If you have a pet adoption listing, please let us know and we will be glad to post it.

NameWebsite
Humane Society of Loudoun Countyhslcva.org
Loudoun County Animal Shelterloudoun.gov/animals
Fairfax County Animal Shelterfairfaxcounty.gov/police/animal
Humane Society of Fairfax Countyhsfc.org
Pet Finderpetfinder.com

Selecting Your Pet

No matter what your age or stage in life, a pet can be a lovable companion. Whether you’re old or young, living with others or alone, becoming a pet owner is a significant responsibility. That’s why it is important to consider your options and learn more about different types of pets or breeds before you make a decision. In fact, the most common error cited regarding pet ownership is making an impulsive decision. By doing some advance research on animals, identifying your preferences, and recognizing lifestyle issues, you can choose the ideal pet for you.

Okay, so you’ve decided you want a pet. Begin by asking yourself some important questions about the responsibility, time, attention, effort and money you can commit, as well as your preferences for interacting with your pet. Consider these questions:

  • How much time can you spend with a pet each day? Do you have the time to take care of the animal’s daily care and feeding? Can you designate time to socialize and be a companion to your pet?
  • Do you understand the effort required to pick up poop, clean cages, take care of illnesses and train new behaviors?
  • Are you prepared for having another creature in your home permanently? If you rent, are pets permitted on your property by your landlord?
  • What kind of space do you have for a pet?
  • Will your preferred pet have enough space in your home when it reaches its adult size? Will there be enough room for it to exercise or play?
  • Do you have the money to expend on the full spectrum of pet needs, including food, cages, litter, cleaning supplies, toys, veterinary care and possibly more?
  • Can you handle a pet emergency – emotionally, physically and financially?
  • How will a pet affect your other relationships?
  • Do you accept that this pet will be part of your life for many years to come, even when your life circumstances may change?
  • Do you have other pets now? How will they react to a new animal in the house?
  • If you have children, is your choice of pet age-appropriate? And are you prepared to supervise your kids’ contact with the pet every day?
  • Do you want a pet that is cuddly and interactive, or do you prefer one that lives fairly independently?
  • Do you need a pet that can be outdoors with you, or one that remains indoors at all times?
  • Are a number of pet sitting alternatives available to you when you are traveling or unable to make it home?
  • Are there other people living on the premises who might have objections to animal noises?

When you’ve clarified your answers, you should have a clearer picture of the type of animal that best matches your needs and preferences. Next, you’ll want to do some additional research to select the specific breed or species. Pay attention to important facts like the pet’s expected life span; its projected adult size; the space and resources it needs to live, eat, sleep and exercise; any special needs for caring for the pet; and any common illnesses. Also, be sure the pet you select is legal in your locality, state and the country. If you are found with an illegal pet, the pet will be seized and likely euthanized. The more research you conduct, the more likely you – and your family – will be able to choose a pet that fits.

Once you’ve narrowed down your options, it’s time to start meeting the real candidates. Decide whether you want to purchase from a breeder or a shelter. Don’t hurry. Take your time to play with the pets around people and other animals and, if possible, alone. Take a toy or two with you and see how each animal responds to you. Is the animal quick to follow your lead or distracted? Does it respond to your voice? Does it exhibit fear? Also look closely at the animal to make sure it appears healthy. Often if a pet is sick when you buy it, the situation will get worse, not better. Even if you feel one particular animal may be right for you, keep on observing and examining other animals. After all, once you make the choice, there is no going back.

First Things First

Choosing a pet on impulse may be the most common error new pet owners make, but there are others that are equally important to avoid. Here are some smart steps to start your relationship on the right path:

  1. Do your research. Make sure you know all about the pet’s needs, behaviors and life span before you finalize a selection. Remember, owning a pet isn’t just about your satisfaction – you have a responsibility to keep your pet safe, healthy and satisfied as well.
  2. Talk to current pet owners. This is particularly useful to understand the practical side of pet ownership, such as the real costs of keeping the pet, dealing with difficult behaviors and the location of the closest emergency clinic.
  3. Prepare a home for your pet before bringing it home. The transition to a new environment is very stressful for animals – to say nothing of humans! It will take days, and possibly weeks, for your pet to adjust. This isn’t the time to be fumbling without a prepared space for your pet to live, sleep, play and eat. Right from the start you’ll need to have your basic equipment in place, including a cage, bedding, litterbox, toys and food. You may also need to do some pet-proofing of your home.
  4. Make an initial veterinary exam a priority. Whether your pet is an infant or older and no matter how much you know about its history, take your pet for an initial veterinary visit as quickly as possible. The vet will conduct a thorough exam and do some important tests to make sure you pet is healthy and has, or will, receive all required vaccinations. The vet can also identify any potential physical problems and answer any of your care questions. It is vital that you have this baseline established for your pet’s health and well-being.
  5. For families, discuss pet handling and responsibilities. At first, every pet is fun and cute. But it only takes a little time before the grind of daily care sets in. Discuss how you will share responsibility for your pet as a family. Decide which duties will be shared and how. Make sure everyone understands what to expect while the animal adjusts to its new home and how to handle it safely. Also make sure everyone understands what to do in an emergency.

By doing your research, choosing wisely and preparing for pet ownership, you’ll find a pet that makes a great addition to your life and your family for years to come.

The Schedule

Bringing a new puppy into your life can be very stressful for him or her. All your new little friend has ever known is its mother, litter mates, and their breeder. You have now taken him or her out of its comfortable environment and are subjecting it to something completely foreign. For this reason, it is important to help make him or her feel as comfortable as possible.

The first step is to set up a schedule for your puppy. By creating a reliable schedule your puppy learns what to expect and when. Canines have amazing internal clocks; knowing that a potty break is coming soon when they have to urinate helps them hold it just that bit longer. This schedule should be followed until you have a predictable schedule. They are unable to hold urine or feces for very long, as those muscles are not fully developed yet. It is also important to remember that any type of exercise stimulates urination and eating stimulated defecations. Here is a good sample schedule for your little one:

6:00    Take outside
6:15    Feed Breakfast
6:30    Take outside/ morning walk/ training exercises
8:00    Take outside
10:00  Take outside
12:00 Feed Lunch
12:15  Take outside/ midday walk
3:00    Take outside
5:00    Take outside
6:00    Feed Dinner
6:15    Take outside/ evening walk/ training exercises
9:00    Take outside
11:00  Take out/ bedtime

Crate Training
Crate training is beneficial for both you and your puppy. For one, it is a great aid in house breaking. Puppies naturally shy away from soiling their sleeping area. It is also a good idea to get them used to being confined as those are the same type of housing most boarding facilities, groomers, and hospitals use for their clientele. Kennels are great to have around when it is important to keep them quiet and as immobile as possible. This will be handy after your animal has been neutered, if he has a leg injury, or any other issues. Finally, this crate will be considered your puppy’s room. You should teach any children you may have not to bother the puppy when he is in his kennel; this way he can associate his crate as a quiet area to relax when he wants some time to himself.

The crate you purchase for your puppy should be large enough for him to stand up, stretch his legs, turn around, and lie down comfortably. You do not want too large of a kennel because he can then distinguish between the sleeping corner and the potty corner. If you have a large breed dog, you can purchase a crate that will be a good size when he is an adult, and make it smaller by using Plexiglas “walls.” You can adjust the size as your pup gets bigger.

As long as you are confident your puppy will not chew on it, you can put a towel or blanket on the floor of the kennel for a bed. It might not be a good idea to give your puppy a brand new bed in his crate until he is fully house trained. Use things that are easy to clean.

It is perfectly natural for a new puppy to be a little anxious when first introduced to a crate; therefore it is very important to go about it properly. When you bring your puppy home, leave the door of the crate open so he can go in and out and explore it on his own terms. Once he has gone in and out a couple times, you can put some treats in there or toys to make him associate this space with good things. Throughout the day you can give him a treat in his kennel then close the door. Stay with him for five minutes. If he is noisy and whines or barks; you must completely ignore him! Giving him attention when he is misbehaving will encourage the behavior. When he has been quiet for ten seconds, you can open the door and let him out. When you let him out, do not make a big fuss by petting and cuddling him. Go about your business as usual. Do this several times before the end of the night.

When you close your puppy up for the night, it can sometimes help to put a blanket over the kennel so he cannot see out. It makes it more den-like and cozier. Again, do not make a big fuss. Give him a treat when he goes in the crate, then ignore him for the rest of the evening. He may make some noise at the beginning of the evening, but he will soon settle down to sleep over night. If you find that your puppy is waking you up in the middle of the night whining, it may indicate he has to urinate. Help him by adding one more midnight run so that he

Do not be surprised if your puppy has an accident in their kennel. If you find you are waking up to accidents every morning, you may need to get up in the middle of the night to let your puppy out. If he is whining to indicate the need to eliminate, in this case, take him directly outside, allow him to eliminate, rewards, then place directly back in his kennel. If he does not eliminate after five minutes, do not fuss him, but very matter of factly put him back in his kennel for the night. Remember that the longer a behavior continues, the more habitual it becomes and the harder it is to break. If you find an accident, do not scold your dog. Remember to pay attention to cues he may give that indicate he has to eliminate such as circling, whining, and wandering off to a corner.

