Behavior Tips

Behavior Tips

 

Pets are such a comfort and wonderful part of our lives. They’re fun, cute, and give us love. BUT! There’s always a BUT. . .  They can be stressful too. As much as we want things to warm, fuzzy, and perfect . . .  we know that life is a little more complicated than that.  Every family has their specific dynamics and every pet is different with very individual personalities.  We don’t want a family’s relationship with their pet to be undermined. SO, WHAT DO WE DO??

 

Here are some topics (problems and helpful interventions)

Early intervention is best, when possible (like when they are puppies and kittens)

 

Cats Scratching and Clawing.    Damaging furniture is frustrating and can be costly to replace. Having scratching posts is important. Both vertical, horizontal, and located in “public” parts of the house (not isolated).  The posts should be made of rough material that they can shred and be stable so that they don’t fall over and scare the cat.

 

Inappropriate Urination.   Cat urine on the carpet or furniture is one of the most offensive things to us, but not necessarily to a cat.  This is a way that they mark their territory.  Keeping the litter box clean is important. The size and type of litter box is helpful too. Some cats benefit from a larger litter box, especially older arthritic cats. Litter boxes with covers and a door are scary to some cats. The type of litter can be a factor too – fine grained, unscented is ideal.  The location of the litter box is can make a difference. If it’s in the laundry room and the dryer buzzer is going off periodically, then the cat is not going to want to use it.  So a quite spot free of things that might startle them is best. If there are multiple cats, then multiple litter boxes are needed. A general rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat, plus one more.  The more cats you have, the more likely there are going to be territory marking. Enhancing their environment is worthwhile. Cat trees, Catio’s (patio for cats), and access to a safe yard are helpful.

 

Dog biting family members.  As puppies, play biting is normal. They are so CUTE, it is hard to not engage and let them grab your hand. However, as they grow up, this becomes a bad habbit. No longer is it cute and it HURTS!  Which certainly undermines your relationship with your dog.  Best thing is to play with a toy and calm play time down. Don’t necessarily reprimand the dog, just phase that kind of play out. Redirect it to toys, training time, or walks.

 

Inter-dog aggression.  We see this as a problem for a lot of dogs while on walks.  It is somewhat natural, dogs are territorial by nature. Barking and lunging at other dogs can make your walk miserable though. The root issue is to make sure your dog feels that you are in control of the situation. Use a Gentle Leader or similar type halter type collar, this not only acts as a collar but directs their head including their attention = to you.  Use a normal leash (extend leashes don’t work very well). Hold a section of the leash firm in one hand with only 1-2 foot of distance to your dog and hold the slack in the other hand.  This keeps your dog from careening back and forth on the end of your leash creating chaos and uncertainty. Having your dog short and controlled creates reassurance and a semblance of calm.

 

Separation anxiety. Many pets get scared and anxious when left alone. When they are young, is the ideal time to help them develop confidence to be home alone.  Crate training is helpful for many dogs. They associate this as their “den” and have a sense of security. Getting used to sleeping and or spending time in their crate is something that is started from an early age. It is often hard at first. Naturally you want to coddle them when they are young but it can lead to problems later. Gradually getting them used to sleeping in their crate right from the start is ideal. Having toys, etc, for them makes the transition easier.  Another tip to help with with separation anxiety is to keep your comings and going as benign as possible. When you leave, don’t say good bye, just keep things very “matter of fact” – just do what you need to do to prepare and then leave.  When you arrive, ignore your pets. Making deal about your arrival emphasizes the whole leaving and arriving process excessively. Just ignore them as best possible and once things are settled and their focus isn’t completely on you – then give them some attention.

 

Every pet is an individual and every circumstance varies greatly.  These are some basic issues and tips. For more in depth discussions it is best to schedule an appointment with us. Depending on the circumstances, we may advise seeing a trainer. We have a number of highly qualified trainers in our area that we can recommend.

Vomiting Pets

 

Vomiting is a common symptom that can have a great many underlying causes. When we see a pet that has been vomiting, we first try to narrow down whether it is a long term issue or whether it is more sudden/ recent development.  A critical factor is whether the pet is keeping any food and water down.  If it is a recent development and they are not keeping and food or water down, then it is considered much more urgent. It is also helpful to know if the vomit is consistently undigested food versus a combination of fluid and bile.

 

Chronic vomiting conditions can be caused by a variety of underlying issues. Cats are notorious for vomiting a couple times per week and that can be normal!  (annoying, but fairly normal).  It can be a fine line as too when we should be intervening with low grade chronic vomiting in cats.   But whether it is cats or dogs – low grade chronic vomiting can be caused by a food sensitivity, inflammatory bowel disease, Gastro Esophageal Reflux, organ disease, and sometimes tumors.  Because the pet is usually stable, we can do diagnostics tests and make treatment changes over time.  Often, we will get baseline blood work and do prescription food trials. Depending on what results we get and how the pet is responding, we may advise further testing ranging from specific blood tests to ultrasound.

