Cat Adoption Checklist

cat adoptionAfter deciding to adopt a cat, there is plenty to be done. It can seem overwhelming, but hopefully this quick checklist will provide you with information on how to best prepare for your new furry friend.

Prepare a cat room or area.

One of the most important things your cat needs is a quiet, cozy, and secluded space that your cat can consider their own. It can be a spare bedroom or a corner of your living room. This will make sure your cat becomes familiar with their space before exploring the rest of their home.

 Remove any hazards.

Look for strangle hazards such as the cords to blinds, tassels, and drapes. Cats are notoriously curious, so they will play with anything they can find. Similarly, make sure any other hazards like cords, rubber bands, or other small items are not accessible to your cat. Hide any chemicals so your cat is not tempted to drink or lick them. Lastly, remove any toxic plants.

 Provide access to a high spot.

Buy having a high spot, cats can view their surroundings with ease. A simple cardboard box in a high place will do the trick but you can buy fancier products. One example is a cat hammock that attaches to your window with suction cups.

Provide your cat plenty of hiding spots.

All cats enjoy hiding places. This can be in a cardboard box, under furniture, or even a cat tree. Do not be alarmed if your cat hides for most of the day when you first bring them home. Just make sure they are eating, drinking, and defecating regularly and give them time to adjust to their new home.

 Buy cat products.

This involves a food bowl, water bowl, cat food, a soft bed, a litter box, cat litter, a scratching post, a brush, a cat carrier, and stimulating cat toys.

When adopting a cat, the prep work can seem overwhelming. Hopefully this checklist provided some clarity on what you can do to provide the best home for your new furry friend. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen with any questions at 618-656-5868.

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!

What You Need To Know About Pet Poisons

pet poisonsNo pet owner wants to hurt their furry friend, but sometimes it is inevitable. Accidental poisonings can be prevented with simple switches in your home. One of the easiest ways to prevent an accidental poisoning is to watch what you plant in and around your house. While plants provide clean air for you home, they can also be really dangerous for pets based on what types of plants they are. Plants that aren’t toxic to humans like the hibiscus, those in the Easter lily family, mistletoe, and Dieffenbachia can cause medical problems in pets. Issues such as renal failure, irregular heartbeats, cardiac shock, or even death. Other examples of toxic plants include azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, rhododendron, and Japanese yew. If you have these plants and cannot stand to give them up, put them up high in an unreachable location where your animal cannot chew or dig them up

Your cat may love to snack on some grass outside, but this grass can be loaded up with deadly fertilizers and pesticides. Instead, you could make an indoor mini lawn for your cat. Mini lawns provide a safe, edible source of greenery. Special feline gardens are available commercially or you can start your own kitty garden using a bowl, soil, and grass seed. You could also grow catnip for you cat, but make sure to monitor how much your cat chews. While catnip is not generally toxic for cats, too much of the plant can overstimulate your cat’s central nervous system and cause a cat to injure themselves.

If you find that your pet was chewing on a plant, immediately remove the plant from their mouth and rinse their mouth gently with water. Identify which plant your pet was eating and call the poison center or your veterinarian. Be sure to watch for excessive or foamy salivation and changes in the skin around the mouth, eyes, or paws.

Another common cause of accidental poisonings is giving your pet something intended for a human. This could include people food, chemicals, or even medications. People often make the mistake of thinking that people food is ok for pets. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. Be sure to avoid milk, bones, chocolate, onions, rich and fatty foods, grapes, raisins, coffee, nicotine, and alcoholic beverages.

Like a child, one should poison-proof their house. Be sure to keep the cleaning products in a high, closed cabinet. There should be nothing below counter level because liquid drain cleaners, as well as tub and tile cleaners, can be lethal. Be sure to take precautions in the garage as well. Insecticides and auto care liquids need to be store high off of the ground to keep your pets from getting into them. Accidental chemical poisonings can even be made in giving medication. Avoid this by reading the label. For example, be sure to read the labels of flea control for your pets because the chemicals in dog flea agents are lethal for cats. Be sure to read the label directions and amounts carefully.

