Queen West Animal Hospital Documents

Ways to Encourage Your Cat to Drink More Water

  1. Canned food is an excellent way to encourage water consumption, because it is high in water content and most cats love the taste.  It can always be warmed up in the microwave to enhance its smell for the fussy cat.  Try to feed at least some canned food two to three times a day.  You can always add water to the canned food (do so slowly).
  2. Provide fresh water everyday.  Cats seem to be very aware of the temperature and taste of water.
  3. Make sure the water bowl is filled to the brim at all times.  Cats have very sensitive whiskers and do not like putting their face into a bowl.
  4. Some cats do not like the taste of tap water.  You might wish to: a) refrigerate the tap water to improve its taste; b) try Brita water; c) try distilled water, d) try bottled water.
  5. Try a few types and see what your cat prefers.
  6. Some cats will drink more water if a drop or two of tuna juice (tuna in water of clam juice) is provided.  If you try this, always make sure a separate bowl of fresh water is available.
  7. Some cats enjoy ice cubes made from flavoured broth (tuna or salmon juice mixed with water and frozen).
  8. If your cat prefers to drink from a tap, make sure it can always get to the tap (don’t lock them out of the bathroom if that is where it likes to drink).  If your schedule permits, turn the tap on for the cat as often as possible throughout the day.  Water fountains can be purchased for cats that like fresh moving water.
  9. Keep the food and water bowls away from the litter box area.
  10. Keep the water bowl clean (cats have a keen sense of smell and are easily turned off by odours on the edge of the bowl).  Stainless steel or ceramic dishes are easier to keep clean and odour free versus plastic dishes.  The water dish should be washed at least every other day if possible.
  11. Some cats seem to prefer a clear glass shallow bowl to drink from (experiment with different water bowls).

Diarrhea Diet Recipe for Dogs

Take away food for the first 24 hours.

Mix a batch of the following:

  • Lean ground beef (boiled if possible to reduce the amount of fat)
  • Boiled white rice
  • Cottage cheese

Feed this diet in small frequent meals for 3 days

After the 3 days slowly begin to mix in regular dog food eventually changing back to dog food only over a period of 7 days.

Information on Healthymouth

Periodontal disease is the most common health concern in pet dogs and cats and is the result of interaction between the tissues around the teeth (gingival, periodontal ligament, alveolar bone) and hundreds of species of bacteria living on the tooth surfaces in a protective slime. The bacteria and their slime comprise a structure known as plaque.  Plaque forms on the surface of freshly cleaned teeth within hours, which is why you brush your own teeth at least twice a day.

Tartar is mineralized plaque so if the plaque is controlled, tartar will not form.  Maintaining optimum oral hygiene and periodontal health hinges on daily plaque control at home as well as regular professional assessment and maintenance therapy, just as with your own teeth and gums.

There are many products on the market claiming to help control plaque and/or tartar – most have no research to back their claims. Visit www.vohc.org for a list of products with some legitimacy to their claims.

Products that control plaque are favoured over those that merely control tartar without reducing plaque.

Healthymouth water additive (canine version) is a product with VOHC acceptance for plaque control. It contains no harmful chemicals such as alcohol or xylitol and is a product your pet uses itself every time it takes a drink from its bowl.

Healthymouth water additive is not intended to replace daily tooth brushing, plaque retardant diets or regular professional care but is added to all these strategies.

www.healthymouth.com has a lot more information about the product and it’s development. You are encouraged to visit and see for yourself.

Introducing your pet(s) to healthymouth:

Healthymouth comes with a money-back palatability guarantee but money in your pocket does not reduce plaque in your pet’s mouth, so we all want this to work. Since healthymouth does add some colour , odour and flavour to the drinking water, it should be introduced gradually to let your pet get used to it and so you can watch for any digestive upsets (a very unlikely occurrence)

Mix the concentrate according to the package instructions, then add a bit of treated water to a bowl full of plain water (25% treated plus 75% plain) for a few days. Then go 50:50 for a few days, 76% treated with 25% plain for a few days and then just treated water. The transition from plain water to treated water may take a week or two. It is not a race and there is no benefit in going too fast.

Once your pet(s) is (are) drinking healthy mouth at its proper dilution, it should be their regular drinking water all the time. At proper dilution, there is no worry of them drinking too much.

Guidelines for Dental Homecare

Regular dental care is an essential part of a health maintenance program for your pet.  Like humans, pets are susceptible to a number of diseases affecting the teeth and oral cavity.  An oral examination is an important part of your pet’s annual physical examination.  Gingivitis and periodontal disease are two of the most commonly seen problems in veterinary medicine.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums.  It may be recognized as a reddening of the gumline around the teeth, or a build-up of fluid (edema) in the gingival (gum) tissue.  Gingivitis results from a chronic build-up of tartar and bacteria on the teeth underneath the gumline.  It may be uncomfortable for your pet, and may lead to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the structures which secure the tooth firmly to the underlying bone.  As infection progresses, the teeth begin to loosen, and may begin to fall out.  Often, the gumline will begin to recede, leaving the tooth root exposed.  This may lead to deeper infections, abscesses, and osteomyelitis (infection of the underlying bone).  These diseases are more severe, and require immediate veterinary attention.

A good oral hygiene program will help to prevent the above problems.  Often, your veterinarian may recommend a dentistry.  This involves ultrasonically scaling the teeth to remove the hard, yellow tartar, and polishing the teeth to make them smoother.  This will help to prevent tartar from building up as quickly afterwards.  We also use a fluoride treatment on your pet’s teeth to help keep them strong and healthy.  As this procedure involves a general anaesthetic, your veterinarian may recommend some routine diagnostic testing before the procedure to ensure the safety of your pet.

There is much that can be done at home to promote good oral health.  Dry food is generally better than canned or semi-moist food, as the chewing action will help to keep your pet’s teeth clean.  Dog biscuits and chew toys may help a small amount.  Toothbrushing is the most important aspect of any oral hygiene program.  There are many products available to help you successfully brush your pet’s teeth.  Pet toothpastes are specifically formulated to meet the needs of your pet;  human toothpastes and baking soda should not be used, as they can cause vomiting in dogs and cats.  Regular toothbrushes may be used, or special brushes designed for animals.  One very popular item is the “finger cot”, a small thimble-like device with bristles that fits over the end of your finger.  Many pets that will not tolerate a toothbrush will tolerate this finger cot quite nicely.

When first starting to brush your pet’s teeth, it is important to be very patient.  It is a new and strange experience for most pets, and they may not be impressed at first.  Dogs can usually be trained to accept and even enjoy having their teeth brushed through a process of systematic desensitization.  The following points should be considered when beginning:

1. When to start? As soon as possible. Eight to 12 weeks old is best.  Pets don’t need maintenance this young, but by brushing once or twice weekly they will become familiar with the routine when the permanent teeth erupt.  It is a good idea to stop brushing while your pet is losing its baby teeth as the mouth will be a bit sore and your poking around with the brush will cause more pain.  Once all the permanent teeth are in you can pick up where you left off.

2. The first step is to work with your pet’s mouth.  With a little patience your pet will soon accept your attention.  Make it fun for both of you.  Use a lot of love and especially praise to gain their confidence.  Try to have your practice sessions at the same time each day so your pet gets into a routine.  Late in the evening often works well, as everyone involved is generally in a quiet mood then.  If your pet is highly motivated by food, try to just before dinner with the meal acting as a reward of co-operating.  It is also a good idea to have the training sessions at a time when the pet is coming to you seeking attention.  In this way, the pet is getting exactly what it wants (attention) as well as bonus treats and so is likely to be quite happy with the situation.

3.  Start by handling the muzzle and tickling the lips and soon you will be able to rub the teeth and gums with your finger.  Put a few drops of water, flavoured with garlic or garlic salt for dogs and tuna juice for cats, in the mouth daily.  They will soon look forward to this treat.  Immediately after the training session (within seconds), give your pet a reward of some sort.  For many animals, a bit of favourite food works well as motivation.

4.  Next, use a washcloth or a piece of pantyhose, wrapped around the end of your finger and flavoured as above, to gently rub the teeth.

5. Finally, use a soft toothbrush to brush the teeth.  There are several veterinary brushes available and many human brushes are well suited to animal use as well.  Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the tooth and brush back and forth or from gum to tip. Brushing the tongue side of the teeth is less critical.  Use the garlic water or tuna juice.  Make it a game.

6. There is an ever-growing selection of veterinary tooth washes, pastes and gels.  Your veterinarian can help you select the one best suited to your situation.  These products can increase the effectiveness of your home-care program, but remember, it’s the brushing which does most of the cleaning.  Brushing at least three times weekly is recommended (daily is much better). Human toothpaste is to be avoided, as it will cause stomach upset if swallowed.  Baking soda, with its very high sodium content can be dangerous to older patients.  Hydrogen peroxide can be too harsh for the gums and must not be allowed.

7. It helps to give abrasive foods and toys such as dry kibble, rawhide strips and dense rubber chew toys.  There are now a number of diets on the market that have been shown to help reduce calculus and/or plaque accumulation.  Avoid natural bones, dried cow hooves and hard nylon toys, as these are hard enough to fracture teeth.

