Beach Fun

Pet Travel

As summer approaches, Skipper will likely be making some extra trips for vacation.  We can’t WAIT to take him to the beach and show him the waves and let him chase the ghost crabs, and see how he swims at the lake!

If you anticipate traveling with your puppy, it’s very important to work on acclimating to the car early, during the socialization period.  We started by taking Skipper on very short rides with lots of treats.  Ideally, try to get the puppy used to where you want him to sit in the car as an adult. For example, when we brought Skipper home the very first day we met him, he would only ride quietly on top of my shoulders. This was fine for 9 lb Skipper, but not exactly acceptable for the current, 45 lb Skipper.

There are lots of options for securing your pet when traveling, but disappointingly, not very many studies to determine the safest option.  In my opinion, making sure that your dog or cat is secured away from the driver is the MOST important consideration. Your dog should not be able to climb on your lap (or your head), bump any of your car controls, or distract the driver in any way.   Skipper has done quite well with a sling in the backseat which keeps him confined to the second row of the car, but gives plenty of space to lounge and look out the windows.  His sister, Lily, on the other hand, has to be confined to a crate, because she will not settle in and relax as readily.    There are numerous options including car seats, seat belt type attachments, kennels, slings, etc.  Choose what option keeps your dog calm, happy, and away from distracting the driver.

I do strongly recommend keeping some form of identification on your dog during a car ride, as a precaution, in case the unthinkable accident occurs and your dog leaves the site of the crash in the fray.  Because a collar could get lost or fall off, a microchip implanted under his skin is the safest way to ensure he is constantly carrying identification, and your contact information.  Of important note, these microchips do not help track your dog; there is no GPS capability to the standard microchip. I can’t wait for the day that happens! The microchip is only helpful if a Good Samaritan finds your dog, and brings them to someone with a scanner to retrieve the stored information.   You’ll also need to make sure to regularly update the information attached to the microchip, if you move, change phone numbers, etc.

For those dogs (aka Lily) who are very nervous during car rides, there are a few pharmaceutical options to help make the trip less stressful. These medications work beautifully even for short rides to the vet office.  Consider this: if every time you got in the car, you went to the doctor, you vomited on the way, and THEN had to get shots or blood samples were drawn, you’d probably really hate the thought of getting in the car.  For the animals who become car sick, there are a few antinausea medications.  Benedryl will work for some dogs, however, there are a select few who become overly excited from Benedryl doses.  I typically recommend giving maropitant (Cerenia) at home 1-2 hours prior to starting a car trip, long or short.

For the anxious creatures, trazodone or gabapentin (anti-anxiety medications) are great options to give 1-2 hours prior to leaving home. If you’re headed to come see us at Aldie, there is an added benefit of already having that anti-anxiety medication on board before you get to the clinic. Please don’t feel strange about giving anti-anxiety medications to these guys who are so incredibly worried at the clinic, or in the car. It is not a reflection on you, your training, or your pet. If you’ve ever experienced any level of anxiety/stress, you know how terrible that feels, and I suspect that our canine and feline friends feel the same. We CAN help these guys with a little “special” snack just a few hours before a trip!

If you are taking your pet on vacation, always make sure that your lodging arrangements permit pets. I also recommend bringing an appropriate kennel to confine your pet if you have to step out of your hotel room, or baby gates to cordon off dangerous areas of a rental house.  Depending on when or how you’re traveling, you may also need a health certificate to cross state or international borders.  These certificates can take some time to complete, so make sure to check with your veterinarian well in advance of your trip.  Ideally, at least have a way to access your dog’s vaccination records (rabies especially!), in the event that your dog needs to see a vet while you’re away from home, or there is some bite or fight incident.  Many veterinarians, including Aldie Vet Hospital, have user-friendly apps that allow you to access your pets’ medical records any time, directly from your cell phone.

