What to think about before you bring a new pet into your home

Have you been itching for a new addition to your family but not sure where to begin?  We have put together a few things you may want to consider before either adopting or purchasing a pet.  If you can adopt a pet it goes without saying that you making a difference in that animal’s life.  Keeping a pet from a shelter and unknown fate feels terrific.

However before you take home your new cute furry friend from the shelter please make sure that you are right for each other.  Is the pet that is up for adoption there because it has a behavior issues or because the previous owner is under financial distress?  If it is a behavior issue, it may require you to put in more time to “straighten things out”.  If this is something that you are unable to take the time to do, perhaps this particular pet might not be the right one for you.  The last thing we want is to take home a pet and then have to “return” him/her because it did not meet up to our expectations.  In addition if you are adopting a pet that is a bit older you may be in for some additional expenses that you were not expecting.  For example perhaps they have very bad periodontal disease that needs to be taken care of.  Easily rectifiable, but needs to be in your budget.

If you have a specific breed in mind (remember to double check breed specific genetic dispositions) then perhaps you need to think about going to a reputable breeder.  But before you do please take into consideration a few things.  Does the temperament of the pet fit in with your lifestyle.  If you have small children perhaps you may not want to get a “high strung” dog like some of the terrier breeds.  Or for instance a Border Collie was bred to herd cattle and sheep.  A Border Collie needs a huge amount of exercise/space.  Would you be able to meet their needs?  If not, then that is not the dog for you.

Do you live in a four story walkup?  Then you may want to think about what would happen if you have a larger size dog that can’t go up and down the stairs anymore?  Are you able to carry the dog up and down to do his business?

Last but not least, please do not take home a pet if you are allergy prone.  Perhaps you can spend the day with a friends’ pet prior to adopting to ascertain if you will have a reaction.  Children who are asthmatic may have a tendency to be more allergic.  Please discuss with your pediatrician prior to bringing a new pet into your home.

These are just a few of the things you need to consider beforehand.  If you have any questions please give us a call.

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Fireworks and Thunder

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It is the Fourth of July- Fireworks abound, loud noises occurring perhaps for hours.  While we humans are oohing and aahing, too often our pets are frightened out of their wits. They’ll spend the holiday under the bed (or in the basement) cowering, shaking, drooling and seeking safety and comfort.

The best defense against Fourth of July problems is a good offense.  Please provide your pets with a safe hiding place inside your home during the holiday fireworks or a severe thunderstorm.  Dogs and cats who are comfortable in crates can find them a good place to ride out the noise, especially if the crate is put in a quiet, darkened part of the house.

The best thing would have been to have started “socializing” your pet to fireworks and thunderstorms ahead of time.  Of course, this may not be possible.  The optimal time to start would be when they are a puppy or kitten.  But don’t give up hope if your dog/cat is already an adult.  New behaviors can be learned.

One way to help your pet is to expose him or her to commercial recordings of thunderstorms or fireworks and play them at increasing volume. Play the recordings at a low volume initially while giving praise and treats.   As the volume and duration are increased during subsequent sessions, give them really tasty treats as well. Initially we suggest playing the recording for five minutes, eventually leaving it on during daily activities as “normal” background noise.

Another option for your dog is a “thunder jacket”.  It works the same way as swaddling a baby does, calming your dog.  The gentle pressure provides a calming effect.  Of course, some pets are so unhinged by noise that veterinary-prescribed tranquilizers from our office, Steinway Court Veterinarian are needed to keep them calm. Remember to call well in advance of the holiday, and give the medications as recommended — they usually work best before the rockets’ red glare begins.

Chocolate’s a No-No

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Chocolate is toxic to your dog (cats do not typically eat chocolate).  You may have heard of chocolate being bad for your pet but were unsure as to why.  A sudden high fat diet i.e. devouring a bag of candy bars left on the counter can create a lethal metabolic condition called pancreatitis.  Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain are some of the symptoms that may appear.  Pancreatitis is due to the fat found in the chocolate, not the chocolate itself.

The chocolate itself is very toxic because of the theobromine that is found in the chocolate.  Theobromine occurs naturally in the cocoa tree/beans. The more chocolate liquor in a product, the more theobromine is present. Theobromine levels are higher in dark chocolates than in milk chocolates.  Higher quality chocolate tends to contain more theobromine than lower quality chocolate.  For instance, this makes baking chocolate the worst for pets, followed by semisweet and dark chocolate, followed by milk chocolate, followed by chocolate flavored cakes or cookies.  Why it is toxic to dogs and other pets but not people?  (I could not imagine a life without chocolate).  Animals metabolize theobromine more slowly than humans, therefore being in their system longer.  Theobromine may causes:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity/restlessness
  • Increased urination or incontinence
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Racing heart rhythm progressing to abnormal rhythms

If you see that you dog at chocolate call our office 718-728-2822 immediately so we can induce vomiting and provide the necessary supportive care needed depending on the symptoms and time of ingestion.