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Spaying and neutering is about the big picture. While the short and long term benefits may seem obvious to you, it may not be the same case for a friend, family member, or neighbor. At TCAP, we believe that spaying and neutering is the most humane way to combat animal overpopulation. However, we recognize that we first have to pass that belief on to others before we will begin to see true results. Today we will discuss a few tips we find helpful in the discussion with someone who is unconvinced to sterilize their pet.
There are some commonly held beliefs about spay and neuter that delay or dissuade pet owners from getting their pets spayed and neutered. Being educated on what these myths are and how to overcome them through discussion will help you convey the importance of pet sterilization. In a previous blog we discussed what the common myths are and why they miss the mark. Check it out to learn more: Common Myths About Spay and Neuter.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 2.4 million pets are euthanized in animal shelters each year. This means an animal is euthanized every 13 seconds. Owners who wish to breed their pet or simply don’t want to alter their pet are directly contributing to this number. Many people who feel this way have not seen the big picture, but you will find that revealing this information to them in a respectful manner may help convince them to alter their pets. For more in depth information about how sterilization can save lives, check out our blog post where we took a look at the implications of living in A World Without Spay and Neuter.
If disproving common myths and showing them the big picture are ineffective, you can always make an appeal supporting the benefits of spay and neuter for individual pets and their owners. If neutered, male pets show a reduction in testosterone. This greatly reduces their desire to mark their territory as well as roam (escape) and search for a mate. A female pet will no longer go into heat cycles. This ends the need to clean up occasional blood spots that inevitably end up on the furniture and floors. Spaying also ends the midnight yowling from your female cat.
Perhaps the only barrier that your friend or family member faces is that they believe that spaying and neutering is too expensive, however, that is where TCAP comes in to help. Our spays and neuters range from just $20-$65. As a non-profit, TCAP strives to make essential pet care affordable throughout DFW. TCAP’s prices are, on average, 70-80% 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
With any surgery, post-operative care and recovery is just as important as the procedure itself. Today, we will review the most important things to keep in mind when you bring your pet home after a visit to your local TCAP clinic for your pet’s spay or neuter.
Since your pet does not know to limit his activity, to keep his incision dry, or to refrain from licking his incision, it will be up to you to make certain these important post-operative instructions are followed. If not, each of these situations can cause serious post-operative complications.
Most pets have a higher pain tolerance than we do. Oftentimes, their body tells them that they are 100% better before their incision has had time to heal. In some cases, as soon as the effects of the anesthesia wear off, your pet can be back to her old-playful self. An average incision typically takes 10-14 days to fully heal. This means remaining disciplined as a pet owner and keeping your pet’s e-collar on while limiting her activity levels for at least 2 weeks following the surgery is a must. The best way to do this is to keep her in her kennel or in a small room (such as a guest bathroom) away from children, other pets, and any other exciting stimuli. When you let your dog outside, make certain to keep her on a leash. Light walking is okay during this recovery time, but running is absolutely not allowed.
You will need to watch for signs that your pet’s recovery is coming along smoothly. While viewing the incision site, please note that your pet may have buried sutures that may not be visible on the skin. The incision should be closed and not open.
It is important that you monitor your pet’s surgery site daily to check for signs of bleeding or infection (i.e. weeping or oozing wounds, puffiness, or bubble-like masses under the skin). Male dog’s scrotums may swell after being neutered. A small amount of swelling can be typical. If a large amount of swelling does occur, you will need to bring him back to a TCAP for a follow up. Observe your pet for extended periods of lethargy, loss of appetite, or constipation. These symptoms may warrant a need to come in for a free recheck (please note that the anesthesia may cause your pet to feel nauseous up to 24 hours following the procedure and this may briefly affect their appetite).
If you notice any issues with your pet’s incision site or major changes in your pet’s behavior, we encourage you to bring him by a TCAP clinic during our walk-in vaccine hours for a free recheck.
At TCAP, we are here to support you during your pet’s recovery process. We recognize that having your pet spayed or neutered can be a scary process, but we work to make the experience as pleasant and easy as possible for both you and your pet. If you find that you have questions following your pet’s surgery, please feel free to bring them by for a free recheck during our walk-in vaccine hours or reach out to our Client Care Coordinator, her phone number is located on the bottom of your yellow Post-Operative Care and Pet Discharge Instructions.READ MORE
Dogs are surprisingly smart and have the capacity to learn quite a bit in a relatively short amount of time. With a little patience and the correct technique, you can teach your canine her name and how to follow basic commands. Today we will discuss some basic guidelines to keep in mind when bonding with your pet.
