Famous Dog Trainer Dr. Ian Dunbar of Sirius Puppy Training recommends a multi-step approach to teaching bite inhibition in puppies. He explains that puppies learn through play with litter mates and others to bite gently. If they bite a playmate too hard, the other puppies will cry or yelp, and possibly stop playing if the bite is severe enough. To recreate this learning process with a new puppy in a human home he advises to first teach the puppy to bite softly before teaching them to stop biting on command, and finally teach that puppies are not allowed to start biting without permission.
The first step is to teach the puppy that hard biting is not allowed. For this step you have to set your puppy up to bite. Since biting is a natural part of puppy play, this isn’t usually difficult. During a play session, when your puppy bites, even if it doesn’t really hurt, pretend that it does. Yell, “Ouch!” and take your hand away, or stop playing for a few seconds. If the puppy calms down, great, you can go back to playing and continue the training. If the puppy continues to try to come and bite, you may need to put a more serious break in the play by stepping out of the room for a moment. Over time the puppy will learn that humans are very fragile and they will become gentler so they get to keep playing. Eventually, you will yell your “Ouch!” even when the puppy barely puts any pressure into the bite at all, teaching them that any pressure cannot be tolerated by humans.
Consistency is important in puppy training, so make sure all members of the household who will be playing with the puppy understand this process, so the puppy learns to be gentle with all humans, not just the one doing their training.
Once the puppy has learned to not put any pressure into their play bites, they are ready for the next step in Dunbar’s plan which it to teach the ‘Off’ command. This is taught by hand feeding kibble with the command ‘Off’ being used when they come to take the kibble from you. Then make them wait a few seconds before letting them have it. For a video example of how this would work, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chJqKoYeIk0
The last step in the process is to teach that the puppy is never allowed to bite, or mouth at humans until they are invited. Dunbar suggests in an ideal situation, beginning bite inhibition training before the puppy is 3 months old, and discontinuing any mouthing by 6 to 8 months of age. At this age the puppy’s jaws are not as strong as they will be as an adult and the training will go smoother. However, bite inhibition is an important skill to teach dogs, and should still be taught even outside this ideal training window.
Summer is here in the Bay Area and 4 things come to mind. Foxtails, Fleas, Fights and Fear (phobias). This time of year with the beautiful weather and people taking a little more time to be out and about with their dogs, veterinarians see many more problems than we do the rest of the year.
The hills are alive with foxtails everywhere. As dogs get to run off leash in many of our parks they inevitably encounter these irritating and potentially expensive parts of nature. After the much needed rains we had this year, I see more foxtails than I have in quite some time. Even in well manicured neighborhoods foxtails are seen on curb strips along streets and will ensnare house dogs that never go to our wonderful parks.
It is not uncommon for our hospital to field 3-5 calls daily for dogs that are having problems with foxtails. I’ll talk about where they commonly occur and what owner’s/guardians can do to both help prevent and first aid once they get one.
There is almost nowhere on/in a dog that I have not removed foxtails. Most commonly they are in the ears, nose, eyes and feet. For preventing foxtails from getting into those spots, you can purchase a netting that covers the head and neck area. From my experience I have found that about half the dogs will tolerate these and the other tend to pull them off or bite through the netting. For dogs with furry feet the best thing is have a groomer give the paws a shave down so they are less likely to trap a foxtail between their toes. It’s important for owners of all dogs to check between there toes and foot pads after every walk.
Now, what to do if your dog gets a foxtail? It is usually fairly obvious when they get one up their nose. It usually starts with violent sneezing and maybe some eye twitching on the side that has the foxtail. Sometimes the foxtail will be sneezed out and you may not see it. If this happens the sneezing should subside over the next few minutes. The dog’s mucus secretions in their nose will soften the foxtail and make it less irritating, however most dogs will still have some sneezing if the foxtail is still in their nose. This is when they should see a veterinarian to have it removed which requires an anesthetic to scope the nose. The longer it is left in the harder it may be to locate and remove.
