What to Do Before Adopting a New Pet

What to Do Before Adopting a New PetAdopting a pet is an exciting time for you and your family. However, it can be very overwhelming before your new furry friend comes home. Today, we will be discussing what you should do before your new pet comes to their forever home.

First, you should consider your current family. Do you have any other pets? How will they react to bringing in a new pet into the home? You also need to consider how your current home will serve for your new pet. Will your social life or work obligations affect your ability to care for this new pet? How do the other people you live with feel about having a new pet in the house? Are there any health issues that need to be accommodated? What kind of lifestyle do you want to live with your new pet? Are you looking for a dog to go running with or a cat to chill with? Are you in the position to train a pet with behavior issues or are you looking for a more relaxed pet experience? All these questions serve as a guide as to what kind, if any, pet you should adopt. If your current life is not suitable for a pet, maybe it’d be best to wait some time to where you will be more prepared to give your new pet the life they deserve.

More likely than not, the adopting agency will charge a fee to help mediate the costs of taking in unwanted or lost animals. This adoption fee will be a tiny fraction of money compared to how much money you will be spending over the life of your pet. You may also need to pay for your pet to be spayed or neutered before bringing them home. Some mandatory expenses of caring for a pet include food, veterinary care, licensing, collars/leashes/ID tags, cat litter, and grooming supplies. Other expenses that are highly recommended but not mandatory are permanent identification in the form of microchipping, training classes, professional grooming, spare supplies, beds, toys, crates, or carriers. There is also the chance that your furry friend will need emergency veterinary care which can get quite pricy. Before adopting a pet, it is important to make sure that you have the right financial state to be able to care and provide for your pet.

Before bringing your new pet home, you need to make sure that you will have the time to spend on taking care of your pet. Pets need to be fed two to three times a day. A pet parent should spend at least one hour per day giving direct attention to your pet in the form of training, exercising, grooming, or playing with them. A pet with a lot of energy will need more time to exercise and play with toys. Pets with long coats will need twenty minutes per day of grooming to keep their coat silky and not matted. Pets with medical conditions will also need extra attention. In the beginning of your adopted pet being home, they may need additional bonding and reassurance time in the first few weeks.

If you are completely prepared to give your pet the best life possible, the last thing you will need to supply are the necessary items for pet care. For dogs, these are food and water bowls, food, collars, leashes, ID tags, a bed, shampoo, nail clippers, brush/comb, poop baggies, toys, treats, and first aid supplies. For cats, they will need food and water bowls, food, kitty litter, collars, ID tag, carrier, nail clippers, brush/comb, toys, and first aid supplies. It could be best, however, to wait to see the size of your new pet for some of these items, as they will vary based on how big or small your new friend is.

Adopting a pet is an enjoyable yet stressful time in one’s life. Hopefully this list of preparation has made you feel more relaxed and prepared to bring your furry friend home. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868 with any questions.

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhoundFor this next breed spotlight, I will be introducing you to the Irish wolfhound, likely for the first time. This dog is calm, dignified, and the tallest breed of dog (sorry Great Danes). Early ancestors of Irish wolfhounds were fearless, big-game hunters who could dispatch a wolf in single combat. Today, they are the most serene and agreeable of companions.

The amiable Irish Wolfhound is an immense and muscular hound. They are built along classic Greyhound lines, capable of great speeds at a gallop. A male might stand nearly three feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 180 pounds. Females will run smaller but are still a very large dog. They have a rough and hard coat that can come in many colors. They can be white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn. Irish wolfhounds are way too serene to be fierce guard dogs, but the mere sight of the size of these dogs are enough to deter intruders. Irish wolfhounds are characteristically patient with kids, but their size does require supervision when they are around small children.

