Monday, January 9, 2017

National Train Your Dog Month

January is National Train Your Dog Month! Whether you added a furry friend to your family during the holidays or if you have a list of new year’s resolutions you’re hoping to stick to, it’s important to work on your dog’s skills as these improve your pet’s interaction and socialization skills as well as their overall psychological health. Keep reading if you’re in the market for some furry friend themed tips to add to your 2017 list of resolutions!

Benefits of Training Your Dog

You may think training only applies to puppies, but you’d be surprised to hear it applies to dogs of all ages. For adult dogs specially, making the effort to socialize your dog is imperative to their psychological health. Training your dog simple manners for when guests come over, so that they can accompany you on a hike or to an outdoor event improves their quality of life as well as yours. In addition to benefiting your dog, going to class gives you the opportunity to learn how to deal with the common dog behaviors you may not otherwise understand.

Training Tips

1. Start with the favorite or familiar: If your dog already has a favorite behavior that is positive and acceptable, reward it. Creating the understanding that even a minor behavior – such as staying away from the dinner table when the humans are eating, or not barking when people walk through the door, is appreciated, will illustrate to your pet that you value their behavior.

2. Consistency is Key: If there’s more than one person training your dog, be sure you are both on the same page. The worst thing you could do in terms of controlling the training is to not control it. By this, we mean you want to be teaching the trick or behavior to your dog the same way the other person in your household is. If not, you risk confusing your dog and not accomplishing the task at hand.

3. Distraction is Your Biggest Obstacle: Puppies especially get easily distracted. To avoid this, create a routine of putting the toys and other distractions (loud TV’s, kids playing nearby) out of sight. This way your puppy has your full attention and running off isn’t an option. An added tip here would be to train your dog in the same room every time, so that they know when you enter the space it’s not to play or lounge around, and instead they are expecting to focus on you. 
What to Focus on When it Comes to Training

1. Sit and Stay: Perhaps the most common tricks you imagine teaching your four- legged friends when you bring them home, sit and stay are essential to your pet’s safety. The best time to practice learning these skills is in your home, since you do not want to have a test run of these tricks at a busy traffic stop or in a park with other dogs that might distract your animal. When you feel comfortable with your pet’s skills you can slowly venture to traffic stops but be sure to start off on side streets with little traffic. There’s no use in rushing through the training of these or any other skills, since they will have them for life, you want to be sure your dog is grasping what you’re teaching – slow and steady is best.

2. Take Your Dog in the Car: It might sound silly, but getting your dog accustomed to trips in the car will be a crucial trick they’ll need to know their whole lives – plus it will make your trips (whether they be 20 minutes or 2 hours) a lot more enjoyable.

3. Go to Public Places with Your Dog: This might seem like a no-brainer but bringing your dog (when he or she is ready) into populated areas of varying levels is very important. Many stores are dog-friendly and provide you with a great opportunity to practice your dog’s on-leash skills. Additionally, this is a chance for your dog to inter- act with people he or she may not otherwise encounter at home (think small children, groups of people or those in a wheelchair). Teaching obedience in unfamiliar places might be the hardest manner to teach, but it is well worth it as this will essentially prepare them for acting appropriately outside of your home where they’ll meet people and objects they don’t see on a regular basis.

Remember, it isn’t easy to train your furry friend. Don’t become discouraged because you don’t have luck the first time you set out to train them. Skills aren’t learned overnight. Sometimes we get so caught up in how adorable they are that we forget that we also have a responsibility to teach our pets the classic tricks and skills but it is so essential to their well-being – and yours!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

How to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Holidays

The holidays are a busy and exciting time, and it’s easy to forget how dangerous some of our favorite holiday traditions can be for our pets. This holiday season, take care to protect your precious animals. Avoid an unwelcome trip to your vet by following these simple holiday safety steps.