The umbilical cord technique is a good way to prevent accidents during the day. Leash your puppy and have him walk around with you while you go about your daily business. Puppies generally start to sniff intently or circle before they eliminate. Ensure you are paying attention to the cues he may be giving you so you can take him outside at the appropriate time. When you take him outside, take him to the same area every time. Completely ignore your puppy until he eliminates in the yard. While he is eliminating you can help train him by saying “Go Potty” or some other similar command. When he is complete, praise him, give him treats, and let him play as a reward. Going outside to urinate and defecate should be a pleasurable experience. If, during the day, you do not act fast enough and you catch your puppy eliminating inside, make a loud noise to interrupt and distract him from the behavior. Quickly pick him up and carry him outside. There, you will praise him as he eliminates in the proper location.

Walking
Going for walks is one of the single most important things you can do for your puppy. Walking your dog daily provides it with attention from you. Perhaps more than anything, our pets simply want our attention. It allows your pet to receive mental stimulation from several different aspects. She gets to smell how the area around her territory has changed, who has been there, when they were there, etc. It allows your dog to become socialized. While you are out are likely to come across other dogs while out and it gives your puppy a chance to meet and greet, appropriately, others of his species. It is not recommended that you take your puppy out on walks around the neighborhood until he has had his first two distemper vaccines, as these diseases we are vaccinating for are very contagious and serious problems for young dogs.

It is important to teach your dog how to walk properly from the very beginning. Dogs that pull are not only a bother to walk, but it is also bad for their necks. Medical studies have shown that dogs that were never taught to walk on a leash properly were much more likely to develop disk problems later in life. The first step to prevent this is finding a properly fitting collar. Start with a simple nylon collar. The collar should sit at the base of the head and be snug enough that you can fit two fingers somewhat comfortably underneath it. Do not use retractable leashes in the first stages of walking. They are far too cumbersome and it is difficult to shorten the lead in a hurry (which you may need to do at some point). Again, using a general purpose nylon lead, about six feet long is ideal.

When you first start teaching your puppy to walk on a leash, use a lot of positive reinforcement. Use treats to entice them to follow you while on the leash. If your puppy charges in front of you, turn around so that the puppy is now technically “behind” and try again. As they get better at this you can begin to take the treats away and begin actually walking with your puppy. Again, if you find she is pulling ahead of you, just turn around and walk the other way. The idea behind this is that the animal pulls to get at something exciting in the direction you are moving. If you turn and walk the other way, not only are you reasserting that you are in front, but it also pulls them away from what they wanted to investigate. They only get to go investigate if they walk nicely and behave on a leash.

While out on your walk there will be times when your puppy encounters things that are either very exciting or very frightening. First, it is important to stay calm at all times. If you become nervous, your puppy will feed off of this emotion and you will make the situation worse.  If you find yourself in this situation where your dog is barking at a strange object, do not stand there and yell at your dog. If she is already emotional about the object she has noticed, there is little you can do to distract her, so again, walk in the other direction. Let her settle down, and then try again. Praise her when she is quiet around strange things. If she is afraid, do not pet her and tell her she is alright; to a dog, this is the same as being praised for being scared, which is the opposite of what you want.

Socialization
When you have a puppy you have a very small window of opportunity in which you can make them exceptionally well adjusted to their world. This time frame is between eight and sixteen weeks. This is the time when they are learning what they can and cannot do, how they should react to certain things, etc. Therefore, at this age, it is crucial you take your puppy everywhere: the woods, the city, the park, to a school, by the grocery store, etc. They need to be introduced to dogs on a regular basis. Another good idea is to get in touch with other puppy owners and arrange play dates.

The more things they are comfortable around, the more confident your dog becomes. No one wants to see their dog terrified of everything: it is unhealthy both mentally and physically, not to mention very strenuous for you as the owner. The best way to help with this is to be sure to only positively reinforce calm, relaxed behavior. Do not pet or cuddle your dog if he or she is terrified of something. Wait for them to relax around the object of their fear, then reward. The more confident your puppy is, the more likely they will not be afraid when a new situation arises in the future. They have learned to trust you and themselves. Through exposure and training, your puppy can be confident in any situations.

Obedience Training
Obedience training is extremely important. There is the obvious: obedience training makes my dog do what I want, but there is also much more to it than that. A lot of the dogs we have as household pets still have a strong drive to do what they were bred for: work. Yet most of us have no need for working dogs anymore. It is still important to give our dogs the mental stimulation they need to remain healthy, happy pets. Obedience training is their job. Their job is to sit when you tell them, go fetch their ball, their stuffed rabbit, (the remote), or any other command you teach them. Pleasing you pleases them and it makes both of you happier.

Before you start training your dog formally, your family should get together for a meeting. Everyone needs to be absolutely clear on what each command is. Write down what each word is, what it means, and the hand signal associated with it. The hand signal is the most important part; it is the most difficult to keep the same between people, but it is the cue your dog will use most in deciphering what you are requesting. One command that is often interchanged, and shouldn’t be, is the “down” and “off” commands. “Down” means “lie with your belly on the ground” and “off” means “remove yourself from whatever your feet are on.” Yet people use these interchangeably for “get off the couch.” It is important to ensure clear communication with your dog as much as possible.

The next step is to make sure your puppy has burned off some steam. If you have a puppy that just woke up from a nap, they have no interest in paying attention to you, but in burning off some energy. Therefore, it is important to exercise before playing. An overexcited mind can not learn anything.

There are many different schools of training available to the public today. One of the most successful is called clicker training. Clicker training involves the use a small device, that when pressed, makes a very unique clicking noise. You teach your dog to associate that clicking noise with something good: a treat, a toy, cuddles; anything positive that your dog loves. You can then use the clicker to pinpoint exactly when your animal performed a movement properly. Sometimes it can be difficult to treat your pet fast enough for good behavior, but by having the clicker, you can tell your dog “this is what I want” even if it takes you a few seconds to dig a treat out of your pocket.

Even if you feel you are making great strides with your puppy, obedience classes are still recommended. At these formal classes you can gain advice on how your training technique is as well as have someone to ask specific questions to. Puppy classes are also a great place for socialization with other dogs the same age.

Mouthing
Almost all puppies mouth. Just like human babies, puppies put things in their mouths to help them understand what a new object is and otherwise explore their new world. During play, puppies often mouth and bite at each other. Puppies also tend to chew on things when they are teething. Because there are so many different times when, in his mind, it is appropriate for your puppy to chew on things, it is important to set ground rules from day one.

First of all, it is important to invest in some highly durable toys. It is perfectly natural and healthy for a dog to chew on things. That does not mean he has to chew on your expensive Persian rug. Good toys include Kongs or Nylabones, that are made of material meant to withstand gnawing teeth. Make chewing on these toys a good thing. They can be used as rewards to a behavior well done. They can be used as distraction objects when you need him to settle down and entertain himself for a while. Kongs are really good toys because you can fill them with kibble and keep your puppy occupied for hours. Toys and chews such as pig’s feet, raw hides, and bones are not recommended, as it is not uncommon for them to cause obstructions in the intestines or stomach.

When you begin to teach your puppy not to chew on particular objects, make sure you always have an “appropriate” toy on you. If you catch your puppy chewing on a chair leg, make a loud distracting noise (ex: clapping your hands and saying “No”, using a tin can full of coins, or any other similar objects) to make him stop what he is doing. Once he has stopped and has your attention, you now need to praise him, by telling him he’s a good boy and giving him the appropriate toy. This is not only a form of praise, but it also lets him know it is ok to chew on this toy, not that very expensive wooden one. Keep in mind the most important part of this training is to ensure he ceases his misbehaving. If he has not completely stopped chewing and you try and give him the toy, now you are reinforcing the behavior. Remember, in this instance, the chew toy you give him is the reward for a behavior, not a distraction device. Therefore, it is important to not reveal the toy until you have his attention; do not bribe your puppy with it.

Another common problem associated with a puppy’s mouth is when it is gnawing on your fingers. Owners frequently consider this behavior “cute” and “endearing.” Mouthing becomes a problem when they learn no inhibition. They keep mouthing until they draw blood and now the owner considers it a problem. Again, it is very important to set ground rules from day one. The puppy can either chew on you, or it cannot. Keep in mind, that if it can mouth on your hand, there is nothing stopping it from mouthing on the hand of a child. To stop mouthing, make a high pitched squeal when he puts his teeth on you. This is the same thing a litter mate would do if the puppy had hurt them. Most puppies at this point will remove his mouth from your hand. This is when you praise and continue playing. The puppy that does not is over stimulated. At that point, stop playing, slowly remove your hand, cross your arms and very calmly walk away from your puppy. Ensure you are giving your puppy absolutely no attention; even negative attention is attention.

