Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The King of Toys

I have found that using a Kong toy can be an invaluable training tool for any dog, especially puppies. 
When you leave and tell your dog to go to her kennel, she will readily go running for the kennel if she knows she will get a treat.  I take a Kong, place a few treats inside and cover the hole with peanut butter.  This will give your puppy plenty of time to chew at it while you quietly leave the house. 

If you place a peanut butter-filled Kong in the freezer ahead of time you always have one ready, and the peanut butter is harder, so it takes more time to lick out.  Now, because peanut butter can have a lot of calories, sometimes we have to look for alternatives.  You can try low-fat peanut butter, or even better a mixture of low-fat tuna and low-fat cream cheese.  They mix together well, cover the hole of the Kong completely, and freeze nicely. 

As for treats to stuff inside the Kong, almost anything will work, but don't overdo it.  I find freeze-dried liver treats to be popular at my house.  If you're worried about calories, low-salt rice cakes break up nicely, and dogs love them!

If you've never used one, they are virtually indestructible and we carry a veterinary labeled variety that you can purchase.  Stay tuned for future training and treat ideas for your Kong!

~~~Todd Whitney, DVM

Monday, October 25, 2010

And May I Introduce...

 We all know first impressions are very important.  For cats, this is especially true.  When we bring home a new cat, we hope that our resident cat will see the new cat as a wonderful new playmate.  Rather cats seem to approach this as, "Who is that, and why is he playing with all of my stuff?!"

A lot of people introduce cats in a very simple way:"Marge" walks in with the new cat in her arms.  She says "Fluffy, this is your new brother, Max.  Max, this is fluffy.  I know you'll be best friends."  Marge then sets Max down on the floor in front of Fluffy.  Sometimes, you get lucky, and this works.  The two cats approach slowly with their ears perked up. They sniff noses then rub cheeks.  They're both OK with the new change, and they'll probably get on pretty well.  Unfortunately we cannot always rely on luck.  If, when the cats first see each other, one or both cats hiss, growl, crouch, run away or approach in a confrontational manner you probably want to slow down and control their interaction.    You might want to try one or more of these suggestions:
  • Set up a separate room for your new cat with his own  food, water, and litter box.  Try to make this an out-of-the-way room so that you don't interrupt your resident cat's routine.  Your new cat won't see this as a jail cell, but as more of a safe room.  He'll have a small space to explore before tackling your whole house [and other cat(s)]
  • When you introduce the new 'roommate', bring the new cat out in a cat carrier.  This way, the new cat knows he's safe, and the resident cat knows the new one is controlled.  Leave the new guy in the cat carrier for 15-30 minutes at a time, and then take him back to his safe room.
  • If you start to see signs of aggression or fear, give your new cat a 10 minute 'time out' in his safe room.  Even something as simple as staring at the other cat with your tail twitching can be an aggressive signal for another cat.
  • Always reward both cats for calm behavior.  If the cats are in the same room without watching each other or staring (curled up ignoring each other is a GOOD thing...), give them positive reinforcement.  This can be verbal praise, petting or a food treat.  This teaches your cat that good things happen when the other guy's around.
Above all:  Be Patient.  It may be weeks or even years before cats will coexist peacefully.  Hopefully, though, if you put some time in at the beginning, your cats will never want to be apart.

~~~Kelly Wagner, CVT

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Stinky Solution

                                                  Image as seen on Lion King fan art website

As we enter hunting season, we thought some of you may need a helpful home remedy for those pooches who come nose to nose with Pepe Le Pew!

This Skunk Odor Removal Recipe is exerpted from the Pet Emergency Care Guide by the Wisconsin Veterinary Referral Center

Put on goggles or other eye protection.
In a bucket, mix:
   *1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
   *1/4 cup baking soda
   *1 tsp. of hand-safe dishwashing liquid

Stir ingredients briefly.  The solution will fizz as the hydrogen peroxide decomposes and releases bubbles of oxygen. Have a friend hold the smelly pet in a washtub while you scrub in the solution with a soft brush.  Rinse the pet with tap water.  (you may need to repeat the treatment on your friend ;)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Ouch!  Arthritis hurts!  Have you felt the change in weather?  Just like us, some of our pets have the same flare ups.  So, what can be done?  The focus of this post is pharmacological management of pain.  You got it, drugs!  Whether genetics let you down, you're paying the price for a box-a-day Beggin'Strips habit, or that old injury won't leave you alone, the time will come for more proactive management.  Don't get me wrong, the whole answer doesn't come in pill form.  Things like weight loss or physical therapy can be incredibly helpful.  We are fortunate though to have a variety of safe and effective medications to help pets suffering from chronic pain problems, the most common of which is arthritis.

The mainstay of chronic pain management is the N.S.A.I.D. (Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug).  Human products (not to be given to pets!) we are familiar with in this class of drugs are Advil, Aleve, Viox, etc.  The common products we use for pets are Rimadyl, Previcox and Metacam.  They work by relieving inflammation in the diseased tissues by blocking enzymes in the inflammatory cycle.  These drugs can safely be used, daily, on a chronic basis in otherwise healthy patients.  Since many arthritic patients are older, they do need to be monitored for underlying or emerging organ problems.  Once a normal base line is established, they should have a blood panel drawn every six months.

When N.S.A.I.D.s alone are no longer effective, the patient may have a problem called spinal cord windup.  This means that, despite pain control, pain signals are still being sent to the brain like a reflex that won't stop.  There is a daily medication that helps to deal with this problems. 

If you think your pet is exhibiting signs of pain (see below), come in and see us.  Remember, many other modalities are of equal or greater value in managing chronic arthritis.  Ultimately, though, drugs will be beneficial and necessary to maintain a high quality of life for your pet.

Here are five of the most common signs of an arthritic dog:
  1. My dog is having problems getting up and down and is reluctant to climb stairs.
  2. My dog isn't as active anymore, and she seems stiff or limps after exercise or after getting up from a nap.
  3. My dog's legs have gotten skinnier, and he shakes or shivers a lot now.
  4. My dog cries whenever someone pets his rear area, and he walks with an arch.
  5. My dog is now 7 plus years old and suddenly is snapping at us and the kids.
Do any of these apply to your dog?  Maybe we should see him/her for an exam and some blood work.

~~~Brian C. Ray, DVM

A New Kind of Newsletter

 Years ago we started a quarterly newsletter.  It was a lot of fun to put together, but about a year ago I began looking for a greener option that would still get our personal touch out to our clients.  We’ve made some amazing updates to our website….go and check it out if you haven’t!

This little space is our next big step!  I began blogging myself a year and a half ago.  I love it and can’t wait to share with all of you the amazing things that our staff does! They have many wonderful tips to help your furry family members live a long and full life.

 Since blogs are live, you will get to grow with us!  We will post often and there will be input from all of the same great contributors that you’ve grown accustomed to, so you won’t just be listening to me blather on! :)  I’m looking forward to the journey! ~~~Amy Ray