What is a Therapy Dog?

What exactly is a service dog?

Many people confuse them with Service Dogs which leads to the erroneous belief that their dog would never be able to assist those in need. It is true that Service Dogs are specialized canines. They are who we see guiding the blind, trained as special alert animals or aiding those with disabilities. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are those animals who provide much needed comfort and affection to the residents of nursing homes, children in schools and the sick and injured in hospitals.  A Therapy Dog can come in all different sizes and breeds. They just need to enjoy making physical contact with unfamiliar people.

What kind of temperament is best for a therapy dog?

They:

  • Must enjoy a lot of human contact and petting even when it is clumsy.

  • Be comfortable staying put whether they are on a floor, a chair or a lap.

  • Need to know at least basic obedience commands and respond consistently.

  • Need to be tolerant of loud children, wheelchairs, walkers, the loud or strange noises one encounters in a hospital or school setting.

  • Tolerant of animals they may see in therapeutic facilities.

  • Tolerant of children, the geriatric and many different kinds of disabled people

What effects do therapy dogs have on those the people they visit?

They:

  • Increase alertness and awareness

  • Decrease stress and anxiety


  • Speed recovery from illness and injury


  • Decrease loneliness

  • Provide general comfort

  • Help with motor skills


  • Build trust

  • Lower blood pressure

What are the requirements to become a therapy dog?

You must:

  • Pass an evaluation by the licensing service agency you become affiliated with. This can vary from one organization to another.

  • Meet minimum age requirements for yourself and your dog

  • Have your animal spayed or neutered.

  • Not feed a raw food diet. (This is because of the risk of Salmonella poisoning.)


  • Have a record of up to date vaccines and worming

  • Bathed your pet prior to each visit

  • Both wear an ID

  • Keep your pet on a leash

If you are interested in Therapy Dog Training contact us at:  563-391-9522

Training class sign up forms are available at www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/dogtraining/

How safe is Your Backyard?

 

We all try to keep our pets as safe as possible.  We keep them leashed anytime we are away from home. We feed them the best food we can provide. We keep their shots and worming current, we train them, and we love them.   When we’re home they play safely in our fenced backyards.

How about that yard? Is it safe?  When was the last time you took a good look around your back yard with the safety of your pet in mind?  We recommend that you do it every spring and fall. What should you be checking for?  Listed below are some of the hazards that could harm your pet.

The Mulch Pile:       

The backyard mulch pile can be a very attractive and very dangerous place for your pet. Going green is great as long as you do it safely. We recommend that your mulch pile be securely fenced and pet proof.

  1. Mycotoxins   which are found in moldy items like breads, cheese and dog food can make your dog seriously ill.  Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal tenderness to seizures and permanent liver damage.   
  2. Hops used in home brewing can kill your pet if ingested in even small amounts.  The danger is present both before and after brewing.  Signs are panting, rapid heart rate and a rapid increase in body temperature to the point of death.
  3. Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), anxiety, increased heart rate, tremors and temporary paralysis. 
  4. Grapes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato plants, black locust tree pods and seeds, any sugar free products containing Xylitol and coffee grounds are all dangerous for your pets as well.  If your pet ingests any of these items call poison control and your veterinarian.

The Backyard Pool:

We all know how attractive and dangerous a pool is to small children but it can be just as deadly to your pets.

 1.   Drowning is an obvious risk to both pets and children. Both may fall in and be unable to get out. 

2.   Pool Chemicals can make your pet very sick. Animals are curious and will often taste whatever happens to be lying around.  Ingesting pool chemicals can cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, seizures and loss of consciousness. 

Poisonous Plants:

Be cognizant of what you plant.  ASPCA poison Control has a complete list of plants that are toxic to animals.  Please visit www.aspca.org/petcare/poisoncontrol/plants for the complete list.  Plants can cause everything from local irritation and drooling to seizures and death. 

Other Animals:

Your first thought may be other aggressive animals.   However, skunks, raccoons and possums can carry infectious diseases that can make you and your pet sick. This is why we preach vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!  It’s also a good idea not to feed your pets outdoors which is a sure way attract local wildlife.

  1. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons and bats and they all frequent back yards. 
  2. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to people and pets.
  3. Baylisascaris is a parasite that is harmless to Raccoons but deadly to humans due to its propensity to travel to our brains and wreak havoc.
  4. Bites and wounds and infections can occur if your dog or cat tries to defend their home turf from raccoons and other wildlife.
  5. Predation is an unpleasant prospect whether is happens to your pet or your unwelcome visitors. 

Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides:

  1. Read your labels and use chemicals accordingly.  Wait until chemicals are dry or as long as the directions indicate before allowing your pet back in the yard.
  2. Cover any food or water dishes before spraying.  Don’t forget the bird bath.
  3. Store all chemicals safely and out of reach.  Keep the original containers just in case you have an accidental exposure.
  4. Keep slug bait, rat poison and gopher bait well away from any place your pet can reach. Call your veterinarian and/or poison control if you even think your pet may ingested any of these products.
  5. Try to find a natural, poison free alternative whenever possible.

Children:

Dare we say it?  Children are immature, impulsive and often lacking in judgment. 

  1. Kids may think teasing your pet through the fence is fun but the end result may be an over stimulated, aggressive dog and bitten children.  Nobody wants a barking, fence running dog for a neighbor no matter how the behavior was started.
  2. Children may throw food or other objects over the fence that can harm your pet.  It’s a good idea to run a fence check frequently in warm months.
  3. Jumping dogs can catch a collar on the fence top and choke to death.  Yes it happens.
  4. Small pets can be injured and even killed by over enthusiastic and unsupervised children.  Again, yes it happens.
  5. Finally, no matter how safe you keep your yard, it doesn’t matter if your kids forget to close and latch the gate.

This isn’t a complete list of the potential dangers in the backyard jungle but hopefully we’ve got you thinking about pet proofing your property.   Feel free to call us or contact through our web site or face book with any questions.

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.

How to Help Your Dog Cope with Scary Noises

 

We are well into the season of thunder storms and fireworks.  If you have a dog that is afraid of loud noises their fear can take much of the fun out of summer.  An anxious dog may cower, salivate, pace, hide, howl or even destroy furniture during storms. Finding ways to calm them can be difficult.

Fear is a normal response. It is what keeps us from being run over by a car or falling off a cliff.  In those cases fear acts as an adaptive response that aids in survival.  However, if fear keeps us from performing everyday tasks it is not normal. 

No one really knows for certain why some dogs become fearful and others do not.  Some breeds appear to be more prone to developing   phobias.  In other cases a past traumatic event may be linked to specific noises and act as a fear inducing stimuli.

What are some of the things you can do to help your dog cope with fearful situations?

1)    First, determine if your dog is afraid of the sounds or if there are other factors that comes into play.  Dogs with storm phobias may be reacting to stimuli such as the flashing lightning, static in the air, rainfall or the wind.

  • Try placing your dog a room without windows. Does this reduce anxiety?
  • Now try placing foam earplugs or cotton in your dog’s ears . If this seems to help the problem is more likely noise related.

 2)    Find a safe place for your dog.

  • Where does your dog gravitate when frightened?  Make sure that area is accessible during a storm or scary event.  It could be the basement, bathroom or under the bed. Do not put your dog in a crate unless that is their safe place.  Otherwise they could be injured trying to escape.

 3)    Try adding in white noise.  This could be music or even the television as long as it helps distract and/or cover up other scary sounds. Do not make it so loud that it becomes yet another source of anxiety for your pet.

4)    Try a thunder shirt.  These are wraps that are similar to a swaddling wrap that is used on infants. Your dog has complete freedom of movement but the pressure provides relief and comfort..

5)    Distract your dog with something pleasurable.  That may be  a favorite toy or activity.  In cases of mild anxiety this may provide relief.

6)    Dog Appeasement Pheromone (DAP) is a product that is believed to reduce anxiety.  It is available as a spray or diffuser. Some owners swear by these products.

7)    The ASPCA has great information on desensitizing and counter conditioning.  Be careful and work with a behavioral specialist  because if desensitizing is done incorrectly, you can actually make your dog worse.

8)    Medications that control anxiety can be used along with other methods to increase success.  Consult your veterinarian about these and all medications.

9)    Never punish your dog for being fearful.  That will only compound the problem.

 10)    Don’t over reassure your dog either.  Telling them over and over what a poor baby they are may actually reinforce their fearful behavior.

11)  Finally, make certain that you are calm.  If you’re afraid of storms and loud noises you can’t be much help to your pet.

How safe is Your Backyard?

 

We try to keep our pets as safe as possible.  We keep them leashed  away from home. We feed them the best food we can provide. We keep their shots and worming current, we train them, and we love them.   When we’re home they play safely in our fenced backyards.

