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We have all been startled by our k9’s sudden barking. Sometimes they will stand in the middle of a room barking for seemingly no reason at all. Other times, they face a window or door barking aggressively at something unseen outside. Sometimes, dogs have perfectly valid reasons for barking, such as a stranger approaching the door, but other times, there just seems to be no reason at all for this behavior. At TCAP, we want to help you unravel this mystery, because knowing why your dog barks at nothing is the first step to reducing its occurrence.
Dogs rarely bark without a reason. Behaviorists categorize barking into the following categories: attention barking, separation anxiety, fear/territorial/protection, and excitement. Identifying which type of barking your dog is doing will help you encourage the right kind of barking while discouraging barking that is simply disruptive.
Attention barking can be both good and bad. On one hand, it may serve as a reminder to let your dog outside to potty or to remind you to feed him. On the other, it may simply be an incessant cry for attention. Like with all attention-seeking behaviors, it is best to remain calm and ignore him while he is barking, especially if you have identified that he only wants attention. This may temporarily increase his disruptive behavior, but it is important not to acknowledge him until he has fallen completely silent for 15-30 seconds.
A dog that barks when she is alone needs help coping with separation from her owners. Separation anxiety needs to be addressed through a systematic and gradual process where the dog is left alone for very short periods of time at first. Giving your dog something to occupy her time like stuffed toys or remote treat dispensers can help her cope with being left alone. In some of the most serious cases, you may need to seek the assistance of a professional trainer or behaviorist.
Territorial, protective, or fear-based barking may draw from differing emotional states, but all reactive barking should be treated the same way. Most often this behavior occurs if dog sees a person or dog walking past your home. This behavior is reinforced he watches “the threat” walk away. To treat this type of barking, it is important to teach alternative behaviors such as lying on a mat or inside a kennel when visitors enter your home. A great exercise to reinforce this is to ring the doorbell when there are no visitors. Then walk your dog through his new, desired response all the while giving treats and positive reinforcement.
Excitement barking can be treated in a similar manner to attention barking. Usually excitement barking occurs when a dog wants something. To remove this behavior, practice not giving your dog what she wants while she is barking. This will take patience, but eventually your dog will calm down enough to reintroduce the stimuli causing excitement (for example, pulling a leash out to go for a walk). Apply this method with all stimuli that cause excitement. Only allow your dog to get what she wants when she is calm and quiet.
There is much more to say about barking, but these simple tips will help give you the baseline to understanding your dog’s emotional state when barking and what stimuli tend to bring about barking. Once you know what to look for, it is considerably easier to work with your dog to calm him down and make life easier for you both.READ MORE
Adopting your first pet? Pets come in all shapes and sizes, but they all can bring untold joy to your life. However, it is important that you take steps to make sure your new pet’s transfer to your home is comfortable and stress free. Here are some easy steps to help make your home pet-friendly:
Before bringing a pet home, be sure to make agreements with the rest of your pet’s caretakers (family, frequent visitors, roommates, etc). Decide in advance how feeding will be handled, who will take the pet outside or who will clean the litter box. Other considerations should include deciding who makes veterinary appointments, if the pet will be allowed on furniture, and where the pet will be allowed to sleep. Make certain everyone is on the same page with these items and any other relevant factors in your home. Consistency is important for any pet, but getting everyone on the same page also ensures that your pet isn’t overfed or left too long inside without a bathroom break.
You will also need to coordinate what your pet’s command words will be. Establishing the language used to issue commands is important so that your pet understand what its caretakers want without confusion.
Purchase important supplies for pet care such as food and water bowls, chew toys, grooming supplies, scratching post (for cats), bedding, collar and leash, crate/kennel, a gate or gates, and an odor neutralizer (just to be safe). If you a bringing home a puppy or kitten, find a food suited for a pet their age/weight.
You can also get ahead of many common frustrations by pet-proofing your home. Tape loose electrical cords to baseboards, store household chemicals on high shelves, remove plants (some common plants may be poisonous to pets), remove rugs, remove breakables, set up the crate or kennel where they will sleep, and install gates in doorways to help keep the pet where they are allowed.
Remember that from the very beginning, consistency is important. Once you have adopted your new furry family member, make certain you are carrying events out how you would prefer them done in the future. For example, on the ride home, keep your pet in the back seat either in someone’s arms or in a carrier or crate. When you get home, be certain to take your pet to his toileting area (litter box or yard) so he can become familiar with the area where bathroom breaks are allowed. Keep a reliable schedule for feeding, toileting, napping, and exercise. Make sure your pet becomes familiar and comfortable with solitary confinement. Solitude may be new to your pet so they may vocalize or whine. Do not give in and comfort them or you may reinforce a bad habit of vocalizing any time they are left alone in order to receive attention.