Always make sure to bring your pets’ medications along and try to keep them on a consistent schedule.  I recommend bringing these medications in their ORIGINAL bottles, just in case there’s a need for a new veterinarian to know the dose and drug name.   If you’re going on a long trip, remember to check your supply and get refill requests in early.

If you’re not planning to take your pup along on a trip, there are a few options.  There are several boarding facilities around, which work well for some pets and often have someone on staff 24/7.  These facilities can be loud, and some pets can become very stressed in this type of environment, while others are unfazed and enjoy playing with the other boarders. There are also many in-home pet sitting services, or you may know someone who can stop by, or stay overnight, to watch your pets.  In either situation, I recommend pre-arranging an authorization for veterinary care.  Aldie Veterinary Hospital has forms which can be filled out ahead of time to authorize your pet sitter/boarding facility to request care for your pet in the event of an emergency.  It’s also helpful to create an info sheet for caretakers, including emergency contacts, veterinary clinic number, and medications for each pet.

 

Happy travels this spring and summer! Share your pictures with us on Facebook and Instagram!

 

Skipper & Dr. Conroy

Xylitol products

Sugarless Sweetener: Not So Sweet for Canines

Xylitol is a common ingredient used to sweeten human food products.  It’s most notably found in sugarless items like chewing gum, peanut butter, Jell-O, pudding, or other household products like vitamins, mouthwash, and toothpaste.  Ice Breakers Cubed gum is the most common culprit we’ve seen lately at Aldie, and unfortunately has a high amount of xylitol.  Just ONE tiny, little, delicious cube can cause toxicity in a 25-pound dog!

Xylitol toxicity is not documented as well in cats; most research indicates they are a bit more tolerant than their canine counterparts.  However, it is not recommended to give cats xylitol and you should contact your veterinarian if you believe your cat has ingested any amount.

WHAT DOES IT DO?

A dog’s body responds to xylitol in the same, but exaggerated, manner that it would typically respond to sugar: it releases insulin.  This causes a low blood glucose (blood sugar) level, which can result in subsequent weakness, muscle tremors, or even seizures or death. Xylitol is absorbed rapidly after ingestion; the drop in blood sugar can occur as quickly as 30 minutes after ingestion, but signs may take up to 12 hours to develop.

Xylitol can also cause damage to your dog’s liver.  It can take up to 2-3 days for evidence of the damage to appear on lab work.  The liver damage can range in severity from mild and temporary, to extreme and life-threatening.  The liver is an important organ and has many jobs.  We typically think of it as the filter/recycler of the body, as it processes blood from all around the body and “cleans” it up.   However, the liver also makes many things, including clotting factors. Clotting factors allow the body to stop a severe hemorrhagic event from occurring following a simple injury (think bumping your knee=small bruise, not life-threatening hemorrhage).   Dogs with severe liver damage may become jaundiced (have a yellow tinge to eyes/skin).   If the clotting factors are also affected, life-threatening anemia can occur, and a blood transfusion may be required.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Time is of the essence! As soon as you realize your dog has ingested something containing xylitol, contact the veterinarians at Dulles South Veterinary Center and bring them in right away!  Blood glucose can drop as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, so there’s no time to waste.

WHAT DOES THE VET DO?

We will induce vomiting, and make recommendations for further treatment and monitoring based on how much xylitol your dog ingested.  Inducing vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide can work, sometimes. However, there are studies that show that burns from the peroxide ingestion can persist in the esophagus/stomach days after the vomiting episode. Veterinarians have a much more potent vomiting agent, which is more likely to be successful than just peroxide, and less likely to have the abrasive side effects.

After vomiting occurs, we often recommend hospitalization for IV fluid support, dextrose (sugar) supplementation, liver protectant medications, and frequent monitoring lab work.  These hospital stays range from 1 day for minimally affected dogs, to a week or more in very severe cases.

PREVENTION

Xylitol is a sneakily dangerous food ingredient.  Make sure to double check what kind of peanut butter you use to feed treats/medications, and use extreme caution with oral hygiene products, medications/vitamins, and chewing gum in the house. Make sure to keep your toothpaste and mouthwash in a drawer if you have a counter surfer, and keep purses and bookbags with gum up high on hooks to deter “shopping” from these items.

