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Does your dog dread bath time? We have run into some aquaphobic pups in the past, and we thought we would gather some of our most helpful tips to make bath time easier and less stressful for both you and your pet.
The first step begins before your dog even knows that a bath is on the way. First, you will need to gather the supplies you will need for his bath:
Once you have gathered everything, lay down a non-slip bathmat inside the tub to help your dog feel more secure and prevent unnecessary splashing if your dog attempts to stabilize himself. For water, you may either fill your tub to ankle high with warm water or you may grab a bucket and sponge if your dog is freaked out by any body of water at all.
When you are set up, it is now time to get started. For ease, we have broken down bath time into 4 steps:
It is now time to bring your dog to the bathing area. Use treats if necessary. If your dog senses what is coming, the treats may help, but putting on his leash will also let him know it is time to listen. Lift or guide your dog into the tub and secure his leash to prevent him from bolting. If he is acting anxious at this point, you can put peanut butter on the edge of the tub to keep him distracted and help soothe his nerves.
Check the temperature of the water to ensure that it is not to hot or too cold. Then, using a cup or sponge, wet your dog from the base of his skull down to the tip of his tail. Most coats will repel the first douse of water so you may need to repeat this a few times to get him truly wet.
When selecting your shampoo, ensure that you use a product that is both alcohol-free and formulated for dogs. Human shampoos and most dish soaps may irritate your pet’s skin.
Follow the instructions on the particular shampoo bottle of your choice. Most will instruct you to avoid your dog’s eyes by massaging the shampoo from the base of your dog’s skull throughout his coat. Just as you did with the water before, work your way back through his coat using long, gentle strokes. Refer to your shampoo bottle for how long to keep the shampoo in his coat before rinsing. Most of this time, this will take a few minutes, so keep him distracted by massaging the shampoo into his coat and praising him.
When the shampoo has had time to do its job, you may now begin to rinse him off. Repeat this step until the water runs completely clear. This may take several repetitions, but it is important to get the shampoo completely out of his coat so that it does not settle in and cause irritation later.
To dry him off, you may either use a blow-dryer or a towel. If you know him to be scared of loud noises, use the towel to ensure that this experience ends on a positive note.
When he is relatively dry, you may notice that he will want to run around and expend a large amount of energy. This is known as doing “zoomies.” Zoomies are a completely normal part of dog behavior that usually serves as a way of relieving stress and pent up energy after engaging in a boring or stressful activity. If the weather permits, let your dog outside for a while into your back yard to give him room to run.READ MORE
Giving your pet medication is an important, but often tricky, task. If you are struggling with giving your pet medications he needs, check out our tips and tricks listed below to help ensure that he takes his medication properly.
Whether it is pain medication post neuter or his monthly heartworm medication, sometimes a dog just does not want to cooperate when it comes time for his next dose. For heartworm chewables, first try using the “Chaser Treat” technique. To begin, give your pet a treat (if you often require your pet to perform a trick before receiving a treat, have him do so like normal to help curb his suspicion). Praise him and follow up with his heartworm chew. Hopefully, your dog will be primed to believe that this is a treat, especially if your training sessions normally involve multiple treats. However, if you are giving your dog a pill, you want him to avoid chewing it if possible. The first technique to employ with a pill is to disguise its taste with a pill pocket. Pill pockets for both dogs and cats are available at all major pet supply stores. Pill pockets can prove to be a very simple, yet effective way to trick your pet into thinking that their medicine is a tasty treat.
If the techniques described above don’t work, it is time to turn to food. This strategy is likely to be your pets favorite because it involves hiding a pill or chewable in highly appealing foods. Soft foods such as butter, peanut butter, cream cheese, and spreadable cheese (human or canine variety) work well for pills that need to be swallowed without being chewed. For chewable meds, you may use the spreads mentioned above or deli meats such as salami or liverwurst to mask the scent and flavor. Unfortunately, this technique may not be 100% successful. Some pets may realize what is happening and eat the good-tasting food and spit out the treat. If this is the case, don’t despair. Wait 30 minutes to give your pet time to forget and try with a different food or technique.