Keep Human Holiday Treats Away
It’s natural to want your pet to share in the holiday spirit with special treats – but make sure to give them pet treats, not human foods. While it may seem like “just a taste” is safe, it’s simply not worth the risk to your pet’s health.
1.    Chocolate can be toxic for both cats and dogs, and even if your pet has safely ingested this treat before, that’s no guarantee that they won’t have a serious – and even life-threatening – reaction this time.
2.    Candy and bakery items are too rich for your pet’s delicate digestive system. Even more concerning is the fact that a common sweetener found in many of these foods, xylitol, can cause liver failure and even death in dogs.
3.    That delicious turkey (and its skin) may seem like a safe bet, but even in small amounts it has been linked to life-threatening pancreatitis in pets. Don’t risk giving dogs or cats even a bite.
4.    Common holiday ingredients including grapes, raisins and even onions can actually be poisonous to your precious pets. Err on the side of caution and don’t share.
5.    If it’s human food, the leftovers shouldn’t go to the dogs – or the cats. Any table scraps always run a risk of causing pancreatitis and other serious problems for animals.
6.    That delicious yeasty dough? Make sure the only way your pets enjoy it is by smell. Dough made with yeast has been known to cause not only painful gas, but potentially dangerous bloating.

Keep Holiday Decorations Out of Reach
You may feel confident that your pet won’t damage your treasured holiday decorations, but the real danger lies in the potential for them to ingest something that can send you on an emergency trip to the vet – or even end in the devastating loss of your beloved companion.

1.    Holiday plants range in their danger from mildly irritating to life-threatening for pets who ingest them. Holly, poinsettia, mistletoe, amaryllis, balsam, pine, and cedar are among the likely culprits that may cause anything from vomiting to life-threatening reactions.
2.    Live Christmas trees pose a hidden risk for pets. All those tricks for extending your tree’s beauty by adding aspirin, sugar or special additives to the water can pose a serious danger to your pet if they decide to drink some.
3.    Holiday ornaments cause pet injuries far more often than you might think. Whether it’s a cut from a broken treasure or an intestinal blockage from eating tinsel or precious ornaments made by a favorite child, you need to make sure delicate and potentially dangerous decorations are kept out of reach.

If your pet does happen to have a holiday mishap – from eating something they shouldn’t have, to chewing on a power cord and ending up with a burn – a qualified vet can help. Contact us at Bregman Veterinary Group for more information or to schedule an appointment. Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Pet

During the holiday season it’s especially tempting to buy presents for those you care about – including your pets. After all, pets are part of your family, too. But it’s important to remember that your pet doesn’t know that it’s a holiday and won’t feel left out if they don’t have a gift of their own. All they really care about is being healthy, safe, and loved by you. So this year, instead of spending money on toys and special treats, consider investing in these gifts that will truly enhance your pet’s quality of life.

Quality Food
Rather than an occasional present of tempting treats, try investing in a high-quality pet food that meets the particular dietary needs of your pet every day. Just as the dietary requirements of humans vary from person to person and with age and individual health concerns, your pet’s dietary requirements change over time. And most pets get excited when they have a new food to tempt them. If you’re uncertain of exactly what the best pet food option is, consider consulting with your veterinarian.

Exercise & Play
Spending time with your pet is the best way to keep them healthy and happy. Taking both dogs and cats for walks can be a great way for you and your companion to get much-needed exercise. And spending time each day engaged in play with your pet helps to strengthen your bond and keep them from becoming bored – and potentially destructive. Whether it’s fetch and tug of war with your dog or teaser and chase games with your cat, you’ll enjoy and benefit from the time together as much as they will.

Preventive Medicine
Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other parasites can be a year-round concern – even if your pet stays indoors. Most people forget that they bring in bacteria, viruses and other potentially harmful creatures on their clothes and shoes every day. And if you have an indoor cat but an outdoor dog, you run the risk of having harmful parasites pass from one to the other. Investing in effective preventive medications and making sure to give them to your pet regularly can keep them from getting sick. After all, illness is far more costly than prevention – and makes you as miserable as your pet.

Regular Veterinary Care
The best way to keep your pet healthy is by catching any concerns as early as possible. Regular veterinary appointments allow your vet to make sure your pet is at their best and give them a chance to pick up on potential issues before they become major health concerns. If your pet is overdue for a check-up or vaccination, nothing will make a bigger difference to them than that all-important trip to the vet.