8. By following a consistent program of home-care, you will greatly improve your pet’s dental health.  This will mean fewer professional cleanings, less tooth loss and a happier, healthier pet.  However, please remember that there is no substitute for professional veterinary care.  We must work as a team to ensure a long and happy life for your pet.

*Remember that Homecare is for prevention, not for treatment of established problems.  Never start a homecare program until you have confirmation that the mouth is clean, healthy and pain-free.

Canine Dental Disease

What kinds of dental problems do dogs have?

Dental disease is as common in dogs as it is in humans.  The most common form of dental disease in humans is caries (cavities).  However, this is not the case in dogs.  The most common form of canine dental disease is tartar buildup.  This causes irritation of the gums around the base of the teeth (gingivitis), resulting in exposure of the roots. Ultimately, this leads to infection and tooth loss.

Isn’t it correct that dogs that eat dry dog food don’t have tartar buildup?

There are many misconceptions about tartar buildup in dogs.  Diet is probably much less important than most people think.  Because dry food is not as sticky as canned food, it does not adhere to the teeth as much and thus, does not cause tartar buildup as rapidly.  However, eating dry food does not remove tartar from the teeth.  Once tartar forms, a professional cleaning is necessary.

One of the main factors determining the amount of tartar buildup is the individual chemistry in the mouth.  Some dogs need yearly cleanings; other dogs need a cleaning only once every few years.

What does tartar do to the teeth?

If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth, several things may happen:

1)  The tartar will mechanically push the gums away from the roots of the teeth.  This allows the teeth to loosen in their sockets and infection to enter the root socket.  The teeth will loosen and fall out or have tobe extracted.

2)  Infection will accumulate in the mouth, resulting in gingivitis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis (sore throat).  Although antibiotics may temporarily suppress the infection, if the tartar is not removed from the teeth, infection will return quickly.

3)  Infection within the mouth will be picked up by the blood stream and carried to other parts of the body.  Kidney infections, as well as infections involving the heart valves, frequently begin in the mouth.

What is involved in cleaning my dog’s teeth?

Proper cleaning of the teeth requires complete cooperation of the patient so plaque and tartar can be removed properly.  Anesthesia is required to thoroughly clean the teeth.  Although anesthesia always carries a degree of risk, the modern anesthetics in use in our hospital minimize this risk, even for older dogs.  Depending on your dog’s age and general health status, blood may be analyzed prior to anesthesia to evaluate blood cell counts and organ functions.

There are three steps in the cleaning process that will be used on your dog:

1.  Scaling removes the tartar above and below the gum line.  This is done with hand instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment.

2.  Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.

3.  Flushing removes dislodged tartar from the teeth and helps to remove the bacteria that accompany tartar.

Feline Dental Disease

Dental disease is a common and often overlooked problem in cats.  While cavities are the most common dental disease of humans, cats are more frequently affected by tartar buildup on the teeth.  Tartar accumulation leads to irritation of the gums around the base of the teeth, ultimately leading to exposure of the roots.  Potential outcomes of this tooth root exposure include gum infections and tooth loss.

What factors influence dental disease?

One of the main factors determining the amount of tartar buildup is the individual chemistry in the mouth.  Some cats need yearly cleanings; other cats need a cleaning only once every few years.

Diet plays more of a minor role in the development of tartar accumulation than most people think.  Because dry food is not as sticky as canned food, it does not adhere to the teeth as much and thus, does not cause tartar buildup as rapidly.  However, eating dry food does not remove tartar from the teeth.  Once tartar forms, a professional cleaning is necessary.

Other known risk factors for feline dental disease are the feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus.  Severe disease of the teeth and gums can alert the veterinarian to test for these diseases.

What does it do to my cat?

In some cases, owners are unaware that their cat has dental disease.  The problem may be identified with a routine physical examination or during investigation of another problem.

In other situations, the probability of dental disease is apparent to the owner.  The cat may have very bad breath (halitosis), difficulty eating, or changes in temperament.

What are the causes?

Many different disorders can lead to dental disease in the cat.  In general, the veterinarian will try to determine whether the problem is limited to the oral cavity (primary dental disease) or has developed as a consequence of another disease (secondary dental disease).

How do we know how much disease is present?

Diagnosis of dental disease is usually very straightforward.  However, in most cases, the true extent of the disease cannot be determined unless the cat is under anesthesia.  This facilitates a more complete examination of the oral cavity.

How is it treated?

Proper cleaning of the teeth requires complete cooperation of the patient so that plaque and tartar can be removed properly.  Anesthesia is required to thoroughly clean the teeth.  Many owners have a high degree of anxiety related to general anesthesia for their cats.  While there is always a degree of risk with any anesthetic, be aware that the cat’s health may ultimately be compromised by delaying proper dental care.

To minimize risk, our hospital uses modern anesthetics which are deemed safe even for older cats.  Also, depending on your cat’s age and general health status, various tests may be performed prior to anesthesia to detect health problems that might affect the cat under anesthesia.

There are four steps in the cleaning process that will be used on your cat:

Scaling removes the tartar above and below the gum line.  This is done with hand instruments and ultrasonic cleaning equipment.  The tartar which is under the gums must be removed for a dental cleaning to be complete.

Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth making them resistant to additional plaque formation.

Flushing removes dislodged tartar from the teeth and helps to remove the bacteria that accompany tartar.

Can my cat’s teeth be saved?

In the early stages of dental disease, the problems may be reversible.  At some point, however, even cleaning cannot restore the mouth to normal.  This is not a reason to avoid cleaning!

The prognosis is worsened if tartar is left on the teeth indefinitely.  Some of the consequences of delayed dental care are:

1)  The tartar will mechanically push the gums away from the roots of the teeth.  This allows the teeth to loosen in their sockets and infection to enter the root socket.  The teeth will loosen and fall out or have to be extracted.

2)  Infection will accumulate in the mouth, resulting in gingivitis (gums), tonsillitis, and pharyngitis (sore throat).  Although antibiotics may temporarily suppress the infection, if the tartar is not removed from the teeth, infection will return quickly.

3)  Infection within the mouth will be picked up by the blood stream and carried to other parts of the body.  Kidney and heart infections frequently begin in the mouth.

How can I prevent this from recurring?

A.  Several preventive measures can be recommended to aid in oral hygiene for the cat.

B.  Seek regular veterinary care and have the teeth cleaned when advised.

C.  Try to maintain home dental care including brushing the teeth.  Special toothbrushes and flavored toothpastes are available.  We will be happy to show you how to do this and to recommend a schedule.

D.  A tartar control diet is available through our clinic.  It can be used as a maintenance diet or as a treat.  It will not clean the teeth but will prolong the interval between professional cleanings (under anesthesia).

New Kitten Information Package

We would like to congratulate you on the acquisition of your new kitten.  Owning a cat can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it also carries with it quite a bit of responsibility.  We hope this document will give you the information needed to make some good decisions regarding your kitten.

First let us say that we are grateful that you have chosen us to help you with your kitten’s health care.  If you have questions concerning any subject related to your kitten’s health, please feel free to call our hospital.  Either one of the technicians or one of the doctors will be happy to help you.

How should I introduce my new kitten to its new environment?

A cat is naturally inclined to investigate its new surroundings.  It is suggested that the cat’s area of exploration be limited initially so that these natural tendencies do not create an unmanageable task.  After confining the cat to one room for the first few days, you should slowly allow access to other areas of the home.

How should I introduce my new kitten to my other cat?

Most kittens receive a hostile reception from other household pets, especially from another cat.  The other cat usually sees no need for a kitten in the household, and these feelings are reinforced if it perceives that special favoritism is being shown the kitten.  The existing cat must not feel that it is necessary to compete for food or for attention.  The new kitten should have its own food and food bowl, and it should not be permitted to eat from the other cat’s bowl.  Although it is natural to spend time holding and cuddling the kitten, the existing cat will quickly sense that it is being neglected.  The new kitten needs lots of love and attention, but the existing cat should not be slighted.  In fact, the transition will be smoother if the existing cat is given more attention than normal.

The introduction period will usually last one to two weeks and will have one of three possible outcomes.

1.  The existing cat will remain hostile to the kitten.  Fighting may occur occasionally, especially if both try to eat out of the same bowl at the same time.  This is an unlikely occurrence if competition for food and affection are minimized during the first few weeks.

2.  The existing cat will only tolerate the kitten.  Hostility will cease, but the existing cat will act as if the kitten is not present.  This is more likely if the existing cat is very independent, has been an only cat for several years, or if marked competition occurred during the first few weeks.  This relationship is likely to be permanent.

3.  Bonding will occur between the existing cat and the kitten.  They will play together, groom each other, and sleep near each other.  This is more likely to occur if competition is minimized and if the existing cat has been lonely for companionship.

What type of playing should I expect from a kitten?

Stimulating play is important during the first week.  Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviors in kittens and have an important role in proper muscular development.  If given a sufficient outlet for these behaviors with toys, your kitten will be less likely to use family members for these activities.  The best toys are lightweight and movable.  These include wads of paper, small balls, and string or ribbon.  Kittens should always be supervised when playing with string or ribbons to avoid swallowing them.  Any other toy that is small enough to be swallowed should also be avoided.

Can I discipline a kitten?

Disciplining a young kitten may be necessary if its behavior threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided.  Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behavior.  However, remote punishment is preferred.  Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem behavior.  Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the kitten to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises.  Remote punishment is preferred because the kitten associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.