Oral, liquid medications often come in either pre-portioned, multiple syringes or bottles where you draw up a certain quantity into one syringe. Delivery techniques do vary depending if you are giving the medication to your dog or cat so we will cover those separately.
Dogs – Draw the medication into the dropper or syringe and hold it in one hand. Stand/kneel to the side of your dog. Place one hand behind your dog’s head to stabilize it. You can gently stroke the back of the head to distract your dog. Using your other hand, insert the tip of the dropper or syringe into the side of your dog’s mouth. Try to stay close to the back of the mouth (near the molars) and away from the canine teeth (near the front of the mouth). Once the syringe tip is in, empty the medication into the mouth and release your dog’s head. Rub your dog’s throat lightly to encourage swallowing.
Cats – Draw the medication into the dropper or syringe and hold it in on hand. Bring your cat onto a large, stable surface that is about waist level (a table or bathroom counter works well). Scruff your cat with one hand to give you control of where your cat’s head is and it will help immobilize their body. Ensure that your cat is able to support his bodyweight on the counter or table as you scruff him so that he avoids injury. If you are unfamiliar with how to scruff your cat, practice a few times so that both you and your cat become familiar with the sensation. If your cat becomes bothered by the practice, pet them to sooth them and wait about 15 minutes before returning to the task. Once you have scruffed your cat, use your other hand to insert the tip of the syringe into the side of his mouth. Try to stay close to the back of his mouth (near the molars) and away from the canine teeth (near the front of the mouth). Once the tip is in, empty the medication into the mouth and release your cat’s head. Rub his throat lightly to encourage swallowing.
If your pet is strongly resistant or becomes fearful (growling or hissing), take a break. Your pet may become agitated from your initial approach and as a result may harm you or even himself in the process. It is best to wait until your pet calms down before making another attempt. In the meantime, enlist help from a friend or family member to help restrain your pet or distract them with affection during the technique of your choice. Hopefully you find these tips useful in ensuring that your pet takes their medications promptly and with as little fuss as possible.READ MORE
Many dogs share a fear of getting their nails trimmed. At TCAP, we do everything we can to help service the pets in our care; however, due to the prevalence of this underlying anxiety in most dogs, we are unable to provide this service during extremely busy vaccine clinics or for pets that risk harming themselves/ others when receiving a nail trim. To help address this issue, we have collected some advice on how to acclimate your puppy to the idea of nail trims to make their trips to the vet or groomer smoother and improve their overall health.
To understand why nail trimming is important, we must first look at how untrimmed nails may affect a dog. Extremely active dogs typically do not need nail trims, especially if they are spending a fair amount of their active time on concrete or similar hard/ rough surfaces that passively file the dogs’ nails. Indoor or inactive dogs tend to need relatively frequent nail trims. Long nails are harmful for two reasons: First, walking with long nails is painful, especially on hard surfaces that force the nail back into the nailbed or cause the toes to twist to painful angles. Secondly, and more importantly, if your dog’s are left untrimmed, it will affect your pet’s posture and result in arthritis as your pet ages.
The first step starts at home. Long before the nail trimmers come out you need to get your puppy used to having his feet handled when petting him or playing with him. The more you can associate having his paws handled with a positive experience, the better. If he does not initially respond well to having his feet handled, you will need to gradually work to it by instead petting his shoulders, then moving to his legs, then touching the top of his feet and eventually moving to holding his paw. You can sprinkle these steps intermittently throughout play sessions, baths, training, or by simply petting those areas and giving treats to distract him. By the end, your puppy should be comfortable with you holding his paws.
