Exciting Endeavors: Caring for Your New Puppy

new puppyThere is nothing more exciting than bringing home a new puppy, and experiencing all the love and joy they will add to your family. Owning a puppy isn’t all fun and games, however. By putting a little time, energy, and planning into puppy care, you can ensure that you’ll have a best friend for life.

Animal Family Veterinary Care Center shares our best tips and ideas for caring for your new puppy. We’re excited to be a part of your pet care family, and looking forward to setting you and your puppy on the road to lifelong health and happiness together.

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Lifelong Pet Health: Protect and Extend the Years You Have Together

pet healthWhile not all illnesses or injuries can be thwarted, many health concerns that affect pets are often preventable. This is a big part of why we pay close attention to dental health, weight gain, and exposure to various contagious diseases at your pet’s yearly or bi-annual wellness exam. Additionally, lifelong pet health is impacted by dangerous parasites that can live on or inside an otherwise health animal. With a proactive approach to parasite prevention, your pet’s overall longevity and vitality can be assured.

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The Truth About Cats

mufasaCats. Kot, Katt, Gato, Got, Kissa, Felis catus. They domesticated themselves, of course, 3500 years ago but have been around our periphery since prehistoric times. Whether you love them or hate them, cats maintain a kind of tolerant interdependence with mankind. They are neither master nor slave and though they may love us it is only on their own terms.

Our domestic relationship with cats evolved because it was mutually beneficial to us both. They were attracted to the rats and mice near human grain stores and we enjoyed the rodent control felines provided. They slowly became accustomed enough to us to grudgingly move inside our homes. Today while there are some fancier breeds of kitties out there, by and large they remain unchanged. Continue…

The Reactive Care Clinic

Reactive: Acting in response to a situation or something bad after it’s already happened.

Proactive: Acting in advance to prevent something bad from happening.

We know you love your pet. We do too. Keeping your pet healthy is kind of a passion with us.  We also really love Stranger Things!  So, just for fun, lets take a tour of the “Upside Down” of veterinary medicine.

Welcome to the Reactive Care Clinic. Where exams, blood work and heartworm tests, stool exams and parasite control, vaccinations, dentals, spay/neuter surgeries, weight loss or any other preventative measures are not a priority. Don’t expect any irritating reminder calls either.  At the Reactive Care Clinic, you can expect… Continue…

When You Like Someone, But Your Pet Doesn’t…

There is possibly nothing as discouraging as meeting Mr. or Ms. Right only to have your pet loathe your new crush. After all, you adore that little fur snookum and have been waiting to introduce the new love interest to your family-member pet.

Unfortunately, that ideal meeting goes south when your pet runs for cover, shaking, or worse – growls and snaps at your new sweetheart.

For some pet owners, the immediate response is, “Ugh oh, what’s wrong with this person?” However, sometimes your pet’s keen intuition on character isn’t so reliable and has more to do with behavioral challenges than psychic powers.

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Pet Economics vs. Pet Ownership

Pretty girl hugging a pet dog

Pet’s bring companionship, unconditional love and joy to our lives. However, it can be a shock to find out after that first trip to the veterinarian, that they bring bills as well. Sometimes we forget that pets are a long term commitment. Remember that  your furry (feathered or scaled) friend  can live anywhere from 2 to 50+ years.

Do we have your attention now?  Good. Let’s look at the real costs of pet ownership.

The first Year

  • The pet:

  • Exams, vaccines, worming and parasite control

    • average $350 +

  • Spay/Neuter surgery

    • $150 – $400.

  • Collar, leash, pet bed, dishes and crate

    • $200

  • Toys, treats and Chewy bones

    • $20 – $50 per month.

  • Food

    •  Premium pet foods $50 per 35 lb. bag.

    • Less expensive brands $35.

  • Training classes

  • Boarding

    • $20 and upwards per night.

  • Daycare

    • $17 and up per full day.

  • Grooming

  • Kitty litter pans and litter

    • run $200 a year.

Yearly Adult Maintenance Costs

How You Can Help Manage Costs

  • RESEARCH!!! Find out what breeds have health problems.

    • Do you have to have the flat, faced, bull legged dog with extra skin or would a mix from the pound who has lots of hybrid vigor be a better choice.

  • BUDGET before you buy. THINK before you spend.

    • Yes, feed good quality food but base your choices reading the ingredients not clever marketing. Does fluffy really need another toy or a new outfit or would your money be better spent on vaccines.

  • Consider PET INSURANCE. This is a great way to cover those unexpected emergencies.

  • Get REGULAR CHECK-UPS. Catch small problems before they become an emergency.

  • BRUSH THOSE TEETH. Good preventative dental care can save you lots of $$$.

  • Use PREVENTATIVES. Vaccines, worming, heartworm and external parasite prevention are a heck of a lot cheaper than $1000 Parvo or Heartworm treatment

Make Surgery More Safe and Less Scary

Maine Coon kitten

Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?

What you should look for:

  • Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
  • Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
  • What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
  • What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
  • Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
  • Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
  • Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
  • Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
  • Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.

What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:

  • Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
  • Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
  • Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
  • Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
  • Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
  • If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.

Amazing Facts about Animal Anesthesia!!

e-collar dog

Anesthesia scares lots of people but in fact is safe and has a long and very cool history.  Check it out!

  • The truth is we have been trying to find ways to ease pain for a really long time but we have not always been very good at it.

  • Anesthesia for animals didn’t happen as fast as it did for people because it was thought that putting an animal under was painful. So they just restrained them instead. Bad idea.

  • Opium was a popular drug in early anesthesia because of its numbing properties. It has many properties that make it useful in medicine and is still employed today.

