Are You Ready to Dive into the Life of Puppy Ownership? - 04/29/2018
Puppies are definitely some of the cutest animals on Earth, which is part of the initial attraction to wanting to own one of your very own. Keep in mind that there is a reason they are so cute, because owning a puppy of your own is not a piece of cake. For those of you considering bringing one into your own home for the first time, please educate yourself as much as possible and really think if you’re up to the rewarding, yet sometimes very aggravating challenge.
When you finally decide that it’s time to bring a new puppy home (and after you’ve already educated yourself about which breed is the most practical for your lifestyle), you can be 100% certain to experience all of these things during the first few days: complete elation that you now own this adorable little puppy, a new overwhelming sense of responsibility as you now have another mouth to feed, clean poop up after, and pay for veterinary care, and determination that you two will become the best of friends. Owning a new puppy is hard work, but if you educate yourself about how to be a good pet owner, all of your hard work will pay off.
The first thing that you should do when you get a new puppy is to take it to an AAHA Accredited veterinarian, such as John E. Taylor, DVM in Bradenton, Florida. You can read more about why it’s important to choose an AAHA Accredited veterinarian in the previous blog post. Regardless, seeing a veterinarian right away will ensure that you have a healthy, strong puppy. You’ll be able to make a plan for a vaccination schedule, and discuss routines for feeding, training, and general care. It’s important to discuss flea and heartworm treatment options, and how to look out for illness symptoms during your puppy’s first months. Also something worth discussing is a plan to spay or neuter.
Another thing you can discuss with your veterinarian is which type of puppy food to feed your new buddy. You’ll definitely want to make sure you’re feeding your puppy a high-quality food that will have an appropriate amount of nutrients and natural ingredients. Be careful about feeding recommendations on the backs of food bags too, a lot of times manufacturers will suggest that you over feed your dog. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend how much and how often to feed your dog in order to maintain a healthy weight. New puppies will need to eat several meals per day, so make sure that you or someone in the household will be regularly available to provide a meal or two in the middle of the day.
Probably the highest priority part of owing a new puppy is housetraining your dog to go potty outside and not in the living room. This can also sometimes make it or break it for new dog owners. Cleaning up dog poop and urine in your house can get old really quick, so you’ll have to make time to housetrain your new dog. You will need a few things to make this task successful: treats, praise, lots of patience, commitment, and an excellent carpet cleaner. Accidents will happen, and they will happen often until you can train your puppy to know that going potty outside is the only acceptable place to go.
If you have a really new puppy, putting puppy pads in one end of the crate, or just outside the door of their crate will encourage them to go potty there instead of in their living area or bed. Dogs do not like to go to the bathroom where they sleep, so you can consider trying puppy pads first. If you don’t like the idea of using puppy pads, you’ll have to start with just taking your new pal outside to go potty every ten minutes or so in order to establish that outside is the only acceptable place to go. Keep saying “potty” over and over while they are outside, and when they finally do urinate or poop, immediately reward with a treat and verbal praise. If you keep this same routine up your dog will learn that doing their business outside is fun! While working on this task with your pup, keep in mind there are always going to be key times that you can train your dog to go potty throughout the day. Teach your dog to go potty first thing in the morning, right after they eat, right before they go into crate, right after they come out of crate, and right before you go to bed. Your dog will learn that routine with time and life will become so much easier
I’m sure you’ll probably want to own a well-behaved lady or gentleman of a dog rather than a wild, bucking beast who steals food off of counters, barks and growls at everyone and everything, and who drags you by the leash on walks. The latter can be extremely embarrassing and stressful, so make sure that you’ve got a good plan in action for training. Whether you go for the professional dog training, e-collars, treat training, or obedience school, always remember: positive reinforcement has been proven to be the most effective way to train your dog. If you don’t have time or resources to seek professional training, you can always look up YouTube videos on how to train your puppy with positive reinforcement. Once your dog learns the basics such as “sit, down, off, come, free, and heel”, your dog walks through the park will be a total walk in the park! John E. Taylor, DVM at Pet First Animal Hospital recommends a couple of different dog trainers, so if you’d like more information please call (941) 753-2995.
Socializing your new dog on a regular basis is also an excellent thing to try and work on. You’ll want to have the peace of mind that your dog is great around kids, other dogs, cats, rabbits, and other people. After your puppy has had all of his vaccinations, introduce your him to new environments and people. Visiting the dog park, going on nature walks, and taking your dog places with you will allow your dog to become comfortable with others. A benefit of taking your dog to obedience school or group dog training classes is that your dog will be around other well-behaved dogs and their owners.