The history of this wolfhound goes back to the breeding of indigenous large dogs of Britain to the Middle Eastern coursing hounds that were bartered around the known world in the earliest days of international trade. By the time the Roman Empire had gained a toehold in the British Isles, the giant hounds of Ireland were already long established. In the year 391, the Roman consul received a gift of seven of these hounds that “all Rome viewed with wonder”. These majestic hunters, whose motto was “gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked”, were used on such quarry as the now-extinct Irish elk, a massive, ferocious beast said to stand six feet at the shoulder. In 15th-century Ireland, wolves were overrunning the countryside. The Irish hounds, already renowned big-game hunters, began to specialize on wolves. By the late 1700s, when wolves and other big-game animals of Ireland were hunted to extinctions, Irish wolfhounds lost their job and nearly went extinct themselves. This is a case of a breed doing its job too well for its own good. In 1862, British army captain George Augustus Graham began scouring the country for remaining specimens of Ireland’s national hound. Graham made it his life’s work to protect, standardize, and promote the breed. Today, his name is still spoken with reverence wherever Irish wolfhound fanciers gather.

The coats of Irish wolfhounds have two layers; the outer being harsh and wiry with the under being very soft. They shed throughout the year, but not in an excessive amount. Unlike many other double-coated breeds, Irish wolfhounds don’t “blow out” their coats during an annual or semi-annual shedding season. Irish wolfhounds retain a strong instinct to hunt and chase prey, so they should only be allowed off the leash in areas that are securely fenced. As adults, Irish wolfhounds can become couch potatoes if allowed to, but regular exercise like long walks and play sessions help keep them physically and mentally healthy. A home with a large, fenced area is necessary to provide the environment needed for this breed to thrive. The breed can also exercise mind and body by participating in canine sports like tracking, agility, and lure coursing.

These gentle giants are sure are a breed with a rich history. Their ancestors’ traits reveal themselves with their passion for hunting and need for mental and physical exercise. Generally, these dogs make excellent companions for anyone with enough land to satisfy their need to run. With any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868.

What to Do to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer – and What NOT to Do

protect your pet from the heatKeeping your dog cool during the summertime is difficult yet very important. The most important thing to remember is having plenty of fresh, cold water available for your pup. Whether it is just for playing in the back yard or going on a long hike, be sure to keep fresh, cold water available and accessible for them. When you are out on the go, bring a collapsible water bowl or a squirt bottle. Give your dog small amounts of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Be sure to have enough cool water with you to last the entire time you’re gone. If your dog starts panting excessively, get your dog shade and more water right away.

Similarly, an easy way to keep your dog cool while spending summer outside is to play in the water. A wet dog is a cool dog. You can play with your pooch in sprinklers, pools, and lakes. Swimming can help lower your dog’s body temperature and help them stay cool while having fun.

While there are things you can do to keep them cool, there are also things you should NEVER do. The biggest rule is to never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows cracked. Even on milder days, temperatures inside your car can quickly rise to dangerous and life-threatening levels. The CDC says that cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131ºF-172ºF when it is 80ºF-100ºF outside. These temperatures are extremely dangerous, and your dog should never be subjected to it.

Also, avoid being outside with your dog during the midday heat. It is ok to be outside with your dog on mild, overcast days with low humidity. However, if it is sunny, 80º and high humidity, it is better to avoid the midday heat. On days like these, go early in the morning or later in the evening when it is not as hot. It is important to remember the danger of asphalt during the summer. Asphalt can get extremely hot in direct sun. Put your hand on the pavement to test the temperature. If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog. You can also pour some water on the pavement. If it steams, it is way too hot. You can buy booties for your dog, so their feet are not on pavement, but it is easiest to avoid it all together. It is best to find trails. Because they aren’t hard surfaces and typically shaded, they’re less likely to cause injury.