Jumping
As many behaviors your new puppy will exhibit, jumping is a very natural thing to do. When a puppy wants attention from his or her mother or other pack members, they jump up to be able to reach them. If you translocate a puppy to a human situation, he will jump up on you, again, to reach for attention. A lot of owners tend to think it adorable when their little fluff ball jumps on them. It turns into problems when the dog comes in with muddy feet and ruins your business suit, when Grandma or little Jimmy comes over the visit. At these times, owners yell at their dogs, yet it is not the dog’s fault, it is the owners. The owner has not taught the dog appropriate manners and the dog is always the one to suffer for it.

Again, it is important to set ground rules from day one. If a puppy will not be allowed to jump up as an adult, it cannot jump up now. There are several different ways to discourage jumping up, both are very simple. As said earlier, puppies jump up for attention. The easiest way to stop jumping is to teach the puppy that the only attention it will ever get, is when it sits for it. This can be difficult for owners to keep track of, however. It is very easy to come home from a day of work and forget to make your puppy sit, or you will be sitting on the couch and the pup comes up and nuzzles your hand for attention. All attention must be given when your puppy is sitting and no other time. Be sure visitors know these rules as well. If you find your puppy is still jumping up, you can body block. You can generally tell right before your puppy is about to jump up by the way she settles on her hind legs and starts to lift her front. By stepping into your puppy’s personal space it sets them off balance and she will stop trying to jump and instead attempt to balance herself again. Once her four feet are back on the floor, put her into a sit, then reward with attention.

Bringing a new puppy into your life is a huge responsibility and it is important to know from the beginning if you are up to the challenge. If you need help with your puppy, you can always contact your breeder (or the shelter), your veterinarian, or call a local dog trainer for advice.

Useful Reading
Here is a list of books that may be useful:
How to Behave So Your Dog Behavesby Sophia Yin
The Other End of the Leashby Patricia McConnell
Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogsby Karen Pryor

Training Your Pet to Tolerate Nail Trimming
Some dogs and cats resent having their paws held or their nails trimmed.  This intolerance is partly instinctive in young animals, and may also be learned from an unpleasant experience during nail trimming.

The living portion of the nail bed contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels.  If toenails are cut too short, a dog or cat learns that nail trimming is painful.  This negative experience is not easily forgotten.  Once a pet has learned to anticipate discomfort when its feet are touched, its evasive reaction can intensify each time.  Most cats rarely need to have their claws cut if they use a scratch post.  If a cat is destructive or aggressive with its claws and either fails to respond to retraining or you cannot retrain it, declawing may be an alternative.  For the dog who enjoys regular outdoor activity, nail trimming may not be needed.  In many cases, walking on pavement maintains a dog’s nails at an acceptable length.

Training Tips
If your pet is instinctively cautious about having its feet touched, and even if it shows no sign of withdrawing its paw, teach your pet that this interaction is not unpleasant.

–         Before you ever attempt to trim your pet’s nails, begin by touching its legs, feet, and toes, and associate this with an activity it enjoys.  When it is resting, begin petting it, gently passing your hands over its back and legs.  If this is well tolerated, you may wish to give it a small food treat.  Do not try to do too much the first time.

–         Gradually manipulate your pet’s foot more each time.  Eventually, you should be able to slip your fingers in between each toe, gently squeezing each one to flex the nail, putting gentle pressure as you hold each foot and manipulate the leg.  Do not attempt this exercise when you pet is in an agitated or playful state, as it is most likely to resent any restriction to its movement.

–         Once your pet tolerates having its feet touched during quiet times, you may begin to incorporate this into elements of playtime.  Train your dog to assume a “down/stay” position when it retrieves a ball, for example, and “shake” its paw before continuing the game.

Trimming Tips
If you are unsure of how to trim your pet’s toenails, ask your veterinarian or a technician to show you how.  They can show you where the sensitive nerves and blood vessels are likely to be found.  The nail bed is seen as a pinkish triangle at the base of the nail; however, it may not be evident in dark-colored nails.  There is more variety between the shapes of toenails in dogs than in cats.  Some pets’ nails grow in a more curved shape, as compared with those growing more parallel to the ground.  This may determine how short they may be trimmed.  It is also not uncommon for a pet to withdraw a foot while the nail is being clipped, because of pressure on sensitive nail areas.

It is better to cut less than to cut more than necessary!  Trim off small sections at a time and stop well short of the sensitive part of the nail.  Cutting the nail too short results in a painful experience for your pet.  Cut your pet’s nails frequently, a little at a time, rather than occasionally when toenails are uncomfortable to both your pet and to you.  In this way, nail trimming will become a routine event, rather than a periodic wrestling match.  Continue to manipulate your pet’s feet and toes between nail trims so that it remains a familiar sensation.

Problem Pedicures
If your dog or cat has already had an unpleasant experience with nail trimming, you can train it to tolerate it by starting from the beginning.  Even if you have followed the preliminary training steps above, start over as if its feet had never been conditioned to manipulation and gradually desensitize your pet to this interaction once again.  Your veterinarian may recommend a small dose of a mild anti-anxiety medication to facilitate retraining in extreme cases.

If your pet overreacts to nail trimming at the veterinarian’s office during its annual examination and vaccination, you may wish to schedule a separate appointment for nail trimming.  In some cases, a dog or cat’s reaction to nail trimming is so extreme that retraining is difficult and may not be worthwhile.  For these unhappy pets, nail trimming is best avoided.  When it cannot be avoided, however, your veterinarian can safely do a pedicure on a sedated or anesthetized pet.

Training Your Pet to Tolerate Petting and Grooming

Reasons for Intolerance
Most dogs and cats enjoy human contact, but many animals have areas of their body that are sensitive to touch.  Animals instinctively guard some body areas because these are more vulnerable.  They often protect the abdomen, or belly, and the throat area.  The “sensitive” areas vary with individual animals; for example, some animals resent having their tail touched.

Certain body areas may also become sensitive because of previous injury.  If an animal is sensitive to touch because of past injury or illness, ask your veterinarian how to avoid causing your pet discomfort.  It is probably worthwhile to discuss the possibility of an underlying medical problem with your veterinarian whenever your pet seems uncomfortable when touched.  If your pet naturally resents having certain body areas touched, you may decide to simply avoid touching those areas.  If these areas must be manipulated for routine grooming, work slowly to gradually increase your pet’s tolerance by offering a reward at each training session.

Some dominant dogs resent even gentle caresses over the top of the head, neck, and back.  Their reaction may be worse if your hand holds a brush or comb.  If your dog resists being touched over the length of its back, consider how other elements in its general behavior fit the profile of a dominantly aggressive dog.  If your dog does not avert its eyes from yours during direct eye contact, stubbornly resists assuming a “down” position, persistently jumps on everyone even in apparently friendly greetings, it is most likely displaying signs of dominance.

Tolerance Training
To improve your pet’s tolerance of being petted or groomed, withhold all petting or grooming for several weeks.  When you resume grooming and petting, identify the circumstances most often related to your pet’s intolerance.  How long does it take for your pet to reach the limit of its tolerance and react negatively to grooming or petting?

Once you know at what point your pet becomes predictably irritable, stop well short of the limit.  If you discover that your pet resents these activities at certain times of day, you may wish to reschedule them.  If your cat is most playful and agitated in the evening, as many are, it might be best to brush it in the afternoon, just before its nap.

Practice with minimal grooming and petting for a very brief time.  Over a period of days and weeks, increase the duration of the interaction.  Stop well before your pet shows any sign of intolerance or irritability.  Keep a record of the length of each session to give you a clear idea of your progress.  Lack of further improvement may suggest that more training may not be productive.

Reward your pet’s tolerance of your handling with a small food treat.  Scheduling the interaction before meals can form a positive connection between petting or brushing and eating.  Your cat may enjoy gnawing on the comb for a few seconds in between brush strokes.  You may alternate a stroke of the brush with a caress of your hand.

Choice of Brush or Comb
Although you may not believe you are exerting excessive pressure while brushing your pet, your pet may not agree.  Some of the brushes recommended for your pet’s coat type may cause discomfort.  Although a particular comb may be effective in removing knots from your cat’s long coat, it may also scratch the skin and pull the hair.  Make sure that the comb or brush used to groom your pet is comfortable for

Though a certain type of brush or comb is recommended for specific coat types, it is of no use if your pet won’t allow you to use it.  Find a grooming device that is both effective and accepted by your pet.  Be careful not exert undue pressure while grooming your pet, particularly in naturally sensitive areas.

The Physical
At Aldie Veterinary Hospital, we require having your dog brought in for a general physical exam once a year. This is a great way for us to observe your pet’s overall health. You can ask about any concerns you may have, whether they happen to be physical or behavioral. As your dog gets older, it is also a chance for us to be able to keep track of any chronic issues, such as growing lumps or eye changes.

