Puppy Vaccine Protocol
- DA2PP (Distemper/Parvo)
- +/- Bordetella (Kennel Cough)
- DA2PP Booster
- Bordetella (if not already done)
- Rabies vaccine 1yr
- DA2PP Booster
- +/- First Leptospirosis (start time depends on weight & breed of pet)
After 16 Weeks
- DA2PP 1yr vaccine
- Leptospirosis 1yr (if already started) or First Lepto (if not yet started)
After 19 Weeks
- +/- Leptospirosis 1yr (needed if only 1 Lepto given thus far)
NOTE: Vaccine schedule may slightly vary from above. The schedule depends on the vaccine start date.
Vaccines should be started at 6 to 8 weeks of age. We need to booster DA2PP vaccines every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 to 18 weeks of age. Leptospirosis vaccine must be given twice, about 3-4 weeks apart, then is given yearly after that. Rabies and Bordetella vaccines both last 1 year when given during puppyhood.
Core Canine Vaccines
Canine distemper virus and parvovirus are highly contagious and deadly viruses common in unvaccinated puppies. Distemper virus has a death rate approaching 50 percent in untreated dogs. The virus attacks the respiratory, digestive, and brain/nervous systems of dogs. Parvovirus has a death rate approaching 90 percent in untreated dogs. The virus attacks the digestive and immune systems of unvaccinated animals, causing debilitating diarrhea and vomiting. This vaccine also protects again adenovirus 1, adenovirus 2, and parainfluenza which cause potentially fatal infectious hepatitis and infectious respiratory disease. This vaccine should be started between 6-8 weeks of age and continued every 3-4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age for best immunity.
Rabies is a 100% fatal disease of mammals. Because there is no effective treatment and the disease can also infect humans, vaccination against rabies virus is required by law in the state of Texas for cats and dogs.
Spay/Neuter - The Facts
Why Should I Neuter my Dog?
Aside from helping control the current overpopulation of dogs, neutering a pet dog generally makes for a healthier dog and a better pet. Neutered dogs tend to live longer and have fewer behavior problems (see below). They are less likely to be relinquished to the shelter and do not contribute to overcrowding in community animal shelters with their offspring.
Your Pet’s Health
There are several health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog’s life. By age five years, the prostate is usually significantly enlarged in an unneutered male dog. As the dog continues to age, his prostate is likely to become uncomfortable, possibly being large enough to interfere with defecation or urination. The prostate under the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection, which is almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the prostate to shrink into insignificance, thus preventing both prostatitis as well as the uncomfortable benign enlargement that occurs with aging. Neuter benefits on the prostate are about preventing enlargement and infection.
A female dog spayed before her first heat will have a near zero chance of developing mammary cancer. Mammary tumors are malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs.
Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals. In addition to causing itching and other skin problems, fleas can transmit diseases to animals and people. The majority of the flea population (i.e., eggs, larvae, and pupae) are found off the pet and around the home. Fleas are not just a dog problem; in fact, up to 10% of INDOOR-only cats have fleas!
Flea Control Recommendations
- Treat all pets with a YEAR-ROUND flea control product. Do NOT use permethrin-containing products (or any dog labeled products) on cats. As fleas can live indoors even in the winter, we recommend year-round flea control.
- Sometimes a pet’s indoor environment also needs to be treated for fleas:
- Wash all bedding.
- Vacuum all carpets and upholstery FREQUENTLY and then discard the vacuum bag. This will prevent flea eggs from hatching in vacuum bags and spreading through your home.
- In severe infestations, having pest control come to your home may be warranted.
- Sometimes a pet’s outdoor environment will also need to be treated for fleas. The outdoor environment can be treated professionally by pest specialists.
The most common worms in our pets are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Common single-cell parasites are coccidia and giardia. Most of these parasites are transmitted through the stool of infected animals or even through the dirt. Severe parasitic infections can cause vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and even death in puppies and kittens. Some of these parasites can even cause illness in children and immunosuppressed adults. Routine fecal tests are recommended throughout life to check for parasitic infections. Monthly heartworm prevention provides additional intestinal parasite prevention for some of these worms!
Out of all of these parasites, only 2 are visible to the naked eye – tapeworms and roundworms. Tapeworms occur due to a previous or current flea infestation. They are white, flat, and often segmented (usually <1 inch). The segments sometimes come out separated but can remain intact (like below on the left). Roundworms are long and round, usually like spaghetti (like below on the right). If your pet has tapeworms, your pet has had fleas, so it is very important to start monthly flea prevention!