When should my kitten be vaccinated?

There are many diseases that are fatal to cats.  Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines.  In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.  Ideally, they are given at about 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.

The routine vaccination schedule will protect your kitten from five diseases:  distemper, three respiratory organisms, and rabies.  The first four are included in a combination vaccine that is given at 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks old.  Rabies vaccine is given at 12 weeks of age.  Leukemia vaccine is appropriate for any cat but a necessity if your cat does or will go outside or if you have another cat that goes in and out.  This deadly disease is transmitted by contact with other cats, especially when fighting occurs.  A vaccine is also available for protection against feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an uncommon disease that is most likely to occur in groups of cats.

Why does my kitten need more than one vaccination for feline distemper, upper respiratory infections, and leukemia?

When the kitten nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk.  This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies.  For about 24-48 hours after birth, the kitten’s intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream.  This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the kitten’s life, but, at some point, this immunity fails and the kitten must be able to make its own long-lasting immunity.  Vaccinations are used for this purpose.  As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, vaccinations do not “take.”  The mother’s antibodies will neutralize the vaccine so the vaccine does not get a chance to stimulate the kitten’s immune system.

Many factors determine when the kitten will be able to respond to the vaccines.  These include the level of immunity in the mother cat, how much of the antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given the kitten.  Since we do not know when an individual kitten will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations.  We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the kitten has lost the immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease.  A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity which is so important.

Rabies vaccine is an exception to this, since one injection given at the proper time is enough to produce long-term immunity.

Do all kittens have worms?

Intestinal parasites are common in kittens.  Kittens can become infected with parasites almost as soon as they are born.  For example, the most important source of roundworm infection in kittens is the mother’s milk.  The microscopic examination of a stool sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites.  We recommend this exam for all kittens, if we can get a stool sample.  Please bring one at your earliest convenience.  Even if we do not get a stool sample, we recommend the use of a broad spectrum deworming product that is safe and effective against almost all of the common worms of the cat.  It is given now and repeated in about 3-4 weeks, because the deworming medication only kills the adult worms.  Within 3-4 weeks the larval stages will have become adults and will need to be treated.  Cats remain susceptible to reinfection with hookworms and roundworms.  Periodic deworming throughout the cat’s life may be recommended for cats that go outdoors.

Tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasite of cats.  Kittens become infected with them when they swallow fleas; the eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea.  When the cat chews or licks its’ skin as a flea bites, the flea may be swallowed.  The flea is digested within the cat’s intestine; the tapeworm hatches and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining.  Therefore, exposure to fleas may result in a new infection; this can occur in as little as two weeks.

Cats infected with tapeworms will pass small segments of the worms in their stool.  The segments are white in color and look like grains of rice.  They are about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the stool.  They may also stick to the hair under the tail.  If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become golden in color.

Tapeworm segments do not pass every day or in every stool sample; therefore, inspection of several consecutive bowel movements may be needed to find them.  We may examine a stool sample in our office and not find them, then you may find them the next day.  If you find them at any time, please notify us so we may provide the appropriate drug for treatment.

There are lots of choices of cat foods.  What should I feed my kitten?

Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a cat’s life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your kitten.  We recommend a NAME-BRAND FOOD made by a national cat food company (not a generic or local brand), and a form of food MADE FOR KITTENS.  This should be fed until your kitten is about 12 months of age.  We recommend that you only buy food that has the AAFCO certification.  Usually, you can find this information very easily on the label.  AAFCO is an organization that oversees the entire pet food industry.  It does not endorse any particular food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition.  Most of the commercial pet foods will have the AAFCO label.  Generic brands often do not have it.  In Canada, look for foods approved by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).

Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of cat food is acceptable.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.  Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive.  It can be left in the cat’s bowl at all times.  If given the choice, the average cat will eat a mouthful of food about 12-20 times per day.  The good brands of dry food are just as nutritious as the other forms.  As a rule, most veterinarians will recommend dry food for your kitten.

Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable.  However, both are considerably more expensive than dry food.  They often are more appealing to the cat’s taste; however, they are not more nutritious.  If you feed a very tasty food, you are running the risk of creating a cat with a finicky appetite.  In addition, the semi-moist foods are high in sugar.

Table foods are not recommended.  Because they are generally very tasty, cats will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced cat food.  If you choose to give your kitten table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial kitten food.  We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet.  However, most cats actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them.  Do not feel guilty if your cat is happy to just eat one food day after day, week after week.

Commercials for cat food can be very misleading.  If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials promote cat food on one basis:  TASTE.  Nutrition is rarely mentioned.  Most of the “gourmet” foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their cats; however, they do not offer the cat any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive.  If your cat eats a gourmet food very long, it will probably not be happy with other foods.  If it needs a special diet due to a health problem later in life, it is very unlikely to accept it.  Therefore, we do not encourage feeding gourmet cat foods.

How do I insure that my kitten is well socialized?

The Socialization Period for cats is between 2 and 12 weeks of age.  During that time, the kitten is very impressionable to social influences.  If it has good experiences with men, women, children, dogs, other cats, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life.  If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them.  Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your cat to as many types of social events and influences as possible.

What can be done about fleas on my kitten?

Fleas do not stay on your kitten all of their time.  Occasionally, they will jump off and seek another host.  Therefore, it is important to kill fleas on your new kitten before they can become established in your house.  Many of the flea control products that are safe on adult cats are not safe for kittens less than four months of age.  Be sure that any flea product you use is labeled safe for kittens.

If you use a flea spray, your kitten should be sprayed lightly.  Flea and tick dip is not recommended for kittens unless they are at least four months of age.  Remember, not all insecticides that can be used on dogs are safe for cats and kittens.

There is a trick to spraying a kitten that will make the outcome safer and more successful.  When a kitten is sprayed, the fleas tend to run away from the insecticide.  If you spray the body first, many fleas will run to the head where they are very difficult to kill.  The best method is to spray a cotton ball then use that to wipe the flea spray onto the kitten’s face, from the nose to the level of the ears.  That will keep you from getting it in the eyes and will cause the fleas to run toward the body.  Wait about two minutes, then spray the body.  Leave the spray on for about three minutes, then wipe off the excess.  This will permit you to kill the most fleas while putting the least amount of insecticide on the kitten.

There are three products that are given only once per month; both can be used in kittens as young as six weeks.  ProgramÔ is a tablet that causes the adult fleas to lay sterile eggs.  It is very effective, but it does not kill adult fleas which usually live 2-3 months.  AdvantageÔ and Frontline Top SpotÔ are monthly products that kill adult fleas.  They are liquids that are applied to the skin at the base of the neck.  They, too, are very effective.

Can I trim my kitten’s sharp toenails?

Kittens have very sharp toenails.  They can be trimmed with your regular fingernail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats.  If you take too much off the nail, you will get into the quick; bleeding and pain will occur.  If this happens, neither you nor your cat will want to do this again.  Therefore, a few points are helpful:

a.  If your cat has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the quick through the nail.  Avoid the pink area, and you should be out of the quick.

b.  If your cat has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick so only cut 1/32″ (1 mm) of the nail at a time until the cat begins to get sensitive.  The sensitivity will usually occur before you are into the blood vessel.  With black nails, it is likely that you will get too close on at least one nail.

c.  If your cat has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones.

d.  When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers.  Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick.

e.  You should always have styptic powder available.  This is sold in pet stores under several trade names, but it will be labeled for use in trimming nails.

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are tiny insect-like parasites that live in the ear canal of cats (and dogs).  The most common sign of ear mite infection is scratching of the ears.  Sometimes the ears will appear dirty because of a black material in the ear canal; this material is sometimes shaken out.  The instrument we use for examining the ear canals, an otoscope, has the necessary magnification to allow us to see the mites.  Sometimes, we can find the mites by taking a small amount of the black material from the ear canal and examining it with a microscope.  Although they may leave the ear canals for short periods of time, they spend the vast majority of their lives within the protection of the ear canal.  Transmission generally requires direct ear-to-ear contact.  Ear mites are common in litters of kittens if their mother has ear mites.

Why should I have my female cat spayed?

Spaying offers several advantages.  The female’s heat periods result in about 2-3 weeks of obnoxious behavior.  This can be quite annoying if your cat is kept indoors.  Male cats are attracted from blocks away and, in fact, seem to come out of the woodwork.  They seem to go over, around, and through many doors.  Your cat will have a heat period about every 2-3 weeks until she is bred.

Spaying is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries.  Therefore, heat periods no longer occur.  In many cases, despite your best efforts, the female will become pregnant; spaying prevents unplanned litters of kittens.

It has been proven that as the female cat gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed.  Spaying before she has any heat periods will virtually eliminate the chances of either.  There is mounting evidence to believe that this is also true of cats.  If you do not plan to breed your cat, we strongly recommend that she be spayed before her first heat period.  This can be done anytime after she is five months old.

Why should I have my male cat neutered?

Neutering offers several advantages.  Male cats go through a significant personality change when they mature.  They become very possessive of their territory and mark it with their urine to ward off other cats.  The tom cat’s urine develops a very strong odor that will be almost impossible to remove from your house.  They also try to constantly enlarge their territory which means one fight after another.  Fighting results in severe infections and abscesses and often engenders rage in your neighbors.  We strongly urge you to have your cat neutered at about six to nine months of age.  If he should begin to spray his urine before that time, he should be neutered immediately.   The longer he sprays or fights, the less likely neutering is to stop it.