Have you recently brought home a new pet? Whether your dog is a young puppy or a rescued pet with an established name, you should be able to teach her how to recognize her new name within a few days. For some dogs, this may be as simple as constantly repeating their name when speaking to them. For others, you may need to get your pet to associate her name with training treats. When your dog is focusing on you, say her name clearly, and shortly after, give her a tasty treat. Wait for a few minutes and repeat this process. By doing this a few times over the course of the day, not only may you encourage your dog to learn her name, you may even encourage her to come to you immediately after you use it – success!
It is important that you use your pet’s name with every command with the exception of “No” and “Stay”. It is also important that you avoid using your dog’s name when scolding her; this may cause her to associate her name with a negative feeling which may result in her ignoring her name in the future.
The foundation of training should be based on correction and reward. Correction should never be harsh or angry, and should never involve physical punishment such as spanking or hurting your dog. All you need is your voice. A firm “No!” is enough correction for most dogs. A reward is simply something your dog enjoys such as praise, getting to play with their favorite toy, or treats.
Most training should take place in a quiet area to avoid as many distractions as possible. When you receive a desired response, such as getting your pet to come when you command, utilize praise or another desired reward to reinforce the behavior. As mentioned before, you do not want to use your pet’s name when saying the Stay command. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it directly contradicts what you have taught your dog to do with several other commands (which is to be close to you). Avoiding using your pet’s name when training and using the Stay command can help reduce her confusion.
As mentioned in both the naming and training process, it is important that your dog associates the desired outcome with positive emotions so that she does not lose progress or outright ignore you. And as with any education, consistency is important. For example, if your dog is still learning her name, do not use a nickname. This will only confuse her and make it more difficult for her to identify her name when you speak to her. Hopefully you find these guidelines useful as you work to improve your bond with your pet.READ MORE
Regardless of breed or age, dogs can become anxious to intimidating situations. Though dogs may express anxiety differently, anxiety can lead to destructive, harmful behavior. Common anxious behaviors include panting, drooling, excessive barking, or hiding. At TCAP, we want to share with you our tips to help respond to your dog when they are experiencing anxiety and desensitize them to stressful stimuli.
Dog’s are amazing companions because they pay close attention to their masters. However, this can result in your dog picking up on your anxiety. If your dog is feeling anxious, it is important to remain calm and avoid from reinforcing your dog’s anxious behaviors by petting them or hugging them. This may feel counter-intuitive, but your dog is looking to you for guidance. Rather than encouraging anxious behavior, you need to remain calm yourself and speak to your pet in a firm but kind voice that communicates you disapprove of his behavior. Dogs will gain confidence if you display that you are still in control. Focus his attention on you and do a simple training session to keep his attention on his calm and confident master rather than his stressful surroundings. If your environment allows it, offer him a safe haven or crate preferably with a blanket over it. This will create a calm atmosphere for your dog to stabilize his anxiety levels. Anxiety is caused by hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that your dog’s body produces in stressful situations. These hormones create physical changes in your dog that facilitate their body to fight or flee. These changes include making their heart pump harder, supplying their muscles with extra blood, and increasing their lungs’ capacity for oxygen. This means that your dog can become anxious out of habit, so that whenever your dog gets cues that he should be anxious, hormones are released causing the anxiety episode.
Desensitization begins with exposing your dog to a very mild level of a fearful situation. Do this to show and reinforce that nothing bad happens as a result of being around their fearful stimuli. For example, if your dog is afraid of the vet, walk your dog past the vet’s office and get him used to sitting by the entrance. Reward good behavior with a treat and lots of attention before continuing on a fun walk. This way, your dog has positive associations with a previously stressful place. Once your dog becomes more comfortable with a low-level stimulus, move on to a higher dose. If she behaves normally, reward her with treats. Do this a few times before adding another step in the routine. You can either steadily increase the amount of time you spend around the stimulus or you can increase its intensity (increase proximity, or volume to/of the source of stress). The final step requires you to expose your dog directly to her fear. For example, if your dog is afraid of fireworks, play a recording of firework noise very quietly and reward your dog for good behavior. Gradually increase the volume over a length of time. If your dog seems distressed, go back a few levels and start again.