Once you get past the initial struggles and frustration during the first few months of owning a new puppy, you’ll feel so accomplished and nothing can replace that relationship you will have developed with your new best friend. Do you have a fun story to tell about your first few months of owning a puppy? If so, we’d love to hear it in the comments section!
Pet First Animal Hospital is AAHA Accredited - 04/01/2018
Pet First Animal Hospital is AAHA Accredited, and to many people, that acronym may not mean much. However, in the veterinarian community, the accreditation of the American Animal Hospital Association is a highly prestigious status and is also pretty rare. To be exact, only about 15% of animal hospitals in the United States have earned AAHA accreditation, and Pet First Animal Hospital is very proud to be a part of that 15%. We’d like to share with you what this really means to you, the pet owner.
Your Expectations from an AAHA Accredited Animal Hospital Should Be Set High
Accreditation is rigorous process that involves third-party oversight and devotion to superb routines and procedures that have been attested to have more favorable results for patients in our animal hospital. AAHA functions under this premise: hospitals for people follow routine standards and protocols that greatly reduce patient demise and/or health complications. That being said, AAHA strives to ensure that the animal hospitals that they are accrediting are held to the same or similar standards as human hospitals. We’d like to show you what it really means to be AAHA accredited.
- Standardized protocols and procedures: From disinfected and sanitary procedure rooms all the way down to how the animal hospital staff handle their patients, the standards and routine protocols required for AAHA accreditation are rigorous.
- High standards for referrals: Your pet may need a specialist’s touch. AAHA hospitals refer to highly trained and accredited specialists for anything they aren’t prepared to handle in-house.
- Disease prevention: Veterinary hospitals with AAHA accreditation have specific rules for avoiding the spread of contagious disease among pets. One of these standards is for the animal hospital to have special ventilation systems that greatly minimize the spread of airborne disease.
- Anesthesia monitoring: If your dog or cat requires surgery and anesthesia, you can be rest assured knowing that your AAHA accredited Pet First Animal Hospital has committed and highly trained veterinary technicians that monitor anesthesia levels throughout the entire procedure so that the veterinarian can perform the surgery whilst being completely focused and to ensure that your pet will be pain free and comfortable.
- Better dental care: Pet dental care is often disregarded by pet, but AAHA standards make an effort to raise the bar. With an AAHA accredited animal hospital, you’ll receive safe and standardized dental care to give your pet the best quality of life possible.
- Continuing education requirements: All vets practicing in an AAHA accredited hospital are required to complete over 50 hours of continuing education per year, keeping them up-to-date on current best practices. This kind of education is what distinguishes an average hospital from an exceptional hospital.
Taking your pets to an AAHA accredited hospital means choosing the highest standard of care for your animals. If you’d like to learn more about Pet First Animal Hospital’s procedures and standards for care, please give us a call anytime. We’d be glad to help! (941) 753-2995
Dental Care for Your Dogs and Cats - 03/04/2018
Has your dog or cat ever had a routine dental exam or treatments? If not, stinky breath can actually be caused by a number of serious health conditions, rather than just an annoyance to your (and anyone who comes near your pet). Poor oral hygiene can lead to many of health problems including, but not limited to gingivitis, periodontitis, pyorrhea, and periodontal disease. Toxins from periodontal disease are eventually absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream. Once this happens, all internal organs are at risk for minor to fatal infections.
Daily brushing of your dog or cat’s teeth, paired with annual dental exams and cleanings is the best recommended standard of care per our veterinarian Dr. John Taylor, as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
Many pet owners are able to brush their pet’s teeth with a soft bristle brush and a pet safe toothpaste, but this can be physically impossible for others. If you are unable to brush, there are other acceptable means of taking care of your pet’s teeth. Just remember, alternatives to brushing are always a secondary recommendation.
According to 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats* per Holstrom et al, options for oral hygiene other than brushing include “…the use of dentifrices, oral rinses, gels and sprays, water additives, and dental diets and chews. Discourage any dental chew or device that does not bend or break easily (e.g., bones, cow/horse hooves, antlers, hard nylon products)” (4).
