Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish

Socializing your new puppy: what you need to know

Now that you have gotten (somewhat) used to the newest addition to the family, it’s time to start thinking about socialization? The key to having a happy and nonfearful dog, is to start training during puppyhood. Here are some tips on how to get started.

At home…

Once your puppy has been home for a few days and is settled in, start introducing him to loud noises around the house. Get the vacuum cleaner out and let him sniff it. Turn it on and see how he reacts. This should go without saying but, don’t chase him with it and don’t force him to be near it. He may be afraid of it at first but after a few more times, it won’t make him so anxious. Also let him hear the garbage disposal, the hair dryer, the blender, etc. Whatever makes loud noises in your house (including the kids, although he’s likely heard them a lot by now).

When you are relaxing on the sofa, play with his feet and stick your fingers in his mouth periodically. Trim his nails so he gets used to this. There may not really be a lot to trim, but the act of having you hold his feet will help make it less stressful later. The same for getting him used to you opening his mouth in case you ever have to give him medicine. Now is a good time to get him used to you brushing his teeth as well.

 

Out in the world…

This part of socialization is definitely fun but you really have to wait until your pup is done will all of the puppy vaccines before venturing out into the world with your new BFF.  Ask your family vet and your dog-loving friends about “puppy kindergarten” classes in your area. These are also offered at some of our Best Friends facilities so be sure to ask J [JG1] In these classes, your pup will learn to interact with other dogs, new people, new environments, and lots of new smells. Puppy heaven! Having your puppy explore these things in a specific space and structured environment allows you to see how he/she does and help ensure that they don’t grow up being fearful or aggressive. Kindergarten classes will also start to lay the foundation for some behavior training as well.
Puppyhood is also the best time to start training your puppy to go for walks with a leash. Frequent walks are key since this is a skill that can take some time to master. If your pup sees things that scare him, such as a tree or a trash can, he may bark and back away. Don’t try to soothe him if he does this or he will think it is a good behavior. Instead, walk him past it gently, don’t pull or force him towards it though.

Overall, enjoy the process. Socialization is one of the most fun parts of having a puppy – its and excuse to show him off and play so, take advantage of it! And always remember we are here if you need us!!

Tags: Dog training, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppy, Tips

So you have a new puppy – now what?

Golden Retriever Puppy

Is there anything better than a warm, wiggly, cuddly puppy? A new bundle of joy always brings smiles but also, responsibility. Making sure your new fur baby is healthy and well cared for now, will save you time and money down the road. So, what now?

First, schedule a visit with your family vet within the first week of getting your new pup. Be sure to bring in any paperwork you have about vaccinations, wellness checks, or medications they have been given. The purpose of this general check-up exam is to make sure your puppy doesn’t have any obvious health problems or birth defects. For example, your veterinarian will check the mouth for a cleft palate, listen to the heart in case of a heart murmur, check for an umbilical hernia, etc. This exam is also a good time for you to discuss anything you have noticed at home that you are concerned about. Is your pup not eating well? Have you noticed any vomiting or diarrhea? Have you noticed a runny nose or watery eyes?

It is important to remember that even if your new fur baby is not showing any signs of a health problem at the time of their visit to the vet, they may still be incubating an illness. Diseases such as parvovirus or distemper can take 7 to 10 days to start causing symptoms, so be sure to keep an eye out for any signs of a problem.

During your visit, your veterinarian will also recommend getting a poop sample to check your new puppy for intestinal parasites and discuss a deworming schedule. Pups are often born with intestinal parasites and, even if they have already been dewormed, will often need more than a single dose of deworming medication.

Vaccinations (shots) are critical to keeping your puppy healthy and can help them avoid common puppy illnesses such as parvovirus and distemper. During your initial visit, your veterinarian will go over a vaccine schedule for your new pup. The first set of shots should happen at around 6 to 8 weeks of age with boosters given every 3 to 4 weeks until they are about 16 weeks old. Remember, until your pup is fully vaccinated, be sure to keep him/her isolated from other dogs. This means no boarding, no dog parks, pet stores, etc.

This initial visit is also a good time for you to talk to your veterinarian about microchipping. This means inserting a chip about the size of a grain of rice under the puppy’s skin that contains your contact information. If your dog is ever lost or separated from you in an emergency, a veterinary clinic or shelter will be able to scan your pet and contact you. Inserting the chip is easy (it’s just like getting a vaccine) and the cost is typically low.  Even if your pet is chipped however, they should still wear a collar with their name and your contact information.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions at this (or any) vet visit! This is the time for you to ask about anything you are concerned about. Your Best Friends veterinarian and the entire veterinary team are there to help you be the best pet parent you can be and to make sure that life with your new pup gets off to a safe and healthy start!

Tags: Best Friends Spotlight, Dogs, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppies, Puppy, Tips

Heartworms 101: Part 3

Border Collie

So how is heartworm infection treated?

So your dog or cat has been diagnosed with heartworm disease, now what? For dogs, there are approved medications and well established guidelines about how to treat depending on the severity of their disease. For cats, things are a bit trickier since there are no approved treatments for heartworm infection in cats. This is why prevention is so critical.

Let’s cover the basics of treatment for each species individually.

Dogs

Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will want to perform some additional tests to get a better idea of how much, if any, damage has already occurred. The reason behind this approach is that the severity of the changes can help gauge the risk for complications. However, even dogs with mild changes can develop complications and will need to be monitored closely. One the most important things that you can do as a pet parent once your dog has been diagnosed with heartworm disease is restrict their activity.  Exertion can increase the risk for further damage and increase the chance of complications either before or during therapy.

Heartworm disease in dogs is typically classified as:

Mild No clinical signs or minimal clinical signs
Moderate May have a cough or exercise intolerance, abnormal lung sounds during physical exam
Severe Cough, exercise intolerance, anemia, abnormal lung sounds during physical exam, enlarged liver, or fluid in the abdomen
Caval syndrome Sudden onset of severe weakness, collapse, discolored urine

Prior to heartworm therapy, your veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic called doxycycline or minocycline. This medication helps eliminate a bacteria carried by the heartworms that can cause complications during therapy. Your veterinarian may also recommend a medication at this time to begin to kill off any baby heartworms (microfilariae) as well.

Therapy to kill the adult heartworms will involve a medication called melarsomine which is given as a series of 3 injections over the course of 1 month. Your dog will get one injection then another 2 injections, 24 hours apart, 30 days later. In addition to STRICT EXERCISE RESTRICTION, your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication during this time to help decrease inflammation that may occur as a result of the dying worms.

About 6 months after treatment, your veterinarian will perform a blood test to confirm that all of the adult worms have been eliminated.

Cats

There are no approved drugs to treat cats with heartworm infections. Unlike in dogs, the goal of therapy in cats is not to eliminate worms, but to manage the clinical signs and try to reduce further damage. For cats with clinical signs such as coughing or wheezing, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication called prednisolone to help reduce inflammation in the airways.

Radiographs (x-rays) of the chest will also be important to determine the severity of the changes in the lungs and assess progression.

Cats can sometimes overcome a heartworm infection on their own over time so blood tests should be performed every 6 to 12 months in heartworm-positive kitties to see if the infection has cleared.

Tags: Ask the Vet, Best Friends Spotlight, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Pet health, Pet info, Tips, Vet
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