During the summer, it is very important to know the signs of heatstroke in dogs. Pay attention to your dog’s behavior, body language, and more. Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive panting, excessive salivating, obvious discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, and seizures. If you notice any of these symptoms, get your dog to a cooler environment as soon as possible and calling your veterinarian for further instructions. You can use a thermometer to check their body temperature. If it is above 104º, it is time to get them out of the sun and decrease the level of activity. 104º is not dangerous, but it is the threshold to where it could become dangerous. When your dog’s temperature stays elevated, even after stopping activity and getting out of the heat, this is a sign that you need to intervene and call your vet. Please feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868 with any questions.

 

Can Dogs and Cats Cohabitate?

Can Dogs and Cats CohabitateMany pet parents do not have just one pet. They have multiple cats, multiple dogs, etc. A big question for many pet parents is whether a dog and cat can live together peacefully. Canines and felines are not known to be great friends, but they are able to learn to tolerate each other and even develop a strong, loving bond. Acquiring this requires some careful preparation, but it is possible to develop a union between your cats and dogs.

Dogs and cats are not destined to be foes. A nurturing friendship between your dog and cat is possible, regardless of what myths society has adopted. If dogs and cats are property socialized, they are able to become friends. It may just take some time for your dog and cat who have never met to acclimate to each other. It is important to note that both animals are territorial and have different communication methods that can impact their behavior. For example, a dog wags its tail to show happiness and eagerness to play. On the other hand, cats lash their tail to indicate anger and displeasure. It is easiest for animals to cohabitate if they are both raised together from a young age. Similarly, when distributing treats, attention, or praise, be sure to distribute them equally in order to prevent jealousy.

It is not always easy to introduce your cat or dog to your resident pet, it can take several weeks or even months. Be patient but realize that whether or not your pet gets along will depend as much on their personalities as on how you approach the process. Follow these initial steps to help accommodate your pets as much as possible.

First, choose a proper location for the first meeting of your pets. If your pet is a long-term resident of a specific room, they may act territorial and take offence when the new animal is on its turf. Start with a neutral ground to the both of them. Second, keep the animals separated initially. Across several days, rotate which animal has freedom and which is confined to allow each pet plenty of time to investigate the other animal’s scent. Next, make face-to-face introductions. Allow both pets to be in the same room at the same time, but keep the dog leashed. Continue with this type of interaction until your cat stays calm and ignores the dog, and vice versa. Lastly, proceed with caution. Once the pets consistently get along during leashed visits, they are ready for the next step of removing the leash. Do not leave them alone with each other until you are sure that they are fully comfortable with each other.

Properly introducing your cats and dogs to live together can be extremely influential in a peaceful cohabitation between your dog and cat. Be sure to remain watchful and alert while the meeting process is occurring. With a little patience, your pets will successfully be cohabitating happily in no time.

As always, we are here to help with anything you need for your furry family member. Contact us today with your questions!

9 Dog Training Tips

dog training tipsEvery puppy needs training, and sometimes it is hard to know what is best for your dog! With these tips, training can be fun and efficient!

1. Choose your Dog’s Name!

While this step may not seem to affect training, short names with strong endings are easier for your dog to pick up while training. These include Jasper, Jack, and Ginger. If your dog is an older dog when you begin training, they are probably used to their name. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change it. If your new pal is coming out of an abusive situation, a new name may even represent a fresh start. Dogs are very adaptable to new situations. If you decide to give them a new name, use it consistently and soon enough your pup will respond to it. Whatever you choose to name your dog, be sure to associate it with fun, pleasant experiences as much as possible, rather than negative ones. Ideally, your dog should think of their name in the same was they think of other fun things like walks and dinnertime!

2. Decide on the House Rules

This tip is like number one. Before your pup comes home, decide what is and is not allowed! This can include whether they are allowed on the bed or the furniture. Are parts of the house off limits? Will they have their own chair at the dining table? Setting the rules and expectations early can avoid confusion, for both you and your dog.

