Telford Veterinary Hospital

78 Souderton Hatfield Pike
Souderton, PA 18960

(215)721-6989

www.telfordvet.com


Bringing Home a New Puppy or Kitten - 07/17/2018

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Before you bring them home

  • Before you decide on bringing home a new family member make sure everyone is on board with the decision. Surprising people with pets seems like a fun idea but often does not turn out as we had planned.
  • Have the entire family involved in picking out your new family member.
  • Make sure you pick a new puppy or kitten based upon your household lifestyle. i.e. don’t pick out the craziest puppy or breed if you prefer watching TV to running a 5k.  Same goes for kittens, if you enjoy a quiet household don’t go get a Bengal cat even if they look cool.

Bringing Home Fido or Fluffy

  • For as excited as you are that your new puppy or kitten is home they are potentially equally as nervous about their new home.
  • Avoid having everyone you know come over to see them. Let them relax and explore their new surroundings for the first couple days.
  • If possible keep them confined to only small portions of the house to start, then as they gain confidence you can start to let them explore additional areas of the house.
    • This will have two benefits – 1) existing pets will have a “safe area” where they can get away from the new puppy or kitten if needed and 2) house training will be much easier because you have a smaller space to watch them in.
  • For kittens, be sure have an appropriate sized litter box that they can get into easily.

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Introducing them to existing pets

  • Remember first impressions make a huge difference. Making sure the first introduction goes well can go a long way in your new family members being able to live with your existing ones.
  • For both sets make sure you have the house adequately puppy and kitten proofed. If needed, get down on the floor to their level and see what they might be able to get into!
  • Kittens
    • Cats that live in the same household develop a group pheromone, so they likely will be very unsure of a new kitten/cat coming into the household.
    • Keep them separate for the first few days, sniffing under doorways at each other is acceptable if there is no overt aggression on either end
      • If they are comfortable with it; having them eat meals on both sides of the doorway will also help with the bonding process.
    • Once they are introduced, make sure adult cats have a place they can get away from the kitten (cat tree, another room, etc.).
    • When possible, take a towel or other object that will absorb scent and place it in socially significant areas (cat trees, windows, under the food dish if it is a towel, etc.), this will allow the cats to get used to each other’s scent without having to be in direct contact.
  • Puppies
    • For dogs, having them meet on neutral territory is recommended for the first introduction. This can be as simple as the street in front of your house for the initial meeting and then taking them on a walk where they can be walking side by side but not sniffing.  For new puppies make this short, as to not tire them out, and keep them on pavement where diseases (like Parvo) cannot live.
  • For both groups if you have multiple other dogs/cats, introduce them one at a time. You already know which one in the group is most likely to accept the new addition to the household, so start introductions with that one.

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Socialization and Learning

  • So many people focus on telling their pets what not to do that we aren’t often clear on letting them know what behavior we would like. Treats and praise should be used to help convey to your puppy/kitten what you would like them to do.
    • Reward them for coming towards you and choosing to interact.
    • Especially for high energy breeds reward when your puppy is being calm and capture when they lay down, so you can start to teach your puppy an off switch.
    • For kittens if you don’t want them on certain things, like countertops, reward them when they chose to stay off them. Also giving them an alternative, like a cat tree near the counters, that they can be on and rewarding them for being there can make a big difference.
  • For both puppies and kittens socialization is key to having them grow up into confident adults.
    • The biggest key to socialization is to do your best to make sure your puppy/kitten has as many positive experiences as possible.
      • This means exposing them to different sites, sounds, people, etc all before the age of 16 weeks. When you do expose them to these different things pay attention to their body language.  If they start to become nervous of the situation do not force them into it.  Always allow them to retreat and then come back on their own terms.  You can also use treats to help them become more comfortable with the situation.

For more information, call or email us to schedule an appointment and stay tuned for our puppy socialization/training classes coming soon!


