How to Deal With a Puppy that Bites

Many dog owners have to deal with the issue of dogs biting, and it can be very stressful trying to determine what is causing the behavior and how to put a stop to it. While initially obnoxious, biting can become dangerous and you need to take action quickly to stop it.

How to Stop Dogs from Biting as Puppies

It is best to put a stop to this behavior when the dog is still a puppy. If the puppy is under six months of age he is very easy to retrain because he is still in the formative years of his life.

Many people mistakenly assume their puppies are merely playing or teething and not really trying to hurt them. Unfortunately, what is really happening is that your puppy is learning how to assert his position in the pack, and by doing so is using teeth to show who is in charge.

There are several ways to stop your puppy from biting. Most of them will mirror how the puppy would be treated with his litter mates and mother. A light tap on the back of the neck, a crying noise when he bites, and handing the dog a toy instead of your hand are all acceptable ways to teach the dog that biting other people will not be tolerated. If you find your methods to stop biting unsuccessful, there are options of obedience school or working with a certified puppy trainer.

How to Stop Dogs from Biting at One Year

If your puppy is allowed to nip and bite and show that he is in charge of the pack, he will then move on to play biting at around one year of age. There are a number of factors that can contribute to this behavior. You should stop playing physical games the instant he begins biting. Also it is important to avoid wrestling, tug of war or other dominance related games.

Additionally, you need to stop allowing your dog the run of the house. Give him boundaries. Crate if necessary.

How to Stop Dogs from Biting as they Age

If given the opportunity to continue biting, eventually it will evolve into a big problem when the puppy becomes an adult. If allowed to bite through his formative years, the behavior will be a part of his permanent personality.

If the biting is still going on after the puppy turns a year old, it is strongly advised that you seek the help of a qualified trainer immediately because the puppy may suddenly choose to assert its dominance at any time with an attack.

With the exception of disease or mental disorder, dogs who bite as adults had issues as puppies that could have been resolved if properly addressed..

Peace and Love are present in my world now,

Lovin Pet Care
Melanie Lovett

Caring for A Senior Cat

There are three groups that classify older cats:

  • 7-10 years (44-56 human years): Mature or middle-aged
  • 11-14 years (60-72 human years): Senior
  • 15+ years (76+ years for humans): Geriatric

With proper home and veterinarian care, many cats live into their late teens and early twenties.

It is important to understand aging changes, as well as what constitutes “normal” developments in additional to what signal signs of treatable conditions. This can be challenging because some owners might think that unlike dogs, cats do not need to visit the veterinarian on an ongoing basis. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Cats are masters at hiding disease. Despite underlying problems, they may appear well. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends a veterinarian check-up every six months for a healthy, older cat.

What to Check for During a Routine Visit With Your Veterinarian:

  • Overall body and weight condition
  • Quality of the skin and coat
  • Teeth, mouth and gums
  • Ears and eyes
  • Lungs and heart
  • Abdomen
  • Muscles and joints

Please make your veterinarian aware of any changes in condition from your previous exam.

Obesity is about more than just being “fat.” It is considered by veterinarians to be a disease that alters metabolism and makes a pet more likely to develop certain conditions, including but not limited to: diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, breathing problems and lower urinary tract disease.

At the opposite end of the spectrum in the senior and geriatric age group is a cat becoming underweight. Some older cats have a decreased ability to digest protein and fat, or it may be caused by a disease. Also keep in mind the fact that cats lose their sense of taste or smell as they age and this can cause loss of interest in eating. A broken tooth, chronic kidney disease or memory problems can also impact the ability to eat.

One of the key elements to your cat’s continued good health is a proper diet. Older cats are prone to dehydration and constipation, so increased water intake is important for older cats. Also offering three or four small meals per day makes food easier to digest for older cats.

Dental care is important to maintain your cat’s oral hygiene to help ensure continued health. Neglected teeth and gums can result in severe mouth pain and even lead to infection in other organs. Untreated oral disease and dental pain in your cat can cause her to experience emotional and physical decline.