Once you have the basic routine established for your pet, it is important to get him updated or to start his basic wellness care (vaccines, spays/neuter, microchip, deworming, etc). At TCAP, we aim to make this part of the process as affordable and easy as possible. TCAP clinics are located all throughout DFW, to schedule an appointment for your pet’s spay or neuter, call us at (940) 566-5551. If your pet need vaccines, a microchip, or a variety of other services; visit one the many TCAP clinics during their walk-in vaccine hours for services. You can see all of TCAP’s hours and locations here: http://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.READ MORE
Fleas and ticks love Texas weather! At TCAP, we see many animals in desperate need of flea and tick prevention. Like most preventable problems, knowledge is the best defense. If you know what to look for and how to take proper preventative steps, you and your pet can live a happy, itch-free life!
Animals infested with ticks and fleas easily transfer theses unwelcome guests to any pets that comes near them (fleas can jump vertically up to 7 inches and horizontally up to 13 inches). Fleas and ticks often “hitchhike” into homes on other animals, on human clothing and shoes, and on infested bedding, furniture, and rugs. Fleas and ticks also live outdoors and can easily be transferred from yard to yard. North Texas provides a perfect environment for fleas and ticks because these troublesome pests prefer warm and humid environments. Though flea and tick activity slows during our cold winter months, it is still wise to keep your pet on preventative medication because fleas or ticks that have already found their way into your home are still a threat to you and to your pet.
If left untreated, fleas and ticks can amount to more than just a minor irritation for your pet. Fleas can carry tapeworm larvae. If a pet swallows an infected flea, which is common while scratching or grooming, then a tapeworm can begin growing inside your pet’s intestines. Tapeworms appear as flat white grains of rice in your pet’s stool. They can be easily treated at any of TCAP’s vaccine locations, but they are often a sign that your pet has fleas or that there are fleas in your pet’s environment. Untreated fleas can also lead to anemia (a low healthy red blood cell count) and skin problems caused by consistent biting and scratching.
Ticks can carry diseases, the most common of which is Lyme disease (a bacterial disease that causes depression, swollen lymph nodes, loss of appetite, and fever). It is a good policy to regularly check your pet for ticks during warm or hot times of the year to be certain your pet is tick free. Untreated ticks can also cause blood loss, skin irritation, and anemia.
Treating fleas and ticks often begins with vacuuming or steaming your pet’s environment. At the same time, you should also treat your yard, wash your pet’s bedding, thoroughly vacuum your carpets, and steam your curtains. It is also essential to keep your pet on an effective preventative for both fleas and ticks. TCAP now carries Bravecto, a chewable tab that protects your dog for 3 months and it comes in a topical form for cats! It is available in each of TCAP’s clinics and on TCAP’s online store ($40 for a 90-day supply!). To learn more about Bravecto or other effective preventatives, ask a TCAP veterinarian or visit our online store: https://texasforthem.vetsfirstchoice.com/flea-and-tick.html.READ MORE
Obesity is a nutritional disease defined by an excess of body fat. Pets that are over nourished, lack adequate exercise, or have a tendency to retain weight are the most at risk for becoming obese. Obesity can result in serious adverse health effects, such as reducing the lifespan, even if your pet is only moderately obese. The best way to approach obesity in pets is to take steps to prevent or reduce its occurrence.
An estimated 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. There are a few simple tests you can perform at home to determine if your pet is overweight. You should be able to see and feel the outline of your dog’s ribs without excess fat covering, feel and see your dog’s waist clearly when viewed from above, and you should be able to see that your dog’s belly is tucked up when viewed from the side. For cats, you need to be able to see and feel your cat’s ribs, spine, and hip bones, his waist should be clearly visible when viewed from above, and his belly shouldn’t be sagging underneath.
While there are several causes of obesity in pets, the most common is a simple imbalance between a pet’s energy usage and intake. The most common factors that lead to this imbalance are, a lack of exercise, overfeeding, feeding pets high-calorie foods (human food), or frequent treats. Pets do not understand the importance of diet and exercise, so it is up to us, the owners, to make sure they have what they need to live happy and healthy lives.
Treatment for obesity is focused on weight loss and maintaining a decreased body weight for the long term. This is accomplished by reducing caloric intake and increasing your dog’s time spent exercising. Much of this will require making time to ensure that your pet is getting the exercise they need through extra walks or more regular play time. It will also be important to remain conscious of the food your pet is consuming, meaning no handouts at the table, following the recommended portions listed on your pets’ food bag, and setting a limit on the number of treats your pet can get and sticking to it.