Helping Pets Overcome Car Anxiety - 07/12/2018

It’s summertime and families are busy with sports, vacations and gatherings. These events can lead to more time in the car for your pets. For pet owners who have had a dog or cat with car/travel anxiety, you know how difficult it can be to manage. The end result? Families either avoid taking their pets in the car or the pet is super stressed during the trip. The plus side? There is hope for behavior modification or veterinary intervention for a stress free future!

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Car Anxiety

Anxiety in the car is a very common problem among both dogs and cats. Both dogs and cats can also suffer from nausea while traveling in the car.

For cats the problem arises mostly because they are only put the in car once or twice a year going to the vet, so the car becomes a negative precursor to an event they find traumatic.

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The dramatic change in temperature can also be a shock to some cats.  If you think about it, 99% of most cats’ life, is spent in a temperature-controlled environment. Going straight out into the cold or heat is pretty shocking to them. Couple that with being placed in a small carrier that is unfamiliar or has bad associations is a recipe for stress!

  • Pro Tip:
    • Leave your pet carrier out all the time and make it a fun place for your cat to retreat to. It will make future trips much easier!
    • Warm up or cool down the car, depending on the season, prior to leaving for your destination so your cat is more comfortable.
    • Use a calming pheromone like Feliway to help mitigate anxiety.

 

For dogs the anxiety usually stems from a different point.  Although it is worth saying some dogs who rarely leave the house can feel that same anxiety as cats, in that, the car is always a precursor to some event they do not like.

For many dogs, nausea (vomiting, hypersalivating, etc.) in the car is a common occurrence, especially in young puppies.  Some puppies will outgrow this with repeated good experiences in the car.  But some dogs, just like people, truly do get car sick in the car.  For these dogs, using either over-the-counter products like Dramamine or prescription products like Cerenia can make a huge difference. Make sure to check with your Veterinarian to find proper dosage for your pet.

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For dogs that are nervous or afraid in the car, working on desensitizing them can make a huge difference.  The level of fear that your dog has of the car will dictate where you will start.  Essentially you want to start at the closest point to the vehicle that you can be, without your dog reacting.  You then start to gradually increase how close you get, all while pairing it with good things…food, treats, favorite toys, etc.  Most people tend to rush and go too fast during this part of training, but it is important to go at the speed your dog is most comfortable with.  This may take six weeks, or it may take six months, progress takes time. Be patient.

  • Pro Tip:
    • Use calming music in the car, like “Through a Dog’s Ear” or other soft classical music.
    • Use a calming pheromone spray or collar like, Adaptil, to help alleviate anxiety.
    • Utilize a crate in the car if your dog feels secure in one.
      • Consider covering the crate to reduce the outside visual stimuli.

Like all training, work on these behaviors when they are puppies and get them used to riding in the car.  It’s much easier to prevent a behavior problem then it is to work on it when they are an adult!

 

 

 


Destructive Dogs: Separation Anxiety vs. Boredom - 06/27/2018

Chien sur son fauteuil.  Le fauteuil est totalement détruit!Can you relate to the photo above? Telling the difference between boredom and separation anxiety destructiveness is one of the most frequent topics discussed with our Doctors! So where do you, as a pet owner, go from here? What are the symptoms of each and how do you tell them apart? Read on to learn more!

What Does The Condition Look Like?

  • Separation Anxiety
    • Separation anxiety is a serious behavioral problem that manifests itself when an owner leaves the pet for any period of time and can result in destructive behavior.
  • Boredom Destruction
    • Boredom destruction is a result of just what it says, boredom. These behaviors most often happen when an owner is away due to lack of stimulation and consequences.

How Do I Tell The Conditions Apart At Home With My Pet?

Now that we know a little bit about what each condition stems from and looks like, lets explore how to tell the two apart from one another.

