Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Crate Training

We all need a special place to call our own-a sanctuary of sorts. Your pet is no different. Part of raising a healthy dog is providing her with her own "safe haven" and crates are a perfect solution. Most dogs can be easily trained to enjoy spending time in their crates.

Crate training is neither cruel nor unfair, provided your puppy has sufficient social interaction, exercise, and an opportunity to eliminate before she is placed in the crate. In fact, allowing your dog to wander through the home unsupervised to investigate, chew and eliminate is unwise and potentially dangerous.

You and Your Dog will love Crates

There are numerous benefits to crate training your dog:

  • Security for your dog

  • Safety for your dog

  • Prevention of household damage (chewing, elimination, ect)

  • Help with house training

  • Preparation for travel, boarding and spending time alone

  • Improved relationships (fewer problems mean less frustration and discipline)

How to Choose a Crate

Two basic styles of crates exist: metal collapsible crates with tray floors and plastic traveling crates. Look for one that is large crates, Look for one that is large enough for your dog to stand up and turn around in-even when she is full-grown. Provide the type of bedding on which your dog likes to nap, but keep in mind that your pup might be less likely to chew flat, tightly woven carpet samples or remnants than she is blankets or towels. If your dog must be left alone for more than four hours at a time, consider a pen or dog proofed room rather than a crate. Another option is an exercise pen that allows a little more room to move about. Also consider a midday visit from a dog walker.

Because dogs are social, the ideal location for the crate is in a room where your family spends a lot of time, such as the kitchen, den or bedroom, rather than an isolated laundry or furnace room. A radio, television, or CD may help calm your dog and mask noises that may trigger barking, Finally, for the crate to remain a positive, enjoyable retreat, never use it for punishment.

Training Puppies

Introduce your puppy to the crate as soon as possible. Place treats, toys, chews, or food in the crate to motivate her to enter voluntarily. You can teach her to go into the crate on command at feeding time or when given a chew toy. Practice frequently by tossing pieces of kibble in the crate. Each time she runs inside, say "Go to your crate." Eventually she will learn to enter when you give the command and point to the crate.

The first confinement session should be after a period of play, exercise, and elimination (When she is ready to take a nap or quietly play with a toy). Place your puppy in her crate with a treat and a toy and chose the door. Leave the room but remain close enough to hear her. You can expect some distress the first few times your puppy is separated from family members, but she should soon settle down if she is tired. Never reward the pup by letting her our when she cries or whines. instead, ignore her until the crying stops and release her before it starts again. If your puppy won't settle in her crate, make sure that you choose a time when she has had sufficient play and exercise and that she has recently eliminated so she is ready to relax or nap.

As the crate training continues, be sure to give her a favored chew toy or food-dispensing toy when placing her in the crate so she has something to keep her occupied. (See also our brochure "Busy Dogs Are Good Dogs.") Gradually increase the amount of time your pet spends in her crate. However, be certain to return and release your pet before she needs to eliminate.

If you have a regular routine for when your dog goes to her crate, she may soon begin to enter voluntarily when it's time to rest or to chew on a toy. Crating your dog is really not much different from placing a baby in a crib or playpen. You can use the crate in a similar manner, allowing your dog to take a nap or play with toys in the crate when you can't supervise her directly.

Remember to wait until your dog is quiet before you release her from the crate. If she continues to vocalize, try the following:

  • Interrupt the behavior with a firm "No" command through an intercom placed near the crate.

  • Gently throw an aluminum can containing a few pennies onto the floor near the crate.

  • Use a device that emits a sound or spray of air each time your dog barks.

These disruptions should be strong enough to stop the barking, but do not repeat then if they are not immediately successful or cause excessive fear.

Literature from: American Animal Hospital Association
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Understanding Anesthesia

Pet owners are often anxious about veterinary procedures involving anesthesia. There is always a risk of adverse reaction whenever any anesthetic agent is used. Reactions can range from mild swelling at an injection site or a full blown episode of anaphylactic shock. The latter occurrence is very rare, in fact most patients will have little or no reaction to anesthesia at all, but it's important that you understand the risks involved and the steps we can take to prevent them.

Patients, especially seniors, undergoing anesthesia should have blood work prior to the procedure. These blood tests will tell your veterinarian if there are any signs of infection, kidney and/or liver disease, or anything else that may cause a reaction to anesthesia. They will also indicate if further, more specific testing is required like specialized blood tests or radiographs.

Intravenous catheters are important to the anesthetic patient because they provide a direct line to administer injections and allow for IV fluids before, during, and after the procedure. Intravenous fluids help maintain blood pressure and fluid balance. They also aid in the recovery process by diluting the anesthetic agents circulating in the blood stream. Patients that receive IV fluids generally wake up faster than those who do not. Each patient is closely monitored by a technician for the entire procedure, as well as being hooked up to an ECG, blood pressure, and pulse oximeter.

