be coming back.

· Be available to let your child discuss his/her feelings about what happened. You may want to hold your own service to memorialize the pet and to say goodbye formally. Some people plant trees in a special spot in the yard, others bury the pet in a cemetery so the family can visit. Encourage your child to show his/her feelings by talking or writing about the fun times they had with their pet.

· Show your own feelings. This tells the child that the pet was special and that they are not grieving alone. You can also encourage your child to open up, which can help the healing process.

· Tell your child’s teachers about the loss, so they will understand why your child is behaving differently.

· Don’t blame the veterinarian. Some parents, especially those who fear explaining euthanasia to their children, find it easier to lay it all on the vet. This is not only unfair to the veterinarian, but potentially harmful to the child. He or she may grow up distrusting veterinarians and, by extension, doctors and other medical professionals.
In addition, parents shouldn’t throw the responsibility of telling the children what needs to be done on the veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help the parent explain why euthanasia may be the most humane option, and answer questions the child may have.

Parents often want to ease their child’s hurt by rushing out and buying another pet. Tously says this is a mistake. “The last thing you want to do is convey the impression that the pet – a family member – is replaceable,” she says. Wait until the child expresses an interest in another pet.

Children are very resilient, and they usually learn to accept their pet is gone. If a child persists with nightmares or seems unable to cope, however, it may be necessary to talk with a counselor.

WHERE TO TURN FOR HELP

Local shelters often hold workshops and support groups to help people after pet loss. Contact your local shelter for information. There are also a number of organizations dedicated to helping people cope around the country. To find one in your state, visit the Delta Society Web page at www.deltasociety.org/dsn701.htm

Grief In Dogs And Cats

Dr. Dawn Ruben
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

THE LOSS OF A PET

Because our pets cannot speak, we don’t really know what what they are thinking. We must base our interpretations of their emotional state on their behavior – what they do in certain situations and under specific circumstances.

When a person experiences the death of a human loved one, we may know they feel grief based on what they say. Very often, however, it is how they react, what they do that tells us they are suffering. They lose their focus, become listless and disoriented, don’t eat and become disinterested in what is happening around them. They may cry or go without sleep or they may sleep more.

An animal that is experiencing the loss of another animal companion may react similarly. “Some animals can actually become depressed when they lose a loved one,” says Monique D. Chretien, MSc, AHT, Animal Behavior Consultant. “They show symptoms similar to humans such as loss of interest in their favorite activities and sleeping more than usual. However, sometimes dogs and cats hide and sleep more than usual when they are ill, so you should consult with your veterinarian before seeing a behaviorist if your pet exhibits symptoms such as these.”

Your pet may lose his appetite, become disoriented, or become more clingy. If the deceased pet was taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized, the grieving pet may sit at the window for days watching for her return. Animal behaviorists commonly call this emotional state, separation anxiety. On the surface, the pet’s behavior is similar to that of a person experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a Companion Animal Mourning Project in 1996. The study found that 46% of cats ate less than usual after the death of another cat companion. In some extreme cases, the cat actually starved to death. About 70% of cats meowed more than normal or meowed less. Study respondents indicated that surviving cats changed the quantity and location of sleep. More than half the surviving pets became more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers. Overall, the study revealed that 65% of cats exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion.

If your pet shows signs that she is grieving the loss of an animal or human family member, provide her with more attention and affection. “Try to take her mind off it by engaging her in a favorite activity,” says Chretien. If she enjoys human company, invite friends that she likes to visit and spend time with her. Use environmental enrichment techniques such as balls filled with treats to help keep her busy. Hide toys at her favorite spots for her to find during the day.

If your pet is too depressed over the loss, she may not respond to extra activity right away. The old saying, “Time heals all wounds,” has meaning for your pet, too. “Time is one thing that may help,” says Chretien.

If your dog is barking more or whining, distract her. Don’t give her treats to distract her or you might unintentionally reinforce the barking. “Giving attention during any behavior will help to reinforce it so be sure you are not reinforcing a behavior that you don’t like,” says Chretien. “Give attention at a time when your dog is engaging in behaviors that you do like, such as when she is resting quietly or watching the birds. As the pain of the loss begins to subside, so should the vocalizing as long as it is related to the grieving process.”

You may also want to consult with your veterinarian regarding drug therapy to help decrease your dog’s anxiety, advises Chretien.

If you are thinking about adding another pet, wait until you and your surviving pet have adjusted to the loss. Forcing your pet to get to know a newcomer will only add stress to her already anxiety-ridden emotional state. And be patient. Your pet may miss her companion as much as you do.

Pet Loss

Angell Memorial Animal Hospital
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

COPING WITH LOSS

The loss of any close friend can be devastating, and pets can be among our closest companions. A pet frequently provides unconditional love, emotional security, and loyalty. Routine activities with an animal companion often provide structure, fun, relaxation, and social contact in our daily lives. The death of a cherished pet can mean the loss of an entire lifestyle as well as a devoted companion. Lack of understanding and support from people around us can make this period even more difficult.

BE PREPARED

In some instances the death of a pet can be anticipated; the animal may be very old or suffering from an extended illness. Other pet owners may face a sudden loss – the result of an accident or short-term illness. Things that will need to be considered with a gravely ill or seriously injured animal include the pet’s quality of life, emotional and financial cost, and when or if euthanasia should be considered. It is best to have contemplated these difficult matters beforehand.

ACCEPT AND EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS

It is important to understand that grief is a personal experience and there are no right or wrong ways to feel it. The most important part of healing is to acknowledge what you are feeling and somehow release it. Try writing your thoughts down in a journal. A good long cry can help, too. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to your friends or a counselor.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Seek out support. Well-meaning friends who don’t understand the bond between you and your pet may say, “He was only a dog.” Others may encourage you to “get another one,” as if your lifelong companion could be easily replaced. This can make expression of your pain even harder. It is important to realize that you are not alone. A support group can act as a wonderful resource for consolation and affirmation.

DO WHAT YOU CAN TO EASE THE PAIN

Share your thoughts and feelings with others. Talk. Write. Many people find comfort in rituals, like paying their final respects with a brief service or setting up a small memorial with photos and objects that had significance in the pet’s life, such as a collar bowl, or toy. It’s important to set aside time to think about the good times and remember to pay extra attention to surviving pets. They may need consolation during this difficult period too.

SPECIAL FRIENDSHIPS, SPECIAL CONCERNS

The death of a long-time companion can be particularly painful for those who shared a unique relationship with their pet. This includes anyone whose pet was the sole or primary companion, or who was either physically or emotionally dependent upon their pet. Children, the elderly, and handicapped pet owners often have unique bonds with companion animals and may need special attention and support when a pet dies.

Recognizing the tasks of grief can give you landmarks on the path to resolution, and help you recognize that your feelings are normal. The term “task” is used rather than “stage” to avoid giving the impression that grief is something marked by well-defined milestones. The mourner should not feel that he or she must follow some pre-set list, each lasting a determined period of time.

Remember that the grieving process for each individual is as unique as each lost relationship. There is no set pattern or time period for recovery, but there are some general patterns.

Denial. Most people will experience a period of denial, refusing to believe the pet is dying or has died. Denial is usually strongest when there is little time for acceptance, such as with an accident or short-term illness.

Bargaining. For pets facing imminent death, many people will try to make a deal with God, themselves, or even the pet, in a desperate attempt to deter fate.

Anger. In frustration, anger may be directed at anyone involved with the pet, including friends, family, veterinarians, and even the pet owner himself.

Guilt. Guilt is probably the most common emotion resulting from the death of a companion animal. As the pet’s primary caretaker, all decisions regarding care are the owner’s responsibility. When a pet dies, the owner often feels guilty about actions taken or not taken, even about things that happened before the pet became ill. The most attentive caretaker may feel he or she should have somehow done more. But we all do our best with the information, knowledge, and resources available to us. It is important to try not to second-guess the decisions you made along the way, and to remember that you tried to act in your pet’s best interest.

Depression. Depression can indicate the start of acceptance. It is normal to withdraw and contemplate the meaning of the relationship in solitude. Deep and lasting despondency, however, requires professional help.

Acceptance. Now is the time to remember the good times. The daily reminders become a little less painful. You find you can now start to think about the future.

WHEN IS IT TIME TO CONSIDER ANOTHER PET?

A new pet is just that – a new pet. He or she can never replace the pet you lost. If you decide to get another pet, you will be entering into an entirely new and different relationship. Be sure that you are psychologically, physically, and financially ready and willing to commit the time and energy needed to care for a new companion, without resentment or unrealistic expectations.

When To Consider Euthanasia In Dogs

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

A PET’S QUALITY OF LIFE

Many pets suffer with chronic diseases, such as cancer, that can often be managed in such a way that life is prolonged, although the quality of life is greatly diminished. For most pet owners this issue greatly influences the decision concerning euthanasia. Certainly, quality of life is a personal judgment; you know your animal companion better than anyone else. And while your veterinarian can guide you with objective information about diseases, and even provide a personal perspective of a disease condition, the final decision about euthanasia rests with you.

WHAT AILING PETS SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO

If you are considering euthanasia, here are some guidelines to help you decide whether your pet would benefit. Pets with chronic or incurable diseases that are given proper medication and care should be able to:

· Eat, drink and sleep comfortably without shortness of breath

· Act interested in what’s going on around them

· Do mild exercise

· Have control of their urine and bowel movements – unless the disease affects one of these organ systems

· Appear comfortable and free of moderate to severe pain

Of course, whenever there is a chronic condition, some days will be better than others and one should learn to expect the natural “ups and downs” that attend most chronic disease conditions. You must determine what balance is acceptable for your own situation. Speak with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns regarding the diagnosis or treatment of your pet’s disease.

THE EFFECTS OF MEDICATION

If your pet is taking medication for a disease condition, ask your veterinarian if side effects of the medicine could be involved with any adverse symptoms such as lack of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea (but DON’T stop giving prescribed medication until you speak with your veterinarian). Sometimes it is the medicine, not the disease, that makes a pet appear more ill and adjusting the dose or changing the medicine can have a very positive effect.

THE HIGH COST OF CARE

Of course, some diseases are very difficult, expensive or time-consuming to treat. The medical bills that may accumulate can influence your decision regarding euthanasia. These are practical decisions that must be made relative to your own financial and family situations. Though a lack of financial or personal resources for medical care may be a source of guilt to you, it is better to discuss the overall situation with your veterinarian rather than allow your pet to suffer without proper veterinary medical care.

THE HARDEST DECISION

Euthanasia – often referred to as “putting a pet to sleep” or “putting an animal down” – literally means an “easy and painless death.” It is the deliberate act of ending life, and pet owners that must make this decision often feel anxiety or even guilt.

