Posts from April, 2011
All dogs can bite. We like to think that we can avoid any difficulties with our pets by simply choosing the “right” breed; not so. Although you may not actually cause behavior problems in your pet, you can unknowingly reward them. Since we know that it is always easier to prevent rather than change an established behavior: developing ways to make your pet a good family member and citizen should be an important part of pet ownership.
Biting is not the only thing we complain about. Barking, jumping up, digging, house soiling, chewing on inappropriate items, food aggression and fear of strangers are just some of the things we don’t like. Can these behaviors be prevented? Of course they can. Sometimes it is simply a matter of management. Others require an active effort on your part to train and socialize your pet. Here are some ideas for keeping making your pet a good citizen.
- Teach your dog to sit. This should be the first thing a puppy learns. Any pup old enough to go to a new home is capable of learning to sit. It’s OK to teach the command by using a treat. The ASPCA has a great site that will show you how to teach a sit. The importance of this command in your relationship with your pet is that sitting quietly is a prerequisite before any kind of interaction with you. That means that you don’t unthinkingly pet your dog should they bump or rub against your hand. Believe it or not if you are consistent about requiring a quiet sit first and socializing second, it will set a solid base from which to build your relationship with your new dog.
- Better yet, try an obedience class. There are very few dogs that won’t benefit from obedience training. It doesn’t have to be a competitive obedience class and it doesn’t have to involve harsh methods. Look for something that will help you with basic commands and routine maintenance such as nail trimming, tooth brushing and socialization with other pets and people. The key is to establish good communication with your pet from the beginning.
- Get your pet out in the world. You can’t expect your dog to comfortable in the world if they never get beyond your backyard. Once your pet is properly immunized, wormed and protected from fleas, get them out to parks, for car rides and long walks. If your schedule is extra busy, consider putting them in doggie daycare but please don’t just lock them in the backyard.
- Spay or neuter your pet. This can’t be said often enough. The reasons for keeping a dog intact are very few indeed. Hormones will always get in the way of training. Worse, they can cause dog to dog aggression and lead to health problems later in life.
- Children and dogs should always be supervised. Obviously this is not only important for the safety of the child but for the pet as well. Children can’t read animal body language. They are often at eye level with a pet and may be seen as lower in social ranking than adults. Children need to be taught to how handle their pet gently yet assertively. Even when pet and child are both trained, they never be left alone together.
- Take your pet to the vet for something other than vaccines. If you happen to be driving by the vet’s office, stop in. Bring the dog inside for some treats. Let the staff pet them and then go home. You will be surprised how much more relaxed your pet will be if you do this a few times.
- If you run into a problem you can’t handle, call a professional. There is nothing wrong with asking someone more experienced to help you with your pet. The key is to go for help before a problem gets out of hand.
This is only meant to get you started thinking in the right direction. Talk to your veterinarian about trainers in your area if you’re unsure where to go. Just remember to have fun and always keep your pet social.
Who hates fleas? Everybody hates fleas! Ctenocephalides canis or felis better known as the common flea is not a visitor anyone ever welcomes to their home. For those of us who have had to deal with a flea infestation- once is definitely enough! Aside from the obvious “yuck” factor, there are a lot of good reasons to avoid this hopping, biting scourge of the insect world.
- 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 children. Everybody gets itchy.
- 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 – the Bubonic Plague. This is particularly important in the Rocky Mountain States.
- 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 Mycoplasma haemofelis 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.
- 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.
The decrease in feline veterinary visits has us worried. We love our cats but do not provide them with the same level of care that we do our dogs. It’s true that cats are great at masking illness. However, by putting off a veterinary visit until your cat is seriously ill, we only make for greater expense for us and stress for our pet. We all need to learn how to better recognise the signs of illness in cats, so this week we have decided to reprint a great article from Pet Docs on Call covering just this subject.
By Dr. Jen Mathis, Certified Veterinary Journalist and member of the Veterinary News Network received veterinary care in the past year.hadn’t”There are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet. Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. A 2007 industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats
Though there are many myths about cat health, the truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual exams and vaccinations, just like dogs do. More importantly, because they are naturally adept at hiding signs of illness, annual exams can result in early diagnosis of health problems. Early diagnosis often results in longer quality life at less cost.
