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Lorton Valley Star Newspaper
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Covering the greater Lorton, VA area from Fairfax /Franconia Parkway to Prince William Parkway.

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Getting Ticked Off About Lyme Disease?

Rachel, CVPM Practice Manager Crosspointe Animal Hospital

If you or anyone you know has ever been exposed to Lyme disease, you know how serious it can be. But did you know that your dog can also get Lyme disease? The disease manifests itself differently in dogs than in humans, so it is important to know what signs to look for in your dog. Lyme disease is transmitted to both humans and dogs through a bite from an infected tick carrying the (Borrelia burgdorferi) bacteria, which is the cause of Borreliosis, also known as Lyme disease. Humans infected with Lyme disease typically develop a rash and/or flu-like symptoms, which is then followed by joint pain. In some cases humans will also develop neurologic abnormalities, and in rare cases a heart rhythm disturbance called A-V block occur. Signs of Lyme disease in dogs are arthritis/joint pain, fever, appetite loss, and decreased activity which typically do not appear for weeks to months after exposure. Cardiac and neurologic issues in dogs are extremely rare.

So what’s the good news? For dogs at least, Lyme disease is easily prevented. Flea and tick preventative is given on a monthly basis (every 30 days) to your dog. Most preventatives are a topical liquid that is easily applied in between your dog’s shoulder blades. There are many preventatives out there, including new oral preventatives and collars, so check with your veterinarian to see which one is best for your dog. Preventatives work by killing the tick before it can pass the bacteria to the dog. It takes a minimum of 48 hours for an infected tick to transmit Lyme disease after biting your dog, and preventatives either kill the tick or cause it to drop off prior to the 48-hour period. Lyme disease is especially prevalent in the eastern parts of the U.S. and is the most commonly reported tick-borne disease in Virginia. Recent research has shown that 1 in 11 dogs in Fairfax County test positive for Lyme disease. In this area, ticks can commonly live throughout the winter months, so it is imperative that dogs continue to receive flea/tick preventative year round. So, you’re already giving your dog preventative but want to know if there is anything else you can do to prevent Lyme disease? Well, there’s more good news. There is a vaccine available for dogs that can help to protect against Lyme disease. The vaccine can be given to puppies as young as 9 weeks old, as well as adult dogs. Both puppies and adult dogs that have never received the vaccine should get the initial vaccine as well as a booster 2-3 weeks later. After that they should be revaccinated annually.

If your dog does get infected with Lyme disease, they can be treated with a course of antibiotics. Some dogs may be infected and never show signs, or may shows signs months or years after being infected. Although treatment is available, it does not completely eradicate the infection but rather helps the bacteria to lay dormant, thus eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Prevention is always easier and less costly than treatment, so talk to your veterinarian today about keeping your dog on preventatives and getting them the Lyme vaccine. Call Crosspointe Animal Hospital (703-690-6600) today to get your dog the appropriate preventative as well as the Lyme vaccine. Bring your dog in during the month of November and get $5.00 off a Lyme vaccine.

Tips to Keep Your Pet Warm in Colder Climate

By: Lori Craddock

As the colder months arrive, it is important to think about how to adapt your home and routine in order to make your pets comfortable and safe. Here are a few tips:

Body Aches: Similar to humans, the elements can affect a pet’s body. When it is rainy or cold, the barometric pressure changes in the air and the body can feel it. Animals that have previously been injured, had surgery or are older and might suffer arthritic body aches can especially be affected negatively. Symptoms can range from minor aches and pains to not wanting to get out of bed or walk. A good tip for this could be to use a heated pet bed pad for 20 minutes on then off at a time to ease the muscles. Medicines recommended by a veterinarian can also aid in lubricating the muscle and joints that are affected by the weather.

Chemical Avoidance: Salt used on the streets in preparation for icy weather can irritate an animal’s paws and antifreeze/coolants can be toxic to ingest, so make sure to wash the paws of your pet when you bring it inside to avoid it ingesting bad substances as well as be careful what is accessible.

Clothes: There are several types of clothing that can be used to protect your pet from the elements. It is important to assess your pet’s specific needs and the environment it will be in as well. Length of hair, length of time outside and specific pet’s sensitivity is important as each dog can vary within a breed. During rain, mud, snow and overall cold, pet rain-boots as well as jackets or sweaters can be important if the breed or particular dog is sensitive.

Keeping Dry: Drying off and/or warming up any dog that has been outside in the wet or cold is a necessity. It is recommended to use a specific towel just for the animals so they can get familiarized with the tool before putting it to use so it is not looked at as a toy or annoyance by the animal.

Hydration: In colder weather, keep your pets indoors and have a consistent source of clean and available fresh water. It is important to keep this source handy and check your pipes/source of water regularly to verify function and avoid freezing or busted pipes from limiting water. If by chance you are keeping an outdoor source of water during outdoor play for your pet, make sure it is clean, fresh and not frozen in colder climates. Also, hydrate pets more often that play outside as playing depletes energy that keeps your pets warm.

 

The Puggle Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Puggle breed of dog is a hybrid cross breed between a Pug and a Beagle. Mixing breeds of dogs to create new hybrid dogs became a growing interest for breeders in the 1980s and led to this beloved new breed.

Puggles gained popularity by 2005 with their stocky body, curly tail and wrinkled forehead. Many celebrities are fans of this breed including Jake Gyllenhaal, Julianne Moore, Sylvester Stallone and Uma Thurman.

The genetic mixing of two breeds can produce a stronger dog breed, but if not done properly, the dog can get traits more from one breed over the other. As is common with mixed breed dogs, the unwanted physical traits, such as the overly squished nose of a Pug that leads to breathing issues, becomes recessive. The resulting Puggle has a longer snout than a standard Pug which avoids this issue.

Adult Puggles weigh an average of 15-30 pounds. They still make great lap dogs due to their small size, but their sturdy body allows them to be active, which is great for families with children. A brisk 15-30 minute daily walk is recommended for this energetic breed. They love a fenced in yard or open area such as a dog park where they can run and play. They love companionship whether it is a human or another dog, so these are not pets for those who would leave them home alone a lot. In the event you have to leave your pet in a crate, a stuffed animal or warm bottle can create a sense of false companionship for your pet to relax. Turning on the radio for your pet can also be calming.

The coat on a Puggle is made of short, straight hairs and usually comes in black, beige and silver. Fawn or tan Puggles with a black mask are most common, but can come in all black, white or tri-colored as well. They do not shed much, but it is advisable to brush weekly to rid your pet of loose hair. Bathing can be done once a month as more often could lead to dry itchy skin. You should also brush your pet’s teeth to prevent buildup of plaque, frequency of which can be at the suggestion of your regular veterinarian.

The temperament of a Puggle is playful and sweet. This breed is very affectionate and intelligent. It bonds quickly with its owners and will follow them around the house. Puggles are extremely curious and have a great sense of smell so they can track scents like a beagle. They are always happy to see you after you return from being away. They do great with everyone from children, adults, seniors and other pets.

Puggles can inherit the Beagle trait to howl or bark, but they are not yappy. Their barking is usually to alert that somebody has arrived at the house and crossed into their territory. Usually it is just a bark or two to signify somebody is at your door. This dog can be a bit stubborn, but they warm up to people fairly quickly. The best way to train a Puggle is with reward and repetition.

 

See the Unseen in Your Senior Pet

By Niza Melgarejo Crosspointe Animal Hospital

A frequently asked question we often receive is “When is my pet considered a senior?” Dogs are considered seniors at age 7 and cats are considered seniors between 7-10 years of age. The next question you may be thinking is “How can I see the unseen in my pet?” That is a very important question and it is as easy as annual senior blood work. I know in the moment our pets may seem healthy because they use the bathroom regularly, are still very playful, and of course never miss a meal. What’s important to know is that by not doing annual blood work, underlying diseases are often missed because symptoms are not actively seen in your pet. By the time your pet starts showing signs of illness, the disease may already be pretty far progressed. Catching these signs early can help control early stages of diabetes, kidney and liver failure. Performing senior blood work annually also gives your veterinarian a healthy baseline of your pet’s blood work, and if in the future your pet becomes ill they have a healthy panel to refer back to and compare.

Senior blood work performed at Crosspointe Animal Hospital consists of three different panels; a Complete Blood Count (CBC), Chemistry panel, and a full Urinalysis. A Complete Blood Count is a panel that measures white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. If the pet’s white blood cell count is elevated it is a sign of a possible infection. If there is a low red blood cell count this can possibly lead to anemia. A Chemistry panel allows us to see your pet’s kidney and liver values, protein levels, electrolytes, and blood sugar levels. If your pet is found to be in the early stages of kidney failure, prescription diet food can be prescribed by your veterinarian to help control the disease. If the chemistry panel shows that the blood sugar levels were elevated then this can help your veterinarian identify if your pet is a diabetic, which can be controlled by prescription diet food or by insulin. The last panel performed is a full Urinalysis. This test as well helps us detect your pet’s urine concentration, kidney values, active urinary infections, and possible diabetes.

Crosspointe Animal Hospital is very proactive about helping to keep senior pets healthy. This is why every year we celebrate Senior Awareness Month during October. We offer $25 off every Senior panel performed during that month to encourage, and raise awareness of the importance of senior blood work. We all want our furry and fur less pets to be healthy and a huge step to achieving this is Senior blood work. Call today to schedule your pet’s senior blood panel. 703-690-6600

 

How to Clicker Train Your Dog

By: Lori Craddock

Clicker training is one of the most effective ways to train a dog. This is a cheap method of training as it only requires a clicker, similar to a child’s toy, and some treats. A ball point pen clicked open and close can work if you do not have a clicker. Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement using treats and sounds to get your pet to perform the actions and behavior you want. Specifically, psychologists call this Operant Conditioning using Positive Reinforcement. The purpose of the clicker is to catch your pet doing something you want and click it at the precise moment of desired action. The clicker allows the trainer to make a unique noise quicker than saying any verbal command. All commands can be taught with a clicker, but it is recommended to not use the clicker for training the “Come” command as it is better with a verbal command from the beginning. To begin, click the clicker once and immediately give your pet a treat. Much like Pavlov’s experiment, this will teach your pet that the noise of the clicker means something good is coming. Treats for training purposes should be tiny bite-sized as you will need to feed them a lot in repetition as you work through the exercise. Bites of cooked hot dog or Cheerios work very well and waiting to feed your dog a substantial meal until after the lesson is good so your hungry pet will be eager to get a treat. Each lesson should only be about five minutes long and be repeated several times a day. Eventually, you will replace the treat after the clicker for a verbal praise or a good pat. Training should be done somewhere without distractions. It is best to train your pets one on one instead of in a group so they can focus. You should only click the clicker one time for each treat. Eventually your pet will start focusing on your clicker instead of the treat which is when it’s ready for the next step in training. This usually happens on the fourth click in a series of exercises. There are a few different methods to the clicking technique. The Capture Method is where you click the clicker as soon as you see your pet doing something you like such as sitting. The Shaping Method is when you reward each step until your final goal. This is good for intricate tricks such as weaving through the legs. For instance you might reward your pet for going through your legs and then the next time reward your pet for going back around front until you work up to a full figure eight motion. You will give a hand signal and verbal command to each exercise so your pet will eventually understand the difference in what you are asking and lead to not having to use the clicker at all. The Magnet method is luring your dog into the behavior you want. Some pets are scared of certain noises, so if your pet seems scared of the clicker, try muffling it in your pocket or behind your back. Once your pet is correctly clicker trained, it will perform on command. For unwanted behaviors such as barking, some trainers will teach the dog to perform barking or “speak” on command so the dog will stop the unwanted behavior until it is requested. The way this works is that the dog will soon realize that barking with a command or clicker gets a treat whereas barking randomly gets nothing. Note on punishment: A dog hates to be ignored, so ignoring your pet when it does unwanted behavior is the best method of punishment whereas yelling at a dog will only make it worse as it is excited energy that makes your dog think you are yelling with him instead of at him.

 

The Dachshund Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Dachshund or “Doxie” breed is a beloved one with famous owners having included Queen Victoria, Pablo Picassso and some theorize may even have ties to ancient Egypt. However, the modern version of this breed is originated in Germany in the early 1600s. They were bred for hunting dogs to be courageous, even fearless, and their bodies were bred to allow them to dig into badger holes and fight them to the death as there was an overpopulation of vicious badgers at the time. They also hunted foxes, rabbits and when working in packs, bigger animals such as deer and boar.

It is said that these small dogs first appeared in the United Kingdom in 1840 when Prince Consort received a number of smooth haired dachshunds from Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar and these dogs were kept at Windsor and took part mainly in pheasant shoots. The first Dachshund dog show was in England in 1859. The breed’s popularity grew with Queen Victoria’s interest in dog shows and this particular breed.

In 1870, the first Dachshund arrived in the United States and by 1895 the Dachshund Club of America was established. In the 1900s, the breed became popular in the United States, but World War I led to a fall in favor as America distanced itself from anything German. In an attempt to do this, the Dachshund’s name was temporarily translated to English as “badger dog”. After the war, Dachshunds from Germany were imported again to increase the gene pool and encourage breeding of this popular pet.

The Dachshund is an easily identifiable dog with its long, low body that has been said by some to resemble that of a “hotdog”. There are three different coat varieties (smooth, wire-haired, and long-haired) of Dachshund and they come in many different colors that include brindle, solid, bicolor and tricolor. This is an average shedder. Grooming varies on type of coat such as longhaired require daily combing and brushings, wirehaired need professional trimming twice a year, and short-haired require regular rubdown with a damp cloth. There are two sizes of Dachshund accepted in the American Kennel Club; standard (30-35 pounds) and miniature (16-22 pounds). Europe recognizes a third; Toy. The life expectancy of a Dachshund is 12-15 years.

This clever, friendly, and lively breed is one of the most popular breeds according to AKC Registration Statistics. Dachshunds are an ideal pet for many homes, including ones with children with supervision. They are loyal to their owners and are both lovable and playful. They travel well, but can be difficult to train sometimes. It is important to be the pack leader with this breed or they can act out by becoming possessive or anxious. They also have an instinct to dig. This breed does well with other pets as long as they are socialized.

Dachshunds do well in apartment life. They require moderate exercise and adapt easily to most environments. This breed should be discouraged from jumping as they are prone to spinal disc problems. They have a tendency to get overweight and lazy, so it is important for them to have good exercise and diet.

 

Dog Owner Camping Tips

By: Lori Craddock

Fall is arriving and many families are going camping, some even bringing their dogs along with them. Here are some helpful tips for dog owners to keep their pets safe on camping trips:

1.) Verify your camp site allows dogs. Many state and national parks prohibit dogs. However, many private camp grounds allow dogs and it is important to read the rules and respect the camp site. 2.) While driving to your camp site, remember that your dog should receive multiple potty breaks on long car rides. Dogs can get car sick just as humans do, so be prepared and understanding. Also, never leave your dog in a hot car as they cannot withstand the heat since they do not perspire to release it as humans do. 3.) Properly hydrate your pet both on the road and while at your camp site. Portable water bottles with bowl attachments can be found at your local pet store to take on the road, hiking, or to the camp. 4.) Camp during times when it will not be overcrowded like midweek to get your pet used to camping without overwhelming it. 5.) Make sure your pet has proper identification tags in case it gets lost. 6.) Get your dog up to date on all its veterinary needs such as vaccinations so it doesn’t pick up parasites from mosquitoes etc. 7.) Consider pet-friendly tick spray repellent found at the pet store and make sure your dog also has taken flea meds. 8.) Pick up after your dog. Never leave evidence your pet has been at the camp site, so pick up any dog waste as you go. 9.) Make sure you leash your dog so it does not get into fights with other animals or disturb other camp sites for food or attention. 10.) Never tie your dog up at a camp site and leave it especially not in the sun. The sun as well as other creatures at the camp site can be dangerous to your pet. 11.) Provide shade, fresh water and food to your dog as well as something to stimulate it like dog toys and bones. 12.) Barking should be kept to a minimum so your pet does not disturb other campers. 13.) Keep a first aid kit handy for your pet that could consist of your veterinarian’s number, tweezers to get off ticks or splinters, gauze for wrapping wounds or as muzzle, adhesive tape for bandages, hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds, Milk of Magnesia or activated charcoal to absorb poison, something to use as a muzzle and something to cover the pet’s head. It can also be handy to have something that fights the smell of skunk such as tomatoes as dogs can howl all night at a camp site after being sprayed by one.

Diabetes in Cats isn’t Catastrophic

By: Paige Glenn, Crosspointe Animal Hospital

Diabetes is a disease that most people have heard about, but did you know that diabetes in animals, specifically cats, can be treated and managed just like in humans? My own cat Tank has had diabetes for about 6 years and although there have been ups and downs, he still continues to play like a kitten chasing his mice toys and keeping his amazing one of a kind personality.

You may be asking, “How would you even know your cat had diabetes?” Some common signs in cats are an increase in urination, drinking increased amounts of water, lack of grooming and matted hair coat, and in some cases excessive weight loss. Typically diabetes seems to affect cats around 9 years of age or older. Once symptoms are apparent it is a good idea to take your cat into your veterinary hospital. Your veterinarian can run blood work on your pet in order to see if there are any abnormalities that indicate diabetes such as elevated blood sugar or sugar in the urine.

Diagnosis of diabetes can seem like a scary situation, but don’t be overwhelmed. Many of the things we do to help control diabetes in humans are similar to what can be done for your cat. Some cats respond simply to dietary changes, as in putting them on a low carbohydrate, high protein diet. Your veterinary hospital will often have at least two different brands of food that your pet can get started on; an example of a brand that works well is Purina’s D/M or diabetic management food. Other cats may require insulin therapy to be administered. Injections of insulin given under the skin can help regulate blood sugar levels. With these treatments and routine blood work your cat can live a happy and long life.

If your pet has some the listed symptoms, you could contact Crosspointe Animal Hospital for an evaluation and help.

Alaskan Husky Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Alaskan Husky was bred in Northeast Asia as a sled dog and is still a working class breed. Although recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1930, it is not considered as a pure breed because the dogs are sometimes bred with Northern and non-Northern breeds, but they are bred strategically to be the best working dog possible. Specifically, it is said they originated from within the Chukchi Tribe, off the eastern Siberian peninsula.

Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies are similar, but the Alaskans are usually larger yet have a leaner build than the latter. Also, Alaskan Huskies usually have brown eyes while Siberian Huskies usually have blue eyes. More importantly for the sport, Alaskan Huskies have greater endurance in sled racing than Siberian Huskies. In 1908, the Siberians were used for the All-Alaskan Sweepstakes, which consisted of a 408 mile dog sled race. In World War II, they served in the Army’s Arctic Search and Rescue Unit.

Due to the breed originating in colder climates, the Siberian Husky has a thicker coat than most other breeds of dog. The coat is made of a dense cashmere-like undercoat with a coarse top coat. Coat colors come in all colors from black to pure white with a variety of markings on the head. Regular brushing for a thick coat should be once a week, but heavy shedding only occurs twice a year. Due to their heavy coats they prefer cooler climates, so it is important to provide them shade and air conditioning if in warmer conditions.

The average size of an Alaskan Husky is 20-23.5 inches high at shoulder and the average weight is 35-60 pounds. Its lifespan is about 12-15 years old.

Alaskan Huskies prefer to be in packs, so it is important to socialize them with other dogs regularly as well as maintain the pack leader status as an owner. Daily long walks are needed and apartment life is not recommended for this high energy breed unless sufficiently exercised regularly outside. They make great companions for runners as they can keep up and enjoy the run. Its predatory nature is strong so supervise interactions with smaller animals. High fences with wire buried underneath are necessary in a backyard or this breed will tend to jump out or dig out and go hunting. Although the Alaskan Husky is known for its endurance and willingness to work, it can make a great family pet or therapy dog. It can be a gentle yet playful companion. They are good with children and strangers as they are social and bark very little. However, they are known to howl from time to time, so a second dog may be a good idea with this breed as this type of dog can howl out of loneliness. They are very smart and highly trainable so with patience this dog can be an excellent pet.

Benefits of Ultrasounds in Veterinary Medicine Ultrasound for Pets

Candice Berkshire, DVM Crosspointe Animal Hospital

Making a diagnosis in a pet is always a challenge, since they have fewer ways to communicate with us. In addition to our exam, we have various tests that can be done to help figure out why our animals are acting differently. Among the variety of tests available in veterinary medicine, ultrasound is rarely discussed, but can be frequently used. In human medicine, an ultrasound is most commonly called a sonogram. Many people are most familiar with sonograms when they are used to assess pregnancy. Both terms indicate that the technology is sound-based. In ultrasound, high-frequency sound is emitted through a probe held against a body surface. It is a very safe and non-invasive way of obtaining images of various body structures. It has advantages over x-ray in that it can show structures in real-time as moving images, as opposed to still frames. However, it also has disadvantages. The high-frequency sound waves do not effectively penetrate gas or bone, so it is best used for assessing organs. Organs like the lung, or the intestine if it is full of gas, can be very difficult to assess by ultrasound.

Other limitations of ultrasound are the quality of the machine and the training of the practitioner. Approximately 20 to 30 years ago, ultrasound was not a commonplace tool in veterinary medicine. Students weren’t trained in use and application, and the machines were not as sophisticated. Today, most veterinary students are exposed to some limited ultrasound training, and have a strong understanding of appropriate applications of this tool.

To perform an ultrasound, the veterinary team shaves the area for imaging (parts of the chest if ultrasounding the heart, or the entire abdomen if looking at abdominal organs). The pet is gently laid in a V-shaped trough to expose the abdomen, or on a special table if assessing the heart. The veterinary team gently holds the pet’s legs out of the way while the veterinarian uses the ultrasound probe to capture still images, and short segments of video. The entire procedure can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes, depending on how many areas are being examined. Some pets find holding still very stressful, and may need a light sedative to make the process less so.

When in the hands of a trained practitioner, an ultrasound can be a 20-minute procedure to assess structures such as the heart, major vessels, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, and intestines. Images can help identify whether the structures are normal, and help identify abnormalities for further testing. One of the greatest advantages of ultrasound is the speed with which assessment can be made, with a minimum degree of trauma and stress to the pet. However, it is important to know that the skill of the practitioner can dramatically impact the interpretation of the images. Some general practices offer ultrasounds. An ultrasound can also be performed by an internal medicine specialist or a board-certified radiologist. Your veterinarian may be more likely to recommend a specialist’s assessment if there is a particular structure that they are trying to assess, or a more complicated diagnosis. If you and your veterinarian are struggling to reach a diagnosis, you might inquire whether an ultrasound would be an appropriate helpful tool.

Crosspointe Animal Hospital offers ultrasounds. Call us at 703-690-6600 if you would like to schedule an appointment or would like more information.

How to Help a Choking Dog

By: Lori Craddock

As dogs can act as scavengers trying to ingest whatever is left around them, it is important to know how to prevent choking should the need arise. Choking can occur from toys, bones, sticks that splinter, or even trash. It is important to be prepared and informed on what to do if your pet ever begins to choke.

First, verify that your dog is truly choking and not just having breathing difficulties. There are some tell-tale signs of choking such as bulging eyes, pawing at their face and trying to cough.