Before the procedure is done, the pet owner will be asked to sign a paper that is an “authorization for euthanasia” or similar document. Euthanasia usually is performed by a veterinarian and is a humane and virtually painless procedure.

Most pet owners are given the following options for witnessing the procedure. They may be present with the pet during the euthanasia. They may wish to see their pet after euthanasia. Or they may want to say goodbye to their pet before the euthanasia and not see their pet after the procedure.

WILL IT HURT?

Note: The following is a description of a typical euthanasia. If you do not wish to read about this procedure, please close this document.

Euthanasia is very humane and virtually painless. First, you will be asked to sign a paper – an “authorization for euthanasia” (or similar document). Once you have decided upon your involvement n the euthanasia process, you will need to decide what you would like to have done with the remains. You can discuss your options with your veterinarian before the euthanasia procedure.

Euthanasia is usually performed by a veterinarian. The most typical procedure involves an intravenous injection of a barbiturate anesthetic given at a high concentration (overdose). In general, the euthanasia is rapid, usually within seconds, and very peaceful. Your pet will just go to sleep. On rare occasions there may be a brief vocalization or cry as consciousness is lost; this is not pain although you may misinterpreted it as such.

Within seconds of starting the injection the anesthetic overdose will cause the heart to slow and then stop, and any circulation in the body will cease. As the heart stops and the blood pressure decreases, the unconscious animal will stop breathing, circulation to the brain will cease and your pet will die peacefully.

Once your pet has died, you might observe involuntary muscle contractions or respiratory gasps about one or two minutes after the loss of consciousness and circulation. Again this is not evidence of pain or consciousness, but instead, it represents a physiologic response that occurs whenever the brain is deprived of circulation. The unconscious animal may also lose bladder or bowel control. Veterinarians often cover the pet immediately after injecting the euthanasia solution to partially shield the pet owner from these physiologic responses, which may still be disturbing.

AFTER THE GOODBYE

Before the euthanasia, discuss what you want done with the body with your veterinarian. Again, this is a matter of personal taste and preference.

· Burial at home. Many people who own their homes chose to bury their pet in their yards. Great care must be given to bury your pet deep enough – at least three feet – to deter predators. It is recommended to wrap your pet in plastic and place several large rocks on top of their remains before covering with earth. Many cities have ordinances against home burial so check with your local officials before laying your pet to rest.

· Cemeteries. Similar to human burial, a casket and headstone are selected. Services are available with or without viewing of the remains. Ask your veterinarian or check your local telephone directory to find a nearby pet cemetery.

· Cremation. Typically, cremation is available in most large cities. Some crematories will privately cremate your pet so you can save the ashes for scattering, burial or storing in an urn. Check with your veterinarian about contacting an animal crematory center.

· Other options. There are a few nontraditional choices available regarding the handling of pet remains. Some people choose to consult a taxidermist and others may be interested in cryogenics, which involves freezing the remains. Research and many telephone calls may be necessary to find sources for these options.

Pet Travel

10 Things You Should Do Before You Board Your Dog

Dr. Debra Primovic

CHECK LIST

Here is a checklist of 10 important steps to consider before boarding your dog. Consideration of each of these items will help you and your dog to have a good boarding experience.

1. Interview – Interview the kennel on the phone. Find out how long they have been in business and ask for references. Use those references. Make a surprise visit or tour the facility before you schedule the boarding. Notice the place is clean, smells, check out where the dogs are boarded, where they are walked and if they seem….happy. Do any dogs have messes in their cages?

2. Look for Recommendations – Talk to a few kennels before you decide where to take your pet. Also, ask your friends or neighbors where they have boarded their pet and what their experiences have been. Recommendations go along way. Don’t go for the cheapest place. Go for the best place.

3. Determine Kennel Requirements – Does your pet need any special vaccines for this kennel? If so, what and when? Do they need a copy of the vaccine record? Can you supply your own food and treats? Can you leave any toys or his favorite blanket? Can you leave your pets leash, collar or harness?

4. Check out Kennel Staff – Find out about the consistency with the staff – is it the same person seeing your dog everyday or someone new? It is someone who knows about pets or a high school student shoveling food into the cages? Does the staff appear competent and do they look like they enjoy working with the dogs?

5. What is the Dog’s Schedule? – How often do they go out? Where are they walked? For how long? Is that enough to make your pet happy? Will you dog interact with other dogs? Is that what you want?

6. Feeding Instructions – Consider taking your dogs own food and request that they kennel only feed his food. Many pets are fed other foods and treats and can develop gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting and or diarrhea. Your pet is already in a new environment which is most likely a bit stressful; so don’t change anything you don’t have to.

7. Contact Information – Ensure that the kennel has your numbers where you can be reached in the case of an emergency. Include your cell phone and any emergency contacts. Plan for the unexpected.

8. Emergency Instructions – Just in case of an emergency, leave instructions on how to proceed. During emergency hours, the kennel may use a certain veterinarian or emergency hospital. During the day, if you want your pet to go to your regular veterinarian – leave your vets name and phone number. Leave instructions on what you do and don’t want and a contact number or credit card number for emergency medical care. If you are not available by phone, make sure they have the authorization to make charges if care is required. You don’t want your pet “waiting” for medical care because of lack of credit card authorization.

9. Medical History – Obtain a copy of your pets pertinent medical record from your vet and give a copy to the kennel. Ideally, this record should include any medications, diagnosed conditions and problems . Include any behavioral quirks e.g. aggressive to other dogs or if he hates cats. Leave information about his tag and microchip numbers.

10. Leave Special Instructions – Make sure you clearly indicate any special instructions. For example, if you pet requires medications, ensure the name of the medication, dose (both in mg and number of pills, and frequency are clearly indicated. Also communicate any special foods or dietary restrictions. Keep the instructions simple with a contact number to call in the case of questions.

Getting A Pet Sitter For Your Dog

Stephen Sawicki
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

A good professional pet sitter is a true find. Instead of relying on a friend to feed your dog, walk him and spend an hour or so playing with him, you can relax while you’re away, knowing that your dog is in capable hands.

A knowledgeable sitter should be able to spot medical problems and handle emergencies – and make your absence less stressful all around. “The pet gets to stay in his own environment,” says Lori Jenssen, president of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), which lists more than 1,200 members. “He gets to stay in his own house, his own bed. And he gets fed with his own food. And when you get home, your pet is there to greet you.”

In fact, she says, some animals get spoiled when their owners are away. “We spend a half hour, but that half hour is 100 percent with the pet. So, when you get home, they’re going to expect the same from you.”

CHOOSING A SITTER

All of this is good news for pet owners. But how do you choose the best sitter and make sure your pet gets the care you expect? Here are some tips from the NAPPS and other professionals:

· Make sure you’re making the right choice in deciding to leave an animal at home alone for most of your time away. For example, if your pet has medical or behavioral problems and needs close supervision, a kennel might be the best option.

· Ask fellow pet owners or your veterinarian, groomer or pet-supply store for referrals or look in the yellow pages. NAPPS’ sitter referral line is (800) 296-PETS.

· Know your price range. Sitters charge an average of $12 per half-hour visit.

· Ask questions. Is the pet sitter bonded? Does he or she carry commercial liability insurance? Ask for documentation. Is the sitter a member of a professional association? How long has he or she been in business? Does the sitter provide references? A service contract?

· Ask more questions. What is the sitter’s training background? How extensive is his or her knowledge of medical problems? Has the sitter taken pet health-care seminars or had any training through a pet sitters’ group, humane society or other organization? Does the sitter have a backup plan if he or she is unable to make it to your house?

· Expect questions. The best pet sitters will want to know all about your animal, its eating habits, toilet habits, grooming needs, exercise routines, medications, etc. The sitter should also ask for important telephone numbers.

· Have the sitter meet your pet in advance and watch how the sitter interacts with your pet.

· Always leave a telephone number where you can be reached and the number of your veterinarian. Call the sitter if you plan to return early or late.

· Make reservations – the earlier the better – and confirm a day or two before you’re planning to leave.

· Have your own contingency plan, especially during the winter in colder climates. Provide the pet sitter with the name of someone, maybe a neighbor, who can take care of your pet should bad weather or other unexpected circumstances prevent the sitter from getting there.

· Have plenty of supplies on hand.

· Inform the sitter of your pet’s special habits – favorite hiding places, for example, or phobias.

· Give the pet sitter detailed but simple instructions in writing. Leave a measuring cup, for instance, and indicate exactly how much Rover should be fed. A “handful” or “bowlful” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.

If a pet sitter is not for you, you may want to consider kenneling your dog. For information on kenneling, please click on Kenneling Your Dog.

Kenneling Your Dog

Dr. Douglas Brum
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

While kennels range from the barebones to the ultra-fancy, keep in mind that the frills are meant mainly for owners. The dog really doesn’t care whether Chopin plays softly in his sleeping quarters. What is important is general safety and the friendliness and competence of the staff.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A KENNEL

· The first thing you should do is visit the kennel before you board. Most kennels welcome these visits, and it gives you a chance to see their facilities and ask specific questions. Your questions should be answered to your satisfaction, so that you will feel comfortable leaving your pet when you are away.

· The kennel should be clean inside and out. Proper sanitation is one of the most important aspects of preventing the spread of contagious diseases. The cages and runs should look and smell clean. Animals that are currently boarding should be clean and appear well cared for. Look at the outdoor area where the dogs are walked. Waste material should be routinely removed, leaving the area relatively free of fecal material.

· Getting a certain amount of exercise is important for each animal, but how much and how often depends on the individual dog’s need and the ability of the kennel to offer these services. Discuss this with the kennel. Find out how often dogs are walked, or if they are allowed to run free in an enclosed area. Some kennels will give dogs extra walks or exercise time, but often at an additional charge. Still, the added activity may be well worth it for the active dog.

· Indoors, the boarding facility should have adequate cage and run sizes, with larger cages for bigger dogs. Natural light from windows is great, but if not available, indoor lighting should adequate. The air should circulate well and not smell stagnant. Proper ventilation will significantly decrease the risk of disease transmission.

· Find out how many animals are routinely boarded at a single time and the number of staff taking care of the animals. More people and fewer animals may mean more attention for the individual animals.

· Some kennels have associations with specific veterinarians either on the premises or working nearby. Find out how sudden illness is addressed. The kennel’s veterinarian may be the one contacted for treatment, or it might be your regular veterinarian. If you have a specific preference, discuss this with the kennel owner.

· If your dog is on medication that is given several times a day, make sure that the kennel personnel are able to administer it appropriately. Some kennels may not be able to give medication as often as your pet requires.