 

Acute vomiting conditions can also be caused by a number of things, but tend to be much more urgent. So we do a lot of the same things that we would do for Chronic vomiting pets – but we do it a lot faster. We also need to do our best to make sure that the pet is stable and not in pain.  Underlying conditions can range from a stuck foreign body, to a severe upset stomach, Pancreatitis, hormone disease, organ disease, and cancer.   Starting intravenous fluids to keep them well hydrated and at appropriate electrolyte levels can make a big difference. Pain medication as needed. STAT blood work to screen for organ and hormone related diseases. Sometimes Radiographs are helpful. Ultrasound can especially be helpful in these cases.  Ultrasound images are notoriously challenging to interpret. We utilize a mobile ultrasound service.  An experienced technician with a high powered, state of the art, ultrasound machine captures the appropriate images and then sends them to a specialist for interpretation.  In some cases, exploratory surgery is the best way to proceed.

 

We have had some pets eat things (Foreign Bodies). We’ve had surgery in which we’ve removed corn cobs, socks, lead fishing sinkers, hair ties, plastic toys, underwear, string, rocks, wadded up plastic, even an Almond from a cat!  Usually those cases do well, but there can be complications if the foreign bodies have caused necroses to a section of intestines.

 

We have treated pets that had advanced diabetes that was bad enough to trigger Ketoacidosis. The pet’s poor body is going through a “roller coaster” and it is our job to stabilize them. Depending on the severity, we may have to transfer the pet to the Emergency Veterinary Hospital for 24 hour critical care management.

Many cases are gastroenteritis, in which the pet has eaten something that severely upset the stomach. These cases range in severity but often respond to fluid support, anti-nausea medication, gut soothing medication, etc.  Some are severe and take days to respond. Pancreatitis is an extension of gastroenteritis and it can also vary from mild to severe. Sadly, it can even be fatal. Avoiding poor quality food, limiting treats, and minimizing table scraps are important for avoiding pancreatitis. Small breed dogs are especially susceptible to Pancreatitis. Mild bouts of it early in their life can lead to Diabetes because insulin producing cells are located in the Pancreas. They get damaged from the bouts of pancreatitis and stop producing later in life.  SO! NUTRITION is important.  Avoid poor quality food, excessive amounts of treats (especially fatty ones), minimize table scraps, and NO rich table scraps like ham, bacon, roast beef, steak, sausage, etc.

Tumors can trigger vomiting whether they are benign, metastatic, solitary, or multiple. Splenic tumors are one that can potentially have a good outcome with surgery. It depends on which kind of splenic tumor it is, though.  Some splenic tumors are metastatic and have spread by the time you become aware of them.  Other’s are solitary and can be cured by surgically removing the spleen.  Other types of tumors vary vastly. Depending on the scenario, we can ever refer cases to surrounding specialists. We are fortunate to have Oregon Veterinary Referral Associates near by and Oregon State University Veterinary School only an hour away.  Both have specialist on staff that can help with complicated cases.  We always do our best to consider the case in its entirety. Meaning that we consider the pets age, overall condition, and whether surgery, referral, advanced diagnostics and treatments are truly in the pets best interest.  We always want to make them better, but if they have numerous pre-existing issues and their quality of life is already in question – then it may be unkind to put them through too many tests and treatments.

There are SO many variables with pets that are vomiting. Fortunately we have training, experience, diagnostic equipment, treatment regimens, and a whole team ready to help. We make our best judgements to do what is best for the pet and make these judgements together with the pet’s family. Communication and understanding are of course important. Cost enters into what can be done in most cases too.  We use our judgement to prioritize what tests to run first and what treatments have the highest likelihood of working.

Wildfires 2020 Pet Help

Our hearts go out to all the family and pets that have suffered during these terrible Wildfires.  We will certainly help however we can. GreenHill Humane Society has set up services and a Veterinary Triage Center has been set up to help pets needing veterinary care. They will do an initial assessment of the pet and then coordinate care either there or at another clinic (including ours).  The triage center is set up at McKenzie Animal Hospital VCA.  Below is some contact information for those two sites.

https:www.green-hill.org

VCA McKenzie Animal Hospital is for Veterinary Triage Center. (541) 747-3859

Lane County also has some information.       See lanecounty.org Animals in Disaster

 

Mild to serious burns, smoke inhalation, and various injuries are the main things that are expected to be seen by teams involved with the Veterinary Triage Center.  But we know that there are going to be a lot of scared pets that have been separated from their families too.  Teams are searching and working on re-uniting them.