A range of illnesses can occur as your cat ages. The most common are mentioned below:

Chronic Kidney Disease

Kidney disease often begins in middle age but is most common in older cats. Some signs may include:

  • Mild behavior changes
  • Changes in drinking frequency or location
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased volumes of urine
  • Constipation
  • Appetite decrease
  • Muscle decrease and weight loss

Diabetes

Diabetes is most common in obese male cats. It is a significant disease in older cats. Nearly half of all diabetic cats range in age from 10 to 15 years.
Signs include:

  • Excessive hunger
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst and urination

Other diseases that affect older cats are listed below but not limited to:

Thyroid disease

  • Hypertension
  • Gastrointestinal Conditions
  • Cancer (About half of all deaths in cats aged 10 and older are caused by cancer)
  • Arthritis

Even with appropriate treatment and regular veterinary care, many senior cats eventually reach a point where illness significantly affects their quality of life. If and when that time comes, it is important to include your trusted veterinarian in decided the best course of action for your pet.

Peace and Love are present in my world now,

Lovin Pet Care
Melanie Lovett

Dealing with the Loss Of A Pet

Any animal lover will tell you that losing your pet is one of the hardest things to experience. Whether through illness, age, or accident it can be very difficult to fill the void left in your heart and in your life by the loss of your furry companion.

griefI’ve often wondered which is worse: Losing your pet suddenly and never getting to say goodbye, or being with your animal as they take their last breath.

For me the decision to have my beloved cat put to sleep was gut wrenching. Even though I knew she was suffering, and had been since basically the day I rescued her. We had 9 wonderful years together and during that time she was on several meds daily. In fact, during the last 9 months of her life I was giving her IV injections daily. That in of itself was a huge challenge for me. I definitely have a needle phobia. I had to take her in every week to have blood levels checked and as soon as it was time, I bolted out of the exam room. To this day I still can’t be in the room when my pets need shots of any kind.

But when it became obvious that the end was approaching and Savannah needed me to step up I did. It wasn’t the cost aspect of bringing her in to the vet every day for the fluids; It was her comfort level. If you had to have chemo every day, would you prefer to do it in a loud, disruptive clinic with people yelling, or would you prefer the peaceful environment of your own home?

It was definitely a challenge for me. My vet told me he was more worried about how I was going to handle the whole thing and NOT my cat. It took a lot of practice with the Dr. and indeed the first time I did it at home I nearly passed out afterwards. As the vet knew she would, Savannah handled it like a trouper and it was relatively easy until we got months into it and she began to develop scar tissue and it became increasingly difficult to find an injection site. If you aren’t familiar with sub-Q fluids injections with an animal there is only a small area between the shoulder blades where the needle can go in. You have to pinch the skin and pull it up like a tent. And on a 6 pound cat there isn’t much room to work with.

Even though I knew it was coming, had known for months in fact, the day I had to say goodbye was more difficult than I ever imagined. If you’ve been through the loss of the pet you know that it’s like hitting a brick wall at 100 miles per hour without a helmet. I had spent weeks preparing myself and thought I was ready… but are you really ever ready to say goodbye to someone you love? Someone you’ve cared for for several years? Someone who was always there for you through laughter and tears?

Although death wasn’t imminent and she may have lasted through the night and even for another 24 hours, she would only continue to get sicker and her suffering would increase. Then my vet said something to me that I will never forget. “You have to listen with your head because your heart will never let you let go.”

While it was one the hardest decisions I’ve ever made, my vet gently reminded me that what I was allowing was a final, loving, humane act for Savannah by ending her suffering. He also shared my grief with me, having cared for her since day one. He told me I could take her home and if I needed him, even at two am, I could call his cell phone and he would meet me at the clinic. I didn’t want to have to take her for her final moments to some unfamiliar 24 hour animal hospital. I wanted her to be with people who loved her, and Dr. Johnson was just as emotional about the situation as I was. He told me that he didn’t want to be the one to have to put her to sleep, but that he would do it for her and me. Having a Vet you trust and rely on during a crisis like that can mean the world. Your head and heart and emotions are in a tail spin and I will be forever grateful to him for his support and guidance during that time.

Because Savannah was ill for so long I had a lengthy period of time to decide whether or not I wanted to be with her when she took her final breath. It is a deeply personal decision that you have to live with for the rest of your life and I can’t image having to make it in a moment’s notice. There is so much going on in your beloved companion’s final moments that while you think you had everything planned out, it’s such an emotional time that you question every decision afterwards. I, however, stuck with my choice and I absolutely do not regret it to this day.