Microchipping Could Save your Pet's Life
Microchip Implantation: Basically a Shot with a Big Needle
Implantation is basically a shot. The needle is fairly large, so sometimes there is a yipe but, most often, the reaction is minimal. Some people wait until the pet is being spayed/neutered so as to be anesthetized for this.
Can a Microchip be Used to Locate a Lost Pet?
No. A microchip is NOT a location device (GPS tracker).
What Happens if the Chip Does not get Registered?
It is vitally important that you register your chip. Simply having a chip will not bring your pet home to you. If a pet with an unregistered chip is found, it may still be possible to trace the owner, but not always. If your chip is not registered and someone finds your pet and wishes to keep him, they may simply register the chip in their own name.
Must the Chip’s Registration be Renewed Annually?
For major brands of microchips, the answer is no. Once the chip is registered, that registration is indefinite. The problem is that people move or the pet changes ownership, and the chip information is never updated. Don’t forget to update your contact information with the chip registry when you move.
What Should be Done for a Pet that was Adopted with a Chip Registered to a Prior Owner?
Contact the chip company that issued the chip for instructions (they each have their own policy).
What Should I do if my Pet is Lost?
Notify the chip company so that the chip number will be flagged as belonging to a lost pet. Be sure the chip company has your correct contact information should your pet be found. Be sure to check the local animal shelter and inquire as to how to proceed there. Posters around the neighborhood also help. Hopefully, your pet is wearing some sort of ID (such as the tag that came with the chip) so that you can be contacted by the finder.
What Do I Do if I Find a Pet?
Running the pet to a local animal hospital or shelter will allow for scanning for the presence of a microchip, and doing this sooner rather than later is recommended in case someone is out there searching. If a chip is discovered and is registered, it should not be difficult to find the owner. If there is no chip or ID tag, check the lost local lost ads. If there is no match-up, you may be legally compelled to bring the animal to the local animal shelter, as this will be where the original owner is likely to look.
Situations Where a Chip Can Mean Life or Death
- Lost Pet – If your lost pet is recovered by the local shelter or taken to an animal hospital as a lost pet, the pet is scanned, the number found, the registry contacted, and you will be notified.
- Burglary – If your home is burglarized, the criminals involved will not be careful to leave your doors or gates closed when they leave. Your pet may wander away in this situation.
- Natural Disasters – Earthquakes, floods, fires, mudslides, hurricanes, etc., all lead to pets separated from their homes. Sometimes animal control must evacuate pets into a central holding area. Being able to prove a pet is yours is invaluable, especially if your pet is difficult to identify from a photo or does not have distinguishing markings.
- Injury – If a pet is injured while lost or injured while roaming, a good Sam might bring the pet to an animal hospital for care. A stranger may not be willing to cover expenses for a pet they found on the road, and if your pet has no ID, you may never even know what happened. A microchip allows you to be notified so that proper decisions can be made.
- Travel – A traveling pet is unfamiliar with the area you are visiting and may be more likely to get lost.
Body Condition Score
Toxins – What You Need to Know
For further information on toxins, visit the websites below.
If you have an emergency, you may call either poison control line (fee associated with both)
Top 10 Food Toxins:
- Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine
- Grapes and Raisins
- Macadamia Nuts
- Onions, Garlic, Chives
- Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs, Bones
- Salt and Salty Snack Foods
- Yeast Dough
- Corn on the cob (if a pet ingests cob portion)
Top 10 Human Medication Toxins:
- NSAIDs (e.g. Advil, Aleve and Motrin)
- Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol)
- Antidepressants (e.g., Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro)
- ADD/ADHD medications (e.g., Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)
- Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta)
- Birth control (e.g., estrogen, estradiol, progesterone)
- ACE Inhibitors (e.g., Zestril, Altace)
- Beta-blockers (e.g. Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg)
- Thyroid hormones (e.g., Armour desiccated thyroid, Synthroid)
- Cholesterol-lowering agents (e.g., Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor)
Top 10 Plant Toxins:
- Autumn Crocus
- Tulips and Hyacinths
Biting (active/purposeful bite down with teeth) is a common behavior in puppies and kittens. Mouthing, which is a general term for dogs or cats that put their mouths/teeth on people and other pets, sometimes in a chewing or nipping manner, is also common and tends to occur for the same reasons as biting. Biting and mouthing are normal behaviors in young, developing dogs and cats and are rarely associated with aggression.
