Managing Mouthy Behaviors

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Dog biting hand while pettingManaging Mouthy Behaviors

Mouthiness in puppies, however undesirable, is a normal, natural behavior. The sense of taste and touch in and around the mouth are some of the first senses to develop. Hence, puppies use their mouths to gather information about their environment. When a whelping mom has the chance to raise her puppies to adulthood, she teaches them about biting – what is “too hard” and what constitutes “too much”. Since most of us acquire our pups without their mother’s having had a chance to teach them these rules, it is our responsibility to help them learn how ‘not’ to use their mouths. Some use of the mouth for exploration is acceptable in puppies less than 4 months of age; however, biting that is repetitive or in the least bit painful should be discouraged. Here are some tips for discouraging mouthy behavior

1.Avoid rough or aggressive play, especially interactions which involved a puppy’s mouth and your hands or feet. The more aroused and excited your puppy is during play, the more likely he is to offer mouth behaviors.

2.Provide appropriate chew outlets, such as rawhide chews , Nyla-bones, frozen food stuffed Kong or Busy Buddy toys, and durable stuffed toys. These toys should be used to redirect your puppy’s urge to chew away from your hands or feet. Smearing peanut butter on your pup’s toys can also help make them more appealing than your hands. Mouthy puppies should be offered a toy before all interactions with people. This sets them up for success by having an appropriate option to mouth before they even have a chance to chew on hands or feet.

3.Should a puppy mouth your hand, you want to remove any and all attention so that this behavior is not accidentally rewarded. This means taking away eye contact, any touching, and keeping silent. Once the pup has calmed down, you can offer him a toy to start the interaction again, or ask for a “sit” (review Basic Manners training) before giving the toy to encourage a more desirable behavior. In some cases a high pitched “ouch” can be used to interrupt mouthy behaviors. This should be a high-pitched yelp – one that is loud enough to stop the behavior, but calm enough not to scare the puppy. If your puppy looks fearful or cowers you should avoid the “ouch”. Also, some dogs perceive the “ouch” as fun and attention and may inadvertently find it rewarding. Avoid the “ouch” if mouthing increases

In some cases excessive mouthing behavior is a sign of fear or stress. Other signs of fear and stress include, but are not limited to body stiffening, cowering, growling, snarling, ducking of the head and showing the whites of the eyes, trembling, excessive fidgeting, and urinating. If the mouthy behavior occurs with these signs or if you sense for any reason that there is an aggressive nature to it, please contact your veterinarian immediately so that you can seek help from an appropriate behavior specialist. Fearful behavior in puppies is not normal and may progress to aggression if not managed appropriately.

Source:http://indoorpet.osu.edu/dogs/puppy/mouthing/index.cfm

National Pit Bull Awareness Month

Monday, October 21st, 2013

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In honor of Pit Bull Awareness Month, we have linked a documentary about the horrible consequences of the discrimination placed towards the breed across the country. “Beyond the Myth” will be available to watch for free all month long.

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Beyond the Myth: A Film About Breed Discrimination

“Unfairly known as violent killers, Pit Bulls have suffered from the stigma of negative media coverage that has lead to city-wide bans across the country. This breed-specific legislation has torn pets away from families, and killed thousands of innocent dogs in cities like Denver, Miami, Cincinnati, and San Francisco.

The film investigates the myths associated with these breeds, challenges the idea that they are inherently vicious, and presents eye-opening research regarding the media’s role in influencing people’s opinion on dog attacks.

Stripping away the preconceptions to show the loving companions they can be, Beyond the Myth is an important, must see film for all dog lovers.” – www.Beyondthemythmovie.com

 

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What is Territorial Marking and How to Stop It?

Monday, October 14th, 2013

What is Territorial Marking and How to Stop It?

By Ashley Bennett

puppy-boxer-pee-urinate-accidentLet’s face it, dogs are territorial animals by nature. They like to protect their territory, their family, and their belongings. Territorial marking is different from urination because it is only a small amount to make other dogs aware that this is their territory. When people notice that their dog has been marking around the house, it is not usually done out of spite, but out of insecurity.

For a dog, this insecurity may be a sense that their area is under siege by another person or animal inside the house, or even outside in some cases. Territoriality is not always a bad thing, but it is definitely bad for your home, because it involves urination around things or places that “belong” to the dog; exposure to the scent later can also trigger re-marking. Here is what you need to know in order to prevent this behavior.

