Ask Dr. Anna

Obedience Basics: Building a Foundation of Focus

obedienceStefani Fortney, ABCDT  If you’re anything like me, bringing a new dog or puppy into your life and home awakens childhood fantasies of having a bond with your pet that is both magical and transcendent. You imagine Rover saving you from bandits, alerting you to the presence of a major goldmine on your property, then winning the Iditarod—and that’s just during your first week together. Taking dog obedience classes or lessons together never crosses your mind. It seems like the bond you share should be enough. Continue…

Adult Dog Socialization: Two Tips for Safety and Success

dog behavior trainingBy Stefani Fortney ABCDT   Adult dog socialization can be a very tricky process. In an ideal world, every dog would be properly socialized as a puppy—taking each pups personality into account and working to provide positive associations with a variety of people, places, and situations. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, dogs come into our lives as a poorly-socialized adult. Sometimes, we as owners don’t implement proper puppy socialization methods, and then have to deal with an adult dog who needs extra socialization work. Sometimes, we have an adult dog who needs additional socialization because of a timid personality or fearful nature.  Continue…

Poisonous Snakes And Pets

Dog and cats are curious creatures and often get themselves into trouble by sticking their nose where it doesn’t belong.  As the weather begins to warm up, it is important to be aware of the poisonous snakes in your area and the effects they can have on your pet.

Common poisonous snakes in North America:

  • Rattlesnake: Account for the most venomous and fatal bites.
  • Copperhead
  • Cottonmouth
  • Coral snakes: Account for less than one percent of all bites.

Signs of poisonous snake bites vary depending on the type of snake.  In general, all poisonous snake bites cause extensive swelling of the tissue around the bite wound.  The venom of North American pit vipers contains toxic proteins that cause damage to local tissues and can cause problems throughout the animal’s body.  The effects of this venom can include local tissue damage, local bleeding, internal bleeding due to clotting problems, shock, and low blood pressure.

It is important to remember that snakes can bite and often do not inject any venom.  In fact, dry bites occur in twenty to thirty percent of pit viper bites and fifty percent in coral snakes.

For information on treatment of snake bites, please read Dr. Anna Coffin’s blog post Snake Bite Treatment For Pets, 5 Things You Need To Know.

Will your pet survive a poisonous snake bite?  This answer depends on several vital questions.

  • What was the size and species of the snake? Pets bitten by copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes have a better prognosis than those bitten by rattlesnakes.
  • Where did your pet get bitten? Bites to the head and body tend to be more severe than bites to the legs and feet.  Bites around the face can cause local swelling that can obstruct the airway and lead to breathing difficulties.
  • What is the age, size, and health of your pet?
  • How much time has passed before treatment is started?

snake vaccine is available for dogs.  This vaccine works by neutralizing the snake venom and decreasing your dog’s symptoms.  Your dog will initially need a series of two vaccines spaced one month apart before it is considered protected.  The vaccine provides good protection for six months.  Dr. Anna Coffin recommends giving the vaccine in the spring, and your dog will be protected through snake season in most areas of the United States.  Guthrie Pet Hospital can give your pet the snake vaccine.  Call for an appointment today.

No Pull Leash Might Be The Answer

no pull leashWho cares if your dog can heal on a leash?  Most people just want their dog to not pull on the leash like a crazy maniac!  There are many tools available to help you train your dog not to pull on the leash.  Dr. Anna Coffin has found a no pull leash that works well with all her dogs. Continue…

Service Dogs: More Than A Pet

service dogsby Stefani Fortney, ABCDT In a world where our pets are becoming more integrated into our everyday lives, some people have taken advantage of necessarily vague Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) language about to service animals. There are always folks who will commit fraud to take sweet little Fluffmonster to Panera Bread, or bring Skittlebits to the grocery store. Others lie about the status of their family pet to avoid extra travel fees or hotel restrictions. Let me be very clear—this is unacceptable, irresponsible behavior. It harms those who have legitimate reasons to bring their service dogs into public areas.  Continue…