If your pet is due for a check-up, vaccination or you’d like a professional recommendation on the best food for their current age and stage of life, contact Bregman Veterinary Group to schedule your appointment today. Your pet will thank you for it – hopefully for years to come!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

7 Tips to Keep Your Dog safe This Thanksgiving

Ideally, your dog should never eat even a bite of “people food” during Thanksgiving or any other holiday. But all too often, those sweet, hopeful eyes are too cute to resist—especially for guests who don’t know, or care, about your house rules. Since the last place you want to spend your Thanksgiving is in a veterinary hospital, here are some key tips to keep your precious dog healthy and happy this Thanksgiving.

A House Full of Guests

Your home will be buzzing with people during Thanksgiving, and if your dog is not comfortable with large crowds, this may make him or her stressed, anxious, or hyperactive. Pay attention to your pet as guests continue to arrive, and be prepared to put him or her in a “time out” room if there are any signs of aggression or stress. Exercising your pup in the morning will ensure that he or she is good and worn out by the time guests arrive, and cap any over-exuberance.

Don’t Feed Your Dog Turkey Bones

In the spirit of Thanksgiving generosity, you might be tempted to toss your pup a turkey drumstick while you’re cleaning up. But this can be extremely dangerous. Once broken into sharp, splintery bits, bird bones can easily become lodged in a pet’s esophagus or intestine. Be sure to never feed your dog a turkey or poultry bone of any kind, and make sure that your guests understand this as well. If you are determined to feed your pet a bite of turkey, make sure that it is boneless and well cooked.

No Gravy for Puppies  

Turkey skin, gravy, and other fatty, buttery side-dishes are definite no-nos when it comes to treating your pup on Thanksgiving. Fatty foods and trimmings can cause vomiting and diarrhea for dogs that aren’t used to them, and in the long-term, they can cause canine pancreatitis. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving preparations, you’ll probably be too busy to notice that your pup has crept out of the room to be sick on your nice Oriental rug—so save yourself the headache of an unexpected cleanup, and skip the fatty treats.

Keep Trash in the Trash  

Tossing used aluminum foil or plastic wrap to your dog might seem like a great way to give him a taste of the Thanksgiving feast, but swallowing these items can cause an intestinal obstruction, which requires minimally invasive surgery to remove. Stick with safer treats instead, like peanut butter inside a dog toy.

Watch the Chocolate

Almost everyone knows that chocolate is toxic for dogs—but small children visiting your home probably won’t. Take the time to explain the dangers of chocolate to your littlest guests, and tell them that, to a dog, a pat on the head is just as good a treat as food. You can also avoid any problems by simply banning chocolate from the menu altogether.  

No Dogs in the Kitchen

The kitchen is never more crowded or busy than it is before and after the Thanksgiving meal. Hot plates, heavy serving platters, sharp carving tools, and your grandmother’s fine china can all be a recipe for disaster when mixed with many moving bodies and an excited, curious dog. When it’s time to prepare the table, make sure that your pet is safely out of the way—either outside the house, or contained in another room.

Update Your Dog’s Microchip

With so many people coming and going, the door will be opened quite a bit, and your pet could easily slip out and bolt. To make sure that he or she is easy to retrieve, make sure to update the microchip. If your pet isn’t microchipped yet, call your local veterinarian to make an appointment today.

From all of us here at Bregman Veterinary Group, have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month & The Top 5 Warning Signs

No one wants to think that their beloved kitty or precious pup might have cancer—but many pet owners wish that they had noticed the signs earlier. As the number one disease-related killer of cats and dogs, cancer is not something to be underestimated. The more quickly it is found and identified, the better a chance there is of a successful surgical treatment that can save your pet’s life.

While an annual veterinary check-up is the best way to diagnose any symptoms, looking out for these early warning signs can’t hurt. Canine and feline cancer can, unfortunately, metastasize at a much faster rate than it does in humans, so it is best to be proactive and attentive, especially with older animals. If you notice any of these warning signs of cancer in dogs and cats, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible.