The veterinarians at Dulles South Veterinary Center are here to answer any questions or treat your pet if he/she happens to get a hold of xylitol-containing goodies.

I can Help

Outings to the Super Pet Expo

The Super Pet Expo is just a week away! This event has lots of fun things to offer both humans and canines.  For the humans, you can shop from many vendors of unique, pet-related products: beds, treats, collars, clothes, toys, etc. For the dogs, there are several activities: small and big dog play areas, a dock diving pool, and a lure game for dogs who like to chase!

 

So it sounds awesome, and you want to take your dog. But how do you know if your dog is going to enjoy his time at the Expo as much as you will?

 

For adult dogs, consider the following:

  1. Does your dog like being around other dogs?
    • Does he greet other dogs in a calm, friendly manner? Look for signs such as a loosely wagging, raised tail, ears forward, and a relaxed face.
    • If your dog is pulling so much that you don’t need to go to the gym tomorrow, and lunging at other dogs, he is not a good candidate. While your dog might be enjoying himself, he’s going to intimidate others.
    • Likewise, if your dog is hiding behind your leg, tail tucked, ears are back and his lips are pulled back tight into a “smile,” he would rather let you shop alone at the Expo.
    • Check out this link for more information on identifying signs of anxiety/stress in your dog: https://fearfreehappyhomes.com/fearful-fido/
  2. Your dog likes being around other people and is comfortable with tiny humans
    • LOTS of people come out to enjoy the Expo and look at all the cute dogs! If large crowds, strange people, or the unpredictable hands and fast movements of tiny humans make your dog uncomfortable, you should think twice about bringing him along.
  3. Leash Manners
    • With so many toys, treats, people, and other pets around, it’s very important that your dog is obedient on a leash to avoid an accident.
    • I strongly recommend using a harness rather than a collar. A dog who pulls on collars can put a lot of pressure on his windpipe, and cause discomfort, difficulty breathing, coughing, and/or gagging. Front-lead harnesses (the ring to clip the leash is on the front of the dog’s chest, rather than on the back) are really helpful for dogs who like to pull. Or look into a gentle leader- with a halter type loop over the nose. For any leash/harness, always make sure to read the instructions to ensure a proper fit
  4. Vaccinated
    • This is the MOST important consideration. Before taking your dog (especially a puppy!) out into a dog-dense location, it’s critically important that he is up to date on vaccinations to protect himself and others.
    • Dogs socializing with other dogs in public should be up to date on their rabies, distemper, and bordetella vaccines.
  5. Caution Alerts:
    1. If you are unsure of how your dog will react, attach a yellow or red ribbon to his leash and/or harness, to alert others that he may not like attention.
    2. You can also get creative and make a t-shirt with a gentle warning, “Anxious. Please do not pet me.”

 

What if you have a young puppy, working on socialization skills and outings, and want to use the Expo as a training time?  This could work, with a few precautions.

  1. First and foremost, make sure your puppy is on track with his vaccination schedule.
  2. Attend the Expo at times less popular times of day to avoid overwhelming his senses.
  3. Bring your pup in a cart/stroller to minimize exposure to germs on the ground, especially if he is less than 5 months of age.
  4. Keep some sanitizer handy for new people to use prior to petting your puppy to avoid disease transmission.
  5. Minimize or prevent interactions with other dogs, as there is no way to know their vaccination status or how they may interact with the puppy.
  6. Remember, it’s your responsibility to advocate for your puppy. It is OK to decline peoples’ request to pet your puppy or ask them to refrain if they forget to ask permission.