The One Thing I Hate More Than Euthanizing A Pet

euthanizing a petThere are so many great things about being a veterinarian, but just like any other job, there is a down side.  I hear so many people tell me that they would love to be in the field of veterinary medicine, but they just wouldn’t be able to deal with euthanasia.  Well, in my opinion, that isn’t the worst part of the job.  Discover what Dr. Anna Coffin hates more than euthanizing a pet. Continue…

New Anxiety Medication For Dogs Offers Promise For Noise Phobia

anxiety medication for dogsNoise phobia, specifically thunderstorm phobia, is a very common condition that veterinarians and dog owners have struggled to treat for years.  In fact, one-third of all pet owners report that their dog suffers from noise phobia.  It is important to find something that relieves your dog’s symptoms; because without help, your dog’s fear will worsen with each episode.  Dr. Anna Coffin is happy to announce a new anxiety medication for dogs that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Continue…

Adopt A Shelter Cat. Make A Friend For Life.

shelter catBy Stacey Frazier. Let’s assume you have realized that a cat is the way to go. You know all about how independent they can be, how they are lower maintenance than a dog, and how just petting them can actually make you feel better (you even know that petting a cat causes your body to release calming chemicals In your body and that cat owners are less likely to be at risk for strokes than any other pet owner.) Cats rock. You get that. But now, where do you get yourself a cat? Continue…

Dog Allergies

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, and Dr. Anna Coffin always treats more cases of dog allergies this time of year.  Unlike people, who typically develop upper respiratory symptoms, dogs with allergies develop itchy skin.  Affected dogs are itchy all over, but especially in their face, feet, ears, abdomen, and groin.  Approximately twenty-five percent of all veterinarian visits are for skin and hair coat related problems.

Three common dog allergies:

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis: This is the most common allergy seen in dogs and cats.  Pets with flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) are allergic to the flea’s saliva.  One flea bite can make your pet itchy for up to one month.  Pets with FAD are usually itchy over the base of the tail.
  • Inhalant Allergy or Atopy: This is the second most common allergy in dogs.  Dogs with atopy are itchy in their face, feet, abdomen and groin.  Atopy occurs because your dog’s immune system overreacts to inhaled allergens such as grass, trees, pollens, and molds.
  • Food Allergy: Dogs with food allergies are itchy in their face, feet, and rear.  The protein source (meat) is the most common cause of food allergies, but your dog could also be allergic to the carbohydrate source.  Anna Coffin recommends switching your pet to a prescription diet for food allergies that contains a different protein and carbohydrate than your previous diet.

New research is not only helping veterinarians to understand the actual cause of dog allergies, but it is helping in the development of new treatments that will help improve the lives of itchy dogs and their owners.  Here is what we have learned:

  • Atopy begins when the allergen is absorbed through the skin. The dog’s immune system reacts to the allergen and then releases factors that causing inflammation and itching.
  • When your dog itches, it causes damage to the skin barrier which increases the rate at which these allergies are absorbed through the skin. Scratching and damage to the skin barrier also puts your dog at risk for bacterial or fungal skin infections which increases your dog’s itchiness.
  • In the past, steroids have been the treatment of choice to try and decrease the inflammation. Unfortunately, steroids have side effects, and long-term use of this drug can cause your dog to be at risk for other diseases.
  • Recent research has helped us find several new treatments that are specifically targeted at blocking the inflammation that starts the itch cycle. These new treatments have no side effects.

Treatment for dog allergies can be frustrating to owners and veterinarians.  Removing the cause of the allergy is the best way to help relieve your dog’s symptoms.  Removing the allergen is easier to do with flea and food allergies than it is with inhalant allergies.   If your dog has atopy, learn to recognize the signs and symptoms because early treatment can prevent secondary infections.  Open communication with your veterinarian about these newer treatments can help your dog live a happier, healthier life.  Dr. Anna Coffin and the staff of Guthrie Pet Hospital would be happy to talk to you about your dog’s allergies.



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