Now for the ears. Like the nose, ear foxtails usually cause head shaking. It’s impossible for owners to see the foxtail because once the dog starts shaking it drives it further down the ear canal which requires an otoscope to locate the foxtail and remove it. If you are fairly certain your dog has a foxtail in their ear, and you can’t get to the vet to have it removed that day, you can ease your pets discomfort by applying some cooking type oil into the ear canal which will then soften the spikey ends of the foxtail. However: IT WILL STILL NEED TO BE REMOVED.
Foxtail in the eye? Once again it will be fairly obvious because your dog will be squinting or holding their eye closed. This should be dealt with ASAP. If you can see the foxtail caught under the eyelid gently remove it. The only first aid I recommend is the use of an over the counter topical eye lubricant applied 3-4 times daily until you can get to a vet’s office, which should be right away to assess the damage to the corneal surface. If the foxtail is removed right away damage is usually limited to a superficial corneal abrasion, however it can be much more serious than this so waiting will only make the problem and treatment much more difficult. Once again – eyes require immediate attention!
How about those 4 feet. The most common early sign of a foxtail in the foot is excessively licking at the toes or chewing at the foot pad area. At this point the foxtail is usually already well into the foot and there may be swelling near the sight of entry. If the foxtail stays in long enough it will migrate, cause infection and usually the dog will be limping and possible even a little lethargic. Most foxtails in the feet require removal by a vet with either sedation or an anesthetic, followed by a course of antibiotics if infection is present.
I’ll just mention a few of the other areas that we encounter foxtails so you can be aware of what to watch for. We find them in the tonsillar crypts and back of throat (for those dogs who like to chew on these plants), in their lungs, in the sheath of the penis, inside the vagina, trapped in the skin under matted fur, free floating in their abdominal cavity, wedged in their spine, and in the gum pockets of teeth. In a nutshell they can be found anywhere.
Now briefly for the other 3F’s. Fleas are everywhere. Your dog does not have to go to the park to pick them up. You can bring them home from your own walks outside – your yard where squirrels and other creatures pass through, dropping off fleas that love to enjoy your dog’s home. Maintain strict flea control with either an oral or topical flea product. If you have a cat those too can be a source of fleas for your dog. There is a new topical product for cats called Cheristan, which can be purchased from your veterinarian without a examination. It is low volume and doesn’t have an offending odor.
Even though the 4th of July has passed, many areas still have fireworks and thunderstorms which can cause high anxiety for many dogs. Zoetis has a new product that is for noise phobia called Selio. Available by prescription only, it is quite effective and very safe to use. Also a medication called trazadone can also work for dogs with fears at the groomers or vet. I have my clients give this to their animal 1-2 hours before coming to the office or the groomers and it really can calm the animal down and is very safe to use.
The last of the “4F’s” of summer: Fights. There is nothing more emotionally distressing for an owner than having your dog be in a dog fight. Having watched my own small dog being pinned on the ground while being mauled by a much bigger dog I know first hand how horrible this is to witness. First , a word of caution to owners. DON’T GET BIT. Try not to grab your dog by the collar as you run a big risk of getting bit in the hand or arm. You can suffer major damage to yourself as I have treated many dogs rushed to the hospital only have to send the owner to the emergency room for bites to the hands or arm. If possible grab a rear leg and pull your dog apart. Be aware that your dog will not recognize you and might turn and bite so release as soon as possible. Use your feet (only if you have shoes on) and body to keep the animals apart and move your dog away immediately. Check for wounds, and if you see puncture wounds it is best to get them to a vet as soon as possible to be further examined. Not all damage done by a dogfight is easily seen, which is why being examined by a professional is recommended after a fight.
Canine Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness in dogs that is spreading in the United States. There are now two strains identified. The H3N8 strain was first reported in Florida in 2004 and by 2008 had spread to at least 40 states. H3N2 is a newer strain that was first discovered in Korea in 2007. In March 2015 there was an outbreak of H3N8 Canine Influenza in Chicago and has since been reported in 25 states, including California.
Symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, low fever and poor appetite. Runny eyes and nose are also common. In more severe cases dogs can develop a high fever, pneumonia, and breathing difficulties. Most dogs recover 2 to 3 weeks after the start of symptoms. Fatal cases of canine flu have been reported but are very rare.
Canine flu, like the human flu, is spread through coughing and sneezing, direct contact with an infected dog, and contaminated surfaces such as toys or clothing, hands, and food and water dishes. Dogs who visit boarding kennels, dog parks, groomers, or other places where dogs are brought together are at higher risk of catching canine influenza.
Treatment consists mainly of supportive care depending on the severity of the symptoms. Antibiotics may be needed to treat secondary infections. If a dog has a more serious case, additional treatment and veterinary support would be needed.
There are now two vaccines available for dogs at risk of catching canine influenza. Both the H3N8 vaccine and the H3N2 vaccine can be given to dogs eight weeks or older. The first two doses are given 2 to 4 weeks apart with a booster once a year. Because of the lengthy duration of the illness and potential for secondary infections, prevention with vaccines is recommended for dogs likely to be exposed.
Providing proper nutrition, exercise, parasite control, vaccinations and at home dental care help your pet lead a healthy life.
When it comes to illness and injury, many pets will hide that they have a problem until it becomes too advanced. In nature showing weakness is dangerous.
This makes us rely on observation to determine if our pet is doing well. This makes what we don’t know possibly hurt them.
Regular wellness exams are very important. In a young pet it may detect a cleft palate, umbilical hernia or heart defect. A small mass may be a life threatening melanoma. An older pet unable to easily climb stairs may have arthritis or it may be serious heart disease.
Early detection greatly increases the odds of successful treatment and can significantly decrease the cost of treatment as well.
So, how often should a pet come in for an examination?
After their initial vaccinations are completed, pets can come in once a year for a wellness check. This is frequently done with other needs such as vaccinations and parasite control. Once they hit middle age blood and urine testing lets us evaluate organ function to see if a problem exists before the owner notices something is wrong. For giant breed dogs this starts at age 5, others age 7-8. Since they age much more rapidly than we do elderly cats and dogs benefit from an exam every 6 months.
Unfortunately degenerative joint disease is common in older pets. Arthritis occurs when the smooth cartilage that protects their joints breaks down, causing chronic pain and inflammation. Exposed joints are subject to excessive wear and tear that leads to irreversible damage, hindering flexibility and movement.
Symptoms of arthritis include limping, stiffness, discomfort trying to lie down or rise up, swollen joints, inability to jump up or down, reluctance to use stairs, and loss of flexibility. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, schedule an appointment with us today. We will conduct a thorough physical exam that may also include x-rays and other diagnostic tests to confirm the source of your pet’s symptoms.
Treatment for your pet’s arthritis primarily aims to manage symptoms and improve their quality of life. There are several types of medications that can help to reduce inflammation and possibly reduce the severity of the cartilage degeneration. These medications include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, nutritional supplements, and special joint diets (Hills J/D). Therapeutic laser treatments can be very effective in decreasing pain and inflammation. Weight management and controlled exercise are perhaps the most important things you can do to keep your pet comfortable and active as they age.
Please contact us if you suspect your pet may be suffering from arthritis.
Glaucoma, the most painful eye disease a dog can experience, is also a leading cause of blindness. Fortunately, we have the ability to check eyes for this terrible disease quickly and easily in the exam room. Early diagnosis is the only chance we have to prevent blindness and avoid the severe pain that glaucoma causes.
All dogs that are a predisposed breed (see list) or who have red eyes, or swollen eyes, who are squinting, or rubbing or pawing at their face should have their intraocular pressure (IOP) checked to see if they have glaucoma.
Bouvier Des Flandres
Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
English Springer Spaniel
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Smooth-Coated Fox Terrier
Welsh Springer Spaniel
West Highland White Terrier
Wire-haired Fox Terrier
|Reprinted with permission from Brooks, D.E.: Glaucoma in the Dog and Cat. Vet. Clinic. North Animal (Small Animal Prac.) 20:775-7997:1990|
The foxtail plant represents a hidden summertime danger to pets. Once inhaled, the barbed seeds of these common grass-like plants can travel through your pet’s respiratory system, where they become lodged in place, causing internal damage. Foxtails can also become embedded in the skin, eyes and ears, or enter the digestive tract. The shape of seed means that it is gradually forced deeper into tissue, traveling throughout a pet’s body, creating abscesses, damaging tissue, and spreading bacteria. Internalized foxtails may migrate to vital organs, causing major damage and even death.
