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At TCAP, we see an alarming number of pets over their breed’s ideal weight ranges. However, this is not simply a problem that faces North Texas pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of dogs and cats (approximately 89 million pets) in the United States are overweight or obese. A pet that weighs more than their healthy weight puts him at risk for developing serious illness, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, liver problems, digestive problems, or joint deterioration.
Addressing this problem starts by first determining if your pet is at a healthy weight. 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. If your pet does not fit the frame of an ideal weight, then it may be time to identify the cause and address the issue to ensure your pet’s long term health.
While there are several causes of obesity in pets, the most common is a simple imbalance between a pet’s energy usage and calorie 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. This means giving 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 receive in a day/week. Then you can move on to the most difficult part, staying consistent with your pets adjusted feeding habits.
Taking these steps will require discipline for both you and your pet. While the changes in diet may bring around some extra begging, the increased exercise and improved long-term health will be sure to improve your pet’s overall happiness.READ MORE
It’s holiday season and they are coming to your home: strangers, friends, and family alike. Whether your dog views guests as untrustworthy intruders or as their new best friend, it is important that you take preventative steps to ensure that you, your guests and your dogs stay safe.
It may have been years since your dog has seen some of those that will visit your home in the coming months, or perhaps they have never met them. How will your dog react to the sudden increase in activity and guests that the holidays bring? Sometimes adjusting to these events can be difficult for your dog, so our team has assembled a few tips to help reduce holiday stress for both your dog and your guests.
It is important that your dog has a basic grasp on how to mind his manners and how to follow your commands. Even if you are pressed for time, you can still fit in a few short training sessions every day, and you will be surprised at how fast Fido can improve. Working commands into your routine is another great way to improve your dog’s obedience and flexibility in obeying commands. For example, you can use the “stay” command while cooking in kitchen or work on the “sit” and “down” commands while in the living room. Practicing commands in the environments you will be using them when you have guests will also help hardwire your pet’s brain and help them be more inclined to follow commands even when there is the distraction of guests around. As always, be patient, be consistent, and be positive in your training to achieve amazing results.
Training may not be enough to keep your dog comfortable. If that is the case, you can focus your dog’s attention and energy in other areas to help keep him relaxed.
Keep your dog comfortable— If you know your dog doesn’t care for guests, have a crate ready for him in a quiet spot, such as bedroom with a closed door. Alternatively, keep him in a place where he can feel comfortable and not interact with guests, such as a bedroom, laundry room or other area that is closed off with a door or baby gate. Never allow people to interact with your dog if the dog isn’t comfortable, as this can increase the anxiety he is feeling.
Provide distractions— Have a variety of items ready for your dog, to occupy his time, while you visit with your guests. This can include food stuffed toys or puzzles, bones, chews, chew sticks and toys. Always give your dog an item such as this in a safe place and supervise any interaction if children will be visiting.
Exercise, exercise, exercise— You cannot exercise your dog enough during these busy times. As the saying goes, “A good dog is a tired dog.” The more physical exercise your dog gets, the less rambunctious when people come to visit, and there’s a good chance after greeting guests he’ll be more than happy to crawl up on his bed or crate and take a nap.
With these simple steps, your busy holiday season is sure to be less stressful for you and your precious pup. Happy holidays from your friends at TCAP, and here’s wishing you successful training sessions that result in a more relaxed, well-mannered pooch that all your friends and family will enjoy!READ MORE
Socialization is an essential, yet often overlooked part of a puppy’s development. Without it, your puppy can become evasive or even hostile towards the people and other pets that she encounters. Puppies have an important stage of development in their early lives where they absorb experiences and catalog what sounds, smells, and experiences can be considered “safe” and which ones are “scary”. At TCAP, we see puppy owners who range from socialization experts to those who are completely unaware of the concept and its importance to their puppy. Today, we hope to provide a few easy techniques to ensure that your puppy grows into a behaviorally healthy adult.
The quick answer is as soon as it is safe to do so for your pet. You should introduce your puppy to vetted dogs as well as friends and family as soon as you can. Experts say that the important stage to socialize a puppy ends as early as 12-16 weeks. Once they age beyond this stage, their reactions towards unfamiliar pets and people begin to solidify. Often, unsocialized pets will either cower or attempt to lunge towards new people and pets. The more you can train your puppy to view new experiences as fun, the easier it will be to train them and introduce her to strangers she meets later in life.
If your puppy has not received her three complete rounds of puppy vaccines then it is not yet safe to bring her to public venues like dog parks. However, if you have friends with fully vaccinated pets, they would serve as a good starting point. If you are looking for how to time your puppy’s vaccine visits, check out TCAP’s handy Pet Vaccine Guide.
Take your puppy out into the world–by car, in your arms, or in a child’s wagon if she’s too heavy to carry. Take her to a mall, to a hardware store, to the bus station, or to a train station. Step into a TCAP lobby during our walk-in vaccine hours and out again. Visit a park, farm, construction site, and a police station. Encourage her to scramble among rocks and logs. Let her experience many surfaces underfoot, from grass to concrete to leaves to metal gratings. Teach her to use stairs, starting from the lowest step and working your way up till she can navigate a whole staircase comfortably, up and down. The more diverse and positive experiences she has, the better.