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  • Video Footage
    • One of the most valuable tools in determining anxiety vs boredom is video footage of your pet after you leave the home.
      • The best time to video is right after you leave the house since that is when the most destruction typically occurs.
      • The footage can show whether the destructive behavior is due to separation anxiety (panic reaction) or boredom (pet looks to be having a grand old time)
  • Separation Anxiety Behaviors
    • Dogs and cats with separation anxiety will start to panic once they are left alone. This panic can manifest in different ways for each pet:
      • Pacing
      • Whining/Crying/Howling
      • Urination/Defecation
      • Destruction (Usually doorways, windows or the area the owner left from)
      • Lack of interest in food or water
      • Inability to be confined to crate or small space
  • Boredom Behaviors
    • Dogs and cats with boredom will appear to be having fun during the destructive behavior.
      • Often have a preferred material: shoes, pillows, furniture, etc.
      • Pet is not stressed for more than a short time
      • Pet will readily eat and drink: counter surfers, trash pickers, etc.

In both groups your pet may appear what humans would consider “guilty” about their destruction when the owner returns home. Animals, however, are not capable of this emotion but instead are simply feeding off of our reaction of disapproval. It is important to remember that reprimanding them will not modify the behavior, you should simply clean up the mess and try not to convey your disapproval.

So How Do I Treat This?

If you feel your pet is suffering from separation anxiety, please call your veterinarian to get started with a behavioral modification and treatment plan right away. The earlier these symptoms are addressed and corrected, the happier you and your pet will be! Separation anxiety is absolutely treatable, but the earlier you intervene the more success you will have! These cases take lots of time and more than simple behavior modification techniques due to the nature of the panic attacks.

Managing a pet with destructive behaviors due to boredom takes time and patience. Using tools such as crates, interactive toys, and simply increasing their exercise time can greatly reduce destructive boredom behaviors. A few starting tips:

  • Go Back to basics – Puppy Proof the home
    • Confine with a crate or safe small room
  • Eliminate favorite target objects – If your dog loves to shred pillows remove any from their safe space so they aren’t tempted to reinforce the behavior
  • “A Tired Dog is a Good Dog” holds true – Wear your pup out with a long walk.
    • Walks provide physical and mental stimulation needed to tire your dog out
  • Utilize engaging puzzle toys for your pet – Slow feeder bowls and puzzle toys are all over the pet market right now, use them to your advantage by filling them with high value rewards to encourage your dog to expend their energy in the right place

As always consult with your veterinarian to create the best plan for you and your pet. Give our office a call to set up a Behavior Consult with Dr. Loeffler if your pet is in need of a destruction intervention!


Beat the Heat: Summertime Activities - 06/21/2018

The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer which can only mean one thing, summer is almost here! As you begin making your summer plans consider planning some fun new activities to try with your favorite furry friend.

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Go For a Hike

There are so many great hiking trail just waiting for you to check them out, so why not leash up your pup and head out for a hike! Bonus: it’s great exercise and a fun way for you to bond together. Check out https://bit.ly/2trv2p9 for some great tips on hiking with your dog.

Check out a Dog Park

Most cities and towns have a dog park nearby, find out where your local one is and plan a visit this summer. Dog parks can be a great place for both you and your dog to make some new friends, but check out this article on dog park etiquette and safety before you go.

Browse a Local Farmers Market

Your local farmers market can be a great way to meet some of your local farmers and other vendors, as well as stock up on locally grown produce. This can also be a great place to walk around with your dog to socialize them with other people and dogs; as an added bonus sometimes there are vendors selling homemade dog treats, toys, etc.

Participate in a 5k

Throughout the summer many charities hold 5k fundraisers, this can be a great way to help you and your dog get in shape while helping a good cause. Find a cause you believe in, sign up, and start training. You can even decide if you want to run it or walk it. For added fun, get a friend and their dog to join you!

Make your own Doggy Ice Cream

Ice cream is a favorite summer treat for humans, and there are many ways to make it dog friendly. Check out one of these recipes and give your dog a new favorite summer treat!

Visit a Dog Beach

Some beaches are dog friendly, so find one close to you, pick a day, and plan a beach trip with your pup! Read here about how to safely take your dog to the beach.

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Try a Dog Sport

The summer can be a great time to try out a dog sport or take an obedience class with your dog, especially since it’s warmer which makes it easier to practice outside. Lookup where your closest dog gym is and sign up to try a class today. Bonus tip: try to pick a sport you think both you and your dog will enjoy.

