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Archive for October, 2010

Saluting Veterinary Technicians

Oct 29, 2010

photoNational Veterinary Technician Week is the third week of every October. Founded by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America, this event pays tribute to all the veterinary technicians across the country who play a significant role in the health of our pets.

Aside from taking care of animals, a veterinary technician’s day-to-day responsibilities include obtaining and recording patient histories, assisting in  procedures like surgery and x-rays, getting animals ready for surgery, preparing equipment and operating rooms, administering medications, inducing and monitoring anesthesia, taking radiographs, collecting specimens like urine and blood, performing laboratory duties, advising and educating owners, managing the clinic, instructing other clinic staff, and overseeing other clinic personnel like veterinary assistants. They also work in biomedical research, education, sales, and the military.

To become a veterinary technician, one must complete a two or three-year course from a school that has been accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Many technicians take extra classes to specialize in an area of pet health. They must also acquire continuing education credits to stay updated on the most recent developments in veterinary medicine.

National Veterinary Technician Week has been celebrated every year since 1993 to recognize the important contributions of veterinary technicians to society. During this week, there are programs and activities intended to educate the public about the role of vet techs, provide an opportunity for technicians to applaud one another for outstanding performance in their work, and reinforce the professionalism and value of technicians to both veterinarians and the public.

If you work in an animal clinic with veterinary technicians or if you are a pet owner who knows a vet tech, here are some ways to salute them during National Veterinary Technician Week.

* Submit an article to your local newspaper honoring your vet tech.
* Bake them a homemade cake or cupcake with their name on top.
* Take them out to a nice dinner.
* Get them a vet tech T-shirt.
* Give them a new pair of scrubs with a funky pattern.
* Cook and bring them lunch at work.
* Give them a new pair of orthopedic shoes.

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Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

Oct 27, 2010

photoWhat if, one day, you get home and find your pet has stopped breathing, is in the middle of a seizure, or is injured and bleeding? These are scary scenarios, but possible. Would you know what to do in the event of an emergency? October is National Animal Protection Safety Month and National Pet Wellness Month, so there is no better time to learn what to do should disaster strike.

As a responsible dog owner, you need to know how to administer first aid and CPR, as well as have the numbers of your vet, poison control center, and emergency hospital saved on your phone or written on a piece of paper that can be easily seen. If your dog is a large breed, you should have a method of moving him in case he gets injured or unconscious.

If you would like to learn how to perform pet CPR, the American Red Cross and other organizations provide training on this practice. Mouth-to-snout resuscitation is very similar to the conventional mouth-to-mouth resuscitation for humans; the only difference is that the person administering the procedure will have to close the dog’s mouth and breathe into the dog’s nose. Some people may find this funny or even unpleasant, but mouth-to-snout resuscitation can actually save a pet’s life.

Aside from mouth-to-snout resuscitation, chest compressions can also be performed in case a dog’s heart stops. The importance of knowing how to do these procedures cannot be emphasized enough, and several organizations that previously taught traditional CPR only are now teaching pet CPR as well. Your local Red Cross may offer training on pet CPR, so give them a call if you’re interested and ask them when the next class will begin. You never know when this knowledge may be useful, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you haven’t developed a pet emergency plan yet, now is the best time to do so. Prepare a first aid kit and a notebook with essential information such as instructions on what to do in case of a seizure or injury, medicine dosage, and important phone numbers. If you have a big dog, a ramp is helpful for transporting purposes.

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Puppy Potty Training: How to Deal with Accidents

Oct 25, 2010

photoWhen toilet training your puppy, the most important rule that you need to remember is this: If you don’t catch him in the act, don’t punish him for it!

Should you come across a mess that was left while you were gone, just clean it up and let it go. Discipline is useless because unless you catch your pup doing it, he will not know what he is being punished for. He has peed and pooped many times before he met you, and nobody has ever made a fuss over it before. Therefore, he will not be able to associate the punishment with something that he has done without incident hundreds of times before, especially if he did it over 30 seconds ago!