Reasons for biting include:
- Biting can be a way to communicate or achieve a result. Just like with human infants/children, a young pet’s communication skills are a little bit more basic. Biting is a way to say, “No! Stop that! I’m afraid!” or “I don’t like that!” or even “Come on, come play with me!”
- Play biting or mouthing during play is extremely common. It is not uncommon to see them wrestle, growl, and posture aggressively as a part of normal, healthy play. If things escalate, the offended youngster will yelp or distance himself until things calm down. Issues can arise when puppies and kittens play too rough with their human owners, and normal dog or cat social cues are missed because of species differences.
- Biting can be associated with hunting behaviors. This may be associated with chasing or unexpected attacks (especially in cats). It is an instinctive ritual to help teach kittens and puppies how to hunt. Hunting behaviors, more often directed towards pet housemates, can be an issue with humans, especially if the little one doesn’t have animal “siblings” to play with. Their humans may be the only moving objects with which to practice this.
- Biting and mouthing may occur during times when adult teeth are replacing baby teeth.
- Mouthing is part of how they learn and gather information about food, toys, and their surroundings.
- Biting/nipping can be breed or genetically associated, as with herding dog breeds.
Consequences of Biting
Biting and mouthing may be normal for puppies and kittens, but continuing to bite into adulthood can lead to issues. Normally, young animals learn to stop biting during play when their mother and siblings correct them with yelps or distancing themselves. When siblings and parents are not available to teach them how to behave in the family, human owners must step in. Long-term consequences of biting vary depending on the cause. For example, biting out of fear, frustration, or to avoid something can teach bad habits if not prevented. When biting achieves the desired result of getting a human to stop an action (such as biting while having nails trimmed), the youngster could potentially learn that biting to get what he wants as an adult is acceptable. The same goes for biting because of attention-seeking. If a puppy or kitten is mouthy as a means to get you to play with them and give them attention, rewarding this behavior with any kind of attention (to some pets, even corrections are attention) could mean continued mouthing or attention-seeking behaviors as an adult. Even mouthing because of teething can lead to bad habits and continued mouthing well beyond the onset of adult teeth if not corrected.
Regardless of why a youngster bites, biting should never be encouraged because it can lead to continued biting into adulthood, and as adult dogs and cats, that bite can inflict serious damage and/or result in a poorer quality of life for themselves and their owners.
How to Manage Biting
- Do not encourage mouthy/biting play between the pet and humans. Rough play between owners and pets can encourage mouthing behaviors and should be discouraged.
- Use time-outs to de-escalate biting/mouthing behaviors and calm down your pet. This can be done by removing the pet or yourself from the pet’s attention when play biting occurs, including eye contact and talking to them. Remember to come back to attention and play with love/excitement once the pet has settled down and quits biting.
- Use command words, such as “sit,” to distract from biting. Give a reward only if the biting stops and the command are followed.
- Use a high-pitched yelp noise like the siblings/mother would make or a high-pitched “ouch” when bitten. Then redirect the pet to something more appropriate to chew on.
- Make sure you are providing a good outlet for biting behaviors; youngsters need plenty of playtime, exercise to expend some energy, safe encouragement for hunting behaviors, safe chew toys, etc.
- Treat, or food puzzles can encourage food-seeking and hunting behaviors that can decrease the need for biting.
- Remember to reward for good behavior with attention, petting, and treats. Providing the appropriate reward for a kitten might be a little more difficult than for a puppy, but food and toys still work, especially at a young age.
- If biting continues despite appropriate training, discuss your concerns with your veterinarian!
Punishment for Biting
Do not punish a puppy or kitten for biting. Punishment, especially for normal behavior, can prevent a puppy or kitten from learning normal skills like play biting to hone hunting skills. It can also affect the bond between the pet and humans and may even lead to fear, aggression, and/or anxiety. Punishment does not serve to teach appropriate behavior. The best solution is to stay consistent with your training methods and be patient. Use management tools that encourage better actions and provide good outlets to meet the needs of both you and your young pet.
Pet insurance is best used for unexpected, catastrophic medical events that are difficult to budget for. While some pet insurance does cover routine care, often, the cost of adding wellness care to your plan ends up being more than it would cost you if you paid for these procedures out of pocket. It is possible that you will pay more in premiums than you get back if your pet stays relatively healthy; therefore, pet insurance (like any other insurance) should be used as a risk management tool, not as a way to save money.
Pet insurance is similar to human health insurance in that it has premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and maximum payouts. It also has waiting periods that define when coverage starts.
