What to do about Dog Fights

 

 

 

Dog fights are frightening.  Worse, trying to figure out what started the fight in the first place can be confusing. That’s because there are many different reasons why dogs fight.

The first thing to determine is what constitutes a fight.  Dogs may scuffle and argue while establishing hierarchy, teaching a younger dog the rules of behavior, curbing over enthusiastic play or just testing the boundaries of an established relationship (such as a young dog testing the authority of the top dog as it ages). Scuffles may be loud but they are usually short in duration and don’t cause any injuries.  However, the one thing that can make a scuffle turn south is an interfering human.  Sometimes the best thing we can do is to let our dogs settle the small stuff themselves. Learn to stand back and watch for some moments before interfering.

 Fights are a different story altogether. Fights can be bloody and cause injury to both animals involved. Fights are just bad news. 

What sets off aggressive behavior?  

  • Anxiety:  Dogs who were not properly socialized as puppies and do not understand the social cues of other dogs will respond with anxiety and/or aggression.  They also appear unstable to other dogs who may respond aggressively. 
  • Resources:  Food, toys, favorite dog beds, the couch and you can all be important resources in the eyes of your dog.  If the top dog claims the lion’s share of the toys and you redistribute them “fairly” a fight may ensue. 
  • Excitement:  Try not to generate too much craziness when you play with your dogs.  Over the top adrenaline can cause a fight in even the most stable of dog families.
  • New Dog:   Adding a new dog to the household upsets the hierarchy. There may be just minor scuffles or a major fight as the social order is rearranged.
  • A housemate coming back home after illness, dog shows or travel:  Different smells and just the excitement of a homecoming can cause enough instability to start a fight.  It is usually a good idea to arrange a cautious reintroduction to the pack at home.
  • Top dog is ill or dies:  The sudden death or loss of health of an established leader of the pack can throw everything into a flux.  Younger or lower ranking dogs may see their opportunity to move up and start conflicts.
  • Pain:  Pain induced aggression can occur when the affected animal strikes out in fear and anxiety,
  • Leash Aggression:  Some dogs react aggressively on lead either because they fear  they will not be able to retreat if needed, they think their owner will back them up or their owner is telegraphing their own anxiety down the lead and unstablizing the dog.
  • Mother love:  Females will always protect their young.  Motherly protectiveness may cause them to attack housemates they have previously co-existed with amiably.
  • Territory:  a normally peaceable dog may become aggressive if a stranger enters his yard.

Aggression is best prevented by good management and early intervention on the part of the ownerLearn to recognize the signs of aggressive behavior and body language.

  • Direct and unwavering stare at the other dog.
  • Hackles up
  • Stiff and rigid body posture and movement.
  • Lowering of the head.
  • Growling, raised lips that show the teeth or a tight closed mouth.
  • Standing over or raising up of the body next to the other dog.

How do you prevent fights before they happen?

  • Spay and Neuter.  Can we say that too much?
  • Socialize your puppy!!!  Puppy classes need to start as early as possible, As soon as your puppy has had two in the series of vaccines and has been wormed get them in a controlled environment with other dogs.
  • If you get a second dog make it the opposite sex of your current pet.  Same sex households have more fights.
  • Feed and give treats separately
  • Avoid too many dogs in too small of an area.  Make sure everyone has a place to get away from each other.
  • Allow your dogs to establish a pecking order without interfering.  A few growls and scuffles should establish who is boss and what acceptable behavior is. Helpful humans cause a lot of fights.
  • Establish a routine and stick to it.  Order begets order.
  • If you aren’t sure everyone gets along and you can’t be there to monitor, use crates when you’re gone.
  • The more dogs you have, the greater the chance of fights.
  • Know your breeds.  Any dog can fight but if you have a dominant terrier you better adjust your management to fit a feisty personality.

What if a fight breaks out?

  • DO NOT scream and yell.  That just adds to the adrenaline.
  • DO NOT put your hands anywhere in the middle of a dog fight.  You will get bit.
  • First try distraction.  Command OFF or LEAVE IT or whatever command you have to stop activity.
  • Try an air horn or a shaker can as distraction
  • Use a tennis racket, small board or other object to get in between the dogs.
  • If that doesn’t work move up to a water hose or commercial citronella spray. Once they are separated get them in different areas of the house until everyone calms down. If you feel it is safe, allow them to calm down in the same room but make certain you act as leader and no new fighting erupts.      
  • Spend time trying to figure out what set off the fight and how you can change your management to prevent future problems.
  • If you aren’t sure what to do…consult your veterinarian for their advice and recommendations for an appropriate trainer.

Beware the Perils of Fall

Wow!  We are already well into August.  As hard as it is to believe, fall is on the way. The cooler temperatures and beautiful foliage remind us that we need to start preparing for the coming winter.  But beware; fall can also bring new hazards for our pets. Check our list below to make certain your faithful friend doesn’t fall prey to one of the many hazards of autumn.