If I choose to breed my cat, when should that be done?

If you plan to breed your cat, she should have at least one or two heat periods first.  This will allow her to physically mature allowing her to be a better mother without such a physical drain on her.  We do not recommend breeding after 5 years of age unless she has been bred prior to that.  Having her first litter after five years of age is more physically draining to her and increases the chances of her having problems during the pregnancy and/or delivery.  Once your cat has had her last litter, she should be spayed to prevent the female problems older cats have.

Can you recommend something for pet identification?

 

The latest in pet retrieval is microchipping.  This tiny device is implanted with a needle so the process is much like getting an injection.  Our scanner can detect these chips; humane societies and animal shelters across the country also have scanners.  A national registry permits the return of microchipped pets throughout the United States and Canada.  We recommend it.

 

New Puppy Information Package

We would like to congratulate you on the acquisition of your new puppy.  Owning a dog can be an extremely rewarding experience, but it also carries with it quite a bit of responsibility.  We hope this document will give you the information needed to make some good decisions regarding your puppy.

First, let us say that we are grateful that you have chosen us to help you with your puppy’s health care.  If you have questions concerning any subject related to your puppy’s health, please feel free to call our hospital.  Our entire professional staff is willing and happy to help you.

What type of playing should I expect from a puppy?

Stimulating play is important during the first week.  Stalking and pouncing are important play behaviors in puppies and are necessary for proper muscular development.  If given a sufficient outlet for these behaviors with toys, your puppy will be less likely to use family members for these activities.  The best toys are lightweight and movable.  These include wads of paper and rubber balls.  Any toy that is small enough to be swallowed should be avoided.

Can I discipline a puppy?

Disciplining a young puppy may be necessary if its behavior threatens people or property, but harsh punishment should be avoided.  Hand clapping and using shaker cans or horns can be intimidating enough to inhibit undesirable behavior.  However, remote punishment is preferred.  Remote punishment consists of using something that appears unconnected to the punisher to stop the problem behavior.  Examples include using spray bottles, throwing objects in the direction of the puppy to startle (but not hit) it, and making loud noises.  Remote punishment is preferred because the puppy associates punishment with the undesirable act and not with you.

When should my puppy be vaccinated?

There are many diseases that are fatal to dogs.  Fortunately, we have the ability to prevent many of these by the use of very effective vaccines.  In order to be effective, these vaccines must be given as a series of injections.  Ideally, they are given at about 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks of age, but this schedule may vary somewhat depending on several factors.

The routine vaccination schedule will protect your puppy from seven diseases:  distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza virus, parvovirus, coronavirus, and rabies.  The first six are included in one injection that is given at 6-8, 12, and 16 weeks old.  Rabies vaccine is given at 12 weeks of age.  There are two other optional vaccinations that are appropriate in certain situations.  Your puppy should receive a kennel cough vaccine if a trip to a boarding kennel is likely or if it will be placed in a puppy training class.  Lyme vaccine is given to dogs that are exposed to ticks because Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks.  Please advise us of these needs on your next visit.

Why does my puppy need more than one vaccination?

When the puppy nurses its mother, it receives a temporary form of immunity through its mother’s milk.  This immunity is in the form of proteins called antibodies.  For about 24-48 hours after birth, the puppy’s intestine allows absorption of these antibodies directly into the blood stream.  This immunity is of benefit during the first few weeks of the puppy’s life, but, at some point, this immunity fails and the puppy must be able to make its own long-lasting immunity.  Vaccinations are used for this purpose.  As long as the mother’s antibodies are present, vaccinations do not have a chance to stimulate the puppy’s immune system.  The mother’s antibodies interfere by neutralizing the vaccine.

Many factors determine when the puppy will be able to respond to the vaccinations.  These include the level of immunity in the mother dog, how much antibody has been absorbed, and the number of vaccines given to the puppy.  Since we do not know when an individual puppy will lose the short-term immunity, we give a series of vaccinations.  We hope that at least two of these will fall in the window of time when the puppy has lost immunity from its mother but has not yet been exposed to disease.  A single vaccination, even if effective, is not likely to stimulate the long-term immunity which is so important.

Rabies vaccine is an exception to this, since one injection given at the proper time is enough to produce long-term immunity.

Do all puppies have worms?

Intestinal parasites are common in puppies.  Puppies can become infected with parasites before they are born or later through their mother’s milk.  The microscopic examination of a stool sample will usually help us to determine the presence of intestinal parasites.  We recommend this exam for all puppies, if we can get a stool sample.  Please bring one at your earliest convenience.  Even if we do not get a stool sample, we recommend the use of a deworming product that is safe and effective against several of the common worms of the dog.  We do this because our deworming medication has no side-effects and because do not pass worm eggs every day so the stool sample that we have may not detect worms that are really present.  Deworming is done now and repeated in about three weeks.  It is important that it be repeated in about three weeks because the deworming medication only kills the adult worms.  Within 3-4 weeks, the larval stages will have become adults and will need to be treated.  Dogs remain susceptible to reinfection with hookworms and roundworms.  Periodic deworming throughout the dog’s life may be recommended for dogs that go outdoors.

Tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs.  Puppies become infected with them when they swallow fleas; the eggs of the tapeworm live inside the flea.  When the dog chews or licks its skin as a flea bites, the flea may be swallowed.  The flea is digested within the dog’s intestine; the tapeworm hatches and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining.  Therefore, exposure to fleas may result in a new infection; this can occur in as little as two weeks.

Dogs infected with tapeworms will pass small segments of the worms in their stool.  The segments are white in color and look like grains of rice.  They are about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long and may be seen crawling on the surface of the stool.  They may also stick to the hair under the tail.  If that occurs, they will dry out, shrink to about half their size, and become golden in color.

Tapeworm segments do not pass every day or in every stool sample; therefore, inspection of several consecutive bowel movements may be needed to find them.  We may examine a stool sample in our office and not find them, then you may find them the next day.  If you find them at any time, please notify us so we may provide the appropriate drug for treatment.

How important are heartworms?

Heartworms are important parasites, especially in certain climates.  They can live in your dog’s heart and cause major damage to the heart and lungs.  Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes so your dog does not have to be in contact with another dog to be exposed.  Fortunately, we have drugs that will protect your dog from heartworms.  These drugs are very safe and very effective if given regularly.  One product is a chewable tablet that your dog should eat like a treat; it is given daily.  Two other products are tablets that are given only once monthly.  We recommend the product which is most likely to be given on a regular basis, either daily or monthly.  Be aware that having a long haircoat or staying primarily indoors does not protect a dog against heartworm infection.

Heartworm preventatives are dosed according to your dog’s weight.  As the weight increases, the dosage should also increase.  Please note the dosing instructions on the package.  These products are very safe.  You could overdose your dog by two or three times the recommended dose without causing harm.  Therefore, it is always better to overdose rather than underdose.

There are lots of choices of dog foods.  What should I feed my puppy?

Diet is extremely important in the growing months of a dog’s life, and there are two important criteria that should be met in selecting food for your puppy.  We recommend a NAME-BRAND FOOD made by a national dog food company (not a generic or local brand), and a form of food MADE FOR PUPPIES.  This should be fed until your puppy is about 12-18 months of age, depending on its size.  We recommend that you only buy food which has the AAFCO certification.  Usually, you can find this information very easily on the label.  AAFCO is an organization which oversees the entire pet food industry.  It does not endorse any particular food, but it will certify that the food has met the minimum requirements for nutrition.  Most of the commercial pet foods will have the AAFCO label.  Generic brands often do not have it.  In Canada, look for foods approved by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA).

Feeding a dry, canned, or semi-moist form of dog food is acceptable.  Each has advantages and disadvantages.  Dry food is definitely the most inexpensive.  It can be left in the dog’s bowl without drying.  The good brands of dry food are just as nutritious as the other forms.  As a rule, most veterinarians will recommend dry food for your puppy.

Semi-moist and canned foods are also acceptable.  However, both are considerably more expensive than dry food.  They often are more appealing to the dog’s taste; however, they are not more nutritious.  If you feed a very tasty food, you are running the risk of creating a dog with a finicky appetite.  In addition, the semi-moist foods are high in sugar.

Table foods are not recommended.  Because they are generally very tasty, dogs will often begin to hold out for these and not eat their well-balanced dog food.  If you choose to give your puppy table food, be sure that at least 90% of its diet is good quality commercial puppy food.

We enjoy a variety of things to eat in our diet.  However, most dogs actually prefer not to change from one food to another unless they are trained to do so by the way you feed them.  Do not feel guilty if your dog is happy to just eat one food day after day, week after week.

Commercials for dog food can be very misleading.  If you watch carefully you will notice that commercials promote dog food on one basis, TASTE.  Nutrition is rarely mentioned.  Most of the “gourmet” foods are marketed to appeal to owners who want the best for their dogs; however, they do not offer the dog any nutritional advantage over a good quality dry food, and they are far more expensive.  If your dog eats a gourmet food very long, it will probably not be happy with other foods.  If it needs a special diet due to a health problem later in life, it is very unlikely to accept it.  Therefore, we do not encourage feeding gourmet dog foods.