3. Help your Dog Relax

When your dog gets home, give them a warm hot-water bottle and put a ticking clock near their sleeping area. This will imitate the heat and heartbeat of litter mates and will soothe your puppy in their new environment. This tip may be even more important for a new dog that previously lived in a busy, loud shelter, particularly if they’ve had a rough time early in life. Whatever you can do to help your new pet get comfortable in their forever home will be good for both of you.

4. Reward Good Behavior

Training is based on rewarding good behavior with positive reinforcement. Use toys, love, praise, and treats of course. Let them know when they are getting it right. Similarly, never reward bad behavior. It will only confuse them.

5. Teach your Dog to Come When Called

The first command you teach your dog should be to come. Get down on their level and tell your pup to come using their name. When they do, get excited and use lots of positive reinforcement. Next time, try the “come” command when they are distracted with food or a toy. As your puppy gets older, you’ll continue to see the benefits of perfecting this command.

6. Train on “Dog Time”

Puppies and dogs live in the moment. Two minutes after they have done something, they’ve forgotten about it. When your pup is doing something bad, use your chosen training technique right away so they have a chance to make the association between the behavior and the correction. Consistent repetition will reinforce what they’ve learned.

7. Discourage Jumping Right Away

Puppies love to jump up in greeting, and some adults have learned bad habits. When your puppy or dog jumps on a person, don’t reprimand them; just turn your back on them, ignore the behavior and wait until they settle down before giving positive reinforcement. Never encourage jumping behavior by patting or praising your dog when they’re in a “jumping up” position.

8. Say No to Biting and Nipping

Instead of scolding your new pet, a great way to discourage your mouthy canine is to pretend you’re in a lot of pain when they bite or nip you – a sharp, loud yell should work. Most dogs are so surprised that they stop immediately. If verbal cues don’t work, try trading your hand or pant leg for a chew toy. This swap can also work when a puppy discovers the joys of chewing on your favorite shoes. They tend to prefer a toy or bone anyway. If all else fails, interrupt the biting behavior and respond by ignoring them.

9. End Training Sessions on a Positive Note

Your pup has worked hard to please you throughout their training. Leave them with lots of praise, a treat, some petting, or five minutes of play. This almost guarantees that they will show up at their next training session with their tail wagging and ready to work!

We hope you find these tips useful. For any other questions about training your new pup, or anything else, please contact us today!

 

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Peruvian Inca Orchid

peruvian inca orchidThe Peruvian Inca Orchid is not a flower, but a hairless sighthound that developed in Peru. The breed can be hairless or coated and can be found in a range of sizes. These dogs are good hunters and do well in agility. In the hairless variety, the skin can be of any color. The coated variety features all colors as well including black, brown, pink, tan, and white. On a sunny day, Peruvian Inca Orchids require sunscreen because of their exposed skin.

The ancient history of the Peruvian Inca Orchid can be told through pottery and textiles. The breed first appeared in Moche pottery in 750 AD. The Chancay people used the dogs as companions, and certain pottery even depicts them in sweaters. The Chimu considered them good luck and used the dogs’ warmth for the treatment of arthritis and respiratory conditions.

The original hairless dogs were small companion animals, but when Peru was conquered by the Conquistadors, the small dogs were interbred with the dogs of the foreigners and over the years, three distinct sizes developed. In the mountainous regions, the Andean people protected the dogs, but the breed did not fare well in the cities along the coast. There, the hairless dogs were considered diseased and were often exterminated.

In 1966, an American, Jack Walklin, visited Peru and brought eight dogs back to the US. He is believed to be the one to have named the breed the Peruvian Inca Orchid and the breed was established under that name in the US and Europe. In 2001, Peru declared the breed a National Patrimony and the dogs are now protected in Peru.

Peruvian Inca Orchids come in a range of sizes with the smallest standing just short of 10” and the largest topping out at 26”. The distinguishing feature of a Peruvian Inca Orchid is their hairlessness. Their skin can be a solid color or spotted with unpigmented areas. Peruvian Inca Orchids that are coated are in the minority and can occur in the same litter with hairless Peruvian Inca Orchids.