The next step comes with introducing your dog to nail trims early on. The first few times should be slow. Visualize the scenario before attempting it. You may even have to take a break part way through nail trimming (after every paw or even every nail) to do a more enjoyable activity or give your pet a treat if your pet begins to get anxious. Once he is calm, you may return to the task. Repeat this process until you have done all four paws.
Do not panic if your puppy becomes stressed. The best way to help your pet feel safe is to remain calm, patient and assertive throughout the process. Your ultimate goal is get your pet to associate having his feet handled and his nails trimmed with a positive feeling so take your time, distract him, but keep returning to handling his feet and eventually trimming his nails.
If these steps are not taken during your average puppy’s development, he may come to be defensive or even fearful about having his feet touched, especially if it only happens when he is getting his nails trimmed. However, if you take these steps at home, it will make his trips to the groomer and to TCAP much more enjoyable for both him and you. To get your dog nail trims, microchipping, vaccines or other wellness services, you can visit a TCAP location during our walk-in vaccine hours. We look forward to seeing you soon!READ MORE
When you visit TCAP, your safety and the comfort and safety of your pet are paramount. It is important to learn how to properly handle your pet either for a vet visit or while providing at-home care. We believe that with all the smells, sounds and experiences that come with a yearly vet visit, your pet will be most comfortable in your arms. We have developed a simple technique for you to use when restraining your pet to help make your experience at TCAP even better.
Restraint as a word has a slightly negative connotation to it. However, if done properly, your pet can be comfortable and even encouraged while receiving veterinary care. The purpose of restraint is for the safety of all parties involved (your pet, yourself, and the TCAP employees providing care for your pet). Perfect restraint allows your pet to feel comfortable and calm while still preventing him from moving his body while TCAP staff works hard to provide him with preventative care he needs to stay safe and healthy.
We developed the C.A.R.E. Technique as a tool to help you make your pet’s TCAP visits as smooth and stress-free as possible. There are four components to the C.A.R.E. Technique: Cradle, Arm, Rear, and Encourage. Each part is displayed and explained in greater detail below.
Cradle – Place one hand around your dog’s torso and pull them into your chest to hold her against your body. This part of the technique allows you to have good control of your dog’s movement because they cannot use their paws to push on your arm and out of your restraint. If done properly, this should feel like you are hugging your pet.
Arm – Take your free arm and place it around your dog’s neck and hug their head to your shoulder. Remember to keep her head secure while ensuring that she can still breathe properly. This part of the technique is essential for preventing your pet from reacting defensively when receiving vaccines. Often times, if a pet gets scared enough or if they are not expecting a vaccine injection, they can react by biting at the technician or even (in rare cases) the owner. Keeping their head hugged against your shoulder prevents her from being able to do so.
Rear – Use your elbow to help compress your dog’s body against your torso. Ensure that you leave enough room for our staff to administer the shots she needs. This part of the technique is required so that our staff can quickly administer your pet’s services.
Encourage – You can help soothe your dog’s nerves by petting them with your thumbs and using verbal encouragement. Using your thumbs in this manner allows the rest of your hand to remain focused on keeping your pet still, but still gives you some leeway to comfort your pet. Verbal encouragement here goes a long way as well.
Practice the technique at home a few times to help your pet get comfortable with the process. Once you are ready, you can test it out to get your pet vaccines, heartworm testing, microchipping or several other wellness services during TCAP’s walk-in vaccine hours: https://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/. We look forward to seeing you soon!
The smell of cat urine is awful for anyone to experience. If your cat has a perfectly good litter box he ignores, and he instead urinates on the carpet, furniture, or bedding, it adds insult to injury. Between the constant cleaning and the strong smell that will permeate your entire home, a cat that is not using the litter box properly can be a source of frustration. But why do cats pee outside of their litter boxes and what can you do about it? Here are some common causes of litter box problems for many cats:
The first step is identifying if this is a cat urination problem or if your cat is spraying to mark his territory. Territorial marking can occur in altered cats. If you identify that your cat is territorial marking, you can learn how to stop this behavior by visiting our “Why Do Pets Spray” blog.