Spay or Neuter Your Dog

If you have not already done so, having your dog spayed or neutered can reduce incidences of territorial marking. It can also extend your dog’s life, improve other aspects of their health, and reduce the number of unwanted dogs. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered can and do still engage in marking behaviors from time to time, depending on other factors. According to a report from the Humane Society, spaying or neutering your pet may help reduce likelihood that they will mark their territory, but it does not completely stop it.

Allow Your Dog to Get Acquainted with Unfamiliar Faces

Sometimes your dog may start marking things around the house because someone new has been introduced into the household, whether it is a new roommate, pet, or even a frequent visitor. Chances are that the dog feels like this person or animal has entered their realm and it is marking to show them that they still have ownership over the territory. People are usually annoyed by this behavior, but other animals know what it means if a dog has marked their territory. The only way to resolve this issue is to allow your dog to get a true introduction to the new person or pet and allow them to spend some time to bond with them. Keep the new person or animal out of the dog’s area until the two have become more acquainted.

Establish Yourself as the Pack Leader

Dogs crave rules, boundaries and limitations. It is not a good idea to allow your dog to roam all over the house, sit on furniture, eat from the table, or engage in any other type of disruptive behavior. Although your dog is your companion, it is a follower in your pack, not a leader. You can reduce this type of behavior by asserting yourself as the pack leader by using calm, assertive energy. Make your dog earn food, water, and affection through exercise and discipline — exercise via two or more daily walks to drain her energy, and discipline through setting those rules, boundaries and limitations.

These types of issues are often exacerbated by a lack of training and discipline for your pet. If this seems to be a big problem, then you may want to consider an obedience class for your dog or speak to your veterinarian for some other solutions.

Halloween Safety Tips

Friday, October 11th, 2013

dracula-halloween-dog-costumeNo Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Attention, animal lovers, it’s almost the spookiest night of the year! The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet saying “trick or treat!” all the way to November 1.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms—especially dark or baking chocolate—can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you

 

Source: ASPCA

Big Dogs, Small dogs

Monday, October 7th, 2013

BigLittleDogs“He chose the dog, but i chose the name,” the woman explained. Their dog was an especially petite Boston Terrier, but his name – Titan – was one  more typically bestowed on a larger dog. I’d seen this type of incongruity before, and though it’s sometimes just for the sake of being ironic, often it’s about conflict. Couples who disagree about whether to add a large dog or small dog to their family compromise by choosing a dog of one size and name that’s usually given to a dog of another size. I’ve also met Pixie the Newfoundland, Tank the Bichon Frise, Bitsy the Bouvier and Goliath the Pug.

People often have strong opinions about what size dog best suits them. Some people prefer small dogs because they’re more likely to be welcome everywhere, especially when traveling, while others gravitate to large dogs because they associate them with fun and friendliness, as well as kids and families. Size based biases are also common, and sad to say, I’ve heard a number of derogatory terms for both small and large dogs. And anyone with big dogs knows that people sometimes fear them even when their behavior is exemplary and a small dog is present whose behavior is not. One Bark reader implored me, “Don’t forget to cover that big dog stigma!”

Many people have asked the question, “How is the experience of having a large dog different than that of having a small dog?” Part of the answer may come from evaluating whether big and small dogs really are different in ways that extend beyond size, particularly in their behavior. Another piece of the puzzle involves determining if people’s behavior toward and expectations of dogs varies based on the dog’s size.

A Sizable Spectrum

One of the marvels of domestic dogs is the astounding range of sizes they come in, which is determined by a very small number of genes. (In comparison, roughly 200 gene regions affect height i humans.) A dog’s size has practical consequences – just ask anyone with a Great Dane suffering from diarrhea, an experience that’s not quite the same for a person with a similarly afflicted Maltese. Likewise, dealing with a seven pound Affenpinscher who prefers not to get into the car may require nothing more than matter-of-factly picking her up and putting her inside. The situation is far more challenging when a 185 pound Saint Bernard’s involved. Big dogs can be more expensive in every way, from the cost of food, professional grooming and medication to toys, leashes, collars and food bowls.