How often should I feed my puppy?

There are several “right” ways to feed puppies.  The most popular method is commonly called “meal feeding.”  This means that the puppy is fed at specific times of the day.  A measured amount of food should be offered four times per day for 5-12 week old puppies.  What is not eaten within 30 minutes is taken up.  If the food is eaten within 3-4 minutes, the quantity is probably not sufficient.  Puppies fed in this manner generally begin to cut themselves out of one of those meals by 3-4 months of age and perhaps another one later.  If a meal is ignored for several days, it should be discontinued.

“Free choice feeding” means that food is available at all times.  This works well with dry foods and for some dogs.  However, other dogs tend to overeat and become obese.  If there are signs of weight gain after the optimal weight is reached, this method of feeding should be discontinued.

How do I housebreak my new puppy?

Housebreaking should begin as soon as your puppy enters his new home.  How long the training must continue depends on both the puppy and you.  Some pups learn sooner than others.  Your dog wants to please you.  But a puppy’s memory is short, so your patience is important.  A home with a badly trained puppy is not a happy home for you or the puppy.

a)  The puppy’s bed may be a box, open at one end and slightly larger than the puppy.  If the bed is too large, the puppy, may defecate or urinate in a corner rather than go outside.  If the bed is smaller, the puppy will do its “business” outside rather than soil its bed.

b)  Enclose the bed in a small area, such as a laundry room.  Cover this area with newspapers to be used at night, or when your pup is left unsupervised.

c)  The secret to housebreaking is a scent post.  A scent post is created when your puppy has an “accident.”  The problem becomes one of locating the scent post in the place you want it.

d)  To create a scent post, leave a smear of stool from the last “accident” or wet paper on the clean paper in the place you want it, and coax or scoot the puppy to that area.  The same is true of an outside scent post, but without the paper, in an out-of-the-way place in the yard.  This will solve the “mine-field” problem.

e)  The first thing in the morning, the puppy should be scooted to the scent post.  This is so he can learn his way to the door and the scent post.  Let him sniff about.  The moment he has relieved himself, pat him on the head and immediately bring him into the house.  Do not let him play about.  The toilet period and play period should be definitely separate in the puppy’s routine.

f)  The puppy should then be fed.  In a short while the puppy will become uneasy and walk in circles sniffing at the floor.  The puppy should then be scooted and coaxed to the scent post as quickly as possible.

g)  This routine should be repeated every hour or two throughout the day, especially after meals and naps.

h)  When the puppy is taken out to play, it is wise to leave the house by another door and avoid taking him near his scent post.  Never play with your pup until after he has been taken out and has eliminated.

i)  There will of course be some “accidents” in the house.  Never let one of these slip by unnoticed; punishment five minutes after the offense is too late.  Scold (not whip) the puppy and rush him to the scent post.  Then scrub the area of mishap thoroughly until all odor is gone.  Sprinkle the area with red pepper or vinegar.

j)  Positive reinforcement of proper urine and bowel habits is just as important as properly applied discipline.  When your puppy urinates or defecates in the correct place, spend several minutes stroking and praising him.

How do I insure that my puppy is well socialized?

The socialization period for dogs is between 4 and 12 weeks of age.  During that time, the puppy is very impressionable to social influences.  If it has good experiences with men, women, children, cats, other dogs, etc., it is likely to accept them throughout life.  If the experiences are absent or unpleasant, it may become apprehensive or adverse to any of them.  Therefore, during the period of socialization, we encourage you to expose your dog to as many types of social events and influences as possible.

Introducing new puppies to cats poses interesting challenges. Most cats will spend long periods hiding from new dogs, especially solitary female cats. It normally takes many weeks for a cat to become comfortable with a new dog in the house. Please supervise all new dog introductions to cats to avoid confrontation and injury. Also, please ensure that your cat(s) have an opportunity to eat and use the litter box as they will stop eating if it means confronting the new puppy.

What can be done about fleas on my puppy?

Fleas do not stay on your puppy all of their time; occasionally, they will jump off and seek another host.  Therefore, it is important to kill fleas on your new puppy before they can become established in your house.  Many of the flea control products that are safe on adult dogs are not safe for puppies less than four months of age.  Be sure that any flea product you use is labeled safe for puppies.

If you use a flea spray, your puppy should be sprayed lightly.  Flea and tick dip is not recommended for puppies unless they are at least four months of age.  Remember, not all insecticides that can be used on adult dogs are safe for puppies.

There is a trick to spraying a puppy that will make the outcome safer and more successful.  When a puppy is sprayed, the fleas tend to run away from the insecticide.  If you spray the body first, many fleas will run to the head where they are very difficult to kill.  The best method is to spray a cotton ball then use that to wipe the flea spray onto the puppy’s face, from the nose to the level of the ears.  That will keep you from getting it in the eyes and will cause the fleas to run toward the body.  Wait about two minutes, then spray the back of the head and the body.  Leave the spray on for about three minutes, then wipe off the excess.  This will permit you to kill the most fleas while putting the least amount of insecticide on the puppy.

There are three products that are given only once per month; both can be used in puppies as young as 6 weeks.  ProgramÔ is a tablet that causes the adult fleas to lay sterile eggs.  It is very effective, but it does not kill adult fleas which usually live 2-3 months.  AdvantageÔ and Frontline Top SpotÔ are the monthly products that kill adult fleas.  They are liquids that are applied to the skin at the base of the neck.  They, too, are very effective.

My puppy seems to be constantly chewing.  Why does this occur?

One of the characteristics of puppies is chewing.  Puppies are trying their new teeth so chewing is a normal behavior.  The puppy’s baby teeth are present by about four weeks of age.  They begin to fall out at four months of age and are replaced by the adult (permanent) teeth by about six months of age.  Therefore, chewing is a puppy characteristic that you can expect until about 6-7 months of age.  It is important that you do what you can to direct your puppy’s chewing toward acceptable objects.  You should provide items such as rawhide chew bones, nylon chew bones, and other chew toys so other objects are spared.

My puppy has episodes of hiccupping and a strange odor to its breath.  Are these normal?

Yes.  Many puppies experience episodes of hiccupping that may last several minutes.  This is normal and will not last but a few weeks or months.  All puppies have a characteristic odor to their breath that is commonly called “puppy breath.”  It is also normal and will last only until the puppy matures.

Can I trim my puppy’s sharp toe nails?

Puppies have very sharp toe nails.  They can be trimmed with your regular finger nail clippers or with nail trimmers made for dogs and cats.  If you take too much off the nail, you will get into the quick;  bleeding and pain will occur.  If this happens, neither you nor your dog will want to do this again.  Therefore, a few points are helpful:

1.  If your dog has clear or white nails, you can see the pink of the quick through the nail.  Avoid the pink area, and you should be out of the quick.

2.  If your dog has black nails, you will not be able to see the quick so only cut 1/32″ (1 mm) of the nail at a time until the dog begins to get sensitive.  The sensitivity will usually occur before you are into the blood vessel.  With black nails, it is likely that you will get too close on at least one nail.

3.  If your dog has some clear and some black nails, use the average clear nail as a guide for cutting the black ones.

4.  When cutting nails, use sharp trimmers.  Dull trimmers tend to crush the nail and cause pain even if you are not in the quick.

5.  You should always have styptic powder available.  This is sold in pet stores under several trade names, but it will be labeled for use in trimming nails.

What are ear mites?

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs (and cats).  The most common sign of ear mite infection is scratching of the ears.  Sometimes the ears will appear dirty because of a black material in the ear canal; this material is sometimes shaken out.  The instrument we use for examining the ear canals, an otoscope, has the necessary magnification to allow us to see the mites.  Sometimes, we can find the mites by taking a small amount of the black material from the ear canal and examining it with a microscope.  Although they may leave the ear canals for short periods of time, they spend the vast majority of their lives within the protection of the ear canal.  Transmission generally requires direct ear-to-ear contact.  Ear mites are common in litters of puppies if their mother has ear mites.

Ear infections may also cause the production of a dark discharge in the ear canals.  It is important that we examine your puppy to be sure the black material is due to ear mites and not infection.  Please do not ask us to just dispense medication without having the opportunity to make an accurate diagnosis.

Why should I have my female dog spayed?

Spaying offers several advantages.  The female’s heat periods result in about 2-3 weeks of vaginal bleeding.  This can be quite annoying if your dog is kept indoors.  Male dogs are attracted from blocks away and, in fact, seem to come out of the woodwork.  They seem to go over, around, and through many doors or fences.  Your dog will have a heat period about every six months.

Spaying is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries.  Therefore, heat periods no longer occur.  In many cases, despite your best efforts, the female will become pregnant; spaying prevents unplanned litters of puppies.

It has been proven that as the female dog gets older, there is a significant incidence of breast cancer and uterine infections if she has not been spayed.  Spaying before she has any heat periods will virtually eliminate the chance of either.  If you do not plan to breed your dog, we strongly recommend that she be spayed before her first heat period.  This can be done anytime after she is six months old.

Why should I have my male dog neutered?

Neutering offers several advantages.  Male dogs are attracted to a female dog in heat and will climb over or go through fences to find her.  Male dogs are more aggressive and more likely to fight, especially with other male dogs.  As dogs age, the prostate gland frequently enlarges and causes difficulty urinating and defecating.  Neutering will solve, or greatly help, all of these problems that come with owning a male dog.  The surgery can be performed any time after the dog is six months old.

