While the holidays can be a fun time for us with all the decorations, parties and presents it can be a very stressful time for our pets. Particularly pets who already are more fearful, anxious or stressed can feel even more overwhelmed during the holidays. So, what can we do to help them out? Here are some tips and tricks:
SECURE THE DOOR: It’s easy for a dog or cat to slip by lots of people coming in and not everyone will be vigilant at the door to make sure they don’t sneak out.
Block off the entry way with a pet gate or baby gate to allow room for people to enter your house, close the door and then come through the gate so your pet stays safe.
Contain them in a safe space by putting your dog or cat in a bedroom or crate during the coming and goings of a party to keep them safe.
FOOD SAFETY: Even foods that aren’t toxic can cause GI upset, vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, if your pet isn’t used to having them. It’s better to have a frozen Kong or safe bone that your dog can chew on while everyone is eating to help avoid begging from the table as well.
Make sure holiday food is placed in an area your pet can’t reach. If you have a dog that is prone to counter surf placing all your food out in one room while people are busy in another is setting them up to steal the food.
Again, safety is key, keep your pet in another area of the house if they can’t be supervised.
Also, remind people to please not feed your pet off the table.
DECORATE WITH PETS IN MIND: Decorations, especially for puppies and curious cats, can also pose a risk to our pets.
Things like tinsel, ornaments hanging from a tree and other decorations can entice curious kittens and puppies to play with them.
Forego the glass ornaments if your pet is prone to playing with the holiday decor!
If ingested these items can cause GI upset, or worse, blockage, which then requires emergency surgery.
REAL TREE VS. FAKE TREE: Both can cause a hazard for our pets if knocked over. Real Christmas trees can also pose a health hazard if pets are either eating the needles or drinking the water from the tree.
Most needles from trees aren’t toxic but they can cause GI upset if ingested.
Water from the tree can become toxic if additives are put into the water to help the tree live longer.
Photo by Maximiliano Ignacio Pinilla Alvarado on Pexels.com
TRAVELING DO’S AND DONT’S: Visiting relatives often bring their pets with them or people encourage you to bring your pets when you visit them.
Unless the pets are used to each other and see each other on a regular enough basis that you know they get along well it would be safer to leave the pets at home.
Again, with the higher stress levels around the holidays, more people coming and going and people being less likely to pay attention to the pets interacting you are more likely to have a fight break out.
The holidays are not the ideal time to introduce new dogs to each other. It’s better to leave your dog at home where they are comfortable.
People are less likely to bring their cats along for the holidays but remember if you do that cats are extremely territorial and often do not do well with a “visitor” cat for a couple days.
That stress can cause fights, urinating outside of the box and destructive behavior from both cats involved.
If you are having people over with their pets, take your dog for a long walk or have a fun play session with your cat to help tire them out prior the guest’s arrival.
Everyone will get along better if they are tired.
Also keep in mind new toys and treats are more likely to spark a fight if a dog or cat views the new objects as theirs and they don’t want to share them.
Even housemates that are used to each other can fight over a new coveted toy or treat that they view as particularly high value.
ROUTINE IS KEY: Because the holidays can cause extra stress on us all do your best to keep your pets routine the same. Try to keep meals and walks at the same time when possible.
CREATE A SAFE PLACE: If you have an easily stressed pet, then give them a safe space away from the holiday and guests arriving.
For cats make sure their food, pet, cat tree and litterbox are all in their safe space.
For dogs make sure they have their bed, a kong or other treat filled toy and any other objects they find reassuring with them.
Both dogs and cats can benefit from having pheromones either plugged in the room you are in or having a bandana or collar on with the pheromones. Also consider playing soft classical music, or through a dogs’ ear, to help promote a calming atmosphere.
Place a sign on the door letting guests know a pet is in the room and to please give the pet their space and not disturb them.
Laser: Therapeutic Light Treatment - 11/12/2018
Alternative therapies are becoming more and more popular among pet owners. We are proud to offer may of these therapies here at Telford Veterinary Hospital! Class IV laser therapy is just one of the alternatives to help your pet heal and manage pain.
What is a Class IV Laser?
Class IV lasers use concentrated infrared light to penetrate deeper into the body. This concentrated light can be targeted at damaged or unhealthy tissues in the body to provide several health benefits.
How does the Class IV Laser work?
Class IV lasers provide 3 main benefits when applied to damaged tissue:
Alleviates pain from the damaged tissue by decreasing nerve sensitivity and also stimulating the release of endorphins, which provide a natural analgesic effect.