People with little dogs who don’t want then to help themselves to food simply avoid picnicking on the floor and are careful not to leave chairs where they can be used as stepping stones to the table or counter. People with large dogs often find that no place lower than the top of the refrigerator is safe or truly off limits. With a large dog, the accidental consumption of dangerous foods, such as chocolate, is far less likely to lead to lead to serious consequences than for a smaller dog because it takes much more for the dose to be toxic to a larger dog. Similarly, the few extra treats that lead to weight gain in smaller dogs may be no big deal for a large dog. Finally, helping a large dog with mobility issues can be physically demanding for the caregiver.

Some worry about big dogs around children, but i must confess that I worry when we dog-sit a friend’s six pound Pomeranian. My kids are gentle with him and do a good job of being kind and respectful, but I’m still worried that they’ll collide with him and cause an injury completely by accident, no matter how actively I’m supervising. With bigger dogs, that isn’t as much of a concern.

Many people point out the advantages of small dogs in urban environments:it’s easier to rent an apartment (weight limits favor them); tight living spaces may be easier to share; and getting small dogs into and out of an apartment building, especially wile you’re house training them, is far less if a challenge. Yet traits that can be troublesome fr urban living – high exercise needs, sound sensitivity, a tendency to bark excessively – have nothing to do with size. Some dogs are beautifully suited to life in the city, and others are not.

So, are behavioral differences size-based? For the most part, the answer is a resounding “No!” Dogs of all sizes love to play chase, fetch, go on walks, run off leash, meet new people, romp with their best dog buddies, participate in training sessions and eat tasty treats. By the same token, dogs of all sizes are vulnerable to sound sensitivity, exhibit separation anxiety and aggression, jump on people inappropriately, bark to excess, shew on shoes, dig in the garden, or have accidents on the floor. They all wag their tails (if they have them!) in joy.

And yet, there are clearly differences between individual dogs, based perhaps on age, gender or the environment in which the dog lives or was raised. While the similarities in dogs of different sizes are far greater than the differences, can we deny those differences? Should we?

 Science Steps In

A 2010 research study (Arhant, et al.) examined the connection between size and behavior in great detail, addressing these questions: How does guardian behavior toward dogs of unequal sizes influence their dogs’ behavior? How do expectations of dogs based on their size differ? Do people treat large and small dogs differently? In the study, “small” and “large” were defined by weight; dogs less than 20 kg (44 pounds) were categorized as small and those equal to or more than that, as large.

The study’s most important over all finding? There are significant differences in behavior between large and small dogs and between guardians of large and small dogs. The researchers reported that a range of interactions between people and their dogs are related to the size of the dog.

Small dogs were reported to be less obedient, slightly more often aggressive or excitable, and more anxious and fearful. People with small dogs also reported a lower level of consistency on their interactions and enforcement of rules than did those with larger pups.

Much has been made of the practice of treating small dogs like babies, though it’s hardly surprising that it occurs. Babyish features affect human caretaking behavior; we’re evolutionarily hardwired to find big eyes, small size and proportionally large heads endearing. Psychologists call this the “Aww phenomenon.” If babies weren’t so cute, parents could be less likely to survive.

Dogs seem to elicit his same “aww” response in humans, especially small dogs, and even more so, breeds with pronounced juvenile features such as Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas, Pugs, Japanese Chins and Boston Terriers. Since babies affect our hormones, raising the levels of oxytocin – nicknamed “the love hormone” – it stands to reason that adorable dogs do, too.

Socialization, Training and Other Interactions

Socialization is a key factor when it comes to dog behavior. Typically, large dogs have more opportunities for socialization than small ones. When small dogs are carried around rather than moving around on their own four paws, they have fewer interactions with people and other dogs, which can limit their ability to cope with them. Also, small dogs are often picked up or otherwise physically manipulated, which may result in more negative experiences with humans.

Many say that their small dogs are “people” dogs and don’t like other dogs; lots of people with big dogs say the same thing. Size notwithstanding, positive experiences with other dogs during puppyhood are the best way for a dog to develop good manners. Absent enough of those experiences, dogs of all sizes face social challenges.

Well-trained dogs are always a joy, but training is another way in which interactions between people and dogs differ based on size. Two research studies found that small dogs do not receive as much formal training as large dogs. Also, people play fetch more often and do more tugging and nose work with big dogs than with small ones, and are more likely to take them running or biking. Arhant’s study concludes that differences in people’s behavior may account for the higher rates of disobedience in small dogs.