Some pet owners think that human medication will work for pets. This is incorrect. Never give your pet a human medication without consulting with your veterinarian. Even something as simple as aspirin can be lethal to your pet. Products such as acetaminophen and any aspirin product can cause stomach bleeding. Products like birth control and vitamins can also cause internal bleeding.

Cats tend to be attracted to unusual flavors. Be sure to keep things like the calamine lotion, diaper cream, sunblock, etc. away. These products contain an acid related to aspirin in them and will be toxic if ingested. Overall, small actions you take can help prevent the poisonings of your pets and keep them health. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.

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!

 

Tips To Make It A Good Year For You And Your Pet

Tips To Make It A Good Year For You And Your PetThe beginning of a year is a time for resolutions for most. People reflect on the past and think about what they can do differently in the upcoming year. This year, why don’t you include your pet in your resolutions?

To improve your dog’s life this year, why don’t you increase the amount of exercise they are getting? Dogs love activity, shown by the crazy reaction when a walk is mentioned. Take your dog on an extra-long walk, a run, or an extra outing. You could also look for a place where your dog can enjoy some activity off of their leash at a dog park! Mental exercise is just as important. Give your dog more mind-engaging activities with enrichment puzzles, new toys, visiting new places, and learning new skills and tricks. The easiest thing that could be done, however, is to spend more time completely focused on them. Dogs value this time, and it is especially important in multi-dog households. Improving your dog’s quality of life is a gift that keeps on giving: the more wonderful we make life for our dogs, the more ways they enhance our own.

To improve your cat’s life this year, there are simple things that can be done! To start, it is important to set up a balanced meal plan with clean drinking water. This includes not giving your cat too many treats. Similarly, be sure to visit your vet regularly and make sure that their vaccinations are up to date. While you are there, ask your vet to check their teeth. A cat’s teeth say a lot about their general health. Tartar, gingivitis, and plaque all contribute to bacterial growth and seeding to the rest of the body which can lead to further health issues. A resolution that involves you and your cat, you could help keep your pet’s teeth clean by brushing them with a toothpaste that is specifically formulated for cats. One could also provide toys for your cat. Toys are not just for fun. They provide exercise and prevent boredom. You can keep your cat entertained with toys, treats, interaction, trees, climbing, and excitement.

This new year, don’t forget to include your pet in your resolutions. There are many things you can do to help improve your pets’ quality of life while bettering yours too! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868.

The 4 Best Gifts for Your Dog, Dog Owners, and Dog Lovers

pet gift guideAs the holidays approach rapidly, that means it is time for gift giving! It can be easy to forget your pup in the chaos of the holidays, but here are 4 ideas so your pup doesn’t get forgotten.

A Matching Bandanna and Mask Set

This ensures that you and your pup hit the town in style and safely! There are many options available online at places such as Etsy that allow you to support small businesses and get a handmade gift for your favorite dog or dog owner. Here are some of my favorites:

Holiday Matching Mask and Dog Bandanna Set, Red and Black Flannel Mask, Bandanna, and Scrunchie Set, and Happy Snowman Bandanna and Face Mask Set

A Treat Toy

Intended to mimic the experience of hunting prey, these types of toys wobble around while your dog paws at it. It rocks back and forth, and your pup will be obsessed with the magic dispenser that they can’t predict or conquer. Here is an example: The Game Dog Toy. Other options for similar products are Snuffle Mats. They allow dogs to find dry food or treats that you’ve hidden. It is a stimulating activity that dogs love. It also serves as a way to extend food and playtime for your pup every day. This Snuffle Mat has great reviews, is easy to fill, and machine washable.PAW5 Wooly Snuffle Mat

Barkbox Subscription

This company ships out a box either once a month or every three, six, or twelve months that give your dog themed and customized treats and toys! My dog at home LOVES the treats and toys that come to our door and it makes Barkbox day her favorite day of the month! Completely customizable with great customer service, Barkbox is a gift that every dog will appreciate. Get one here: Barkbox Subscription

A New Leash and Collar Set

Every dog and dog owner appreciates a new leash and collar that gets worn and used daily. They also allow the owner and dog to express themselves to every other pet and human! You can get fun colored ones like this or even customized ones like this! Also important are holders for their leashes! Here is a cool handmade one!

How Do I Know It’s Time To Euthanize My Pet?