Like children, puppies are not thinking about what they did before, unless it was really fun. They are thinking about what they can do next. Young puppies have very poor memory.

Moreover, you have to admit that it was your fault and not your pup’s. Had you been keeping an eye on him, you would have noticed that he suddenly started walking or running around in circles, sniffing for the right spot. Your puppy will display the same behavior every time he needs to go to the bathroom. The act may vary a bit from pup to pup, but they will always show their pre-potty pattern.

If you do catch your puppy in the act, don’t get mad. Again, it was your fault, as you were not paying attention to the signals. Quickly but calmly pick him up, and firmly say “no” without raising your voice. Carry him outside or to his papers. You can push his tail down while you are carrying your pup to keep him from peeing or pooping any more. He will get excited when you take him outside or to his papers, but stay with him for some time. If he finishes his business, reward him with simple praise such as “good boy.”

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction (remember Newton?), and this applies to dog potty training as well. If you overreact and harshly scold or scare your puppy for making what is in your mind a mistake, you will not be able to make much progress.

Some people believe that rubbing a puppy’s nose into his mess will teach him a lesson, but this isn’t the case. In the puppy’s mind, there is no difference between rubbing his nose in the accident he left in your living room an hour ago and rubbing his nose in the pile the neighbor’s dog left in the park a week ago.

Peeing and pooping are natural instincts, and punishment seldom speeds up the potty training process. Instead, it makes the dog nervous or fearful every time he has to relieve himself.

Punishing your puppy can cause long-term relationship problems. If you discipline your puppy for making a mess while you were away, he isn’t thinking about what he might have done a couple of hours ago. He isn’t thinking that he should not relieve himself inside the house. He isn’t even thinking about the messes.

If you get home and your puppy runs off and hides, he’s not doing it because he has had an accident. Instead, he has learned that when you first come home, you are always in a bad mood and he gets punished. Hence, your pup has decided to avoid you for a while and goes into hiding. Because discipline was misunderstood, your puppy becomes afraid of you, and this can have a lifelong impact on your relationship.

Regardless of the method you use, spend as much time as possible with your pup if you want to accelerate the housebreaking process. Always keep an eye on your puppy and be there when you’re needed. You’ll be surprised at how much progress can be made in just one week.

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The Four Key Elements of Successful Dog Potty Training

Oct 22, 2010

photoPuppies make wonderful companions, but they’re not so cute when they do their business in the middle of your living room. Accidents are certainly frustrating, but you need to understand how your pet thinks. “If I have to do it, then I’ll do it!” is what’s in your pup’s head, and this applies to eating, playing, exploring, sleeping, and of course, eliminating. Since your puppy does not understand anything more than that, it’s your job to teach him where and when it is appropriate to pee and poop. Remember, they’re not the ones with the requirements – we are!

There are four key components in most effective housebreaking methods:

* Confinement
* Training
* Praise
* Timing


The easiest way to potty train a puppy (or a dog that has yet to be housebroken) is to confine him in a crate or cage. At the start of toilet training, don’t place anything on the bottom of the crate (e.g. newspaper, blanket, etc.); your puppy will only destroy it. Most dogs do not want to eliminate where they live, so the crate should just be large enough for your pup to turn around and lay down. If it’s too big, your puppy will do his business at one end and sleep at the other. For puppies that will grow considerably in size, get an adult sized crate and partition it with an divider.

Training and Praise

Personally, I always use a leash when potty training. This allows me to keep my dog close to me so I can watch him and control everything that happens. Puppies in particular get distracted easily, and a gentle tug on the leash can get their attention back. Leashes are also good for teaching an area to eliminate; with a leash, you simply take your pup there each time.

I use verbal cues as well, so once the puppy understands what the words mean, he will know what I want when I want it to happen. I say “go potty” for peeing and “go poop” for defecation. You can choose any word or phrase you want, just remember that you will be repeating it a lot.

Whenever you take your dog out, say the word “outside” again and again. “Do you want to go outside? Let’s go outside! Outside, outside!” Eventually, he will learn that the word “outside” is connected to going to the bathroom. You will be able to ask him if he has to go outside and receive a response such as tail wagging, barking, or running to the door.