 

The Super Pet Expo is a very fun family-friendly event for all.  Make sure to bring LOTS and LOTS of treats from home for positive reinforcement. Keep an eye on your dog’s behavior for signs of anxiety, and make adjustments as needed. That may be offering some treats and re-focusing, taking a time-out in a quiet corner, or even leaving the Expo a little early.   Do not force your dog to participate in the dog activities. Remember to use lots of positive encouragement, treats, and patience.  For example, Skipper has not yet been exposed to water (only ice so far this year, sadly), so you would not find us leaping from the dock diving exhibit. We suspect he *might* like the lure exhibit though!

Have a great time at the Super Pet Expo, and make sure to stop by and see our emergency team at the Dulles South Veterinary Center booth for fun freebies from March 15, 2019 to March 17, 2019!

 

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#SuperPetExpo #SkipperAndConroy #Vetsrus #FollowFriday #FF

 

Shoe Thief

Thievery and No Go Zones

Skipper is about 16 weeks old now and growing like a little weed!  Potty training is going very well; we only have a handful of accidents per week! He’s been enjoying playing with his sister terrier at home and the other doctors’ dogs from work (Check out our Instagram for pictures of the Skipper Conroy & Phebe Luce playdate!).  He’s also learned a few commands; high five is my most favorite of these. I have grand plans for this to be a gateway into a “touchdown” trick for next football season. As it turns out, he’s a little lanky and unbalanced which results in him just tipping over these days, so we’re going to table that one for now.

With every growing inch, Skipper finds access to new places.  Coffee tables apparently house very fun things, like all the cat toys that have been way more interesting than his 800 dog toys.  Teaching him to stay off the couch was also much easier when he was half this height… and his maximum launch distance was shorter.  Also, in his defense, Lily the terrier sabotages him by pulling him on to the couch during tug of war battles.  As Skipper grew to couch access height, it became important for him to learn “off.” I picked “off,” because “get down” sounds too close to “lay down” for such a young pupper to differentiate.  In my opinion, it is easiest to teach commands along with their opposite. For couch purposes, I taught Skipper “on” and “off” using lots of treats and a very sturdy wooden box. Now, when we correct Skipper for putting front feet on the couch, his (reluctant) retreat is another command worthy of earning praise and a treat.

Now, possibly more than ever, it’s important to keep everything positive, including corrections.  Puppies can be very sensitive; disciplining early or incorrectly can damage your relationship together, and cause the puppy to misinterpret a situation. For example, if the puppy pees on the floor, refrain from pointing at the mess and yelling, “Bad dog!”  He may act sheepish and seem like he understands, but keep in mind that puppies are pretty literal. Your pointing at the yellow liquid on the floor can make him think the pee itself and his proximity to it is bad, not the act of peeing on your floor.  Shame and guilt have the same emotional appearance to us, but there’s a critical distinction.  Guilt is a feeling of that one has done something bad; shame is thinking that one is inherently bad.  There may be some level of satisfaction and accomplishment from these phrases and that sad puppy face you receive in return, but it is in fact a façade, and all we’ve done is derail the puppy’s confidence in your relationship.

Gently startling a pup to get his attention and redirect it is appropriate in many situations, but remember, you’ll need to remove and replace the undesired activity. Skipper greatly enjoys “shopping” for shoes and socks in the closet.  He will oh-so-proudly return to a room and proceed to nom on his selection. This is an issue for two reasons. First, he can’t chew on expensive shoes. Second, socks, shoes, and clothes make excellent foreign bodies and could be life threatening.  Your first instinct may be to chase the puppy and retrieve the item promptly. This incites a super fun game of chase!  This may work for a little while, but my kiddo is going to have the legs of a deer and is definitely going to outrun me. A dog running away with a toxic or dangerous item is the last thing I want to encourage. To avoid rewarding Skipper with attention for stealing an off-limits item, we nonchalantly approach with another toy, ask him to “leave it” and then trade for an appropriate chew toy. Ideally, we keep the “fun” things out of his reach, or distract him on his way into the closet. If Skipper doesn’t know an item is off-limits, the allure of taking something he’s not supposed to have will likely fade away.   Conversely, if every time he takes my shoe earns him a game of chase and attention, I’ve just increased the value of the shoe exponentially.