Keep in mind that physical exams are a screening test and they do have their limitations. If we notice something that concerns us we will make suggestions to you to help all of us better understand and potentially treat any ailments.

Vaccinations
Here at Aldie Veterinary Hospital we will make a vaccination plan specific to your pet’s living environment. We divide the canine vaccines into two categories: the core vaccines, which all patients will receive, and the patient specific vaccines, which will be given to those animals at risk of contracting those diseases.
~Core Vaccinations
Bordetella: This vaccine protects against the bacterial upper respiratory disease commonly known as kennel cough. It is a liquid that is usually given down the nose, however it can also be given as an injection under the skin. It is recommended to booster this vaccine every six months unless your animal leads a secluded life.
Distemper Combo Vaccine (DA2PP): This is a combination vaccine containing Distemper, Corona, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Adenovirus. Most dogs will also receive a Leptospirosis component also.

*Canine Distemper: Related to the human measle virus. Spread through the air, this disease starts as one of the upper respiratory system, displaying symptoms that include coughing and discharge from the eyes and/or nose. As the disease progresses other signs such as bloody vomiting and diarrhea and later neurologic problems occur.

*Parainfluenza: A highly contagious upper respiratory virus. Symptoms include coughing that may be intensified by activity. Secondary bacterial infections are not uncommon.

*Parvovirus: A very serious disease that attacks the lining of the small intestine. It is generally characterized as having sudden onset of bloody diarrhea, vomiting, depression, lethargy, and anorexia. It is spread when infected feces is ingested.

*Adenovirus: This virus causes a form of hepatitis and can be spread by any bodily secretion. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, stomach enlargement and light-colored stool.

*Leptospirosis:The disease is spread through the urine of an infected animal. Early signs include depression, fever, and loss of                   appetite. Later it can involve the kidneys, resulting in excessive urination, excessive thirst, dehydration, and vomiting. This                               particular disease is zoonotic, that is, humans can contract it also.
The series:

This Distemper vaccine is the first series puppies are usually given. It can be started no earlier than six weeks of age. Three consecutive injections are given under the skin, three to four weeks apart. If your dog is older than twelve weeks, they will be given two vaccinations in this series. Once the initial series is complete, whether as a baby or an adult, we will booster it one year later, then every three years until they enter their geriatric years.

Rabies Vaccine: This vaccine contains just the rabies component. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, but under extremely rare circumstances, it can also be spread by air. It is a disease that attacks the nervous system. There are three different forms of this disease with various symptoms:

*Prodromal: characterized by a change in behavior which may include anxiety, solitude and apprehension.

*Paralytic: characterized by lethargy, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and loss of motor skills.

*Furious: characterized by aggression, altered voice, loss of coordination, and hypersensitivty to light and sounds.

The series:

This vaccine is generally given two weeks after the completion of the distemper series. The first vaccine is good for one year. At the end of that year, they will receive three year vaccines for the rest of their lives.

~Patient Specific
Lyme Vaccine:This is a disease that is spread when a tick bites a host and transmits the bacteria during feeding. It is not uncommon for dogs to test positive on a blood test but not display any symptoms. If symptoms are present they are generally characterized by lethargy, soreness in joints, and depression. If the disease is allowed to progress it can attack the kidneys.
The series:

It consists of two vaccines, given under the skin, two to three weeks apart. Once the initial series is complete, it is given annually, usually at the same time as the rabies vaccine. It is best given in early spring (February to March) so protection is greatest during tick season as the months warm up.

Canine Influenza Vaccine (CIV): This is a newer upper respiratory disease of the dog. Its symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or ocular discharge. CIV can be particularly problematic when secondary complications, such as hemorrhagic pneumonia, occur. It is highly contagious between dogs. We have not seen a CIV case in a few years. At this time, we no longer recommend this vaccine. There are still some boarding facilities and hospitals that recommend or require this vaccine.
The series:

It consists of two vaccines, given under the skin, two to three weeks apart. Once the initial series is complete, it is given annually.

Leptospirosis: This is a bacteria which causes fatal kidney and liver disease. It is spread through the urine of infected animals. The highest probability of catching this disease is during the spring and fall during times of heavy water runoff. The vaccines do not last as long as they would for a virus, so if your dog requires this vaccine, it will be boostered once a year.
The series:

It consists of two vaccines, given under the skin, two to four weeks apart. Once the initial series is complete, it is given annually.

Other Treatments:
Deworming:
There are several different types of intestinal parasites that we worry about in dogs. These include hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and roundworms, but we also want to protect them from coccidia and giardia, which are both protozoal parasites. We will deworm your dog with a product called Drontal once a year. We will then have you follow up with us by bringing in a fecal sample to double check. Generally we ask for this sample three weeks after being dewormed, as this is enough time for the dewormer to do its job.
Heartworm Test: This is a blood test that looks for several different diseases. They include heartworm disease, Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Erlichia. Even if your dog has been on heartworm preventative consistently for the course of its life, nothing is 100% and it is important to check for the disease once a year. If a heartworm manages to survive to adulthood and your dog receives a heartworm preventative tablet or chew, the worm can be killed pass into blood vessels, and then act as a clot in the brain and other major organs. The worm’s larvae can also be killed all at once in the bloodstream and cause life threatening anaphylactic shock. This test also looks for three tick borne diseases.
Heartworm Preventative: Heartworms are a type of internal parasite that live in the heart. The disease is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites your pet. We test for this disease every year and if we find them positive we will treat accordingly. However, this disease is very expensive and hazardous to treat and the best way to combat it is through prevention. We carry three different brands at this office: Tri-Heart, Heartgard, and Interceptor.
Administration:

We will provide your first dose of heartworm preventative for free. This medication is to be given by mouth to your pet once a month all year round. Until we are sure what your puppy’s adult weight will be, we will send single monthly doses with you.

Flea and Ticks: Fleas are associated with extreme itchiness, allergic skin conditions, and tapeworms. Ticks spread a menagerie of diseases such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Anaplasmosis, and Ehrlichia. We recommend and carry a medication called Frontline for prevention due to its long term safety data.
Administration:

This medication works by spreading through the oil glands in the skin; for this reason, do not bathe your dog three days before or three days after administering. Spread the hair between the shoulder blades and apply the tip of the applicator directly on the skin. Apply the entire tube, ensuring as much of the medication gets directly on the skin as possible.

Sick Puppies
We have made great strides in preventative medicine for our pets. We vaccinate, deworm, give medications, and do physical exams on a regular basis. Unfortunately, though, no matter how careful you may be, your puppy will get sick at some point in his or her life. When you bring your pet into see us, your history from home could be our greatest aid in understanding what is wrong. Unlike sick humans, sick puppies cannot tell us where it hurts and how they feel. Therefore, any behavior changes you notice are important to discuss with us, no matter how unimportant they may seem.

General categories will be discussed here; it will include the type of symptoms you may see, the most common causes, what you can do at home, when your puppy should be seen by a vet, and the types of questions that may be asked when you get there.

Gastrointestinal Upset
This includes vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms of gastrointestinal upset may be loss of interest in food (anorexia), tender abdomen, and lethargy.

Vomiting

The most common causes for vomiting include an abrupt diet change; dietary indiscretion – eating something they shouldn’t; obstruction – something is lodged in their stomach or intestines, intestinal parasites, Corona or Parvovirus, ulcers, sour stomach from fasting or stress, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

When you bring in your puppy, we then distinguish between self-limiting and life threatening.

Self-limiting generally includes bouts of vomiting that include one or two episodes, a generally normal attitude, no diarrhea or other symptoms in general, and no abdominal pain. In these cases you can try resting their intestinal tract by not feeding anything from twelve to twenty four hours. Start by feeding small meals of a bland diet (we can either send home a bland diet or you can cook them boiled chicken breast and white rice). Once your puppy has been ok for a couple days you can begin slowly switching them back to their regular diet. Take about a week: gradually remove amounts of the bland diet and replace them with the regular food. If the vomiting reoccurs, have your animal seen immediately by a veterinarian.

Life threatening means that without medical intervention, your pet can become dangerously dehydrated. This generally includes continual vomiting to the point of retching, abdominal bloating, vomiting with diarrhea and lethargy, obvious abdominal pain, vomiting in an animal losing weight, or multiple episodes of vomiting in animals under twelve weeks old. Depending on the type of symptoms your animal is displaying, we may need to test blood values, take radiographs, and/or hospitalize with IV fluids and medications.

Questions to expect:

                –          How long has your pet been vomiting?
–          How frequently?
–          What does your pets vomit look like? (bile/undigested food/saliva/blood/nothing)
–          When was the last time they ate?
–          How is their appetite?
–          What type of food do they normally eat?
–          Did you change food recently?
–          Do they get treats? If so, what kind?
–          Is there anything around the house that your pet could have eaten?
–          Do you let your animal have raw hides?
–          Are you missing any toys?
–          How is your pet’s attitude?
–          Is your pet having diarrhea?