Many dogs are afraid of unfamiliar sounds. Make sure your pup hears police sirens, fire trucks, birdsong, music, rolling steel gates, obnoxious ringtones, and doorbells. Gunfire and similar sharp, cracking sounds are often culprits in dog phobias. You can easily download free recordings from the internet and play them as background music on occasion to help familiarize your puppy with the potentially scary sounds of the world in the safety of her home.
Follow these steps while supporting your puppy with praise and treats to help her associate new experiences as something good rather than something to fear. Socializing your puppy does not remove the need for training, however, it will make training considerably easier and she will be more inclined to stick to her training in unfamiliar environments.READ MORE
Do you plan on getting your pet into the spirit of Halloween this year? Halloween can be a spooky night, but that does not mean it has to be scary for your pet. We have a few safety tips to help keep your pet safe and spook-free.
It is very important to avoid giving your pets any Halloween candy. Chocolate, in any form, is toxic for both dogs and cats, especially dark or baking chocolate. Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar, seizures, and liver failure in dogs. Make sure your candy bowl stays out of reach and let everyone in your family know that the candy is for humans only (exceptions can be made for humans dressed as aliens, ghouls, robots, etc.).
Pet costumes can be highly entertaining for owners, but our furry friends may not always agree. It is recommended that you make certain if your pet likes wearing a costume before making them wear one for extended periods of time. If you have a costume you wish to use, test it out with your pet before the big day. If your pet doesn’t mind getting into the Halloween spirit, make certain that the costume fits them well without restricting their movement or ability to breathe. On the other hand, if your pet isn’t a fan of dressing up – don’t force it. Bandanas or other mild collar accessories tend to serve as a great compromise.
It is important to keep your pet confined indoors on Halloween. Unfortunately, there are typically a few pranksters each year that can take the spirit of Halloween too far and, on occasion, pets can be on the receiving end of these pranks. Just as importantly, if you chose to stay home and greet trick-or-treaters your pet can feel threatened by the continuous barrage of strangers approaching your home. The best thing to prevent your pet from bolting out the front door is to keep them confined in a side room.
Halloween may be all about shrouding your identity in the visage of a creepy creature, but that does not mean your “creature” should hide their identity as well. Due to the stress caused by meeting too many strangers, it is advised to keep your pet at home during this holiday.
If you are handing out candy this year, you will be opening your door to a large quantity of people. While opening the door for eager trick-or-treaters, be certain your pet does not dash outside. A microchip and ID tag will drastically increase your pet’s chances of returning home should you ever get separated from him.
TCAP offers low cost microchipping for $30 on a walk-in basis during our vaccine hours at all locations. If your pet is already microchipped, you can double your pet’s safety this holiday by getting them an engraved ID tag. You may purchase an ID tag online and have it delivered to your home in time for Halloween here: http://store.texasforthem.org/id-tags.htmlREAD MORE
At TCAP, we love cats! We have compiled a list of our favorite feline facts. Check them out and it may help you understand your cat’s needs a little bit better and improve your bond with them.
We know that common housecats derived from their wild ancestors. This genetic lineage began in the Fertile Crescent (Western Asia) somewhere between 10,000 to 12,000 years ago when humans in the region started farming. Evidence shows that farmers were likely the first to domesticate wildcats because of their usefulness in hunting mice and other pests that plagued farms in early human settlements.
We have a few famous cat-based sayings. Ever wonder where they come from? The phrase “let the cat out of the bag”, in other words, to “reveal a secret”, seems to stem from Europe in the late 18th century. While no exact origin has been officially settled upon, several theories indicate that this phrase came from traders at a market cheating their customers by claiming to sell a certain type of animals such as piglets or hares, but instead sell them a feral cat. In these times, these animals would be transported in burlap sacks. These customers were instructed not to open the bag containing the animal they purchased until they got home so as to not let it get loose. However, when they got home they would “let the cat out of the bag” and thus reveal the seller’s secret scam.
Ever wonder how your cat can sleep so much? On average, cats spend around 15 hours of every day sleeping. There are a couple of factors that lead to this amazing phenomenon. Cats are crepuscular, which means that they are most active around dawn and dusk. They tend to lay low during the darkest time of night and brightest time of day. This cycle is based on instinct passed down from your cat’s wild ancestors. Cats also spend a large chunk of their shut eye in a light sleep in order to be most responsive to danger should it arise. Cats can experience deep sleep as well, but it usually only lasts for about 5 minutes at a time. Sleeping with one eye open may make it harder for your cat to get the most out of his rest, but it does allow him to be more responsive to his environment should a predator approach.