Let us know what fun things your pup has decided to have an affinity for, and how you’re working on it at home! We love updates through Facebook and Instagram!

-Dr. Conroy & Skipper

SkipperSnugs

Potty Training

Now that you’ve got the puppy home and you’re laying down some ground rules, let’s talk potty training, as this tends to be pretty high on the priority list.  Crate training goes hand-in-hand with potty training, and is your best friend with a new puppy!  A puppy typically will not soil his sleeping place. He doesn’t need a Taj Mahal crate right now, just enough space to be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably.  The crate shouldn’t be big enough that he can urinate in the back half and lounge up front in the foyer.   The crate is for sleep and safety.

It’s important that your puppy understands his crate is his safe place, a place where he gets treats and pets!  Avoid using the crate as a place for punishment.  I started off by feeding Skipper treats in the kennel and shutting the door for brief periods, and then re-opening it, before leaving him in it for the night.  He definitely still cried for a few minutes when we shut the door for the night; this was expected.  When this happens, wait it out. The crying stops, I promise; usually before your heart completely breaks in half.  If the puppy is removed from the crate or given any attention while he is crying, he’ll learn that making noise means breaking out!  We play with Skipper to tire him out shortly before bedtime, and this definitely cut down the wait time as he was learning to sleep alone in the crate.

Remember a puppy can only hold his bladder a few hours, however. Plan to keep the crate close so you’ll wake when he does, or consider setting an alarm for 4-6 hours into the night for a potty break.  Every puppy is different; some can sleep longer than others without an issue. Now, we don’t want to reward the puppy for crying and make that his ticket out of the crate, but we also can’t have him soiling the crate. Oh no… what to do?  Wait for that ever-so-brief 0.25 seconds of quiet and open the door nonchalantly, with no big fuss.  We discovered that picking Skipper up, putting the leash on, and escorting him outside before putting him down decreases the risk of a premature pee accident.  For the first week or so, Skipper would pee the millisecond his toes hit the ground first thing in the morning, so we had to be dressed in a coat and shoes and ready to run!  Remember, when your puppy pees outside, it is the very best thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life!  “Good boys!” all around with pets and treats and love!

The rest of the day, you’ll need to be very diligent about taking the little pupper outside regularly. Once an hour is a good starting rule, whenever he’s awake and not in the kennel. Additionally, take him out immediately after any naps, and within 5-10 minutes after a meal.  Watch for signs of sniffing/posturing and scoop him up quickly to go out.  Minimizing accidents will maximize your success. At this stage, any “accidents” in the house, are technically on us, because he doesn’t know the rules. During puppy training, keep in mind that we’re working on substrates. Meaning, he needs to learn that when his toes touch hardwood, he cannot go; but when his toes touch grass, he can go.  For those of you raising a puppy on snow, you may want to clear a particular area to make this concept clearer, since (hopefully) you won’t always have snow on the ground.

When there is an accident, startle the puppy with a clap, scoop him up, and immediately go outside.  Hopefully, he’ll still have a little left, and again, when he goes, it’s a party!  Make sure to clean up any accidents right when you come in, preferably with an enzymatic cleaner for carpets. Scents left behind in the house can be confusing and derail your efforts.  The old adages of putting the puppy’s nose into the accident only confuse them into thinking that pee/poop, in general, is a bad thing; therefore this is not recommended.  Potty training doesn’t happen overnight, so be consistent and positive, with time things will improve!

May all the paper towels and patience be with you,

 

Dr. Conroy & Skipper

#Skipper&Conroy #Vetsrus

Aldie Vet Heat Blog Post 2

The Dog Days of Summer

Heat Exhaustion vs Heat Stroke

Now that we are in the depth of Summer, we wanted to take a minute to discuss a topic that is completely avoidable, Heat Stroke.  Heat stroke is a serious and dangerous problem that can happen to our four-legged children.  It is something that can happen very quickly and is 100% preventable.