· Some boarding facilities offer an added benefit of grooming services. Consider having your dog groomed the day he or she is scheduled to go home. It is always nice for your dog to come back from the kennel smelling clean, fresh and newly groomed.

KENNEL REQUIREMENTS

· All dogs that are to be boarded should be healthy and free of contagious diseases. If your dog has a medical problem that is stable or currently under treatment, let the kennel know prior to boarding to make sure they are comfortable boarding your dog.

· A kennel may require a health certificate from your veterinarian and proof of your dog’s most recent vaccinations.

· If your dog has fleas or other external or internal parasites, he or she should be treated prior to arrival or on admission to the kennel.

· Certain kennels have very specific requirements regarding vaccinations. Don’t assume that your dog has had all of the vaccinations required without checking with the kennel first. For example, some veterinarians are not routinely vaccinating each year for DHLPP (distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus). This may be the veterinarian’s general policy, or for specific health reasons of the individual animal. Other times, only one part of the DHLPP might be given. There is no generally accepted rule regarding vaccinations in dogs. In all cases, check with the kennel so that any discrepancies can be addressed prior to boarding. Sometimes, a letter from your veterinarian will be all that is required. Other times, additional vaccines may need to be given.

· A kennel cough (bordetella) vaccination is a common vaccine required by kennels that may not be routinely given by your veterinarian. It is a vaccine that offers protection from bordetella bronchiseptica, a contagious infection that causes upper respiratory signs (mainly coughing) in dogs. The vaccine is given either subcutaneous or intranasally (via the nose). It is usually administered yearly, but some kennels may additionally require it shortly before boarding.

· As a general rule, most kennels require DHLPP and kennel cough vaccinations to be given yearly, and rabies vaccines administered according to individual state law.

WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING TO THE KENNEL

· It is always a good idea to bring your dog’s own food to the kennel. Abrupt changes in food commonly lead to diarrhea in many animals, especially when they are in a more stressful environment (i.e. away from home). In dogs that tend to get diarrhea when stressed, a high fiber diet while boarding may help. If your dog is on a special diet or has special dietary needs, make sure the kennel is aware of this, and that they follow your specific instructions.

· If your dog has a special bed or favorite toy, ask if you can bring them with your pet. Familiar items from home will make your pet feel more comfortable while you are away.

· The kennel should have several contact numbers available so, if needed, the appropriate people can be contacted in the event of an emergency. First, provide the number (if possible) where you can be reached while you are away. If you are unavailable, a friend or relative’s number should be accessible. This person should be able to make any emergency decisions if needed. Discuss your wishes with this person prior to your leaving. The kennel should also have your veterinarian’s number in case there are medical problems. This is even more important if there are any on going medical problems with your pet.

· If your dog typically receives medications at home, they should be continued while boarding. Bring the medications with you to the kennel, and make sure the kennel is aware of the specific problem being treated.
If you do not feel that kenneling is appropriate for your pet, you may want to consider hiring a pet sitter. These animal loving people will come to your home to care for your pet. Some may even spend the night.

Pet Sitter Instructions For Your Dog

INSTRUCTIONS

To help you get the most out of your pet sitter, print and fill out the following instructions:

CONTACT INFORMATION

Your Name _____________________________________

Your Address ____________________________________

Phone # ________________ Cell # ____________

Emergency Vet # __________________________________

Vet Name ________________________________________

Vet Phone # _____________________________________

Vet Address _____________________________________

Your Contact Information ________________________

Other Emergency Information ____________________

Other Emergency Contact _________________________

INSTRUCTIONS

PET 1.

Name _____________________________________________

Description ______________________________________

Eats (Type of food) ______________________________

Amount ___________________________________________

Frequency__________________________________________

Food is kept ______________________________________

Likes to play ____________________________________

Likes to go out _____ times per day

Favorite toy _____________________________________

Favorite place to walk ___________________________

Leash is kept ____________________________________

Medications needed _______________________________

Special Instructions _____________________________

Important medical history ________________________

PET 2.

Name _____________________________________________

Description ______________________________________

Eats (Type of food) ______________________________

Amount ___________________________________________

Frequency ________________________________________

Food is kept _____________________________________

Likes to play ____________________________________

Likes to go out _____ times per day

Favorite toy _____________________________________

Favorite place to walk ___________________________

Leash is kept ____________________________________

Medications needed _______________________________

Special Instructions _____________________________

Important medical history ________________________

PET 3.

Name _____________________________________________

Description ______________________________________

Eats (Type of food) ______________________________

Amount ___________________________________________

Frequency ________________________________________

Food is kept _____________________________________

Likes to play ____________________________________

Likes to go out _____ times per day

Favorite toy _____________________________________

Favorite place to walk ___________________________

Leash is kept ____________________________________

Medications needed _______________________________

Special Instructions _____________________________

Important medical history __________________________

Behavior Problems

Aggression In Dogs

Dr. J. Michelle Posage and Dr. Amy Marder
Behavioral Disorders

OVERVIEW

If you have ever been bitten by a dog, you are certainly not alone. More than 2 percent of people in the United States are bitten each year – that’s more than 4.3 million people! But what causes aggression and how should an owner handle it in dogs?

Aggression in dogs is defined as a threatening or harmful behavior directed toward another living creature. This includes snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting and lunging. Dogs that show such behavior are not abnormal; they are merely exhibiting normal species-typical behavior that is incompatible with human lifestyle (and safety). There are many reasons why a dog will act aggressively toward strangers or even his owner.

The first step, when attempting to find out why your dog is being aggressive, is to take him to your veterinarian. Some veterinarians will visit you at your home – but dogs tend to be more aggressive on “their” territory. If there’s no medical cause for the aggression, your veterinarian may refer you to a behaviorist, who will then obtain a full behavioral history and recommend therapy.

Even if treatment appears to be successful, you should always be on guard. The frequency and severity of aggression may be reduced but, in most cases, aggression cannot be eliminated completely. You must weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits. Remember, safety for yourself and people around you is the primary concern!

DIAGNOSIS

In the course of a veterinary examination, your veterinarian will determine if there is a medical reason underlying your dog’s aggressiveness. For instance, a dog with neck pain may show aggression when pulled by the collar.

Once medical causes have been ruled out, your veterinarian will refer you to a behaviorist. At the behaviorist’s, you’ll be asked to answer many detailed questions regarding your dog’s behavior. The session may last a couple of hours. An accurate description of your dog’s behavior is necessary. Keeping a journal is helpful. You should note:

· What elicits the aggression
· How often it occurs
· To whom it is directed
· The specific behaviors
· The dog’s postures at the time

Videotaping your dog’s behavior is helpful for the behaviorist, but don’t get hurt while making the video. Answers to the many questions asked can lead the behaviorist to establish the cause of the aggression, and then outline an individualized approach to its treatment. The behaviorist will also provide a professional opinion of the risk involved.

Aggression is influenced by several factors, including: genetic predisposition, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, physiological state and external stimuli. Behaviorists use a classification system based on patterns of behavior and the circumstances in which they occur. This is done to determine the dog’s motivation and the cause of the behavior. The classification is as follows:

· Dominance-related aggression is one of the most common types of canine aggression that behaviorists treat. The aggressive acts are directed toward one or several family members or other household pets. Dogs are pack animals, and they relate to humans as members of their own species and pack members.

· Territorial aggression is directed toward approaching animals or people outside of the pack in defense of a dog’s area (home, room or yard), owner or fellow pack member.

· Inter-male aggression between adult males usually involves territorial or dominance disputes. Inter-female aggression occurs most frequently between adult females living in the same household.

· Predatory aggression is directed toward anything that the dog considers prey, usually other species, but sometimes any quick-moving stimulus, like a car or bike.

· Pain-induced aggression is caused by a person or animal that causes pain. It often occurs when a person attempts to touch a painful area or when injections are given.

· Fear-induced aggression occurs when people or animals approach a fearful dog. This is common when the dog cannot escape, and is sometimes seen when an owner uses severe punishment. Active, unpredictable children may also stimulate this type of aggression.

· Maternal aggression is directed toward anyone that approaches a bitch with puppies or in false pregnancy.

· Redirected aggression occurs when a dog that is aggressively motivated redirects the aggression from the source to another. For example, a dog that is barking at the door may redirect his aggression onto an owner that is pulling him back. Dominant dogs often redirect onto subordinates.

TREATMENT

Treating aggressive behavior may involve a combination of behavior modification techniques (habituation, counterconditioning and desensitization), drug therapy, surgery (such as neutering/spaying), avoidance and management (such as leash or head halter). Each case is unique, and the success of treatment varies depending on the diagnosis and in accord with your capability, motivation and schedule.

Even with successful treatment, however, there is no guarantee that the aggressive behavior won’t return. In most cases, the frequency and severity of aggressive behavior can be reduced but the aggressive behavior cannot be eliminated completely. The best that may be hoped for is to reduce the probability of aggression. You must weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits.

HOME CARE

If your dog is unpredictable, consider using a comfortable basket-style muzzle until you can get professional help. Until you receive professional help, avoid all interactions that trigger your dog’s aggression. Do not attempt physical punishment. This can increase the intensity of your dog’s aggression and may result in serious injury. Avoiding problems may involve:

· Keeping your dog confined in a separate room when visitors or children are present
· Housing or feeding your dogs separately if they are fighting with each other
· Removing objects like bones or rawhides that your dog may be guarding

Do not allow children to have unsupervised access to your dog. Children should be taught to avoid interacting with dogs that are eating, chewing on a bone, or resting. They should not be allowed to tease or hurt dogs.

Keep your dog on a leash at all times. In the home, you may want to attach a thin nylon leash on a buckle collar, which your dog can drag comfortably. This will give you safer control over him. Indoor leashes can be attached to head collars for even greater control. If your dogs are fighting, do not get in the middle. Interrupt the aggression using water, a loud noise, blanket or spray.

Barking

Dr. Nicholas Dodman
Behavioral Disorders

BARKING PROBLEMS

Dogs bark for a variety of reasons, some good, some not so good. Sometimes barking is a welcoming signal, other times not. Sometimes dogs bark briefly, and other times they just won’t quit. And therein lies a problem.

By nature, some breeds tend to bark more than others. Beagles and Shetland sheepdogs, for instance, tend to be very vocal. Greyhounds and basenjis, by contrast, rarely bark.

Barking is a form of communication. When people or other dogs are around, barking can be a statement intended specifically for them. When a sound is used as a means of communication from one creature to another, the rudiments of language exist. Language after all is just a complicated arrangement of verbal/vocal cues. We can communicate with dogs by means of our language, but we are often rather poor at understanding their requests. Phrases such as “come here,” “leave it,” “stop it,” inform the trained dog what must be done, but their barking often leaves us stymied.

