Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby!

Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby!

Bringing a new baby home can be stressful not only for parents but for household pets as well. But with the proper precautions and training, your dog can safely and happily cohabitate with a newborn baby.  It’s never too early to start getting your pets ready for the baby’s arrival; training should begin months before the big day. In fact, I’ve advised numerous pet owners to prepare their dog for handling a baby in the home even before becoming pregnant. Assess whether the dog has aggression or fear issues. Take special notice of how your dog acts when you get near his food bowl, chew toys and resting area. Pay attention to any sensitivity your dog shows when being approached by people, especially children and toddlers. When introducing your pet to your newborn baby, choose surroundings that are familiar to your pet but about which it won’t feel territorial. An example would be a room in the house where the pet is allowed to enter and sit or lie down if it behaves (such as a bedroom). This is preferable to the main living area where the animal may have already established a territory, the kitchen or any place where you feed the pet. If the weather is nice, you may choose to move outdoors but only if your pet does not become too excited.  Before you actually bring the baby home, have your husband or partner take the baby’s blanket home for the dog to smell. The blanket should be held for the dog to sniff, but he should not be allowed to play with it, as the blanket...
Maribel: The Golden Girl Story

Maribel: The Golden Girl Story

Last summer, Pottsville’s Hillside SPCA picked up a senior golden mixed breed found wandering on Route 443 in the Pine Grove area of rural northeastern Pennsylvania. Maribel is at least 10 and very possibly older, and her chances of getting adopted were slim. Like many seniors, either human or canine, she had teeth problems and arthritis. She also had an abnormal gait from what was possibly a traumatic incident. Living on the streets isn’t for the faint of heart, but Maribel’s life was never easy. She was born in a puppy mill, which are notorious for neglect, overcrowding, and malnutrition problems. The mill was eventually raided and closed down, landing Maribel in her first of many shelters. After cycling in and out of shelters, she went to live with an elderly couple, but they fell ill and were no longer able to care for her. Unfortunately, Maribel’s abnormal gait continued to worsen. Her hind legs wobbled and sometimes buckled under her. And she had periods of fecal incontinence. But Susan was committed to her new charge. She took her to see her primary care veterinarian, who found that Maribel, along with everything else that ailed her, was also suffering from hypothyroidism. As for the dog’s hind legs and stability issues, the vet recommended that Susan see a neurologist. Some tumors can be aggressive and locally invasive, while others are more benign. Until they were able to biopsy samples from Maribel, Drs. Wood and Galban could not accurately predict which form Maribel suffered from. What was clear, however, was that removing the mass would take a lot of pressure off of...
Safe and Secure:  The Benefits of Choosing a Boarding Kennel to Care for Your Pet

Safe and Secure: The Benefits of Choosing a Boarding Kennel to Care for Your Pet

Most pet owners will eventually face the problem of finding care for their furry family members while the need to be away from home. Some people rely on friends, family or neighbors to take care of their cat or dog, but sometimes these solutions can be more trouble than they’re worth – part time, casual caregivers like these often lack the proper knowledge of pet health care and first aid, and sometimes aren’t able or even willing to appropriately supervise your pet in the way that they need! This puts pets that are entrusted to these types of caregivers at higher risk for injury, illness or escapes, unfortunately. Boarding kennels usually have several advantages over the kid next door when it comes to providing a care experience that is safe and secure for your canine companion or feline friend. Let’s take a quick peek at what a good quality kennel will offer to keep your pet safe, happy and healthy. As you walk in the door, the facility should be neat, well-maintained and clean, with separate boarding areas for dogs and cats. Only kennel staff should be allowed into the actual housing areas, to avoid unnecessarily exposing your pet to ‘stranger stress’ and to prevent the potential spread of any contagious disease between furry guests. Security Tight security is a vital factor in boarding kennel safety. No, that doesn’t mean that they need searchlights and prison guards, but sturdy, well-maintained fencing, gates and dividers between runs or in play areas are a must, since pets who are separated from their owners may try to dig or climb out in...
Reliable Recall – Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