If you determine your dog is really choking try the following:

Remove object- If it’s not easily grabbed, put a large object across the front of the dog’s mouth inside to keep the jaw open to avoid a distressed dog bite and use a pen from the side behind it to try to loosen the object from the throat. Never try to grab an object you do not see as it could be a small fragment of bone deeper in the throat that would require a more aggressive tactic.

Dislodge item- For a small dog, lift it up behind its rib cage and tip its rear up higher than its head pointed down while giving it a firm, but gentle shake to try to dislodge the object. For a larger breed repeat this motion, but do it wheelbarrow style with the dog’s from legs on the ground, head tipped down forward while you hold its rear in the air and shake vigorously. Do NOT shake a puppy hard as it could cause damage to its development.

If this technique does not work, you can try gently patting on the back of the dog between its shoulder blades while you tip it forward increasing your chance of dislodging the item.

The Heimlich- Hold the dog away from you and place both hands together right under and below the rib cage on the underbelly giving a firm few pumps up and out toward the front of the dog.

Windbag Technique- Used on a standing dog by placing one hand on each side of the dog behind the rib cage and pumping together a few times. Or, you can lay your pet on its side and press your hand down right below the rib cage on the side in a pumping manner.

Once the item gets dislodged from the dog’s mouth, quickly remove it from the mouth before it can slip back in the throat.

If you cannot dislodge the item from your pet, contact the veterinarian immediately. It can also be important to contact your veterinarian even if you are able to free your pet from the choking yourself as there may be internal injuries you are not aware of. Artificial respiration- If the item doesn’t dislodge and your dog is not breathing, you may need to begin artificial respiration on your pet yourself to restart breathing on the way to the veterinarian. To do this, close your dog’s mouth and blow into its nostrils forcing air into the lungs once every three to five seconds. After ten seconds, if your pet does not show signs of breathing, you will need to begin CPR.

CPR- Place the palm of your hand in the middle of the dog’s chest and press for a count of two and release for a count of one. You will need to repeat this 60 to 90 times per minute. Alternately, after 30 seconds, perform artificial respiration. This will need to be continued on the way to the veterinarian once begun.

Prevention- Make sure your pet has well-made toys that won’t fall apart and are made from pet-friendly substances. Try not to feed your pet bones from dinner that can splinter into small choking shards, but rather give it strong bones made for dogs from the pet store. Always keep an eye on your dog so you can know if it is acting out of character. And, always keep your veterinarian’s office on speed dial.

The Miniature Pinscher Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Miniature Pinscher or “Min Pin” is a small compact breed. Min Pins are loyal to their owners, alert, brave and full of energy.

This is a German breed of dog that originated by mixing the Dachshund, Italian Greyhound and the short-haired German Pinscher. This tiny breed of dog, often referred to as the “King of Toys,” looks like a miniature Doberman and was bred to be used as a barnyard ratter to handle the rodent population in stables. Today this breed is used for agility, competitive obedience and as a watchdog. The American Kennel Club expects pure bred Miniature Pinschers to have a cropped tail, but cropping tails is now illegal in most European countries.

They are intelligent and can be great dogs if the owner is a pack leader. Without proper dominance over this sweet dog, it can be headstrong and noisy. It is a common mistake with small dog owners to be too accommodating for a small breed of dog when they should be trained with rules as a larger breed would be. Bad behavior due to poor training includes aggressiveness and possessiveness.

Their hard coat is smooth and short and comes in black with rust markings, chocolate with tan red, and stag red which is red with black hairs. Grooming is easy with this average shedder and can be done with a firm bristle brush as well as removing loose hairs by wiping a warm damp cloth across the coat. Shampooing only needs to be done as necessary.

This breed gets cold easily and should be protected from the elements. They live an average of 15 years, are an average of 10-12 inches tall, and weigh an average of 8-10 pounds.

Min Pins are high energy, but can expend most of that energy during play. However, a daily walk is still needed as all dogs have a primal need to walk and can develop behavior problems without one. Since these dogs are very active indoors, they do fine without a yard and can be good for apartment life.

 

Hear My Bark, I’m Tough Enough

By Sage Pom Zach,

Hear my bark, I am a fearsome, ferocious, vicious, mean, rough and tough, killer German Spitz, with sharp fangs and a tenacious grip. I pity the bad acting person fool who lets me catch them. I’ll have a taste of your leg.

I’m pretty big, not the biggest, actually kinda small. To be precise, I’m a dwarf, and I have at least half of my teeth so don’t mess with me.

My bark is terrifying. I’ve barked down so many adversaries that I’m hoarse. And the only way that anyone can be my friend is by bending over and scratching my neck.

I’m so rough and tough that the big dogs tolerate me. They don’t even bother to bark back, so I get the last word. I’m such a caustic personality that my pee kills grass. I’m just sweet when I want to be.

I seldom let down my stern guard except when my human pack leader comes home or his wife comes home or the neighborhood kids play with me or I’m getting a brushing or a treat or a belly rub or a ride in the car or sleeping or being a lap dog or when looking for extra attention which is most of the time but otherwise, I’m a holy terror.

I’ve had a tough life and I’ve been around the block so I know a thing or two. And who else do you know that is so charming? I have this luxuriant poofy tail with the fashionable platinum blonde streak that is to die for. All the bitches love me; Can you say that?

I was so bad that my previous owners had me neutered. So, actually, I’m pretty tame and laid back and gentle and affectionate except when I have to signify, how tough I am and then I’m a holy terror.

But, actually, now, that’s my house mate, Zorro’s job. He’s a virile young adult Pomeranian so he provides the terror and I provide the elderly sagisity and experience. All I have to do is just enjoy my retirement from having to be the lead dog.

But, he’s too cute. It’s a great ruse, he just looks tame. I look like the burly little wolf; If looks could kill, buddy, I’m the deadly one. Together we make an awesome pack. Both of us together weigh 25 pounds. My human pack leader keeps saying he’s going to get us a little sled to pull in the snow. At least, I think that’s what he’s saying. I never saw a sled on that scale. Anyway, I’m tough enough.

If you dogs like the column I bark out, E-mail me at sagezach@lortonvalleystar.com

Pet-Friendly Landscape Options

By Brittany Whalen, Landscape Designer at Professional Grounds,

Most pet owners take measures to ensure the inside of their home is pet-friendly by removing chemicals stored in easily accessible areas, tucking away exposed electrical cords and putting away prized possessions such as shoes and electronics so dogs are not tempted to chew on them. What many pet lovers fail to consider is the importance of safeguarding the outside of their home too, which is where a lot of pets spend a good amount of their time. Pet owners or Pet owners-to-be can make their property safe and beautiful at the same time, so their landscape won’t take such a beating, and more importantly, their furry friends are safe. Our designers make a point to incorporate all ‘household members’ needs and safety into their considerations for landscape designs. If you have outdoor pets it’s important to create a pet-friendly landscape.

Plant Material Of course, you can train your dog to not chew your shoes and eat your plants but unlike a chewed shoe, a single run-in with a toxic plant could prove fatal for your pet. There are approximately 145 different types of plants that can be harmful to your pets. Fortunately, there are even more that are non-toxic and visually appealing; therefore, your yard doesn’t have to be plant free or filled with boring plantings in order to keep your pets safe. This is it is important that you communicate to your designer if you have pets that spend time outside. Our designers enjoy the challenge of locating and incorporating appropriate plant materials specific to your property’s needs. If you are installing your own landscape, we suggest reviewing the ASPCA’s complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants before choosing plants on your own. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/

Fences You may already have a fence or be interested in installing one. If you are looking to install a new fence, there are options that are both aesthetically pleasing and successful in keeping your pets contained. We suggest choosing fences constructed with either wooden or vinyl materials verses a chain link or electrical version. Electric fences, also known as ‘invisible fences’ because they are planted underground, won’t deter stray animals or unwanted visitors from entering your property. You also won’t have to subject your dog to unnecessary electrical shocking in order to keep them on your property. Fences constructed of wood or vinyl will also assist in increasing your property’s value, whereas a chain-link fence could actually do the opposite. If you already have a chain link fence but don’t want to replace it, we suggest incorporating non-toxic climbing vine such as Rosa ‘New Dawn’ (Climbing Rose). Screening plants installed near your chain link fence can grow up onto or in front of the existing fence and mask its appearance. Ornamental grasses are another great example of a screening plant to hide unsightly fencing.

If you already have an existing fence it is important to assess the integrity of the entire fencing structure to locate and repair any holes or weaken areas where your pets may squeeze through. It is also important that all gates securely close. You’d be surprised how puppies and small breed dogs can squeeze through a hole that appears to be ‘too small’ or push open a gate that does not properly latch.

Grass Damage Yellow polka dots may work on bikinis, but most homeowners don’t appreciate it them on their lawn. One way to curb dog urine and excessive traffic from damaging your lawn is to install grasses that are more resistant to pet urine such as Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, or Buffalo Grass. Another option would be to install artificial turf. There are many artificial turf options available today which are very visually appealing and they eliminate maintenance and provide a year-round surface that can be used without worry of water pudding or other damages that can be sustained when the ground is overly saturated.

Hardscapes Another great option for protecting your landscape is to install a flagstone or paver patio. A patio will allow your dog to run around as he or she pleases without damaging your lawn and furthermore you can utilize the space for your own enjoyment and entertaining! Another perk of a patio in relation to pets is that they are dig-proof. Patios are a favorite option among our customers desiring a dog-friendly landscape. Professional Grounds, Inc. is a dog-friendly company. Many days you will find one or two employee dogs hanging out at our offices. If you are interested in having a professional help make your landscape dog friendly, please contact us at landscape@progrounds.com.

 

Can Pets Get Dementia?

By Evan H. Farr, Certified Elder Law Attorney  

We take our pets to the veterinarian for heart worm testing, lethargic behavior, and hip dysplasia. Have we thought about their mental state too? With advances in modern veterinary medicine, domestic dogs and cats often live long enough to develop cognitive dysfunction, and studies in both cats and dogs show that they can in fact experience symptoms of dementia as they age. What are the symptoms we should look out for?  

If You Have an Older Dog

A study at the University of California-Berkeley has shown that 62% of dogs between ages 11 and 16 demonstrate one or more signs of dementia (called canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) in dogs), and the percentage goes up as dogs get older.  

How do you identify possible CCD?  

Does your older dog sleep more during the day and less at night? Does your dog pace or wander aimlessly? Does your dog have trouble finding the door or get ‘stuck’ in familiar places like behind furniture or in corner? Does your dog forget old tricks? Is your dog acting disoriented, walking in circles, or staring into corners or [at] the wall Is your dog acting aggressively? Has your dog lost interest in family members? Is your dog having a tough time controlling urination or defecation in more than just an incontinent way — almost like they’re forgetting how to be house trained?  

If You Have an Older Cat  

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh now believe 50% of all cats over the age of 15 and 25% aged 11 to 14, are suffering from dementia (or geriatric onset behavioral problems). The same team was also the first to discover cats could suffer from dementia. Their research involved scans which showed changes to the neural system of confused elderly cats were similar to those seen among humans with the conditions, and found that the same beta-amyloid protein found in humans with dementia was present in the cats.  

How do you identify possible geriatric onset behavioral problems?  

Is your cat behaving erratically or aggressively? Does your cat wail in the early hours of the morning, begging for attention, yet the food and water bowls are full Does your cat seem confused? Does your cat sleep more than he or she used to or is he or she up at all hours of the night? Is your cat yowling at random times of the day? Has your cat lost interest in family members? Is your cat having a tough time controlling urination or defecation?  

If you think your pet could have CCD or geriatric onset behavioral problems, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to have them tested. Other illnesses have to be ruled out first, before cognitive dysfunction is definitively determined.  

How Can We Help Senior Pets Live Better Lives?

Although there isn’t a cure, there are ways to manage cognitive dysfunction and help your older pets live better lives, as follows:  

Keep your pet’s brain active, even at an older age; Teach your pet new tricks; Take your dog or outdoor cat outside and challenge his or her brain with new environmental stimuli, so his or her brain will not deteriorate as quickly; Make sure your pet gets regular exercise; Add antioxidants to your pet’s diet to help with brain health; Show your pet lots of love, as you always did; The vet may prescribe a diet fortified with antioxidants, fatty acids, and L-carnitine and/or medications similar to those administered for human dementia patients.   Even though senior pets may have dementia-like symptoms as they age, they are still wonderful pets for senior owners. Seniors who own pets are more likely to keep up with daily activities, have better overall physical health due to exercising with their pets, and have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than those living without pets.   

Don’t Forget about the Pet  

Many of us who think of our pets as family members want to ensure that they are cared for after we become incapable of doing so. One way to fulfill this responsibility is to set up a pet trust, or a legally sanctioned arrangement that provides for the care and maintenance of your pet(s) in the event of their your disability or death.    

Of course, if a (human) family member is suffering from dementia, be sure to see an experienced Elder Law attorney to plan for your future financial and long-term care needs and protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits.   

About the Author: Evan Farr is a Certified Elder Law Attorney in Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Rockville, MD, and Washington, DC, and can be reached by phone at 703-691-1888 in Fairfax,  540-479-1435 in Fredericksburg, 301-519-804 in Rockville, or 202-587-2797 in Washington. If you have Elder Law questions you’d like to have answered in future columns, please send them to Mr. Farr at evanfarr@farrlawfirm.com. Virginia has no procedure for approving certifying organizations.

How to Handle Dog Aggression

By: Lori Craddock

Symptoms of aggression in dogs can be biting, baring teeth, growling, snarling etc., all of which are scary for the owner to experience. However, with proper training, any bad habit can be broken, even with an older dog. You must use positive reinforcement when dealing with aggression as negative reinforcement can make the symptoms worse by making your pet feel more mad or scared. As every dog is different, it is best to enlist a dog trainer to assess your pet and determine any unique triggers it may have and create a training regime to curb the unwanted behavior.

There are several types of dog aggression:

Fear-motivated aggression is a defensive reaction and occurs when a dog believes he is in danger of being harmed. The dog’s perception could be off in thinking that when you reach for something that you are going to try to hit it and can result in aggressive behavior. Or when your pet sees another dog or person on a walk it might get startled and turn to aggressive behavior in return.

Possessive, territorial and protective types of aggression are similar in that they are a reaction in defense of something. This could even be over a toy or a person. Marking an object with urine or refusing to give an object up can be a symptom of this.

Predation is an uncommon aggression as it occurs by a need to obtain food and not primarily by the intent to hurt or intimidate.

Redirected aggression is when a dog is somehow provoked but then takes it out on someone or something else. It could be when two dogs attack each other because they cannot attack the dog or person walking by outside the house.

In addition to a trainer in-home to curb unwanted aggression, there are several things an owner should try. Start by verifying with the veterinarian that there are not any medical issues that are causing the aggression in your pet. A pet in pain or with anxiety can act out. Always take precautions around an aggressive pet by supervising, confining or restricting it when need be. A muzzle is a good tool to use in public with a dog to avoid biting tendencies. Avoidance of any known triggers of the aggression such as certain locations or people can help. It is easier to retrain your pet when the pet is not in a moment of aggressive panic which can be similar to a shark in blood. If your pet is already triggered, try shaking a pair of keys or coins in a sealed jar at the dog to create a loud sound to snap it out of its frenzy by distraction. If it’s possessive behavior your dog is displaying, try trading better items for what it has to make it drop the item, like a treat for that expensive shoe it has in his mouth. Spay or neutering your dog can curb aggression issues.

The Corgi

By: Lori Craddock

The Corgi is a working class breed of dog and was bred to be low to the ground to nip at the heels of the animals they herded. They have short legs, upright and alert ears and a stocky body. Routine brushing should be given to the double-coated dog that sheds year round. The undercoat is water-resistant and short while the outer coat is medium length.

Although this breed thrives on farms, it can get acclimated to any environment with regular exercise. It is bold and clever in personality, so a Corgi can get mischievous if left alone. Bad habits like barking, herding people and animals, chasing small animals and cars can be avoided with proper obedience training. These dogs excel at agility, obedience, and herding.

This is a social dog and is a delightful fit with the right family although not always best with small children. They live between 12-15 years. They are smart, sensitive, and athletic companions.

The Corgi breed has vast historical lineage, originating in Wales and continuing to make owners happy in present day. Corgi ancestors crossed the channel in 1107 with Flemish weavers. Queen Elizabeth II holds adoration for this breed having had over 30 of these dogs. Currently, there are two types of Corgi breed, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is seen in colors red, tri-color, brindle, blue merle, and black and white. They weigh between 25-38 pounds and are born with a full tail.

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi comes in colors red, sable, fawn, and black and tan with or without white markings. They weigh between 24-30 pounds and have a natural bobbed tail.

The Golden Retriever Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Golden Retriever breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1925. Today, this is one of the most popular breeds and is an excellent family companion. They are also used for obedience competitions, hunting and tracking, a bird-dog on both on land and in the water, narcotics detection, service dog for the disabled, a guide for the blind and as a therapy dog. This breed of dog originates from the late 1800s in the Scottish Highlands. Here Lord Tweedmouth created the breed by mixing the original yellow Flat-Coated Retriever with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel and then adding in some Bloodhound and Irish Setter. Originally, these dogs were known as the Golden Flat-Coats, but later were renamed to the Golden Retrievers. The Golden Retriever is a medium to large sized, sturdy dog. Its dense coat is water-resistant with a firm, straight or wavy outer coat. The medium-haired double coat is easy to groom on this average shedder. Coat color comes in cream to a rich golden. Untrimmed feathering is found on the underbelly, back of the legs, front of the neck and underside of the tail. Use a dry shampoo regularly, but bathe only when necessary. The average height of a Golden Retriever is 20 to 24 inches high and the average weight is 55 to 80 pounds. Life span for this breed is an average of 10 to 12 years. A Golden gains weight easily so do not overfeed. These charming dogs are intelligent, lovable and well-mannered. They make great family pets as they are great with children, being both patient and gentle. They are energetic and loving. These dogs are easily trained and love to please their master so they excel at a range of activities including obedience competitions, hunting, tracking, retrieving, narcotics detection, agility and performing tricks. Due to their love to obey and easy training, these dogs are often cast in movies, such as the popular Air Bud series of movies. The Golden Retriever has very little, if any, guarding instincts so this breed gets along with everyone, including other dogs. However, they do make good watchdogs as they loudly signal a stranger’s approach. It is imperative to provide this dog with daily mental and physical activity to avoid any destructive and/or high-strung behavior. Being a confident and consistent pack leader will lead to an obedient dog. This breed can live in an apartment if exercised regularly. They are moderately active indoors and will do best with at least a medium to large yard. The Golden Retriever requires a daily, brisk, long walk, jog or run alongside you when you bicycle. It is important to make the dog heel beside or behind the owner during these exercises to establish yourself as the pack leader. This breed loves to swim so keep towels handy near water. Seat covers to protect your car seats from a wet or dirty dog can be purchased at your local pet store. In addition, they like to retrieve balls and other toys, so it is not uncommon to see one of these dogs lounging around with a few tennis balls in its mouth that it has retrieved. Whatever the exercise, just do it often with a young retriever to avoid hyperactivity.

Tips for a New Dog at Home

By: Lori Craddock

After the holidays, you find yourself with a new dog or puppy in the family, now what? Here are a few tips to prepare for and to assist to adjust your new pet to your family and home. Supplies: You will need a few basics to buy before you bring your pet home. You’ll need a collar, leash, food and water bowls, the correct pet food for your pet’s age range, and toys. A dog must have toys to keep it active and mentally stimulated or it might act out and make toys out of household items you do not want it to. Some good tools to have on hand are nail clippers and a pet brush as well as a pet bed and crate if you intend on crating your pet. A crate should be just big enough for your pet to stand full height and turn around and should not have any lose wire that a collar could get caught on. Identification: It is important to get identification tags for your pet’s collar. This can be ordered online or gotten at your local pet store. Ear chipping is a good option to aid in finding your pet if it gets lost and can be done at the veterinarian. Remember to register your pet’s ear chip on the website to make it active. Adjustment time: It is important to bring your pet home during a time when you have a few days at home to be there while your pet adjusts. Patience is a must to have as adjusting can take two days to two months according to the Humane Society. Get to know your pet through quality time and play. Avoid jealousy within your home by not neglecting any other pets within the home. When introducing a new dog to your other pets, it can be helpful to allow them to smell each other before meeting by taking a blanket or toy the pet has rubbed its smell on and giving it to the other pet to familiarize itself to. Using a baby gate to allow pets to smell and see each other thru is a good first way to introduce pets too. Schedule: From the moment you bring your pet home, it is important to keep it on a schedule so it can rely on repetition which works best when training your dog. Meal and bathroom breaks should be at regularly scheduled times to avoid accidents. It is important to take your pet out for bathroom breaks shortly after each meal as well as first thing in the morning, right before bed and whenever it is about to get really excited like playing with the kids. Before bringing your pet home, make a plan for who will be in charge of feeding and walking your pet. Training: This goes hand in hand with having your pet on a schedule. You need to decide what your house rules are in advance and stick to them. Will your dog be sleeping in bed with you, in a dog bed, or a crate? Is the dog allowed on the furniture? Are any rooms off limits? What type of reinforcement will you use? Positive is recommended with treats when your pet does what you ask. It’s a good idea to come up with set words to use and even hand signals for commands and make sure everyone in the household uses them so the dog can learn quickly. A basic obedience class is recommended and can be found through your local pet store. Socialize your pet as often as you can to avoid issues later. Veterinarian: It is advisable to take your new dog to the veterinarian within a week after adoption. There, he will receive a health check and any needed vaccinations. If your dog came from a shelter, it is possible it could have fleas or worse, which a vet can take care of for you in no time. Ear chipping is a great option to look into here. Also, spay or neuter your pet which is best to avoid unwanted puppies and even avoids some future health issues.

The Pointer Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Pointer breed is the perfect dog for an athletic family as it is a very active breed that must be exercised regularly. Exercise should be vigorous to wear out the dog’s energy and avoid indoor restlessness. A minimum of a daily long walk or jog is needed. These dogs make great jogging companions and can run alongside a bicycle ride. They also love to swim and retrieve although not purposefully bred for that. Being an active breed, apartment life is not recommended as these dogs need space to run and are active even indoors. When exercised properly, this high energy dog is capable of being calm. This is a great companion dog as it is friendly, loyal and patient. They love affection and are good with children. This breed adapts well to new situations. Although very devoted to their family, they can be a bit standoffish with strangers at first, but soon warm up. This breed does well with other pets including other dogs. The Pointer breed of dog gets its name from the way it stands motionless when it spots its game in a pointing manner. It was first seen in England in 1650 and was created by mixing the bulldog, bloodhound, Foxhound, Greyhound, Italian Pointer, Newfoundland, and Setter. In the early 1700s, Pointers became popular with hunters to find their game due to their excellent sense of smell. This was before guns were prevalent in hunting. Pointers are quick and can cover a lot of ground, so they are great for flushing out birds. Traditionally, they are used to locate the prey not retrieve it. Although they work well in warm weather, they are not water dogs and do not do well in the cold. The coat on a Pointer is dense, short and smooth. Coat colors include primarily white with liver, lemon, black, and or orange markings whether solid, patched or speckled or can be solid in color. They can also be tri-colored. Brushing a Pointer is easy and should be done regularly with a firm bristle brush and bathe only when necessary. This breed is an average shedder. The average height of a Pointer is 21-24 inches and the average weight is 44-66 pounds. The average lifespan for this breed is 13-14 years. With age, this breed is prone to dwarfism, hip dysplasia, skin conditions, and thyroid issues.