If I choose to breed my female dog, when should that be done?

If you plan to breed your dog, she should have at least one or two heat periods first.  This will allow her to physically mature allowing her to be a better mother without such a physical drain on her.  We do not recommend breeding after five years of age unless she has been bred prior to that.  Having her first litter after five years of age increases the risk of problems during the pregnancy and/or delivery.  Once your dog has had her last litter, she should be spayed to prevent the reproductive problems older dogs have.

Can you recommend something for pet identification?

The latest in pet retrieval is microchipping.  This tiny device is implanted with a needle so the process is much like getting an injection.  A special scanner can detect these chips; veterinary hospitals, humane societies, and animal shelters across the country also have scanners.  A national registry permits the return of microchipped pets throughout the United States and Canada.  We recommend it.

Are there any emergency tips that I should know?

There are several emergency situations that are common.  The following recommendations could be valuable for you to know.

Hit by car.  Let your dog stand up by itself.  If it cannot, transfer it to a hard board for transporting.  Apply pressure to wounds with soft gauze.  Keep your dog warm to prevent shock.  An injured dog may bite, even people that it knows very well.  Use caution for the safety of both you and your dog.  Seek medical attention quickly.

Overheating.  If you suspect you dog has collapsed from heat stress, start to cool it down with a cool water bath, fans, cold compresses, or ice packs.  Seek medical attention immediately.

Minor Burns.  Treat with cool water and seek medical attention.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), sometimes called the Feline AIDS Virus, is an important disease agent of the cat.  It is likened to the AIDS virus which affects humans because of the similarities in the two diseases which result.  Fortunately, most viruses are species specific.  This is the case with the human AIDS virus and with FIV.  The AIDS virus affects only humans, and the FIV affects only cats.

What cats are likely to be infected with the FIV?

The FIV is transmitted primarily through bite wounds that occur in cat fights.  Other interactions of cats, such as sharing common food and water bowls or grooming each other, have not been shown to be significant in transmission.

What are the clinical signs?

An FIV infected cat will generally go through a prolonged period of viral dormancy before it becomes ill.  This incubation period may last as long as six years.  Thus, we generally do not diagnose FIV in sick cats who are relatively young.

When illness occurs, we can see a variety of severe, chronic illnesses.  The most common illness is a severe infection affecting the gums around the teeth.  Abscesses from fight wounds which would normally heal within a week or two may remain active for several months.  Respiratory infections may linger for weeks.  The cat may lose weight and go through periods of not eating well; the hair coat may become unkempt.  The cat may have episodes of treatment-resistant diarrhea.  Ultimately, widespread organ failure occurs, and the cat dies.

How is the diagnosis made?

Evidence of exposure to the FIV can be detected by a simple blood test.  A positive test means the cat has been infected with the virus and will likely remain infected for the remainder of its life.  A negative may mean that the cat has not been exposed; however, false negatives occur in a few situations.

Adult cats

1.  From the time of initial virus inoculation into the cat, it may take up to two years for the test to turn positive.  Therefore, for up to two years, the test is likely to be negative even though the virus is present in the cat.

2.  When some cats becomes terminally ill with FIV, the test may again turn negative.  This occurs becauseantibodies (immune proteins) produced against the virus become attached and bound to the large amount of virus present.  Since the test detects antibodies which are free in circulation, the test may be falsely negative.   This is not the normal occurrence, but it does happen to some cats.

Kittens

The vast majority of kittens under 4 months of age who test positive have not been exposed to the virus.  Instead, the test is detecting the immunity (antibodies) that were passed from the mother to the kitten.  These antibodies may persist until the kitten is about 6 months old.  Therefore, the kitten should be retested at about 6 months of age.  If it remains positive, the possibility of true infection is much greater.  If the kitten tests negative, there is no cause for worry.

If a kitten is bitten by an FIV-infected cat, it can develop a true infection.  However, the test will usually not turn positive for many months.  If a mother cat is infected with the FIV at the time she is pregnant or nursing, she can pass large quantities of the virus to her kittens.  This means of transmission may result in a positive test result in just a few weeks.

Is treatment possible?

No treatments are available to rid the cat of the FIV.  However, the disease state can sometimes be treated with antibiotics or with drugs to stimulate the immune system restoring the cat to relatively good health.  However, the virus will still be in the cat and may become active at a later date.  Therefore, the long term prognosis is unfavorable.

If you have a cat which tests FIV-positive but is not ill, it is not necessary to immediately euthanatize it.  As long as it does not fight with your other cats or those of your neighbors, transmission is not likely to occur.  However, if it is prone to fight or if another cat often instigates fights with it, transmission is likely.  In fairness to your neighbors, it is generally recommended to restrict an FIV-positive cat to your house.  Owners of infected cats must be responsible so that the likelihood of transmission to someone else’s cat is minimized.

What is the prognosis?

The long-term prognosis is poor, however infected cats may experience prolonged periods of reasonably good health.

Can this virus be transmitted to me or my family?

The feline immunodeficiency virus is cat-specific; it does not infect humans.

How can I prevent my other cats from getting infected with the FIV?

Neutering of male cats and keeping cats indoors are the only available preventive measures which can be recommended.  No vaccine is currently available to prevent infection from this virus.

 

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is a broad term that is used to cover a number of conditions associated with the feline lower urinary tract. It may present as any of a variety of problems such as inflammation of the bladder or urethra, formation of urinary crystals/stones in the bladder and partial or total obstruction of the urethra. The latter condition is also known as a urinary blockage. Complete urethral obstruction is an emergency and can be fatal if left untreated.

FLUTD is a fairly common disease in adult cats and it affects both sexes. It tends to be more dangerous in males because the urethra is much narrower than in a female, leaving them more susceptible to blockages. Urinary tract disorders have a high rate of recurrence, and some cats seem to be more susceptible to urinary problems. Risk factors include age, sex, hydration status, diet, obesity, and genetics.

It is extremely important for all cat owners to be familiar with feline lower urinary tract disease and understand the importance of seeking veterinary care when any or all of the following symptoms are present:

  • Bloody urine
  • Straining to urinate (can easily be mistaken for straining to defecate)
  • Urinating in unusual places
  • Urinary blockage (almost exclusively a male cat problem)
  • Licking the urinary opening (usually due to pain)

Effective treatment requires be aware of the cause of the symptoms. Any inflammatory condition in the lower urinary tract can cause the same symptoms, ie. bladder tumor, infection, bladder stone, etc. all form the same clinical picture.

Diagnosing the Cause:

Testing is used to help sort patients into correct groups. A urinalysis is commonly performed and often times the Veterinarian will also recommend a urine culture and sensitivity. Radiographs to rule out bladder stones might be performed. Often testing is omitted for younger cats unless symptoms become a recurring problem.

Cats are descendents of desert animals, and inherently concentrate their urine quite well. Because of this, many Veterinarians recommend feeding nutritionally balanced canned food in addition to a dry diet. In some cases, particularly for cats that have a history of a FLUTD, it is recommended to feed a strict canned diet.

It is important to note that lower urinary symptoms in male cats
can indicate a urinary blockage that is an emergency.
If you’re not sure your cat is able urinate,
assume it could be an emergency and call the office immediately.

Crate Training Your Dog

Crate training your dog may take some time and effort, but can be useful in a variety of situations. If you have a new dog or puppy, you can use the crate to limit his access to the house until he learns all the house rules, such as what he can and can’t chew and where he can and can’t eliminate. A crate is also a safe way of transporting your dog in the car, as well as a way of taking him places where he may not be welcome to run freely. If you properly train your dog to use the crate, he will think of it as his safe place and will be happy to spend time there when needed.  Always provide water for your dog anytime he is in the crate.  Spill proof bowls or bowls that attach to the kennel gate work best.

Selecting A Crate

Crates may be plastic (often called “flight kennels”) or collapsible, metal pens. Collapsible fabric kennels are designed for use when the owner is present and may not contain a dog for long periods while unsupervised.  Crates come in different sizes and can be purchased at most pet supply stores. Your dog’s crate should be large enough for him to stand up and turn around in.

The Crate Training Process

Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog’s age, temperament and past experiences. It’s important to keep two things in mind while crate training; one, the crate should always be associated with something pleasant; and two, training should take place in a series of small steps – don’t go too fast.

Step 1: Introducing Your Dog To The Crate

  • Put the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Bring your dog over to the crate and talk to him in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is securely fastened open so it won’t hit your dog and frighten him.
  • To encourage your dog to enter the crate, drop small food treats near it, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If he refuses to go all the way in at first, that’s okay – don’t force him to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If he isn’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days.

Step 2: Feeding Your Dog His Meals In The Crate

  • After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding him his regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, put the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If your dog is still reluctant to enter the crate, put the dish only as far inside as he will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed him, place the dish a little further back in the crate.
  • Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat his meal, you can close the door while he’s eating. At first, open the door as soon as he finishes his meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until he’s staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If he begins to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving him in the crate for a shorter time period. If he does whine or cry in the crate, it’s imperative that you not let him out until he stops. Otherwise, he’ll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine and he’ll keep doing it.