Diarrhea
The most common causes for diarrhea include an abrupt diet change, whether that is from one brand to another or from one flavor to another; dietary indiscretion – eating something they shouldn’t; intestinal parasites; Corona or Parvovirus; inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); or food intolerance/allergy.

There are a couple different levels of severity when it comes to diarrhea. It can be mild; in this case the stool is very soft but has a little bit of form to it or the animal may be having diarrhea but normal activity level. In severe cases, the stool is like water, very dark in color, has large amounts of blood in it, or occurs very frequently. There may also be straining with no stool produced.

Depending on the severity of the diarrhea, you could either be sent home with some oral antibiotics and a bland diet or, if it is much worse, we will need to put your animal on IV fluids and medications to ensure hydration levels are maintained.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has your pet been having diarrhea?
–          How frequently?
–          What is the consistency of the diarrhea?
–          Does this vary at all?
–          Have you seen any blood in the stool?
–          When was the last time they ate?
–          How is their appetite?
–          What type of food do they normally eat?
–          Did you change food recently?
–          Do they get treats? If so, what kind?
–          Is there anything around the house that your pet could have eaten?
–          Do you let your animal have raw hides?
–          Are you missing any toys?
–          How is your pet’s attitude?
–          Is your pet vomiting?

Ear Problems
Ear infections are relatively common ailments for dogs. Symptoms of an ear infection include scratching at the ears or neck region, shaking of the head, obvious redness or swelling of the opening of the ear canal and sometimes the ear flap, excessive debris, and a foul odor from the ears. Dogs that have just had a bath or gone swimming are especially at risk, as water can get down the ear canals and create the perfect environment for microorganisms to grow out of hand.

When you bring your pet in, generally we will take a swab of the inside of the ear and make a microscope slide from it. This way we know specifically what type of infection it is and how many organisms there are. Occasionally, if we see a particularly ominous type of bacteria, we may need to send out a sample for a culture.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has he been displaying these symptoms?
–          Does he or she have a history of ear infections?
–          Have you seen any discharge?
–          If so, what color?
–          Have you noticed a foul odor?
–          Has your pet gone swimming or had a bath recently?
–          Has your pet been itching anywhere else?
–          Does your pet chew on his or her feet?
–          Have you noticed any skin issues anywhere?

Respiratory Issues
Lower respiratory issues are usually associated with some type of coughing. This coughing can be dry, produce mucous, or sound somewhat muffled. Along with the lower, you could also have upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, whistling or wheezing noises produced while breathing, and/or swelling to the nose or face.

The most common causes of upper respiratory issues are generally viral. Some of the most common viruses are kennel cough, distemper, or parainfluenza. Other causes could be an elongated soft palate or reverse sneezing. These two do not cause actual coughing, but more of a scraping noise in the back of their throat.

You need to worry about your puppy when they cough frequently, especially if they have any other symptoms. These symptoms could be discharge from the eyes and/or nose, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and others.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has your pet been coughing?
–          How frequently?
–          What type of cough is it? Can you imitate it?
–          Is there any sneezing?
–          Is there any eye or nose discharge?
–          If so, what color is it?
–          How is their appetite?
–          When was the last time they ate?
–          How is their attitude?
–          Is your pet vomiting?
–          Is your pet having diarrhea?

Eye Problems
Sometimes your pet will exhibit squinting or excessive redness around their eye. You may also see the third eyelid swell or they may have discharge from the eyes. Eye problems can be very serious, as they get worse very quickly. If you notice your animal’s eyes are abnormal, it is best to get them to a vet as soon as possible so they can be treated appropriately.

Depending on the symptoms your dog is exhibiting, your vet may try several approaches. One of the most common tests performed is called fluorescein eye staining. This is a stain applied to the eye to see if there has been any trauma to its surface. Often times, this determines the type of medication that can be used in the eye.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has your pet’s eye looked like this?
–          Has he or she been rubbing at it?
–          Any squinting?
–          Is it one of both eyes?
–          Have you seen redness around the eye or eyelids?
–          Have you seen any discharge?
–          If so, what color?
–          What consistency?
–          Has your pet been coughing or sneezing?
–          Any nose discharge?
–          If so, what color?
–          Any lethargy?
–          Could anything have gotten lodged in her eye that you know of?
–          How your pet been in tall grass or fields recently?
–          How is your pet’s appetite?

Skin Problems
Skin issues can come in many different forms: they can have dry, flakey skin; moist sores; scabbing; itchiness; general redness; pustules; pimples; lumps; or general abrasions.

Due to the wide array of skin issues, there are a lot of different ways to approach them.

Questions to expect:

–           How long has the skin looked like this?
–          Are there any other areas that you have noticed?
–          How did the issue progress?
–          Does your pet have a history of this sort of issue?
–          What type of food is your animal eating?
–          How long has he or she been on this diet?
–          Any treats? If so, what kind?
–          Does it seem to be bother him or her? Is it itchy?

Spaying and Neutering

If you are not planning on breeding your animal in the future, it is important to have them spayed or neutered for several reasons. It eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancies as well as potentially eliminating the chance of unwanted dominant behaviors. It is also beneficial as reproductive cancers are relatively common among intact animals; females can also develop a life threatening disease of the uterus, called pyometra. Removal of the sexual organs eliminates these types of illnesses from occurring.

We generally perform this surgery on animals around six months old. We do not recommend waiting much longer than six months as this is about the age when dogs and cats come into sexual maturity. There is often an extra fee associated with the spaying of a female dog or cat in heat, as the surgeon must be careful not to tear the tissue of the blood engorged organs.

Pre-Anesthetic Blood Work

We require all animals brought in for surgery to have a basic blood panel run. Though most puppies and kittens are healthy and have no internal medical conditions that are of concern, they may be suffering from a birth defect that shows no outward clinical signs. Many times if there is a problem with a puppy or kitten’s kidneys or liver they may not be acting sick, but the bloodwork will tell the doctor that the values of those organs are out of normal range. This could postpone the surgery temporarily or the doctor could recommend never anesthetizing your animal.

If we have no indication that there could be problems with your puppy or kitten’s health, we will run the standard preoperative bloodwork.

Prep Profile:
Blood Glucose (GLU)The results of this test can tell the doctor if an animal is hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemic (high blood sugar). Hyperglycemia is a symptom of diabetes, and other diseases, which is a condition that needs serious and immediate attention.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (CRE)These two substances are cleared from the blood by the kidneys. If there are increases in their values there could be serious compromise of one or both of the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for excreting most of the sedatives and anesthetics into the urine and therefore out of the body. If these enzymes are elevated, additional bloodwork, urine analysis, radiographs, or intravenous fluids may be needed.
Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)This is a liver enzyme. If this enzyme is increased, it could indicate inflammation or damage of the liver. Because the liver is responsible for metabolizing most sedatives and anesthetics it is imperative that it is functioning properly. If enzymes are elevated, additional bloodwork, radiographs, or an ultrasound may be needed.  Alkaline Phosphate (ALP)-This enzyme is made by a number of different tissues in the body. An elevated value could indicate liver, muscle, and bone disease. Animals that are rapidly growing can have an elevated value due to bone development.

PCV/TP:

Total Protein (TP):This tests the general health of your animal by looking at the amount of protein in the blood. If the TP happens to be very low, it could indicate liver or kidney issues.

Packed Cell Volume (PCV):This measures the hydration level of the animal by separating the solid portions of blood from the liquid.

Microchipping

According to a study done by HomeAgain, 10% of all pets will be lost at some point in their lifetime. Though collars help animals find their way home, they can

Nail Care
A cat’s claw is a specialized toenail with an assortment of functions, including feeding, grooming, and territorial marking. The claw grows slightly in length but grows primarily in layers, like the layers of an onion. As older layers are shed, underlying sharper ones are revealed. When a cat scratches a surface, it does not sharpen its nails; rather, it removes the outer worn layer.

Periodical trimming of the sharp tips prevents serious injury to others or damage to property. Ask your veterinarian to show you how you can do this at home, or periodically take your cat to your veterinarian’s office for nail trimming. After the nails are trimmed, it takes only several weeks for the sharp tips to grow back. As long as your cat does not scratch inappropriate surfaces, such as furniture, nail trimming should be sufficient to prevent excessive damage.

Scratching Posts
A cat that has become destructive with its claws should be encourages to use a scratch post. If it has already selected an inappropriate location to scratch, place a scratch post directly in front of or over this location. You may need to try several different types of scratching posts or boards to determine your cat’s preference. It may also be helpful to place the board vertically on the floor. To encourage your cat to scratch, dangle a small toy from the top so that your cat must stretch its front legs along the post’s surface to reach the toy. If your cat enjoys catnip, encourage your cat to scratch against the post by lightly sprinkling catnip on its surface. A cat’s normal response to catnip, which includes pawing at the source of the herb, can be transferred to use of a scratch post.