Hopefully, with enough patience and time, you will be able to bring your companion to the point where he can calmly face his fears or stressors.READ MORE
Life brings animals into our lives in unexpected ways. At TCAP we service many pets that find their way into the homes of their owners in the most extraordinary ways. Today, we would like to share with you some best practices should you happen to encounter a stray animal to ensure your safety as well as theirs.
If you encounter a stray pet, chances are their situation is not ideal. They may be sick, injured or near a roadway with passing cars. Fear, in combination with these factors, can cause any animal to behave unpredictably. Be certain to use caution, should you be able to corral or attach a leash to the stray animal, you still stand a good chance of being scratched or bitten. When approaching an animal, be certain to speak calmly to reassure them. Make sure they can see you at all times as you approach and perhaps entice them using a strong smelling food (canned tuna or dried liver) if there is some available.
Should you be unsuccessful in restraining the animal, be certain to call animal control and provide them with all relevant details of the animal in question. Do so whether or not the animal appears injured or sick. If possible, it is helpful to stay on the scene keeping an eye on the animal until a professional arrives.
If you are successful in restraining the stray animal, take them to the nearest animal shelter. If you plan to keep the animal in the event that no owner is found, notify animal control that you have the animal. Be certain to check relevant laws in your state and county. Just because you found the stray animal does not mean it doesn’t belong to another individual. In order to transfer ownership legally, you may have to satisfy either state and/or local requirements first. If you are uncertain where to find these requirements or what they are, your local animal shelter will be able to give you the details.
If you’re uncertain about whether or not to help or keep an animal you see alongside the road, here’s a final word of advice: First, think of what you would want the finder of your animal to do if they happened to find them injured without their collar. You’d want them to take your pet to a veterinarian, and you’d want them to try to find you. Often times this is made easier if the pet is microchipped. If a stray is friendly and in good health, they are likely an owned pet that got separated from their owner. Any veterinary clinic or animal shelter will have a microchip scanner that will allow you to find the owner’s information stored in the microchip manufacturer’s database. If your pet is not microchipped, TCAP offers this service on a walk-in basis during our vaccine hours for $30.
If there is no collar and no microchip present, be reasonable about how much you can afford to do for that animal if no owner shows up. Good Samaritans who have never lost a cherished companion animal may conclude that the owner of the found dog or cat callously abandoned them or, at the very least, neglected to keep them safely confined at home. But accidents can happen to anyone. The frantic owner could be looking everywhere for their beloved pet.READ MORE
Pugs. Old English Bulldogs. Boston terriers. Precious! There are many names for flat-faced or smashed-faced breeds. The technical term for all these dogs with a compressed snout is a “Brachycephalic”. At TCAP, we would like to discuss the unique anatomy of smash-faced breeds and how you should approach caring for these especially precious and loving breeds.
This term derives from the Greek words ‘Brachy’ which means “short” and ‘cephalic’ which means “head”. Whether or not you have heard the term before, you will certainly have heard of many of the common brachycephalic breeds such as pugs, Boston terriers, boxers, bulldogs, Pekingese and Shi Tzus. Himalayans and Persians are examples of brachycephalic cat breeds. These dogs and cats are intentionally bred to look this way, with a normal lower jaw but a compressed upper jaw. Due to this altered facial construction, all these dogs have what is called Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome to varying degrees.
Brachycephalic Respiratory Syndrome starts with a brachy pet’s nostrils, which are often really small. The nostrils are scrolled really tight and are so narrow it can be hard for the animal to move air in through them. Often the windpipe in these pets is very narrow in places, which leads to a condition called tracheal stenosis, or narrowing of the trachea. This problem can predispose the animal to tracheal collapse, as well as cause problems with anesthesia.
Most of the breeds mentioned before do fine in their normal, day to day activities, but one breed in particular, Old English Bulldogs, tend to have really significant respiratory problems. For this reason, TCAP’s veterinarians do not provide spays and neuters for English Bulldogs. We recommend taking English Bulldogs or English Bulldog mixes to a full service vet to have their spay, neuter or dental cleaning performed. A full service hospital will have the specialized monitoring and diagnostic equipment necessary to serve the individual needs of this breed.
