Playing it safe!

We’ve all seen it, the sight of a tongue waggin’ and ears flappin’ outside of a car window driving by.  In fact, I saw it the other day.   A family with a puppy on the highway.

This scene had me very anxious, nervous, not to mention very scared for the safety of that puppy.  The passengers of the vehicle didn’t seem to be the least concerned.

I watched as the puppy hung out the window going 60mph.  As we both got off the highway, I watched as the puppy attempted to jump from the car as we came to a stop at a light on a busy street.  All I could do was hold my breath, pray that it didn’t, and be prepared for the worst.  Eventually, we both went our separate ways, but the idea of that puppy injured or accidentally hurt has stuck with me.

There are several reasons why I disapprove of owners letting their pets hang out windows.  Not only could they jump out, a bump in the road and they could accidentally fall out.  Your puppy could catch debris in the eyes, ears, and nose which could lead to an infection, or even lose an eye.  They could distract other drivers and cause an accident.

Before you roll down that window, here are some tips on keeping you and your pet safe…

  1. Be sure to always keep an identification tag on your dog.
  2. Have a First Aid Kit available in your vehicle.
  3. Don’t roll down the window all the way.
  4. Purchase protective eyewear for your canine.
  5. Just like us humans, your dog should wear their seatbelt!
  6. If a seatbelt is not possible, use a barrier in case you need to slam on the brakes.
  7. Be sure to always keep your eyes on the road!

When traveling with your pet in the car, even if it is for just a short distance, always be prepared.

 

No one enjoys a house full of little puddles (sometimes big ones!) and having to watch where you step. Having a puppy in the household can be a joyous time, but also highly stressful. Using a crate is highly recommended while trying to housetrain your puppy. It is one of the easiest methods, has a high success rate, and can be learned quickly by your puppy with a little praise from you!

Follow these 5 Steps to a ‘piddle-free’ home…

 

STEP 1: CHOOSING A CRATE

This type of crate works well for training and travel.

Make sure your pup has enough room to stand up and turn around.  But you won’t want to purchase one that is so large that he/she are able to use the bathroom AND have the ability to lie comfortably and play.

Be prepared to purchase several crates for the first year as your puppy grows.  Especially if you have a large breed puppy or your puppy will do quite a bit of growing still.  Small breeds and and toy dogs most likely will need only one, maybe two depending if your puppy grows larger than you thought!

STEP 2:  MAKE A HOUSE A HOME

A "Kong" is a safe toy great for training!

Place the crate in a central area of your home.  A living/family room works well, or any room that you and your family like to spend a lot of time.  Doing this will help your puppy to feel secure, like a part of the family, and confident to go in/out of the crate without feeling lonely, isolated or trapped.  If you have a very young puppy I suggest that you move the crate into your bedroom at night so that you are able to hear when your puppy needs to relieve him/herself.

Place a comfortable blanket, towel, or soft bed.    I recommend purchasing one that has a removable cover for easy washing in case of accidents.  Sometimes out of boredom a puppy will chew/rip up their bedding.  If this happens be sure to remove all chewed pieces and remove the bedding until your puppy grows out of the chewing stage.  This prevents any possibility of swallowing or choking on anything which could potentially lead to expensive vet bills!

Give your puppy appropriate toys to play with.  Any toys that can be easily chewed should NOT be given to your puppy while unsupervisted in the crate (i.e., toys with stuffing and/or squeekers).  It is best to choose toys that are hard, and large enough that cannot be swallowed, such as a “Kong” with a treat inside or a “Nylabone.”  If you do find chewed pieces they should be removed immediately to prevent choking or swallowing which can lead to an obstruction in the body and expensive vet bills!

STEP 3:  FUN ASSOCIATIONS

Let your puppy have the freedom to go in/out of the crate on their own without shutting the door or leaving.  It is incredibly important to associate fun and favorable situations with the crate.  It is so important to make the initial introduction of the crate a positive experience. Your puppy may not take to the crate immediately, don’t rush, just keep keep at it!  Play around the crate, place some toys and some treats inside and encourage your puppy to go in and out on his/her own.  Work on some other training such as “sit” and “lie down.”  Teach your pup to sit outside the crate, then tell him to sit inside the crate.  Show him/her that being in the crate is no different than being outside the crate!  You can also place some favorite toys in the back of the crate to encourage your puppy to enter the crate.  Make it as fun as possible and of course, be patient!

Gradually begin with a few minutes and work up to several hours.  Start out with just a few minutes and work up to a several hours while you are at home dong chores, watching television or other activites.  You’ll want to build confidence and the feeling of security and not that ‘crate=isolation/alone.’  If you only shut your puppy in while you are gone you will create that association.  If you only shut your puppy in while you are gone you will create that association.

Say “No” to whining!  If start to let your puppy out of the crate immediately when you arrive home because of whining you will most likely gain frustrating behaviors that will be present in an adult dog.  Waiting for your puppy to quiet down before letting him/her out will help prevent such behaviors.  This can be suprisingly hard, but stay strong

 

STEP 4:  PROPER BATHROOM ETIQUETTE

A healthy option for training!

Designate an area for your puppy to eliminate.  Choose an area in your backyard (or if you wish to paper-train or use a puppy litterbox) that you want your puppy to use everytime he/she goes to the bathroom.  Make sure to always take your puppy there!