Cats have adapted their senses to make them highly efficient low-light predators. Cats have acute sight, hearing and smell, and their sense of touch is enhanced by long whiskers that protrude from their heads. The shape and biology of cats’ eyes give the cat a minimum light detection threshold up to seven times lower than that of humans. Humans and cats have a similar range of hearing on the low end of the scale, but cats can hear much higher-pitched sounds, up to 64 kHz, which is 1.6 octaves above the range of a human, and even 1 octave above the range of a dog.
There are more than 500 million domestic cats in the world, with approximately 40 recognized breeds. The largest domesticated breed is known as a Maine Coon which can weigh anywhere between 15-25lbs on average. The smallest cat breed is known as the Singapura with most cats of this breed only reaching half the size of an average cat.
Thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine and nutrition, the housecat’s life expectancy has improved from 7 years in the early 80’s to about 12-15 years today. However, the oldest cat on record is named “Crème Puff” from Austin, Texas. Crème Puff lived from 1967 to August 6, 2005, three days after her 38th birthday.
We at TCAP want to meet your fascinating feline! If you cat needs an update on vaccines, flea medication, or a variety of other walk-in services, come by a walk-in TCAP location available throughout DFW Monday-Saturday. To find our hours and locations, visit our vaccine event calendar: https://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.READ MORE
Dental care is an often-overlooked aspect of the average pet’s health plan, but it is just as important as your own dental health. Proper and consistent dental care can add three to five years to a pet’s life.
One easy way to determine if your pet needs dental care is his breath. Plaque and tartar will form when food remains in the space between his teeth and causes periodontal disease, an infection of the gum tissue caused by bacteria. This infection and bacteria are often the cause of very bad breath. In fact, periodontal disease is so common that approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of it by the age of three. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to more serious problems including heart, lung, and kidney disease. However, this disease can be prevented and treated. The keys to your pet’s oral health are professional veterinary dental care and attentive home care.
TCAP recommends regular dental cleaning on an annual basis when a pet reaches three years of age. TCAP uses light anesthesia to keep pets asleep during the 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.
Periodontal disease is caused by the natural accumulation of plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. Canned food is more likely to stick to your pet’s teeth thus creating a greater chance for plaque to form so avoid feeding this to your pets on a regular basis. Early on, plaque is soft and brushing your pet’s teeth or chewing hard food, toys, or dental care treats can remove it. However, if the early stages of plaque are left untreated, it can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis causes gum inflammation which will cause swelling, redness, and pain. Breaking the build-up of plaque is the key to heading off this problem before it starts. TCAP offers CET oral hygiene kits which give you the basic tools necessary to fight your pet’s plaque at home on a daily basis.
Other dental and oral health tools (such as toys and treats) are commonly available in a variety of pet supply stores. If you wish to have your pet’s teeth cleaned at your local TCAP facility, you may Request an Appointment online or call (940) 566-5551.READ MORE
If you have ever owned a dog, you will know that he will approach new stimuli in an attempt to meet it, smell it, or defend you from it. This behavior is often at odds with the discipline of walking obediently beside you while on a leash. If you are tired of playing tug-of-war with your pup every time you clip the leash to his collar, it may be time to work on leash training to make the experience more enjoyable for you both.
Unfortunately, walking politely on a leash is not an innate skill for most dogs and will take some effort on your part. Do not be discouraged if your pet does not master walking on a leash quickly. This process can take several weeks to truly communicate well with your dog.
If you dog is not used to a collar and leash, you will need to start with short acclimation sessions in a quiet, indoor setting. Start by putting the collar and leash on him, and then proceed to play with him and give him treats. Over time, he will begin to associate his time spent on a leash with a feeling of positivity.
The next step involves teaching him a sound cue that he will need to associate with food. Popular methods include clickers, using a command word like “yes”, or clucking your tongue. Whichever you use, the method is the same: In a quiet, distraction free area, with the dog on a leash and collar, make the sound. The second your dog turns toward you and/or looks at you, reward him with a treat. After a few repetitions, you’ll notice your pet not only looking at you, but also coming over to you for the treat. Once he knows that the cue means he should come to you, pick up your end of the leash and move a few feet from him, make the cue sound and then reward him when he gets to you. Continue this until your dog knows that hearing your cue means he should get closer to you.
Once he understands how to come to you, practice walking a few steps in a room with little distraction. Feeling and seeing the leash around him will be enough of a challenge at this stage. Offer treats and praise as your dog gets used to coming to you, as described above, with a leash on. Once you feel that he is following you while leashed, it is time to take the process outdoors. This is where the real challenge begins! New environments are rich with fascinating stimuli. You will need to remain patient and keep these initial walks short. As you progress through this stage, watch your dog as he walks next to you. If he shows signs of getting distracted or wanting to lunge, make your cue sound to bring his attention back to you and then proceed to move away from the distraction. If he follows you, give him a treat.
Continue working your dog in this manner until you can get him to answer your cue and respond to your direction without the use of treats. Because dogs train best with positive association, you can supplement the treats with praise and affection. With time and patience, your pet dog will soon transform into a much more enjoyable walking companion.READ MORE
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: https://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