How about that yard? Is it safe?  When was the last time you took a good look around your back yard with the safety of your pet in mind?  We recommend that you do it every spring and fall. What should you look for?  Listed below are some of the hazards that could harm your pet.

The Mulch Pile:       

The backyard mulch pile can be a very attractive and very dangerous place for your pet. Going green is great as long as you do it safely. We recommend that your mulch pile be securely fenced and pet proof.

  1. Mycotoxins   which are found in moldy items like breads, cheese and dog food can make your dog seriously ill.  Signs can range from vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal tenderness to seizures and permanent liver damage.   
  2. Hops used in home brewing can kill your pet if ingested in even small amounts.  The danger is present both before and after brewing.  Signs are panting, rapid heart rate and a rapid increase in body temperature to the point of death.
  3. Macadamia nuts can cause ataxia (lack of coordination), anxiety, increased heart rate, tremors and temporary paralysis. 
  4. Grapes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, tomato plants, black locust tree pods and seeds, any sugar free products containing Xylitol and coffee grounds are all dangerous for your pets as well.  If your pet ingests any of these items call poison control and your veterinarian.

The Backyard Pool:

We all know how attractive and dangerous a pool is to small children but it can be just as deadly to your pets.

  1. Drowning is an obvious risk to both pets and children. Both may fall in and be unable to get out. 
  2. Pool Chemicals can make your pet very sick. Animals are curious and will often taste whatever happens to be lying around.  Ingesting pool chemicals can cause vomiting, breathing difficulty, seizures and loss of consciousness.

Poisonous Plants

Be cognizant of what you plant.  ASPCA poison Control has a complete list of plants that are toxic to animals.  Please visit www.aspca.org/petcare/poisoncontrol/plants for the complete list.  Plants can cause everything from local irritation and drooling to seizures and death. 

Other Animals

Your first thought may be other aggressive animals.   However, skunks, raccoons and possums can carry infectious diseases that can make you and your pet sick. This is why we preach vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate!  It’s also a good idea not to feed your pets outdoors which is a sure way attract local wildlife.

  1. Rabies is carried by skunks, raccoons and bats and they all frequent back yards. 
  2. Leptospirosis is transmitted through the urine of infected animals and can be transmitted to people and pets.
  3. Baylisascaris is a parasite that is harmless to Raccoons but deadly to humans due to its propensity to travel to our brains and wreak havoc.
  4. Bites and wounds and infections can occur if your dog or cat tries to defend their home turf from raccoons and other wildlife.
  5. Predation is an unpleasant prospect whether it involvesyour pet or wildlife. 

Fertilizers, Herbicides and Pesticides

  1. Read your labels and use chemicals accordingly.  Wait until chemicals are dry or as long as the directions indicate before allowing your pet back in the yard.
  2. Cover any food or water dishes before spraying.  Don’t forget the bird bath.
  3. Store all chemicals safely and out of reach.  Keep the original containers just in case you have an accidental exposure.
  4. Keep slug bait, rat poison and gopher bait well away from any place your pet can reach. Call your veterinarian and/or poison control if you even think your pet may ingested any of these products.
  5. Try to find a natural, poison free alternative whenever possible.

Children

Dare we say it?  Children are immature, impulsive and often lacking in judgment. 

  1. Kids may think teasing your pet through the fence is fun but the end result may be an over stimulated, aggressive dog and bitten children.  Nobody wants a barking, fence running dog for a neighbor no matter how the behavior was started.
  2. Children may throw food or other objects over the fence that can harm your pet.  It’s a good idea to run a fence check frequently in warm months.
  3. Jumping dogs can catch a collar on the fence top and choke to death.  Yes it happens.
  4. Small pets can be injured and even killed by over enthusiastic and unsupervised children.  Again, yes it happens.
  5. Finally, no matter how safe you keep your yard, it doesn’t matter if children forget to close and latch the gate.

This isn’t a complete list of the potential dangers in the backyard jungle but hopefully we’ve got you thinking about pet proofing your property.   Feel free to call us or contact through our web site or face book with any questions.

Ways to Recognise Illness in Your Cat From Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian

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.

2. CHANGES IN INTERACTION – Cats are social animals. Changes in their interaction often signal pain or anxiety.

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.

6. WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN – Weight changes in cats often go unnoticed because of their thick coats. It is not an expected part of aging, but rather a medical problem.

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!”