 

“What kind of dog is that?”

Ellen Burbrink, DVM Crosspointe Animal Hospital

How many times have you heard this as a pet parent, “Wow your dog is so cute, what kind of dog is he?” Although many pet parents may be able to answer easily, for others it can be just a guess. The answer to this question however, may be more important than you think.

The breed make-up, or genetics, of your pet helps to determine not just how he looks, but potentially if he is predisposed to certain health conditions. For example, Boxers can have an inherited condition called Boxer Cardiomyopathy that can lead to congestive heart failure and potentially sudden death. Collies often have a sensitivity to Ivermectin (a drug commonly found in heartworm preventatives) that can result in neurotoxicity. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease in dogs that causes the retina to degenerate over time leading to blindness. Doberman Pinschers, and several other breeds, can inherit a bleeding disorder called von Willebrand’s Disease which can cause prolonged clotting times and spontaneous bleeding. And the list goes on and on…

All of these inherited diseases can affect our mixed breed dogs just as much as our purebred dogs, if they have the right genetics. While many of these conditions do not have a cure, it would be important to know if your pet is at risk. That information would allow your veterinarian to create a customized health care plan for your dog including what medications to avoid, early symptoms of disease to monitor for, further diagnostic testing for a specific disease, or potentially special nutritional requirements.

The Genetic Health Analysis™ is a screening tool that will analyze your pets DNA. The test has been developed by Royal Canin® in partnership with the Wisdom Panel® and the Waltham® Centre for Pet Nutrition.

All that is involved is a simple blood collection from your dog by your veterinary clinic. The blood is then submitted to their laboratory for analysis, and a custom report is sent to you and your veterinarian. The results will identify the most likely combination of breeds that make up your pet going back 3 generations. In addition, your pet will be screened for over 30 different genetic conditions such as the ones listed above. This information will allow you, and your veterinarian, to take early preventative care measures and monitor for any warning signs at home. Not to mention, you will finally be able to truthfully answer the question, “What kind of dog is that?”

Sometimes the results may even shock you. Carly, who was adopted from Oldies but Goodies Cocker Spaniel Rescue, recently had the Genetic Health Analysis done on her. Her owner learned that she is a mix of Akita, Collie and Dalmatian.

More information on the Genetic Health Analysis™ can be found on www.royalcaningha.com or contact Crosspointe Animal Hospital 703-690-6600 to get your dog tested. Ellen Burbrink, DVM

 

Tips to Keep Your Pet Warm in Colder Months

By: Lori Craddock

As the warmer months roll out, it is important to adapt our homes and routines in order to make our pets comfortable and safe. Here are a few tips:

Body Aches: The elements can affect a pet’s body as it does a human. When it is rainy or cold, the barometric pressure changes in the air and the body can be affected. Those animals that have been injured in the past, endured surgery or are just are up in years and might suffer arthritic body aches can be affected negatively. It can range from minor aches and pains to not wanting to get out of bed or walk. A good tip for this could be to use a heated pet bed pad for 20 minutes on then off at a time to ease the muscles. Medicines recommended by a veterinarian can also aid in lubricating the muscle and joints that are affected by the weather.

Chemical Avoidance: Salt used on the streets can irritate an animal’s paws and antifreeze/coolants can be toxic to ingest, so make sure to wash the paws of your pet when you bring it inside to avoid it ingesting bad substances as well as be careful what is accessible.

Clothes: There are several types of clothing that can be used to protect your pet in the elements. It is important to assess your pet’s specific needs and the environment it will be in as well. Length of hair, length of time outside and specific pet’s sensitivity is important as each dog can vary within a breed. During rain, mud, snow as well as overall cold, pet rain-boots as well as jackets or sweaters can be important if the breed or particular dog is sensitive.

Keeping Dry: Drying off and/or warming up any dog that has been outside in the wet or cold is a necessity. It is recommended to use a specific towel just for the animals so they can get familiarized with the tool before putting it to use so it is not looked at as a toy or annoyance by the animal.

Hydration: Hopefully your pet is indoors and will have a consistent source of clean and available fresh water. It is important to keep this source handy and check your pipes/source of water to verify. If by chance you are keeping an outdoor source of water during outdoor play for your pet, make sure it is clean, fresh and not frozen in colder climates. Also, hydrate pets more often that play outside as playing depletes energy that keeps your pets warm.

Make Noise Before Starting Equipment: Strays can be quick to nestle into warm spots, such as a car or other machine engine, so make noise to avoid hazard when you approach or enter before you turn the engine.

Weimaraner Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Weimaraner breed of dog is an excellent hunting dog bred for its good scenting ability, endurance and courage. They make excellent guard dogs and watch dogs as well as service dogs. This is an intelligent breed that is easily trainable, friendly and obedient. They love children and enjoy being part of a family. These are affectionate dogs. The American Kennel Club recognized the Weimaraner breed in 1943. However, they were first brought over from Europe in 1929 by Howard Knight who founded the first American Weimaraner breed club. Famous depictions of Weimaraners can be found throughout history. In the 1600s, a Weimaraner was depicted in a Van Dyck painting. Sesame Street, the popular children’s television show, often used Weimaraners in skits they aired involving dressing the dogs in human clothes. A product of selective German breeding, the Weimaraner is believed to be descended from the Bloodhound and bred for hunting wolves, deer and bear. The medium-sized breed was originally named the Weimer Pointer, named after the court that sponsored the breed, but is often referred to today as the “grey ghost” due to its distinctive color. Due to lack of big game over time, this breed adapted to being a good bird dog. These hunting dogs have a strong prey instinct so they should not be trusted with small non-canine animals. The average height of a Weimaraner is 22-27 inches and weighs an average of 50-70 pounds. Its lifespan is 10-12 years. Due to being prone to bloat, it is best to feed this breed two to three small meals as opposed to large meals. Grooming maintenance is low on this short smooth and sleek coat and shedding is average. Coat color on this breed is solid gray although sometimes a small white spot can be found on the chest. It has a docked tail. Extensive exercise is needed for this energetic breed. It is important to provide regular training from puppyhood and the command “Sit” will avoid your pet jumping on guests and children, knocking them over with their powerful bodies. Training to prevent unwanted behavior is best as this breed is extremely easy to become wary. Never hit to discipline as these dogs will learn to avoid and act out, making training difficult. It is important to be the pack leader with your Weimaraner as it will be quick to turn Alpha if you give it the chance. Keep it on a short leash so it does not learn to pull. Also, these dogs tend to be barkers, which can be curbed with proper training. A Weimaraner can live in an apartment if properly exercised, but it is best to have at least a large fenced in yard as they need space to run free. They do not fare well in outdoor kennels, but rather prefer being indoors with their family.

Help Your Pet Enjoy Their Senior Years!

Candice Berkshire, DVM Crosspointe Animal Hospital

Every month seems to be an occasion for recognition…of something or other. For the veterinary community, October is Senior Wellness Month. The American Veterinary Medical Association has taken the time to designate this month for all things senior or geriatric. Now age, strictly speaking, is not a disease. However, as in people, our pets suffer age-related diseases. I’m sure we all remember being told that pets died of old age. In the current veterinary climate, we have more advanced diagnostic testing, and a more precise understanding of companion animal disease. We have the ability to diagnose and slow progression of kidney failure, liver disease and stave off the effects of osteoarthritis. The first tool in early diagnosis or prevention of age-related changes is understanding pets’ aging. While the common conception is that each calendar year is comparable to seven years of aging in a dog, it isn’t quite that simple. Cats and dogs reach physical maturity by one year of age, comparable to fifteen years of aging in a human. The following year is comparable to seven to nine years of aging in a human. In essence, your two-year-old cat or dog has maturity comparable to a human in their early twenties. Each year thereafter is similar to five to seven years. To add to the confusion, all of this is affected by breed and size. Giant breed dogs, such as St. Bernards or Great Danes, age much more quickly than a toy breed dog. The average life span of a Great Dane is approximately eight to nine years, as compared to thirteen years for a Chihuahua. Many veterinarians consider animals ‘senior’ after they have reached seven years of age, with appropriate adjustments made for breed and species. If your pet is ‘senior’, you might wonder what that means in terms of disease and future risks. Geriatric patients are at increased risk for kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, dental disease and orthopedic disease, to name a few. Statistics suggest that 50% of dogs over ten years of age will have some form of cancer, either benign or malignant. Without question, senior dogs have significant reduction in their quality of life due to osteoarthritis, which is often worsened by obesity. Many senior cats will be affected by some degree of change in kidney function after they reach beyond twelve or thirteen years. So now that we have addressed when your pet is senior, and how that might affect them, it is important to illustrate the purpose of this exercise. Many veterinarians recommend senior bloodwork for all pets over seven years old. Senior bloodwork can pick up changes in liver, kidney and metabolic function, as well as pick up any evidence of infection or even cancer in some cases. Routine examinations are doubly important once pets are senior, as it can help identify areas of concern, or clinical signs that can be resolved. Patients with arthritis do not need to suffer chronic pain. The veterinary community has a multitude of ways to help keep pets comfortable, ranging from anti-inflammatory medications to injectable joint supplements. The surest way to give your aging pet an excellent quality of life is to engage in a dialogue with your veterinarian, and choose an approach specially tailored for your pet. Crosspointe Animal Hospital is celebrating seniors by offering $25 off a senior bloodwork panel for your dog or cat during the month of October. Call today to schedule an appointment, 703-690-6600.

Tips on Relieving a Pet’s Separation Anxiety

By: Lori Craddock

Pets provide their owners with companionship and comfort, but sometimes a pet can feel anxiety when their owner leaves them alone at home. The term for this is separation anxiety and it has many forms. Here are some symptoms of separation anxiety to look for: Shaking, barking, howling, chewing, destruction, digging, throwing up, having accidents, restlessness, scratching at doors and symptoms of depression. Note: Do not scold your pet for these separation anxiety symptoms as they are signs of distress and yelling and other negative reinforcement can make them worse. Here are some tips on how to relieve some of the stress and symptoms from this disorder: Counterconditioning- Offer a treat as you leave the house like a fun puzzle toy that takes a while to figure out or a Kong toy filled with peanut butter etc so your pet begins to associate your leaving the house with a reward and see it as a positive thing.

Changing leaving patterns- Your pet can begin to get anxious as it sees you perform your normal routine to leave the house like grabbing your keys or putting your shoes or jacket on. You can change this reaction by beginning to change your routine like put your shoes on and grab your keys, but then sit on the couch and watch tv instead of leaving. Your dog will begin not to instantly fear these patterns if you change them up.

Thunder shirt- This shirt is made to fit a pet and feel a bit like a hug against their body. Veterinarians recommend this device.

Crating- If your pet has been trained properly to use a crate to feel like it’s a safe place, not a punishment, then you can crate your pet to try to aid in lessening anxiety while away. Plug in with calming scents- Pet stores offer plug in that deliver calming aromas in the air to relax your pet.

Radio/Television- Leaving a radio on with calming music or a television show with talking can make your pet feel less alone while you are out. This is especially helpful with birds, but also works with dogs and cats as they feel somebody is in the room talking to them.

Second Pet- Having a second animal can keep your original pet company. Whether you set up a playmate or adopt a second pet, the company can keep your pet content while you are out of the house.

Petsitter/Walker- Hiring somebody to come play with and walk your pet while you are away can minimize the stress of your disappearance.

Doggie Daycare- This is a service provided by some pet stores and other boarding facilities to provide a place your pet can go to while you are away from the house and gives the pet more constant company for those pets with worse separation anxiety.

Medication- A veterinarian can prescribe medication that can chemically relieve stress and anxiety in your pet for extreme cases where other options have been ruled out.

 

The Beagle Breed

By: Lori Craddock

In 1885, the first Beagles were recognized by the American Kennel Club. They have grown to be one of the most popular breeds in the United States. They are great family companions, but have proved their worth in roles as hunter and even narcotics detection dog. Famous beagles include those owned by the singer Barry Manilow and former President Lyndon Johnson as well as animated characters, Snoopy, Odie and the Beagle Boys which used to try to rob character Scrooge McDuck. Beagles are said to have originated in the 1500s when English hunters would use them in packs to hunt rabbits, pheasant, quail and other small animals. They make great hunting dogs regardless of being alone or in packs. This breed is said to be a cross between types of English Hounds. The name Beagle is assumed to be created from a French term “be’geule,” which means “gape throat,” referring to the dogs distinct howl and baying voice. The name may also have come from the dog’s size, stemming from the French word “beigh”, the Old English word “begele”, or perhaps the Celtic word “beag”, which all mean “small”. The average height of a Beagle is 13-16 inches and the average weight is 20-25 pounds. They live an average of 12-15 years. This sturdy breed of dog has a short to medium length coat that is hard, sleek and easy to care for. Coat colors come in lemon, tri-color, black and tan, red and white, orange and white, or lemon and white, blue tick and red tick. This is an average shedder. It is recommended to brush with a firm bristle brush, and bathe with mild soap only when necessary. Dry shampoo can be used occasionally. The Beagle is a sweet natured dog, loving, gentle, intelligent and friendly. Its hunting instincts make the Beagle brave, but although it usually gets along with other dogs, it should not be trusted with non-canine pets unless properly socialized over time or its instinct can kick in. Running off to follow scents is also a hunting trait the Beagle possesses, so make sure to be careful when your pet is off the lease. If you want to satisfy your pet’s tracking instinct, you can purchase animal scents and play games with your Beagle. This dog can also be stubborn as it has a mind of its own, so firm training is needed as well as patience. Daily pack walks will avoid separation anxiety. A daily brisk walk is necessary at the very least as the Beagle has a lot of stamina. With enough exercise, a Beagle can be calm. As long as sufficient outdoor activity is granted regularly, the Beagle can do okay in an apartment. It is best to have a large fenced in area to run in.

The Collie Breed

By: Lori Craddock

The Collie is a beloved breed and some say it is as American as apple pie. This may have to do with the influence of a popular television show called “Lassie” portraying this breed as a great family pet which always seems to save the day. This is a herding breed of dog that is suspected to be named after the Scottish black-faced sheep called the Colley that it was known to herd. The modern Collie is descended from generations of these working dogs. The original Rough-Coated Collie was a smaller dog with a broader head and shorter muzzle know mainly in Scotland. In addition to herding, these dogs were used for water rescue, guiding cows and sheep to market, and guarding the flocks in both Scotland and England. Nowadays, one can add agility, competitive obedience, and work with the blind to its list of talents. The modern Rough Coat Collie can have an aversion to water due to the heaviness of its coat when wet. In the 1860’s, Queen Victoria kept Collies at Balmoral Castle in Scotland starting a trend with wealthy people, such as J.P. Morgan, owning these dogs. In the late 1800s, the Collie was bred with the Borzoi which became a requirement for show dogs. This led to a separation of the rough coated Scotch Collie and the smooth coated larger dog with a flatter face we see now in show rings. The first Collie was presented at a dog show in 1860 and was recognized by the AKC in 1885. Rough Coated Collies are more popular than the Smooth Coated Collies, which have their own popularity in Great Britain. Although both types are relatively similar, the difference is that the Smooth Coats have longer hair. Lassie, the main character in the television show was a Rough Coated Collie. Both the rough and smooth types of Collie come in the variety of coat colors that include sable and white, tri color of black, white and tan, blue merle or predominantly white with sable, tri-color or blue merle markings. Weekly to bi-weekly brushing of the coat is recommended. The Smooth Coat Collie is an average shedder while the Rough Coat Collie sheds heavily twice a year. Collies have brown eyes, except the Blue Merle which can have blue eyes or one of each color. The average height of a Collie is 22-26 inches and the average weight is 50-75 pounds. They are active and need plenty of exercise, but a minimum of a daily long walk. Pack walks are recommended. They can handle apartment life as long as they are properly exercised as they are relatively inactive indoors. They are sensitive to heat, so be careful to supply shade and water when they are outdoors as well a type of sunblock on the nose if in bright sun. This is a highly intelligent dog with a great sense of direction that is loyal and easy to train. They are playful and sensitive, yet protective of their family. These dogs are good with children and other pets. Make sure to break the habit if they exhibit herding of their humans at an early age. It is important to socialize them as they can be wary of strangers. Training should be done gently, yet consistent. Housetraining is simple with these dogs.

Outdoor Hazards for Dogs

By: Lori Craddock

Dogs love to take long walks and play outside in the warmth of summer, but it important to steer your pet away from outdoor hazards. Everyday items can be toxic to your pets. Here are a few to avoid: Compost: This is a popular method for gardeners to use, but can contain toxic elements to be ingested by your pet. Once decomposition of the items in the compost bin begin, it is normal for mold to grow and some even produce hazardous tremorgenic mycotoxins. If ingested, this moldy compost can result in sickness and physical distress in as little as 30 minutes. Symptoms include agitation, drooling, panting, seizures, tremors and vomiting. Flowers and Plants: It is never good to let your dog chew or eat flowers or plants as many can be harmful. A few flowers that are toxic to your pet if ingested are Crocuses, Lilies and Lily of the Valley. Fertilizers, Pesticides and Soil Additives: Although many fertilizers are fairly safe for pets, there are a few to be careful of. The ones that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron can be harmful to dogs. If meal-containing products are ingested in large portions, they can form a concretion in the stomach, potentially obstructing the gastrointestinal tract and causing severe pancreatitis. Products containing iron can result in iron poisoning. Also, ingestion of pesticides and insecticides, even in small doses can be life-threatening. Rose care products that contain organophosphates are particularly harmful. Mushrooms: This fungi can grow almost everywhere and thrives on old wood and sometimes just in your back or front yard grass. If ingested, mushrooms could poison your pet. Mulch Products: Cocoa bean mulch is made of by-products of chocolate production, discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean. This mulch often attracts dogs with its “chocolate-like” smell and may tempt them to eat the mulch. These processed cocoa bean hulls can contain theobromine, and caffeine, which can be toxic to dogs. It is best to keep your dog away from mulch as each product varies. Mulch with high amounts of toxins can cause an abnormal heart rhythm, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, vomiting, and even death. Slug and Snail Baits: These baits come in many forms, granular, liquid, pellets and powder and the ones that contain the active ingredient metaldehyde is especially poisonous to animals. Symptoms within one to two hours after ingesting these include life-threateningly high body temperature, salivation, seizures, restlessness, tremors and vomiting. After ingestion of these toxic items symptoms can last for several days or even be fatal. If any of these items are ingested and your pet begins to show signs of distress, immediate veterinary care is recommended.

At Home Pet VisitsReducing Stress, Increasing Health and Happiness

Christine Haisfield, DVM Crosspointe Animal Hospital

While many dogs and cats do very well when they visit their veterinarian, if you have ever had a pet that hates going to the veterinarian’s office, you know how stressful these visits can be on both of you. Whether it is the car ride, other animals in the lobby, or the strange new environment, often by the time your pet’s exam begins he may already be stressed and nervous. This makes examining your pet and doing whatever he needs harder on everyone involved. You may even dread bringing your pet to the veterinarian so much that you let routine care lapse, or even sicknesses wait. For pets that don’t like to go to the veterinarian, having the veterinarian come to them may be a great alternative option. Home visits are also great for older pets that have trouble getting in and out of the car, pets that are aggressive towards other animals, multi pet households and people with busy lifestyles who enjoy the convenience of at home visits. Home visits are frequently less stressful on both pets and owners. They allow your pet to remain in a familiar environment with limited outside stressors. When the veterinarian examines your pets at home they are usually calmer and often happy to see us. This makes exams easier and quicker which further reduces stress and anxiety. Most routine care can be provided during home visits. This includes wellness examinations, all vaccines, collection of laboratory samples, nail trims, and treatment/diagnosis of minor illnesses and injuries. If you think home visits are a good option for you and your pet, there are a few things you can do to make the visit go even smoother. Having your pets (especially cats) confined in a room where they cannot hide is a great way to start. The room where the exam is performed should be well lighted and have a hard surface/table where your smaller pets can be examined. Having your pet’s favorite treats on hand to give before and after the exam is a great way to make them feel comfortable with the veterinarian and assistant. While home visits are great for many situations, there are times when bringing your pet directly to the veterinary hospital may be the better option. In the case of major illnesses of injuries where x-rays, immediate laboratory results, hospitalization, and/or surgery may be indicated it is better to get your pet to the hospital as soon as possible. It is always possible for us to transport your pet to the hospital in these situations, but this may add an additional level of stress, and in the case of emergencies we may lose valuable time. If you think home pet care visits are for you, please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian to see if this is an option. The health and well-being of your pet are always the veterinarian’s first priority, and if home care visits can improve these we are happy to help with a house call. Dr. Christine Haisfield is a veterinarian at Crosspointe Animal Hospital. If you would like to set up a home pet visit, or have any questions please do not hesitate to call Crosspointe at 703-690-6600.

Crosspointe Animal Hospital usually has a few kitties being readied for adoption. It’s a good place to look if you are in the market for a feline companion. They are required to be fixed but this is not recommended before the age for 4-6 months. Adoption cost is $100 and does not include the future vaccines or spaying or neutering that will need to be done but they are up to date on shots as you take them. Check with Crosspointe for current residents who are looking for permanent homes. Call 703-690-6600

Be Careful Where You Buy a Dog

By the Old Grouse

Be careful buying a dog from an online sales site. You might as well consider it a rescue. I consider that I rescued Zach from an owner who’s care was not total neglect but deficient. His county tag was missing, if he ever had one. He had come from Washington, State. Renamed Zacharias, which means The Lord Remembered, Zach seems healthy but skinny and had kicking breath suffering from periodontal disease. He had to go to get abscessed teeth pulled. This is an expensive major surgery for a dog. He’s such a cute, very loving, 9 lb Pomeranian. actually now he’s ten pounds with better muscle tone due to better diet and our long pack walks. The previous owner didn’t mean to be cruel and neglectful. The person was just poor and finally realized that they couldn’t handle it and gave him up saying they had to move and couldn’t take him. But, he was represented as nothing wrong. No one else would have invested in him. If you get a dog from a pound or shelter, they have been vetted already and they won’t be misrepresented. If they don’t want to save the dog or figure they can’t move it out, they euthanize them at the rate of hundreds a day. Rescues are very much more careful who they let take a dog, some, to the point of ridiculous but they have more experience with the animals and can match families better. Many rescues, want every dog in your house to be fixed. That’s not fair or reasonable. Getting a dog from a breeder is variable also. If you get a dog from a puppy mill, it can be just as much trouble. You might as well just buy from a pet store. Only if you get a dog from a responsible breeder may you get a solid animal that well represents the breed, but not an adolescent or mature dog but you’ll have to deal with the puppy stages. That requires a lot more time, energy and sacrifice than a two or three year old. Zach is an adult, past all the puppy pitfalls but old enough to have bad teeth. Not taking care of your dogs teeth is probably the most expensive mistake an owner can make. Zach was a mess, But, he’s OK now, his breath doesn’t smell like an outhouse. Good diet and exercise will toughen him up. He’s getting meat and exercise to get some muscle on those bones. Pomeranians are German Spitz dogs. They are nordic type hardy cold weather dogs like dwarf sled dogs. They even have wolfy faces like Huskies and Malamutes. 70F is a hot day for them. With their double coat, our coldest day here doesn’t bother them at all. Zach and Zorro expressed no problem with single digit temperatures. Their ancestors were hunting dogs, and also herders and companions. They are loving to people but bark to warn of intruders and they won’t tolerate a wild canine like a Fox. The cuteness of size belies a fierce heart. That’s what I love about them. They don’t know they’re not Elkhounds or Lapp Dogs or Aussies. Zach is relaxing in his new home. Zach and Zorro are settling their dominance issues and walk tethered in the Moonlight like a little sled team. And they’ve learned to team up to get my attention for a walk. I thought, they’d be to busy with each other to pay me much attention but Zach is fixed on me and loves for me to hold him for a while sometimes and to give him a neck rub. I have to wonder what his past life must have been like. Zorro wants playful attention but not so much to be held. The Lord Remembered Zacharias and helped him find the care he needed before periodontal disease affected his overall health. I look for him to be fierce once again. Just be careful where you buy your dog, It’s an important decision selecting a companion and one not to be taken lightly. But, if you need a dog, the rewards are priceless.