Peruvian Inca Orchids are slim dogs who are very noble and affectionate to those close to them. At the same time, Peruvian Inca Orchids are lively, alert, and can be wary of strangers. Peruvian Inca Orchids make good watch dogs. Peruvian Inca Orchids are loyal and protective of their family but like all dogs should be supervised around children. If you have small pets, the Peruvian Inca Orchid might not be the dog for you as Peruvian Inca Orchids might mistake your small pet as prey.

How To Protect Your Pet From The Heat

protect your pet from the heatProtecting your pet from the heat is extremely important. As temperatures rise, it becomes more and more uncomfortable to be outside. This is true for your dog as well. During the summer, it is healthier for your dog if you limit outside time, time in dog parks, and exercise to cooler parts of the day, such as morning and evening times. It is not always the temperature as well. The humidity can cause your dog to have difficulty panting. Panting helps your dog cool itself off. Without being able to pant, your dog’s temperature can rise that can lead to heatstroke. If your dog is exhibiting any of the signs of overheating (heavy panting, heavy drooling, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, dark or red gums and tongue, dizziness, and weakness, or agitation), be sure to bring your dog to the vet right away. To avoid overheating, there are multiple things that you can do to keep your puppy cool during the hot summer.

To begin, make sure to keep your dog groomed, especially if they have long fur. Each breed has different needs. For example, dogs with short, thin coats handle heat better than cold weather and mountain dogs. No dog is immune to heatstroke or paw pad burns, so it’s important to keep your dog groomed. If you get any mats and tangles out of their fur, it will help keep them cool. However, don’t shave or clip their coat until you talk to your vet or groomer. The extra fur that helps your dog stay warm in the winter may also keep it cool in the summer. To keep your dog’s paw pads safe, stick to shaded areas or bring insulation booties to protect your dog’s feet from the hot pavement. To test the heat of the pavement, feel it with the back of your hand. If it is too hot for you, then it is definitely too hot for your dog.

Similarly, be sure to keep your dog’s shots up to date, especially in the summer. The parvovirus spreads in hot weather. During the summer, your dog probably spends more time outside which means that it could come in contact with an animal that has rabies. Summer is also a high season for fleas and mosquitos, both which carry many diseases. By giving your dog medication to prevent these pests, your dog will be safer in the long run.

This should go without saying but leave your pet at home unless your destination is pet friendly. Do not leave your pet in your car. Even with the windows of your car cracked, the temperature inside the car rises rapidly in the summer heat. Similarly, keep your dog’s water supply full. Be sure that there are multiple bowls available for your dog that are always filled with fresh water that is clean. Even if you think that the walk you are going on will be short, be sure to bring clean drinking water and a dish that your dog can easily drink from. If you are worried that your pet is not drinking enough water, add some ice cubes to the bowl. It will make drinking water more appealing to dogs.

When you are spending days outside by a pool or a lake, you can do many things to keep your dog cool while you enjoy the summer sun. You can freeze containers of water so that they will stay cooler for longer. Be sure to keep their water in the shade. You can also provide a small kiddie pool or a sprinkler for your dog to play in. These allow fun places for your dog to cool off and maybe even get some exercise. Similarly, you could put a pet-friendly dig area for your dog in your yard. These can include a sandbox area that your dogs are able to dig in. Dogs often dig a hole to sit in and keep cool. To make an even cooler area, you can spray sand with your cold water. Be sure to make sure that it is located in the shade and not in the sun.

Sometimes, a little extra help is needed to cool your dog. Dog cooling mats and cooling vests are great products. Many work by soaking them in cool water for a long time. If you don’t have access to these, you can soak a towel in cool water and let your dog lie on it. You can also spray your dog’s belly and paws to cool them down. Dogs will cool down more quickly through their belly and paws than water sprayed on their back. Another great DIY to keep your dog cool is to put a pan of ice water in front of the fan to make it more effective for your pup to stay cool.