Reduces inflammation around the damaged tissue by increasing circulation to the site through localized vasodilation. This allows cellular debris to be removed quicker and increases the flow of oxygen to the damaged tissue.
Speeds up the natural healing process by stimulating the mitochondria in the damaged cells to increase ATP production, providing more energy for the tissue. It also increases the rate of mitosis, the process by which new cells are formed.
Would my Pet Benefit from Laser Therapy?
We would love to answer any questions that you have about laser therapy and how it may help your pet heal from any of the conditions listed in the infographic below.
Ask about special pricing on laser therapy treatments this month!
Heart Disease: Linked To Your Dog’s Diet? - 10/14/2018
We all know that what we eat can affect our overall health, the same is true for our pets. But recent research is looking at if some of the foods we think are healthy for our pets could really be causing a certain type of heart disease. While there is still lots of research being done on this topic, recent studies are finding a small correlation between some specialty diets and heart disease.
These diets include:
some homemade diets
limited ingredient diets
vegan dog foods
At this time, nutritionists and cardiologists are wondering if the rise in heart disease with dogs fed “non-conventional” diets is due to the level of taurine in the food. Taurine has long been known to be a cause of heart disease in cats, but now researchers are wondering if this could be linked to heart disease in dogs as well. Taurine is a protein found in meat. Higher levels are found in meats such as beef, chicken and lamb. The problem lies in that these are also the sources of protein most commonly found in food allergies. It is not fully known at this time if taurine is truly the cause of this increase in heart disease in breeds not commonly diagnosed with heart disease, or if there is another factor.
So what should I feed my dog?
Some dogs have to be fed a diet without chicken, lamb, or beef due to severe food allergies. What is important, is in these dogs, is that a veterinarian listens to their heart one to two times per year to monitor for any changes. The grain-free trend of recent years is actually not founded on food allergies, but mostly marketing. There are very few truly grain intolerant dogs out there. Dogs are designed to eat a combination of protein, vegetable, and yes… grains. It’s just finding the proper balance of these ingredients that make any one dog food better than another. And of course, calorie content is important to monitor as well. We would be happy to discuss your pet’s nutrition recommendations at any time.
What type of heart disease are we talking about?
Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is what cardiologists are starting to see an increase incidence of in recent years. This type of heart disease causes the chambers of the heart to stretch out and makes it more difficult for the heart to adequately pump blood through the body. This can ultimately lead to heart failure.
How can I tell if my dog’s diet is going to lead to heart disease?
Annual exams (biannual exams if your pet is over 10 years old), will allow us to listen to your dog’s heart to detect any murmurs that could be indicative of heart changes. We may then recommend other diagnostics to better assess your pet’s heart. A chest x-ray can look for changes in the size of your dog’s heart and an electrocardiogram can determine changes to your dog’s heart rhythm. An exam by a veterinary cardiologist and an echo-cardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) is the only true way to diagnose DCM. If you notice any signs of heart disease: coughing, exercise intolerance or labored breathing, please call your veterinarian right away.
Fortunately, though, we do know that early spaying of female dogs and cats makes the chances of breast cancer developing almost a non-issue. Spaying your pet before their first heat cycle can be completely preventive to dogs and cats developing breast cancer! Also, spaying as soon as a pet is done breeding is also a huge step in limiting future mammary cancer development.
If you have chosen a female dog or cat to be part of your family, be sure to discuss with your veterinarian all the potential risks and benefits for spaying and decide what is the best plan to limit your pet’s potential risk for developing mammary cancer.
In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our staff is dedicated to educating our clients and the public about the risks of Canine and Feline Breast Cancer. Throughout the month you may see any number of our staff members rocking their “Cancer Bites” awareness t-shirts!
How To Choose The Proper Collar Or Harness For Your Dog! - 10/02/2018
Let’s take a walk! Today, in honor of National Walk Your Dog Week we are going to talk about ways to make your walk with your best friend more enjoyable for everyone involved.
The top complaint from pet owners trying to walk their dogs is pulling. There are numerous products on the market designed to help with pulling, but how do you know which one to use? This is yet another time I will say “an ounce of prevention goes a long way”. Dogs innately do not know they should not pull on a leash; so, if no one ever taught them differently it’s a tough habit to break.
So, let’s start with some tips:
Having a collar and leash on is often a new feeling for puppies. Most of the time if you leave the collar on them after about 24 hours they will stop bothering with it. Having a leash on is a different story. Suddenly having someone applying pressure, telling them to go a different way, can be daunting.