Set a Running or Walking Goal

Since the weather is nicer in the summer, try setting a daily or weekly walking goal. Track your progress using the Wooftrax app and they will donate to an animal rescue you choose based on the distance you walk. Your pet and the rescue will thank you!

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There are so many fun activities to try in the summer with your dog. What are your favorite summer activities to do with your dog and what new things will you try this summer? Share with us in the comments below!


Pet Firework Phobia: A Not So Happy 4th of July Experience - 06/20/2018

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The 4th of July holiday is a great time to gather with friends and family, and it usually ends with fireworks in the backyard or a large fireworks display in your hometown.  While they’re fun for humans, the loud, unexpected sounds of fireworks can cause anxiety in your pets. This stress can manifest itself as destructive or harmful behaviors that can push owners over the edge.  Before July 4th rolls around, learn more about why pets get scared, and how you can help them, through behavior modification and veterinary medicine intervention.

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Why Does My Pet Have a Phobia of Loud Noises?

Usually phobias start as a result of either prolonged exposure or a single traumatic experience with loud noises.

Some dogs, especially long-haired ones, can start to become statically charged during thunderstorms.  These dogs can feel small electrical shocks from the static, so they often try to find places, like bathrooms and tile, that can provide grounding.

Studies have shown that about 93% of dogs with noise phobias are affected by thunderstorms, fireworks and other loud noises.  It has also been shown that herding breeds may be more affected by noise phobias than other breeds.

What can I do to calm my pet?

Like all behavioral problems it is important to address these phobias early on in their development or it will become worse.  We recommend working with your veterinarian to help tailor a behavior modification and treatment plan specific to your pet to get the best results.

The “old school” way of managing these types of phobias was either to ignore the dog and let them “deal with it” or to drug the dog heavily enough to not know it was happening.  The problem with those approaches is that we did nothing to help the dogs’ overall fear and anxiety that are at the source of the phobia itself.  Today we have better treatment options that can help both the dogs’ anxiety and ways to modify their behavior to help them better cope with these phobias.

  • Talking to your pet in a low soothing voiceand comforting them while they are scared is encouraged
  • Create a safe space that your pet can hide in if they want
    • Closets, bathrooms or other small spaces are common hideouts
    • Keep these areas well lit to dampen flashes of light
  • Play soothing classical music in their safe space
  • To reduce static charges try wiping your pet’s coat with a dryer sheet
    • Rubber matting in the bathroom can also help with grounding
  • If your pet seeks your lap, consider a compression shirt like the Thundershirt to help keep them calm. It works like swaddling a baby to soothe and calm your pet
  • A calming supplement may work well for your pet
    • Supplements suggested by your vet are a great place to start
    • A calming pheromone like Adaptil or Feliway can help ease stress
    • A pheromone plug-in offers continuous comfort in their safe space
  • Early intervention through positive reinforcement is a great option
    • Offer high value treats or toys to distract your pet during the event
    • Create positive experiences before a phobia develops or evolves
  • For severe cases, medical intervention and anti-anxiety medications prescribed by your veterinarian may be your best course of action

Common Questions We Hear:

Q: Any all-natural calming products that are recommended?

A: There are numerous products on the market now that claim to have calming effects.  The ones we recommend have been shown with studies to reduce anxiety and stress.  Some of these would be Composure Pro, Zyklene, and Solliquin.  Not every dog will respond to these medications and is important to always check with your vet first to ensure it is safe for your dog to take.

Q: Are there any ways to prevent these phobias?

A: That is a tough question because each dog is different.  It is important to start early before the dog starts to have negative associations with loud noises.  This can be as simple as feeding your dog/puppy or giving them special treats, like stuffed kongs or bones, that they can have during thunderstorms and fireworks.  This can help to build a positive association and help them become desensitized to loud noises.

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Q: Can cats be affected?
A: Great question!  While the focus of this talk was on dogs it is important to acknowledge that cats can also be affected by loud noises.  Similar behavioral modification techniques and treatment protocols can also help cats affected by noise phobias.