Because of the upper airway challenges of brachy dogs, they often don’t pant efficiently. As discussed in a previous blog, dogs cool through panting (Hyperlink Panting Blog). This makes brachys prime candidates for heat strokes (Hyperlink Heat Stroke Blog). You should familiarize yourself with the normal sounds your brachy pet makes, because normal for her isn’t the same as it is for non-brachycephalic dogs and cats. If you notice an increase, amplification or some other change in your pet’s respiratory sounds, it’s important to take note of it. Brachycephalic respiratory syndrome can be a progressive condition, so your brachy pet can develop problems with the trachea or larynx over time. It’s important to get such issues addressed as soon as they appear rather than waiting until a pet develops significant respiratory distress.
For this reason, we recommend using caution when considering bringing your Brachy breed our weekend vaccines clinic during the hot summer months. TCAP largely operates outdoors at these events and due to the wait time and the increased risk of heat stroke in Brachy breeds, we recommend making time to bring them during a business day to a main TCAP facility (Denton, Fort Worth, Burleson, Hurst, Allen, and Weatherford).READ MORE
At TCAP, our experienced and caring veterinary team regularly provides pediatric spays and neuters. Due to the long-reaching health and social benefits, we are huge advocates for early pet (pediatric) sterilization.
Spaying female dogs and cats helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which are fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases. Male pets that are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer and show a lower chance of prostate cancer as well. At TCAP, our caring and compassionate veterinary team is able to provide spays and neuters for pets as young as 10 weeks of age so long as they weigh 2 lbs. or more.
Amazingly, kittens and puppies are able to reproduce as soon as they reach their first heat cycle. This often occurs as early as 4 months of age for kittens and at around 6 months of age for puppies. Beating this first heat cycle is crucial to ensuring there is no chance that your pet will contribute to the homeless pet problem. This doesn’t mean that males get off scot-free! Removing a dog or cats testes reduces the breeding instinct, making them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home.
It is also important to note that pets have no qualms about reproducing with members of their own litter. If you are raising an unaltered litter of puppies or kittens, you will quickly have another pregnant pet on your hands if you do not intervene. A single litter of puppies or kittens can easily become several litters if action is not taken to stop the reproductive cycle.
Any veterinary professional knows that spaying and neutering is the most humane and effective way to combat pet overpopulation. A common reason people are unable to provide this important service to their pets is due to the cost of the surgery. 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 requesting 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
The Texas sun is doing what it does best this summer, making it all but impossible to spend any quality time outside. But no matter how bad we have it, it’s nothing compared to what our furry friends have to deal with. Just imagine being covered in fur and standing on a burning sidewalk for any length of time! AT TCAP, we want your pets to stay safe this summer, so we have compiled a list of summer safety tips to ensure that your pets stay cool.
Shade and Water
No matter if your pet is staying outside for an extended period of time or not, he will need access to plenty of shade and water. If your pet must be left outside unsupervised, please ensure that his water bowl cannot be easily turned over and that he will have access to shade even if the sun shifts.
Pet pools are great for helping your canine friend keep cool, but remember to change the water frequently so the water doesn’t heat up too much. If you happen to have a people-sized pool, treat your pets just like your children. Protect your pets from accidental drowning by never leaving them in the pool area unsupervised.
If your dog is your jogging buddy, consider leaving her at home or jogging early in the day if you continue to do so during the summer. Dogs cannot cool themselves like we can and it is very easy for them to overheat in Texas summer conditions. On top of that, your loyal companion will likely keep going no matter how hot she gets and this can lead to a heatstroke.
Never leave your pet in the car even on relatively cool days! Even with your windows cracked it will only take 10 minutes for the heat inside your car to climb 20 degrees. You may be tempted to leave your pet in the car for a short errand, but temperatures inside parked cars climb to deadly levels alarmingly fast, especially during the summer months where the average outside temperature in Texas is 95 degrees.
Heat strokes are very serious and can easily occur if proper precautions aren’t taken. If your pet suffers from a heat stroke, seek emergency help from a full service veterinarian immediately. Early signs to look for include excessive panting, stumbling, weakness, stupor, and bright red gums. Your pet’s body temperature can climb over 104 degrees. As the stroke progresses, seizures, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, coma, and even death may follow. Brachyephalic breeds (smashed-face dogs like Boston terries, Pugs, and English Bulldogs) are more susceptible to heat-related problems. Remember, if the weather is warm, think shade and water.
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