  • Rodenticides: Cooler weather usually sends mice looking for a warm place to spend the winter.  If you battle infestation of these pests with rodenticides make sure they are placed where your pet can’t reach them.  If you even suspect accidental ingestion, call your vet right away.  These products are deadly to more than just mice.
  • Antifreeze: We are all familiar with the fall ritual of adding antifreeze to the car radiator.  This sweet and tasty product is deadly to pets and children.  Keep it far away from both.  While you’re at it, call or write the manufacturer and ask for noxious flavoring to be added to antifreeze.
  • Black Widow and Brown Recluse Spiders: Be careful not to bring these poisonous spiders in with your fall fire wood.  They both like to hide away in wood piles and other undisturbed places.  Neither is aggressive but could bite if frightened.
  • Fall Berries: Make sure to find out which berry producing plants in your yard are pet and child safe.  Just because birds eat them doesn’t make them OK for your pet.  Check out Poisonous Plants of the Midwest for more information.
  • Lawn Chemicals: If you like to fertilize your lawn in the fall please make sure to follow directions on how long to keep your pet off the grass after application. Many lawn chemicals can be a hazard to both pets and their people.
  • Halloween: Halloween is a dangerous time for pets.  All the strange goblins roaming your neighborhood can be scary.  This is also a time when pranks can get out of hand and loose pets injured.  Keep them safely locked indoors.  This goes double if you own a black cat.  Finally, keep your pet safe from the treats your little ghoulies bring home.  Chocolate and Xylitol sweetened treats are toxic to pets.
  • Thanksgiving: Ah, the fatty treats and turkey bones of Thanksgiving keep veterinary offices humming through the holiday. Don’t let a bad case of pancreatitis be your memory of this year’s Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Fleas: YES!  This is the worst time of year for these nasty critters!  Don’t stop using protection just because the nights are cooler.
  • Arthritis: Cooler weather is hard on old bones and joints.  Keep an eye on your pet.  They may require medication changes or chiropractic care as the temperatures drop.

Why Your Pet Should be on Flea Prevention

 

 We love creatures of every different type at our clinic!  We love the barkers, the meowers, the squawkers, the rodents and the bunnies,  the snakes and the lizards.  That said, there is one creature that we all hate. The flea!  Unfortunately, we have been seeing way too much of Ctenocephalides canis and felis lately. There has been a huge outbreak of flea infestation cases in the QCA.   Fleas are a nasty pest but most importantly they can be the source other bigger problems.  So …it’s time remind you once again, why it’s important to have your pet on preventative.

 

  • Fleas make their living by biting other animals and feeding on their blood.  When fleas bite they inject saliva into the skin of their host which can cause inflammation, itching, allergic dermatitis and hair loss.  Even worse, if the host is small enough or the number of fleas’ large enough, anemia can result from blood loss.
  • Fleas don’t just bite your pet.  They bite you.  They bite your childrenEverybody gets itchy and everybody can get sick with a myriad of other diseases.
  • A single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs each day and up to 2000 eggs in her short life time!!!  Of course by the time you discover that your pet has fleas, there are most likely eggs and larva throughout your home.
  • Fleas act as a transport vehicle for the aptly named “Flea” tapeworm.  Pets ingest fleas as they groom.  Once the flea is in the digestive system, the larva breaks free and finds a home in your pet’s intestines. An adult tapeworm can grow up to 75 cm (29.5 inches).  According to CPAC (Companion Animal Parasite Council), “Infections of children with D. caninum following ingestion of an infected flea are occasionally reported. The disease induced in the child is generally mild, confined to the intestinal tract, and readily treated, but can still be distressing to the family.”
  • Fleas carry the Plague – and yes we do mean  the Bubonic plague. 
  • Fleas carry Typhus and yes it can be transmitted to humans.  According to Pubmed Health, “Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.” The form of typhus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection. Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:

                             Exposure to rat fleas or feces

                             Exposure to other animals such as                                                      cats, opossums, raccoons, skunks and rats

  • Fleas can help to transmit “Cat Scratch” disease from one cat to another.  We humans get Cat Scratch Fever when we are scratched by an infected feline.
  • Fleas can transmit hemoplasmas, a blood borne parasite that can cause damage to the red calls which results in anemia in your pet.
  • Even if your pet never goes outdoors, you can carry fleas into the house on your pants legs. Fleas can survive the winter just fine as long as you continue to heat your home.   We have been seeing inside only pets who have fleas.
  •  Once there is an established flea infestation, it can be time consuming and expensive to resolve.  Like so many other problems fleas are much easier to prevent than alleviate.

 I don’t know about you but I’m going to go make sure my dog is up to date on his flea prevention.