Unusual Odors

If you’re a pet owner, you already know that bad smells are simply a part of the furry, cuddly package. However, an unusually foul smell that persists in spite of washing may indicate a tumor, especially if it emanates from the mouth, nose, or rectal area.

Bumps and Lumps

Bumps and lumps beneath a pet’s skin should not be ignored. A lump which persists over time, or which seems to be growing, should be examined by a licensed veterinarian as soon as possible.

Unusual Weight Loss or Appetite Change
Unless he or she has been placed on a diet plan, your pet’s weight should remain relatively consistent. If the animal has suddenly lost interest in food which he or she previously enjoyed, illness is a strong possibility. Oral tumors can cause difficulty when the animal is eating and/or swallowing.

Behavioral Changes

Many pet owners fail to spot cancer in aging dogs and cats because they assume that the animal is simply “slowing down” due to its age. However, sudden torpor or lethargy in an animal can actually be a sign that it is experiencing pain. Sudden aggression in a previously well-tempered pet or sudden antisocial behavior can also be signs of cancer or illness. Be sure to also pay attention to changes in walking, eating, playing, and urinating.

Physical symptoms of cancer in pets

There are many physical symptoms that can indicate cancer in dogs and cats. Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, limping, pale gums, and open sores that are not healing are all symptoms of pet cancer to be on the lookout for.

A Veterinarian You Can Trust

If you have noticed any of these signs in your dog or cat, the best thing to do is to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Bregman Veterinary Group’s qualified vets have the experience and skill to identify cancer in an animal as quickly as possible. If you have any questions or concerns about your animal, give us a call today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How to Spot Depression in Cats and Dogs

Maybe you’ve recently moved or have brought home a new addition to the family and your dog or cat is suddenly acting different. It isn’t something to necessarily be concerned about, however because we cannot ask our animals if something is wrong, it is important to pay close attention to their overall mood and behavior as depression in cats and dogs is common and can be brought up by a number of factors.

Depression in Dogs:
Much like humans, depression symptoms in dogs are often defined by a withdrawn behavior, unusual drinking and eating habits, and if they stop taking part in the things they like – such as playing fetch or going for long walks. While these are the most common dog depression symptoms, these traits can also be linked to a medical issue, so if you are noticing such characteristics in your dog you should be sure to call us first and schedule an appointment to be sure nothing else is happening.

The most common reasons why dogs get into a bout of depression are either due to the loss of a companion animal or the loss of an owner. Our animals are more aware than we might think, and they are able to pick up on peculiarities that make their surroundings seem different.

Most depression cases in dogs go away within a few days to weeks. Giving them some extra affection or a few extra treats to reward them when they exhibit signs of happiness can help to expedite the process. If these simple remedies do not work, your dog might require medication. As always, you should call us if you notice your dog’s behavior is unusual and we’d be happy to help you.

Depression in Cats:
Unlike humans and dogs, cats do not experience the same emotional changes associated with depression. Stress in cats that lead to depression can be caused by a move, environmental changes or because of chemical imbalances in the brain.

Typically, if your cat stops eating or there is a major change in their appetite this is a big clue that something is not right. Additional signs that your cat might be depressed include significant behavioral change such as hissing or acting aggressively and being less active around the house.

Like we mentioned with dogs, these signs could be due to a medical issue. Loss of appetite could be caused by a dental issue or gastrointestinal problem and behavior could be due to a change in your schedule causing your pet to react. Getting to the bottom of the issue can sometimes be difficult so it’s best to contact us if you’re worried something might be wrong.  

In senior cats, pain is the most underdiagnosed condition, which can cause a cat to become depressed. If there is a stressor that can be identified as the cause of your cat’s anxiety or changed behavior, it is best to eliminate that stress to see if their behavior and overall mood improves.

Ensuring Your Pet’s Happiness
Overall you want to deal with the issue before it gets worse. If you suspect your cat or dog might be unhappy, give us a call to discuss their symptoms and stop in for a check-up. It’s always better to be safer rather than sorry, and your pet will be happy you checked in with us!