Time To Euthanize My PetSome pets die of old age in the comfort of their own home, but many others become seriously ill or get injured in a way or experience that significantly diminishes their quality of life as they grow very old. In these situations, owners are often forced to consider the hard choice of whether to have your pet euthanized in order to spare your pet from pain and suffering.

To know when it is time, it is important to talk with your veterinarian. They are the best-qualified person to help guide you through this difficult process. In some cases, your veterinarian may be able to tell you definitively that it is time to euthanize your pet, but in other cases, you may ultimately need to make the decision based on your observances of your pet’s behavior and attitude.

Some signs that your pet is suffering and no longer enjoying a good quality of life include chronic pain being experienced that cannot be controlled with medication, frequent vomiting or diarrhea that is causing dehydration and/or weight loss, they stop eating, incontinence, lost interest in favorite activities, cannot stand on their own, and/or chronic labored breathing. It is a very difficult decision, but one must consider your pet’s quality of life.

Once you have made the very difficult decision, you also need to decide how and where you and your family will say the final goodbye. Before the procedure is scheduled to take place, make sure that all members of your family have had time with the pet to say a private goodbye. If you have children, make sure that you explain the decision to them and prepare them for the loss of the pet in advance. This may be your child’s first experience with death, and it is very important for you to help her or him through the grieving process. Books that address the subject, such as When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers or Remembering My Pet by Machama Liss-Levinson and Molly Phinney Baskette, may be very beneficial in helping your child to deal with this loss. It is an individual decision whether or not you and your family want to be present during the euthanasia procedure. For some pet owners, the emotion may be too overwhelming, but for many, it is a comfort to be with their pet during the final moments. It may be inappropriate for young children to witness the procedure since they are not yet able to understand death and may also not understand that they need to remain still and quiet.

Deciding when it is time to say goodbye to your pet is never easy. Owners are put into the difficult decision of deciding when it is their time. While it is never easy, the staff at Olsen Veterinary Clinic are always here to answer whatever questions you may have. Feel free to reach out at 618-656-5868 with any questions or concerns you may have!

What You Need To Know About Canine Flu Season

canine influenza

Canine influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that affects dogs and cats. Influenza viruses are able to quickly change and give rise to new strains that can infect different species. Of the two strains identified in the US, both of them can be traced to influenza strains known to infect species other than dogs. At some point, these viruses acquired the ability to infect dogs and be transmitted from dog to dog. Virtually all dogs exposed to canine influenza become infected, with approximately 80% developing clinical signs of disease. The other 20% of infected dogs that do not exhibit clinical signs of the disease can still shed the virus and spread the infection.

Canine influenza is transmitted through droplets or aerosols containing respiratory secretions from coughing, barking, and sneezing. Dogs in close contact with infected dogs in places like kennels, groomers, day care facilities, and shelters are at an increased risk of infection. Canine influenza can be spread indirectly through objects like kennels, food and water bowls, collars, and leashes or people who have been in contact with an infected dog to avoid exposing other dogs to the virus. Due to this, people in contact with an infected dog should wash their hands and clean their clothing to avoid spreading the virus. The virus can stay alive and able to infect on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours. It is important to implement cleaning and disinfection procedures to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

The majority of infected dogs exhibit the mild form of canine influenza. The most common clinical sign is a cough that persists for 10-21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants. Affected dogs may have a soft, moist cough, or a dry cough similar to that induced by kennel cough. Nasal and/or ocular discharge, sneezing, lethargy, and anorexia may also be observed. Many dogs developed a purulent nasal discharge and fever. Some dogs are more severely affected and exhibit clinical signs of pneumonia, such as a high-grade fever and increased respiratory rate and effort.

Canine influenza cannot be diagnosed solely by clinical symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge because these signs also present with other canine respiratory illnesses. Tests must be done to properly identify strains of canine influenza virus. Contact Dr. Olsen to set up a test if you think that your dog may be infected.

Treatment for canine influenza is largely supportive. Good nutrition helps dogs mount an effective immune response. Most dogs recover from canine influenza within two to three weeks. Secondary bacterial infections, pneumonia, dehydration, or other health factors may require additional diagnostics and treatments.