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Codes of Conduct

It’s hard to make the case that a dog’s size has no bearing on what we consider acceptable, or what we allow them to do. Though many guardians have the same rules for dogs of any size, the code of conduct for large and small dogs is often different.

For example, small dogs are more likely to be allowed in our beds and on our laps. Practical considerations area t work here. Having a 25-pound dog jump or sit on you is one thing, but having a 100 pound  dog do it is another. Others encourage little dogs to jump on people and get on the furniture, but rarely invite big dogs to do so. Jumping up isn’t the only thing that’s treated differently. The behavior that is considered a nuisance in a small dog may be deemed antisocial in a large dog. Even aggression and other serious behavioral issues are more likely to be tolerated in small dogs.

As evidence that some people with small dogs don’t take undesirable behavior seriously, consider this story: an eight-pound Chichuahua escaped from his home, but someone and was declared a dangerous dog. When a representative from animal control came, the dog’s people apparently thought it was a joke. One of them was reported to have said “I broke out laughing. I said, ‘Look at the dog, do you see the dog going after you?’ The guy kind of got upset when I started laughing at him.”

For years, I have specialized in cases involving aggressive dogs, and to be honest, the size of the dogs sometimes makes a difference in how I feel about the threat they represent. I once had a very aggressive Dachshund in  my office, followed by a Chesapeake Bay Retriever with similar issues. During both appointments, I employed all the cautions necessary in this line of work. Still, throughout the appointment with Chessie, I was aware of being afraid, while with the Doxie – though I knew I was at risk of being bitten if I made a mistake – I just didn’t feel the same anxiety. Both dogs were equally aggressive, but the size factor affected my fear response.

I’m not alone in reacting differently to aggressive dogs based on their size. Large dogs are more likely to be euthanized for aggression, though another study found that the average “biter” tended to be a smaller dog. It’s possible that greater tolerance for this behavior in small dogs allows genetic tendencies toward it to persist.

In some ways, there are correlations between size and breed characteristics. Many small dogs are terriers and earth-dogs, types that have been deliberately developed to be tenacious and curious as well as to dig and explore. If dogs re bred for those characteristics, such behavior will have far more to do with genetic influences on behavior than with size.

Also related to breeding, Arhant, et al. found that small dogs were more likely than large dogs to come from pet stores, which generally acquire their “stock” from puppy mills. When you consider that puppy mills are notorious for environmental deprivation and risky breeding practices, it is perhaps no surprise that small dogs are burdened with more problematic behavior.

What dogs do – their behavior! – is what makes them good company, great friends and essential members of our family, and very little of that has anything to do with size. When dog people swap stories, they are not about the size of the dog but about the experiences we have in common – the joy, the angst, the training, the vet emergencies, the photos, the occasional chewed shoe, the games, the walks, the friendship, the fun and the love. It’s always a big love, no matter what size the dog.

By, Karen B.London PhD ( Bark Magazine)

Lost Pet Prevention/Recovery Checklist

Friday, September 27th, 2013

lost dogPrevention/Recovery checklist

Don’t kid yourself that your well-adjusted pup would never bolt. There are always extreme circumstances-such as fires or intruders-that could prove you wrong. Seriously improve your dog’s odds by taking these proactive steps.

Always collar and tag and microchip your dog. A chip alone isn’t enough. Dogs found without collars can be “adopted” by strangers who assume they’re strays.

If your dog is shy or skittish, add a tag with “I’m afraid, not abused” to her collar. Strangers may assume a cowering dog has been mistreated and deliberately not return her.

Travel Safely. Use a non-slip collar (such as a Martingale) to prevent your surprised or frightened dog from slipping free. In the car, crate your dog so she doesn’t escape if there’s an accident.

Have current photos of your pet. If your dog looks different before and after grooming, have shots of each. See if your vet will attach a photo to your dog’s file in the event she escapes during a house fire or flood in which your personal records are destroyed.

Be prepared. Create large, neon pet posters and keep them at hand to reduce delays if your dog disappears.

Have proof of ownership. There’s no guarantee that the person who finds your dog will give her back. A microchip is the best proof of ownership.