Animals do not sweat as humans do.  Although animals do have sweat glands in the pads of their feet, their primary way of cooling themselves is by panting.

Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion is imperative to prevent heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is defined as a body temperature over 103.0°.  Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Excessive Panting
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Dark red tongue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lethargy or depression

If Heat exhaustion is not treated your pet is at risk of having a heat stroke.  Heat stroke is defined as a body temperature over 105.8°.  Heat stroke IS A LIFE THREATENING CONDITION.

Signs of heat stroke include but are not limited to:

  • Obtunded, or large, hard abdomen (caused by excessive panting)
  • Change in mentation – unaware of who you are or where they are
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Petechiae or pin point bruises noted on gums or skin
  • Pale/White gums
  • Rapid heart rate

Short-snouted dogs (pugs, bull dogs, etc.), dogs with long hair (light or dark in color), or obese animals are at higher risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Recognizing and treating the signs of heat exhaustion is the key to keeping your pet from having a heat stroke.   If you see any of the signs above call your veterinarian immediately.  In the mean time, place cool clothes in their arm pits, between their hind legs, or submerge in a cool bath.  NEVER submerge in ice water as this will cause the body temperature to drop too rapidly and can cause shock.  Cool circulating air, such as a fan, can also help.  Offer small amounts of cool water, too large of an amount can make them vomit.

Keeping your pet’s time limited outdoors is crucial!  If they must be outdoors offer plenty of shade and fresh, cold water.  Never leave your pet in a car (anytime air temp is over 75°), even with windows down.  Prevention is the key!

 

Aldie Vet Heat Blog Post

 

Sad doberman dog, not a lost pet though

How To Avoid A Lost Pet

Unfortunately, pets get lost on a daily basis.  Microchipping your pet is the easiest and most likely way to ensure he will be returned to you.  While identification via a tag on your pet’s collar is great, most pets get lost due to an ill-fitting collar.  According to a study by the ASPCA; 50% of dogs and 75% of cats are not wearing a collar when they are found and brought into a shelter.  Other means of permanent identification would be a tattoo, these are usually done inside the ear or inside of a hind leg.  This allows for easy identification without specialized equipment.

Microchipping is a safe and easy way for your pet to be identified if it ever gets lost.  Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and are injected with a needle under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.  They are encased in biocompatible material and have an anti-migration cap to help prevent movement in the pet’s body.  Once a microchip is registered that information will remain attached to that chip.  If you ever move or change your contact information it will be important to update your microchip information.  According to Home Again Microchips, only 10% of microchips are actually registered after they are implanted.  Remember it doesn’t do you any good to microchip your pet if you don’t register the chip!

Another great way to ensure your dog is safe and by your side when outdoors is to make sure you have a properly fitted collar and leash.  Collars should fit snugly, you should be able to get two fingers under the collar comfortably, but not be able to pull it over your dogs head.  We also don’t recommend walking your dog with a flexi-lead.  While these allow great freedom if you are out playing ball, for most walks they allow your dog to get too far from you.  It’s not uncommon for a dog to take off after something (a squirrel or another dog) and when they hit the end of the flexi-lead it is yanked from the owner’s hand.  A short 6-10’ nylon leash with a handle is preferred because it will be harder for your dog to get away from you.

The last defense you have to prevent your dog from getting away from you is good obedience.  Even a well-trained dog could be tempted not to listen if they are hot on the heels of an elusive squirrel.  You should practice having your dog come, stay, and sit in all types of situations while they are on a leash and safe.  If your dog will listen to you during the most hectic situations, he will most likely listen to you in an emergency situation.  It’s not enough for your dog to come and stay in a quiet home environment.  It’s important to practice these skills in all types of situations; it will also increase your dog’s confidence in himself and your bond together as a team.

The best defense against your dog getting lost is to prevent it from happening.  Practice safe walking technique and good obedience.  But always be prepared just in case with clear ID tags and a registered, current microchip.