Before undergoing anesthesia, you and your pet will meet with your veterinarian so he or she can do a thorough physical examination and select the appropriate screening tests. The day of the procedure, you should make sure your pet has been fasted and take the opportunity to meet with your doctor for any last minute questions. The doctor will then go over all the screening tests and determine the best anesthetic protocol. Depending on the procedure, some patients may need to spend the night.

If you have further questions regarding anesthesia, don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Keeping an Indoor Cat Happy

Is keeping my cat indoors cruel?
There are many circumstances in which keeping a cat indoors may be safer for the cat and therefore, arguably, better for the cat. Indoor cats are at lower risk for injuries associated with the outdoor environment (cars, trains, dogs, predators, humans, ect.) and are at far less risk of contracting parasites and infectious diseases such as feline leukemia, feline infectious peritonitis and feline immunodeficiency virus. Studies have consistently shown that urban cats will live over 15 years. Keeping cats indoor also prevents killing off wildlife, fouling of neighborhood yards, and fighting with other cats and wildlife in the neighborhood if you keep your cat indoors.

If you decide to keep your cat as an indoor pet, you will need to be very aware of the extra responsibility that an indoor cat brings. You must take the time and trouble to ensure that the indoor environment offers the cat the opportunity to express as many of its natural behaviors as possible.

What do I need to do to make my indoor cat happy?

The most important thing for you to consider when you decide to keep a cat indoors is how you are going to provide for its behavioral needs. Obviously you will have thought about the needs for food, water, and warmth, but have you considered your cat's need to hunt, play, and explore, its need to be able to retreat and hide its need to feel in control. Providing a consistent daily routine that provides for all of the behavioral needs of your cat is not difficult but it dies require some time, some thought and some commitment.

Why does my cat need to hunt when I feed him so well?
The feline desire to hunt is not connected to the sensation of hunger and no matter how well you feed your cat it will still react to the sight and sound of prey with an instinctive stalk. Obviously indoor cats are unlikely to come across natural prey, but anything that moves rapidly or squeaks in a high pitch can trigger the same behavioral response. Since most outdoor cats will hunt upwards of 10 mice a day, some form of alternative outlets will be needed for predation. Both social play and object play toys are therefore essential for an indoor cat. Toys that squeak and those that can be moved rapidly and unpredictably are irresistible to some cats while of no interest to others. You can also select toys that mimic real prey in terms of size, texture and color. Small toys are usually more successful but caution must be exercised to be sure they cannot be accidentally ingested and cause intestinal blockage. Play sessions for indoor cats need to be frequent and regular and if your cat is interested and willing you should aim to give at least three play sessions every day. Recent studies seem to indicate that while the cat may tire of a chase toy in just a few minutes, the desire to chase new and different toys may remain and even be heightened. Therefore, try and offer two or three chase sessions in a row with different toys to ensure that your cat is truly finished rather than just bored with a particular toy. Stuffing or coating the toy with food or catnip may also help to maintain and prolong interest. You can have hours of fun playing with your cat!

Does my cat need to climb?

The picture of a cat stuck in a tree or standard on a roof top is a familiar one but the fact is that cats need to climb. Getting up high is an important way to relieve stress in the feline world and when your cat is feeling under pressure its instinct will be to move upwards this may be especially necessary in homes with multiple cats. It is therefore very important to have accessible high up resting places. Tops of fridge freezers, bookcases and stereo hi-fi cabinets are all popular resting places for cats, but if all of the furniture in your house is built-in you will need to make special provisions for your cat in the form of shelves and radiator cradles. High vantage points allow your cat to observe the world from a place of safety and escape if it feels the need to do so.

I would like to give my cat some fresh air but I am not sure if it will walk on a lead is there any alternative?

Some cats may need to be kept permanently indoors and this can work as ling as owners are aware of the responsibility that it brings. For others access to outdoors needs to be restricted, but owners would to offer some contact with the world outside and in theses cases there are a number of alternatives. The harness and lead approach is certainly one, but you are right to mention the fact that not all cats will learn to walk in this way. Introducing harnesses as early as possible will help and making a kitten accustomed to the lead will minimize resistance to its use as an adult. If you have tried introducing your cat to the harness and you have been met with overwhelming resistance you may wish to consider the use of an outdoor pen. Since cats can climb, the pen will either need a roof to prevent escape or have the sides angled inward at the top to prevent climbing over. There are a number of commercial cat containment products both indoor and outdoor use. Ideally the pen will be accessed from the house via a cat door flap and will offer the cat access to outdoors while offering you complete peace of mind. If a pen is to be used successfully if should mimic the outside world as closely as possible and cat furniture, tree trunks, toy, scratching posts and high up resting places should all b e available within the pen. The cat should never be allowed access to the outdoor pen when no one is home since escape or injury could occur.

This information is based on material written by: Debra Horwitz, DVM Diplomate ACVB & Gary Landsberg, DVM Diplomate ACVB