 

Parasite Pevention in Pets

Dr. Haisfield Crosspointe Animal Hospital

EXTERNAL PARASITES Fleas:

Fleas are small biting insects that survive by sucking blood from their animal hosts. Fleas can infect both dogs and cats, as well as other mammals, including humans. They can cause intense itching and discomfort. If they are able to infest your pet and home it can take months to get completely rid of them. The best way to prevent this from happening is to keep all of your pets on monthly flea and tick preventatives, including cats that do not go outside. Ticks:

Ticks are another type of parasite that survive off of the blood of mammals. Unlike fleas, they bite and firmly attach themselves to their hosts while sucking blood. They can caused discomfort and local irritation at the bite wound. More significantly, they can pass along diseases that can cause serious illness to your pet including lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and rocky mountain spotted fever. The best way to help prevent ticks from biting your pet and passing along disease is to use monthly flea and tick preventatives/repellants. We also have a lyme vaccine available to help prevent lyme disease.

INTESTINAL PARASITES Tapeworms:

This internal GI parasite can infect dogs and cats at any age, and is transmitted by infected fleas. Typically animals will be seen “scooting” across the floor, licking at their anal region, and/or small “sesame seed like” material can be seen around the anus or small tapeworm segments can be seen in the feces. Dogs and cats can be treated with an oral deworming medication to treat this parasite, however, the best protection is good flea control. Roundworms:

This is a commonly found parasite in kittens and puppies, but can also be found in older dogs and cats that are not kept on monthly preventatives. These worms can cause diarrhea, vomiting, inappetance, and lethargy depending on the number of worms present. These worms can also infect humans, especially young children, with ingestion of contaminated fecal material and cause diseases of the abdominal organs and nervous system. Ocular disease (blindness, pain, infection) can also occur with movement of the worm into the eye. Dogs and cats can be treated with a monthly deworming medication to treat and prevent this parasite. Hookworms:

These parasites attach to the inside walls of the GI tract to feed off of their hosts. They can cause similar symptoms as round worms, however, are more likely to result in serious blood loss especially in very young animals. They can also infect humans; the infectious stages can penetrate through cracks in the skin (especially the bottoms of the feet if walking barefoot), and move around underneath the skin in humans, causing irritation. Dogs and cats can be treated with a monthly deworming medication to treat and prevent this parasite. Cryptosporidium:

This parasite is infectious immediately after being passed in the feces. It causes severe GI signs (vomiting, diarrhea with subsequent dehydration) in both animals and humans that become infected. It is easily transmitted thorough contact with infected fecal material. Care should be taken when cleaning litter and picking up feces, and immediate hand washing is prudent to prevent infection. Immunosuppressed individuals are particularly susceptible to this parasite and should avoid/limit their contact with the litter pan/fecal material. This parasite is relatively uncommon, and there are no monthly preventatives for it, however, if clinical signs are consistent we can test for and appropriately treat Cryptosporidium. Giardia:

This parasite is immediately infective (similar to Cryptosporidium) and causes similar GI signs, though can be less severe. It is commonly found in stagnant water sources, and is also transmissible to humans. Care should be taken to wash hands thoroughly and dispose of feces daily. This parasite is very common, and it is recommended that a fecal sample be checked anytime there is ongoing diarrhea so that we can be treat effectively for Giardia. HEARTWORMS Heartworms are a serious health risk for both dogs and cats. They are transmitted by mosquitos and develop and reproduce in the blood and hearts of infected animals where they can cause life threatening heart and lung disease. Treatment of heartworm disease is expensive and can be life threatening itself. The best way to protect against heartworms is to keep your pets on monthly heartworm preventatives year round.

POINTS TO REMEMBER: 1. Prevention is cheaper, easier, and safer for you and your pet versus treatment of parasites after infection/infestation. Keep your pet on monthly heartworm and flea/tick preventatives year round. 2. Bring your pets in for annual physical exams, as well as fecal testing, heartworm testing, tick-borne disease testing, and vaccines. Prevention and early detection is the best way to reduce the risk of significant disease caused by parasites as well as other diseases. 3. Many of the above disease can be transmitted to humans. Always wash your hands after picking up feces/scooping the litter box to prevent exposure. Make sure pregnant and immunosuppressed people reduce their exposure to litter, fecal material, and any cats or dogs with the diseases listed above.

 

Avoiding the Mental Dog

By Floyd Harrison, Publisher

Most pet owners simply assume that physical health is the only important thing to worry about until there are problems, but keeping a mentally healthy dog is very important for your dog’s physical health as well.

The list of potential mental issues in dogs is not unlike the gamut of human problems. Dogs too, suffer Depression, Separation Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Noise Anxiety, Aggression, Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors, and physically induced problems which are also similar to human abnormalities.

There are now Veterinary behaviorists to help animals with ‘organic’ behavioral disorders, that is, behaviors that are not normal for the species and are not the result of a training defi ciency.

Dogs communicate. If you pay attention to your pet, they always let you know something is wrong. Watch and listen and see if perhaps your pet has been trying to tell you something.

As with humans, dogs have a repertoire of behaviors and emotions that serve to keep the body alive and healthy. That means avoiding pain and danger, learning and repeating behaviors that promote wellbeing, perceiving and learning to navigate the physical and social environment and, if offspring exist, protecting and nurturing them. When any of these behaviors are performed in a way that is excessive, out of context, and diminishes the dog’s social or physical well being, a mood disorder is likely present.

Though mental illness can present at any age, the majority of cases likely show on or around the time of social maturity, which in the dog roughly falls between 1 and 3 years of age, with smaller breeds maturing early while larger breeds maturing later.

Just as with humans, genomic studies promise to shed light on causes. It is thought more likely that a dogs problem is genetic predisposition because environmental factors are considered to be more controlled. A dog will not usually engage in behaviors that would make it sick as a human will.

A variety of scientists in the fields of veterinary behavior, ethology, psychology, neuropharmacology, psychiatry, and genetics, plus others in lesser known fields have taken an interest in research, either for the direct benefit of animal patients or using animals as models for human disease.

Such understanding could be helpful in selecting a dog at a shelter. Some behaviors indicate caution but remember that a shelter is a horribly stressful environment for any animal. You should look for some of these indications.

The dog you are looking for will be at the front of the cage or willing to come to the front to greet you. It will greet you calmly, perhaps lick you. It will make eye contact with you with a relaxed, soft expression, and while its ears may swivel as it listens all around, his focus will remain on you. If you seem to be connecting with a dog take it out for a walk. When leashed, he will walk past the other barking, jumping dogs without a second glance and without shying. He will not drag you by the leash, though he may walk to its end. A dog that occasionally looks back at you as you walk and that explores but quickly comes back to you when you encourage him to, shows a distinct desire to interact with a person. When approaching others, adult, child or animal, it should do so with a slow wagging tail and a relaxed lower jaw.

A dog which exhibits all of these traits in the shelter is rare but this is the ideal. Avoid dogs that act afraid or look timid. Try to avoid picking a mentally fragile individual.

High energy and anxiety are two leading causes of problem behavior in dogs. Barking, destructive chewing, digging and some forms of aggression can be linked to a dog being too wound up. With this in mind it makes a lot of sense to make sure our dogs get adequate exercise. Tired dogs rarely get into trouble. Your care and attention is the biggest factor in the mental well being of your dog.

Adapted from Introduction to Canine Mental Health by Krista Mifflin

 

How to Teach Your Dog to Rollover

By: Lori Craddock

Teaching your dog the “Rollover” trick is great for parties and can be accomplished with time and practice. Before beginning any training with your dog, make sure your pet is in a relaxed state of mind. The best way to get your dog or puppy relaxed is to exercise it fi rst for about 10-15 minutes to get rid of any hyperactivity. Some more hyper breeds may need to be exercised longer before they are just tired enough to relax. Be careful not to over exercise your pet so it is not too tired to learn the trick.

Once your pet is in a relaxed state, fi nd a quiet place to train your pet where there are little to no distractions. If you have multiple dogs, it is best to train them separately so that they can focus just on you and what you are training.

Start your training session with the command “Sit”. Once your dog is sitting, lure your pet, with a treat if need be, into a “Down” position so it is lying down. While your dog is lying down, gently push the dog onto its side as if to rub its belly. Once the dog is on its side, use your free hand to make a hand gesture you designate for “Bang” or “Rollover” as you say the word fi rmly. Then lure your pet to roll to the other side with a treat. Once the dog completes the trick, say “Yes” and reward with a treat so it knows it did what you wanted.

Your dog will eventually learn this hand gesture you chose for “Bang” or “Rollover” like sign language and associate it with the voice command and trick. This is a very hard trick to learn, so be patient and reward your pet if it gets it even a little right so it will learn what you are looking for the next time making it easier to get further into the training of the trick. For instance, if the dog struggles with the lying on the side after down and you can’t even get to the rollover part, focus on the lying on the side from down position until the dog gets it right. Once the dog lies to the side successfully after down, say “Yes” and reward the dog with a treat, so eventually the dog will know to lie on its side after getting into the down position like its second nature. At this point, you can hold your praise and treat until the dog rolls over, which will be easier as you are focusing only on the rollover step instead of teaching it on its side and rollover all at once.

The real trick to learning the “Rollover” command is repetition. You should work with your pet for ten minutes each training session. Once your pet has the trick down, continue the command from time to time so it does not forget the trick. Make sure to reward with treats so it is a fun event for your dog as well as those watching.

 

Anatolian Shepherd

By: Lori Craddock

Native to Asia Minor is the Anatolian Shepherd breed of dog. Their ancestors were used for centuries as combat dogs in war as well as for hunting. It was known to be particularly good against fi ghting wolves. The Turkish owners would put a spiked collar on the dogs so their necks could not be bitten by predators. This dog became the shepherd’s companion as it protected the fl ocks from these predators. It was a great protector all year round as it could withstand very hot and dry climates of summer and the cold of winter. Today’s version of this breed is still used as both a guard dog and a sheep dog.

There is some debate as to if the Turkish Kangal Dog, the National Dog of Turkey, is the same breed as the Anatolian Shepherd. However, the isolated historical conditions of the Sivas-Kangal region resulted in the development of the Kangal Dog as a distinct breed. The Anatolian Shepherd was recognized by the AKC in 1995.

This breed is very similar to the Great Pyrenees breed, but more slender and agile. The Anatolian Shepherd is rugged and muscular. Its ears are V-shaped with a rounded tip and they’re often black. They are usually cropped short in Turkey. Their eyes are dark brown to amber in color. Tails are long and carried low while curled upwards until alert when they are carried high making a “wheel.”

The coat on an Anatolian Shepherd comes in two basic types, medium length and medium long. The length depends on the dog’s lineage and season. The fur is longer around the collar and tail. Coat color is usually fawn with a black mask, but all color patterns and markings occur and this is a short or rough double coat. Little grooming is required. Twice a year the coat needs to be thoroughly brushed out due to shedding.

The average height of an Anatolian Shepherd is 26-30 inches tall and the average weight is 90-150 pounds. Life span is about 12-15 years.

Although this breed works with flocks, it is a guardian, not a herder. These dogs have a superior sense of hearing and sight. They are loyal, intelligent and easy to train, but need a strong leader. Although protective and brave, they are not aggressive, but can become possessive if not corrected. They can show suspicion towards strangers even though they are affectionate with their owners. If you exude control over your dog, they will accept people you introduce them to. The best way to train this dog is by motivational methods, with a fi rm, consistent and loving approach. They will be patient with and love the children under their roof, but they can accidentally knock them down so children should be supervised. Other animals will be accepted by these dogs if they are introduced when the dog is young.

This breed is not recommended for apartment life. They do best with a large yard at the very least and a fenced yard is necessary as they are suspicious of strangers. Even with a fenced in yard, they require long daily walks as they need a lot of exercise.

 

The Rat Terrier

By: Lori Craddock

The Rat Terrier is small yet functional breed. These dogs originated in Great Britain with a mix of Smooth Fox Terriers and Manchester Terriers in 1820. In the 1890s, they were brought to the United States and bred by immigrants mixing crosses of old time Fox Terriers and other European Terriers common in the 19th century such as the Old English White Terrier, Manchester Terrier, Bull Terrier and later more Smooth Fox Terrier, Beagle, Toy Fox Terriers, Whippets and Italian Greyhounds. The result was the American breed, the Rat Terrier.

From 1910 through the “Dust Bowl” era into 1930, this breed served as a farm dog. Due to its size and ability, it made an incredible ratter and was commonly used to rid the barns of unwanted vermin. One Rat Terrier is reported to have killed over 2,501 rats in a span of only seven hours in a rat infested barn. The breed was officially named by Teddy Roosevelt who was photographed in Life magazine holding three of these dogs all of which were of the original coloring of black and tan.
In addition to black and tan, coat colors now come in pearls, sables, chocolate, red and white, tri-spotted, blue and white, and red brindle. The color of the coat has never been a concern for breeders of these working dogs as it was their ability people favored. Overall, their coat is easy to groom.

These dogs are muscular, powerful, yet compact. They can be born with either a long or short tail. There are three different sizes of this breed, toy, mid-sized and standard. The height between types differs from 8-23 inches and weight from 4-35 pounds. They live about 15-18 years.

Although bred to work, these energetic dogs also make a loving companion and can adjust well into a family. They are affectionate and do well with children especially if raised as puppies with them. They make great watch dogs even though they can be friendly with strangers. They are not a yappy breed, but they are very playful and need a lot of exercise.
About 20-30 minutes of exercise is recommended daily for this breed. Apartment life is acceptable only if the dog is properly exercised. They love a good backyard to run around in, but be careful as these excellent diggers tend to escape under fenced in yards when not supervised.

This is a quick breed that likes to be given a challenge. They are easy to train and well-mannered. They like to please their owners so they take instruction well. They like to do what their owners do and follow them throughout the day. This fearless breed is also quick to jump right into the water and is a great swimmer. Whether on a hunting expedition or cuddling on the couch with the kids, this breed serves its purpose eagerly and makes a great all around companion.

 

Preparing Dogs for Warmer Weather

By: Lori Craddock

The weather has been up and down lately, but one thing is for sure, Spring is coming and it is time to prepare your dog for the warmer weather.

During the winter months, your dog grows a heavy coat to protect it against the cold weather. As warm weather arrives, your pet will begin to shed creating a mess around the house, so it is important to plan ahead and get rid of that winter coat including the dense undercoat hair in advance. It is advisable to have your pet professionally groomed at the beginning of the turn to warmer weather. This guarantees to properly rid your pet of its heavy undercoat and trim down the outer coat so that your pet can be comfortable in the warmer weather.

Once you have your dog professionally groomed for the season, you can upkeep your pet’s new warm weather coat with regular brushing that you can do yourself at home. While having your pet groomed, make sure to also have its nails trimmed.

Warm weather brings new life, including ticks, fleas and other parasites. Make sure to give your dog tick and flea medicine monthly starting at the first sign of warm weather. Heart worms are a threat and can be transmitted through mosquitoes, abundant in hot climate, and the outdoor environment. Give your pet monthly heart worm prevention medicine to keep it protected.

With warmer weather, your dog will want to be outdoors more to enjoy the sun. Buying new outdoor toys that encourage outdoor play will stimulate your pet to exercise more. Planning a new walking route or hiking trail can be a good way to make things more interesting and to take a break from the winter walking routine.

Make sure to keep your dog hydrated in the heat. Portable dog bowls, some even with built-in water containers, can be purchased at your local pet store or online. And, never leave your pet in a hot car as they cannot perspire like people to rid themselves of the heat. Either keep your air conditioner on both within a house or car you have your pet inside or take your pet with you.

 

Antibiotic Use in Dogs and Cats

By Lisa Kingsley, Veterinary Assistant

Antibiotics are a group of drugs commonly prescribed by veterinarians to help treat and prevent many types of diseases in dogs and cats. There are a variety of antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections of the ears, skin, digestive tract, or wounds for example. A veterinarian must first determine the type of bacterial infection before deciding on the appropriate antibiotic for your pet. For most infections, antibiotics begin working immediately to get rid of foreign bacteria in or on your pet’s body. As in humans, general antibiotics can be very effective in dogs and cats as long as they are administered correctly.

For infections that continue to persist past a normal course of antibiotics, a veterinarian may want to do a “culture and sensitivity” test. This test ensures that the appropriate type of antibiotic is being used for a particular infection by growing a sample of bacteria from the infection site in a laboratory. The bacteria’s vulnerability to different antibiotics is then tested, easily identifying the most effective medication. Veterinarians can then be sure that they are selecting the best antibiotic for your pet’s infection.

Antibiotic resistance is a common concern for both human doctors and veterinarians alike. Antibiotic resistant bacteria result from populations of bacteria mutating in response to short exposure to antibiotics. After developing resistance to that type of antibiotic, the bacteria is then able to persist long-term or reoccur a few weeks or months later. To prevent antibiotic resistance, it is extremely important to give the doses of medication at the appropriate time intervals each day and for the whole course of treatment as prescribed by your veterinarian. Antibiotics that are given twice a day, for example, should be given as close to twelve hours apart as possible. This way there is no lag time in the antibiotic’s fight against the infectious bacteria. If the infection appears to have cleared up before all the medicine has been administered, the antibiotic course still must be finished to prevent resistant bacteria from developing.

In recent years, an injectable antibiotic has been developed to fight many, but not all, types of bacterial infections. Injectable antibiotics are administered in one dose by a veterinarian and continue to fight the infection for two weeks following treatment. They are a great option for pet owners who are not able to easily medicate their pets or ensure that their pet gets the medicine at the right times each day.

Although antibiotics are effective at fighting “bad” bacteria, they also rid your pet’s body of good bacteria too. Your veterinarian may strongly recommend you give your pet a probiotic while on antibiotics to help restore the normal balance of “flora” in the gastrointestinal tract. There are many types of probiotics available for dogs and cats, ask your veterinarian which one is best suited for your pet.

Antibiotics are your pet’s first line of defense against many types of bacterial infections. When administered appropriately they are extremely effective in clearing up populations of bad bacteria and lessen the likelihood of the infection returning. If your pet is prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to administer the medication exactly as your veterinarian has indicated and for the whole course of treatment.

Crosspointe Animal Hospital is continuing to celebrate National Pet Dental Month. Receive a 10% discount on dental cleanings through the end of March. Schedule your pet’s dental today!

 

IMPROVED TOTAL FLUIDITY

Getting Your Horse (and You) Flowing Smoothly

By Linda S. Nedilsky - LMT - Advanced John Barnes Myofascial Release MT.

"Sara, sit up straight! Center yourself! Relax your shoulders!" shouted her instructor.

Sara has been competing for about 4 years never achieving her full potential. As I observed her riding, I noticed that she had difficulty centering on her horse. She was tight in the shoulders and lower back. The horse was showing tightness in the right side and not moving smoothly to the right. After her lesson, we spoke about the restrictions observed and how Myofascial Release (MFR) might improve her balance and relaxation. I also stated that Sara's restrictions were causing her QH control confusion.

A postural and soft tissue assessment of Sara and an overall static and movement assessment on her horse revealed that Sara's right hip was higher and rotated forward. Equally but opposite of Sarah, the horse's right hip was higher with the left pelvis rotated forward.

As riders communicate through their legs, pelvis as well as hands, Sara's own restrictions and muscle imbalances were causing the horse to compensate due to unclear communication. Sara's imbalance was exerting more right leg pressure. Her left arm was closer to her body causing the left rein to be more bearing. To the horse this could be interpreted as turn right and yield left adding confusion thereby causing triple tracking or erratic turning. Since these were physical restrictions, Sara was unable to correct as instructed.

This type of miscommunication and physical compensations can lead to layers of soft tissue exerting tension on the entire system. Fascial restrictions put up to 2000 pounds of pressure per square inch on the neuro-muscular system. This eventually leads to pain and/or injuries due to uneven muscle tension. MFR releases the fascia (connective tissue) freeing the neuro-muscular holding patterns allowing the body to return to its natural balanced state.

Equine MFR, was developed by John Barnes and his son, Mark Barnes, to help Equine Athletes and their owners. John Barnes is a nationally recognized PT and MFR Therapist. As a John Barnes MFR Therapist, I have applied this approach when addressing restrictions in both humans and horses and have found amazing results.
After just a few MFR sessions with Sara and her beautiful Quarter Horse, Sara has become a balanced winner, achieving 1st and 2nd place in competitions!

*Before any equine myofascial release treatment is undertaken, please consult your veternarian.
To learn more about how myofascial release therapy, or to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at www.pro-activewc.com, or call us at 703-919-3989.

 

 

 

Weimaraners

By: Lori Craddock

A product of selective German breeding, the Weimeranar is believed to be descended from the Bloodhound and bred for hunting wolves, deer and bear. The medium-sized breed was originally named the Weimer Pointer, named after the court that sponsored the breed, but is often referred to today as the “grey ghost” due to its distinctive color.

The American Kennel Club recognized this breed in 1943. However, they were first brought over from Europe in 1929 by Howard Knight who founded the first American Weimaraner breed club.

Famous depictions of Weimaraners can be found throughout history. In the 1600s, a Weimaraner was depicted in a Van Dyck painting. Sesame Street, the popular children’s television show, often used Weimaraners in skits they aired involving dressing the dogs in human clothes.

The Weimaraner is an excellent hunting dog bred for its good scenting ability, endurance and courage. Due to lack of big game, this breed adapted to being a good bird dog. These hunting dogs have a strong prey instinct so they should not be trusted with small non-canine animals. They make excellent guard dogs and watch dogs as well as service dogs.

This is an intelligent breed that is easily trainable, friendly and obedient. They love children and enjoy being part of a family. These are affectionate dogs.
The average height of a Weimaraner is 22-27 inches and weighs an average of 50-70 pounds. Its lifespan is 10-12 years. Due to being prone to bloat, it is best to feed this breed two to three small meals as opposed to large meals. Grooming maintenance is low on this short smooth and sleek coat and shedding is average. Coat color on this breed is solid gray although sometimes a small white spot can be found on the chest. It has a docked tail.

Extensive exercise is needed for this energetic breed. It is important to provide regular training from puppyhood and the command “Sit” will avoid your pet jumping on guests and children, knocking them over with their powerful bodies.