Barking serves different purposes. Sometimes it is used to repel and sometimes to attract. Some barking tones indicate, “stay away,” whereas others (particularly in the appropriate context) can be interpreted to mean, “I’m over here, where the heck are you?” Even the most inexperienced of dog watchers will notice that dogs have a variety of different types of barking ranging from the muted “woof” of appreciation or alarm to loud angry series of barks indicating aggression.

Barking often serves as an alarm call. Many owners appreciate such alarm barking and some domestic dog breeds have been selected for an enhanced warning system of this nature. When the barking produces the desired result, the “language” is reinforced and perpetuated. But not all of this “language” is wanted or appreciated by friends or family (let alone the neighbors). The key to dealing with barking is to be able to turn it off.

WHEN BARKING IS A PROBLEM

In order to deal with a barking problem, you first need to know why your dog is barking.

TO GET ATTENTION

Most people get a little irritated when the family dog barks and gets whatever he wants. These dogs are pushy individuals who insist on getting their own way, demanding attention and the limelight. This is the kind of dog that will not allow you to sit peacefully and relax. Instead, he will bark in your face demanding to have a ball thrown, to be allowed on someone’s lap, to be given food from the table, etc.

So what allows a dog to become like this? In a word, conditioning. Although we sometimes don’t realize it, we are training our dogs all the time through our actions. No dog will persist in a strategy that doesn’t work, whether that strategy is barking, whining, or crying. Whatever produces the goods is what is reinforced. A dog that barks to get attention will have been trained to do so by random intermittent reinforcement for barking. Barking for attention, if ignored, will intensify before it dissipates, because the dog will try even harder, at first, to make his point. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with an attention-seeking barker.

· Attention withdrawal. Ignore the “bad” behavior and only respond with attention when the dog is quiet. You should not make direct eye contact with the dog, speak to him, or touch him, when he is barking. To the attention-seeking dog, any attention is better than no attention – even if it’s in the form of scolding.

· Bridging stimulus. If the attention withdrawal becomes tedious, a bridging stimulus can be employed to hasten progress. A bridging stimulus is a neutral sound, such as a duck call, or even a click, that is made as soon as the dog begins a tirade. It signals that you’re about to withhold attention. This strategy can produce a speedier resolution of attention-seeking barking than simply ignoring the dog’s barking because it focuses the dog’s attention on the consequences of its actions.

· Punishment. Audible punishment can be a deterrent. This can be done by issuing a command, such as “No Bark!” and punishing the dog by shaking a “shake can” (a can with a stone inside of it) or by blasting an air horn/fog horn if he does not respond to the command immediately. The technique sometimes works, but audible punishments are only really effective for more sensitive types of dog.

· Counterconditioning. Counterconditioning involves training the dog to do something that is incompatible with his previously conditioned behavior, in this case barking. For example, you can train your dog to go to his bed, where he will receive praise from you and perhaps a long-lasting food treat, whenever the stimulus that previously caused barking occurs, such as mealtime or talking with someone on the telephone. The new behavior (eating and lying quietly) replaces and is incompatible with barking for attention.

SEPARATION ANXIETY BARKING

Then there’s barking caused by separation anxiety, which often takes place as you prepare to leave or when you’re not around. There are two types of separation anxiety barking:

· The acute, hysterical type of barking that occurs within minutes of the owner’s departure, representing panic – a cry for help.

· The more chronic variety of more monotonous barking expressed by dogs that have all but given up on their ability to do anything about their predicament.

The two types of barking have similar causation yet sound different and represent different stages of the same condition. The acute variety a distress barking takes the form of intermittent bouts of “expectant” barking, perhaps interspersed with bursts of whining, designed to attract the attention of the owner (or, in some cases, anyone) to the dog’s miserable plight. The treatment for this problem is the same as the treatment of separation anxiety because separation distress is at the root of the problem. Too many owners fail to recognize their dog’s suffering when irate neighbors complain of being disturbed by the dog’s incessant barking. Instead of viewing the problem as a problem for their dog, they only see it as a problem for them. Punishment of such behavior is an all-too-frequent and misguided solution. Physical punishment at any time, especially after the fact, is not only pointless but is counter-productive and inhumane.

More chronic “stereotypic” barking, with its monotone and seemingly mindless motivation, also derives from separation anxiety. It occurs once the purpose of the dog’s barking has altered to become a simple release for anxious energy – a displacement behavior. Stereotypic barking indicates that a dog has been left alone for extended periods for years and has all but lost faith in its ability to summon anyone’s attention to its plight. In this respect, chronic displacement barking is a barometer of long-term suffering. The humane solution for these dogs is to give them their due by making arrangements to prevent them from having to experience such isolation and futility in the future. Training them not to bark misses the point and will often not work, anyway. Punishment is inhumane. For such characters, much more fundamental issues have to be addressed to bring about resolution of the problem in hand.

Some dogs bark just to get attention, demanding to be the star of the show at all times. This is often the result of unintentional conditioning by the owner.

OTHER CAUSES OF BARKING

TERRITORIAL BARKING

One of a dog’s main duties around the home is to bark and warn off any strangers and alert fellow pack members that an intruder is approaching. This function is very much appreciated by many owners and has prevented many a burglary. Having a dog in the house is as good, if not better, than having an electronic surveillance system. But problems arise when overly enthusiastic dogs continue to bark longer than is necessary to alert its owners of approaching persons.

The trick is to train the dog to stop barking once the warning has been acknowledged. For most dogs this is usually not too much of a problem. A “good dog” or “thank you” is sometimes all that is needed to acknowledge the dog’s warning of a stranger’s approach. It’s good manners, too, to thank your dog for performing his duty. If barking persists following your acknowledgement and thanks, however, a “cease” command, like “stop it!” or “enough!” should be used afterwards to call an end to it.

Training the dog to the “stop it!” command should be performed using positive reinforcement. The reinforcement is provided when the dog has stopped barking for at least 3 seconds. You may have to wait for a while at first, but the dog will eventually get the message if the reward is sufficiently potent. Because you can’t have visitors standing outside the door for 30–minutes, waiting to be let in, you should orchestrate training sessions using a volunteer visitor who has the time and patience to see you through the session.

TYPICAL SEQUENCE

· Stranger approaches and rings the doorbell. Dog barks. Owner says, “Good dog, thank you.”
· Dog continues to bark. Owner says “Enough!”
· Dog continues to bark. Owner remains motionless. Stranger waits.
· Dog eventually stops. (They all do, eventually). Owner says, “Good boy!” and the dog is given a delicious food treat as a reward for stopping barking.
· Stranger rings the bell again. This sequence is repeated until the dog is responding more quickly.
Training session should always finish on a good note with the dog being rewarded for quiet behavior. The stranger then withdraws. This exercise should be repeated daily for several days until the dog stops barking quickly (less than 3 seconds) on command and remains quiet as the visitor enters the home.

If all else fails, you may need to resort to a slightly more direct method. The preferred technique is using the Gentle Leader® head halter.

First train the dog to wear the head halter without struggling. Fit the device and a 10-foot long training lead before a planned visit from a friend. Your dog will bark as the stranger approaches. Praise the dog for barking, and then issue the command “enough.” If the dog continues to bark, apply gentle, steady upward traction to the training lead, which will cause the dog’s nose to be elevated and will transmit pressure to the dog’s muzzle and nape via the nose-band and neck strap, respectively. Maintain the tension until the dog relaxes and is quiet. Then release the tension and praise the dog for quiet behavior (even though you made it happen!).

If you consistently silence the dog in this way by applying tension to the muzzle (via the head halter) and nape (via the neck strap), the dog will learn that it is hopeless to disobey the “enough” command. It learns that you inevitably intercede and take control of the situation using this powerful, yet gentle, training tool.

Another technique, with or without the assistance of a head halter, involves counterconditioning your dog. As mentioned before, this means training him to do something incompatible with the behavior in question; in this case barking at the door or in the yard, after you have conceded that there actually is someone out there. You could, for example, train your dog to go to an out-of-the-way part of the house and relax whenever strangers appear and reward him (extremely well) for this behavior.

Caveat: One problem most owners face when trying to train their dog not to bark at the door is that they try to manage too many things at once; controlling the dog, opening the door, greeting the stranger, and ushering in the stranger, all at the same time. For optimum success, you need to set up trial approaches from volunteer strangers and apply your concentration to handling your dog.

Finally, the territorial dog that is motivated by fear is a slightly different situation. Although some of the above measures might help with such a dog, the chances of success are more limited. These dogs are actually anxious/fearful around strangers and may never settle down, even after the stranger has been welcomed. Such dogs need to be enrolled in a “total package” program in which they are not only controlled at the door but are also systematically desensitized to strangers, perhaps starting such an exercise on neutral territory at first.

REACTIVE BARKING

Some dogs don’t just bark at approaching strangers – they bark at anything that moves or alters their environment: a passing car, a falling leaf, an icicle breaking off, and so on. Such dogs are the antithesis of the lazy old coonhound that takes everything in his stride: They are constantly on “red alert” for anything that might happen. This type of dog can be difficult to cohabit with, especially if you don’t need that degree of protection. Highly reactive dogs take their self-defensive and family-guarding responsibilities way too far. Perhaps by nature, perhaps by nurture, these dogs trust no one and regard every environmental change as a threat.

So, how do we persuade these dogs that their mission is pointless when each environmental disturbance eventually stops, thus reinforcing the behavior? The answer is that we can’t. All you can do, with your veterinarian’s help, is to address any medical contributions to such hyper-reactivity, provide adequate exercise, ensure an appropriate diet, and attempt to exercise the best physical control possible. This type of treatment is not too far removed from the program to control territorial barking; only its application may need to be even more intense.

If medical problems like hypothyroidism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) underlie the problem, the fix may be a quick one. If not, then you have your work cut out. Above all, it is important to enrich the lives of such reactive barkers so that they understand what is, and what is not, worth barking about. The innate drive for dogs to bark plus our own mismanagement can produce a dog whose behavior is so ingrained that it takes medication (in addition to behavior modification therapy) to effect even a marginal improvement. It’s far better to act early to prevent such a progression.

Coprophagia

Dr. Nicholas Dodman
Behavioral Disorders

OVERVIEW

Coprophagia is the practice of eating stool (feces). There’s nothing more disgusting to a dog owner than seeing their dog eat its own or another dog’s stool, and then to have the dog saunter up, tail wagging, looking for a kiss and a few kind words.

