Newsletter

Newsletter The veterinarians and staff at Community Animal Hospital are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

Pet Behavior: Aggressive Cats and Dogs

Aside from a discussion about euthanasia, aggressive behavior in animals is one of the most difficult pet topics to discuss. However, according to veterinarians and humane societies, the number one reason animals are euthanized is for behavior problems. We think of euthanasia as a merciful relief from suffering for an incurably ill or old animal. But the majority of pets are euthanized because of behavior problems.

Aggressive behavior in pets must be addressed without delay. The longer it continues, the harder it is to change. Don't wait until someone is injured to seek help with this problem.

Some behavioral problems result from medical problems. A thorough physical examination by a veterinarian may reveal an underlying medical condition. A dog may be aggressive due to an injury or a congenital defect. Hip dysplasia and car accident injuries account for many episodes of canine aggressive behavior. Dental problems as well as chronic skin conditions can make a pet uncomfortable, leading to a low level of tolerance, resulting in aggression.



Pet behavior is a new and growing field. Your veterinarian may have some suggestions on curbing aggressive behavior. However, veterinarians often don't feel qualified to give such advice because their training is in medicine and surgery rather than behavior.

If the pet is healthy and initial efforts to curb the behavior don't work, then it is wise to contact a board-certified behaviorist. This is a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior. Since mishandled aggressive behavior is potentially dangerous, most specialists will want to see the pet and the owner in person.

A pet dog or cat is a 15-year emotional, physical and monetary commitment. A little advance planning can help make it a rewarding experience. Prospective owners can reduce the chance that they will end up with an aggressive pet by educating themselves. There are many good books and pamphlets on pet behavior and there is much information regarding each individual breed. It is strongly recommended to read several books about general pet care and about handling and raising a puppy or kitten.

When picking out a puppy or kitten, don't choose the most aggressive or the shiest one in the litter. Pick out a friendly, happy animal that comes to you. Then, while the kitten or puppy is young, allow him or her to experience a variety of different situations, people and other animals. Early socialization is very important for the development of the pet, particularly how he or she deals with the surrounding world.

If you are considering adopting an adult animal that is known to be aggressive, be realistic about your expectations. Even if the problem was the result of the previous environment, rehabilitating an aggressive animal is a big project. To believe the animal needs only tender loving care is a mistake. Animals can change, but it takes love, persistence and lots of time. An aggressive pet is a tremendous liability, especially if there are young children around. If a pet shows signs of aggression, the most important thing is to get help right away. Whatever you do, don't delay.

Training Your Dog - 5 Basic Commands

Training provides benefits to dogs of every age and breed, and to their owners. While getting your dog to recognize and react to your verbal commands requires time, patience, and more than a few treats, the result will be a responsible, responsive, well-adjusted dog.

A good place to begin is with an obedience class. Start at a young age to accustom your dog to learning. Obedience classes also help form a bond between owner and dog and gets the dog used to socializing with other dogs and other people. For these reasons, they are strongly recommended for any new dog owner.

The first thing to remember is to keep a positive attitude. Your dog should associate training with fun and enthusiasm, and should be rewarded whenever he does something right. Reprimands will be needed when he ignores you or does something wrong, but these should be limited to an intense stare and a gruff, low-pitched "No!" Never hit your dog; this will just make him mistrust you and will make training and control even harder. Try to follow a reprimand with some affection to make your dog know he is still a welcome part of your family.

But while reprimands may be necessary as the exception, rewards should be the rule. Treats can play an important part in training. These can be specially made snacks, or they can just be individual pieces of your dog's regular food. In the early stages, they should be offered with every correct action, in addition to verbal and physical praise. As your dog gets better at obeying commands, you should use the treats less and less often and rely more on encouragement and petting.

Never give a treat without a trick. There should be no free rides for dogs when it comes to treats. Always make your dog obey some kind of command before rewarding him with a treat.

There are five basic obedience commands you should start teaching your dog as soon as possible: heel, sit, down, stay and come. In order to be a good dog citizen, he should learn these commands.