Even though this all happened 5 years ago I still remember it as if it were yesterday. If you or someone you know has recently or will soon be going through a situation like this and I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Having someone who has been through the experience can be a tremendous comfort, as my vet was to me.

Peace and Love are present in my world now,

Lovin Pet Care
Melanie Lovett

Should You Give Your Dog Rawhide?

While rawhide treats may be popular, here are some points to keep in mind when deciding if they are right for your dog.

imageThe inner layer of cow or horse hides are used to make rawhide. The hides are cleaned and or ground during the manufacturing process. Next they’re made into chewable different shapes and sizes. Some contain flavorings to make them more appealing.

There are some benefits of rawhide. Chewing can help relieve anxiety and can provide stimulation. There is less plaque and tartar build-up on dogs that chew regularly on rawhide.

While the risks are relatively small, they can be serious and for that reason should not be ignored.

Here are some of the most common risks of rawhide:

  • Rawhide chews can contain trace elements of toxic chemicals. Humans can also be at risk when coming into contact with bacteria on rawhide treats.
  • If a dog is sensitive or allergic to rawhide or the substances used in manufacturing, it can cause diarrhea.
  • There is a choking and blockage risk. This risk is bigger than digestive contamination or digestive irritation. A blockage can lead to death if not resolved.

If you decide to offer your dog rawhide, wash your hands thoroughly after handing the treats to minimize your risk of exposure to contaminants.

It is advised that you ask your veterinarian how much is safe to give your dog. Generally the smaller the dog, the fewer the chews. Give one at a time at first, then wait a day to see how your dog responds.

When the chew becomes small enough to swallow whole, take it away from your dog.

Contact your vet if see signs such as:

  • Gagging
  • Regurgitation
  • Repeated swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Signs of pain
  • Refusal to eat

Not all rawhide treats are safe for your dog to eat. It has been reported that rawhides which have been produced outside the US were made from toxic chemicals. Try to be selective when choosing rawhide.

Peace and Love are present in my world now,

Lovin Pet Care
Melanie Lovett

Pros and Cons of Vaccinations for Your Dog

Vaccinations are very important weapons in the fight against infectious diseases in animals. However, vaccines are not without their limitations and there are failures. In some cases the reactions or side effects can be worse than the disease they are being used to prevent!

Luckily there are vaccines to help prevent many illness that affect your dog. It has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help him live a long, healthy life. There are different vaccines for different diseases, and different types and combinations of vaccines.

Here are answers to some most frequently asked questions regarding vaccines:

What exactly are Vaccines?

They help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. If your dog is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize it, fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.

How Important Are Vaccines?

Vaccines are very important in managing the health of your dog. However, not every dog needs to be vaccinated against every disease. While most veterinarians highly recommend administering core vaccines to healthy dogs, factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.

What Are Core Vaccines?

Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease and transmissibility to humans. They include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies.

Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dogs risk exposure.

What Vaccines Should My Puppy Get?

They must be vaccinated against rabies. They should also receive a series of vaccinations with a combination that protects against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis.

Are Any Vaccines Required By Law?

Each state has it’s own laws regarding the rabies vaccine. It is a legal requirement to have an up-to-date canine rabies.

How Often Should My Adult Dog Be Vaccinated?

Your veterinarian can best determine a vaccination schedule. It depends on several factors:

  • Type of vaccine
  • Dog’s age
  • Medical History
  • Environment and Lifestyle

Some vaccines are required annually, others every 3 years or longer.

When Should My Puppy be Vaccinated?

Starting at 6-8 weeks of age a puppy should start receiving a series of vaccinations. If the mother has a healthy immune system, a puppy will most likely have antibodies from the mother’s milk while nursing. At 16 weeks the final dose should be administered.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Vaccines?

There is a small chance of side effects with any medical procedure. You must discuss your dog’s medical history before he is vaccinated.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial swelling and/or hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Courtesy of ASPCA.org

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Autoimmune hemoltyic anemia
  • Local reactions
  • Systemic reactions
  • Nervous system problems
  • Reproductive problems
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Post vaccination sarcomas
  • Respiratory disease
  • Virus shedding
  • Maternal antibody interference
  • Certain drug therapies
  • Fever or hypothermia
  • Stress

It is best to contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog is having a reaction to a vaccine.