Pet insurance differs from human health insurance in that It does not cover pre-existing conditions. Don’t wait until your pet has an illness/injury before you buy pet insurance – it will be considered a pre-existing condition and will not be covered. If you have to switch pet insurance companies, any medical conditions your pet had under the old company may be considered pre-existing by the new one.
It is a reimbursement program. This means you pay the vet bill; then, you file the claim with the pet insurance company for reimbursement. It is very different from human insurance, where the doctor files the claim and receives the payment directly from the insurance company.
Pet insurance companies do not use networks. You can visit any vet in the US (some cover international vets too).
How to Select a Pet Insurance Plan
Selecting a pet insurance plan is an individual choice. First, determine if you need pet insurance. If you can cover the worst-case scenario costs out of your own pocket, then you may not need insurance. If you determine that you need pet insurance, make sure the insurance company you choose has the following attributes:
- Has good medical coverage : to get the most comprehensive coverage, you want to purchase a plan that covers accidents/injuries AND illnesses. The illness part should include 1. Coverage for cancer; 2. Coverage for chronic disease. 3. Continual coverage for chronic disease. If you don’t get this coverage, the chronic disease will only be covered in the policy year it was diagnosed. After that, you will have to pay for any continuing meds or diagnostic monitoring yourself. 4. Coverage for hereditary/congenital diseases. 5. Coverage for diseases that are common to your pet’s breed.
- Has a good reputation.
- Has a strong underwriter. Use ambest.com to research the underwriter’s strength.
- It has a maximum payout limit that will cover the worst-case scenario costs. The maximum payout limit is the max amount of money the insurance company will reimburse you. This payout limit can be an annual, lifetime, per incident, per body system, or based on a predetermined benefit schedule.
- Has an affordable premium.
- Pays claims in a timely fashion.
- Does not have unreasonable exclusions and requirements. Exclusions are medical conditions that are not covered by the plan. Requirements are things you must do to remain insured (e.g., annual exams, submission of medical records, adherence to the vaccination recommendations, etc.).
What about Accident-Only Policies?
As the name implies, accident-only policies cover accidents only. They do not cover medical costs caused by illnesses. Accident-only policies tend to be much cheaper than comprehensive accident/illness policies because they don’t cover costly illnesses. In addition, what a pet owner considers to be an accident is not necessarily what a pet insurance company considers to be one (e.g., foreign body surgery or cruciate (ACL) tear may not be covered).
Additional Points Regarding Pet Insurance
- Know which states are covered by the plan (not all pet insurance companies are licensed to sell in all states).
- Know the enrollment age range of the plan (the age your pet must be to sign up for a new policy). There is usually a low and high end. There can be one range for dogs and one for cats, as well as ranges for certain breeds.
- Make sure you ask the company how and when your premium can increase.
- Make sure you understand what the company’s waiting periods are as they will vary from company to company.
Recommended Annual Services
Annual Canine Wellness Package
- Complete physical exam
- Fecal Exam
- Heartworm Test
- Leptospirosis Vaccine
- Bordetella Vaccine
- DA2PP Vaccine*
- Rabies Vaccine*
- Comprehensive Chemistry Panel, CBC, Thyroid Screen, +/- Urinalysis
Additional Vaccines (if needed)
- Rattlesnake Vaccine (Canine only)
- Canine Influenza Bivalent Vaccine (Canine only)
Additional Services (if needed)
- Nail Trim
- Anal Gland Expression
*3 year vaccines if booster has been done in the past (Not applicable for puppies/kittens)
Vaccine Reactions in Dogs
With vaccination commonly recommended annually, most pet owners are accustomed to taking their pets to the vet for “yearly shots.” It seems such a commonplace part of routine pet care that many people do not think about what is actually occurring within their pet’s body. In fact, immunization represents stimulation of the immune system, an inherently inflammatory process.
What Is Considered Normal?
After vaccination, it is usual for pets to return home and re-engage in normal activity; however, since vaccination is inflammatory by nature, sometimes there are symptoms for a couple of days:
- Pain at the vaccine site
- Mild fever
- Reluctance to play or exercise
- Reduced appetite
- Sneezing after a nasal vaccine
These symptoms are considered normal for the vaccination process. The patient can be expected to be back to normal in a couple of days.
What Is not Normal and When Is Treatment Required?
Occasionally, a reaction is extreme and potentially dangerous. As vaccine technology has advanced, these reactions are less and less common, but it is important to know when to take action. The following symptoms are more serious, and your veterinarian should be notified at once, especially if they occur within hours of receiving the vaccine:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Facial swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Panting (in cats)
These symptoms can be part of an anaphylactic reaction. Any symptoms from this list should be taken seriously, and future vaccination plans should be altered to avoid more severe problems. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs to discuss treatment options and recommendations for the future. If you are new to a veterinary clinic, be sure they are aware of your pet’s history of vaccine reactions!