There are many similar DIYs to keep your pet cool in the summer. Dog-Safe ice cream exists, and you can make it at home. Here is a big list of easy to make ice creams that won’t cost an arm and a leg unlike the gourmet pet store ice-creams. You can also make some frozen treats to put in your dog’s favorite toy. Kong toys come in all shapes and sizes because all dogs love them. They are tough rubber chew toys that are meant to be filled with yummy sticky treats like peanut butter to keep your dog occupied for a while. There are pet-friendly recipes available that are meant to be frozen to keep your dog refreshed while they lick the center. Similar to the Kong treats, you can freeze your dog’s favorite treats in a popsicle mold and fill it with water. It will give your dog a fun treat to keep them cold.

The summer gives many fun opportunities for you and your family. You wouldn’t allow a member of your family to overheat, so don’t let your dog (a furry family member). By following the simple rules of pet care and making some fun treats that your dog will enjoy, you and your dog can have a healthy and cool summer! Make sure to contact our office if you have any questions!

Tips For Welcoming A New Puppy Into Your Family

new puppyAfter three years of having a dog-less house with the passing of our beloved Chocolate Lab Ruby, the Olsens are getting a new puppy. Part of me is still in denial, and part of me is apprehensive as to what we need to do to prepare for a new puppy, which is something that we had not had to do in about 13 years.  So now that the purchase is done, it is time to ready the home for our newest member, prepare the prior residents (our cats) for invasion of another four-legged friend, and purchase the supplies and equipment needed for the puppy.

Preparing the Home

We all know that puppies get into everything.  So we will need to act like a forensic detective and get down on our hands and knees to look for things that a playful puppy might foresee as fun. Items like electrical cords should be tied out of reach.  Dangerous products such as cleaning supplies and other items should be locked in a cabinet or placed out of reach.  Any valuable items or family heirlooms need to be kept out of reach so they do not become your puppies new chew toy.  Lastly, unless you want to be like Imelda Marcos and purchase a new pair of shoes each week, it is best to make sure your shoes are stored away in a closet and the door is secured.

Puppies are always looking for their next meal, so garbage can be enticing to them. In order to prevent them getting into the trash, it is wise to have trash cans that have sealed lids.

The puppy should not have free reign of the house, so you will need to have gates and barriers to keep him in his allowed space.  This will also include a kennel for his nighttime bed, which I will talk about later in the article.

No puppy will be an entirely indoor dog unless it is in a big city with little green space.  So here in Madison County, Illinois, we will want to examine the outdoor area so that there are not any chemicals or poisonous plants that will entice the inquisitive puppy.  Your new puppy may be the cutest thing that you have ever seen, but your neighbor may not have the same opinion.  And they always say that a good fence makes good neighbors.  So it may be important to make sure that you have one that doesn’t allow your pet to roam free.

Items to Have

As I eluded in the last section, in my opinion, it is best to kennel train your pet.  No, this is not seen as “doggie jail” to the pet, but as I explain to my clients, it is best to treat a kennel as it is their bedroom and their place of security.  I recommend that you get a larger one as they get larger.  It should start as one that is just big enough for them to sleep in.  If it is too large, that will allow them to urinate and defecate in the kennel and may inhibit the potty training outside.

I am not an advocate for “potty pads.”  I feel that they are just condoning bad behavior by the puppy.  The learning puppy will get confused by our laziness that more or less tells it that “they can go here but not there in the house.”  To a puppy, this thinking may be problematic.

Obviously we want food bowls as well as toys to keep it occupied when you can’t give it the attention it needs.  With the toys, I recommend that they be they type that are indestructible like “Kong toys.”  Avoid those that they can easily chew up and have the possibility of ingesting.

A new owner will want to have a collar and a leash.  When you take your pet out on walks, it will be necessary to have these to protect your pet from injury by other pets or getting ran over by a vehicle.