Underlying medical issues can be a cause of your cat urinating outside the litter box. A likely culprit is a urinary tract infection, but it can also be kidney disease, diabetes, or anything that causes your cat to feel uncomfortable, such as arthritis. A change in how your cat feels can drastically alter his behavior, and where he urinates is no exception to this. The best way to assess if medical issues are present is to take your cat to your full service veterinarian to run a few blood and urine tests.
The state or quality of the litter in the box is often the cause of out-of-box urination. A litter box that is not cleaned regularly, especially in a multi cat household, can turn a cat off from visiting his litter box. He may instead choose a more pleasant place to go, such as on the living room carpet. We recommend cleaning the litter box every day, especially if you have multiple cats.
The litter box could also just be difficult or inconvenient for your cat to reach. Keeping the litter box too far away from social rooms or in deeply secluded rooms can make the box hard to find or unappealing to your cat. You also want to avoid keeping your cat’s litter box near any loud machines that are often active, such as a washing machine. Try instead placing the box in a nearby hallway, bathroom, or office with easy access to a garbage can. The proper litter box set up will offer your cat privacy and peace, but it must still be easy for your cat to find.
Cats living in multi-cat households are more likely to urinate outside the litter box. This often occurs when one cat bullies another cat and prevents him from getting to the litter box. The easiest way to address this is to simply have multiple litter boxes in your home and place them in separate rooms.
We hope you find this information useful in both identifying the cause of out-of-box urination, but also putting a stop to it. With a little bit of time and energy, you’ll restore harmony to your home and stop your cat from peeing outside of the box.READ MORE
Spraying or territorial marking is a fairly common and sometimes destructive practice for our canine and feline friends. The common misconception is that the only reason a dog or cat marks his territory is for reproductive reasons, but this is not always the case. Understanding why your pet is marking his territory may help you better understand your pet, his behavior and how to handle this troublesome issue.
Some male dogs will mark when they encounter non-resident dogs in their environment. This may include your home, yard, walking route, a friend’s home, park or other commonly visited location. Dogs may also mark when they encounter a specific social trigger. These triggers can include: an in-heat female dog, another male dog, an environment where other dogs have previously marked, or you’re your pet has become overstimulated in a social situation.
Most cat lovers are aware that un-neutered male cats will spray urine on walls, furniture, and elsewhere to mark their territory. But many pet parents are surprised when males that are “fixed” will also spray, or when female cats—spayed and un-spayed—exhibit this same noxious behavior. Unfortunately, cats can also spray because of underlying medical conditions, litter box issues, or anxiety.
Dogs and cats, both male and female, will most commonly mark if they are reproductively intact to signal to potential mates. For this reason, many pet owners come to the conclusion that spaying and neutering their pet will eliminate this behavior. Unfortunately, even altered pets still will find reasons to mark or spray. While spaying and neutering may reduce this tendency, it is not a 100% surefire fix. Spaying and neutering dogs and cats does help reduce the urge to mark or spray for reproductive reasons; however, if your pet continues to mark or spray, further investigation is required.
Pets may be spraying for a single reason or for several at once. If your dog seems to be marking out of habit, you will simply need to retrain this behavior. This will entail watching him constantly. When he lifts his leg to mark, interrupt him verbally then take him outside and encourage him to mark his territory outside rather than inside. It is also essential to clean any areas that he has already marked with a disinfecting and deodorizing cleaner, this will discourage the habit of refreshing their old marks.
The main reason cats mark is due to anxiety. This anxiety can come from another pet that is “bullying” the cat that is spraying, outdoor cats encroaching on your cat’s territory by jumping up on windowsills, changes in routine, or anxiety caused by the condition of your cat’s litter box.