Be neighborly. Introduce yourself and your dog to the neighbors; this makes it more likely they will let you know if they see your dog running loose. If your dog frequently roams, barks or annoys them, they may not be so quick to alert you to a sighting.

Secure your property. Make sure fences are high enough to keep in jumpers and deep enough to foil diggers, and keep an eye out for potential launching pads, such as lawn furniture.

Train your dog not to bolt through open gates and doors. Work through behavioral issues such as digging or not coming when called.

Collect and store scent DNA. Should you need to hire a pet-detection dog, a distinct scent sample from your missing pet is essential, especially if you have more than one animal in your home (ideally, you’ll never need it.) Wearing sterile gloves, wipe a gauze pad over your dog’s back, belly and mouth. Store in a zip-type bag in the freezer.  A few plucked hairs (including the root) and nail clippings stored in another bag can be useful in the unfortunate event remains are found. The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis can test the DNA and tell you it’s from your pet.

How to cut cat’s nails

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

CatClawsAmericanImagesInc600How to cut cat’s nails

Nail Trimming 101

Make manicures enjoyable and easy for both you and your cat.

Does your kitty disappear when the clippers come out? Do you have to wrap her in a towel to give her a manicure? According to our behavior experts, calm, enjoyable nail-trimming sessions are not only possible—that’s how they should always be! Check out the following tips for getting kitty to relax while you trim, turning nail-clipping sessions into enjoyable together time.

Setting the Mood

Ideally you should introduce your cat to nail clipping when she’s a kitten. Choose a chair in a quiet room where you can comfortably sit your cat on your lap. Get her when she’s relaxed and even sleepy, like in her groggy, after-meal state. Take care that she isn’t able to spy any birds, wild animals or action outside nearby windows—and make sure no other pets are around.

Make Friends with the Paw

Gently take one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than the count of three. If your cat pulls her paw away, don’t squeeze or pinch, just follow her gesture, keeping in gentle contact. When she’s still again, give her pad a little press so that the nail extends out, then release her paw and immediately give her a treat. Do this every other day on a different toe until you’ve gotten to know all ten.

Get Acquainted with the Clipper

Your cat should be at ease with the sound of the clippers before you attempt to trim her nails. Sit her on your lap, put a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the clippers and hold them near your cat. (If she sniffs the clippers, set a treat on top of them for her to eat.) Next, while massaging one of your cat’s toes, gently press her toe pad. When the nail extends, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while still holding your cat’s paw gently. Now release her toe and quickly give her a treat.

Never Cut to the Quick

The pink part of a cat’s nail, called the quick, is where the nerves and blood vessels are. Do NOT cut this sensitive area. Snip only the white part of the claw. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk cutting this area. If you do accidentally cut the quick, any bleeding can be stopped with a styptic powder or stick. It’s a good idea to keep it nearby while you trim.

Time to Clip

With your cat in your lap facing away from you, take one of her toes in your hand, massage and press the pad until the nail extends. Check to see how much of a trim her nails need and notice where the quick begins. Now trim only the sharp tip of one nail, release your cat’s toe and quickly give her a treat. If your cat didn’t notice, clip another nail, but don’t trim more than two claws in one sitting until your cat is comfortable. Be sure to reward her with a special treat afterward. Please note, you may want to do just one paw at a time for the first couple of sessions.

Clipping Schedule

A nail-trimming every ten days to two weeks is a nice routine to settle into. If your cat refuses to let you clip her claws, ask your vet or a groomer for help.

What Not to Do

  • If your cat resists, don’t raise your voice or punish her.
  • Never attempt a clipping when your cat is agitated or you’re upset. And don’t rush—you may cut into the quick.
  • Don’t try to trim all of your cat’s claws at one time.
  • Do NOT declaw. This surgery involves amputating the end of a cat’s toes and is highly discouraged by the ASPCA. Instead, trim regularly, provide your cat with appropriate scratching posts and ask your veterinarian about soft plastic covers for your cat’s claws.

Source: ASPCA

Dog Bite Prevention for Children

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

 

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Dog Bite Prevention for Children

Did you know that 50 percent of all children in the United States will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday? Did you know that 800,000 bites a year are severe enough to require medical treatment, while 1 to 2 million go unreported?