Heel:

It's the dog's job to listen for commands. Once your puppy is used to his or her leash, you can introduce the command, "Heel." Start by standing still with your dog on a leash. Reel the dog in until his right shoulder is even with your left leg. When he is in the "sit" position, give him lots of praise. Start walking by stepping forward with your left foot saying "heel." If your dog lunges, give a quick snap on the leash and reel him back to you. Praise him when he is once again in the correct position. Repeat this practice, gradually allowing the dog to move further away each time. Once the dog has learned to respond to heel, start moving into turns.

Another technique for teaching your dog to heel begins the same way as the first. However, if you dog lunges ahead, call his name and say, "Heel," and make an abrupt U-turn to the right. He will find himself behind you and hurry back to your side.

Sit:

Sit

Teaching your puppy to sit can keep him out of a world of trouble and do wonderful things for your relationship. By about eight weeks of age, he's ready to learn this basic command. Start by getting your puppy's attention, then using his name and the command, "Max, sit." Help him into position by pulling up on the leash while pressing down on his rump. Alternatively, you can move a piece of food from in front of his face to directly over his head while pressing on his rear, then rewarding him with the food and praise. Once sitting, praise him verbally or give him a little treat. Repeat the exercise often to reinforce the training.

"Sit" is an excellent command to teach a puppy for praise. Once it's established in his mind that sitting is the sure way to receive praise, you will never have to worry about your puppy jumping on you or other people for attention.

Down:

Down

This command logically follows "sit." It's best to teach this from the heel position with the dog seated. From the "sit" position, say the "down" command and guide your dog's nose down with your hand or a toy or, better yet, some food. Bring the food from the nose straight down to the floor, then away from the dog. Your dog will naturally follow it. Praise and reward him when he is in the correct position. When your dog stays down and you can walk around him, you are ready for the "long down."

Stay:

This is a slightly more difficult skill for a dog to master. While on his leash, have your dog sit. Then, holding the leash up over his head, say "stay" and begin circling. Correct any attempt to follow you by pulling up on the leash and returning him to the sitting position. Reward him when he has stayed in place for a short period of time. Gradually increase the distance you move away and the amount of time required to receive a reward. You will also want to associate the verbal command with holding out your hand palm outwards, the traditional "stop" command.

This command may take your dog some time to master. Don't get frustrated, just keep practicing.

Come:

Come

This basic training command should be started from the first day you bring your puppy home. As with all the basic commands, you should announce your intention by calling his name first, followed by the one word command, i.e., "Max, come!" Offer encouragement by making the invitation as inviting as possible. As your dog walks toward you, say "Good boy! You want the dog coming into you happy and quickly. Avoid using excited tones or praise until your dog reaches you so that he understands that he must reach you to get rewarded. If he doesn't come immediately, give a tug on his leash, then guide him to you. When he approaches, raise your body, guiding him gently into a sit position in front of you. Make eye contact. Praise a bit but not too much (no playing here).

Holiday Pet Tip: No Sweets For Your Sweet Pet

For many people, overindulging in holiday goodies may result in a few extra pounds; however, the consequences for our animal companions are much greater if they accidentally ingest cookies, candy or baked goods containing chocolate. In any form ranging from one-ounce baking squares to brownies, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors. Clinical symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst. Urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

Veterinary poison and emergency center across the country seem to receive more calls involving chocolate toxicosis during Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. During one Thanksgiving holiday, an 18-pound cocker spaniel consumed an 18-ounce box of milk chocolate truffles. By the time the owners brought the dog to the veterinary emergency center, she had already vomited several times and was drinking large amounts of water. The emergency clinician worked in conjunction with the dog's veterinarian to provide emergency treatment, which included activated charcoal, intravenous fluids and medication for her elevated heart rate. She'd recovered by the next morning, but spent the day in doggie day care to make sure she didn't have further problems.

Although chocolate toxicosis is more common in dogs who have been known to eat candy and trays of brownies and fudge accidentally left out, it can be a potential problem with any species. Take care this holiday season and keep candy out of your pets' reach - and don't let them in the kitchen unsupervised when you're baking. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian immediately.