When he goes to the bathroom properly, praise him in a happy voice. I prefer to use words because treats or petting can interrupt the act. Remember, you should praise your puppy while he’s peeing or pooping, not after.

Reward your pup with freedom when he does a good job. The best time for him to be out of his crate is after he has eliminated properly outside, but this free time still has to be supervised. You can use baby gates to restrict your pup’s area of freedom or a leash to quickly catch him (without grabbing him, which can make him fearful) when he is about to do something inappropriate.


It is best to always anticipate your pet’s need to eliminate. As a general rule, the length of time that a puppy can be left in his crate without going outside is more or less equivalent to his age in months:

* 2 months old – 2 hours of confinement without a bathroom break
* 3 months old – 3 hours of confinement without a bathroom break
* And so on, up to around 6 to 8 months old.

Your puppy must be taken outside anytime there is a change in activity. He will also give signs whenever he has to do his business. It can be sniffing, circling, suddenly stopping in the middle of play, running out of a room, or a certain look on his face. You will learn how to read these hints sooner or later.

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Dog Training – Stop Your Dog From Pulling

Oct 20, 2010

Tips on leash training your four-legged friend!

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Clicker Training for Dogs

Oct 18, 2010

photoLooking for a way to train your dog? You might want to consider clicker training, which has gained popularity among dog trainers across the country. This method makes use of a clicker, a small plastic device with a metal button that makes a distinct clicking sound when pressed.

Clicker training is simple and is based on positive reinforcement. It can be used to instruct your dog to sit or bark on command, as well as to perform tricks such as playing dead, rolling over, or shaking hands. Clicker training can be employed to reinforce natural behaviors and teach new actions.

Clicker training is an operant conditioning technique; you have to get your dog to associate the sound of the clicker with a food that he especially likes. Unlike a spoken word, a click is not heard in other circumstances and sounds the same every single time. Once that has been accomplished, your dog will follow your instructions promptly whenever you use the clicker.

For example, you want to teach your dog to sit. Place a treat near his nose and slowly move it over his head or towards his tail. Your pet will look up, follow the treat with his nose and start to sit down. The moment his bottom reaches the floor, press the clicker. Reward him with the treat and plenty of praise.

Repeat the process until your dog has associated the clicking sound with the command, and you can make him sit without a treat and just by using the clicker. You can then teach him another trick, but remember to press the clicker only when he performs the correct action. Otherwise, your dog will not be able to connect the clicking sound to anything and become confused about what it means.

Your dog is a smart animal but all training processes take time and patience. Some trainers use clicker training along with negative reinforcement, but this is ineffective because punishment only creates unwanted behavior. Despite its high success rate, clicker training may not work for some dogs. If you don’t see any results with this method, you can move on to another one.

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Should You Avail of Pet Insurance?

Oct 15, 2010

photoWhile any pet owner will tell you that they value their furry friends, not everyone will agree that having pet insurance is a must. If you would like to avail of pet insurance but are unsure as to which plan is right for you, the factors that you need to consider are: your current financial status, the number of pets you have, unfavorable risks, plus some personal variables. Taking these elements into account will help you decide which policy suits you and your pet the best.

Basic plans cover accidents and are relatively cheaper. Many owners opt for this type of pet insurance plan to ensure that their pets are taken care of in the event of an emergency. Since unanticipated expenses due to accidents can sometimes go as high as thousands of dollars, basic plans give pet owners peace of mind.

On the other hand, comprehensive plans cover more areas such as spays, neuters, and vaccinations. This type of plan is also popular among pet owners because it is more complete, though obviously more expensive.

If you’re good at handling your finances, a comprehensive pet insurance plan may not be for you. You can schedule your pet’s vaccinations and other checkups yourself, and allocate your budget for them accordingly. In this case, a basic plan will be more appropriate.

Some publications such as Forbes and Reader’s Digest have expressed that pet insurance policies are not worth spending on. Some people treat their pets like their own children and spoil them, while others are mellower.