The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring. Dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. The best current treatment for heartworms is a series of arsenic based injections which can have many severe side effects, including death. For this reason, heartworm prevention for dogs is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.
We recommend heartworm prevention YEAR-ROUND for all dogs and cats over the age of 8 weeks for the LIFETIME of your pet!
In-Stock Canine Preventatives
Heartgard is a once monthly chewable for dogs that prevents the infection of heartworms, roundworms, and hookworms. This product is safe for dogs that have been off of heartworm prevention.
Trifexis is a once monthly oral tablet for dogs only that prevents the infection of heartworms, fleas, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms. This product is NOT recommended for dogs that have been off of heartworm prevention.
Nexgard is a once monthly chewable for dogs only that prevents the infection of fleas and ticks.
We have these products and more heartworm/flea/tick preventatives and other medication (such as Bravecto, Sentinel, and Advantage Multi) available on our online pharmacy that can be shipped to your door.
House Training and Crate Training
Teaching your new pet the appropriate time and place to eliminate and providing a safe environment to rest are important for you and your pet’s relationship and emotional well-being. Many dogs that end up in shelters are there because of repeated house training accidents inside and destructive behavior. By learning the basics of housetraining and crate training, and what can reasonably be expected, these types of problematic habits can be avoided.
A dog’s natural instinct is to find a quiet area where they can escape when needed, rest, and recuperate from the day – a crate helps to achieve this. Most dogs won’t eliminate where they sleep and eat, so crate training can be a big help with housetraining. A crate also provides a dog with a safe place to go when scared or nervous. Crates should be just large enough for dogs to sit, stand, lay on their side, and turn around comfortably. For large breed puppies, select a crate that can be sectioned off so that as they get bigger you can increase the size of the crate. If it’s too large, your dog may try to potty in one area and sleep at the other end. Aim to make the crate one of your dog’s favorite areas. You may have a toy in the crate, but be sure it can be safely played with while unsupervised. Avoid using the crate as a place of punishment – you don’t want your dog to associate the crate with times of stress or fear.
To get your dog comfortable with spending time in the crate, start by saying a cue word, such as “crate” or “kennel,” and placing your dog in the crate. The cue word will help he to eventually associate the word with going into the crate alone. Give your dog a treat and lots of praise immediately, and close the crate door for about 5 minutes. Praise him again once you let him back out. Over several days to weeks, gradually increase the amount of time your dog spends in the crate.
For pets who bark or have destructive behaviors in the crate, try giving them a HIGH REWARD treat that they don’t get any other time (eg: a peanut butter filled Kong) so they are distracted when entering the crate and eventually they will start looking forward to being in the crate! Dogs with severe separation anxiety can be difficult to crate train, and their anxiety behaviors may actually worsen if you attempt to keep them in a crate. In these cases, it is best to consult your vet.
It is important to know your dog’s limits in a crate. No dog should spend the majority of the day in a crate. A good rule of thumb for the max amount of daylight hours a puppy should spend in the crate at a time is to add one to the puppy’s age in months. For example, a 2 month old puppy should spend no more than 3 hours straight in a crate during the day. After 3 hours, give the puppy a break, go outside to eliminate, and provide some play time before putting her back in the crate.
To help make timing bathroom trips easier, feed your dog on a consistent schedule, ideally 2-3 times a day. This way, 15 – 30 minutes after eating or drinking, you know it is time for a trip outside. Puppies also tend to go right after playing or sleeping. A good rule of thumb during the beginning of housetraining is to take your dog out every two hours for the first couple weeks, plus after sleeping, eating, drinking, playing, and right before bed. Keep an eye out for clues or signals that your dog needs to eliminate. Circling, wandering off alone, whining, or going to the door you typically use to go to the elimination area are common signals. If your dog is demonstrating any of these signals, immediately take him to the bathroom.
Use a cue word such as “bathroom” or “potty” every time you take your dog to the bathroom area so the dog will learn to associate the word with what you want achieved. Try to take your dog to the same area each time and after successful elimination, immediately reward your dog with treats and praise.