Symptoms of foxtail ingestion are violent sneezing episodes; bloody discharge from eyes, nose or throat; irritation of external tissues; and, externally, embedded in the animal’s skin. If you suspect your dog or cat may be affected, contact us immediately. The foxtail(s) will be located and removed quickly to minimize the damage done.
With the drought foxtails have become a year-long problem; Always check for foxtails:
- Feet: Foxtails love your dog’s feet and can easily become embedded between tender toes. Check for foxtails if you notice swelling or limping or if your dog is constantly licking the area.
- Ears: If your pet is shaking his head, tilting it to the side, or scratching incessantly at an ear, this could be the sign of a foxtail — one that may be so deep inside the ear canal you can’t see it. Your veterinarian needs to take a look using a special scope.
- Eyes: Redness, discharge, swelling, squinting, and pawing all may be signs your dog has a foxtail lodged in its eye. If you think this may be the case, seek veterinary care immediately.
- Nose: If you see discharge from the nose, or if your dog is sneezing frequently and intensely, there may be a foxtail lodged in a nasal passage.
- Vagina or penis: Foxtails can find their way into these areas, too. So if you notice your dog persistently licking at its genitals, foxtails could be the cause.
Pets have a difficult time staying cool during the hot summer months. This means they are at increased risk of dehydration and heat stroke. As an owner, it is important you take the necessary precautions to ensure your cat or dog is safe this summer.
- Always have abundant fresh, clean water readily accessible to your pet.
- Never leave your pet in a hot car. Vehicle interiors can soar to nearly 160°F on an average summer day, quickly overheating your pet to fatal temperatures.
- Do not over-exercise your pet. Outdoor activity in the summer months is more taxing than during cooler times of the year. Pets are susceptible to heat exhaustion and dehydration after even moderate exercise.
- When possible, keep pets indoors, in a cool, air-conditioned area.
As the California sun continues to shine and outdoor activity increases, please remember that rattlesnakes represent a potent danger to dogs. Like all cold-blooded animals, rattlesnakes are more active in the hotter seasons. Rattlesnakes like to bask in the sun most days, increasing the chances of encountering one when hiking, camping or on a walk. Young snakes are very dangerous, as they have poor venom control and will often inject all they have into each bite. Rattlesnake venom is extremely dangerous to pets, leading to excessive swelling and necrosis of the tissue surrounding the bite wound by disrupting the integrity of the blood vessels.
Rattlesnake bites should be treated immediately at the nearest emergency facility. Treatment may include hospitalization, where your pet receives intravenous fluids and close monitoring. Depending on the severity and physical location of the bite, anti-venom medication may be necessary as well. Remember, not treating your pet could lead to death.
An effective Rattlesnake vaccination is available at Antioch Vet. This vaccine helps reduce symptom severity by activating protective antibodies in your pet’s immune system, providing up to six months of protection. However, even for vaccinated dogs, urgent veterinary care is still required to counteract the venom and offer the best chance of recovery. Vaccination only buys you time to get to the nearest emergency facility before the more serious effects of the bite occur. Please contact your Antioch veterinarian to learn more about how the rattlesnake vaccine can benefit your pet.
The best way to keep your pet safe is to remain on the designated path, where visibility is the best. Stay alert for rattlesnakes as they blend in with most mountain terrain, listen for the warning signs that you are getting close to a rattlesnake- the distinctive shaking of their tail, and keep your pet leashed and out of the brush. There is also Rattlesnake Aversion Training; this training has been shown to be safe and effective in helping to prevent bites by rattlesnakes. Aversion training teaches your dog to avoid the sight, sound and smell of rattlesnakes, reducing the probability of accidental encounters.