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Tips for Training Your Dog

Scruffy is your best poochie pal, but he may get up to some shenanigans frowned upon by the rest of the family. Our dogs our like our kids, and just like kids they can benefit from a bit of training. If you’re not sure where to start schooling your canine in obedience, check out these top 5 expert-recommended tricks!

1. Active listening goes two ways.

When your dog is whining, barking more than usual, or otherwise acting weird when it comes to new activities, chances are they are trying to let you know they feel uncomfortable. Just like we can get anxiety over trying something new, your dog can feel apprehensive too.

Respect their feelings and don’t push things too hard. Showing a bit of patience will help them ease into training better. They will also be more eager to try in the future because they trust you to pay attention to their needs.

2. Your dog doesn’t speak English.

Just yelling “no” over and over isn’t going to accomplish much. To get your dog to understand what you mean, you need to show them what you want them to do.

Accompany the “no” command by removing whatever they are doing wrong, or moving them from the object they shouldn’t be messing with. Likewise, if you want them to “fetch”, accompany the command by running with them to the toy and picking it up.

3. Be consistent, understanding, and generous.

Pick a rule and stick to it. Don’t let Fido sometimes chew on your old newspapers but get angry when he chews up the new ones. He doesn’t know the difference. When your new puppy has an accident on the floor, don’t respond with anger. This will only create anxiety about his bodily functions. When your dog does something right, reward their good behaviour with lots of encouragement and the occasional treat.

4. Remember that dogs have a short attention span.

Most dogs only remember new tricks for about 2 minutes. Puppies have even shorter attention spans. It will take a lot of repetition before they learn new rules and tricks.

When your dog forgets how to roll over 10 minutes after getting it right, don’t respond with frustration. Simply keep trying and be encouraging. Eventually they will remember “if I do this, my owner is happy” not “my owner gets mad at me for no reason”.

5. Always be welcoming, even after they’ve been bad.

Your dog will do things you don’t want them to do. Sometimes they do something that makes them feel good or safe, even if it makes a mess. They may even think what they did would make you happy, because it made them happy. So, when your dog comes running joyfully over to see you, don’t respond by turning them away as punishment.

Turning your pet away because you are angry or disappointed only teaches them to be afraid and to leave you alone. That means, once your own hostility dies down, your dog will be less likely to want to play or come when called. Always welcome your pet with open arms first, then get to working on resolving bad behaviour.

Top 10 Signs That Your Pet May Be Sick

          Our pets are typically four-legged, furry members of the family and their health is important to us.  A responsible pet owner keeps up with vet visits, ensures that their pet is up to date on vaccines, boosters, and feeds their pet the type of food that helps to maintain a good diet.  We walk them, we talk to them, and they’re a constant source of comfort in our lives.  Even with the best of care, it’s inevitable that, on occasion, our pets will fall ill.  Taking notice and ensuring that they get help as soon as possible as this will allow them to get back on the road to recovery quickly and avoid further preventable illness or complications.  Here are a few signs that your pet may not be feeling up to par.

  • All dogs drool, and at the best of times their breath doesn’t exactly lead one to think of fresh flowers, but if your pet is sick they may drool copious amounts or you may notice a particular odour from their mouth. This could be an indication of a stomach or intestinal trouble.
  • If your pet has lost their appetite or you’ve noticed weight loss, (and especially if your animal isn’t a senior where some of this would be expected), it might be a sign that they’re feeling under the weather.
  • Check your pet’s eyes; sometimes sickness will show up as dry or cloudy eyes. Eyes may weep or show signs of infection, or appear red or inflamed.
  • Activity levels can be one of the first indicators that something is wrong. If your pet shows a lack of excitement over an activity that usually has them jumping for joy, or if they are lethargic, you might want to take notice.
  • Your pet may sneeze, cough or show signs of laboured breathing or pant more than is normal
  • Check skin for dryness or sores, lumps, or other abnormality. Your pet may start scratching if there is a skin problem.
  • If your furry friend throws up or has loose bowels, this could be an indication of an illness
  • A change in water consumption or urination, or urinating in the house are all signs that something could be wrong
  • If your pet shows signs of stiffness or has difficulty with regular mobility, and especially if they’re not seniors, there could be something wrong
  • Behaviour changes could indicate that your pet isn’t feeling well. If they’re grumpy or sleeping more than they usually would, it may be an indication that something isn’t quite right.

We all want our pets to live long, healthy lives.  When you notice that they’re not themselves or there is a change that you’re not sure of, it’s best to be safe and take them to visit your family vet.  A vet will be able to explain or test for certain conditions and treatment is best given sooner rather than later.

Questions Everyone Should Ask Their Veterinarian

       Heading to the vet can be an anxiety-ridden experience for any pet and their owner. Your vet knows that there may be some fear associated with the visit and will help to ease both you and your furry family member. Here are some great questions to ask in order to maximize your visit.