Training to prevent unwanted behavior is best as this breed is extremely easy to become wary. Never hit to discipline as these dogs will learn to avoid and act out, making training difficult.
It is important to be the pack leader with your Weimaraner as it will be quick to turn Alpha if you give it the chance. Keep it on a short leash so it does not learn to pull. Also, these dogs tend to be barkers, which can be curbed with proper training.

A Weimaraner can live in an apartment if properly exercised, but it is best to have at least a large fenced in yard as they need space to run free. They do not fare well in outdoor kennels, but rather prefer being indoors with their family.

 

Why Routine Dental Care Is Important For Your Pet

By, Erin McAfee, Kennel Supervisor
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

A lot of people think to themselves, “Oh I don’t have to get routine dental cleanings for my dog or cat,” but just like us, our lovable pets need their teeth cleaned just as often as we do. Did you know eighty percent of dogs and seventy percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three?

Oral disease is when bacteria are combined with saliva, food, and debris between the tooth and the gum, forming plaque on the tooth. Once oral disease develops it can lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease causes painful and swollen gums, and if left untreated, there can be tooth loss, and unexpected damage to organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys. Oral and periodontal disease can be prevented if owners take a few small steps several times a week to keep their pets teeth pearly white.

The first step is to practice a dental care regimen at home, which includes brushing your pet’s teeth with a specially formulated toothpaste about 2-3 times a week. This particular toothpaste can be purchased at your local veterinarian hospital. It will be a little challenging at first, but once your pet gets used to it, the easier it will become. Slowly introduce brushing their teeth by rubbing your finger across the teeth and gums. Once your pet gets used to that, you can then add in an ultra soft tooth brush with pet toothpaste. And you should aim to get all areas of the pet’s teeth. You can also try a specially formulated mouth rinse for your pet that includes chlorhexidine, which is a safe antiseptic to help reduce bacteria and plaque.

The second step for pet owners is to use dental specific food and treats. There are specialized feline and canine foods that help break up plaque and tartar while your pet is eating. At your next dental exam, talk with your veterinarian about it. Also, you can give your pet veterinarian recommended treats such as Greenie and CET chews. CET chews are like a rawhide chew but with the benefit of chlorhexidine antiseptic added to the treat.
The third step is to get an annual dental exam done at your local veterinarian hospital. The veterinarian will do a thorough oral exam and determine if a dental cleaning is needed for your pet. Most veterinarians recommend annual cleanings to prevent and delay the need for extractions in the future.

Dental care among pets is something that is commonly overlooked by pet owners, but the key is maintaining the overall health and well being of your pet. February is National Pet Dental Awareness Month, so contact Crosspointe Animal Hospital to schedule your pet’s dental assessment or cleaning. In celebration of dental month Crosspointe Animal hospital will be offering a 10% discount off a dental cleaning in January, February, and March.

Something to Wag About

USPS unleashes the new Dogs at Work stamps. Each 65-cent stamp features one of four breeds: a Black Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Yellow Labrador Retriever and Springer Spaniel.

Artist John M. Thompson created original paintings for the stamps, which were designed by art director Howard E. Paine. The new Dogs at Work stamps will be available for sale at the 2-oz stamp rate, 65 cents each, the new rate taking effect January 22, 2012.

 

Maximizing Your Veterinary Experience

By, Candice Berkshire, DVM

As veterinary care providers, we sometimes get distracted by the need to deliver treatments and care for our patients. However, we are in the service industry, and it is important to us to provide an optimal veterinary experience. As a consumer, there are several things that you can do to maximize your time at the clinic, and make sure that all your needs are met.
First, come prepared. Providing a thorough and accurate history is extremely important. If you are not presenting your pet as an emergency, take some time to sort out events or concerns, and put a proper time line on things. Important pieces of information may include brand and variety of food, quantity fed, whether your pet is current on preventative heartworm products, or if there is any history of vaccine reactions. If your pet is ill, it is helpful to try to pinpoint when signs began, and any change in severity. If you are sending someone else with your pet (i.e. a teenaged child, pet sitter, etc), please provide them with relevant history. In addition, have an idea of what your expectations for the visit are, and relay these to the treatment team.
Secondly, remember to ask questions. If we fail to explain something in a clear manner, or you would like additional clarification, it is always helpful for you to ask. Sometimes we lose perspective on what an average person is familiar with. Language can also be a barrier – whether English is your second language, or we forget to stop using medical terms. Make sure to clarify any points that you aren’t certain of. If you have extensive questions that can’t all be addressed in one visit, consider making a list and leaving it with your doctor. Sometimes 30 minute appointments don’t allow us to cover all items, but often we are happy to get back to you in more detail at a later date.
Third, give feedback. Most clinics have a survey to provide feedback. It is tremendously helpful for doctors and the treatment team to receive feedback on areas that we excel, or areas that could use improvement. Remember that constructive criticism is the best way to help us improve both the clinic and our service. If you have a negative experience, give suggestions on what could have been done to improve it. This is often best done after taking some time to think about the experience, evaluate areas of weakness, and thinking of specific suggestions for improvement.
The most important thing to remember is that the answer to the question you never ask is always ‘no’. Please allow us the opportunity to provide the best service possible. Being an informed consumer is a powerful tool as a pet owner, and helps your veterinary care team give the best quality care that is possible. You have the power to maximize your veterinary experience if you come prepared, ask questions, and provide constructive feedback.

 

Clicker Training Your Dog

By Lori Craddock

One of the most effective ways to train a dog is by using clicker training. This is a cheap method of training as it only requires a clicker, similar to a child’s toy, and some treats. A ball point pen clicked open and close can work if you do not have a clicker.
Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement using treats and sounds to get your pet to perform the actions and behavior you want. Specifically, psychologists call this Operant Conditioning using Positive Reinforcement.
The purpose of the clicker is to catch your pet doing something you want and click it at the precise moment of desired action. The clicker allows the trainer to make a unique noise quicker than saying any verbal command. All commands can be taught with a clicker, but it is recommended to not use the clicker for training the “Come” command as it is better with a verbal command from the beginning.
To begin, click the clicker once and immediately give your pet a treat. Much like Pavlov’s experiment, this will teach your pet that the noise of the clicker means something good is coming. Treats for training purposes should be tiny bite-sized as you will need to feed them a lot in repetition as you work through the exercise. Bites of cooked hot dog or Cheerios work very well and waiting to feed your dog a substantial meal until after the lesson is good so your hungry pet will be eager to get a treat. Each lesson should only be about five minutes long and be repeated several times a day. Eventually, you will replace the treat after the clicker for a verbal praise or a good pat.
Training should be done somewhere without distractions. It is best to train your pets one on one instead of in a group so they can focus. You should only click the clicker one time for each treat. Eventually your pet will start focusing on your clicker instead of the treat which is when it’s ready for the next step in training. This usually happens on the fourth click in a series of exercises.
There are a few different methods to the clicking technique. The Capture Method is where you click the clicker as soon as you see your pet doing something you like such as sitting. The Shaping Method is when you reward each step until your final goal. This is good for intricate tricks such as weaving through the legs. For instance you might reward your pet for going through your legs and then the next time reward your pet for going back around front until you work up to a full figure eight motion. You will give a hand signal and verbal command to each exercise so your pet will eventually understand the difference in what you are asking and lead to not having to use the clicker at all. The Magnet method is luring your dog into the behavior you want.
Some pets are scared of certain noises, so if your pet seems scared of the clicker, try muffling it in your pocket or behind your back.
Once your pet is correctly clicker trained, it will perform on command. For unwanted behaviors such as barking, some trainers will teach the dog to perform barking or “speak” on command so the dog will stop the unwanted behavior until it is requested. The way this works is that the dog will soon realize that barking with a command or clicker gets a treat whereas barking randomly gets nothing.
Note on punishment: A dog hates to be ignored, so ignoring your pet when it does unwanted behavior is the best method of punishment whereas yelling at a dog will only make it worse as it is excited energy that makes your dog think you are yelling with him instead of at him.

 

Puggles: The New Hybrid

By Lori Craddock

A Puggle is a mixed breed of both a purebred Pug and a purebred Beagle. As is common with mixed breed dogs, the unwanted physical traits such as the overly squished nose of a Pug that leads to breathing issues becomes recessive. The resulting Puggle has a longer snout than a standard Pug which avoids this issue.
Mixing breeds of dogs to create new hybrid dogs became a growing interest for breeders in the 1980s. Puggles gained popularity by 2005 with their stocky body, curly tail and wrinkled forehead. The genetic mixing can produce a stronger dog breed, but if not done properly, the dog can get traits more from one breed over the other. Many celebrities are fans of this breed including Jake Gyllenhaal, James Gandolfini, Julianne Moore, Sylvester Stallone and Uma Thurman.
Puggles can inherit the Beagle trait to howl or bark, but they are not yappy. Their barking is usually to alert that somebody has arrived at the house and crossed into their territory. Usually it is just a bark or two to signify somebody is at your door. This dog can be a bit stubborn, but they warm up to people fairly quickly. The best way to train a Puggle is with reward and repetition.
Adult Puggles weigh an average of 15-30 pounds. They still make great lap dogs due to their small size, but their sturdy body allows them to be active, which is great for families with children. A brisk 15-30 minute daily walk is recommended for this energetic breed. They love a fenced in yard or open area such as a dog park where they can run and play. They love companionship whether it is a human or another dog, so these are not pets for those who would leave them home alone a lot. In the event you have to leave your pet in a crate, a stuffed animal or warm bottle can create a sense of false companionship for your pet to relax.
The coat on a Puggle is made of short, straight hairs and usually comes in black, beige and silver. Fawn or tan Puggles with a black mask are most common, but can come in all black, white or tri-colored as well. They do not shed much, but it is advisable to brush weekly to rid your pet of loose hair. Bathing can be done once a month as more often could lead to dry itchy skin. You should also brush your pet’s teeth to prevent buildup of plaque, frequency of which can be at the suggestion of your regular veterinarian.
The temperament of a Puggle is playful and sweet. They are very affectionate and intelligent. They bond quickly with their owners and will follow them around the house. They are extremely curious and have a great sense of smell so they can track scents like a beagle. They are always happy to see you after you return from being away. They do great with everyone from children, adults, seniors and other pets.

 

You Want Me to Collect What?

By Alicia Silvious, LVT
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

Being Careful About Parasite Infections

If you share your life with a cat or dog, you have probably been asked at some point to collect a fecal sample for their veterinarian. No, this is not because all of us in the veterinary field want to gross you out! Evaluating fecal samples are, in fact, simply an important part of your pet’s routine care. By having the sample tested, your veterinarian may be able to find dangerous intestinal parasite infections before they become severe enough to cause serious problems for your pet.

Parasites, by definition, invade host organisms and survive off of them while often causing damage to that host. They may be external, like fleas; or internal, like the intestinal parasites to be mentioned here. In cats and dogs, the intestinal parasites to be most worried about are hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, giardia, and coccidia. These parasites may invade an animal’s system through a variety of means; including being passed on from mother to offspring, the pet drinking contaminated water, or ingestion of soil, feces, or caught wild animals. The presentation of intestinal parasite infection may vary depending on the specific parasite(s) involved, but the most universal symptoms are diarrhea and weight loss. Lethargy, poor self-grooming, and anemia may also be seen with infection; and if left untreated, the parasites may cause severe damage or death through blood loss, loss of nutrients, or by causing intestinal blockages.

The keys to parasite control are regular screenings, owner diligence, and the usage of monthly preventatives that are labeled to help with intestinal parasites. At Crosspointe Animal Hospital, we recommend yearly fecal checks for all pets, regardless of how often they find themselves outdoors. A variety of tests can be performed to look for intestinal parasites, but the most common (and the one often performed at the yearly check) is called the “fecal flotation”. This testing method uses a special solution that is mixed with the animal’s feces, causing some of parasite eggs or cysts (if present) to float to the surface, where they can be collected and identified microscopically.

Part 2 for March

It is also important for owners to keep a close eye on their pet’s bathroom habits, even if the pets are tested as recommended. Occasionally, a pet’s flotation may return with a negative result, but they might still have parasites causing persistent diarrhea or other problems. A more attentive owner may notice “spaghetti” or “grains of rice” (possible roundworms or tapeworm segments) in their animal’s feces, in which case treatment may be warranted even with a negative flotation result. The causes of the negative result may simply have been that the parasites were not shedding eggs or cysts at the time of the sample, or the problem parasite was one not easily identified with the flotation test. Another flotation might be needed, or a specialized test run, to catch indications of infection not present before.

Some ways to prevent intestinal parasite infection include not allowing the animal to eat or drink anything that is at risk for being contaminated, and controlling fleas- which may carry tapeworms. Using monthly preventatives may also help with certain types of infections: many of the medications most well-known for heartworm prevention also include some measure of intestinal parasite control. Interceptor, for example, is most often prescribed as a heartworm preventative in dogs, but it also is able to help protect against whipworm, hookworm, and roundworm infections. In cats, Revolution –which helps with fleas, heartworms, and ear mites- is labeled to treat and control infection with roundworms and hookworms.

In addition to being a problem for pets, intestinal parasites may also be a concern for the more human members of the family: some of the parasites listed may cause illness in humans. Roundworm larvae, for example, may penetrate human skin and travel throughout the body, causing disease in various organs. Hookworm larvae, too, are able to penetrate the skin and may cause a skin condition commonly called, “creeping eruption.” Other parasites, such as giardia, may even cause direct infection if anything contaminated by feces is ingested (a possible problem with children, who may put less-than-desirable things into their mouths).

If you would like further information on intestinal parasites, prevention, or testing –or if you think your pet may be infected- don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian. We are always here to help!

 

Becoming an Animal Foster

By: Lori Craddock

An animal foster is someone who works with an animal rescue by taking animals into their home temporarily to provide a safe environment until the animal finds a permanent home to be adopted into. Although being a “foster” to these animals can be trying at times, it is always rewarding in the end.

What you need:
You’ll need a loving home and patience. Most rescues will supply all food and pet supplies for the foster pet you take into your home.

What is expected:
The foster must undergo a homecheck and interview in order to be approved as a foster for an animal rescue. Once on the list of approved fosters, usually the rescue sends emails to the fosters regarding available animals coming into the rescue in case a foster has more room available for a new foster pet. The foster can agree to take in a foster pet at any time, but is not required to have one at all times, so once your foster pet is adopted, you can wait until you feel you are ready again to take in another.
Once the foster pet is in your home, you are expected to get it to the rescue’s veterinarian for any medical exams or treatment it might need which will be paid for by the rescue. You are also responsible to administer any medicine to the pet that the vet prescribes. Flea and heart worm medicine is provided by the rescue to administer monthly to the pet.
The rescue holds an adoption day, usually once a week, at a local pet store where you are expected to take your foster pet to find potential adopters. Although you are encouraged to make as many of these events as possible to increase chances of the pet’s adoption, every event is not mandatory.
The pet is also featured on the rescue’s website where potential adopters can view available pets. The foster usually contributes to the description and pictures listed on this website.
Although a foster is expected to be responsible for the foster pet until adoption, the rescue has a large network of fosters that tend to assist each other by pet-sitting when one foster needs to go out of town or taking another person’s foster pet to the vet or adoption day if need be.

The hard part:
Some of these animals coming straight out of a high-kill shelter have fleas, worms, or other health issues that need to be attend by the rescue, so it is best to separate the pet from the rest of your pets/family until this has been addressed.
Some of the animals are not trained, like puppies, so they need to be housebroken etc. which can take some work.
However, for those who may be afraid to take a strange pet out of the shelter into your home without knowing its good and bad habits, you can watch the foster list for animals with already known personalities that are trained and only being returned to the rescue due to unfortunate circumstances that fell upon the owners. There is truly a foster pet for everyone out there whether you prefer an active animal or a lazy one.
The hardest part for a foster though is usually also the most rewarding, which is giving them up to their new owner. You get attached to the pet after the time you take to teach it and love it. Although many a foster has ended up adopting one of their foster pets at some point, it is best for them to remember that by adopting one out, another can be brought in and saved.

The reward:
Most of the animals in an animal rescue come from high-kill animal shelters that continually euthanize animals, even puppies and kittens, to make room for more coming in.
Every time a foster home opens up to take an animal in, an animal is saved from death by euthanasia at the animal shelter and placed into this home until it gets adopted so the foster is actually saving a life.
Some foster pets come in dirty, injured, scared, and never knowing love, so it is particularly rewarding for a foster to realize their contribution as this animal begins to heal both physically and emotionally and becomes a healthy happy pet. Rescue animals tend to make the best pets as they appreciate their new home after all they have been through.
Being a foster for a pet also allows you to test an animal in your own home to see what type of pet personality would be good for your own family before making a final decision to adopt. You can teach your kids responsibility and empathy by being involved in rescuing animals.
For more information on how to become a foster, you can inquire at any local animal rescue organization. A Forever Home Rescue Foundation is a nearby rescue to Lorton and can be contacted at www.aforeverhome.org or by calling 703-961-8690.

 

Boxers

By: Lori Craddock

In 19th century Germany, the Boxer breed of dog was developed using two German mastiff type dogs called the Bullenbeiszer and the Barenbeiszer. The breed was initially used for bull baiting, cart pulling, cattle dogs, and dog fighting. They were used to round up livestock as well as wild animals for hunters and eventually became popular as circus and theater dogs.
The look of the Boxer breed varied until the first studbook was started in 1904. Current breeders are using two types of Boxers, the American Boxer and the German Boxer, which has a bigger head and is more muscular than the latter.
The Boxer gets its name for the way it uses its front legs that give the appearance of boxing as it paws at its food, toys, or opponents. It has a smooth short coat that comes in colors of brindle, fawn, tan, mahogany, white, and black often with white markings. Grooming is easy for this average shedder and they need to be bathed as necessary.
This breed is curious, energetic, happy, high-spirited, intelligent, and playful. It is important to be the pack leader with this dog as well as stimulate it mentally and physically every day to avoid stubbornness or acting out from your pet. As long as they have sufficient exercise, this breed can be kept in an apartment, but they do best with an average yard.
Boxers are great at competitive obedience, performing tricks, and acting as watchdogs, guard dogs, police dogs, military dogs, and search and rescue dogs. They will welcome known visitors, but restrain intruders if taught properly.
They bond well with families and are especially good with kids as they are loyal and affectionate. They have been known to get along with cats, but tend to chase smaller animals like rodents and birds so it is best not to leave them alone with an animal they might chase.
Boxers are an average of 15-21 inches tall and weigh and average of 53-70 pounds. They live about 11-14 years. They are temperature sensitive, so be careful of hot or cold extremes. Some common health concerns for this breed are heart problems, sub-aortic stenosis, thyroid, epilepsy, and hip dysplasia. They can also be prone to skin allergies. Tumors in older dogs of this breed are common and deafness for white Boxers. They also drool, snore, and can have excessive flatulence, especially when fed human food.

 

Coonhounds

By: Lori Craddock

The Coonhound breed of dog originated in eleventh century England. Originally, Coonhound dogs were used to trail and tree raccoons. The dog hunts using its incredible sense of smell to locate the game and then makes a distinct noise to notify its owner that the animal has been cornered up a tree. This is a working class dog capable of withstanding rigorous terrain and weather conditions. The courage and capability of this hound makes it ideal for use in hunting bear, deer, and other big game such as mountain lion.
There are six different types of pure bred coonhounds: Black and Tan, Bluetick, English, Redbone, Treeing Walker and the Plott hound. They weigh an average of 50-70 pounds. Their coat is short and dense so it requires minimal grooming. Coat color varies.
Coonhounds are traditionally pack animals used to hunt in groups, so they usually get along with other dogs and get lonely without other canine company. However, due to their strong natural hunting drive, they do not do well with cats or other small animals that they will chase unless raised with them.
Owners of a Coonhound need to be patient and committed to training. This breed tends to be food motivated when it comes to training. They are smart and stubborn. Conventional training does not work. For example, negative punishment such as spanking can cause your Coonhound to be untrusting, frightened and scared in the future.
An isolated or lonely Coonhound will develop behavioral issues, so they need an owner that is home a lot. Behavioral issues include barking, chewing, digging, fence-climbing, or becoming depressed enough to starve themselves. They are not suited for apartment life as they have a very loud voice. Also, be careful with how you keep them as they can jump a small gate and they tend to run away when they see something to chase.
These dogs are great family pets as they get along well with children of all ages. They are even tempered, friendly, and outgoing. They mature slower than other breeds, so they will have that puppy energy until about two years old. They are very expressive and sensitive, so if they get their feelings hurt, you can tell.
The lifespan of a Coonhound is about 12 years. Although prone to ear infections due to their long floppy ears, the Coonhounds are usually in excellent health.

 

Pets Have Teeth Too

Jennifer Walck, LVT
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

It’s tough to get kids to remember to brush their teeth, let alone the cat or dog. When it comes to oral health, our pets can face some of the same issues that humans can, if let untreated. Cavities are rare, but fractured teeth and oral abscesses are just a few of the more common problems.
Our pets use their mouths for more than just eating or drinking. This makes caring for their teeth doubly important. Animals with oral problems may not want to play with their favorite toys anymore. They may even stop eating, not to mention the foul odor that can come from their mouths when you try to cuddle or say hello to them. This odor may not just be “dog breath.”
You always hear about plaque and tartar and which toothpaste helps fight them. Consider getting your cat and dog their own pet friendly toothpaste and give their teeth a fighting chance against plaque and tartar. Did you know that tartar can build up so much and become so hard that it can essentially cement teeth together and needs to be removed with special tools? If tartar, which is filled with bacteria, is allowed to stay on teeth for long periods of time, severe periodontal disease may be lurking.
Periodontal disease is seen in very unhealthy mouths. Bacteria has been allowed to take up residence, being held in place against teeth and gums by tartar. This bacteria can cause the gums to recede, exposing tooth roots. In many cases, the bone can also become involved and teeth begin to fall out. All of the infected tissue and bone is what emits the bad smell.
Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect the mouth. The inflammation leads to bleeding which allows bacteria access to the bloodstream. This can cause your pet to become sick. Your pet may even develop heart problems.
An act as simple as brushing your dog’s or cat’s teeth at home, or having it done at your veterinarian’s office under anesthesia, can save your pet’s mouth from disaster. Oral hygiene is just as important in cats and dogs as it is in people. Pluto and Sylvester may not enjoy it at the time, but they will surely thank you later.
In honor of National Pet Dental Month, which takes place in February, Crosspointe Animal Hospital will be offering a discount on dental cleanings in January, February and March. Come in during these months and receive 10% off a dental cleaning for your dog or cat. Call today to schedule an appointment, 703-690-6600.