Grooming brushes are important to have especially with those puppies that will have long wooly coats.  They will need to be brushed frequently to prevent matting and tangling.

I am not a big proponent of treats, but they would be alright to have on hand, but I caution the owner to use them in moderation.

Bringing it Home

The big day to bring the puppy into your household is here, so what should you do?

Many people erroneously allow their new puppy to roam free and explore the house.  This is sensory overload.  Too many new places, new smells and people at once may confuse him.  Instead, let him explore a designated area, perhaps where his food and water are.  Or he can acclimate himself to a small puppy-proofed space where his kennel is. Then introduce him to the rest of the house one room at a time, skipping the areas that you want off-limits to him.

It is best to introduce your new puppy to its’ new owners one at a time.  I know that they are cute and cuddly, and everyone wants to meet him, but that can create too much excitement for the puppy and may stress the puppy out.  So it is best to let him meet each family member quietly and make it rewarding and pleasant.

As previously mentioned, puppies love to chew, so make sure that he has a safe chew toy.  If he starts to chew on anything else, redirect him to the chew toy.

It is important that your new puppy know where its’ sleeping quarters are. Puppies sleep between 15-20 hours a day, and likely they will drop in their tracks.  It is important to take him to his crate when he seems to be ready to nap and at bedtime.  Contrary to what most people think, this is not “doggie jail” as the puppy will associate this as a safe and secure place.

House training starts on day one. Your puppy needs to know exactly where you expect him to do his business. Prevent accidents by monitoring the puppy and take him outside accordingly. This helps him to learn where not to go.  Accidents happen, but don’t scold the puppy.  Clean up the accident with an enzymatic cleaner.

Teaching your new puppy basic behaviors like watch me, sit, or down are important. With positive reinforcement based training, you can encourage good manners in very young puppies.

Obedience training for your new puppy is always important.  It will teach basic manners that can lead to all kinds of fun dog activities and provide socialization with other dogs and humans.

In a few weeks, I will be reliving the excitement that our family experienced 13 years ago. Getting a new puppy can be an exciting and stressful time in any household.  It teaches our children to be responsible and committed.  So if you need advice or any tips in preparing for the new family member, please do not hesitate to contact or call the Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Lowchen

lowchenThe month of February is reserved to spotlight a dog breed.  Most of the time, I try to shed some light on a breed that isn’t very popular.  Well this month is no exception as I am featuring a dog that is not very popular, unique in its appearance, rich in history and really considers its only job as being a companion for its owner. That breed is the Lowchen, which is also known as the “Little Lion Dog”.

The Lowchen is a small breed that generally stands about a foot tall but has an enormous heart.  The coat is traditionally kept in a “lion clip” in which most of the hind quarters and tail are clipped down close to the skin.  The overall effect is that of a mini lion with a full mane and plumed tail. This breed coat comes in many colors and color combinations.

The breed has a long and somewhat controversial history.  We know from works of art depicting images of small dogs in a very distinctive lion trim from the breed dated to the 16thcentury.  The breed has been depicted throughout the centuries in paintings, drawings and tapestries from around the world.

The controversy arises as to the exact origin of the breed.  There are several theories of debate with one thinking that the breed originated in Northern Europe which is now known as Germany, France and Belgium.  Because it came from this area, the Lowchen is thought to be tied to the breeds that were the forerunner to the modern day poodle.  The stories go that they were a favorite companion for the ladies of the castles and they would lay close to their owners at night to keep them warm like a water bottle, as well as attract the fleas away from the owner.

Another theory is that the Lowchen originated in the Mediterranean region and are directly related to the Bichon breeds.  Also there are some theories that the breed might have originated in Russia or Tibet.

The Lowchen has been a resident of all households through the ages, from castles to farmyards and cottages.  Aside from the function of being a companion, they possibly were varmint hunters and fierce little guards.