“Why on earth would dogs do such a repulsive thing?” an owner might ask. What on earth is the attraction in this behavior? We may never know for sure but we do have an inkling about what initiates the behavior and can surmise how and why it continues.

THE FACTS ABOUT COPROPHAGIA

Coprophagia is not an abnormal behavior for canines in certain situations. Bitches naturally consume their own pup’s feces – presumably, to keep the nest clean. This behavior provides a survival benefit as it prevents unhygienic conditions from developing in the nest; a state of affairs that could lead to disease. The biological drive to eat feces, which is implanted as a survival instinct, compels nursing bitches to ingest their pups’ feces.

In addition, many puppies go through an oral stage in which they explore everything with their mouths, sometimes ingesting a variety of non-food items, including feces.

As time goes by, the majority of pups eventually learn that food tastes better than feces and they swear off the stool-eating habit for the rest of their lives. Some older puppies may continue to eat feces for a few months, but most grow out of the habit after the first year.

Barring nursing bitches, the majority of “normal” adult dogs have absolutely no interest in eating feces.

WHEN COPROPHAGIA IS A PROBLEM

Slow learners, “oral retentives,” and pups in which habits are easily ingrained may continue to engage in coprophagia well beyond the accepted “norm” and may engage in it to excess. Such hard-core coprophagics continue the behavior long after their peers have developed new interests. Dogs like this, that seem addicted to the habit, may best be described as “compulsive.”

Below is a list of possible contributing factors though more than one may be operating in any one case.

· The opportunity to observe the dam eating stool
· High protein, low residue, puppy food
· Irregular feeding schedule
· Feeding inadequate amounts of food
· Under-stimulating environment
· Constant opportunity to ingest feces
· Inadequate attention/supervision

VETERINARY CARE

DIAGNOSIS

Whether by nature, nurture, or a combination of factors, coprophagy rears its ugly head as a persistent and irritating habit that some long-suffering dog owners seem fated to endure. There are several different forms of coprophagy but, whatever form it takes, there are probably similar drives and predilections operating. Variations on the theme include:

· Dogs that are partial only to their own stool
· Dogs that eat only other dogs’ stool
· Dogs that eat stool only in the winter if it is frozen solid (“poopsicles”)
· Dogs that eat only the stool of various other species, often cats

THERAPY

There are some “home” remedies that have been practiced, but they rarely work. Here are a few:

· Adding Adolph’s Meat Tenderizer® or Forbid®, commercially available preparations of pancreatic enzymes, to the dog’s food

· Adding crushed breath mints to the diet

· “Doctoring” each stool with Tabasco® in the hopes of discouraging the dog from the habit
The following strategies have met with more success, though it is important to note that results vary:

· Picking up all available stools (i.e. denying access)

· Escorting the dog into a “picked up” area and walking him back inside the house immediately after he has successfully passed a bowel movement and before he even has a chance to investigate the fruits of his labor

· Some dogs try to circumvent their owner’s control by eating the stool as it emerges and for these incorrigible few a muzzle may be necessary

· Changing the dog’s diet and feeding schedule so that high fiber rations are fed frequently and perhaps by free choice. Hill’s r/d Prescription Diet®, a diet that contains 10 percent fiber is a good option. It may work by allowing the dog to eat to satiation without gaining weight, or it may alter the texture of the dog’s stool, making it less palatable. Dry food seems more effective than wet food in curtailing coprophagia

· Lifestyle enrichment is also helpful. Make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and spends plenty of quality time with you each day. Some dogs respond when a “Get a job program” is implemented. Such a program is designed to encourage the dog to exercise his natural tendencies by means of activities like chasing, fetching, walking, pseudo-hunting, fly ball, agility training, etc.

· Teach the LEAVE IT command

Although some of the above measures have occasionally been found effective on their own, it best to apply a whole program of prevention for at least six months to nip the behavior in the bud. If during this time, if the dog gets access to stool and ingests it, some ground will be lost. Hopefully, though, progress will eventually be made, even if it’s one step back for every two forward.

Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases respond to the judicious use of human anti-depressants.

Although controversial, the obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis seems to fill the bill, on occasion at least, and it meets a couple of the scientific criteria for diagnosis.

· Face validity: The dog appears obsessed with eating stool and compelled to ingest it.

· Predictive validity: Extreme, refractory, coprophagy should follow a genetic predilection, occurring more frequently in anxious breeds of dog. The latter appears to be true, as the condition seems to be more common in certain breeds (e.g. retrievers). Also, the condition should, and often does, respond to therapy with anti-obsessional drugs.

HOME CARE

In the majority of cases, coprophagy can be successfully treated at home by means of a combination of management changes (exercise, diet, and supervised outdoor excursions) and environmental measures, but be wary of the occasional medical condition that masquerades the same way (your vet can help rule out such conditions).

Housesoiling

Dr. Nicholas Dodman
Behavioral Disorders

HOUSESOILING

Let’s face it. A new puppy is likely to have small accidents around the house, even though you may do your utmost to prevent them. No system is perfect, especially when it involves an active and curious, puppy with incomplete control over its bladder and bowels. Let’s consider the three different scenarios when it comes to you, the owner, encountering a house soiling incident.

BEFORE THE FACT

If you are sitting at a table, minding your own business, and all of a sudden you notice your puppy sniffing the ground, circling, or (oh, no!) beginning to squat – stay cool. Do not suddenly jump up, yell, and charge at the puppy, as it will not comprehend such erratic behavior on your part. Instead, create a diversion, make a sound by banging on the table, or slamming a drawer, or even rattle a “shake can,” if you have one handy, to startle the little critter’s sphincters into contraction. But note: the diversionary noise should not be seen (or rather heard) to come from you. Rather, it should just happen – a sudden rude interruption of what was otherwise to be a wistful moment. If the puppy turns and looks at you, you might even shrug your shoulders as much to say, “Who me?” But, at the same time, make your way over to the mite, pick it up, and physically take it to an appropriate location, whether to strategically-placed newspapers or to the great outdoors.

CAUGHT IN THE ACT

If you enter a room to find your puppy midstream, or mid-bowel movement, once again, stay calm. It’s not a mortal sin, it’s an accident and there’s nothing done that can’t be undone. Again, you might want to make a diversionary noise to attenuate the elimination process and then carry or walk your pup to an appointed, acceptable location so that it can finish what it started. Later, return to the offending spot, clean up the mess with a paper towel or sponge and some water, and then treat the soiled area with a proprietary odor neutralizer. Nothing more, nothing less. Above all, remember not to punish the pup for its indiscreet behavior. It doesn’t know any better. It’s your job to teach the pup, not its responsibility to instinctively know what you want it to do. Punishment will only cause the pup to avoid eliminating in your presence and that will make housebreaking extremely difficult. Anyway, it’s unfair to punish a pup for failing to learn the proper location for elimination when you are the teacher.

AFTER THE FACT

If you walk into a room or come home to find an unexpected puddle or pile on the floor, do not immediately set out to catch and punish your puppy. Don’t yell, spank, or rub its nose in it. None of this behavior is appropriate or humane. Punishment of a pup that is caught in the act at the time is bad enough, but punishment after the fact is a disaster and will not be associated by the pup with what it has done. Its “accident” will have occurred minutes or even hours earlier and many other things will have happened in its life since that time. To have you suddenly come ranting toward it, shouting obscenities, and with your hand raised will only confirm, in the puppy’s mind, that you are truly psychotic and not to be trusted. This will increase its anxiety, especially around you, and will likely exacerbate the very problem that you are attempting to resolve (i.e. elimination in the house). The correct response in this situation (though you may be fuming inside) is to coolly, calmly, and collectedly, clean up the mess and neutralize odors as described above. Then think about why the accident may have occurred. Ask yourself how long ago the puppy was last taken outside. Were you asking the impossible – for the puppy to contain itself for longer than it was physically capable? Did you feed the pup and forget to take it outside? Was it transitioning from one behavior to another and you failed to capitalize on the opportunity? Whatever the cause, try and ascertain what it was and do something about it for the future.

LAST TIPS

Positive punishment, doing something physically to a dog to deter a particular behavior, is never indicated when training puppies or, indeed, adult dogs. This is especially true when it comes to housetraining. The correct approach is to train the pup to do what you want it to do rather than to punish an unwanted behavior. While negative punishment, withholding some desired resource, has a place in obedience training, even this training technique, has no place when trying to housebreak a pup. The only thing that you, the owner, needs to do is to show the pup where you want it to eliminate and reward it richly for eliminating in that location. Simultaneously, deprive the pup of opportunities for inappropriate elimination by being cognizant and ever vigilant. Keep a regular schedule and handle clean up in a matter-of-fact way. Don’t omit to use odor neutralizers when cleaning up messes as the odor of a previous soiling incident will attract the pup back to the same site as surely as a heat-seeking missile finds its source of heat. Odor neutralizers destroy the chemicals that cause the smell, thus completely eliminating this particular incitement for indoor elimination.

Nipping And Mouthing By Dogs

Dr. Nicholas Dodman
Behavioral Disorders – General Practice & Preventative Medicine

NIPPING AND MOUTHING

When puppies play with each other, they use their mouths a lot. When they play with you or when they are petted, they usually want to bite or “mouth,” too. This behavior is not frankly aggressive at this stage – though it may be pre-aggressive.

There are two different life stages in which mouthiness can be an issue – before maturity and after maturity. The pre-maturity variety, all too often not taken seriously, and misguidedly interpreted as puppy play, leads to the adult version.

Bear in mind that it is easier to “nip” the problem in the bud at this stage by training youngsters what is and is not acceptable behavior. Even if the behavior has been permitted to flourish into adult maturity, it is still possible to take corrective measures.

PUPPY MANNERS

When pups are raised by their mothers, there comes a time when mom starts to set limits. Demanding youngsters often want to nurse whenever they feel like it, but a good mom starts to rebuff some of their efforts from the tender age of about 3 weeks. Nipping is also addressed, not just by mom but by the pup’s littermates as well. Too hard a nip might result in a physical admonishment from mother, or the nipped littermate may cry out and stop playing. These natural checks and balances help to develop a puppy’s good manners and eventual understanding of their impact of certain behaviors on others.

When a puppy is raised by a well-meaning human caregiver, however, proper limit setting is sometimes neglected. Some new puppy owners do not realize that nipping is not acceptable behavior and that they should discourage it.