10 Tips To Keep Your Pet Warm and Safe this Winter

Winter is coming—and with it, snow, ice and those nasty whirling gusts of freezing air.

Don't be left out in the cold on how to properly care for your pets during the winter months. Just like with the warmer temperatures in summer, cold weather poses potential health and safety risks to animals. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help keep your pets warm and safe this winter:

1. In summer, a car's temperature can climb quickly and be deadly to a pet locked inside. The same goes for a cold car in the winter. Never leave your pet alone in a cold car.

2. Save a warm spot off the floor and away from drafts for your pet to sleep at night, and keep a warm blanket or pillow handy for them to cozy up with. For kittens and older cats, try a heated pad or bed.

3. Dogs who are small, short-haired, young or old, are particularly intolerant of colder weather and should be watched carefully by their owners. When taking pets on a walk, keep them warm with a sweater or a doggy coat, and consider using booties to prevent sand, salt or chemicals from irritating paw pads. Spending long hours in below freezing temperatures is never recommended as pets as just as susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia as people. Consult with your veterinarian if you're unsure of their cold tolerance, and avoid exposing them to long periods of outdoor time.


Dog in the snow


4. Adjust your animal’s food intake based on the amount of exercise he or she is getting in the winter. While pets may burn extra energy to try to keep warm during the winter, it's not encouraged to allow animals to gain extra weight because of added health risks. Fresh water should also be provided to help keep your pet hydrated and their skin from becoming too dry.

5. Matted fur won’t protect your dog or cat from the cold, so keep their coats well groomed. After taking your dog for a walk, wipe down their feet, legs and stomach area to prevent ingestion of salt or dangerous chemicals. Also check paws for cracks or redness between toes. Using petroleum jelly or another paw protectant is advised if taking your pet for a walk and not using pet booties.

6. Never let dogs off leash on snow or ice.

7. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but is a deadly poison. Wipe up any antifreeze spills immediately, or better yet, use pet-friendly antifreeze and ice melt products for your own home.

8. Outdoor cats often nap on or around car engines to keep warm in colder months. If there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood, honk the horn before starting your car to make sure any cats hiding next to your tires or under the hood get out safely.

9. If your dog is let out in your yard, make sure snow drifts near your fence haven’t made it easy for your dog to escape. While it's not recommended to keep pets outside during the winter (especially in harsh conditions and freezing temperatures), be sure to provide a warm shelter with plenty of bedding and supply pets with fresh, non-frozen water.

10. Like humans, pets are sensitive to the dry air of winter. The change from coming in from the cold and into a heated house can lead to flaky and itchy skin. Consider using a humidifier to help ease the irritation of dry air. Remove snow or ice balls from between your pet's foot pads. Limit baths to prevent the loss of essential oils in your pet's coat and on their skin. If they're in need of a bath, consult with your veterinarian about a moisturizing products to use.

Emergency Kit For Your Pet

Of course, the best way to handle emergency situations is to avoid them by keeping your pet safe and healthy. However, in spite of your best efforts, accidents can happen. Here are some tips to consider before you need to use them.

Pet First Aid Kit

Always keep within reach the phone numbers for your veterinarian, emergency clinic, poison control center, etc. Keep a copy of your pet's health records where you can easily find them. You may also want to invest in a book that covers first aid procedures. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations. For example, the ASPCA's Complete Dog Care Manual and Complete Cat Care Manual have excellent information on first aid principles, as well as what to do in case of traffic injury. The book also contains useful information on how to perform artificial respiration and what steps to follow in case of poisoning, burns, insect bites, etc.

Have a pet carrier so you can safely transport your pet to an emergency clinic or veterinary hospital. Remember: An injured or ill pet may not act like its normal, sweet-tempered self. Handle the pet with care so you don't get bitten or scratched and need emergency treatment yourself!

Keep an emergency kit on hand with such items as:

• Bandages

• Adhesive tape

• Cotton

• Antiseptic cream

• Sterile dressings

• Gauze

• Thermometer

• Tweezers

• Scissors

• Blanket