Reliable Recall – Teaching Your Dog to Come When Called

Most dog owners would agree that teaching their pups basic obedience commands are a to priority for them – after all, ‘sit’ stay’ and ‘come’ are probably the first things that every dog learns, after potty training! For your pup’s safety, it’s particularly important to teach them a good recall – that is, to come back to you immediately whenever you call them. A solid recall not only allows you to control your dog’s interactions with others, but also keeps them safe from hazards like wild animals and busy roads. Let’s take a look at some important tips to help you teach your pup that coming back to you is well worth it! First, start indoors. Many dogs, especially puppies, get distracted easily, so start your training inside, in an area with few distractions. Pick the perfect reward. Find out what motivates your pup the most – is it a really tasty treat? A special toy? Play? Praise? Your dog is going to be far more likely to want to come to you if what you have is more exciting than the world around them. Keep it simple! Pick one word for your recall command and stick with it to avoid confusing your pup. Keep it short. Dogs have brief attention spans, and can get bored or frustrated easily. Keep training sessions between five and fifteen minutes long at maximum. Make it fun for your dog. Dogs learn best and stay motivated for longer when they’re having a good time. Games are a great way to teach recall! Begin the game by playing with your dog, getting them excited,...
Breaking Bad Habits:  Stopping Your Dog from Jumping Up

Breaking Bad Habits: Stopping Your Dog from Jumping Up

Like many dog owners, you’ve probably had embarrassing moments where your pup has jumped up on one of your guests, leaving unwelcome hair or muddy paw prints on their clothes. It’s normal for our canine companions to get excited when they greet their owners or new people, but it’s considered ‘bad doggie manners’, and for some people, like seniors or young children, the behavior can be scary or downright dangerous. Unfortunately, many dog owners unknowingly encourage this kind of behavior, but rest assured – there are definitely ways to put a stop to this habit and help your pup to become a model canine greeter. First, start off on the right foot. Dogs tend to learn behavior from puppyhood – if you don’t want your adult dog to be leaping on people, then don’t ever encourage your puppy (or dog) to jump up or crawl onto your lap. Identify trouble situations. Some dogs are simply more energetic than others, and it doesn’t take much to get them excited! A ringing doorbell or knock at the door can send your pup into a frenzy of enthusiasm, so be prepared to have your pup under control in these situations. Give your dog something else to do. Yelling at your dog, hitting, pushing kneeing or grabbing their paws are all ineffective (and often distressing) ways that some owners may try to deal with the problem. Instead, keep your dog on leash when guests come over, and give them an alternate command like ‘sit’ or ‘wait’, giving them lots of small treats as rewards for calm behavior. Ignore bad habits. Giving any sort...
Dental Care Tips for Your Cat

Dental Care Tips for Your Cat

Much like dogs, it is important for you to begin a daily dental routine with your kitty. If your cat doesn’t go much further than the couch and never goes outside, he is still susceptible to oral diseases and other health risks. Cats are particularly prone to gingivitis, so it is important to keep up with your pet dental care and perform routine gum and teeth checks in between vet visits.  Keep in mind that tooth brushing and diets with oral benefits are some of the best ways to keep your cat’s mouth healthy.   A pet dentistry may be recommended if your cat has any tartar, gingivitis or cavities. Cats can be persnickety about owners putting anything in their mouth, so it can be a challenge to brush a cat’s teeth. Use these tips to help your cat accept what’s good for them when you brush their teeth. Get your cat used to the idea of brushing by massaging his gums or using a cotton swab to touch them Use a toothbrush designed for cats and apply toothpaste Keep an eye out for swollen gums Signals of oral disease Dark red line around the gums Red and swollen gums Ulcers inside mouth Loose teeth Having a hard time chewing food Constant pawing at mouth region Your cats diet, much like your own, affects their dental health. Some cat food is high in ingredients that may cause tartar which leads to plaque and tooth decay.  If your cat has dental problems you may want to feed him food that will help prevent dental health issues like tartar and tooth decay....
Dog Grooming Tips

Dog Grooming Tips

Grooming your dog accomplishes much more than just making your pet’s coat look nice and shiny. It will provide you with the opportunity to spend some “quality time” with your dog. You will be able to check your dog closely for any problems while grooming. Move the hair aside and examine the skin closely for signs of fleas, ticks or skin irritations. Look for any unusual problems with the coat such as mats, tangles, dandruff, etc. Mats and tangles can be carefully removed while grooming. Regular grooming is essential to your dog’s health and well-being. Regular combing and brushing will keep the coat clean and healthy. It will stimulate the skin, and allow the natural oils to circulate to the coat. It will also allow your to carefully check for potentially serious problems. Check areas for hair loss, inflammation, unusual tenderness, or lumps under the skin. Constant scratching in a particular area may also be an indication of a problem. Check with your veterinarian about any unusual problems found. Place a rubber mat in the bathtub to ensure your pet’s safety and fill the tub with four to five inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray house or a cup of water to give your pet’s fur an initial soak, while carefully avoiding their water, nose, and ears. After an initial spray, gently massage shampoo into their fur, and follow it with a second rinse down of soap and shampoo. If you want pets to get used to the sensations of bath time, practice going through the motions of moving in and out of the bath for a few...
Tips and Tricks on Puppy Training