Constant supervision is important when you begin house training. You need to catch your dog in the act of going in the wrong place in order to correctly redirect your dog. If you catch them, be sure to interrupt them (such as with a sharp clap noise) and take him to the elimination area then use your cue word. If your dog finishes going in the right area, give treats and praise. Alternatively, if you find pee or poop on the floor after the fact and scold your pet, the dog will not understand why you are upset. Imagine being in a foreign country, with foreign customs, where you do not speak the language. Someone suddenly begins shouting at you over a mistake you made hours ago, which you are unaware of making because the local culture is so different. So it is with housetraining! Catching your pet in the act of a mistake will help them correct it in the future. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you or your pet are on the right tract, call your veterinarian for advice. Otherwise, be consistent and persistent, and your pet will love you for it!
Dental Care for Dogs
Periodontal disease is a disease around the outside of the tooth. In a normal mouth, the dog’s 42 teeth and the cat’s 30 teeth are clean and white, and the gums attach smoothly to the tooth. If we don’t regularly brush away plaque, that plaque will build up and mineralize into tartar. Tartar is solid and gritty, causes inflammation of the gums, and eventually leads to loss of teeth and destruction of the underlying jaw bone. Luckily, if we catch gingivitis early, it can be reversible with routine oral care. Bone loss, once it starts, is not reversible.
Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to prevent periodontal disease, and the rules are basically the same whether the teeth belong to a pet or a human being: Professional Veterinary Cleaning and Home Care. Expect your pet to need an anesthetic professional teeth cleaning every 6-12 months for each tooth to receive proper attention and care.
Regular Professional Cleaning
The professional vet cleaning for your pet is similar to what a person receives at their dentist’s office:
- Tartar is removed from tooth and roots with professional scaling.
- The enamel is polished to remove any unevenness left by tartar removal.
- X-rays are performed, periodontal sockets are probed, and notes are taken, noting abnormalities on a dental chart.
Remember: “Non-anesthetic” teeth cleanings are not comparable to professional cleaning. It is not possible to perform a thorough cleaning in a pet without general anesthesia. These cleanings do not address periodontal disease where it occurs: under the gum line.
Dental Home Care
Toothpaste and Brushing
Just as in people, tooth brushing is the single best way to prevent periodontal disease. However, because animals generally swallow their toothpaste, be sure to purchase safe animal-specific toothpaste. You may use a finger brush or a pet toothbrush. The brand we recommend is CET.
For those pets who don’t tolerate routine brushing, the second-best way to prevent dental disease is the use of dental treats. Chewing on a dental treat daily can substantially reduce plaque and tartar by up to 69%—brands we recommend: Greenies. Visit VOHC.org for Veterinary Oral Health Council-approved products!
Socialization is getting puppies and kittens used to people, other animals, and experiences that they will frequently encounter in their adult lives. This involves gently exposing puppies and kittens to new things that they will deal with regularly as adults so that they can react confidently and appropriately rather than fearfully. Socialization is especially important for orphans because they received little if any interaction with their mother/litter and may have no basis at all for how to act around others.
Breed, health, and personality also play a factor in the way a pet behaves with others, even if properly socialized. Some dogs and cats are not as outgoing as others and do not enjoy spending time with big groups of people or animals. Socialization is not necessarily about teaching them to want these interactions, but more about teaching them how to handle themselves and communicate appropriately within their environments. Many rescue pets that act “abused” were simply not socialized, leading to intense fear around unfamiliar people and settings.
When to Socialize
Start socialization efforts as early as possible to maximize their benefits! Developmentally, the best time for socialization is between 3-14 weeks of age in puppies and 3-9 weeks in kittens. During this key socialization period, any experiences will have long-lasting effects on a puppy or kitten’s future learning and interactions. Unfortunately, that means negative experiences will also have lasting effects. It is critical that this time period be positive and safe.
How to Socialize and Desensitize a Puppy or Kitten
Put your pet in situations that she may experience as an adult, such as car rides, being in a carrier, toys, grooming procedures (ear cleanings/nail trimmings/tooth brushing), meeting other animals and people, and trips to the veterinarian. Introduce your puppy or kitten to new people, animals, and things in a nonthreatening manner, which means it’s not scary to the kitten or puppy. If your pet reacts with fear, you likely need to scale back the interaction to the level they are comfortable with. This could mean letting them watch instead of play, distracting them with treats, or moving them farther away from whatever they are afraid of until they become comfortable. Never punish a fearful puppy or kitten if they are anxious during interactions. Creating fearful situations will only lead to more problems in the future; just remember to keep things relaxed.