  •  During World War II many Jews escaped from the Nazis through the use of rabbit blood soaked rags with a cocaine top dressing. The dogs noses were numbed which dulled their sense of smell and their brains were addled enough to make them lose focus. Pretty smart and harmless to the dogs.

  • Spinal blocks were discovered by accident. In 1885 a doctor studying neurological problems accidently injected cocaine into a dog’s spine. The great news came when he saw that the neural block reversed on its own over time. Ask any mother who had an epidural during delivery how great a discovery this was.

  • The really worst idea for surgical analgesia was a sock to the jaw which made the patient unconscious and a hopefully very rapid surgery. Yes they actually did this

  • The man who popularized inhalant anesthesia was unable to patent his method and died penniless and bitter

  • In animals we need to look at age, size and weight, Sex (some boys need more), species (VERY important), Physical health and condition, pre surgical drugs that have been administered and the type of procedure to be performed. An overweight animal has a much greater risk of complications. Yet another reason not to feed table scraps.

  • Anesthesia free procedures were performed up into the 20th century. Ether was around but was not widely used. Think about how very painful surgery that must have been. Something to remember when someone tries to sell you on the idea of anesthesia free procedures. Dentals are surgical procedures.

  • In 1733, Rev. Stephan Hales developed invasive blood pressure measurements by introducing glass pipes into the femoral arteries of horses.

  • Anesthesia also produces amnesia and that’s always a good thing when you’re having surgery.

  • One of the hardest things we do after surgery is to determine if an animal is in pain or dysphoric. Dysphoria is a state of unease which causes vocalization and restlessness.  It can be caused by the surgical drugs we use. Unlike people animals can’t tell us how they are feeling so we monitor our surgical patients closely to minimize any discomfort.

  • It is possible to have an aware anesthesia where you can’t move but  it’s not at all common.  Thank goodness!

  • This is for the redheads out there. You really don’t need more anesthesia. That’s a myth.

Socialization or How to Raise a Good Dog

cute bulldog puppy

 

We love spring at Animal Family. It’s not just the warm weather either. It’s the appearance of all those cuddly puppies we see every year.   After all, what’s much more adorable than a 7 week old puppy? The owners are great too. Generally kind and caring people who want to do everything they can to give their new friend the best possible start in life.  That includes socialization.

This is the time when we talk about core vaccinations, worming and getting puppies on parasite preventatives. We go over food choices and house training. We also discuss socialization. Our owners are encouraged to enroll in puppy classes and maybe Camp Canine as well. All of this is great but is it enough?

When it comes to socialization, the answer is no. Developing a healthy, well rounded dog is long term commitment.

Are there perfect dogs? Are some dogs born unsocial? Much like people, dogs are born with predispositions for shyness, reactivity, fear and other traits. Still, even the best dog can be improved and poorly socialized dogs are not always a lost cause. Nurture can influence nature. That’s why careful, ongoing socialization is so important.

Socialization begins the moment a puppy is born. Littermate interaction teaches canine social skills while handling and controlled exposure to stress by a knowledgeable breeder helps make puppies even more stable and accustomed to human interaction.

Puppies need to see as many different types, races and ages of people as possible. They need to be exposed a wide variety of objects too. Show them everything from umbrellas to hats to cars, bells, livestock and bunnies. Don’t put the dog away when there is company. Have them meet everyone but try to keep it as nonfrightening as possible.

As soon as it’s safe, dogs really need to meet other species as well. Cats, rabbits, rats, horses, llamas and everything else that’s not poisonous. Be sure supervise to keep interactions safe but the more new things the better.

Remember, that even if your dog did well as a puppy they can develop problems as a young adult if they end up confined to the backyard at 5 months. A well rounded dog needs continued trips to dog parks, day camps and additional training. If you walk your dog, try taking a different route every time. Bring along a bag of treats and have helpful souls feed your dog so new people are associated with good things.

Even if your dog doesn’t go to camp, bring them with you to pick up food or medications. They enjoy seeing us when we give them a treat instead of a vaccination.

Remember your reaction can influence any canine to canine meeting. Please, don’t let the end of a tight leash be the way you introduce your pet to other animals. Try using a head halter (Gentle Leader) instead of a regular collar during walks. They discourage straining forward which can lead to excitement and aggressive behavior.

If your dog barks or growls, don’t punish them. It’s not the end of the world. Get some distance from the other dog and distract yours with a treat.   The next time may go better. It can take time. Remember that even if you all you achieve is a dog who can pass another animal and ignore them that’s still great!

If your dog is able to do well at the dog park or day camp, even better. Just make sure you use a camp that temperament tests and groups dogs by activity level and sociability.

Finally, before you bring home a new puppy, research breeds and what their original use was. Compare and contrast breed traits with your personality and lifestyle. Recognize that there are variations within the breeds. There are aggressive Golden Retrievers and there are bully breeds that love every little creature, right down to tiny hamsters. Don’t forget to look closely at who you get your pup from. Puppy mills do not socialize.

So what if you do everything right and your dog still becomes, fearful, aggressive or overly anxious? It’s not hopeless. Consult with your veterinarian and have them recommend a trained animal behaviorist who can help you achieve a healthier pet.

Forever Friend: Healing from the Loss of a Pet

Xtra_iStock_000044891736_LargeFor several of us, whose pets are akin to best friends, daily companions, and important members of the family, the loss of a pet can bring tremendous pain. The empty spot at the foot of the bed or the leash still hanging by the door can be reminders of heartbreak.

It is understandable, as with the loss of any significant relationship, that you may grieve for months. The road to healing requires time and gradual acceptance. Thinking about your pet and the positive memories may provide some comfort.

Thankfully, there are many resources to help you through this loss. You are among many who have faced what you are now facing. Continue…