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.

5 Reasons To Microchip Your Dog

reasons to microchip your dogMicrochipping your dog could seem useless and unimportant. In reality, it is something that is extremely important for your dog’s life in case anything bad happens. Microchipping involves implanting a rice-sized chip between your pet’s shoulder blades. It is highly recommended by veterinarians, breeders, and animal-rescue organizations. In some countries, it is even law to have your dog microchipped. If the recommendation by your vet is not enough reasoning for you to have your dog microchipped, here are five reasons to stay prepared with a microchip.

In case your dog ever gets lost. It may be easy to think that it will never happen to your dog. However, AKC Reunite reports that one in three dogs will go missing at some point in their lifetime. A collar is beneficial in protecting your dog if they get lost, but collars can easily break, fall off, or be removed. A microchip, however, is a reliable and safe way to get the owner’s contact information as well as vital medical information to increase the odds that they will be returned to the owner.

If your dog gets stolen. If a dog is ever stolen, it can be hard to ensure the identity of one dog to another dog, especially if steps have been made to change their appearance. A microchip will clear up any dispute with a quick scan, proving who is the correct owner.

If something happens to you. If you get in an accident and are with your pet, records can be obtained from the pet’s microchip, allowing the authorities to get in contact with your family. Microchips provide identification for not only your pet, but you as well.

Microchips are getting more tech-savvy. Some microchip manufacturers are implementing functionality for smart homes. For example, some chips can communicate with doggie doors to let your dog and your dog only inside or out to prevent unwanted critters from getting in. Other manufacturers also offer lost pet alerting services and even travel assistance for people who like to take their pets along on vacations.

Microchips last a lifetime. Unlike collars, microchips last forever and can’t be lost. Once implanted, you don’t have to worry about them. It can be worthwhile to ask your vet to scan it at a visit to make sure that it is not malfunctioning. It is a simple step that you can take to protect you and your dog.

Microchipping is a fairly inexpensive way to protect you and your family. Especially when you consider the cost of losing your family pet. For this and any other questions or concern for your pet, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

 

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!

 

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!

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.

Tips For Traveling With Your Pet This Summer

traveling with your petTraveling is an exciting yet stressful time for humans. Bringing your pet along usually adds to the stress level because it brings along extra preparation and attention to detail. Driving and flying each have their own challenges, but with the right advice, traveling with your pet can be a breeze. No matter where you are going or how you get there, it is important to have your pet wearing a collar and tag with your name, phone number, and any other contact information including emergency numbers.

Unless your pet is small enough to ride with you in the cabin of a plane, air travel is extremely stressful but sometimes unavoidable. When flying by plane, it is best to book a direct flight whenever possible. This will decrease the chances that your pet is left on the tarmac during extreme weather conditions or mishandled by baggage personnel during a layover. Also, make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and that their overall health is good dated within ten days of your departure. At your appointment, you can also discuss sedation methods if you suspect that they may become anxious. One of the most important aspects of airline travel with your pet is the crate. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, and turn around in comfortably. It should be USDA-approved and lined with shredded newspaper or towels to absorb accidents. Prior to your trip, tape a pouch of food to the outside of the crate so airline personnel will be able to feed your pet in case they get hungry while traveling. The night before you leave, freeze a small dish of water that will be melted by the time they may be thirsty. Make sure that the crate door is securely closed, but not locked, so that airline personal can open it in case of an emergency. Make sure that the crate is marked “Live Animal” as well as your name, cell phone number, emergency phone number, and a photo of your pet. In case your pet escapes, the photo can be a lifesaving measure.

When driving, traveling with pets involve a lot more than just loading the animal in the back seat. It is important to get your pets used to a long trip by taking them on short trips and slowly lengthening the time spent in the car. Keep your pets in a well-ventilated crate or carrier. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down and turn around in. Be sure to secure your pet’s crate so that it does not slide in the event of a sudden stop. If you don’t use a crate, be sure to keep your pet in a harness attached to a seat buckle. Be sure to bring a pet-friendly travel kit with food, bowls, leashes, poop bags, medication, and any travel documents. Be sure to bring a favorite toy or pillow to give your pet a sense of familiarity. Be sure to pack plenty of water and avoid feeding your pet in a moving vehicle. Your pet’s travel feeding schedule should start with a light meal three to four hours before departure. Perhaps most importantly, you should never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. In hot weather, the car turns into a furnace causing a risk of heatstroke. In cold weather, the car turns into a refrigerator holding in the cold which could lead to freezing to death.

However, you choose to travel with your pet, it is important to do it safely. By following these tips, both your stress and your pets’ stress can be reduced greatly making travel day a lot easier for both of you. If you have more questions about this or anything else regarding your pet, contact our office today!

Breed Spotlight: The Otterhound

otterhoundsOtterhounds are an extremely uncommon dog breed, especially in the United States. Weighing between 80-115 pounds, otterhounds are big, boisterous, and affectionate. Bred in medieval England, their breed was originally intended for the now-outlawed activity of otter hunting. Medieval England had a huge otter population which preyed on fish in rivers and ponds. To protect the valuable food source, packs of Otterhounds were kept by country squires and even kings. Otterhound packs were too good at otter hunting. River otters nearly went extinct and hunting them became outlawed. Otterhounds are extremely unique as they have a dense shaggy coat, webbed feet, an acute sense of smell, and an affinity for swimming. 

Otterhounds are ideally suited for otter hunting. Built to be expert swimmers, the top of their coat is rough and waterproof and their feet are large and webbed. Their chest is extremely broad with powerful shoulders which allow them to swim all day without tiring. Their large black nose is extremely sensitive in order track an otter’s scent trap underwater over great distances. The Otterhound’s size and strength enabled them be able to take a sharp-toothed, razor-clawed otter down that might weigh up to 20 pounds. 
 
As a breed, Otterhounds require a lot of mental and physical exercise. This can be through walks, obedience classes, tracking, and agility. Similarly, Otterhounds can be very sensitive. They can be stubborn when it comes to training. 
 
For a large breed, Otterhounds are generally healthy and responsible dreamers will screen their puppies for health conditions such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia. Like all large dogs, Otterhounds can experience bloat. Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach enlarges and sometimes twists. Potential and current owners should educate themselves on the signs of bloat and the actions to take should it occur. 
 
Otterhounds are extremely uncommon, but would make a great member of an active family. Their shaggy coat, webbed feet, and affinity for swimming makes this dog a unique and loving potential member for you family.