 

Unsafe Toys for Dogs

By: Lori Craddock

Pet toys are a multi-million dollar industry, but are these products all safe for your pet? Articles have surfaced over the years to warn of good toys gone bad. One such article tells of the Pimple Ball with Bell that had a bad batch recalled after the material broke down allowing dogs to chew through one end of the rubber. The case began when a 10 year old beloved Labrador was put down due to a mouth infection caused by swelling after being stuck in the malfunctioning toy. The infection stemmed from a suction effect that took place when the dog puts its tongue in one end of the toy without another air hole on the other end to avoid suction. Toys must be tested properly before hitting the market for this very reason. Other toys such as the Kong are designed to be safe in that they provide two air holes to avoid the suction effect. Malfunctioning toys aside, some of the toys on today’s pet market are unsafe for other reasons such as size, material, and the bad habits they can instill. Here are some items to be aware of when purchasing toys: Size: Buy the appropriate sized toy for your pet. If you have a large dog and you buy it a tiny ball or toy, the item can become a choking hazard. Balls: These toys can get rather slobbery after constant play and slide down the pet’s throat causing it to choke, so it is especially important to buy the right sized ball for your size of dog. While a tennis ball is the safest type of ball for your pet to play with, those with slippery outer coatings such as a racquet ball or golf ball can be particularly dangerous. Golf balls also can have toxic insides. Bones: Raw bones can actually splinter and cause choking in a dog while bones from the pet store are usually treated to avoid this issue. You can also boil household bones to make them softer and safer. Some dogs cannot digest the rawhide or greenie bones properly, which can cause intestinal blockage and discomfort. It is never a good idea to give a dog a bone when you are leaving the house as some dogs can choke while trying to swallow the remnants of a big bone. Rawhides not made in North America can contain chemical residue that is a health issue for your pet. Tug of War Toys: Some toys are made to use for tug of war with your dog, but these type of toys can teach the pet aggression and possessiveness. It can also go against the training technique of making yourself the “pack leader” as your dog can realize it is stronger than you. Some of the toys consist of strings, which can fray and be swallowed causing blockage in the intestines. Stuffed Toys: Some dogs will retrieve and chew on stuffed toys for years while other dogs will rip them open and swallow the hazardous insides in minutes. Be careful to select toys that have stitched eyes instead of plastic ones sewn on that could come off and be swallowed. Also, be aware of the inside of these toys whether they are stuffing or beans inside etc. Note: If any toy begins to rip apart, throw the toy away immediately and replace it. Worn toys are hazardous to your pet whether it be crumbling rubber parts, stuffed animal insides, etc.

 

Feline
Hyperthyroidism

Burning too much energy

By Amy Lauterstein, Veterinary Assistant Crosspointe Animal Hospital

The prefix “hyper” means excessive or above normal. Relating to the thyroid gland, hyperthyroidism is simply an overactive thyroid. Hyperthyroidism is a condition that frequently affects middle-aged to older cats and rarely affects dogs. The thyroid gland produces hormones important in regulating metabolism. Most often, this overactive gland is due to a benign tumor on one or both sides of the gland itself. These tumors cause an excess in the amount of thyroid hormones released from the gland to the rest of the body. The clinical signs of this condition are normally pretty obvious and when treated, this disease is easily controlled. The thyroid gland affects metabolism, so this will affect their activity level. Most cats that have hyperthyroidism burn their energy too quickly despite having an increased appetite and thirst. This can eventually lead to substantial weight loss. Increased urination, listlessness, an untidy coat, and vomiting and diarrhea are also very common in hyperthyroid felines. Luckily, diagnosing hyperthyroidism is quite simple. A physical exam by your veterinarian as well as simple blood test is usually standard protocol. There are more aggressive forms of treatment, involving surgery or radioactive iodine therapy, but a thyroid-regulating medication is also available, and most common. A re-check of blood work will most likely be necessary at varying increments to measure hormone levels and proper dosing. While there are pros and cons to any method of treatment, it is important to weigh them carefully with your veterinarian as some are more cost effective, successful, and safer than others. Hyperthyroidism in cats is a manageable disease with often complete life expectancies if caught early and treated appropriately. It is extremely important to be an involved owner and call your veterinarian should you start to notice deterioration in your cat’s physical condition.

 

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

By: Lori Craddock
Animal Space Editor
 
Bred to be the companion for aristocrats, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel appears in many paintings and tapestries throughout history.  This breed’s name was inspired by King Charles II of Britain and rightly so with the look of this regal dog.  Recently, this dog made its debut on television as the upscale dog of the character Charlotte York on Sex & and the City.
Their coat is silky and moderate in length. Weekly brushing is recommended, but no trimming is allowed if showing this dog.  Feathering on the chest, ears, legs and tail is long and it is distinctive of the breed to have feathering on its feet as well.  These dogs come in four colors: Blenheim (chestnut and white), Tricolor (black, white, and tan), Ruby (solid red), and Black and Tan.
These dogs stand an average of 12-13 inches at their shoulder and weigh an average of 13-18 pounds.  They are considered included in the Toy category of dogs.  Their eyes are distinctively expressive with giant deep dark brown eyes that give off a sweet and melting expression to those that look upon it.
The temperament of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is sweet and gentle, yet active. Being sporty, graceful, and easy to train makes this breed exceptional at conformation shows, obedience and agility.  They are nonaggressive, but not shy or nervous.  Rather they are affectionate and make excellent family pets as they are great with children.  They are adaptable to their surroundings and fare well in both life in the city or the country.  They enjoy both nestling in the couch and long walks.
Local rescues have taken in several Cavalier King Charles dogs due to a recent puppy mill shut down.  These dogs were taken out of deplorable situations and are now waiting eagerly for their forever homes.  Some of these dogs can be found at www.aforeverhome.org.  Another Virginia dog rescue that specializes in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescue is Cavaliers of the South (COS), which is a local branch of the National Cavalier Rescue Program.  Their mission is to house all homeless and unwanted Cavaliers in foster homes and to provide proper medical evaluation and care until permanent adoptive homes can be found.  For more information on the COS, visit www.cavaliersofthesouth.org.

 

Dental Care for our Four-Legged Friends

By Amy Lauterstein, Veterinary Assistant
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

It is easy for us to take for granted simple preventive measures important for good dental hygiene, such as toothbrushes and floss. Unfortunately for our furry companions, trips to the dentist are not possible and flossing is difficult without opposable thumbs. Therefore it is up to you, as their active owner, to make sure your dog or cat receives regular dental cleanings from his or her veterinarian.
Keep an eye (nose?) on your pet’s breath, as bad breath can be an indication it is time for a cleaning. Both cats and dogs may be hesitant to eat and play with toys if they are experiencing oral pain. For cats specifically, they sometimes stop grooming themselves and you may also notice drooling. If possible, try to take a peek at the gums and teeth to check for tartar. Tartar can build up on the teeth which require high powered instruments to remove, offered only at your veterinarian’s practice. In addition, your veterinarian will be checking for gingival pockets, loose or diseased teeth that need to be removed, and polishing. Although case depending, veterinarians usually recommend annual dental cleanings. Some practices, including Crosspointe Animal Hospital, even have a digital dental x-ray machine, which is extremely useful when an image of the root of the tooth is needed. 
A lack of dental care can eventually affect other organs, including the heart, kidneys, liver, and intestinal tract. Therefore, although annual cleanings are vital, it is also recommended to try some “at home” dental care. There are great dental treats on the market that help remove tartar, with some having anti-microbial properties. Double check with your veterinarian to find out which brands are best. There are toothbrushes that fit on your finger and chicken (or turkey!) flavored toothpaste available at your local pet store. Make sure you use animal specific toothpaste; human toothpaste should be avoided because it is not meant to be swallowed. Your veterinarian will be more than happy to demonstrate proper brushing technique.
Along with trips to the veterinarian for vaccines and the occasional ear infection, dental care is just as important. Although every month should be dental month, the AVMA, or American Veterinary Medicine Association and the American Veterinary Dental Society have named every February as being “Pet Dental Care Month,” so Crosspointe Animal Hospital offers a 10% discount on dental cleanings in the month of January, February, and March.
  According to the AVDS, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three, so be an involved owner and remember that your pet’s dental hygiene is just as important as your own.

 

Dogs with Allergies
By: Lori Craddock -January 2010 issue


Have you ever caught your dog obsessively licking its paws?  While it’s easy to dismiss this as a casual activity, this tendency could be more than it appears. Rather than a random act of boredom on your pet’s part, this could be an indication of a far worse condition such as an allergy. 
As with humans, your dog could be allergic to the most subtle of household items such as floor cleaners or grass fertilizers.  While humans are conditioned to empathize with others of their species and notice subtle changes in their behavior, they are less likely to notice the uncontrollable licking or scratching resulting from an allergy in their pet. Unfortunately, it is all too common when a pet owner will not notice the simple symptom of an allergy such as licking or chewing until their pet’s skin is worn raw. 
If you notice a pet with a raw patch of skin or a perceived allergy, follow these simple steps:
1.)    Clean the wound. Use soap and water to clean the irritated area in order to clearly identify the problem. Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide can also be used to disinfect the area, but might sting a bit more than common soap and water.
2.)    Calm the itching. When treating a pet’s skin irritation, one must take into account that the pet is likely to lick or ingest any medicine you apply to the wound, so it must be organic or at least pet-friendly.  Although human treatments usually do not apply for animals, an oatmeal bath can be universal for irritated skin. While humans might use a brand name product on themselves, owners should purchase pet-friendly products at their local pet store.  
(A great product for dogs is Oxy Med, which is a spray that contains oatmeal and leaves behind the mess that can result with trying to give your pet a wet bath.  Oxy Med provides soothing temporary relief from hot spots on your pet such as scrapes, flea bites, and dry flaky skin.)
3.)    Determine what the allergy is.  Take notice of when your pet exhibits allergy symptoms such as after eating a certain meal or walking through a certain area.  It is advised to keep a journal of when regular activities occur such as weekly lawn care or ingredients from daily meals.  By taking away items from your pet’s diet or daily regiment and then slowly reintroducing them, an owner can better pinpoint what the origin of the allergy might be.
4.)    Prevent future exposure from allergy.  Once the allergy is pinpointed, an owner is faced with the question of whether they can keep the allergen away from their pet or merely minimize exposure.  While dietary substitutions are easy, an allergy to the fertilizer in local grass might not be.  Regarding the latter, an option of pet wipes on your pet’s paws upon returning for a walk might be a better option to minimize exposure time of this allergen on your pet’s skin.
 
Note: This list is in no way a substitute for visiting your local veterinarian.  Once you find your pet acting irregularly or notice a lesion or raw patch on its skin, contact your vet by phone and obtain their advice on whether further professional medical attention is needed.
 

 

Corgi: 
A Big Legacy in a Tiny Package

By: Lori Craddock

The Corgi breed is one set in antiquity, originating in Wales and making its mark in present day.  Its ancestors crossed the channel in 1107 with Flemish weavers.  There are two types of Corgi, the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
The Pembroke Welsh Corgi comes in colors red, sable, fawn, and black and tan with or without white markings.  They weigh between 24-30 pounds and have a natural bobbed tail.
The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is seen in colors red, tri-color, brindle, blue merle, and black and white.  They weigh between 25-38 pounds and are born with a full tail. 
Corgis are a working class breed of dog and were bred to be low to the ground to nip at the heels of the animals they herded.  They have short legs, upright and alert ears and a stocky body.  Routine brushing should be given to the double-coated dog that sheds year round.  The undercoat is water-resistant and short while the outer coat is medium length. 
Although this breed thrives on farms, it can get acclimated to any environment with regular exercise.  It is bold and clever in personality, so a Corgi can get mischievous if left alone.  Bad habits like barking, herding people and animals, chasing small animals and cars can be avoided with proper obedience training.  These dogs excel at agility, obedience, and herding. 
The Corgi is a social dog and is a delightful fit with the right family although not always best with small children.  Queen Elizabeth II holds adoration for this breed having had over 30 of these dogs.  They live between 12-15 years.  They are smart, sensitive, and athletic companions.

 

Senior Pet
Awareness Month

Candice Berkshire, DVM
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

Every month seems to be an occasion for recognition…of something or other.  For the veterinary community, October is Senior Wellness Month.  The American Veterinary Medical Association has taken the time to designate this month for all things senior or geriatric.  Now age, strictly speaking, is not a disease.  However, as in people, our pets suffer age-related diseases.  I’m sure we all remember being told that pets died of old age.  In the current veterinary climate, we have more advanced diagnostic testing, and a more precise understanding of companion animal disease.  We have the ability to diagnose and slow progression of kidney failure, liver disease and stave off the effects of osteoarthritis.
The first tool in early diagnosis or prevention of age-related changes is understanding pets’ aging.  While the common conception is that each calendar year is comparable to seven years of aging in a dog, it isn’t quite that simple.  Cats and dogs reach physical maturity by one year of age, comparable to fifteen years of aging in a human.  The following year is comparable to seven to nine years of aging in a human.  In essence, your two-year-old cat or dog has maturity comparable to a human in their early twenties.  Each year thereafter is similar to five to seven years.  To add to the confusion, all of this is affected by breed and size.  Giant breed dogs, such as St. Bernards or Great Danes, age much more quickly than a toy breed dog.  The average life span of a Great Dane is approximately eight to nine years, as compared to thirteen years for a Chihuahua.  Many veterinarians consider animals ‘senior’ after they have reached seven years of age, with appropriate adjustments made for breed and species.
If your pet is ‘senior’, you might wonder what that means in terms of disease and future risks.  Geriatric patients are at increased risk for kidney disease, liver disease, cancer, dental disease and orthopedic disease, to name a few.  Statistics suggest that 50% of dogs over ten years of age will have some form of cancer, either benign or malignant.  Without question, senior dogs have significant reduction in their quality of life due to osteoarthritis, which is often worsened by obesity.  Many senior cats will be affected by some degree of change in kidney function after they reach beyond twelve or thirteen years.
So now that we have addressed when your pet is senior, and how that might affect them, it is important to illustrate the purpose of this exercise.  Many veterinarians recommend senior bloodwork for all pets over seven years old.  Senior bloodwork can pick up changes in liver, kidney and metabolic function, as well as pick up any evidence of infection or even cancer in some cases.  Routine examinations are doubly important once pets are senior, as it can help identify areas of concern, or clinical signs that can be resolved.  Patients with arthritis do not need to suffer chronic pain.  The veterinary community has a multitude of ways to help keep pets comfortable, ranging from anti-inflammatory medications to injectable joint supplements.  The surest way to give your aging pet an excellent quality of life is to engage in a dialogue with your veterinarian, and choose an approach specially tailored for your pet.

 

The Legendary Birman Cat

By: Lori Craddock
 
The legend of how the Birman breed of cat got its coloring takes place centuries ago in Asia.  In a temple that worshipped a golden goddess with sapphire-blue eyes, a beloved priest would meditate often before the golden goddess statue with a white temple cat until the night he was killed by raiders.  The cat put its paws upon the dead priest and as it looked at the golden goddess statue, the hairs of its white body turned golden, its yellow eyes turned sapphire-blue, its legs turned brown like the earth and its paws that touched the priest remaining white as a symbol of purity.  The next morning the hundred other white temple cats were found to be of the same color.  The cat stayed with its paws on the priest for seven days until its death, when it is said to have taken the soul of the priest to paradise.  From then on, whenever a temple cat died, it was said to be accompanied by the soul of a priest.
  History tells that the peaceful temple was raided at the beginning of this century.  During this time, two western men came to the aid of the priests and were rewarded with a pair of Birman cats to take with them back to the West in 1919.  Although the male cat died during the trip overseas, the female was pregnant and her litter began the Birman cat population in the West.  It is said that for a brief time in the 1930’s, the breed was endangered with only a single pair left, but over time the population grew once more. 
The Birman breed of today is a hearty breed with no prevalent medical problems.  This is an average size cat with males generally ranging from 8-12 pounds and females a little bit smaller. Their single-layer hair is easy to groom and does not get matted.  The Birman has a wonderfully balanced temperament and is very intelligent.  Birman cats bond strongly with people and are always curious about what is going on with their person or surroundings. This cat will adjust to your schedule and meet you at the door. They have soft voices that are used mainly for chiming the dinner bell. 

 

Being Prepared for Tick Season

By: Lori Craddock
 
Tick season usually is from April to November, but can be all year in warmer climates.  Have you thought about tick prevention, tick removal, and tick-related diseases?  Please read the tips below so you can be better prepared to handle these creepy crawlers.
 
Tick Prevention:
There are numerous products and brands to choose from when it comes to tick prevention offered both over the counter and from your veterinarian such as tick collars that your pet can wear, sprays, and liquids to name a few.  It may be possible to use a combination of methods as there is no 100% effective product.  But it is always advised to consult your veterinarian on your options before combining treatments.  Frontline, a liquid applied between a dog’s shoulder blades once a month is a very effective method of prevention. As your dog can bring ticks into your home, you may want to apply Frontline on any other indoor animals as well. Sergeant’s Nature’s Guardian sprayed on a dog’s hair when camping or on long walks where ticks are more likely to be can discourage them from trying to bite into the skin. This is not recommended for cats.
 
Checking for Ticks:
Check your pet daily for ticks.  Running your hands through its fur will help you locate any irregular objects.  If you do feel a lump or object in the fur, spread the fur apart with your fingers to see if it is indeed a tick or merely matted fur.  A comb can aid in this process as well.  A tick can range in size from a pinhead to a grape and vary in color usually from black to brown. 
 
Tick Removal:
There are plenty of ways people try to remove a tick, like using a recently burned out match to coax the tick’s head out of the skin or using Vaseline or alcohol to suffocate it, but these are rarely effective.  If you find a tick that is embedded under the skin, the best method for removing it is to use a pair of tweezers placed on the tick’s body as close to the skin as possible and slowly, yet steadily, pull the tick out of the skin. The tick may put up some resistance as it secretes a substance that assists it to stick to the skin.  There are other products like pliers made for pulling of ticks that can be researched as well. Wearing a pair of rubber gloves is recommended as the goal is to be careful not to let your own skin come in contact with the tick.  The most effective method of disposal of a tick is to flush it down a toilet.
 
Tick Diseases:
Ticks need to be embedded in the skin for 24-48 hours in order to spread infection.  This is why daily checks for ticks are important. When removing a tick, try not to squeeze its body too hard as it might cause it to release more toxins into the body.  Tick diseases, such as Lyme disease can show up in your pet in many ways and even mimic other ailments. A rash, fever, or lethargy can be signs of a tick-borne disease.  Sometimes, the infected pet shows no signs of infection at all.  It is best to catch the Lyme disease in its early stages as antibiotics are more likely to be successful in treating it with results seen within a mere few days.  If you suspect your pet might have a tick-borne disease, take it to the veterinarian and follow the vet’s plan of action.

 

Bug Season is Threat to Pets

-Jenn Surace, DVM
Crosspointe Animal Hospital
 
It is the time of year when the temperature rises, flowers bloom, and that means that fleas and ticks are looking for their next host. Flea and tick prevention is a topic that is important year round, but it becomes especially important during the spring and summer months. So if you have forgotten to use a monthly flea and tick preventative on your pet the past few months now is the time to start administering it again.
 
Fleas are the most common external parasite of companion animals. A dog or cat bitten by only a few fleas can develop a severe allergic reaction and/or a skin infection. When a pet becomes infested with fleas it is a very itchy and uncomfortable condition. The fleas are also likely to infest your home which can lead to family members with itchy flea bites and the infestation requires diligent cleaning to resolve.
 
Ticks are external parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. There are several species of ticks in the northern Virginia area and they can transmit a variety of diseases, parasites, and can in some cases cause paralysis. The tick transmitted diseases can cause clinical signs such as lameness, fever, decreased appetite, lethargy, and bleeding/increased bruising. Ticks must be attached to their host for several hours transmit disease so keeping your pet on a monthly preventative as well as checking him or her for ticks once they have been outside for a long period of time or after a hike, etc. can greatly decrease your pets risk of contracting a tick-borne disease.
 
There are also many more mosquitoes in the warmer months so don’t forget about a monthly heartworm prevention for your dogs and cats! Veterinarians have some great flea and tick preventatives that have been developed over the recent years. There are now several highly effective, safe, and long-lasting products to choose from for both dogs and cats. Please discuss your options and which product is best for your pet with your veterinarian.

 

 

How To Find A Missing Pet

By: Lori Craddock
 
The phone rings and as I pick it up I hear a desperate voice on the line ask, “What is the best way for my friend to find his lost cat?”  “Time is of the essence,” I reply and proceed to impart a few tips listed below.  If you find yourself missing a pet, I recommend a combination of all of these steps to increase your chances of finding your pet. 
 
First steps

1.)    Check local animal shelters: The animal shelter not only actively traps animals on the street, but people turn in found animals here as well.  Unfortunately, animal shelters have a set time before they put these found animals up for adoption or even euthanize them for space in the shelter, so time is of the essence when making contact with the shelter staff about your missing pet.  If the shelter is closed for the day when you realize your pet is missing, it is recommended to email a picture and a description of your pet to all nearby shelters as well as leave a telephone message.  Be sure to follow up with the shelter the next day to make sure they got your message.

2.)    Post missing pet notices:  Post notices with a picture and description of your pet in your neighborhood as well as surrounding areas to let people know to be on the lookout for your pet.  Signs on common areas such as mailboxes are a good start. It is illegal to put signs on VDOT sign posts.

3.)    Contact local veterinarians:  Let local veterinarians be aware of your lost pet in case a do-gooder picks up your pet and decides to get it checked out at the vet.  Bulletin boards at the vet can be a great place to leave one of your lost pet notices. 

4.)    Notify animal rescues: Animal rescues step in to take animals from shelters as well as when people find strays.  Letting them know to look for any animals coming in that match your pet’s description can be a last chance success story. 

5.)    Newspaper and Craigslist ads:  Although these have a lower percentage of effectiveness than the other options, several animal/owner reunion stories happened due to these postings.
 
Lost pet prevention

1.)    Collar and I.D.: There are leash laws that allow townships to capture any animals wandering around on their own.  If they happen to pick your pet up, a collar with proper I.D. can assist the township with reconnecting you with your pet. 
A note on outdoor pets- Although I do not believe in outdoor pets in a suburban neighborhood due to the amount of runaway pets and pets run over by cars, if you do have an outdoor pet or a stray you feed, put a collar and I.D. on it or else you could be dooming it to death one day at the pound if picked up by the township without one.  Strays can also be reported to animal rescues to take in until they find permanent homes for them to avoid this risk.

2.)    Microchip your pet:  Microchips are implanted under the skin of your pet, a seemingly painless process, and can provide permanent identification of a missing pet at a low cost.  Shelters, rescues, and sometimes veterinarians scan each pet for these microchips when they are brought in, which can bring your lost pet safely home to you.  Once you microchip your pet, be sure to immediately follow up online and register your pet as active so the chip has current information to contact you regarding your pet.

 

 

How To Find Your Pets Breed Mix

The Wisdom Panel
 
How many times has someone said to you, “That’s a really neat looking dog. What breed is it?” leaving you to answer, “I don’t know. A lab mix?” or maybe, “He’s just a mutt.” Or have you ever wondered where all that crazy energy comes from when you thought you had adopted a lazy lap dog? Believe it or not, there is a tool that can help you to answer that question. It’s a genetic test called the ‘Wisdom Panel.’
 
There are currently 130 breeds of dog that can be detected using the ‘Wisdom Panel.’ Unlike traditional, less accurate oral swabs, a small sample of blood is drawn from your dog. It’s then sent to a lab where the DNA is analyzed to determine what combination of breeds, and the prevalence of each of those breeds, your dog may have in his genetic make-up. In about a month, you receive a personalized report that includes a breed key, illustrating the breeds detected in your dog, as well as the degree of prominence of those breeds, and a breed history that details the behavioral and physical characteristics of each breed found in your dog.
 