Taking these steps will help reduce your pet’s risk of several health issues such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory distress, and high blood pressure.READ MORE
Many people believe that stray cats and feral cats are one in the same. While feral cats and stray cats are the same species, they differ greatly. It is important to be able to spot these differences so you can know how best to interact and care for outdoor cats that may live near you.
A stray cat is a pet cat that is lost or abandoned by its previous home. Stray cats may enjoy close interaction with people. Feral cats are wild and prefer little-to-no contact with humans and are well-suited to living outdoors. Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats. They are not accustomed to contact with people and are typically too fearful and wild to be handled.
Without intervention, feral cat populations can quickly get out of control. In fact, female cats may become pregnant as early as 4 months of age and can have two to three litters per year. Being pregnant and nursing kittens is very stressful to female cats that are struggling to survive. More than half of feral kittens likely die due to malnutrition. Commonly, people will take on the responsibility of feeding outdoor cats on a regular basis. However, this will only perpetuate the problem of cat overpopulation if the cats are not sterilized.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is a strategy for improving the lives of feral cats and humanely reducing their numbers. The name for Trap-Neuter-Return is quite literal. First, feral cats are trapped in live traps by caretakers or rescues. These trapped cats are then brought to a local veterinarian for sterilization. Lastly, these cats are returned to their original capture site to continue living their life as they did before. At minimum, feral cats that are TNR’d are spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies, and surgically ear-tipped on one ear. An ear tip is the universally recognized sign of a cat that has been TNR’d.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is generally accepted to be the most humane and effective way to control feral cat overpopulation. Once spayed, female feral cats tend to live much healthier lives because they will no longer have to provide nutrients to litter-after-litter. Male cats have a reduced need to roam and defend territory once they are neutered, thus reducing their chances of injury.
Other efforts to control feral cat populations typically include relocating cats. This method is usually less effective because feral cats can typically reproduce faster than they can be removed from the environment. TNR operates on the idea that once an entire colony is TNR’d, the existing cats claim the resources within their territory which deters other cats from entering. If all cats in a feral colony are TNR’d there is no longer a fight for food and shelter and all cats may have a healthier, safer life as a result.
TCAP now offers free feral sterilizations for the first 12 feral cats per surgery day at our 6 main locations in Denton, Fort Worth, Burleson, Allen, Hurst and Weatherford on regular surgery days. Cats must be in individual live traps and their ear will be tipped. Caretakers just pay $5.00 for a rabies vaccine. Extra fees apply if the cat is crypt orchid or pregnant. To learn more about TCAP’s feral policies, visit http://www.texasforthem.org/feral-cats/feral-fix-program/.READ MORE
As a spay and neuter clinic, we often encounter the question, why should I spay and neuter my pet? To answer, let us propose an interesting scenario, instead. For just a moment, imagine a world without spay and neuter.
No matter their breed, background or training, all dogs and cats share one talent-they do a great job at reproducing. According to the ASPCA, a female cat can give birth to up to two litters per year that result in 4-6 kittens on average. A female dog can have one litter per year and that results in 4-6 puppies (larger dogs have larger litters). Puppies and kittens are able to reproduce as soon as they reach their first heat cycle at 4-6 months old. Assuming an average of 4 animals per litter, this means that in the course of one year a cat and her offspring can produce 30 kittens. Dogs, because they can only have one litter, will reproduce overall a little slower and would produce approximately 16 puppies. Without physical intervention, these numbers will only grow exponentially.
Despite the current combined efforts of responsible owners, veterinarians, adoption agencies, fosters, rescue groups, and animal shelters, approximately 3.4 million animals are euthanized in United States animal shelters every year. This is not done out of malice, but simply a lack of room and a lack of resources for the number of pets in our country. And that number is with the availability of low cost, high quality resources like TCAP for spay and neuter. Now imagine what that number would grow to without the benefits of preventative spays and neuters available to most any household. The ultimate outcome would be far more dismal and costly.
Luckily, we don’t have to live in a world without spay and neuter services that most anyone can afford. In fact, any veterinary professional would tell you that spaying and neutering is the most humane and effective way to combat pet overpopulation. As a nonprofit, TCAP seeks to overcome this barrier by providing the lowest cost spays, neuters, and vaccinations in North Texas. If you have any questions about sterilizing your pet or request an appointment at one of our convenient locations, give us a call at 940-566-5551 today! Together we can make a difference for people and their pets throughout North Texas.READ MORE
At TCAP, we have the pleasure of meeting many kittens. During these visits we often receive common questions from new kitten owners. In an effort to make raising a kitten easier, our staff has compiled a list of answers to commonly asked questions.