Spraying and marking may be an obnoxious behavior, but it does not have to be an ongoing problem. The best solution is to stop the behavior before it starts, which means bringing your pet in for his sterilization as early as possible. At TCAP, our veterinary team can spay/ neuter a pet so long as he is over 2lbs and over 10 weeks of age. To learn more about TCAP’s spay and neuter program visit: https://www.texasforthem.org/services/spay-neuter/ or call (940) 566-5551 to schedule your pet’s appointment today.READ MORE
Dogs are fun, and one of their best traits is their enthusiasm and desire to show you how much they love you. If we are not careful, however, we can turn that excitement into bad habits by reinforcing the wrong behavior. Fortunately, if your dog exhibits either of these behaviors, they can easily be redirected.
Have you ever had a nice relaxing moment pierced by the sound of barking dog, or even worse, barking that seems to have no reason or end? As owners, our knee-jerk reaction is to call our dog over to us to calm him down. However, this is where we make our first mistake. When we respond by giving him attention, we reward his behavior of barking.
If you want to curb your dog’s barking behavior, don’t react. Instead, try to identify the trigger and downplay its impact. Outside sounds such as trains or other dogs barking can often be the culprit. You can counteract this with white noise machines, the TV, or static on the radio. Or you can keep the dog in a part of your home where he won’t hear those sounds, such as a back bedroom. This may be a good plan if neighbors complain about barking while you’re gone.
Another strategy is to give your dog something to do that he can’t do at the same time as barking. You can fill food puzzles with treats that a dog may work for hours to retrieve. With these toys, your dog is not only entertained, but he also is unable to bark.
Jumping on you and your guests entering your home is bad behavior. While your first response might be to pet your dog and push her off you, paying her any attention at all says “good dog.” Physical interaction, even pushing her off, is enough to encourage this behavior. Instead, try to stand straight as a rod, look forward, and say ‘no’ or turn your back to them when they jump. This shows that that you do not respond to her jumping by giving her attention. Remember, even eye contact is a reward.
If your dog will sit on command, ignore the jumping and say only “no” and “sit.” When the dog sits, you can pet her. She will learn that the way to get attention is by sitting and eventually she will know to sit by herself. This change should not take very long if you’re consistent. Even when visitors come, someone has to be there to tell the dog to sit.
Once you have used these tips, we invite you to bring your newly well-mannered pup to a TCAP clinic during our walk-in vaccine hours to show off his good behavior.READ MORE
Texas winters are unpredictable! When the temperature drops this winter, it is important to keep your pets safe and comfortable. We’ve listed some of the most common factors that you need to consider in the coming months:
A pet’s cold tolerance can vary based on their physical characteristics, such as the length of their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and general health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. You will probably need to shorten your dog’s walks in very cold weather to protect you both from weather-associated health risks. Long-haired or thick-coated dogs tend to be more cold-tolerant, but they are still at risk if left in the cold for an extended period of time. Short-haired pets feel the cold faster, and short-legged pets may become cold faster because their bellies and bodies are more likely to come into contact with snow-covered ground. The same goes for very young and very old pets. If you need help determining your pet’s temperature limits, consult your veterinarian.
Just like you, pets prefer comfortable sleeping places and may change their location based on their need for more or less warmth. Give them some safe options to allow them to vary their sleeping place to adjust to their needs.
Cats and dogs should be kept inside during cold weather. It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are more resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but this is untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside whenever possible. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. If your pet must be outdoors for any length of time, he must be protected by a dry, draft-free shelter. Be sure that it is large enough to allow him to move comfortably, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches from the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Cats should not be left outdoors without shelter for extended periods, even if they roam outside during other seasons.
Because pets are more prone to be disoriented by cold weather (especially snow), it is a good idea to make certain that their microchip and ID tag information are up-to-date. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip or engraved ID tag, TCAP provides those services during our walk-in vaccine hours. You can check out our online calendar to see when you can bring your pet by a TCAP location anytime at: https://www.texasforthem.org/hours-locations/vaccinations/.READ MORE
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