Gently touch, restrain, and physically interact with your pet every day. Handling your puppy or kitten should include gently touching the face, ears, and paws to make grooming and examinations easier. Puppies and kittens need to interact with non-family members often (including children). In fact, veterinary behaviorists suggest that during the socialization period, a puppy or kitten should meet 5 to 10 new people each week and that they should experience being in a new place at least once a week.
Spending time with friend’s/family’s adult, healthy, vaccinated pets should be safe for your puppy or kitten. However, try to avoid exposing your pet to an unvaccinated animal, such as at the dog park, the pet store, or anywhere a large number of animals congregate.
Consequences of Not Socializing
Socializing puppies and kittens early within the socialization developmental period has been shown to decrease fear, aggression, and anxiety of new people, animals, or situations. They are often fearful of people or other animals, even within their own species. This can result in avoiding people or other animals, anxious behaviors, or even hostility or violence towards others. Pets not properly socialized often have an increased sensitivity to new experiences and are much more likely to end up in shelters or even being euthanized. Giving your new puppy or kitten (or young animal of any species) significant socialization during that critical stage will pay off handsomely by helping your pet become a confident adult!
Local Behavioral Training & Puppy Classes
Julie Bailey – 512-608-3066
Kim the Dog Trainer – 512-796-5783, kimthedogtrainer.com
Fidelio Dog Works – 512-231-8095, fideliodog.com
Sit Means Sit – 512-384-7833, sitmeanssit.com
TAURUS – 412-442-3416, taurusacademy.com/locations/lamar
Train My Dog – 512-715-4364, trainmydogsaustin.com
Austin Canine Consulting, Lauren@AustinCanineConsulting.com
Board-Certified Veterinary Behaviorist:
Dr. Kenneth Martin 512-240-2331, veterinarybehavior.com (referral required)
Snake Avoidance Training:
Respiratory distress is recognized by increased effort to breathe, noisy or squeaky breathing, cyanosis (a bluish tinge to the lips and gums), and an inability to inhale or exhale. In cats, breathing with the mouth open (panting like a dog) is a sign of severe distress and should be evaluated by a veterinarian right away.
What to Do
Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds (e.g., English Bulldog, Pekingese, and Pug) warrant a special mention. Because of the short nose, the soft palate can interfere with breathing. On hot days, these dogs try to cool off by panting vigorously, and the soft palate begins to swell. This cycle continues until the dog is in severe distress and overheated. Cooling these dogs is imperative. Move them to a cool environment and seek immediate veterinary care.
If your pet is showing signs of severe respiratory distress, here’s what to do:
- If the pet has choked on a foreign body, perform the Heimlich maneuver and/or a finger sweep.
- Perform rescue breathing (see below) if necessary/unconscious.
- If the pet is overheated, moisten the feet and ears with cool water and place the pet in front of cold air (AC vent) on the way to the vet.
- Seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): First Aid
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the treatment required to save an animal’s life when suffering cardiopulmonary arrest. The intent of CPR is to provide sufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain and vital organs to support life until more advanced medical therapy can be started. CPR consists of two parts: rescue breathing and chest compressions.
Make Certain the Animal is actually Arrested and Unconscious
Talk to the pet first. Gently touch and attempt to awaken the pet. You could be seriously injured should you attempt to perform CPR on a pet who was only sleeping heavily and was startled awake.
Ensure an Open Airway
Extend the head and neck and pull the tongue forward. Look in the mouth and sweep your finger deep into the mouth and throat to remove any vomit/foreign body. Be aware of a smooth, bone-like structure deep in the throat, which is likely to be the hyoid apparatus (Adam’s apple). Serious injury could result if you pull on it.
Sometimes an animal will begin to breathe spontaneously when the head is positioned appropriately. Watch for the rise and fall of the chest and listen closely for breath sounds. If no breathing is evident in 10 seconds, begin rescue breathing.
Begin Rescue Breathing
Rescue breathing is performed by covering the pet’s nose with your mouth and forcefully blowing into the lungs. In cats and small dogs, you must hold the corners of the mouth tightly closed while you blow. In larger dogs, the dog’s tongue should be pulled forward, and the mouth and lips held shut using both hands cupped around the muzzle. Force air into the lungs until you see the chest expand. Give 3 to 5 Full Breaths After several breaths are given, stop for a few seconds to recheck breathing and heart function. If still not breathing, continue to rescue breathing 10x per minute.
After Ensuring an Open Airway, Check for a Pulse
If no pulse is detectable, begin chest compressions.