However, a certain amount of puppy mouthing is acceptable, even desirable, in the very early stage of a pup’s life. If a pup doesn’t engage in any oral behaviors toward his minders, he can never be taught when enough is enough. To emphasize this point, consider improper rearing of usually inscrutable chow pups as an example of what can go wrong. As cute as they are, chow puppies are often too serious for their own good, don’t play much, and may be reluctant to interact. If not coaxed out of this indifference, the first time they lay teeth on skin may not be until they’re 18 months old and the message they deliver at this stage is likely to be overkill – sometimes with disastrous results.

Instead, permit and even encourage mouthiness, even nipping – up to a point. But when mouthing becomes annoying, or the pup’s needle teeth start to make an unforgettable impression, it’s time to curtail the behavior. The idea is to teach the pup that humans are soft and ouchy. Let’s suppose your puppy nips you for the first time when it is 4 months of age. Having carefully planned out your course of action, you wait until the next time your pup lays his teeth on you, withdraw your hand rapidly, and loudly exclaim “OUCH.” Your interaction with the pup should then cease for a few minutes, just as would happen if the pup were with his littermates. You are teaching “bite inhibition”
– an essential early lesson for any family dog.

If things turn out as they should, your pup will adore you, respect you, and understand that, even in extreme situations, humans do not need to be punctured in order to send them an intense signal. Having your dog understand this concept should be part of an overall strategy of limit setting and control. Not engaging in such a program with a would-be dominant dog often leads an unwitting owner down a sorry path of avoidance and subservience – a sorry state of affairs, and sometimes a dangerous one, too.

ADULT NIPPING AND MOUTHINESS

Adult dogs that exhibit excess grabby oral behaviors do so because they have not been properly schooled as youngsters. They may nip you or grab people by the arm to indicate their wishes or admonitions. Being nipped and grabbed by your dog against your will is a fairly distressing consequence for an owner. The correct way for an owner to deal with such a problem is to immediately implement a “leadership” program in which the dog must learn that all good things in life come from you – and for a price. One common name for such a program is Nothing in Life is Free.

As for adult nipping, avoid circumstances that can lead to nipping while working on the leadership program. If nipping or grabbing occurs do not shout, try to wave your arms around, or pull away. Instead, “turn to stone” and reward the dog when he lets go and stops nipping. A refinement of this approach to management of the mouthy dog is to arm yourself with a clicker and/or delicious food treats and ignore him when he engages in any rude and rough nipping behavior. The clicker is clicked and the food treat is supplied when his nipping ceases. Specifically, 3 seconds after a bout of mouthy behavior stops you should click, say “good dog,” and offer him a food treat. For more frenetic nippers, a head halter with training lead attached can be employed as negative reinforcement to increase the frequency of the desired behavior – letting go when instructed, e.g. Out!

CONCLUSION

Many people don’t realize that attention in any shape or form, positive or negative, may serve as a reward and can reinforce an unwanted behavior. If a dog takes hold of your arm and you start to yell and wave your arms around or push the dog away, you may be perceived as a big squeaky toy that can be animated for amusement when the going gets get slow. If your dog meaningfully grabs your arm with his mouth when you grab him by the collar, and you retreat, the dog’s bad behavior is rewarded, ensuring that the behavior will be repeated in the future. The only way to avoid scenarios like this is to set certain limits and to become your dog’s unequivocal leader.

Submissive Urination In Dogs

Behavioral Disorders

OVERVIEW

Submissive urination can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem. Fortunately, it is often easily corrected. Shy, timid puppies are the most likely candidates for submissive urination but occasionally it persists into young adulthood. This problem is most common in female puppies under 1 year of age.

Situations that precipitate submissive urination include:

· Over affectionate greetings
· Guests entering your home
· Arguments between people
· Scolding
· Loud noises

Dogs are social animals that use subtle cues to maintain order and prevent disputes. In order to display deference to a more dominant individual, a submissive dog uses gestures such as averting her eyes, rolling on her back, and urinating. So when a dog feels intimidated or threatened, the appropriate response is to offer a submissive signal. These signals demonstrate that the dog recognizes another individual’s dominance. The urination that occurs is not a spiteful act but a natural part of a dog’s behavioral repertoire.

Before embarking on treatment for this problem, it is wise to contact your local veterinarian. He or she will perform a physical examination of your dog to rule our medical problems that may be contributing to the predicament. If medical problems are involved, your vet will discuss the various treatment options with you like surgery, drugs, and/or various coping strategies.

Note: Puppies become more confident as they grow older. Most puppies outgrow submissive urination before one year of age. Unfortunately, some owners inadvertently encourage the behavior by coddling their nervous youngster. Touching and praise, which you may believe are reassuring your puppy, are actually telling her, “Continue this behavior; I like it.” Instead, try to ignore timid behavior and praise the puppy when she is acting more confidently.

TREATING SUBMISSIVE URINATION

There are two objectives in treating submissive urination: The first is to increase your dog’s confidence, and the second is to avoid situations in which the behavior will occur until your puppy becomes more mature. Begin by observing which situations elicit the inappropriate urination behavior. Knowing these, you can design a plan of action.

· Take your dog to non-confrontational training school. Click and treat training is best. A properly trained dog is usually more confident.

· Try to expose your dog to as many novel environments as possible. But remember, do not coddle. Praise the dog only when she shows confidence and explores the new environment.

· Encourage confidence by playing tug of war, retrieving games or play fighting.

· Scolding and punishment DO NOT WORK. They only make the dog feel more powerless and less in control.

· Do not loom over the dog, touch her nape, or make prolonged eye contact. These are all dominant signs and will be interpreted as such. Ask strangers to avoid greeting your dog or, alternatively, crouch down to the dog’s level, avert their gaze, and gently encourage her to approach.

· Limiting your dog’s intake of water when you know guests are coming over can sometimes help. Pick up the water bowl (and close the toilet bowl lids) 3 to 4 hours prior to their arrival. Caution: some dogs with medical problems that increase their thirst should never have water withheld. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian.

· If your dog urinates out of excitement when you return home and greet her, try to downplay the greeting by ignoring her for a few minutes until she calms down. If the problem occurs when friends greet her ask them to do this, too.

The above procedures help a great deal in avoiding urination whoopsies until the dog becomes more confident. Positive changes are usually seen in a few weeks, if not sooner. If submissive urination persists after 2 years of age, drug therapy can be instituted at the discretion of your veterinarian. And remember, be patient; accidents will happen.

Prevention is the easiest way to deal with submissive urination. The right style of obedience class can be an excellent confidence booster for your dog. Such classes can also open your eyes to the ways that you unconsciously reinforce a negative behavior, and will teach you the importance of well timed praise (and other rewards) in a healthy relationship with your dog.

Common Dog Questions

10 Ways To Help An Arthritic Dog

Orthopedics & Musculoskeletal Diseases

HELPFUL TIPS

Arthritis refers to inflammation or swelling in a joint. The cause can be abnormal bone or joint development, instability of the surrounding ligaments and tendons, damage or injury to the joint, an infection, or injury caused by the immune system. While anti-inflammatory medicines are popular treatments for arthritis, another approach involves protecting the cartilage in the joint and “nourishing” the joint. Here are 10 tips that may help your arthritic dog.

1. Slip-free Flooring. Hardwood and tile floors are slippery and can be very difficult for dogs with arthritis to navigate. Placing carpet or area rugs will help secure your dog’s footing. This can help prevent him from slipping and injuring himself.

2. A Soft Bed. Soft bedding can help support the bones and joints, making your pet more comfortable. This can be especially important in thin dogs in which bony prominences are likely to rub on hard surfaces. Some beds are made especially for dogs with arthritis, such as waterbeds, hammock beds, and beds with plenty of extra cushion.

3. Ramps or Cubes. Stairs and furniture can become difficult obstacles for your aging companion. Ramps or specially designed cubes can help pets safely climb stairs, get into or out of bed or get in and out of your vehicle. Ramps can be made of plastic or wood and are available from many pet catalogs. A new product called “Puppy Stairs” are soft modular cubes that fit together in combinations that permit pets to climb up or down from beds or sofas. These cubes are made of soft rubber, have rounded corners and washable covers. For more information about “Puppy Stairs”, visit www.puppystairs.com.

4. Medication. Various medications are available that can help your pet feel better. Drugs classified as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can work to suppress inflammation and pain by inhibiting synthesis of the class of compounds called prostaglandins. See your veterinarian to discuss if any medication could benefit your pet.

5. Peace & Quiet. As your dog ages, he may not be as tolerant or patient as he used to be. Sore joints make it difficult for your pet to enjoy rambunctious playful children. Supervise playtime and consider keeping your dog away from very young children. Even parties and holiday time can be distressing for an arthritic dog. He may want to join in the festivities regardless of the discomfort. To reduce joint pain and inflammation, you may want to limit his time as the center of attention.

6. Massage. Massage can increase flexibility, circulation, calmness and a general sense of wellness. Professional animal massage therapists are available to provide your pet a more thorough treatment.

7. Weight Control and Dietary Therapy. Arthritis is more of a problem in obese pets. Weight loss can be beneficial by helping to reduce the workload on the bones and joints. Read the article “Is Your Dog Too Fat” to determine if your pet is overweight. See Obesity in Dogs on how to help your obese dog. In addition to basic weight loss, diets formulated for pets with arthritis may be beneficial in some dogs. Diets, such as Hills® Science Diet® j/d™ and Purina® JM Joint Mobility™, supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate have been shown to help dogs with arthritis maintain weight, reduce pain and improve mobility.

8. Exercise. Modest daily exercise can help some dogs. Special care is needed, so it is important to first see your veterinarian, who can recommend an appropriate exercise program. Exercise can strengthen the muscles and ligaments thus reducing the potential and risk of injury. See The Importance of Exercise in the Senior Dog to help explain why this is so important for your arthritic friend.

9. Extra Time. Don’t rush a dog with arthritis. It often takes them extra time to walk, climb stairs or get in and out of the car. Support and help them if needed or just give them extra time to get around.

10. Grooming. Grooming should not be neglected, especially in the older dog. Arthritic dogs have a difficult time keeping themselves clean, especially in those hard to reach areas. Help your dog stay clean by trimming the hair around the rear end. Brushing will help remove mats and tangles, which can injure delicate older skin.

How Old Is Your Dog?

We are frequently asked how old in “people years” a dog is.  Many people believe that 1 year of a dog’s life is equivalent to seven human years.  In fact it is much more variable than that and is different for different weight categories of dogs.  It is true that small breeds of dogs, in general, live longer than their larger counterparts.  Below is a chart that is probably the closest to what is currently believed for an age chart for dogs.
General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Theriogenology

A Dog’s Age in Human Years

Age Up to 20 lbs 21-50 lbs 51-90 lbs Over 90 lbs
5
36
37
40
42
6
40
42
45
49
7
44
47
50
56
8
48
51
55
64
9
52
56
61
71
10
56
60
66
78
11
60
65
72
86
12
64
69
77
93
13
68
74
82
101
14
72
78
88
108
15
76
83
93
115
16
80
87
99
123
17
84
92
104
18
88
96
109
19
92
101
115
20
96
105
120

Purple Numbers = Senior

Red Numbers = Geriatric

Chart developed by Dr. Fred L. Metzger, DVM, State College, PA. Courtesy of Pfizer Animal Health.