Damage Control for the Aggressive Cat
A cat’s claws are essential for its own defense and for more offensive types of aggression, such as predatory aggression and territorial aggression. When aggression is easily provoked in a cat, the type of aggression must be diagnosed and the circumstances that cause the aggressive response must be identified. Additionally, a declawed cat will be at a distinct disadvantage outside. Declawed cats, in particular, must remain strictly indoors.

Declawing cannot be considered a treatment for any type of aggression because it does not eliminate the underlying problem. Scratching by an aggressive cat is a sign of underlying emotional problems. Owners may be so distressed by the injury or damage caused by their cat’s scratching that they become disinterested in retaining or treating the cat’s underlying problem.

Your decision on whether to declaw a destructive cat should be based on your own needs and the long-term welfare of your cat. Whatever approach you choose, the kindest one is the option that allows you and your pet to enjoy each other for many years to come.

Surgical Removal of Claws
The surgery known as declawing involves removal of the last joint in each toe, along with the claw. It may be performed on the front paws

This surgery is performed while the animal is completely anesthetized so that no pain is felt during the procedure. Each tiny incision may be sutured with absorbable material, closed with surgical glue, or allowed to heal naturally (doctor’s choice). The paws are then bandaged before the cat regains consciousness. Compression bandages are usually removed the day of surgery.

Cats are in some pain during the immediate postoperative period, but most are comfortable by the time they are released from the veterinarian’s care. For the first week or so, a newly declawed cat may step gingerly. However, they recover rapidly and usually without complication. The younger cat is, the faster the recovery. Young cats often are completely comfortable within the days after.

Surgical Alternative
Another surgical approach involves cutting the ligament that allows a cat to retract its claws. It is probably less painful, has a shorter recovery time, and may satisfy your reasons for wanting your cat declaws. In this procedure, the claws are not removed but are rendered essentially useless.

You may wish to discuss this surgical technique with your veterinarian as an alternative to declawing. In theory, this will prevent your cat from intentionally using its claws, realistically, however, the claws will continue to grow and may still present a problem unless kept well trimmed. Declawing can always be performed at a later date.

Nonsurgical Alternatives
A nonsurgical approach involves application of plastic tips, which are glued in place to cover each individual claw. The plastic tips are blunt, so that even if a cat goes through the motions of scratching, the effects are minimized. Depending on your cat’s temperament and tolerance, and on your patience and dexterity, this product provides a pain-free alternative. The nail tips are not permanent and may need to be reapplied frequently. Some cats must have new plastic tips every few weeks, whereas other manage to remove them the day they are applied. Because application of these tips frequently require sedation of the cat (and occasionally deeper anesthesia), reapplication may be impractical and not without risk and should be minimized. For information on this product, contact your veterinarian.

Behavioral Effects of Declawing
There is no evidence that declawing a cat will make it more aggressive or more apt to bite. A cat that is aggressive before declawing will still be aggressive after declawing. Remember that this surgery does not treat the reason your cat scratches or bites, but it will eliminate the unpleasant results of scratching.

Ideally, young kittens should be encouraged to use a scratching post before the decision to declaw them is made. This does not mean, however, that all kittens are easily trained to use a scratch post, nor does it mean that an adult cat cannot be trained to scratch there.

Play Behavior
Cats are intelligent and agile creatures. During play, a kitten or an adult cat makes full use of its surroundings to provide itself with mental and physical challenges. Particularly attracted to moving objects, cats investigate new things on ground level or elevated surfaces alike. Play allows a young animal to practice important life skills without adult consequences. Running, jumping, hiding, and other playful antics could be invaluable later when hunting for food or escaping an enemy.

Play gives you an opportunity to teach acceptable behavior to your cat. Avoid forms of play that encourage a cat’s aggressiveness. No cat should learn that it is acceptable and fun to pounce on, grip, bite, or scratch any part of a person’s clothing or body. Such innocent fun as chasing wiggling fingers or toes under the bedcovers could lead to later problems. The target of a cat’s playful attention should be directed away from its human playmate. Introduce a wide variety of toys for your cat to chase, such as light-weight balls or toys suspended from string or wire. Your cat can stimulate attacks without risking injury to anyone.

Young cats often appear to respond to some “phantom” enemy during normal play. The pet may pause as if to listen or look at something and then race away. Some people believe that, during such episodes, the cat is reacting to an imaginary object or intruder. It is also possible that the cat is responding to a real stimulus that people cannot detect.

Undesirable Nighttime Activity
Juvenile cats are normally very active, sometimes overwhelming their owners. Young cats tend to be more active during the evening and nighttime hours and frequently disturb their owner’s sleep. Cats are naturally crepuscular (more active at dawn and dusk) because they have adapted to hunting in relative darkness.

If your cat is satisfied with the amount of attention and exercise it gets before your bedtime, chances are good that its schedule of peak activity will gradually match yours. If your cat tends to nap during the day when you are home, wake it up to play.

Though cats frequently seem to amuse themselves when there is no available playmate, they often thrive on additional social interaction with you. To increase your chances of sleeping through the night, play appropriate games with your cat and engage it in other activities it

Once you have gone to bed, consistently ignore your cat’s attempts to get your attention and it will eventually stop disturbing you.

Preventing Damage During Play
“Cat-proof” your home by removing or preventing access to valuable or hazardous objects that will attract your cat. Apply screens on windows to prevent accidental falls or

intentional escapes. It is normal for a cat to investigates elevated surfaces (tabletops, mantels, etc.) in territory. Your valuables may be accidentally destroyed in such exploration, or the cat may destroy objects through playful mischief.

If your cat damages items in certain areas, it may be necessary to close the door to that room. Another option to discourage your cat from returning to an area is to make it an unpleasant place to visit. Strips of sticky tape places sticky side up are an unpleasant surprise for cats to step on, as are cookie sheets filled with water. If your cat is destructive or harmful with its claws during play, keep them well trimmed to avoid damage.

Training Your Pet to Tolerate Petting and Grooming
Reasons for Intolerance
Most dogs and cats enjoy human contact, but many animals have areas of their body that are sensitive to touch.  Animals instinctively guard some body areas because these are more vulnerable.  They often protect the abdomen, or belly, and the throat area.  The “sensitive” areas vary with individual animals; for example, some animals resent having their tail touched.

Certain body areas may also become sensitive because of previous injury.  If an animal is sensitive to touch because of past injury or illness, ask your veterinarian how to avoid causing your pet discomfort.  It is probably worthwhile to discuss the possibility of an underlying medical problem with your veterinarian whenever your pet seems uncomfortable when touched.  If your pet naturally resents having certain body areas touched, you may decide to simply avoid touching those areas.  If these areas must be manipulated for routine grooming, work slowly to gradually increase your pet’s tolerance by offering a reward at each training session.

Some dominant dogs resent even gentle caresses over the top of the head, neck, and back.  Their reaction may be worse if your hand holds a brush or comb.  If your dog resists being touched over the length of its back, consider how other elements in its general behavior fit the profile of a dominantly aggressive dog.  If your dog does not avert its eyes from yours during direct eye contact, stubbornly resists assuming a “down” position, persistently jumps on everyone even in apparently friendly greetings, it is most likely displaying signs of dominance.

Tolerance Training
To improve your pet’s tolerance of being petted or groomed, withhold all petting or grooming for several weeks.  When you resume grooming and petting, identify the circumstances most often related to your pet’s intolerance.  How long does it take for your pet to reach the limit of its tolerance and react negatively to grooming or petting?

Once you know at what point your pet becomes predictably irritable, stop well short of the limit.  If you discover that your pet resents these activities at certain times of day, you may wish to reschedule them.  If your cat is most playful and agitated in the evening, as many are, it might be best to brush it in the afternoon, just before its nap.

Practice with minimal grooming and petting for a very brief time.  Over a period of days and weeks, increase the duration of the interaction.  Stop well before your pet shows any sign of intolerance or irritability.  Keep a record of the length of each session to give you a clear idea of your progress.  Lack of further improvement may suggest that more training may not be productive.

Reward your pet’s tolerance of your handling with a small food treat.  Scheduling the interaction before meals can form a positive connection between petting or brushing and eating.  Your cat may enjoy gnawing on the comb for a few seconds in between brush strokes.  You may alternate a stroke of the brush with a caress of your hand.

Choice of Brush or Comb
Although you may not believe you are exerting excessive pressure while brushing your pet, your pet may not agree.  Some of the brushes recommended for your pet’s coat type may cause discomfort.  Although a particular comb may be effective in removing knots from your cat’s long coat, it may also scratch the skin and pull the hair.  Make sure that the comb or brush used to groom your pet is comfortable for the animal.

Though a certain type of brush or comb is recommended for specific coat types, it is of no use if your pet won’t allow you to use it.  Find a grooming device that is both effective and accepted by your pet.  Be careful not exert undue pressure while grooming your pet, particularly in naturally sensitive areas.