Kittens don’t open their eyes until they are about 1-2 weeks of age. At this stage, their eyes will often appear as a grayish-blue, but this color does tend to fade into your kitten’s permanent eye color at around 4-7 weeks of age. More often than not, the permanent color is just as beautiful as the blue of early kitten-hood.
Mother kittens tend to begin leaving their kittens for extended periods of time when the kittens reach 5 weeks of age. At this point, kittens are perfectly able to eat solid kitten food and should be encouraged to do so at 4-5 weeks of age.
Thankfully, most kittens have natural instincts that fit perfectly with using a litterbox. To introduce a kitten to this process, simply feed your kitten(s), put him inside a litterbox filled with cat litter, and wait! It may take a couple repeats, but quickly enough your kitten will catch on and eliminate into the litter box. Repeat this process a few times over the course of a day or two to let your kitten get acquainted with where his litter box is and you are set. When placing your cat’s litter box, it is best to keep your kitten’s litter box separate from their food and on the ground for easy access.
Kitten shots are given in two sets. The first set of shots should be given when a kitten is 9-11 weeks of age. The first round of shots includes an FHCPCh and FeLV vaccine and a general dewormer. The second set of kitten shots should be given 3-4 weeks later and includes the Rabies, FHCPCh and FeLV vaccines and a general dewormer. From then on, vaccines must be boostered on an annual basis. For an easy guide on kitten vaccines visit: http://www.texasforthem.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Vaccinations.png
Kittens can become pregnant at as early as 4 months of age. Veterinarians working with TCAP will provide spays and neuters to kittens that weigh more than 2lbs. Most often, kittens reach this weight at about 2-3 months of age. For male kittens, it is important to wait until both of their testicles have dropped before the procedure. You may have heard that females need to wait until after their first heat cycle to be spayed, however there is no need for this and they can be safely spayed before their first heat.
To learn more about the prices of kitten spays and neuters or to request an appointment, visit TCAP’s website: http://www.texasforthem.org/services/spay-neuter/cat-spayneuter/READ MORE
Intestinal parasites are a disgusting, but relatively common threat to your pets. At TCAP, we regularly help pets that need a quick dewormer to clear their system of parasites hoping to absorb the nutrients pets need to stay healthy and happy. Today, we will focus on the tapeworm, how to identify it, and how to clear it out of your pet’s system.
Tapeworms are flat intestinal worms that are made up of many small segments, each about a quarter of an inch long. These worms thrive by attaching to the wall of the small intestine using hook-like mouthparts. The most common type of tapeworm found in household pets is known as Dipylidium Caninum. Adult tapeworms may reach up to 8 inches in length formed of individual segments. These segments will occasionally break off from the end to be passed when a pet defecates. These segments are known as proglottids and are an easy indicator to look for to see if your pet has been infected. As these tapeworm segments dry, it begins to turn a golden color and eventually breaks open, releasing the fertilized eggs into the environment.
Unlike roundworms, the most common intestinal parasite in pets, tapeworms must first pass through an intermediate host (a flea) before they can infect a pet. Pets will consume infected fleas either during grooming or in response to a flea bite. Ingesting infected fleas is the most common way a pet can get tapeworms, therefore one of the best ways to prevent tapeworms is to ensure that your pet’s environment is flea-free or that your pet is on a flea preventative.
Ever notice flecks of rice in your pet’s stool or in the fur around their anus? This is a surefire sign that your pet is infected with tapeworms. Pets with tapeworms may also exhibit a behavior known as “scooting”. Please note that scooting can occur for a variety of reasons so this is not a reliable symptom.
Treatment is quick and simple. At TCAP, we offer a Droncit injection to clear the tapeworms out of your pet’s system. This injection is $10 for cats and $15 for dogs. On rare cases, this injection will need to be provided again 2-3 weeks later, but most often a single dose does the trick. Droncit injections are offered on a walk-in basis during TCAP’s vaccine hours, if you think your pet has tapeworms, find a convenient time and our friendly and experienced veterinary team would love to be of assistance: http://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.READ MORE
Dog Breath. We have all fallen victim to its stench at one time or another. Many of our clients believe that this is to be expected and is uncontrollable as their dogs age. At TCAP, we know that this doesn’t have to be true. Today we will examine dog breath and reveal how you can drastically improve it.