The first thing we recommend is when you are doing training with your puppy is to have them drag a light leash behind them. That gets them use to the feeling and the weight of leash.
PRO TIP: Do not keep their poop bag dispenser attached to the leash while training; they are big and clunky and can be frightening for puppies.
Next encourage your puppy to follow you. If they are pulling ahead or refusing to move forward, then stop putting the pressure on the leash and instead get down to their level and make it fun to follow you. Use treats, toys, even a stick or leaf nearby that they might be interested in to entice them to follow you and reward them when they do!
Avoid picking up your dog if they are refusing to move, unless you feel they are so overwhelmed/scared that they don’t want to move. The last thing you want is to carry an 80-pound Labrador home because they didn’t feel like walking anymore!!
Also avoid continuing to go forward when/if the puppies are pulling on the leash. Again, we don’t want to reinforce bad habits. While it might be cute at 10 weeks old that they are pulling towards people to say hi, again an 80-pound Labrador pulling you over to say hi to people is no longer cute!!
RECAP: If they are pulling you can do several different things:
Start walking in a different direction
Stop and refuse to move forward until there is slack on the leash
Ask them for an alternative behavior (sit, hand touch, etc.)
If they are pulling to go towards a person/another animal:
Don’t let them become “rude greeters” and rush up to a person or another dog. Some people are scared of dogs and will find this rude and potentially even scary. Most dogs do not appreciate strange dogs barreling up to their face, this can often spark a fight between a normal friendly dog if they are greeted so abruptly and rudely.
In the same manner do not let people or other dogs rush up into your dog’s face. Shy and timid dogs can find this interaction overwhelming cause them to bite or become more fearful. Don’t ever feel bad about telling someone not to interact with your pet if you are training them or you think it might overwhelm them. It is easier to prevent a bad interaction then to help them get over it.
Again, if they are pulling towards something else ask them to sit first and then reward them when they stay in position while either the person/dog either passes or comes towards them. If they get up from the position, then ask the person to stop coming towards you and reset the dog in the sit position. Only let them say hi when they are listening and remaining sitting or lying down. We suggest having a release word to let the dog know they are ok to interact with the person or dog.
Now let’s do a brief overview of different types of equipment you can use for walking your dog:
Martingale collar – these types of collars will cinch down when pressure is applied, but have a stopping point so they cannot choke the dog. These collars are ideal for dogs with big necks and smaller heads, like greyhounds, that could easily slip out of a regular buckle collar. These come in a variety of either all fabric, chain or a combination of the two. We recommend the fabric ones as they are least likely to cause damage to a dogs’ airway if they are continuously pulling.
Gentle leader/Halti – these type of head halters/collars use the same principle of using a halter in a horse. When the dog pulls pressure is applied to the weakest point of their neck (right behind their ears) and then they are turned back to look at you. These are especially nice for dogs who cannot wear a collar or harness for either medical or behavioral reasons. These are nice in that the dog can still pant, drink and eat treats with them on. Brachycephalic breeds, like pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, etc. should not wear gentle leaders because they cannot be properly fitted to them and risk putting to much pressure around their eyes and nose (causing elevated eye pressures or trouble breathing).
PRO TIP: Many dogs have a strong aversion when these are first used because of the strap that goes over the nose. Heavy positive reinforcement can help them get used to it. We recommend feeding them with the gentle leader on for at least the first week to help increase the positive association with it.
Regular harness (clips over the back) – these harnesses are not designed to help with pulling. In fact, for dogs who already pull hard on the leash a regular harness will often allow them to pull even harder because they get can leverage from their chest and front legs to pull. For dogs with collapsing trachea, Brachycephalic breeds, etc. these are the best choice for walking because they do not put any pressure on the airway even with pulling.
Easy walk/front clip harness – these harnesses put pressure on the dogs’ shoulders when they pull to encourage them to stop. Like the gentle leader, by having the clip in the front, it also works to redirect the dog back towards you when they are pulling. These should not be used on dogs with shoulder problems.
Prong collar – these collars work by putting pressure on the dogs’ neck giving them a “correction” when they pull. To be effective when the dog starts to pull a “correction” should be given that is a quick snap and release. The collars become ineffective when you have continuous pressure on them because the dogs learn to “pull through the pain”. These collars should not be used on dogs with spinal or airway problems. Also, if not used properly, the constant pressure to the neck and airway can cause future breathing problems.
It is important to mention that any training tool, if used improperly can cause problems. If you have trouble walking your dog, we recommend you either contact a trainer or our office to enroll in an upcoming training class. Let’s get back to enjoying walks with your dog!