Give praise everytime your puppy goes.  You can bring a small treat with you.  Giving a treat as soon as your puppy finishes will encourage them as soon as they go in their potty area they get something tasty!  Timing is important for your puppy to learn this is what you want them to do!

Make sure to take your puppy out often.  Your puppy has a small bladder and will need to go out as soon as often as possible.  Once you get into a routine with your puppy it will become second nature and ver easy to know when your puppy needs to go.  Don’t get discouraged, and be patient!

STEP 5:  PRACTICE MAKES HABIT

Excellent for cleaning up accidents.

Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  The more stable and consistent of an environment you create for your puppy, the happier you will be, your puppy will be, and your household will run a lot smoother.

Expect some mistakes.  Housebreaking a puppy is not an easy task.  Be prepared for accidents and try to stay calm and relaxed when they do happen.  Just direct your pup away from the area, take him/her to their designated area, and make sure to use a good product designed to eliminate urine/fecal odors.

Remember to be patient, don’t get easily discouraged, and most importantly…HAVE FUN!

Now this dog deserves a cookie…

This peanut butter contamination issue is pretty scary considering how many people have gotten sick and even died.  I know that I haven’t eaten any peanut butter even though they say that jars purchased from your grocery store are safe.  I’m just not willing to take that chance for my sake, and now my dog’s sake.

Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits

I recently read an article about this outbreak now possibly affecting our pets.  Petsmart is now recalling a brand of dog biscuits called Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits, among others, because they were manufactured by the  Peanut Corporation of America.  At work we’ve had to throw out all these biscuits because we have been handing them out to our patients.  We have gone through great lengths to tell everyone that comes in, calls, or requests information about the issue, which symptoms to watch out for, and to call us immediately if they have any concerns at all.  We’ve printed out a list of all the products that have been recalled and are in the process of discussing whether to send out mailings.  We are taking extreme precautions to protect our clients and their pets, and you should do the same for yourself and your pet.

If you are concerned or have any doubt about any products you have purchased for your dog(s), you can do a search of recalled products here…

If you know or think that your dog has ingested any potentially contaminated items please call your veterinarian immediately for a list of symptoms to watch out for.  I have listed a few here that may be signs of salmonella poisoning and please do not hesitate to contact your vet if you have any concerns or questions.

Potential signs of salmonella poisoning are…

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea, blood or mucus present in stool
  • Fever (a normal temperature for a dog ranges from 99.0°-102.0°)
  • Anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Lethargy, or laying around more than normal
  • Abdominal pain

The symptoms listed above are potential signs of salmonella poisoning, but can also be signs of other serious conditions or diseases and should be seen by a vet immediately.  If your dog (or cat) is experiencing any of these symptoms please make an appointment for your pet to be seen by a veterinarian today.

I hope that all of you stay safe during this time, keep any eye on your pets, and YOURSELF.

Veterinarian Recommended

This month is Pet Dental Health Month!  Whether it is using dental chews, using water additives, brushing, or getting yearly professional cleanings, taking care of your dog’s teeth is a very important part of your dog’s health.  I have seen firsthand what a lack of dental care early on in life can do and it’s not a pretty sight, not to mention extremely painful.  That is why, upon meeting new puppy parents for the first time, I ALWAYS recommend that they get started on familiarizing their dog to getting his/her teeth brushed.

If you want to have a dog that is accepting of having his/her teeth brushed, it really is important to start as young as possible and as soon as possible.  I’m not saying that you CAN’T do it at an older age, but you will definately make it MUCH EASIER on yourself and your dog if you start early.  Follow these four easy steps to establish a quick and easy routine you and your dog will love!

First things first,

Purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste designed SPECIFICALLY for dogs.

DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE!  Using the type of toothpaste that we use can be extremely harmful to your dog, as they cannot spit, and should never be used.  There is a type of toothpaste formulated specifically to cater to a dog’s needs, can be found at most pet stores such as Petsmart or Petco, and comes in a variety of dog-friendly flavors such as poultry or malt.  You can also ask your Veterinarian what he/she recommends based on the needs of your own dog.

Secondly,

Let your dog get used to the taste and consistency of the toothpaste.

This is a pretty easy step, as most dogs LOVE the flavor.  Offering some of the toothpaste ON the toothbrush a couple times a day for a couple days will help them get used to the feel of the brush on their tongue, and the sight of the brush means a tasty treat!  Create a positive association with the brush and you and your dog will be on your way to healthy dental hygiene in no time!

Third,

Gradually and gently start the act of brushing.

Let your dog get used to the feel of the brush against his/her gums and teeth.  Don’t start brushing immediately, most dogs tend to get a little spooked at first so I recommend that you just touch the brush to their teeth and gums while speaking in a positive tone.  Don’t be forceful or you’ll end up starting the entire process over.  Once your dog seems to be comfortable, slowly incorporate the act of brushing.

Lastly,

Be consistent.

I recommend that you start a routine with your dog.  Let the process become something that you and your dog begin to look forward to!  Whether it be once a week and incorporating dental chews, or once a day, remember that it is an important part of your dog’s health!

In honor of your dog’s health, start instituting a ritual this month that creates eagerness in your dog and excitement in you for the many years of licks and kisses to come!