How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Dr. William Rosenblad
Dentistry & Oral Medicine

BRUSHING TEETH

Dental disease (especially periodontal disease) is the most common disease in our canine companions. It is also one of the most preventable and treatable diseases. Fortunately, we can reduce or even prevent dental disease by feeding a crunchy diet, appropriate chew treats and toys and daily tooth brushing. The following are steps to guide you on how to brush your dog’s teeth:

· The first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth. Good dental hygiene should start with a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums, or after your pet has had a professional dental cleaning.

· You will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and veterinary toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems. Furthermore, veterinary toothpastes have flavors that are appealing to dogs. Anything other than a bristled tooth brush will not get below the gum line, which is the most important area to brush.

· There are several important facts about our pets’ mouths that tell us when, where and how to brush. Periodontal disease usually affects the upper, back teeth first and worst. Plaque builds up on the tooth surface daily, especially just under the gum line. It takes less than 36 hours for this plaque to become mineralized and harden into “tartar” (calculus) that cannot be removed with a brush. Because of this progression, brushing should be done daily, with a brush to remove the plaque from under the gum line.

· Pick a time of day that will become a convenient part of your pet’s daily routine. Just before a walk or before a daily treat can help your pet actually look forward to brushing time. Take a few days to let both of you get use to the process. Follow with praise and a walk or treat each time.

· Start by offering your dog a taste of the veterinary toothpaste. The next time, let him taste the toothpaste, then run your finger along the gums of the upper teeth. Repeat the process with the tooth brush. Get the bristles of the brush along the gum line of the upper back teeth and angle slightly up, so the bristles get under the gum line. Work from back to front, making small circles along the gum lines. It should take you less than 30 seconds to brush your pet’s teeth. Do not try to brush the entire mouth at first. If all that your pet lets you brush is the outside of the upper teeth, you are still addressing the most important area of periodontal disease – prevention. If your pet eventually allows you to brush most of his teeth, so much the better.

· Even with the best tooth brushing, some dogs may still need an occasional professional cleaning, just like humans. By brushing your pet’s teeth daily and curtailing the amount of periodontal disease, you may reduce the frequency and involvement of dental cleanings and provide your pet with a healthier, sweeter smile.

How To Tell If Your Dog Is Ill

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

QUESTIONNAIRE

Your dog cannot explain his symptoms, so it’s the responsibility of you and your veterinarian to keep him healthy. Dogs are very good at hiding their illness so it is up to you to observe your dog for abnormalities.

Common indications of a “sick pet” include: lethargy, disorientation, weakness, weight loss, seizure, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, unproductive retching, straining to urinate, bloody urine, difficulty or inability to walk, bleeding, pale mucous membranes, difficulty breathing and persistent cough. You know your pet best and can often notice subtle early warning signs that someone else may not detect. If you observe any of the mentioned symptoms or other signs that concern you, call your veterinary hospital. The safest approach would be to have your pet examined.

Once your pet is at the hospital, your veterinarian may ask additional questions to help localize or diagnose the problem. It may help to be prepared to answer some of the following questions:

· How long have you owned your dog?
· Where did you get your dog (adoption center, breeder, previous stray)?
· What other type of pets do you have?
· What is the age of your dog?
· Has your dog experienced any previous illnesses?
· Is your dog currently under treatment for an illness or disease?
· What preventative medications is your dog currently taking?
· Does your dog receive consistent flea treatment?
· Are any other pets ill?
· Has he/she been vaccinated? If so, when? Which vaccines?
· Have there been any recent pet acquisitions?
· Have there been any recent activities such as boarding, grooming, trip to the park?
· Is a majority of your pet’s time spent indoors or outdoors?
· Have there been any recent changes in diet or eating habits?
· What brand of food, how much and how frequently does your dog eat?
· What type of table scraps are offered and how frequently?
· What type of treats are offered and how frequently?
· How much water does your dog typically drink per day?
· Have there been any recent changes in water consumption?
· Have you noticed any coughing or sneezing?
· Have you noticed any lumps or bumps on your dog?
· Is your dog urinating normally?
· Is your dog having normal bowel movements?
· When is the last time he/she had a bowel movement?
· Have you noticed any recent weight loss or weight gain?

After answering some general questions, more specific questions need to be answered. A brief cursory exam of your pet at home can help you determine the answers. These questions are also commonly asked when pet owners are seeking help over the phone. Be prepared to answer the following questions, depending on the problem with your pet:

REGARDING THE EYES

· Have you noticed an increase or decrease in tear production?
· Do the eyes appear cloudy or red?
· Have you noticed any discharge coming from the eyes?
· Do the eyes appear bloodshot?
· Are the pupils the same size in both eyes?
· Have you noticed your pet rubbing or pawing at the eyes?
· Is your dog squinting?
· Do the eyes appear to be sunken or excessively protruding?

REGARDING THE EARS

· Do you notice any swelling or discharge from the ears?
· Are the ears drooping when they normally stand erect?
· Are the ears red and inflamed?
· Do you notice any odor to the ears?
· Is your dog rubbing or pawing at the ears?
· Have you noticed a lot of head shaking?
· Have you noticed any pain or crying when you rub or scratch your dog’s ears?

REGARDING THE NOSE

· Have you noticed any congestion, sneezing or coughing?
· Have you noticed any blood coming from the nose?
· Have you noticed any nasal discharge?

REGARDING THE MOUTH

· Have you noticed any swelling of the lips or tongue?
· Have you noticed any bleeding from the mouth?
· What color are the gums – tissue just above the teeth?
· Looking inside the mouth. Are there any foreign objects such as bones or sticks stuck on the roof of the mouth or around the teeth?
· Is your dog able to open and close the mouth normally?
· Is there any pain involved in opening or closing the mouth?
· Have you noticed any excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth?
· Is your dog able swallow food normally?

REGARDING THE CHEST

· Is your pet experiencing any difficulty breathing?
· Have you noticed excessive panting?
· Is there any pain when the chest area is petted?
· Have you noticed any recent coughing?
· Is the heartbeat steady and consistent?
· What is the heart rate? Place your hand or your ear on the left side of your dog’s chest, just behind the elbow. You should be able to feel or hear the heartbeat. Count how many beats the heart pumps in one minute.

REGARDING THE ABDOMEN/STOMACH AREA

· Has your dog been having any diarrhea or vomiting?
· Is your dog able to eat and drink normally?
· Does the abdomen/stomach area appear swollen or distended?
· Does your dog appear to be in pain when the stomach area is petted?
· Is your dog known to chew on non-food items such as clothing, towels, rocks, or other items?

REGARDING THE URINARY AND REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS

· Have you noticed any difference in urinating?
· Does your pet seem to strain to urinate or cry in pain?
· Does your dog repeatedly try to urinate with no urine produced?
· Is there any blood in the urine?
· How frequently does your dog urinate?
· Is your female dog spayed?
· Has your female ever had puppies? If so, at what age?
· If your female is not spayed, when was her last heat cycle and was she bred?
· Do you notice any discharge from the vaginal area?
· Is your male dog neutered?
· If so, at what age?
· Do you notice any discharge from the penis?
· If your dog is not neutered, do you notice any swelling of the testicles?
· Have you noticed your dog excessively licking or grooming the genital area?

REGARDING THE MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM – BONES AND JOINTS

· Have you noticed any limping?
· Are any legs or joints swollen?
· Has your dog been excessively licking at one area of his/her legs?
· Does your pet show signs of pain when walking?
· Is your dog able to walk normally?
· Does your dog walk on his/her knuckles?
· Does your dog drag any legs when walking?
· Does your pet seem to be in pain when petting him or her?

By supplying the answers these questions, your veterinarian will be in a much better position to help your pet. Additional tests may be necessary to find out what the problem is but the answers to the above questions can greatly narrow the area of concern.

How To Trim Your Dog’s Toenails

Dr. Dawn Ruben
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

OVERVIEW

When you hear the telltale “click-click-click” as your dog walks across the tile floor, you know it’s that time again – time to trim the toenails. Trimming your dog’s nails is not just a part of grooming; it’s important for your pet’s health as well. You should remember that untrimmed nails can cause a variety of problems including broken nails, which are painful and can bleed profusely.

While some dogs don’t seem to mind when you’re trimming their nails, others just plain don’t like it. Make trimming time fun and not a struggle. If your pet is not used to having his nails trimmed, start slowly and work up to it gradually. Following these suggestions for a proper nail trim might help you give your dog a more pleasant pedicure.

· Start young. The earlier you start clipping your dog’s claws, the better used to it he will be. Frequent trims when your dog is young will help diminish any fear. Have your veterinarian show you how to do it the first time.

· Learn the anatomy. Within the center of each toenail is the blood and nerve supply for the nail called the quick. In clear white nails you can see the quick, a pinkish area in the middle of the nail. Unfortunately, the common black nails do not allow an easy view. Cutting into the quick will result in pain and bleeding. You cannot see the quick on dark colored nails, making them more difficult to trim without cutting into the quick. Cut dark colored nails in several small cuts to reduce the chance of cutting into the quick.

· Use the proper instruments – be sure to use only nail trimmers that are designed for dogs. There are a variety of nail trimmers available at pet stores or your veterinarian’s office.

A CLIP OR AN OVERHAUL

Before you start clipping, determine how much needs to be trimmed. The basic rule of thumb is that the nail, which curls downward, should be even with the paw pad. Whatever hangs over must be clipped.

PROCEDURE

· Some dogs will happily sit in your lap or on a table while you trim their nails but many require some form of restraint. You may want to sit on the floor with your pet, hold your pet in your lap, or have someone hold your pet on a table. If your dog has light colored nails, eyeball the quick and aim a few millimeters away from it. If you cut into the quick, referred to as “quicking,” it will hurt your dog and the nail will bleed.

· Using a nail trimmer for pets, cut the nail below the quick on a 45-degree angle, with the cutting end of the nail clipper toward the end of the nail. In dogs with dark nails, make several small nips with the clippers instead of one larger one. Trim very thin slices off the end of the nail until you see a black dot appear towards the center when you look at it head on. This is the start of the quick that you want to avoid. The good news is that the more diligent you are about trimming, the more the quick will regress into the nail, allowing you to cut shorter each time. Trim nails so that when the animal steps down, nails do not touch the floor.