Training Your Pet to Tolerate Nail Trimming
Some dogs and cats resent having their paws held or their nails trimmed.  This intolerance is partly instinctive in young animals, and may also be learned from an unpleasant experience during nail trimming.

The living portion of the nail bed contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels.  If toenails are cut too short, a dog or cat learns that nail trimming is painful.  This negative experience is not easily forgotten.  Once a pet has learned to anticipate discomfort when its feet are touched, its evasive reaction can intensify each time.  Most cats rarely need to have their claws cut if they use a scratch post.  If a cat is destructive or aggressive with its claws and either fails to respond to retraining or you cannot retrain it, declawing may be an alternative.  For the dog who enjoys regular outdoor activity, nail trimming may not be needed.  In many cases, walking on pavement maintains a dog’s nails at an acceptable length.

Training Tips
If your pet is instinctively cautious about having its feet touched, and even if it shows no sign of withdrawing its paw, teach your pet that this interaction is not unpleasant.

–         Before you ever attempt to trim your pet’s nails, begin by touching its legs, feet, and toes, and associate this with an activity it enjoys.  When it is resting, begin petting it, gently passing your hands over its back and legs.  If this is well tolerated, you may wish to give it a small food treat.  Do not try to do too much the first time.

–         Gradually manipulate your pet’s foot more each time.  Eventually, you should be able to slip your fingers in between each toe, gently squeezing each one to flex the nail, putting gentle pressure as you hold each foot and manipulate the leg.  Do not attempt this exercise when you pet is in an agitated or playful state, as it is most likely to resent any restriction to its movement.

–         Once your pet tolerates having its feet touched during quiet times, you may begin to incorporate this into elements of playtime.  Train your dog to assume a “down/stay” position when it retrieves a ball, for example, and “shake” its paw before continuing the game.

Trimming Tips
If you are unsure of how to trim your pet’s toenails, ask your veterinarian or a technician to show you how.  They can show you where the sensitive nerves and blood vessels are likely to be found.  The nail bed is seen as a pinkish triangle at the base of the nail; however, it may not be evident in dark-colored nails.  There is more variety between the shapes of toenails in dogs than in cats.  Some pets’ nails grow in a more curved shape, as compared with those growing more parallel to the ground.  This may determine how short they may be trimmed.  It is also not uncommon for a pet to withdraw a foot while the nail is being clipped, because of pressure on sensitive nail areas.

It is better to cut less than to cut more than necessary!  Trim off small sections at a time and stop well short of the sensitive part of the nail.  Cutting the nail too short results in a painful experience for your pet.  Cut your pet’s nails frequently, a little at a time, rather than occasionally when toenails are uncomfortable to both your pet and to you.  In this way, nail trimming will become a routine event, rather than a periodic wrestling match.  Continue to manipulate your pet’s feet and toes between nail trims so that it remains a familiar sensation.

Problem Pedicures

If your dog or cat has already had an unpleasant experience with nail trimming, you can train it to tolerate it by starting from the beginning.  Even if you have followed the preliminary training steps above, start over as if its feet had never been conditioned to manipulation and gradually desensitize your pet to this interaction once again.  Your veterinarian may recommend a small dose of a mild anti-anxiety medication to facilitate retraining in extreme cases.

If your pet overreacts to nail trimming at the veterinarian’s office during its annual examination and vaccination, you may wish to schedule a separate appointment for nail trimming.  In some cases, a dog or cat’s reaction to nail trimming is so extreme that retraining is difficult and may not be worthwhile.  For these unhappy pets, nail trimming is best avoided.  When it cannot be avoided, however, your veterinarian can safely do a pedicure on a sedated or anesthetized pet.

The Physical
At Aldie Veterinary Hospital, we require having your cat brought in for a general physical exam once a year. This is a great way for us to observe your pet’s overall health. You can ask about any concerns you may have, whether they happen to be physical or behavioral. As your cat gets older, it is also a chance for us to be able to keep track of any chronic issues, such as growing lumps or eye changes.

Keep in mind that physical exams are a screening test and they do have their limitations. If we notice something that concerns us we will make suggestions to you to help all of us better understand and potentially treat any ailments.

Vaccinations
FVRCP (“Distemper”) Vaccine:
This is a combo vaccine. This vaccine contains Feline Distemper, Feline Herpes, and Feline Calicivirus.   *Feline Panleukopenia Virus (“Feline Distemper): This virus is related to the canine parvovirus. It is characterized by the sudden onset of fever, inappetance, depression, vomiting, and decreased number of white blood cells. If an infected cat develops symptoms they tend to have a low chance of survival.

*Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus (“Feline Herpesvirus”): This is a disease that attacks the respiratory system. It has sysmptoms that include sneezing, nasal discharge, rhinitis (inflammation of the nose), and conjunctivitis.
*Feline Calicivirus: This is another upper respiratory virus of cats.

The series:
This Distemper vaccine is the first series kittens are usually given. It can be started no earlier than six weeks of age. Three consecutive injections are given under the skin, three to four weeks apart. If your cat is older than twelve weeks, they will be given two vaccinations in this series. Once the initial series is complete, whether as a baby or an adult, we will booster it one year later, then every three years until they enter their geriatric years.
Rabies Vaccine: This vaccine contains just the rabies component. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal, but under extremely rare circumstances, it can also be spread by air. It is a disease that attacks that nervous system. There are three different forms of this disease with various symptoms:

*Prodormal: characterized by a change in behavior which may include anxiety, solitude and apprehension.

*Paralytic: characterized by lethargy, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and loss of motor skills.

*Furious: characterized by aggression, altered voice, loss of coordination, and hypersensitivty to light and sounds.

The series:
This vaccine is generally given two weeks after the completion of the distemper series. These vaccines are good for one year. They will need to be boostered on an annual basis for the rest of your cats life.

Feline Leukemia Vaccine (“FeLV”): The name of this disease is a misnomer; FeLV is not a cancer, but a virus. It is transmitted between cats by saliva or nasal secretion. Initial symptoms include depression, discomfort, and mild fever. As the disease progresses, other symptoms can arise. This can include anemia, diarrhea or constipation, jaundice, and weight loss. The end results of this disease can result in a damaged immune system. Cats can fight off the infection and become totally immune, can become a healthy carrier that never gets sick but can infect other cats, or the cat may become very ill and maintain a compromised immune system for the remainder of its life.
The series:

This vaccine is only give to those animals that go outside. FeLV is given once the rabies and distemper series have been completed. It consists of two injections, three to four weeks apart. Once the initial series is completed as a kitten, the vaccine will be boostered once a year.

Other Treatments:
Deworming:
There are several different types of intestinal parasites that we worry about in cats. Parasites include hookworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and roundworms, but we also want to protect them from coccidia and giardia, which are both protozoal parasites. We will deworm your cat with a product called Drontal once a year. We will then have you follow up with us by bringing in a fecal sample to double check. Generally we ask for this sample three weeks after being dewormed, as this is the length of most of their life cycles.

FeLV/FIV: FeLV is the short form for Feline Leukemia and FIV is the short form for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. For indoor cats, we generally only test them twice. When you bring him or her in as a new kitten, we will test them the first day. It is within the nature of these particular viruses to evade detection for up to six months, showing a false negative on our in house tests.  Therefore, we will retest your kitten/cat six months after he or she has been removed from an environment where they could have potentially contracted the disease. Because these two diseases are highly contagious, outdoor cats are tested once a year, or any time they come into the hospital to stay. This test is performed using a small blood sample.

Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Preventative: Heartworm disease was originally thought to only be a disease of canines. Recent research indicates that many of the cases originally thought to be feline asthma were in fact heartworm cases. This disease is extremely difficult to diagnose, so the most effective way to combat it is through prevention. There is currently a product called Revolution that not only protects against heartworm disease, but also fleas and ticks. Fleas and ticks are associated with extreme itchiness, allergic skin conditions, and tape worms. Ticks also spread a menagerie of diseases.

Administration:
Spread the hair between the shoulder blades and apply the tip of the applicator directly on the skin. Apply the entire tube, ensuring as much of the medication gets on the skin as possible. This medication is applied monthly.

Sick Kittens
We have made great strides in preventative medicine for our pets. We vaccinate, deworm, give medications, and do physical exams on a regular basis. Unfortunately, though, no matter how careful you may be, your kitten will get sick at some point in his or her life. When you bring your pet into see us, your history from home could be our greatest aid in understanding what is wrong. Unlike sick humans, sick kittens cannot tell us where it hurts and how they feel. Therefore, any behavior changes you notice are important to discuss with us, no matter how unimportant they may seem.
General categories will be discussed here; it will include the type of symptoms you may see, the most common causes, what you can do at home, when your kitten should be seen by a vet, and the types of questions that may be asked when you get there.
Gastrointestinal Upset
This includes vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms of gastrointestinal upset may be loss of interest in food (anorexia), tender abdomen, and lethargy.