While canine influenza is a serious threat, vaccines are available against both strands of canine influenza found in the US. Vaccination can reduce the risk of a dog contracting canine influenza and while it may not all together prevent an infection; it may reduce the severity and duration of illness. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868 with any questions or to set up an appointment!

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Himalayan Cat

Himalayan CatHave you ever seen a cat that looks like a mixture between a Persian cat and a Siamese cat? Well it might have just been a Himalayan cat! The Himalayan cat is a hybrid breed identical to the Persian, but Himalayans are distinguished by the points on the cats’ extremities including the facial mask, feet, ears and tail. This results in a Persian-type cat with the coloring and deep blue eyes of the Siamese-patterned cat. These cats are semi-playful but love to lay around and do nothing. They are typically extremely friendly to other pets and children but require a lot of grooming attention. The breed itself is not very vocal but they have an intense need for attention. All of this is not for nothing as Himalayans are extremely affectionate to their owners.

Having a firm, well-rounded midsection, they are medium to large in size. Their head is round, broad, and smooth domed. Their jaws are broad and powerful which accompanies a short, snub nose. Their ears are small and round set widely apart on the head. Himalayan’s coats are long all of the body with a dense undercoat. Perhaps the most striking attribute of the Himalayans are their large, round, and deep blue eyes. It gives their face a sweet expression.

Himalayans are wonderful indoor cat companions. They are gentle, calm, and sweet-tempered. Like Siamese cats, Himalayans love to play fetch with a piece of crumbled paper or a cat toy. They will be entertained for hours, or at least until their next nap. Himalayans are devoted and dependent upon their humans for companionship and protection. They crave attention and affection. Like their Persian siblings, they are docile and won’t harass you for attention the way that some breeds will. They possess the same activity level as the Persian but lack the vocality of a Siamese.

The Himalayan cat is an extremely beautiful cat that makes for a good family pet. While they are striking, it is important to make sure before adopting that you are able to give them the care that they need due to their intense grooming requirements. If you think you are able to give them the attention that they need (and want), then you just may be the right person to adopt a Himalayan cat that needs a home. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868.

The How And Why Of Trimming Your Dog’s Toenails

trimming your dog's toenailsOne of the most difficult things to do with your dog is to trim their nails; especially if they don’t like having their nails cut. Trimming your dog’s nails is an important grooming task that helps them stay happy and healthy. When their nails grow too long, health problems could occur. Dogs that run around on hard surfaces like concrete or blacktop, their nails are often worn down naturally. For dogs that spend most of their time indoors or running around on soft surfaces, their nails don’t get worn down regularly.

Nails that are too long are at risk of being torn off. This can result in an injury that could require veterinary care if it is serious enough. Longer nails also make it harder for dogs to walk around comfortably. If a dog’s nails hit the floor constantly as they walk, more pressure is put onto the nail bed that can cause discomfort that forces your dog to distribute their weight differently while they walk. In the end, this all can cause the way their toe and paw joints are aligned to be affected in a negative way.

If your dog is not used to having their nails trimmed, one should start getting them used to the clippers and having their paws handled. You can do this by forming a positive association with it by rewarding them with treats and praise until they allow you to clip their nails without getting too nervous.

There are several types of dog nail trimmers including scissors, guillotine-type, and grinder tools designed for dogs. You can use whatever type you are most comfortable with, or whatever works best for your dog. It is a good idea to have some sort of styptic power or other clotting power on hand to stop bleeding in case you cut a nail too short.

To trim your dog’s nails, pick up one paw, and firmly but gently place your thumb on the pad of a toe and your forefinger on the top of the toe on the skin above the nail. Make sure none of your dog’s fur is in the way. Next, push your thumb slightly up and backward on the pad, while pushing your forefinger forward. This extends the nail. Clip only the tip of the nail, straight across. Include the declaws which are located on the inner side of the paw. Lastly, avoid clipping past the curve of the nail. This helps you avoid hitting the quick, the pink area of the nail that contains the blood vessels. If you were to hit the quick, it is extremely painful and will bleed. On dogs with dark nails, there will be a chalky white ring marking the quick.

Trimming your dog’s nails can be a difficult task that you and your dog do not like. With praise and positive association, trimming time can grow to be a painless task for you and your dog. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.