Most often, bad breath is caused by dental or periodontal (gum) disease. It should also be noted that small dogs are especially prone to plaque and tartar build up. In rarer cases, bad breath can be a warning sign of a possible kidney disease or foreign (non-food) substances. A decrease in kidney function can make a dog’s breath smell similar to ammonia. This is a result of waste product, normally filtered by the kidneys, accumulating in the canine’s bloodstream and then eventually revealing itself through bad breath.
Dogs love to chew and your dog’s teeth can hold elements of foreign substances such as bones, toys, and sticks. Dogs are also notorious for eating things that they shouldn’t such as feces and long-dead animals. Wet food in particular can stick to pet’s teeth and cause quick plaque buildup. All these items can contribute to your dog’s bad breath.
Like with humans, dental care is vital to keeping your pet healthy. If periodontal (gum) disease is left untreated it can lead to health complications such as heart, lung, and kidney disease. The keys to your pet’s oral health are professional veterinary dental care and attentive home care. If your dog receives regular teeth cleaning and still has bad breath, you should visit your full service veterinarian to find its cause.
TCAP recommends dental cleaning on an annual basis when a pet reaches three years of age. TCAP uses light anesthesia to keep pets asleep during the cleaning procedure that includes techniques and tools similar to your own dentist. During a TCAP dental cleaning, your pet’s teeth will receive a supragingival cleaning (cleaning above the gum line), subgingival cleaning (cleaning under the gum line), polishing, antibacterial or saline flush, and fluoride treatment. These steps clean your pet’s teeth, remove and prevent plaque, and harden your pet’s teeth to help protect them in the future.
The subgingival cleaning or cleaning below the gum line removes subgingival plaque and calculus which are the causes of periodontal disease. Subgingival cleaning is not possible through home remedies so it is recommended that you have your pet’s teeth cleaned even if they receive regular brushing or teeth-cleaning toys/snacks. Click here learn more about TCAP’s dental program. If you wish to have your pet’s teeth cleaned, you may Request an Appointment online or call (940) 566-5551.READ MORE
At our clinics, we love to talk to people about their pets. From time to time, we hear misinformation about spay and neuter services and we cannot express enough the importance of spaying and neutering your pets. Sterilization is not only good for your individual pet, but also for the animal community as a whole. We have comprised a list of the most common myths involving spaying and neutering pets to clear the air on the subject:
MYTH: It’s better to have one litter before spaying a female pet.
FACT: Every litter counts.
Medical evidence indicates just the opposite. In fact, the evidence shows that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. At TCAP, our veterinarians regularly provide spays and neuters for pets 6-8 weeks of age so long as they are over 2lbs.
As a pet owner, this should be great news because it’s a lot easier to live with a spayed female or a neutered male. Spayed females won’t have a heat cycle, eliminating the likelihood that they will leave bloodstains on your favorite white pants or your newly upholstered sofa, and neutered males are less likely to desire to roam or dart off in search of a mate.
There are health benefits to fixing your pet as well. Dogs that are spayed before their first heat cycle have a significantly reduced risk of breast cancer and it essentially eliminates the risk of developing uterine or ovarian cancer. In the same way, neutering male pets eliminates testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate problems. Perhaps most importantly, choosing to spay or neuter your pet means you won’t run the risk of contributing to canine or feline overpopulation in your community.
MYTH: My pet is too young to be spayed or neutered.
FACT: In many cases, younger is better.
Some young animals can reach sexual maturity as early as 4 months of age. With cats, especially, spaying or neutering sooner can prevent unwanted litters. Young dogs and cats can be better able to handle the surgery. Younger pets may come out of anesthesia more smoothly and recover more quickly with less bleeding and pain.
MYTH: But my dog (or cat) is so special, I want a puppy (or kitten) just like her.
FACT: Your pet’s puppies or kittens have an unlikely chance of being a carbon copy of your pet.
Even professional breeders cannot make this guarantee. Just like all people are unique individuals, our pets are all unique as well. Aside from this, there are shelter pets waiting for homes that are just as cute, smart, sweet, and loving as your own.
MYTH: It’s expensive to have my pet spayed or neutered.
FACT: Spays and neuters range from just $20-$65 at TCAP!
As a non-profit, TCAP strives to make essential pet care affordable throughout DFW. TCAP’s prices are, on average, 70% less than what traditional veterinary clinics charge.
TCAP contracts licensed veterinarians who have extensive surgical experience and are well-versed in preventative animal care. We also employ experienced and caring veterinary technicians who work alongside and support our veterinary team during their surgery sessions. Our compassionate employees and our amazing shelter and rescue partners throughout North Texas help us in the fight against euthanasia in our area shelters. To learn more about TCAP’s Spay and Neuter Program visit: http://www.texasforthem.org/services/spay-neuter/READ MORE