At Pet First Animal Hospital, we carry several products to promote dental health such as Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care Food for Cats and Dogs, Virbac’s C.E.T. Hextra Premium Oral Hygiene Chews for Dogs, Virbac’s C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste, Merial’s Oravet Dental Hygeine Chews, Ceva Animal Health’s Clenz-a-dent Chlorhexidine Rinse, and VetriScience Laboratories’ Perio Support.
Holstrom, Steven E., DVM, DAVDC, et al “2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats*” 2013. https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/dental_guidelines.pdf. pg.4, Accessed February 21, 2017.
Should I Crate Train My New Puppy? - 02/04/2018
Crate training your puppy from the beginning can truly be one of the best decisions you’ll make regarding the care for your new puppy. Many times you’ll hear that it’s not nice, or flat out mean to confine a dog to a crate, but that’s not true! As long as you abide by the following rules of thumb, you’ll make crate training a positive experience for both you and your new puppy:
1. Never send your puppy to the crate as a punishment.
2. Treat the crate as your puppy’s “safe place”, sort of like his bedroom.
3. Don’t crate your puppy when it’s not necessary (i.e., when you’re home and able to provide supervision).
It’s best to start crate training your puppy as soon as possible. Puppies can be destructive, and can cause harm to your property and themselves if they are allowed to have free roam of the house all day. Here are a few benefits of crate training:
1. Crate training keeps your puppy safe while you are at work. Your puppy won’t be able to eat your furniture, shoes, toys, or get into the trash if he is kept safely in the crate. Another added bonus: since your puppy won’t be able to eat any of the above-mentioned things while you’re at work, you can be rest assured that your puppy won’t choke on something or get an intestinal blockage from a foreign object.
2. Crate training helps with potty training! Dogs don’t like to go potty in their beds or crates. As long as you take your puppy outside to do his business immediately after taking him out of the crate, you will reduce your chances of accidents in the house. Remember though, puppies have to go potty very often. New puppies really should go out every couple of hours (or more) at first.
3. Crate training is very helpful if you have small children in the house. It is never recommended to leave a small child and a dog alone together in a room. Anytime that you are not able to completely devote all of your attention to both the dog and child at the same time, you should put your puppy/dog in the crate. This way, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that the child won’t innocently antagonize the dog, ultimately preventing dog bites, etc.
You can always reward your puppy with a treat if they have to go to their crate. This can help make the experience even more positive! Just remember; only use the crate when necessary. You don’t want to keep your puppy in there more often than absolutely necessary, and never use the crate as punishment. Making the crate training experience positive for both you and your dog will definitely make your life easier, and the bond between you two much stronger!
If you have any questions or need a recommendation for a good dog trainer, please contact Pet First Animal Hospital at (941) 753-2995.
Does Your Cat Have Litter Box Aversion?? - 01/02/2018
It is not uncommon for cat owners to experience their kitty going potty elsewhere other than the litter box, unfortunately. A number of issues can contribute to your cat not using the litter box. The good news is, there are also several things that can be done to resolve the probleml!
The first thing you should always do is take your cat to the veterinarian to rule out any health problems that may cause your cat to stop using the litter box. Urinary tract infections and other medical issues can cause stress and/or pain, so it’s best to figure that out first. Once you’ve determined that your cat has a health problem, your veterinarian will prescribe a medical plan to get your cat to feeling better. If there is no underlying medical issue causing the cat to go elsewhere other than the litter box, there are several methods to try and resolve this issue, listed below.
Cats can become stressed out pretty easily. The first thing you do is to make sure you have AT LEAST one litter box per cat. Cats do not like to share litter boxes, and doing so will stress them out. Also make sure to clean and sanitize the litter box at least once per week.
Try using different types of litter such as clumping or non-clumping, scented or non-scented, etc. Some cats find it more enjoyable to have regular dirt or mulch in their litter box, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
Keep your cat’s litter box in a quiet, secluded area away from their food.
· Dr. Taylor at Pet First Animal Hospital highly recommends using a diffuser called Feliway that has been clinically proven to refine your cat’s unwanted behaviors. Feliway is the number one brand in cat behavior diffusers and sprays for improving unwanted behaviors related to litter box, scratching, spraying, travel, and introducing new cats to the home, to name a few.
After you have first visited your veterinarian and then have attempted all of the above recommendations for encouraging your cat to use the litter box and still do not have success, a follow up visit to your veterinarian for further testing is highly recommended.