· Although you will take great care not to hurt your pet, sometimes accidents happen and you will cut into the quick. Have silver nitrate products on hand – you can get them at your veterinarian’s office or pet store. You can also use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. If that doesn’t work, apply a light bandage for about 15 minutes. If the bleeding continues, call your veterinarian.

Pros And Cons Of Spaying And Neutering In Dogs

General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Surgery (General & Soft Tissue) – Theriogenology

OVERVIEW

It’s time to start thinking about spaying or neutering your dog. But, maybe you are not quite sure if it is the right thing to do. If you’re wondering whether you should just leave your dog as nature intended, consider the positive and negative aspects of spaying and neutering before making your decision.

First, what does neutering mean? Neutering is a procedure used to “de-sex” an animal. This procedure has been used to control animal population growth, reduce unwanted sexual behavior in pets, and decrease or eliminate the possibility of certain disease conditions later in life, such as pyometra or infection in the uterus.

Castration is a term used to describe the removal of the gonads (testicles) in male animals. Spaying is a term used to describe the sterilization procedure of females. The procedure of spaying most often consists of removal of both the ovaries and uterus, which is called an ovariohysterectomy. Both procedures are performed under general anesthesia and both involve a surgical incision.

Neutering is done most commonly at or around six months of age. However, many veterinarians perform this procedure earlier – as early as 8 to 10 weeks in some situations. Early neutering can be done safely and has a number of advantages, especially in cases of pet adoption.

SPAYING – THE POSITIVE SIDE

· Spaying removes the risk of pregnancy.
Pet overpopulation is a serious issue and by allowing your dog to have litters, you are adding to the problem. Finding homes for your new family additions is not as easy as you may think. Even if you choose to keep the puppies, you now have the additional cost of vaccines, parasite control, toys and food for several pets. In addition to costs, the health of the mother can be in jeopardy during delivery. Some new mothers can have serious complications delivering puppies and can even develop health problems during nursing. All these potential problems can be avoided by spaying your dog.

· Spaying makes for a cleaner, calmer dog.
Without the drive to mate, your dog may be quieter and not prone to an incessant need to seek out a mate. The spayed dog no longer attracts males and their annoying advances and serenades. Dogs won’t have a bloody discharge for several days while they are in heat. Without proper protective products, the discharge can stain sofas, bedding and carpets. Spayed pets are also easier to get along with. They tend to be more gentle and affectionate.

· Spaying keeps your dog healthier.
A final positive aspect of spaying your dog is that spayed pets tend to have fewer health problems. Spaying is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Without these organs, ovarian cysts, uterine infections and cancer of the reproductive tract are no longer a concern. Studies have shown that dogs spayed before puberty have a significantly lower chance of developing breast cancer than unspayed dogs or dogs spayed later in life.

SPAYING – THE NEGATIVE SIDE

· Spaying means sterilization.
Spaying will result in the sterilization of your dog, and she will no longer have the ability to become pregnant. In the era of pet overpopulation with thousands of unwanted pets being euthanized each year, this is really not so bad.

· Spaying may cause weight gain.
Some pets may gain weight after spaying and as they get older. Just as with people, to loose weight we need to either diet or exercise. Cutting back on food intake or increasing your pets activity will help reduce weight gain.

NEUTERING – THE POSITIVE SIDE

· Neutering removes the risk of pregnancy.
Pet overpopulation is a serious issue and by allowing your dog to breed, you are adding to the problem. Although you may not own the female dog, and you are not burdened with finding homes for those new puppies, someone else is. Even if you accept your responsibility and choose to keep the puppies, you now have the additional cost of vaccines, parasite control, toys and food for several pets.

· Neutering makes for a calmer dog.
Another positive aspect of neutering your dog is that neutering can result in a calmer, and sometimes cleaner, home. Without the drive to mate, your dog may be quieter and not prone to an incessant need to seek out a mate. The neutered dog no longer feels the need to seek out and serenade females. He no longer has the stress of needing to mark his territory and urinate throughout the house and yard. Neutered pets are also easier to get along with. They tend to more gentle and affectionate. Neutered males tend to roam less and typically are not involved in as many fights with other animals.

· Neutering keeps your dog healthier.
A final positive aspect of neutering your dog is that neutered pets tend to have fewer health problems. Neutering is the removal of the testicles. Without these organs, testicular cancer is no longer a concern and the risk of prostate problems is reduced. For those people who would like to sterilize their dog but do not wish to alter his appearance, testicular implants are available.

NEUTERING – THE NEGATIVE SIDE

· Neutering is sterilization.
Neutering will result in the sterilization of your dog. He will no longer be able to reproduce, so if you intend to breed your animal, do not have him neutered.

· Neutering changes his appearance.
Your dog will look different because his testicles will no longer be present. If the absence of these organs is a cosmetic problem for you, discuss testicular implants with your veterinarian.

· Neutering may cause weight gain.
Some pets gain weight after neutering. Cutting back on his food or increasing his activity can help reduce the weight gain.

Last year about 17 million dogs and cats were turned over to animal shelters. Only one out of every 10 taken in to the shelters found a home. This means that over 13.5 million had to be destroyed. The tragedy is that this is unnecessary. Much of the problem could be eliminated by simple surgery: Spaying and neutering operations are performed under general anesthesia and are quite painless. By neutering pets, owners can help lower the numbers of unwanted and homeless creatures.

Should You Breed Your Dog?

General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Theriogenology

SHOULD YOUR DOG REPRODUCE?

You love your dog dearly and think, wouldn’t the world be a better place if there were more dogs just like her or him? However, before you breed your dog, take some time to consider whether or not it is the best thing to do and whether you are doing it for the right reasons. Make this decision carefully and only after a lot of research and talking with experienced breeders.

Breeding dogs is not as simple as it sounds. To safeguard the health of your dog and his or her offspring, you need to be able to handle any situation you encounter. Ask yourself the following questions:

· Do you have the time to dedicate to breeding? The time you will need to spend with your new pups will increase dramatically.

· Will you be able to afford the costs involved in vaccinating and deworming the pups?

· If you can’t find new homes for the new babies, are you willing to keep them? This means more feeding and more cleaning. Remember you started with one dog; you may end up with a total of six to eight or even more.

THE WRONG REASONS

One of the worst things you could do would be to breed your dog for the wrong reasons. Each year about 17 million dogs and cats are turned over to animal shelters. Out of every 10 that were taken in, only one finds a home. Of the rest, some 13.5 million must be destroyed.

The suffering and sorrow associated with pet overpopulation is overwhelming. And yet, much of it could be eliminated by breeding only for the right reasons.

Some of the wrong reasons:

· You want to breed because puppies are soooooo cute. Keep in mind they will grow up quickly and may be not be so cute anymore. What will you do then?

· You want to let your kids experience the miracle of birth. Unfortunately, the whelping process has usually been completed by the time you realize it and everyone has missed “the miracle.”

· You want to breed so that you can sell the puppies. Unless you are serious about promoting a particular breed, it is unlikely that buyers will knock at your door to buy. Even if you choose to breed a particular breed, you will likely not make a significant profit.

· You just want to see what you’ll get by breeding an English bulldog with a golden retriever. This is not a good reason to breed. Animals are not experiments; they are not created to satisfy one’s curiosity.

THE RIGHT REASONS

To be a responsible breeder, consider every aspect before proceeding. For the best experience, remember that every dog has physical and emotional needs. Also realize that If you are going to breed, it should only be done for the right reasons.

The best reason to breed your dog is to promote a particular breed. There are plenty of mixed breed dogs in the world, and breeding should only be done after careful consideration and discussion with experienced breeders. Only top quality members of a breed should be used. You should also make sure you have homes for all the potential puppies, even before breeding.

If, after plenty of soul searching, you have decided to breed your dog, remember that giving away those puppies can be difficult. Not everyone will provide a suitable home. You will need to interview prospective buyers and ask them about the purpose of having the dog, the set-up for the dog, their lifestyle (for instance, if they travel a lot, who will be the caretaker) and whether they have the time, patience and tools to care for their new family member properly.

If the answers tell you that this person is a suitable mama/papa, a new home is found. If not, you will have to turn down the sale regardless how much money is involved.

Remember no one can decide whether or not to breed your dog but you. After much consideration, you should make the best decision for your family and for your dog.

Should You Get Another Dog?

Alex Lieber

FRIENDS

Should you get a “pet” for your pet? This question is often asked of veterinarians, but the answer is not as simple as the question. Many people want to get another pet so the resident dog or cat will have a playmate during working hours. The intentions are noble but sometimes they are done out of guilt and not in the best interest of the pet. In many ways, pets are like people; just putting two together does not mean they’ll get along.

In a perfect world, they would. Of course, in a perfect world, there would be peace on earth, perpetually low gas prices and little or no back pain. The worst-case scenario is a nightmare indeed: the animals injure each other and wreck the house. Instead of one pet that you believed was lonely, you have two who are unquestionably miserable.

Cats are especially territorial and not prone to welcoming newcomers. This isn’t to say that all cats will hate a fresh companion. Cats that have been socialized with other kittens when young will more likely accept another cat or even a small puppy.

Incidentally, don’t get a “playmate” for your cat in the form of an animal that she considers prey. Getting a bird or hamster for your cat will very likely result in tragedy.

The same goes for dogs. You should be selective in what sort of playmate your dog may enjoy – if he needs one at all. A dog tends to be more accepting, but remember – they are very hierarchal. A dominant dog may try to usurp the resident dog’s position. If both are dominant, they may fight it out.

The best solution is to avoid the problem in the first place by getting two pets at the same time, while both are kittens or puppies. They’ll grow up with each other and consider all of you to be one big family.

You could also hire a sitter to walk your dog or visit your cat during the day, which may break up the tedium. A solution that is gaining popularity is to drop dogs off at doggie day care, where he gets to play with human handlers and other dogs. (Your dog will have to be carefully screened before being accepted to avoid aggression.)

Although some facilities do offer kitty day care services, cats are more stressed when they are taken from the home and placed in a strange facility day after day. A visitor they like is much more comforting for a cat.

OTHER PETS

If you think your pet iguana is lonely, you need to brush up on your knowledge. Except for breeding, reptiles should not, as a general rule, be housed together. The same goes for many other pets. Research before you arbitrarily decide if your pet is in need of company.

That said, some animals are quite social and do better with a friend. Rats are very social. They enjoy the company of people and other rats. Birds such as finches, canaries and lovebirds also thrive with a companion. They are so devoted that many bond with their mates for life.