Calming Your Dog During a Thunderstorm

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Tips for Keeping Your Dog Calm During Thunderstorms

It is very common for dogs to feel upset by the booming thunder and flashing lightening of a thunderstorm.  In fact, because dogs are especially sensitive to barometric pressure, they can sense an oncoming storm before you can.  They may start to act anxious, chew on things or even run away in a panic.  While it may seem natural to sit down on the floor and coddle your dog in soothing tones during a thunderstorm, this will only reinforce his or her anxious behavior in the long run.  These tips can help you learn how to calm your dog during a storm by teaching him that it’s only noise and nothing to get upset about.

Calm Your Dog’s Thunderstorm Anxiety: Calmness Begins with You

First:   Dogs can pick up on their humans’ feeling, so it is important for you to stay calm if you are to be able to calm your dog.  If they sense your anxiety, that will only make them feel and act worse.

Second:  Provide a safe, enclosed, den-like area where your dog can securely sit out the storm.  A crate inside the house is the perfect place because they feel safer there with a blanket and chew toy to gnaw on.  If your dog is an outside dog, cover his kennel with a blanket and make sure he is secured inside.

Third:  If you do not use a crate to calm your dog, make sure the room where you keep him is safe and devoid of small or sharp objects that he could swallow or chew on, as they may do when they are stressed out.  Crating is recommended, but if this is not possible for you, make sure he has a soft, secure place where he feels safe.  Keep the doors and windows closed and curtained to dull outside noises and lights of the storm.  Sometimes turning on a TV or some music that the dog is used to hearing can dull sounds and help calm your dog.

Fourth:  Keep your dog away from exits and entrances into your home.  Some dogs become so stressed out that they may attack people coming in or out.  He may also make a run for it if the door is opened.

Fifth:  One great way to calm your dog’s thunderstorm fear is to condition him to accept that storms are nothing to worry about.  Using environmental recordings of storms, starting out softly and then making them gradually louder while having everyone else in the house go calmly about their business has reprogrammed many dogs to stay calm during a storm.  This may take some time, but many owners have had success with this method.

Note:  If your dog has an accident during a storm, be patient and understanding.  Don’t make a big deal about it and be prepared to clean up without a lot of fanfare.

***We urge you to have identification on your dog.  Both tags on the collar AND a microchip will help ensure the safe return of your dog in the event that he does escape***

 

Source: woodbridgeanimalhospital.com

Pet Insurance

what_is_pet_insurancePet Insurance is a frequent topic at the veterinarian’s office.  We are frequently asked by our clients if coverage for their pet is a good idea. They wonder, is it worth the cost?  How does it work? What does it cover?

If you have pet insurance, it is very comforting knowing that you are prepared to make decisions on your pet’s care that are not based on finances.  We have had many instances of clients being able to choose more costly diagnostics and treatments knowing they had insurance to help cover the costs.

Pet insurance is far less complicated than human health insurance.  While full payment to your veterinarian is due at the time of services, a simple claim form submitted to your insurance company will start your claim and reimbursement process (based on your policy coverage). Some companies even have smart phone apps to make it even easier! Most companies do very well in keeping you up to date as your claim moves forward.

There are many different pet insurance companies and each company offers policies in a range of cost and coverage. Our doctors encourage you to take some time and research the different companies and their policies to determine which is best for your budget and desired coverage.

Halloween Safety

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

source: aspca.org

Pain Awareness Month

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September is Pain Awareness Month and here are several things you should know about your pet’s pain.

Pets are often stoic about pain.  As predators, cats are especially adept at masking their pain.  So as a pet owner, you need to keep a keen eye on your furry friends to uncover aches and pains early.

  1. Behavior changes may signal pain. This includes cats who don’t enjoy being petted anymore, dogs who become aggressive, or pets who stop jumping on the bed or climbing stairs.
  2. The medication your veterinarian prescribes is central to your pet’s health and comfort. It’s important to avoid missing doses or dosing improperly.
  3. There are various formulations and ways to administer your pet’s pain medication. Your veterinarian will help to find the right dosage and delivery method which increases the chance that your pet gets the medication it needs to be comfortable.
  4. Human medications are often dangerous for pets. Always ask your veterinarian before you give your pet any medication that isn’t prescribed.
  5. There are several ways to make your pet feel more comfortable. If you’re good with tools, you can build a ramp for better accessibility.  There are also all types of products available that make things easier for your pet, such as raised food and water dishes or a litter box with lowered sides.  Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
  6. Diet – especially to maintain an ideal weight – is key. For older pets with painful conditions such as osteoarthritis, helping them reach a healthy weight can help them manage pain and maintain mobility.

 

Source: dvm360.com

Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

 

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Xylitol can be found in certain peanut and nut butters.

The natural sweetener (also commonly found in sugarless gum) is known to cause hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis in dogs.

Jul 15, 2015

By Katie James

DVM360 MAGAZINE

Xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol sweetener popular for its low glycemic index but known to cause hypoglycemia and hepatic necrosis in dogs, is now also found in several specialty peanut and nut butter brands. Nuts ‘n More, Krush Nutrition and P-28 Foods all make peanut butter and nut-based spreads containing the ingredient. Though xylitol has been popping up in all kinds of foods and dental products in the last several years, peanut butter is a special concern, says Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, associate director of veterinary services for Pet Poison Helpline and SafetyCall International. “First, dogs fed straight peanut butter as a treat or fed treats baked with xylitol-containing peanut butter may certainly be at risk for harm,” she says. “Second, a dog that nabs the entire jar of xylitol-containing peanut butter and happily gorges on his or her treasure without anyone knowing could quickly become extremely ill. If this occurred during the day while the owners were not home, it’s possible the dog could die before people returned.”

So far, mainstream peanut butter brands haven’t started using xylitol—only the three specialty brands include it in their formulations.

Brutlag is urging pet owners to be vigilant about checking labels and looking for keywords that can indicate that a food contains xylitol. “The most obvious thing to look for is the word ‘xylitol’ itself. It may be prefaced or followed by clarifying words,” she says.

In some cases, xylitol’s position on the ingredient list can be helpful in estimating its quantity in the product. “In the United States, food products must list their ingredients in descending order of predominance by weight. This means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last,” Brutlag says.

Something else to check is whether the packaging says “sweetened naturally” or that it uses a “natural sweetener.” Brutlag says, “It’s a common misconception that xylitol is an artificial sweetener—but it’s not. It’s normally found in small amounts in fruits and vegetables, so if you see those terms, look deeper to see if xylitol is listed. Chemically, xylitol is classified as a sugar alcohol, so this is another phrase to look for.”

Other sugar alcohols, such as erythritol, glycerol (also called glycerine), maltitol, mannitol and sorbitol are not known to be toxic to dogs; however, some food labels do not list the specific sugar alcohol used. “When in doubt, if you want to feed a product to your dog that lists ‘sugar alcohol’ as an ingredient, but doesn’t list which one, don’t use it,” Brutlag advises. Because xylitol and other sugar alcohols are not technically sugar, they may also be found in products labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added.”

While it seems unlikely that xylitol will become so mainstream that it begins to replace sugar in most foods, it’s very likely that more products will contain it, which Brutlag says has been the trend for several years.