Knowing your dog’s genetic background can do more than just offer an answer to a stranger’s curiosity. It can also aid in determining what kind of training or activities may be best for your particular mixed breed dog, as well as what his nutritional needs may be. Although the test can’t predict exactly what the future holds for your dog, it can give you a better idea of what may or may not work for him.
 
 As always, your veterinarian is the best source of advice on how to properly maintain your pet‘s health or adjust their diet and exercise regimen to best suit their needs. After you have had a chance to review your personalized report, you may want to make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss any questions or concerns you have about your newly discovered old friend.
 
Shelby Moses
Veterinary Assistant
Crosspointe Animal Hospital
 
 

 

Maine Coon Cats Mystery and Myth

By: Lori Craddock
 
The Maine Coon breed of cat has many rumors regarding its origin and is one of the oldest natural breeds in North America.  There is a myth about this breed being the result of mating from semi-wild domestic cats and raccoons, which is based on its bushy tail and most popular raccoon-like brown tabby coloring.  This accounts for the “Coon” part of the breed name while the “Maine” directly relates to the state these cats were first seen in.  Another popular belief is that the first Maine Coons came from six cats that Marie Antoinette sent to Wiscasset when she was planning her escape from France during the French Revolution.  Most likely, these cats were bred from domestic short-haired local cats of the time with overseas long-haired ones, such as those that were brought to America form the Vikings.
Although the Maine Coon breed was traditionally tabby-colored while other colors were considered Maine Shags, all colors of this cat are now accepted into the breed.  This breed is tall, muscular, and big-boned.  Males weigh an average of 13 to 18 pounds and females weigh an average of 9 to 12 pounds. The cats appear even bigger with their two to three inches of winter coat.  Their coat is glossy, heavy, and water-resistant.  It is made for harsh weather resistance, which gives more weight to the Viking origins.  A weekly brushing is sufficient to keep this cat groomed.  The bushy tail is used to wrap around its body in the cold and its ears are heavily furred to keep out the cold.  The breed has great survival traits like large ears and eyes for increased hearing and sight.
Maine Coons are kittenish throughout their lives and are often referred to as “Gentle Giants” with their good nature.  They are playful and will retrieve small items for the owner.  They rarely meow and when they do, it is a soft distinctive chirping sound that is said to be easy on the ears.  Maine Coons are people-oriented and, although not lap-cats, will always follow you around the house and be close by.  They are friendly, but not overly dependent on their owners.  They generally get along well with kids, dogs, and other cats, so they can do well in a big active family if you have one.

 

Saying Good-bye To Your Best Friend

Shelby Moses, Veterinary Assistant
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

It goes without saying that the most difficult part of being a pet owner is having to make the decision to euthanize your precious companion should it become necessary. Our pets give us so much and we want to make sure that we give them the care and respect they deserve when we lay them to rest. Because it is such an emotional and overwhelming time, it may help to know what your options are and to have a plan in place ahead of time should you ever have to choose euthanasia in order to alleviate your pet’s suffering.
 
 The most common option that pet owners choose is to euthanize their pet in a veterinary hospital. In most circumstances, the pet owner makes an appointment so that a special time is reserved for them. Some people also choose to pay for their pet’s euthanasia ahead of time so that they can focus solely on their pet after they arrive at the hospital. Once the pet owner arrives, they are usually given a private room in which they and their family members or friends may spend time with their pet before their pet is prepared for euthanasia. Many people choose to stay with their pet during euthanasia although some choose not to. It is important for pet owners to know that there is no wrong choice and that it is ok if they choose not to be present. Once their pet has passed, they may choose to take the body home with them for burial or to have the hospital arrange for care of the body. Many hospitals also offer to make a keepsake such as a picture or paw print that the pet owner can take home with them.
Another option that is available at many veterinary practices is what is called an at-home euthanasia. In this circumstance, an appointment is made for a veterinarian and, in most cases, a veterinary technician or assistant to come to the pet owner’s home and payment is made ahead of time. This option is usually more expensive but for some pet owners it may ease the burden of having to transport a pet who has trouble with mobility or it may just simply be a more comforting option for a pet and their family than having to travel to a hospital. The staff comes to the pet owner’s home prepared with the necessary supplies and, if the pet owner chooses, will transport the pet to the hospital after the euthanasia and arrange for the care of the body.

 
 After a pet has been euthanized, there are several options that a pet owner may choose from when deciding on how to care for their pet’s body. Some pet owners choose to bury their pet at home. When choosing this option, it is important to check the laws in your area to make sure that you adhere to the regulations regarding home burials. Another option that a pet owner may choose, is to have their pet buried in a pet cemetery. In this case, the pet owner is usually responsible for all of the arrangements and pays the pet cemetery a separate fee for the burial. The other two options that are most commonly chosen by pet owners are to have their pet cremated and either buried communally with other pets or to have their pet’s ashes returned to them so that they may keep them at home. Again, it is important for all pet owners to know that there is no wrong choice in this circumstance. Everyone handles the death of their pet in their own unique way.
 
 Although this is a difficult subject to contemplate, knowing what choices you have and devising a plan that is right for you and your pet ahead of time can help to alleviate some of the burden if you are ever faced with making the decision to euthanize your pet.

 

Pet Stairs

for All Occasions

By: Lori Craddock
 
Man’s best friend has been there through thick and thin, so what can you give old Fido and little Miss Kitty in return to make their lives a little easier from start to finish as they have done for you?  How about a set of pet stairs?  This simple device might sound silly to some, but it can be all the difference for some animals getting where they need to go without causing wear and tear on the body. 
 
Pet stairs are aimed at all ages and sizes of animals, mainly dogs and cats.  Puppies and small dogs can use the stairs to reach high places they could not alone.  Older or arthritic animals can seem to add years to their life with the stairs that aid them in climbing to areas that used to be a simple leap away when they were young.  Injured animals can use the stairs as a means to get by until healed.  However, even healthy or large animals can find convenience in using this device. And, pet stairs can aid owners with bad backs in getting their pet onto an area they might otherwise have to painfully lift them to on a daily basis.
 
On a personal note, I never felt the need to use the pet stairs in my home until my cat got older.  I noticed it just did not seem as easy for her to get onto the bed as it used to.  She seemed depressed when she could not meet me on the bed anymore and would go off to a corner.  There seemed to be a steady decline with her arthritic condition from the stress when she did try to attempt the jump.  Once I purchased a set of small pet stairs for her to use, she perked up and began using them often.  I could swear it added years to her life.  Your results will vary.  Some animals might need you to teach them to use the steps by luring them with a treat until it becomes a normal habit.
 
What to look for when finding the right pet stairs for your home:
 
Indoor/Outdoor Use:  There are some sets of stairs made to be used only in the home, some to be used to get into a car, and some that work for both uses.  Some are specifically built to work on particular cars such as pickup trucks.
 
Weight Capacity:  Compare the weight of your animal versus the weight listed on the box or instructions for each set of pet stairs to verify the device can hold the full weight of your pet.  Some stairs are made more for smaller animals while others are geared for larger breeds and made with sturdier materials.  The last thing you want is your pet to be traumatized when a flimsy set of stairs breaks under the weight of the pet walking on it, which researching weight capacity will avoid.
 
Cleaning: If your pet is a particularly messy one that tends to play in the dirt, cleaning your pet stairs might become a regular routine.  If this is the case, you might want to decide whether a hard-surfaced set of stairs that can be wiped down is better or whether you prefer a set of stairs with a removable cover that can be washed.
 
Storage:  Some pet stairs are made to fold up and store in a closet or where they are attached to a car while others are decorative for leaving around the house at all times. 
 
Price:  Pet stairs can range in price from very cheap to very expensive.  You must consider your needs to compare with the cost.  A large breed of dog might require an expensive ramp with sturdy materials while a small animal might only require a tiny plastic set of stairs.  A cheap reliable model for smaller animals can usually be found at the store Bed, Bath, and Beyond. 

 

Benefit From Natural Horsemanship

By Floyd Harrison

Anybody can own a horse but it takes a special person to earn the respect of a horse. There’s more to horsemanship than technique. As expressed in terms of Parelli Natural Horsemanship “horses don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The horse judges a person as friend or preditor.


Your dog is much more ‘forgiving’ because it has predatory instincts wired in it’s wild genes. Man’s relationship with his dog is more symbiotic. However, the horse has only prey animal fight or flight instincts as it’s wild side and the relationship is therefore more difficult. Just as the 800 pound gorilla, the 1400 pound horse does anything it wants to, which could include nothing you want. But through trust and love, a cooperative relationship can be rewarding.


The horse has no ambition but safety and no care but food. They just want to socialize.


Most people who own horses have performance expectations beyond just a big pet but some try to force compliance rather than giving the horse a choice. This can be frustrating and dangerous. Even a canine can be dangerous if challenged. There’s a better way being learned and practiced out at Meadowood Farm stable. It’s called Parelli Natural Horsemanship.


The purpose of Natural Horsemanship is to learn how the horse thinks and therefore gain the animals trust. Horse savvy is really more about self development of the person than the horse. Requests made of the horse in an attitude of respect for it’s safety and comfort are happily learned. And it’s amazing how patient they can be with a mere human. Horses are intelligent and read human attitude very well. Communication is practiced through horse games based on herd socialization. Seven games at various levels help develop the relationship between horse and trainer.


New tricks are learned without a rider when the horse can think and decide comfortably to learn. The amazing fruition of this practice is to see the horse not need to be led everywhere or tied to wait still. The horse becomes intent on the owners actions and follows and waits patiently. More difficult motions requiring the horse to think more like backing or stepping sideways may be elicited without even a touch. Life then is more like play than work. Just like people, horses tire of work but they’ll play and eat all day. Dogs are generally not so malleable as horses trained this way.


Natural Horsemanship creates a greater bond, a safer horse and a willing partner, So, it seems that if you play horse games with your horse, it will more happily work with you. The cooperation can be as smooth as Dressage but without reins, or discomfort for the horse. It takes commitment to be a good horse owner, they need a lot of care, socialization and exercise.


Natural Horsemanship can also be psychological therapy for the horse. Through this practice, the trust of the horse can be gained and it can be rehabilitated from having been treated carelessly because it gets into the mind and heart of the horse. Memories die hard but, It can give the horse it’s life back.


Many thanks to Robyn Megonigal and Rio for sharing their experience and relationship for this article. For more information on Natural Horsemanship go to http://www.parelli.com. For more information on Meadowood browse http://www.us-parks.com/blm/meadowood_special_recreation_area/index.html For information on Horse and Burro Adoption see http://www.blm.gov/es/st/en/prog/wild_horse_and_burro.html.

 

Winter Safety for Pets

By Shelby Moses, Veterinary Assistant
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

As we enter the coldest part of the winter for our region of the United States it’s time to review a few simple safety tips that we can all use to make sure that our pets stay safe and comfortable. It’s very important for us to remember that just because we may feel protected from the outside elements all bundled up in our coats and hats, or warm inside of our homes with an extra layer or two of clothing, our pets may not be feeling so cozy. A natural fur coat is not always sufficient protection from cold temperatures and most importantly, no pet should ever live outside during the winter.



Everywhere we look now we can find cute vests and sweaters designed for both cats and dogs to wear during the winter. Unfortunately, although these items may look adorable they don’t really offer the best protection against the cold air. Dogs and cats lose the majority of their body heat through the pads of their paws, their ears and their respiratory tracts. A better winter accessory investment (if your pet will tolerate them) would be insulated water-proof booties. The best protection of all though is to limit the amount of time your pet spends outside, especially if it’s snowing or raining. Also, make sure that when your pets come inside you wipe off their pads, and for short legged animals, wipe off their bellies to remove ice, salt and other snow melting chemicals. Take special care as well with very young, old, sick or arthritic pets as their bodies may be especially sensitive to extreme temperatures and wet weather. These pets may need their time outside to be even more limited.


Another outdoor safety tip is to use caution when walking or playing with your pets near frozen ponds, creeks or other bodies of water. Always make sure your pet is leashed. It only takes a moment for them to fall through a weak spot of ice.
 
Some other important safety tips involve your automobile. Make sure that you knock on the hood of your vehicle or honk your horn before starting it to make sure that a cold kitty hasn’t nestled in your engine for warmth. Also, antifreeze is another danger for both cats and dogs. Antifreeze is extremely poisonous and unfortunately, also very attractive to animals because of it’s sweet taste. Check under your vehicle periodically to make sure that no fluids are leaking and immediately clean up any spills. If you see your pet licking antifreeze or any other automotive fluid or exhibiting the early signs of antifreeze poisoning such as vomiting, increased drinking and urination or uncoordinated movements as if they are “drunk”, get them to a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. It only takes a tiny amount of antifreeze to poison an animal.


There are also some things that we can all do to make the inside of our homes safer during the winter. For instance, never leave a pet alone near a space heater. They can be burned accidentally, especially when they are sleeping. Also, keep all electrical cords hidden or out of reach because your pet can trip on them and tip over a space heater creating a fire hazard and some pets may even think it’s fun to chew on the cords which poses the risk of electrocution. You should also keep the opening to your fire place sufficiently covered to ensure that your pet can’t gain access to the inside. 
 
Tropical birds are another pet that may need special care during the winter. As the word “tropical” suggests, these birds are adapted to climates that are warm and humid. That doesn’t mean that you have to keep your thermostat turned up to the maximum in order for them to be comfortable though. Special heat lamps made just for birds are available but it is very important to follow all instructions that come with them as they can not be placed too close to their cages and most of them require special bulbs. You can also keep your bird more comfortable by using a humidifier, placed at a safe distance from your birds’ cage, to add moisture to the dry indoor air. Some birds even enjoy being misted with warm water in a spray bottle when the air is too dry.


As we all excitedly anticipate the possibility of snow, let’s keep winter safety in mind when it comes to our pets. And as always, remember that your veterinarian is your best source of information when it comes to caring for your animals.

 

Conquering Cat Pee: A How-To Guide

By: Lori Craddock
 
The “cat’s out of the bag,” there is a way to rid your home of cat pee stains without getting rid of your cat. Although cats by nature know to go in their litter box and rarely mess outside of it, there are cases when this can happen such as depression, dominance issues, or a full litter box.  Once a cat smells where it or another cat has peed, it tends to go in the same spot, which has been the cause for many cats ending up at the pound unnecessarily. A recent poll taken on Freecycle.org in which a woman asked others for answers to cleaning cat pee stains yielded 42 responses. Of these people, 37 people provided tried and true recommendations on how to conquer cat pee while the remaining 5 wanted these recommendations forwarded to them. This proves that against popular belief there is a way to get rid of a cat pee stain instead of your beloved pet.


 
Tips on cleaning cat pee


Locating the stain: Cat pee has a distinctive ammonia smell due to bacteria that begins eating away at the stain over a period of time.  If you follow your nose, you will find the stain.  However, if you cannot pinpoint the stain, try using a black light, which will make a cat pee stain practically glow in the dark. 


  Clean while the stain is fresh: 
The longer a cat pee stain goes untreated, the increase in possibility for the smell to get stronger and for the urine to soak through the carpet onto the carpet pad or floor beneath.  If a stain goes this deep into your floor, you may need to cut the carpet up, treat the floor, and replace the carpet pad and carpet.  Once you remove the stain and smell completely, the cat should discontinue peeing in this area. 


  Blotting the stain:  Blot a fresh cat stain with a thick towel to soak up the bulk moisture and then repeat with paper towels until the excess moisture is gone. Then, dilute the stain and blot again.


  Diluting the stain:  To dilute a cat pee stain, use a mix of vinegar and water, wait a minute for it to soak into the stain, and then blot the moisture up.  The mix should be 50% each of vinegar and water (preferably warm water) or 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water and you will dribble it onto the stain.  Use enough to cover area, but do not soak the area as it will need to dry after blotting to avoid mildew.  Household white vinegar can be found cheaply in bulk at the local grocery store and works wonders on urine stains.  When a 1/2 to full cup of vinegar is poured into a load of laundry that has been sprayed with urine, it takes the smell out of the clothes or sheets so that the cat will not be tempted to go on them again.  The vinegar mix works best on fresh stains.
  Neutralizing smell of stains with cleaners:  Sometimes, the stain is so old or strong that you will need to use an extra specialized cleaner that contains enzymes to fully neutralize the ammonia smell.  Popular brands of cat pee cleaners include Nature’s Miracle, Anti-Icky Poo, Brampton Simple Solution, OdorXit, Zero-Odor, and Urine-Off.


  Note on emotional cats:  Make sure to address any emotional issues the cat might have so it does not act out again if this is the case.  It could be that the cat wants you to spend more time with it or maybe you recently introduced a new animal or child into the home and you need to properly gain acceptance from your cat for the new presence in your home. Or, it could be as simple as cleaning your cat’s litter box more frequently.


Mountain Cur:

Making its Way from History into the Home

By: Lori Craddock
 
The Mountain Cur was seen as the United States first began.  Settlers on the frontier used these dogs to guide and protect them as they moved west and were especially helpful in the mountains and specifically known for making their way through the Ohio River Valley.  These dogs can be seen most commonly in the South as farm dogs as they are known best for their working ability.  It is rumored that the dog from the book “Old Yeller” was a Mountain Cur.  The dog’s description in the book is on point with the breed including its bob-tail.  The Cur did not have a distinct breed name in those days, which might explain why Old Yeller was not named as a particular breed in the book. 
 
This stocky dog comes in both smooth and rough coats with a soft fine undercoat that is easy to groom.  The hair is longer than a hound’s hair, but still short.  Brush and comb your Mountain Cur’s coat occasionally and only bathe when needed to avoid drying out the skin.  Keep ears free of excess hair and clip their toenails.  The legs on the Cur are cat-like, muscular and built for speed.  50 percent of Cur pups are born with a bob-tail The Cur weighs an average of 30-60 pounds and is an average height of 18-26 inches tall.
 
The Cur is not a submissive dog, although it does have a strong need to please its master.  This dog is a tough, courageous one that will hold its ground against a bear.  It is a better than average tracking dog and many make great treeing dogs.  It is an active breed and must have a lot of daily exercise with big spaces to run in.  It enjoys outdoor activities and sports.  The Cur has a natural tendency to protect its family and property, so it makes an excellent guard dog.  This breed is best for working purposes and not suited for apartment life.  A big house with a fenced in yard might be acceptable and a Cur dog mixed with another breed might temper the dog down to make a good house-pet. 

 

Puppy Presents, Buyer’s Remorse

By: Lori Craddock
 
So, you thought it was the best gift in the world when you decided to buy your child a puppy for the holidays and now you’re having buyer’s remorse as you realize your child will not be the primary caregiver.  Sure, it seemed perfect as your child’s eyes lit up and you saw that smile of pure delight, but now you realize as you look around at the puppy pee stains and chewed up furniture that you may have made a big mistake.  If this is you and you have way too much on your To-Do list to deal with the loud, unruly, and playful new dog…don’t give up.  Any puppy problem can be fixed.
 
Some simple fixes:
Scenario 1: A puppy chewed up your shoe for no reason one day- in most cases you find out that the owner gave their puppy a toy shoe to play with when they got it, which in turn trained the dog to like chewing shoes.  Even this simple mishap with training can be fixed with positive reinforcement.  Start by taking away the shoe-shaped toy.  Buy the dog new toys that do not look like household objects and reinforce the dog for playing with its new toys and not items around the house. 
(Chewing shoes can also be a sign your dog needs more attention and this can be fixed with training and more quality time with your pet.)
 
Scenario 2:  A puppy shreds your receipts you have laying around- if you see your pet pick up an object you do not want it to have, try bargaining (Definition below.) You’ll find after several attempts at bargaining with your dog, it will begin to drop the item you want in record time the following time and eventually without damage to the item.  
 
Bargaining with your puppy-tell the dog to “drop it” or “give” and then follow it up with “treat” and showing the dog one, which it will surely drop the other object for.   As the dog drops the bad item, say “Yes” and give it the treat, which is positive reinforcement for the act of dropping something upon command.  Then grab your item and put it away.  This leads us into our next tip…
Puppy-proof your home- just like how you would baby-proof a home for a child, you must puppy-proof your home for a dog.  Dogs, like children, can be curious and open cabinets, eat toxic food (like chocolate and onions) or chemicals, and play too rough with items laying around the house.  They do not know better when they are new, so as you are beginning their training to teach them what is and isn’t theirs to play with, keep your living areas clean and any items of danger or importance out of reach!
Puppy-training- this time of year, the pounds are flooded with animals that people bought for the holidays and gave up on come January.  Almost all puppy problems are fixable and it only takes proper training for your pup and you the handler.  Enroll yourself and your dog into a puppy training class from week one if possible.  However, it is never too late to enroll your pet in training class.  It is a myth that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.  Proper training will assist your pet in learning the household rules, respecting its handlers, and socializing your pet to play well with others.  Puppies outgrow the chewing and destruction stage, so with proper training, your pet will grow into a perfect companion for the entire family to enjoy.

 

Even Animals are in Need

By: Lori Craddock
 
The holiday season is a time of giving and animals are no exception to those in need.  Animal rescue organizations spend money on transporting animals from the pound into foster care, feeding, veterinarian bills and all the extra odds and ends.  With the amount of rescue puppies in training, puppy “wee wee” pads alone can break the bank and while newspapers are a cheaper alternative, even those can run out quickly.


  Animal rescues usually depend on donations both great and small.  Much of the year is spent with fundraising efforts.  With the economy struggling, there has been a decrease in spending and even animal rescues are affected.  Less money coming in can hinder the work of the rescue and the amount of animals saved, which is a scary thought with the increasing amount of animals being abandoned due to families’ financial distress.  However, volunteers are tireless as fosters open their homes to these poor homeless animals and the need for supplies remains.


  For those of you that can donate money to animal rescue, please do and remember it is tax-deductible.  For those of you who cannot donate money but want to help, please think outside the box to donate whether it be your time as a foster or volunteer or maybe you have animal items that your pet no longer uses.  Whether the items are big or small, new or used, animal rescues will take them gratefully.  Medications might be the exception as those need to be properly distributed by a vet according to the size and age of the animal.  Most needed animal items include pet carriers, crates, beds, blankets, newspapers, leashes, harnesses, collars, litter boxes, and toys to name a few.  You can look online to find a local animal rescue to donate to. 

One local animal rescue is A Forever Home that you can contact at Info@aforeverhome.org or 703-961-8690 to donate items to.  Or, if you prefer, you can contact me at lori.craddock@yahoo.com and I will find an appropriate organization for you to donate to according to what you are offering and arrange a pickup or drop off.  Many thanks and happy holidays! 