Ultimately, availing of pet insurance is a decision that varies for each pet owner. Will you be able to get hold of cash quickly in case of an emergency? If your answer is no, then you may want to invest in a pet insurance plan, as it will prove to be helpful should something unfortunate happen. Keep in mind to pick an insurance policy that best meets the needs of you and your four-legged friend.

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What is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?

Oct 13, 2010

photoUsing positive reinforcement to train dogs has long been acknowledged as a highly effective training method. It also provides the dog with a positive experience. Nearly all dogs and even other animals respond well to positive reinforcement training or reward training. In fact, it is the only method used to handle wild circus and showbiz animals such as lions and tigers.

Positive reinforcement training makes use of rewards to tell a dog what is expected of him, which is why it is so effective. When the dog performs the correct action, he is given a reward, usually a treat. It can also be a rub under the chin, a pat on the head, or a scratch behind the ears. What matters is that the animal is rewarded every time he does the right thing.

It is highly likely that humans have been using positive reinforcement to train dogs for hundreds or even thousands of years. The dog-human relationship probably began when wolf puppies were tamed and trained by humans to fend off predators and guard and herd livestock.

Wolves and dogs hunt in packs which run on a strict hierarchy. Every member of the pack knows his place, and the hierarchy rarely changes once it is established, except in the event of an injury or death. It is innate in every dog to look to the pack leader for guidance; thus, you as trainer must assert yourself as the pack leader. Once the dog sees you as the leader, he will respect your authority and training will become easier.

Some dogs are more dominant while others are more submissive.  In general, a dog with a relatively submissive personality will be easier to train using positive reinforcement, as he will not be interested in challenging your leadership. Even dominant dogs respond well to reward training, though; there are very few dogs that don’t.

In addition, using positive reinforcement is the best way to retrain a dog with behavior issues, particularly if he has been abused in the past. Earning the trust and respect of an abused dog can be very hard, and reward training is the best means to do so.

Because reward training is based on trust and respect instead of fear and intimidation, it is the most effective way to get a dog to cooperate. Every dog, big or small, can more than likely be trained with positive reinforcement.

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Tips for Throwing a Dog Birthday Party

Oct 11, 2010

photoRecently, it has been reported that more than 700,000 pets in the United States were given birthday parties by their owners. This pet party trend is not unique to America and has reached other countries such as England, China, and Japan. If you’re planning to throw a party for your dog, here are some tips to ensure that all attendees, both canine and human, have a barkin’ good time.

* Only invite dogs that your pet already knows and likes so as to avoid any possible fights. If your best friend has a dog that doesn’t get along with yours, it may be a good idea to exclude them from the guest list. If you want to invite a pooch that your dog has not met before, set up a date between them prior to the actual party.

* All dogs should have at least one human companion that they are comfortable with at the party. If a dog’s owner cannot make it to the celebration, then it is recommended that the dog does not attend either. You will be busy enough hosting the party and watching your own pet.

* Only serve food that is safe for dogs, as there are plenty of people foods that can be poisonous to canines. If you’re unsure about a certain food, consult your vet. Also talk to the other owners before the pet party to check if their dog has any allergies.

* See to it that every dog gets his share of the food, and let the owners feed their own pets.

* The length of a pet birthday party depends on how long you want it to be, but keep in mind that dogs can become restless over time. Don’t be afraid to end the party earlier than scheduled if you notice that many of the four-legged guests are getting fidgety.

* Have poop bags on hand in case the other dog owners do not bring their own. This is a must especially if you are having the dog party at a park or any other public area.

* If you will be throwing an outdoor dog birthday party, prepare a contingency plan as well, so the fun doesn’t have to end in case of bad weather.

* Make sure that the dog party area is secure and that there aren’t any openings that smaller dogs can slip through.

* If you invite dogs that have yet to be spayed or neutered, ask their owners to watch their pets, and let the other owners at the party know about this as well.

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Oh, How Our Dogs Make Us Laugh

Oct 8, 2010

Enjoy this funny compilation of hilarious dog moments!…

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