There is a story from the late 1700’s about a Lowchen whose name was Bijou.  As the story goes, Bijou was so upset that his owner was leaving him behind, he jumped out of  a castle window into the Lahn River that was 60 feet below.  One ending has him surviving and was rewarded by riding to the hunt in the owner’s saddle, the other that the jump ended in disaster.  Whichever the outcome, his portrait from 1787 still hangs in the Baronesses’ bedroom in Wellburg Castle.

Little has been written about this breeds early years.  The first record of a breeder and fancier was Dr. Walthier in Germany in the 1800’s.  The breed standard was written in the 1800’s and in 1897, a Madame Madelaine Bennert purchased her first Lowchen.  She is the one who would be recognized for her efforts in saving the disappearing breed.

In 1999, the Lowchen was admitted into the AKC in the Non-Sporting group. The Lowchen is a small breed that weighs about 15 pounds and has a life expectancy or about 13-15 years.  It is a very loving dog whose sole purpose is giving love and hoping to get loved in return. It might see a squirrel, chase it and catch it, but it would not know what to do with it if it did catch it. It will bark at strangers, but then when they enter, the Lowchen will lick them to death.  The Lowchen’s favorite spot to be is on the couch watching out the window.

Don’t mistake the breeds sweetness, because it is a true lion that will stand up to any German Shepherd and bark down a Great Dane.  They are active, smart, and love children.  They can make very good agility dogs because they are trainable, resourceful and very adaptable.  Since they like to bark, it is recommended that they undergo some obedience training. Due to their haircoat it is advisable that they be brushed regularly and see an experienced groomer monthly.  Another plus with this breed is that they are hypoallergenic.

There are very few health problems with this breed.  But they may suffer from patellar luxations, heart issues and some eye issues.

Here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we love to see all breeds.  So if you have a Lowchen, or a mixed breed, gives us a call at (618)-656-5868 and we will be happy to assist you.

Should I Adopt A Cat Or A Dog?

cat-dogIt is always a good time to adopt pets, but June has been designated cat adoption month.  By far the most common pets are dogs and cats.  If I asked a person the difference, I would probably get a strange look and an answer like “one barks and growls, where the other meows and purrs.”  But there are other differences that affect them as to whether they may be the right pet for your family.

First off, dogs need to be cared for, whereas cats are independent. Dogs are descendants of pack animals.  Dogs like company and will never be bored if one spends a lot of time with it.  Their pack mentality allows the dogs to be trained more easily as they crave attention.  On the other hand, cats love to spend a lot of time alone.  Cats are solitary hunters that are more attached to their environment than they are to other cats.

The pack behavior also relates to how a dog is built physically.  In the wild they are designed to run down their prey.  This translates to dogs being built as long distance runners.  Dogs need a lot of space as they love to run around.  Cats are designed to stalk their prey.  Their instincts lead them to sneak up on their prey and then pounce.  This leads to cats being built more as sprinters rather than long distance runners.  Contrary to dogs, cats are very happy in small places.

When looking at  the nature of dogs and cats, the former loves to please you, but the latter always love to please themselves.  Well, dogs are more affectionate when compared to cats.  Dogs will wag their tail, and even their whole body, to show affection.  A cat will only show affection by allowing you to scratch it behind the ears.

Unlike dogs, cats are lap animals.  A cat will tolerate being smooched, but on the other hand, you will be smooched by a dog.  Dogs are happy to see you when it is awaken from sleep, but a cat will just pretend to be sleeping, even if you try to wake it.

Dogs tend to be your friends at night and protect you from harms way by scaring the intruders.  Cats, they will just run for cover.

By knowing your lifestyle, you can determine what pet is best for you.  Dogs are more social, require more attention and space.  Cats on the other hand tend to be happy being by themselves and don’t require as much attention and space.   Both species can be rewarding pets.

If you have any questions about the right pet for you, please contact our office!