Boehringer Ingelheim is trying to help cat health by teaching about the 10 subtle signs of sickness in cats:
1. INAPPROPRIATE URINATION – At least 80% of the time this is a medical problem often associated with conditions ranging from kidney disease to arthritis. Behavior is the least likely cause.
3. CHANGES IN ACTIVITY – Medical conditions such as arthritis can produce a decrease in activity while an increase can signal a condition such as hyperthyroidism.
4. CHANGES IN SLEEPING HABITS – While cats sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, they usually should be quick to respond to someone walking into a room. Difficulty lying or rising is also a problem.
5. CHANGES IN FOOD AND WATER CONSUMPTION – Eating or drinking more or less can be signs of a range of underlying medical conditions.
7. CHANGES IN GROOMING – A poor hair coat is a common sign of many medical conditions in cats.
8. SIGNS OF STRESS – Sudden lifestyle changes can cause stress in cats, resulting in symptoms such as decreased grooming to eating more frequently. These are also signs of illness, so sickness should be ruled out before stress issues are addressed.
9. CHANGES IN VOCALIZATION – An increase in crying or howling is common with older cats and can be caused by high blood pressure (leading cause of blindness), kidney problems, thyroid issues, stress or pain.
10. BAD BREATH– 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath as it usually means infection. Since 2/3 of the tooth is under the gum-line, many cats have problems that can’t be seen without x rays. Dental problems cause kidney problems.
“Have we seen your cat lately?” If not, an exam may be just what your cat needs to help live a longer quality life! For more information, please check with your veterinarian!”
Have We Seen Your Cat Lately?
We love our cats in the United States. Unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into appropriate veterinary care. Yes there are plenty of owners who do everything for their cats – exams, vaccines, spay/neuter and dental care – whatever they need. However they may not be in the majority. Too many neglect health issues until their cat becomes seriously ill.
One scenario may be for a feline patient to come in for kitten vaccines, spay or neuter surgery and then not be seen again until they are sick. Other owners will keep up on rabies vaccines but little else. Too many of us don’t provide our cats with the same level of care that we do their canine counterparts.
Cats can be difficult to transport. They don’t like their carriers. They don’t like the clinic. Then again, many think because their cat is indoors, no vaccines are required. We tell ourselves cats are hardy survivors. They don’t need as much veterinary care.
Wrong. Cats need all the same care that other animals do. According to Scott Bernick at Animal Family, “This has been a disturbing trend in veterinary medicine. Unfortunately we are seeing more cats come in with severe illness, leaving the owners with fewer options and increased expenses.”
Cats need to be vaccinated just as much as other pets. Core vaccines are those recommended for all cats. These are diseases that are commonly found in the environment. That means there is a realistic risk of exposure, infection and development of a disease. This is particularly the case with kittens. In the case of Rabies, it is mandated by law for the protection of public as well as animal health.
- Feline Panleukopenia: All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks and then at 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart. Annual vaccination is not recommended in all adult cats. At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years.
- Feline Rhinotracheitis: All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age and then in 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3- weeks apart. Annual vaccination is not recommended in all adult cats. At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years
- Feline Calicivirus: All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age and then in 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart. Annual vaccination is not recommended in adult cats. At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years
- Rabies: State statutes determine how often Rabies vaccines are administered. In Iowa a single dose is required as early as 12 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster. Non vaccinated adults receive 1 vaccine and a booster 12 months later. Thereafter adults can receive Rabies vaccination in 3 year intervals provided it is given on schedule. Otherwise another 1 year booster will be required.
The following vaccines are considered noncore:
- Feline Leukemia: Feline Leukemia testing and vaccination is strongly recommended for all kittens and for individuals whose health is compromised. Kittens test negative for the virus prior to vaccination. Two doses are administered as early as 8 weeks of age and 3-4 weeks later. Only cats that are at risk (such as those who go outdoors) should be vaccinated at yearly intervals thereafter.
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: This vaccine is only recommended for only for cats with high risk of exposure. Because the vaccination itself can cause a positive result on antibody testing, there is some controversy surrounding its use
- FIP: Generally not recommended due to concern about whether the vaccine is effective or not.
- Feline Chlamydophila and Bordatella are only recommended when the diseases are present in multi-cat environments.
We are participating in a nationwide National awareness program aimed at reminding people of the importance of regular veterinary care for their cats. During the months of April, May and June Animal Family will provide dental exams, weight checks and body assessment scores free of charge. It would be a great time to update vaccines and get a wellness check up for your cat as well.