Vomiting
The most common causes for vomiting include an abrupt diet change; dietary indiscretion – eating something they shouldn’t; obstruction – something is lodged in their stomach or intestines, intestinal parasites, ulcers, sour stomach from fasting or stress, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

When you bring in your kitten, we then distinguish between self-limiting and life threatening.

Self-limiting generally includes bouts of vomiting that include one or two episodes, a generally normal attitude, no diarrhea or other symptoms in general, and no abdominal pain. In these cases you can try resting their intestinal tract by not feeding anything from twelve to twenty four hours. Start by feeding small meals of a bland diet (we can either send home a bland diet or you can cook them boiled chicken breast). Once your kitten has been ok for a couple days you can begin slowly switching them back to their regular diet. Take about a week: gradually remove amounts of the bland diet and replace them with the regular food. If the vomiting reoccurs, have your animal seen immediately by a veterinarian.

Life threatening means that without medical intervention, your pet become dangerously dehydrated. This generally includes continual vomiting to the point of retching, abdominal bloating, vomiting with diarrhea and lethargy, obvious abdominal pain, vomiting in an animal losing weight, or multiple episodes of vomiting in animals under twelve weeks old. Depending on the type of symptoms your animal is displaying, we may need to test blood values, take radiographs, and/or hospitalize with IV fluids and medications.

Diarrhea
The most common causes for diarrhea include an abrupt diet change, dietary indiscretion – eating something they shouldn’t, intestinal parasites, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or food intolerance/allergy.

There are a couple different levels of severity when it comes to diarrhea. It can be mild; in this case the stool is very soft but has a little bit of form to it or the animal may be having diarrhea but normal activity level. In severe cases, the stool is like water, very dark in color, has large amounts of blood in it, or occurs very frequently. There may also be straining with no stool produced.

Depending on the severity of the diarrhea, you could either be sent home with some oral antibiotics and a bland diet or, if it is much worse, we will need to put your animal on IV fluids and medications to ensure hydration levels are maintained.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has your pet been having diarrhea?
–          How frequently?
–          What is the consistency of the diarrhea?
–          Does this vary at all?
–          Have you seen any blood in the stool?
–          When was the last time they ate?
–          How is their appetite?
–          What type of food do they normally eat?
–          Did you change food recently?
–          Do they get treats? If so, what kind?
–          Is there anything around the house that your pet could have eaten?
–          Are you missing any toys?
–          How is your pet’s attitude?
–          Is your pet vomiting?

Ear Problems
Symptoms of an ear infection include scratching at the ears or neck region, shaking of the head, obvious redness or swelling of the opening of the ear canal and sometimes the ear flap, excessive debris, and a foul odor from the ears. Cats that have just had a bath are especially at risk, as water can get down the ear canals and create the perfect environment for microorganisms to grow out of hand.

When you bring your pet in, generally we will take a swab of the inside of the ear and make a microscope slide from it. This way we know specifically what type of infection it is and how many organisms there are. Occasionally, if we see a particularly ominous type of bacteria, we may need to send out a sample for a culture.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has he or she been displaying these symptoms?
–          Does he or she have a history of ear infections?
–          Have you seen any discharge?
–          If so, what color?
–          Have you noticed a foul odor?
–          Has your pet gone had a bath recently?
–          Has your pet been itching anywhere else?
–          Have you noticed any skin issues anywhere?

Respiratory Issues
Lower respiratory issues are usually associated with some type of coughing. This coughing can be dry, produce mucous, or sound somewhat muffled. Along with the lower, you could also have upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, whistling or wheezing noises produced while breathing, and/or swelling to the nose or face.

The most common causes of upper respiratory issues are generally viral. A couple of the most common viruses are Felines Herpes Virus and Feline Calicivirus.

You need to worry about your kitten when they cough frequently, especially if they have any other symptoms. These symptoms could be discharge from the eyes and/or nose, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and others.

Questions to expect:
–          How long has your pet been coughing?
–          How frequently?
–          What type of cough is it? Can you imitate it?
–          Is there any sneezing?
–          Is there any eye or nose discharge?
–          If so, what color is it?
–          How is their appetite?
–          When was the last time they ate?
–          How is their attitude?
–          Is your pet vomiting?
–          Is your pet having diarrhea?

Eye Problems
Sometimes your pet will exhibit squinting or excessive redness around their eye. You may also see the third eyelid swell or they may have discharge from the eyes. Eye problems can be very serious, as they get worse very quickly. If you notice your animal’s eyes are abnormal, it is best to get them to a vet as soon as possible so they can be treated appropriately.

Depending on the symptoms your cat is exhibiting, your vet may try several approaches. One of the most common tests performed is called fluorescein eye staining. This is a stain applied to the eye to see if there has been any trauma to its surface. Often times, this determines the type of medication that can be used in the eye.

Questions to expect:

–          How long has your pet’s eye looked like this?
–          Has he or she been rubbing at it?
–          Any squinting?
–          Is it one of both eyes?
–          Have you seen redness around the eye or eyelids?
–          Have you seen any discharge?
–          If so, what color?
–          What consistency?
–          Has your pet been coughing or sneezing?
–          Any nose discharge?
–          If so, what color?
–          Any lethargy?
–          Could anything have gotten lodged in her eye that you know of?
–          How your pet been in tall grass or fields recently?
–          How is your pet’s appetite?

Skin Problems
Skin issues can come in many different forms: they can have dry, flakey skin; moist sores; scabbing; itchiness; general redness; pustules; pimples; lumps; or general abrasions.

Due to the wide array of skin issues, there are a lot of different ways to approach them.

Spaying and Neutering
If you are not planning on breeding your animal in the future, it is important to have them spayed or neutered for several reasons. It eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancies. It is also beneficial as reproductive cancers are relatively common among intact animals; females can also develop a life threatening disease of the uterus. Removal of the sexual organs eliminates these types of illnesses from occurring.

We generally perform this surgery on animals around six months old.  Spay surgery can be done in a traditional manner with a larger incision and slower recover time, or it can be done utilizes the laparoscope.  By using the laparoscope we are able to make a smaller incision and directly visualize the ovaries.  This smaller incision and precise cutting lead to a faster recovery time, reduced need to pain medication, and lower post-operative complication risk. We do not recommend waiting much longer than six months as this is about the age when dogs and cats come into sexual maturity. There is often an extra fee associated with the spaying of a female dog or cat in heat, as the surgeon must be careful not to tear the tissue of the blood engorged organs.

Pre-Anesthetic Blood Work

We require all animals brought in for surgery to have a basic blood panel run. Though most puppies and kittens are healthy and have no internal medical conditions that are of concern, they may be suffering from a birth defect that shows no outward clinical signs. Many times if there is a problem with a puppy or kitten’s kidneys or liver they may not be acting sick, but the bloodwork will tell the doctor that the values of those organs are out of normal range. This could postpone the surgery temporarily or the doctor could recommend never anesthetizing your animal.

If we have no indication that there could be problems with your puppy or kitten’s health, we will run the standard preoperative bloodwork.

Prep Profile:

Blood Glucose (GLU)The results of this test can tell the doctor if an animal is hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemic (high blood sugar). Hyperglycemia is a symptom of diabetes, and other diseases, which is a condition that needs serious and immediate attention.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (CRE)These two substances are cleared from the blood by the kidneys. If there are increases in their values there could be serious compromise of one or both of the kidneys. The kidneys are responsible for excreting most of the sedatives and anesthetics into the urine and therefore out of the body. If these enzymes are elevated, additional bloodwork, urine analysis, radiographs, or intravenous fluids may be needed.

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)This is a liver enzyme. If this enzyme is increased, it could indicate inflammation or damage of the liver. Because the liver is responsible for metabolizing most sedatives and anesthetics it is imperative that it is functioning properly. If enzymes are elevated, additional bloodwork, radiographs, or an ultrasound may be needed.

Alkaline Phosphate (ALP)-This enzyme is made by a number of different tissues in the body. An elevated value could    indicate liver, muscle, and bone disease. Animals that are rapidly growing can have an elevated value due to bone development.

PCV/TP:

Total Protein (TP):This tests the general health of your animal by looking at the amount of protein in the blood. If the TP happens to be very low, it could indicate liver or kidney issues.

Packed Cell Volume (PCV):This measures the hydration level of the animal by separating the solid portions of blood from the liquid.

Microchipping
According to a study done by HomeAgain, 10% of all pets will be lost at some point in their lifetime. Though collars help animals find their way home, they can easily slip off while out on the streets. Microchips are good for life, they can only be surgically removed, and any facility with a scanner can identify your pet.

We recommend that a microchip be implanted in your pet while they are under anesthesia. While it is not extremely painful to have them implanted while awake, it eliminates discomfort if your pet is asleep. We will send home an application that you fill out and send to the company. For a minimal annual charge, HomeAgain will hold your personal information and give you a call if someone finds your lost cat.