Step 3: Conditioning Your Dog To The Crate For Longer Time Periods

  • After your dog is eating his regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine him there for short time periods while you’re home. Call him over to the crate and give him a treat. Give him a command to enter, such as, “kennel up.” Encourage him by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise him, give him the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time, then let him out of the crate.  •  Repeat this process several times a day. With each repetition, gradually increase the length of time you leave him in the crate and the length of time you’re out of his sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you out of sight the majority of the time, you can begin leaving him crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting him sleep there at night. This may take several days or several weeks.

Step 4:

Part A – Crating Your Dog When Left Alone

  • After your dog is spending about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving him crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put him in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave him with a few safe toys in the crate. You’ll want to vary at what point in your “getting ready to leave” routine you put your dog in the crate. Although he shouldn’t be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate him anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving.
  • Don’t make your departures emotional and prolonged, but matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give him a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don’t reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to him in an excited, enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low key. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you’re home so he doesn’t associate crating with being left alone.

Part B – Crating Your Dog At Night

  • Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night, and you’ll want to be able to hear your puppy when he whines to be let outside. Older dogs, too, should initially be kept nearby so that crating doesn’t become associated with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with his crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer. Puppies that are healthy can have their water taken from them a few hours before bedtime to help decrease the frequency of potty trips they need to make during the night.

Potential Problems

Too Much Time In The Crate

A crate isn’t a magical solution. If not used correctly, a dog can feel trapped and frustrated. For example, if your dog is crated all day while you’re at work and then crated again all night, he’s spending too much time in too small a space. Other arrangements should be made to accommodate his physical and emotional needs. Also, remember that puppies under 6 months of age shouldn’t stay in a crate for more than three or four hours at a time. They can’t control their bladders and bowels for longer periods.

Whining

If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether he’s whining to be let out of the crate, or whether he needs to be let outside to eliminate. If you followed the training procedures outlined above, your dog hasn’t been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from his crate. Try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, he’ll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at him or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you’ve ignored him for several minutes, use the phrase he associates with going outside to eliminate. If he responds and becomes excited, take him outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you’re convinced that your dog doesn’t need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore him until he stops whining. Do not give in, otherwise you’ll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what he wants. If you’ve progressed gradually through the training steps and haven’t done too much too fast, you will be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again.

Separation Anxiety

Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety will not solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but he may injure himself in an attempt to escape from the crate. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counter-conditioning and desensitization procedures.

Canine Heartworm Disease 

What causes heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs.  It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis.  Heartworms are found in the heart and large adjacent vessels of infected dogs.  The female worm is six to 14 inches (15 to 36 cm) long and 1/8 inch (5 mm) wide; the male is about half the size of the female.  One dog may have as many as 300 worms.

How do heartworms get into the heart?

Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected dogs.  They have been found in other areas of the body, but this is unusual.  They survive up to five years and, during this time, the female produces millions of young (microfilaria).  These microfilaria live in the bloodstream, mainly in the small blood vessels.  The immature heartworms cannot complete the entire life cycle in the dog; the mosquito is required for some stages of the heartworm life cycle.  The microfilaria are therefore not infective (cannot grow to adulthood) in the dog – although they do cause problems.

As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can  transmit heartworms.  The female mosquito bites the infected dog and ingests the microfilariae during a blood meal.  The microfilariae develop further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito and then enter the mouth parts of the mosquito.  The microfilariae are now called infective larvae because at this stage of development, they will grow to adulthood when they enter a dog.  The mosquito bites the dog where the hair coat is thinnest.  However, having long hair does not prevent a dog from getting heartworms.

When fully developed, the infective larvae enter the bloodstream and move to the heart and adjacent vessels, where they grow to maturity in two to three months and start reproducing, thereby completing the full life cycle.

Where are heartworms found?

Canine heartworm disease occurs all over the world.  In the United States, it was once limited to the south and southeast regions.  However, the disease is spreading and is now found in most regions of the United States and Canada, particularly where mosquitoes are prevalent.

How do dogs get infected with them?

The disease is not spread directly from dog to dog.  An intermediate host, the mosquito, is required for transmission.  Spread of the disease therefore coincides with the mosquito season.  The number of dogs infected and the length of the mosquito season are directly correlated with the incidence of heartworm disease in any given area.

It takes a number of years before dogs show outward signs of infection.  Consequently, the disease is diagnosed mostly in four to eight year old dogs.  The disease is seldom diagnosed in a dog under one year of age because the young worms (larvae) take up to seven months to mature following establishment of infection in a dog.

What do heartworms do to the dog?

Adult worms:  Adult worms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels leading from the heart.  They interfere with the valve action in the heart.  By clogging the main blood vessels, the blood supply to other organs of the body is reduced, particularly the lungs, liver and kidneys, leading to malfunction of these organs.

Most dogs infected with heartworms do not show any signs of disease for as long as two years.  Unfortunately, by the time signs are seen, the disease is well advanced.  The signs of heartworm disease depend on the number of adult worms present, the location of the worms, the length of time the worms have been present, and the degree of damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys from the adult worms and the microfilariae.

The most obvious signs are:  a soft, dry, chronic cough, shortness of breath, weakness, nervousness, listlessness, and loss of stamina.  All of these signs are most noticeable following exercise, when some dogs may even faint.

Listening to the chest with a stethoscope will often reveal abnormal lung and heart sounds.  In advanced cases, congestive heart failure may be apparent and the abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation.  There may also be evidence of weight loss, poor condition, and anemia.

Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement.

Microfilariae (Young worms):  Microfilariae circulate throughout the body but remain primarily in the small blood vessels.  Because they are as wide as the small vessels, they may block blood flow in these vessels.  The body cells being supplied by these vessels are deprived of the nutrients and oxygen normally supplied by the blood.  The lungs and liver are primarily affected.

Destruction of lung tissue leads to coughing.  Cirrhosis of the liver causes jaundice, anemia, and general weakness because this organ is essential in maintaining a healthy animal.  The kidneys may also be affected and allow poisons to accumulate in the body.

How is heartworm infection diagnosed?

In most cases, diagnosis of heartworm disease can be made by a blood test that can be run in the veterinary hospital or by a veterinary laboratory.  Further diagnostic procedures are essential, in advanced cases particularly, to determine if the dog can tolerate heartworm treatment.  Depending on the case, we will recommend some or all of the following procedures before treatment is started.

Serological test for antigens to adult heartworms:  This is a test performed on a blood sample.  It is the most widely used test because it detects antigens (proteins) produced by adult heartworms.  It will be positive even if the dog does not have any microfilaria in the blood; this occurs about 20% of the time.  Dogs with less than five adult heartworms will not have enough antigen to turn the test positive, so there may be some false negative results in early infections.  Because the antigen detected is produced only by the female worm, a pure population of male heartworms will also give a false negative.  Therefore, there must be at least five female worms present for the most common test to be positive.

Blood test for microfilariae:  A blood sample is examined under the microscope for the presence of microfilariae.  If microfilariae are seen, the test is positive.  The number of microfilariae seen gives us a general indication of the severity of the infection.  However, the microfilariae are seen in greater numbers in the summer months and in the evening, so these variations must be considered.  Approximately 20% of dogs do not test positive even though they have heartworms because of an acquired immunity to this stage of the heartworm.  Because of this, the antigen test is the preferred test.  Also, there is another microfilarial parasite which is fairly common in dogs; on the blood smear, these can be hard to distinguish from heartworm microfilariae.

Blood chemistries:  Complete blood counts and blood tests for kidney and liver function may give an indirect indication of the presence of heartworm disease.  These tests are also performed on dogs diagnosed as heartworm-infected to determine the function of the dog’s organs prior to treatment.

Radiographs (X-rays):  A radiograph of a dog with heartworms will usually show heart enlargement and swelling of the large artery leading to the lungs from the heart.  These signs are considered presumptive evidence of heartworm disease.  Radiographs may also reveal the condition of the heart, lungs, and vessels.  This information allows us to predict an increased possibility of complications related to treatment.

Electrocardiogram:  An electrocardiogram (EKG) is a tracing of the electric currents generated by the heart.  It is most useful to determine the presence of abnormal heart rhythms.

Echocardiography (Sonogram):  An echocardiogram allows us to see into the heart chambers and even visualize the heartworms themselves.  Although somewhat expensive, this procedure can diagnose heartworms when other tests fail.

How are dogs treated for heartworms?

There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare.  In the past, the drug used to treat heartworms contained arsenic so toxic effects and reactions occurred somewhat frequently.  Now a newer drug is available that does not have the toxic side-effects of the old one.  We are able to successfully treat more than 95% of dogs with heartworms.

We see some dogs with advanced heartworm disease.  This means that the heartworms have been present long enough to cause substantial damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver.  A few of these cases will be so far advanced that it will be safer to just treat the organ damage rather than risk treatment to kill the worms.  Dogs in this condition are not likely to live more than a few weeks or months.

Treatment to kill adult worms:  An injectable drug to kill adult heartworms is given for two days.  It kills the adult heartworms in the heart and adjacent vessels.

Complete rest is essential after treatment:  The adult worms die in a few days and start to decompose.  As they break up, they are carried to the lungs, where they lodge in the small blood vessels and are eventually reabsorbed by the body.  This can be a dangerous period so it is absolutely essential that the dog be kept quiet and not be allowed to exercise for one month following treatment.  The first week after the injections is very critical because the worms are dying.  A cough is noticeable for seven to eight weeks after treatment in many heavily infected dogs.