The vast majority of dog bites are from a dog known to the child—his or her own pet, a neighbor’s or friend’s. You can help prevent this from happening to your child. Please discuss with him or her the appropriate way to behave around dogs. The following activity will help you and your child understand the difference between safe and potentially dangerous interactions with dogs.

The following is a list of pledges that you can recite with your child:
1. I will not stare into a dog’s eyes.
2. I will not tease dogs behind fences.
3. I will not go near dogs chained up in yards.
4. I will not touch a dog I see loose (off-leash) outside.
5. If I see a loose dog, I will tell an adult immediately.
6. I will not run and scream if a loose dog comes near me.
7. I will stand very still (like a tree), and will be very quiet if a dog comes near me.
8. I will not touch or play with a dog while he or she is eating.
9. I will not touch a dog when he or she is sleeping.
10. I will only pet a dog if I have received permission from the dog’s owner.
11. Then I will ask permission of the dog by letting him sniff my closed hand.

SOURCE: ASPCA

Activity Sheet for Children
May I Pet the Dog?
Help your child understand the difference between safe and potentially dangerous interactions with dogs.

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Are bones safe for dogs to eat? The FDA says NO!

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Are bones safe for dogs to eat? The FDA says NO!

Many people ask, “What bones are safe to give my dog?” However, giving your dog a bone may turn out to be more dangerous than you think! According to the FDA; “Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast, bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

Here, at Town and Country Animal Hospital, a patient recently came in who was chewing on a seemingly safe marrow bone. Unfortunately, the dog got his lower jaw stuck right in the center of the bone. In order to remove the bone we had to sedate the dog and cut it off. Luckily for this pet, the bone was safely removed and he is doing fine now, but that is not always the case. Please think twice when giving your dogs bones, there are many safe treats available in pet supply stores. If you have any questions regarding which treats are safe for your pets you can call us at (305) 238-2222.

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Here are 10 reasons why it’s a bad idea to give your dog a bone:

  1. Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
  3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
  4. Bone gets stuck in esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your veterinarian.
  5. Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to your veterinarian immediately!
  6. Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. It may be time for surgery.
  8. Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian.
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see your veterinarian.
  10. Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

“Talk with your veterinarian about alternatives to giving bones to your dog,” says Stamper. “There are many bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on.”

“Always supervise your dog with any chew product, especially one your dog hasn’t had before,” adds Stamper. “And always, if your dog ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

Source: FDA

Finicky Eaters, Why won’t my dog eat his own food?

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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Finicky Eaters

A common complaint we hear all the time, usually involving smaller breeds that we tend to baby because they are so small … and cute. The main contributor to our pets developing a gourmet palate is our need to see them clean their plates. As soon as our little cutie walks away from a dish with food still remaining, it sets off a primal alarm in us that says “there must be something wrong.”  In reality, probably nothing is wrong, it’s just that small dogs don’t need to eat very much to be healthy and happy. Of course, we don’t understand that and our next reaction is to put a different food or non- dog food type treat to get them to eat something, after all, we can’t let the poor puppy starve, can we? Well, it doesn’t take long for the little munchkin to discover that if he holds out long enough, we will provide the gourmet treat that he has learned to love and expect, dare we say, demand.

OK, little monster created … so how do we reverse the mindset and get our lovable pets back to eating an appropriate diet? That is the kicker by the way, because if you so desire, you can cook for your little pooch as long as you are inclined to do so. Many web sites exist with lots of recipes and information regarding the fine art of being gourmet chef to our pampered pets. However, if you’d rather not, then the issue becomes how to get them to return to eating “dog food”.

That will often be a slow process and of course, will require much patience and craftiness. The first thing to know is that any change to the diet must be done slowly, try for a sudden change back to dry kibble or trust me, your little baby will make you pay dearly with plenty of guilt. When you make the switch back, start mixing in a little dog food in a way that makes it almost undetectable. This is where the craftiness comes in and also be aware that little dogs do not need to eat a lot. Sometimes canned dog foods are easier to start with, then once table food has been eliminated, you can start the transition to dry kibble, if that is your goal. Check with us if you have any concerns about your pet eating enough. It is a slow process back and there are no tricks that apply to all pets. Some are more stubborn than others, but almost all come around eventually.

-Dr. Eric Wenke (Town & Country Animal Hospital Veterinarian)

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