When should I spay or neuter? Although the answer differs depending on what vet you talk to, the general consensus is still that having your pet fixed before sexual maturity is best, at around the 6 month mark.

What vaccines will my pet receive? Especially if you’ve just added a puppy or a kitten to your tribe, they will need a series of vaccines to keep them safe and prevent them from getting a preventable and sometimes fatal disease. Your vet will be able to give you a rundown of each and why they’re necessary.

Is this behaviour normal? Sometimes your pet displays behaviours that you think may be problematic or may be a sign of an oncoming condition. Describe the behaviour as best as you can, and take notes of when, where, and what happens.

What type of food should I be feeding him/her? A vet can give you the low down on the best types of food for your pet at different stages of their lives. Most vets even carry several lines of pet food.

What type of medication do we need and what are the side effects? If your pet is sick or has some type of condition, your vet will recommend medication and it helps to know what to expect. If a side effect shows up, you’ll be prepared and know how to handle it if you’ve been forewarned.

What should we do before bringing our pet to a kennel? There are specific vaccines your pet should have if they’re going to be staying at a kennel, both to prevent them from getting a disease and to keep them from spreading anything to other animals.

What are your capabilities at this location? Most vet offices can handle a wide variety of issues right at the location nearest you, while other emergencies may need to be handled elsewhere. It helps to know what to expect.

What type of quality of life will my pet have? If your pet is heading into his golden years you may have questions about illnesses or conditions that have surfaced. You’ll want to know what your pet may experience and how to help.

Can you go over my bill with me? You may have some questions when you get the final invoice, and your vet or the admin in the office will be happy to go over the details so that you fully understand everything you’re paying for.

Why Vets can be Costly

         So you’ve taken Fluffy to the vet to get a check up, a vaccine boost or maybe for some medication. One look at your bill leaves you gasping for air. What in the world could have cost so much? Take a deep breath, and read on for some important information that might make you think differently about how “expensive” the vet really is.

A  vet is a highly trained professional

          Anytime you’re seeking the help from a professional, and especially one with a degree or years of schooling, you should expect that those services come with a price tag. Most veterinarians have gone to school for about 7 years studying and training for this career. Those years of schooling add up, and most carry some amount of student debt. Generally they don’t work alone; their highly skilled assistants generally spend 3 years training for their jobs, and they aren’t working for free. A veterinarian and their staff are actually paid comparatively low to other professionals with the same amount of schooling.

Operation costs

           Your vet has a lot of bills to pay. Besides lights, heat and office space (which entails either a mortgage or monthly rent) they have very specialized equipment that can run them tens of thousands of dollars. An x-ray machine or an ultrasound machine, for example, can cost anywhere between $30,000 to $90,000!! Most vets have loans to pay off this equipment and it takes years of monthly payments before they own it free and clear.

Medications and tests

           Part of your vet bill most likely includes the medications you’ve taken home and the tests that the vet performed to determine which type of meds are best suited in the first place. Sometimes the tests can be performed and read right in the office but other times they’ll need to be sent away for a more specialized look.

Hazards on the job

           When was the last time you were scratched or bitten by an angry client? At least when you’re dealing with people, you can generally explain a situation and calm them down. Since we don’t speak an animal’s language, it can be pretty hard to calm Fluffy when he’s excited or scared of an exam or procedure. Sometimes this can lead to a vet or tech being wounded despite taking every precaution possible.

We’re on call 24/7

           Sure, the veterinary office states specific hours and you likely won’t find anyone around after they’ve closed. But patients must be checked throughout the evening, and emergencies don’t always happen during office hours. (In fact, Murphy’s Law says that they’ll generally happen when it’s most inconvenient). A vet often takes shifts of evening, weekend or holiday hours so that they don’t miss anyone who needs help. You may still not like the bill you get handed at the end of your visit, but keep in mind that you’re paying for quality medical care for a very important member of your family.

Cat With Bad Breath

How to deal with a cat or dog that has bad breath

    You pick up Fluffy to give her a squeeze and get a face full of…something you can’t quite make out.

    We love our furry family members but often their breath leaves something to be desired. What can you do to alleviate the problem?

  • Just like their human counterparts, bad breath in pets can stem from bacteria in their mouth. Giving their teeth a brush can certainly help.
  • There are numerous dental treats on the market that gear themselves towards helping with this problem. Try one in a flavour that your pet loves.
  • Check with your vet. Sometimes bad breath can be a sign of other health issues, so if you notice that your pet is suffering from a worse smell than normal, it may be best to have him or her checked out.
  • Is their food the problem? Your pet food provider may have some answers about what ingredients could be causing a malodorous issue in your pet’s mouth.  Not all pet foods are created equal, and many health issues can be alleviated by a simple fix in diet.
  • Another common reason for bad breath in your pet can stem from dehydration. Ensure that your family critter has access to fresh clean water every day and that he or she is actually drinking enough.  Sometimes and especially in the case of cats, your vet may recommend some wet food be added to her diet to help alleviate dehydration issues.