Prompt treatment is essential if the dog has a significant reaction in the weeks following the initial treatment, although such reactions are not common.  If a dog shows loss of appetite, shortness of breath, severe coughing, coughing up blood, fever, and/or depression, you should notify us.  Response to antibiotics, cage rest, and supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, is usually good in these cases.

Treatment to kill microfilaria:  Approximately 1 month following treatment to kill the adults, the dog is returned to the hospital for administration of a drug to kill microfilariae.  Your dog needs to stay in the hospital for the day.  Seven to ten days later a test is performed to determine if microfilariae are present.  If they have been all killed, the treatment is complete.  If there are still some present in the blood, treatment for microfilariae is repeated.

In some cases, the heartworm infection is “occult,” meaning that no microfilariae were present.  In this case, a follow-up treatment at one month is not needed.

Other treatments:  In dogs with severe heartworm disease, it may be necessary to treat them with antibiotics, special diets, diuretics to remove fluid accumulations, and drugs to improve heart function prior to treatment for the heartworms.

Dogs with severe heart disease may need lifetime treatment for the failing heart, even after the heartworms have been killed.  This includes the use of diuretics, heart drugs, aspirin, and special low salt, low protein diets.

Response to treatment:  Dog owners are usually pleasantly surprised at the change in their dog following treatment for heartworms, especially if the dog had been showing signs of heartworm disease.  The dog has a renewed vigor and vitality, improved appetite, and weight gain.

Are changes made in the treatment protocol for dogs that have severe heartworm disease? 

Yes.  The state of heart failure is treated as described above.  However, we also treat the adult heartworms in a two stage process.  Only one treatment with the drug to kill the worms is given initially.  This causes the death of some of the worms.  One month later, the full treatment is given to kill the remaining worms.  By killing them in two stages, the severe effects on the lungs are much less likely to occur.

How can I prevent this from happening again?

When a dog has been successfully treated for heartworms, you cannot sit back and relax because dogs can be reinfected.  Therefore, it is essential to begin a heartworm prevention program.  There are three drugs which can be used to prevent heartworm infection.  One is a daily, chewable tablet; the others are chewable tablets that are given only once monthly.  All three products are very safe and very effective.  Their costs are essentially identical.  One of these should be started immediately after the treatment is completed.

Separation Anxiety

Dr. Don McKeown, Dr. Andrew Luescher, Dr. Mary Machum ©

Dogs are social animals, and form strong attachments to other dogs and to people.  The dog’s first experience with separation anxiety is when the pup is separated from its mother and litter mates.  New owners expect their puppy to be restless the first few nights he spends in his new home.  In later life, problems arise when a genetically dependant dog has a strong attachment to one person.  The owners are kindly people who spend a lot of time with their dog; they allow it to follow them around the house, and appreciate the excited welcome the dog gives them when they return home.  Unwanted behaviour often starts when the owner’s schedule changes so that the dog is left alone more frequently, or at different times, than he is used to.

Signs of separation anxiety are only seen in the owner’s absence, or when the dog is prevented from being close to the owner (for example, at night).  The dog is in a high state of anxiety or conflict because he wants to be with the owner and is prevented from doing so.  Dogs, like people, cannot stay in a high state of anxiety for long, and must do something to reduce the tension.  While you or I might have a relaxing bath, go for a run, or have a drink, the dog can only do “doggy” things to reduce tension.  Things dogs do to reduce tension include:

  • Chewing, digging or licking which cause destruction in the home.
  • Hyperactivity (pacing, drooling).
  • Reduced activity levels, depression, loss of appetite.
  • Urination or defecation.
  • Diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Barking.
  • Self-destructive behaviour, such as a lick granuloma.
  • Resists confinement.

It is important to realize that the dog is not doing these things to get even with you for leaving him, out of boredom, or due to a lack of obedience.  Consider instead that his dependence on you is so great that he becomes anxious when you leave.  He must relieve this tension and his methods of doing so may cause considerable damage.  Also consider that, no matter how flattering his constant attention to you may seem, it is not fair to the dog to allow him to be so stressed by your absence that he must respond with one of these unwanted behaviours.

TREATMENT OF SEPARATION ANXIETY – WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Many people wonder about getting a pet for their pet, so the dog won’t be lonely while they are out.  This does not work because the excessively tight bonding is between you and your dog.  Having company of another has no effect on the distress your dog feels when you leave.
  1. PUNISHMENT DOES NOT WORKDogs do not make the association between making a mess and being punished for it at a later time.  They also cannot reason that if they don’t make a mess in the future, they won’t be punished.  Even though your dog may look “guilty” when you come home to a mess, he has learned that when you are present and a mess exists, he is in trouble.  If someone who had never scolded your dog went into your house, and a mess was present, the dog would not look guilty.
  1. Tying the dog to chewed objects, or painting them with hot sauce, may stop him from chewing them.  However, the tension he feels will be redirected elsewhere.

 

TREATMENT OF SEPARATION ANXIETY – WHAT DOES WORK 

  1. Have someone, other than the person to whom the dog is attached, take the dog for a fast walk on a leash at least once a day.  It should be 15-30 minutes long.  Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the fast walking will be beneficial.
  1. Owner should obedience train the dog for 10 minutes twice daily.  Train control and quiescence by teaching come, sit, stay and down-stay.  The goal is to achieve a 20 minute down-stay.  Train with food rewards.  Give the dog a reward every time he performs when you are first teaching a command, but as he gets better at it, reward the behaviour intermittently.  This makes the response less easily forgotten.  It is valuable to perform these training sessions at the same time every day.
  1. Give the dog an acceptable item to chew, ONLY when you go out.  We find that a hard nylon bone is very useful.  Drill a number of small holes in it, and stuff the holes with cheese.  The cheese helps to attract the dog to the bone which becomes a distracter.  Give the bone to the dog without  inducing excitement about 15 minutes before you go out, andWELL BEFORE you give the dog any cues that you are about to leave.
  1. Everyone in the family must TOTALLY IGNORE THE DOG especially 15-20 minutes before leaving the house (after you give the dog his bone) and for a least 20 minutes on returning home.  This helps to reduce the dog’s excitement level before you leave, which reduces the tension he feels when you are gone.
  1. In addition to the above training, the person the dog is most attached to shouldTOTALLY IGNORE THE DOG for a minimum of 3 weeks.  This is the most important part of the treatment, because it is what reduces the dog’s dependence on you.  Ignoring means not allowing the dog to follow you around, and not looking at, talking to, or touching the dog.  Just pretend that the dog doesn’t exist!  I know how difficult this is (you got a dog in the first place to enjoy its company) but it is absolutely essential that you do it.  Keep in mind that it’s for a short time relative to the dog’s life, and that if you do this conscientiously, it will work quickly and effectively to solve your problem.  Be assured that you will be able to relate to your dog in a more normal way, once the dog’s dependence on you has been reduced.  Drugs are necessary in order to stop destruction or noise and assist in accepting being ignored.
  1. Drugs may be used in association with retraining, but they do not cure the problem.
  1. Make a list of the things that you do before you go out for the day (and the destruction that occurs) and the things you do before you go out for a short time ( and no destruction occurs).  Then, mix up the cues.  For example, if the dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, try taking the laundry basket with you when you go out to work.
  1. It is important not to confine the dog because the more the confinement, the greater the anxiety.
  1. If the above techniques do not work, we will try Planned Departure training in conjunction with the above program.  However, this is quite time consuming and requires even more commitment from you than the above.  Please get in touch with us and we will send you more information and help you through the training.

The above techniques have worked well in the past, but they require a commitment from you if they are to be effective.  Although we cannot retrain your dog, we are here to help you in whatever way we can, so please call or email us at 416-815-8387, info@queenwestvets.com if you have any problems or questions.

 

Personal Information Policy

I understand that Queen West Animal Hospital Professional Corporation has a Personal Information Policy in accordance with the requirements of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Document Act.

By signing below, I am consenting to the collection, use and disclosure of my personal information (such as my home telephone number and address) in accordance with the purposes set out in the Policy, which include the following:

i)                   maintaining complete and accurate client files, and complying with the requirements of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, the Veterinarians Act and regulations under the Act;

ii)                  providing goods and services to veterinary clients, including contacting clients to schedule appointments and follow up on patient treatment, billing for goods and services and notifying clients about new services and promotional offers; and

iii)                communicating and working with third parties providing veterinary medical or other services to clients, including other veterinary facilities and insurance companies which may pay for all or part of the cost of such services.

I understand that:

i)                    my personal information will not be used or disclosed for purposes other than those for which it was collected, except with my consent, or except where use or disclosure is required by law;

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iii)                a copy of the Policy will be provided on request.

 

 

Where

Queen West Animal Hospital is located in the heart of the Queen West neighbourhood in downtown Toronto.

931 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario
M6J 1G5

Hours

Monday 8:00am – 7:00pm
Tuesday 8:00am – 8:00pm
Wednesday 8:00am – 7:00pm
Thursday 8:00am – 8:00pm
Friday 8:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday Closed

Queen West Animal Hospital is closed every other Wednesday from 1 to 3pm for continuing education. Because we love it.


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