Tips and Tricks on Puppy Training

The unconditional love of a puppy is one of life’s great pleasures.  Their curiosity, innocence, and joy for life are inspirational and bring out the best in us. If you’re considering bringing a puppy in to your home, it’s important to give careful consideration to such factors as breed traits, how big the dog will be as an adult, access to exercise, your personal schedule, and the long-term cost of caring for your pet. Puppies are naturally curious; so setting up your home in advance is essential. Lock away all household chemicals, keep any potentially poisonous houseplants out of reach, try to tie back any electrical cords and keep doors closed. It’s also important to create a specific “home base” for the new puppy by using portable gates or an indoor kennel to keep the puppy away from trouble as well as helping the puppy to feel safe without the sense of abandonment that comes from being locked alone in a room. Don’t give in to the occasional whine and mix solitude with together time. Toilet train puppies by marking an area off in the garden and taking the puppy on a lead to this area for the first few days. The puppy will learn by habit and scent that this is where it toilets. If you reward the puppy with its favourite treat for toileting here it will quickly learn where its toilet area is. Using treats get your puppy used to being touched and handled by lots of people. When checking your puppy over keep it short, fun and pleasurable. Remember a puppy that likes being handled...
Cool Your (Canine) Jets! Training Your Dog to Relax at Walk Time

Cool Your (Canine) Jets! Training Your Dog to Relax at Walk Time

Does your dog go crazy when you say the word ‘Walk’ and then spend the outing bouncing and straining at the end of his leash? Most of our canine companions get very excited when it’s time to go out – some spin in a circle, some jump up, some bark over and over. While it’s wonderful that your dog enjoys time with you, these antics can make walk time uncomfortable or downright annoying! Putting a leash on while your dog is in this state not only rewards bad manners indoors, but makes it far more likely that your pup is going to continue to be overexcited and pull while on leash. Teaching calm behaviour before you even head out the door is the first stage of training your pup to walk properly on a leash, so let’s look at how to set your dog up for success! You’ll need: Your dog’s leash Yummy soft treats (lots of them!), cut into pea size bites Timer with an alarm Let’s start inside, in a low-stimulation environment for your pup. 1) Begin with your dog off leash, with the leash in its normal place. Approach the leash area as if you’re going for a walk. If your dog becomes excited at this point, stop moving, ignore unwanted behaviours (such as jumping, whining or barking) and wait for your pet to calm down. 2) Once your pet is calm (all paws on the floor, quiet, relaxed body), reward with a small treat and move your hand toward the leash. If your dog becomes excited by this action, then stop, move back, and again...
Preparing Your Cat for a Boarding Stay

Preparing Your Cat for a Boarding Stay

Cats – they love to be with us. Many of us are familiar with the constant meows for attention, have felt the twining of sleek feline tails around our legs, and have been awed at how quickly they can transform from silent predator to balls of purring fluff on our laps. Despite our attachment to our lovable feline friends, however, there may be times when we may need to be away, and a stay at a boarding kennel may be necessary. Unlike dogs, many cats are stressed by changes in environment and daily routine. Finding a great kennel and preparing your cat for boarding in advance can really help to reduce your pet’s stress during a boarding stay – as well as your own. First, because of a cat’s unique needs, let’s look at some of the things that you should be looking for in a good quality cattery or cat boarding facility: Secure individual cat units. They should be warm, properly maintained and easy to clean and sanitize, built with materials like tile, metal, or Plexiglas. Units should be separated by impervious barriers which prevent all contact between cats, and should have separate areas for food, litter, and sleeping areas. If the boarding kennel also cares for dogs, cat housing areas should be in a separate unit or building to reduce stress. A ‘safety corridor’ outside the units. Cats are opportunists who may quickly and easily slip through an open door! Having a second space that is closed to prevent further escape is essential. NO communal runs or play rooms. Cats from different households should never be allowed...