 

 

The Pekingese Dog:

Royalty in its Own Right

By: Lori Craddock
 
In the Chinese Imperial Palace 2,000 years ago lies the origin of the Pekingese or “Peke” breed of dog. With a history soaked in Chinese as well as English royalty, this dog has cause for its self-important personality.  Being bred to be companions carried in the emperor’s and his entourage’s sleeves earned the nickname “Sleeves” bestowed upon the smallest of this modern version of the breed.  Current Peke dogs weigh an average of 7-14 pounds and are only on average 15-23 cm tall, but carry their heads high with an air of dignity, intelligence, and regality.
  The Peke exudes a royal arrogance or expectancy, which has been compared to the personality of a cat.  It is best described that a Peke is stubborn with dog training because it does not think it is a dog and expects more human-like “better” treatment.  Although Pekingese dogs have been described as jealous and, sometimes, aggressive, it is because they are a loyal breed that tends to bond to one owner of which they are very protective.  Early socialization is suggested with your Peke pup to produce a perfect companion instead of a possessive pup.  Young children and multiple dogs are not the ideal for a Peke’s family, but a retiree or doting couple are at the top of the list. 
  This tiny dog has enough personality to fill a house and it has been said to be a big dog in a little dog’s body.  There is a common belief stemming from ancient myth, that the Pekingese dog is the result of the love between a lion and a monkey with Buddha’s blessing. The Pekingese dog is said to resemble a lion with its fierce protective tendencies and long hair, but with the quirky personality of a monkey.
  The most common hair colors of these dogs are gold, red sable, light gold, cream, black, white, sables, black and tan, and blue.  Their long hair is coarse, but undercoat soft.  It is recommended to brush them daily and remove dirt immediately from the coat upon seeing it as dirt can set and be harder to clean later.  The biggest worries to watch for in your pet Peke are eye and breathing problems.  It is recommended to clean dirt from eye pores as well as between their face creases to avoid these issues.
  Your Peke may require you to dote upon it, but the gifts this dog gives you in return of companionship and love are endless.  For information on adopting local Pekingese and Pekingese-mix dogs, please visit aforeverhome.org or call A Forever Home rescue at 703-961-8690.

 

Peppy Pomeranians

By: Lori Craddock
 
The Pomeranian, also known as a Pom, is a toy breed of dog of the Spitz type originated from Central Europe.  Historical owners include Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, King Edward, Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette, Harry Houdini, and Charles Darwin.  Modern day Pom owners include myself, Sharon Osbourne, and Maria Sharapova. With their trademark move of tilting their head sideways and staring up into your eyes or turning circles when excited, these dogs immediately make their way into your heart and your home.


The head of a Pomeranian is wedge-shaped giving it the appearance of a fox.  They have a sort of lion’s mane and a distinct tail that curls up over the back and wiggles like a cheerleader’s Pom-Pom when excited.  Poms weigh an average of three to seven pounds and live an average of 12-19 years.  Their hair is long and should be brushed twice a week or daily as they shed often.  The Pom has an undercoat that it sheds twice a year.  Bathing is only necessary once a season.  Feeding this breed dry food and brushing their teeth regularly is recommended as they are prone to getting bad teeth.


  Pomeranians are a friendly, hyper, and playful breed.  They are extremely intelligent, so they are easily housebroken and trained and are a great breed to teach tricks to.  If not given enough attention and training, however, they can act up and develop bad habits.  Positive reinforcement is a great way to get these dogs to recreate good habits.  They are very loyal dogs and will follow their owners from room to room.  Poms usually adapt to all environments and situations well and are great pets in condominiums and apartments due to their small size.

 

Dog Harnesses: Safety, Control and Convenience

By: Lori Craddock
 
Dog harnesses are becoming the norm for pet owners to use for safety, control and convenience when dealing with their dogs.  A dog harness should fit snuggly against the body so the dog cannot wiggle out, but loose enough that it can breathe comfortably. 
  A dog harness can be used in combination with a pet car-seat or seatbelt snap in device to secure the dog safely onto the seatbelt within a car.  This prevents damage to your dog in the event of a car accident. 
  Keeping a harness on an active dog all day makes putting a leash on it a snap.  A dog that jumps and moves its head around a lot when it’s time to go outside can make it hard to put the leash on before the dog has an accident from getting excited.  With a harness, the owner can grab the dog and quickly clasp the leash onto the loop on the harness that rests on the middle of the dog’s back for easy access.  A harness can be easier to grab than a collar when trying to prevent your dog from running away from you if it gets out or for training purposes.
  Most importantly, the harness can be a healthier alternative for your dog as a leash hooked to a collar pulls on your pet’s neck and can cause irritation to the throat and trachea. Small dogs are especially prone to a collapsing trachea, so it is recommended to always use a harness on small dogs during walks.  Remember that collars should still be worn in front of the harness as it has the dog tags and licenses in case your dog ever gets away.

 

Wild Deer Grazing at Lorton Home: Click Image

 

The Delight of a Dachshund

By: Lori Craddock
 
 
The Dachshund is an easily identifiable dog with its long, low body that has been said by some to resemble that of a “hotdog”.  This clever, friendly, and lively breed is one of the most popular breeds according to AKC Registration Statistics.  There are three different coat varieties (smooth, wire-haired, and long-haired) of Dachshund and they come in two sizes; standard (30-35 pounds) and miniature (16-22 pounds).


  Dachshunds originated in Germany in the early 1600s.  They were bred to be courageous, even fearless, and their bodies were bred to allow them to dig into badger holes and fight them to the death as there was an overpopulation of vicious badgers at the time. 


  In the 1900s, the breed became popular in the United States, but World War I led to a fall in favor as America distanced itself from anything German. As Dachshund is a German word, Americans temporarily translated this breed’s name from the Dachshund to the English version “badger dog”.  After the war, Dachshunds from Germany were imported again to increase the gene pool and encourage breeding of this popular pet.


Dachshunds are an ideal pet for many homes, including children with supervision.  They require moderate exercise and adapt easily to most environments.  They are both lovable and playful.


Recently, many Dachshunds were rescued from a West Virginia puppy mill that was shut down due to the poor conditions the dogs were kept in. Over 1,000 dogs were rescued, 90% of which were Dachshunds and a good number of these dogs are here in Virginia waiting for a loving family to show them the care and patience they deserve so they can put their sad past behind them.  For information on adopting or donating money for these Dachshunds, visit A Forever Home rescue online at www.aforeverhome.org or call them at 703-961-8690.

 

 

Diet And Exercise Are Important For Pets Too

By Shelby Moses,
Veterinary Assistant
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

Talking about overweight pets is often a very sensitive issue for many pet owners, but it is very important to consider when thinking about their quality of life. If Fluffy or Fido aren’t able to physically enjoy their lives it puts an emotional strain on them and a financial strain on pet owners. Treatment for obesity related diseases is often expensive and time consuming. Most overweight pets suffer health problems related to their increased body mass such as arthritis, breathing problems, diabetes, heart problems and much more. They are also unable to enjoy exercise or playing. It is extremely important for pet owners to discuss their pet’s weight with their veterinarian and develop a realistic plan to improve their pet’s condition.
  One way to help a pet lose and then maintain a healthy weight is through changing their diet.

There are now many specially formulated prescription diets that your veterinarian can recommend. It is also not uncommon to use one food to achieve the desired amount of weight loss and then another type to help the pet maintain their new healthy weight. Once you and your veterinarian have chosen a suitable diet for your pet the most important thing to remember when feeding them is portion control. Most prescription food packages display suggested serving sizes based on the ideal weight that needs to be reached.
If your pet likes treats, occasionally feeding them low calorie alternatives or, for dogs, things like raw carrots and apples can also help them lose weight. For pet’s with allergies or other health problems ask your veterinarian what kind of treat would be best.
 



Another way you can help your pet lose weight, not to mention spend some quality time with them, is to have them exercise. It is important to start slowly and gradually work up to a more rigorous routine. For dogs this may mean walking only half the block for a couple of weeks and then working your way up to the whole block over the next few weeks. For cats it may mean starting out with just a couple of minutes of active play with a favorite toy and then adding a minute or so more every few days.
 



For dogs there is also a new prescription medication called Slentrol. When Slentrol is used along with a proper diet, exercise, and careful monitoring by a veterinarian most dog owners are successfully able to help their dog achieve a healthy weight. Talk to your veterinarian to find out if Slentrol can help your dog.



Don’t be afraid to talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s weight. Remember they are there to help you both and they are your best resource for keeping your pet healthy. It’s never too late to start your pet on a path to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
 
Senior Awareness Month is here! Schedule an appointment in the month of October and receive a discount on senior bloodwork for your pet. Call 703-690-6600 for more information.

 

Allergic to Pets? 

Testing before Adoption

By: Lori Craddock
 
I recently took in a cat from a friend, whose mother made her get rid of it as they discovered or rather noticed a year after adoption that her younger siblings are allergic.  This is an age-old story of people adopting animals only to find out they or their loved ones are allergic and have to give up the pet.  Shelters are full of these perfectly healthy, but unwanted pets and some are doomed to death by shelters when parents dispose of the animals carelessly.  People need to take responsibility to expose themselves and their family members to these animals before making a lifetime commitment, which is what a pet should be.


A quick trip to a local allergist, which medical insurance covers, can lead to a simple allergy test that will determine if you are allergic to animals.  If a person is allergic to animals, there are several ways to proceed.  The simplest choice is not to have animals.  However, a person with mild pet allergies can indeed learn to live in close proximity with the animals they adore with a bit of extra work.  Medicine can help with taming an allergy and make it tolerable to interact with the animal.  Another option is to take rounds of allergy shots at the allergist to allow you to better tolerate the animal’s presence, which is something that sounds much worse than it is. 


If you cannot afford the trip to the allergist, take your family to your local animal shelter and play with the pets there, which is free to do.  It is recommended to make several trips to be around pets to see if an allergy buildup occurs over a few days of constant exposure.  Not only will you see in a short time if your family has pet allergies, but it will also be wonderful interaction for the shelter pets to be cuddled and loved as they spend their entire days in cages.  The public is allowed to visit and play with these lonely animals during shelter operation hours.  Rescue organizations also hold adoption days, usually at local pet stores, on which a family can play with the animals.


There are a few ways to make living with a pet you are allergic to more bearable.  Of course, washing your hands after petting a furry friend you are allergic to is always a good idea as rubbing the eyes or scratching the skin subconsciously can lead to a bad breakout.  Also, do not let your pet sit on items you will have close contact with, like your pillow.  Vacuuming floors and sofas as well as washing blankets or other items the pet has come in contact with often is a good idea.  Another way to lessen the pet dander around the house is to have your pet regularly groomed.

 

Saint Bernard and His Mountain Dogs

By: Lori Craddock

At a summit in the Alps, lies the Hospice of the Great St. Bernard, founded by Bernard de Menthon in 962 A.D. and the origin of the Saint Bernard breed of dog, which is estimated between 1660 and 1670.  The current inhabitants of this hospice act in much the same capacity of the original monks who lived there as they aid weary travelers through the treacherous pass near the building.  This pass is frozen nine months out of the year, so monks, with the aid of their Saint Bernard companions, guide and rescue lost travelers.
  Saint Bernard dogs not only have an incredible sense of direction, but also have an acute sense of smell that allows them to locate a human body covered by several feet of snow. It is also said that this dog has an amazing talent of knowing when an avalanche is approaching. These dogs not only guide their monk guardians, but also form two-dog search parties to go out on rescues on their own.  If the dogs cannot assist an injured person or dig the person out on their own, one dog will stay while the other runs to the hospice for help.  Traditionally, each dog is equipped with a small barrel of water or whiskey around its neck for the injured person to partake in.  One famous historic hospice dog, Barry, was responsible for saving at least 40 people and is best known for saving a little boy whose mother was killed by an avalanche. 
  The Saint Bernard is a great family dog with its need to protect and serve.  They are gentle giants and great with kids.  The dogs range in height from 26-30 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 120-180 pounds.  They do not need a lot of room, but apartment dwelling dogs need to be walked more frequently to make up for the exercise they could take at their leisure in a bigger home.  The rumor that these dogs will “eat you out of house and home” is not true and they eat just as much as any other large breed of dog and, sometimes, less than smaller active breeds.  There are both short and long-haired types of Saint Bernard dogs as the monks began experimenting to see which coat would suit the cold weather. Once they realized the long hair would freeze in the extreme cold, they returned to using short-haired dogs at the hospice, but both types made their way into the world as pets.  They shed twice a year and drool on occasion. In order to handle hotter climates, this dog will need a cool, dry place to nap and plenty of fresh cool water.  The dog will naturally cut down on both his food intake and activity level to adjust.  As an owner of a Saint Bernard, be aware that abrupt temperature changes are extremely hard on this breed of dog and so going from an air conditioned place to an extremely hot climate outside can be harmful. 
For further information on Saint Bernard dogs, visit the Saint Bernard Club of America at their Web site http://www.saintbernardclub.org.

 

Cocoa Mulch Can Kill

By: Lori Craddock
 
There is nothing like taking your dog on a walk as you look around a newly landscaped neighborhood, but did you know that a popular kind of mulch, Cocoa Mulch, that is sold at local stores like Home Depot can be lethal if ingested by your curious pet?
  Theobromine is an ingredient found in chocolate, which is proven to be harmful to pets.  The cocoa bean shells used to make this gardening Cocoa Mulch contains lethal amounts of this ingredient.  Although your garden might smell good, unsuspecting dogs being walked nearby that eat the mulch can have seizures and die.  According to Hershey’s, 50% of dogs who eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog), but they claim that the majority of dogs do not eat the product.  However, according to Doctor Larry Family of Aqueduct Animal Hospital in a recent article on www.snopes.com, “Cocoa mulch is a risk, especially to dogs.”  Responsible pet owners and advocates should use and promote safer mulches, such as cedar-based mulches. 
  In general, the toxicity of the chocolate intake depends directly on three factors: type of chocolate, size of animal, and amount ingested.  Unsweetened baking chocolate is the greatest threat on the chocolate scale and white chocolate the least.  However, please remember that chocolate of any kind is bad for your pet, so do not feed it to them.  Also, be aware of chocolate being in areas a pet can easily get into.  Last year, one reader almost lost her Yorkshire Terrier, who ripped open and ate most of a box of chocolates under the Christmas tree.  This owner was lucky enough to be able to rush her pet immediately to the emergency veterinarian to get its stomach pumped before it was too late.   It was a close call.  If you suspect your dog has ingested a harmful amount of chocolate please contact your local veterinarian immediately.  For further information on the facts on Cocoa Mulch, visit www.snopes.com.

 

Senior Pet Care

Shelby Moses
Vet Assistant Crosspointe. 

Last month, my ten year old cat Alligator Frog (I feel I must explain that a four year old child gave her this name) came to work with me and had her geriatric check-up and her yearly senior lab tests done. The doctor checked her eyes, ears and teeth; listened to her heart and lungs; and checked her for lumps, bumps and other possible abnormalities. We talked about how she was doing at home and I told her that she was doing fine other than a few minor behavioral changes because her brother had recently passed away. In fact, my kitty looks and acts like she is much younger than she is. We decided that the only things I needed to do for Alligator Frog were to put her on a diet because (how do I put this delicately?) she had been snacking too much, and to have her teeth cleaned because she had some gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Happy that my kitty was doing so well, I scheduled her teeth cleaning and we returned home that evening and promptly changed her diet. Imagine my surprise when two days later the doctor told me that my kitty has hyperthyroidism! I couldn’t believe it. She had no signs - no unkempt fur, no increased drinking, no unexplained weight loss (obviously). The senior lab test results had come back and the doctor was able to determine that she is in the very early stages of the disease. And fortunately, because she found it so early, we will be able to control it with a very low dose of medication and semi-annual blood tests and avoid having to deal with what could have been very time-consuming and costly medical care. How amazing is it that doing just a few simple lab tests could save my pet and I so much heartache?
  Most pets are considered to be senior around the age of seven and there are a few simple things you can do to help your senior pet stay as healthy as possible. The first thing you can do is to make sure that your pet has a senior wellness exam twice a year. Animals have a much shorter life span than humans and therefore they age much faster, so a single yearly exam is usually not frequent enough. Having a senior wellness exam gives you and your pet’s doctor an opportunity to discuss things like behavioral and physical changes that may indicate underlying health issues. It is also a good time to discuss dietary and supplement needs. Older pets usually have decreased caloric needs as their metabolism slows and many have joint stiffness or pain that can be helped with dietary supplements. It may also help you to come to the exam with a written list of your concerns. We are all so busy with our lives that it’s easy to forget to mention the strange rash you found on Fido’s pinkie toe two weeks ago. Having a senior wellness exam also gives the doctor a chance to thoroughly physically examine your pet. For example, they may be able to feel things like lumps in an area where you may not normally touch your pet or detect changes in their eyes that you can’t see yourself without the use of special equipment.
  Another simple thing that you can do for your pet is to have yearly senior lab tests done. At Crosspointe Animal Hospital we offer the Golden Paw. It includes both blood and urine tests that as you read earlier, can detect many hidden health issues. We will be offering a discount on the Golden Paw in October so if you’ve never had your senior pet tested before it would be a great time to start!
  There are also some easy steps you can take to make your pet‘s environment more senior friendly. Older pets often have joint pain that makes it difficult for them to do things like lower their heads to eat from a bowl on the floor. Elevated feeding and water bowls can make their dining experience much more pleasant. Animals with joint pain can also benefit from pet beds with thick, firm inserts. Sleeping on a hard or cold surface makes them uncomfortable and stiff making it more difficult for them to rise to a standing position. Senior pets with severe joint problems may also benefit from using a special ramp made for getting in and out of the car or up and down the stairs. Another important thing to remember is that older pets are more sensitive to extreme heat and cold. Keep this in mind when spending extended periods of time outside or exercising your pet and always have plenty of water available for them.
  Making our pet’s golden years the healthiest they can be is the best gift we can give them for all the love and companionship they give us. Always remember that your pet’s doctor is your best resource when it comes to their senior health. Don’t hesitate to call us with any senior pet questions you may have. We are always happy to help you and your pets and we really enjoy educating our clients. See you in October for our Golden Paw special!
  And by the way, Alligator Frog already lost a pound…

 

 

The Chartreux Cat

By: Lori Craddock

The Chartreux cat is noted in documents as early as the 16th century for its unique coat and color.  Although some say the cat is named for the legend that they lived with Carthusian monks and shared their Chartreux liqueur, it is more likely that they were named after a well-known Spanish wool due to the wooly nature of their fur.

The Chatreuex’s body has been referred to as a “potato on sticks” with its robust body supported by bony legs.  Its muscular body enables it to be a fine mouser as referred to in French literature.  Its gray fur is referred to as being blue in color and its dense undercoat gives it the feeling of sheep’s wool.  The double coat should never be brushed, but rather fingers should be run through its fur on a daily basis.  A trademark smile can be found on the Chartreux cat due to its softly contoured forehead that tapers to a narrowed muzzle creating this illusion. Its eyes range in color from gold to copper in color.

This cat becomes quickly attached to its family, usually one member, and will follow its owners from room to room.  They are known for their dog-like qualities such as fetching a ball and responding to their name.  Breeders name the kittens according to a particular letter that year according to an alphabetical schedule. This cat is a quiet breed that makes a chirping noise instead of a meowing noise if any at all.  They are very intelligent, great travelers, and tend to be fascinated by television. 

These cats can be hard to attain.  During World War II, there was a French effort to avoid extinction of this breed and they were brought to America.  Now, many American-bred Chartreux are being returned to French breeders, further reducing their availability in America.  There are fewer than two dozen active Chartreux breeders in North America as of 2007.  For information on rescued Chartreux cats, call the National Chartreux Breed Rescue and Referral at (972) 579-0505. 

 

Choosing the Purr-fect Cat for your Family

By: Lori Craddock

So, you have decided to add a feline to your family.  Cats make great pets as they are not very demanding and usually adjust well to all environments and lifestyles.  Each one has its own unique personality, so it is important to think about the age, activity level, attentiveness, and appearance you want in your new pet when choosing which one to bring home.

The age of your new cat determines different levels of your responsibility.  A kitten tends to be much more active, curious, and playful.  They are not old enough to be de-clawed yet and need to be taught the “house rules” on where they can chew, play, and scratch, which requires a keen eye and a lot of attention from the owner.  Young children are usually not responsible enough to handle these fragile fur balls, so it is recommended for families with kids six and under to adopt cats of four months or older.

Adult cats are much more relaxed than kittens.  They still like to play on occasion, but prefer to lounge around.  They are quick to understand rules and learn basic commands fast such as “food”, “no”, “come”, “up”, “down” and can even respond to their name or be taught to fetch a toy (takes more work).

Cats’ fur can vary in length and texture and the choice for your pet should be based on willingness to upkeep.  The short-haired cat is most common and easy to manage.  Grooming is beneficial, but not needed often.  The long-haired cat requires frequent grooming.  Both types of cats shed, some more than others.  Most cats enjoy being brushed and all cats bathe themselves, so baths are rarely needed.

The personality of your cat should be considered when adding to your family.  Although a shy cat can be known to form a strong bond with an owner, it might not like hyper children or animals already in your family.  An outgoing cat is more likely to come to new people and adjust to all environments.  Some cats are lap-cats while others prefer to be left alone.  Sometimes, the personality of a cat can be hard to determine when in a shelter as they can be in a state of fear.  Some shelters offer adoption advisors to assist you in choosing the pet for your family and it is always advised to spend some one-on-one time with the cat before bringing it home.    Remember, with any cat you choose, spay or neuter them when they are of age.

 

 

Summer Safety Tips For Your Pets

By Shelby Moses, Veterinarian Assistant
Crosspointe Animal Hospital

As we move into the real heat of summer it’s time to review some summer safety tips for our pets. Just like us, our pets can suffer from dehydration and heatstroke and since they don’t use sweat to cool themselves like we do, it can sometimes be hard to remember that they may be uncomfortable or ready for a break.

One of the most important summer safety tips to remember is NEVER leave your pet in the car alone even if you think you’re just going to run into the store ‘really quick’ to grab that gallon of milk. It only takes a few minutes for the temperature inside of your car, even with the windows cracked, to rise to as much as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This can happen even on a day when the temperature outside doesn’t seem very hot to us. Don’t let an errand become fatal for your pet. Leave your furballs at home and bring them a healthy treat from the store instead! If you must travel with your pet, never leave them unsupervised and always provide plenty of fresh water.

Making sure your long-haired or thick-coated pet is comfortable in the heat is another important thing to think about during the summer. For some of them, thinning the coat or giving them a shorter haircut can be helpful. Take care not to cut them too short though as this may leave their skin unprotected from UVA and UVB rays making them vulnerable to getting a sunburn. Also, for pets with short or thin hair, it’s usually safe to apply a hypoallergenic sunscreen to bare areas such as the nose, lips and tip of the ear or sections of the skin were the hair is very thin. Ask your veterinarian which sunscreen may be best for your pet.

If your pet must be outside for long periods during the hot weather it is very important to supply them with plenty of cool, fresh water. Providing them with a shaded and adequately ventilated shelter is also very important.
A baby pool can also be a fun way for dogs who love the water to cool off, but remember not to let your dog play in one unsupervised. If possible, simply avoid having them spend extended periods of time outside, particularly with very young, old or sick pets. Also, when your pet is playing outside make sure they get frequent breaks inside or in the shade and again, plenty of water.

Some important things to look for to help you determine if your pet may be suffering from heatstroke are excessive panting, an anxious or distressed look on their face, not listening to you or obeying commands, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat (you can usually easily feel your pet’s heartbeat by placing the palm of your hand on the left side of their chest), and vomiting. If you notice any of these signs it is EXTREMELY important to get your pet to a cool area if possible, and call your veterinarian right away to let them know what is happening and that you are on the way. Heatstroke can be deadly and ALWAYS requires immediate medical attention.

Let’s all have a safe and fun summer with our pets. Remember, frequent breaks and water, water, water. As always, give us a call with any questions you may have about keeping your pets healthy this summer - and don’t forget to keep protecting them against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes by continuing to use monthly prescription preventatives.

Crosspointe Animal Hospital

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