In small dogs or cats, squeeze around the chest (just behind the armpits) using one/both hands. Depress the rib cage circumferentially. In Large Dogs, lay your pet on his side and compress the chest wall where it is widest with one/both hands. Depress the rib cage 1.5 to 4 inches, depending on the dog’s size. Do this 100-120 times per minute.
Continue CPR until you get the animal transported to a veterinary facility, and professionals can take over.
Eye Injuries: First Aid
If you notice any of the following, You should seek veterinary attention immediately as these signs can indicate potentially serious eye problems that can risk your pet’s vision:
- Your pet squinting or protecting an eye
- Any suspected trauma to the eye
- Abnormal appearance of the eyeball
- Excessive redness to the white part of the eye (sclera)
- Any time the eyelid cannot cover the eyeball
Eyes are quite fragile, and just a few minutes could mean the difference between sight and blindness. Referral to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) may be needed for more severe cases.
Diarrhea and Vomiting: First Aid
Vomiting and diarrhea (gastroenteritis) can be caused by MANY different medical conditions. Some cases are quite severe (e.g., poisoning, organ failure), and some are not (e.g., dietary indiscretion). Because pets can’t tell us what is going on, the best way to determine the underlying cause of your pet’s gastroenteritis is with a detailed physical exam and diagnostics by your veterinarian. Do not administer any over-the-counter or prescription medications to your pet without talking to a vet first.
Fever: First Aid
Fever is an elevated body temperature that occurs as a response to inflammation in the body. Some causes of fever are infection, autoimmune diseases, heatstroke, and cancer. Normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5°F for both dogs and cats. The temperature is most accurately taken with a rectal digital electronic thermometer. In order to take your pet’s temperature, lubricate the thermometer with a water-based lubricant (such as K-Y jelly, baby oil, or soap), and then insert the thermometer about 1-2 cm (about 1/2 to 1 inch) into the rectum.
What to Do
- Take and record the rectal temperature if your pet feels ill or warm. If it is above 103°F, call your veterinarian or local emergency center. A temperature above 106°F can be life-threatening and demands immediate attention.
- If the animal has been outside, and its temperature is over 105°F, it could be experiencing “heat stroke.” Moisten the pet’s hair coat with cool water and pay particular attention to the ears and feet, and direct a fan on the moistened areas. Then bring your pet to the closest veterinary clinic ASAP.
What NOT to Do
- Do not give aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or other drugs as many of these are poisonous to pets.
- Do not demand antibiotics from your veterinarian for all causes of fever.
Seizures and Convulsions: First Aid
A seizure is a sudden and uncontrolled movement of the animal’s body caused by abnormal brain activity. Seizures may be very severe and affect all of the body or quite mild, affecting only a portion of the pet. The pet may or may not seem conscious or responsive and may urinate or have a bowel movement.
Seizure activity that lasts longer than 3 to 5 minutes can cause detrimental effects on your pet’s body, such as fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema) or brain (cerebral edema). A dramatic rise in body temperature (hyperthermia) can also result, causing internal organ damage.
Seizures can be caused by epilepsy, toxins, low blood sugar, liver shunts, birth defects, brain tumors, and a host of other medical conditions. Your veterinarian can help you determine the cause of seizures in your pet, and if necessary, can refer you to a specialist to help with the diagnosis or treatment of seizures. Some pets require life-long anti-seizure medications to control seizures. These medications may require frequent dose adjustments and monitoring of blood levels.
What to Do if your Pet has a Seizure
- Protect the pet from injuring herself during or after the seizure. Keep from falling from a height and especially keep away from water.
- Remove other pets from the area as some pets become aggressive after a seizure.
- Record the time the seizure begins and ends and if it started with a certain body part (such as an eye twitching).
- If the seizure lasts over 3 minutes, cool the pet with cool (not cold) water and seek veterinary attention at once.
- If your pet has two or more seizures in a 24-hour period, seek veterinary attention.
- If your pet has one seizure that is less than 3 minutes and seems to recover completely, contact your veterinarian for further instructions.
What NOT to Do
- Do not place your hands near the pet’s mouth. (They do not swallow their tongues.) You risk being bitten.
- Do not try to startle your pet out of a seizure. The seizure will end when it ends.
Special instructions for toy breeds and diabetic pets on insulin
If your pet is a toy breed (under 5 pounds) or is diabetic, the seizure may be due to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If the pet is able to stand, is not vomiting, offer a small meal. If the pet is non-responsive, vomiting, or actively seizing, rub some honey or Karo syrup on the gums and proceed immediately to your veterinarian or local emergency center. Prolonged low blood sugar can cause irreversible brain injury.