Posts from July, 2015

How to deal with anxiety and your pet

anxiety

We ask a lot from our pets on a daily basis. They are expected to live in our noisy, hectic world—without the understanding we have of what’s going on in their surroundings. Loud noises, new people, strange environments, exotic scents. All of these things can contribute to feelings of fear and anxiety.  Stefani Fortney discusses how to deal with anxiety and your pet.

Since we expect our dogs to live and function within the construct of our lives, it’s our responsibility to provide them with the emotional tools necessary to live with as little fear and anxiety as possible. [Tweet “Desensitization & Counter- conditioning: Loud noises, new people, strange environments, exotic scents. “]

Desensitization

The idea of desensitizing our dogs to stimuli that cause fear and anxiety is founded on establishing your dog’s fear threshold. To do this, you must identify the exact trigger of your dog’s fear. Once that trigger is known, you can work on slowly desensitizing him to that trigger by slowly and gradually reintroducing him to it from a distance where he isn’t overcome by his fear. This must happen in a controlled environment and at a pace where your pup is comfortable enough to maintain his cool.

For example:

If Fido is afraid of women wearing sunglasses, you would have to discover at what distance he could see a shaded lady and not react fearfully. By exposing him slowly to his fear trigger—moving one step closer only when he is ready—he is slowly desensitized to it.

Counter-Conditioning

In conjunction with desensitization, Counter-Conditioning can help your pup learn to associate previously frightening situations with pleasurable reinforcement. Simply put, when he sees the scary thing, he gets a top-notch, delicious bit of food, verbal praise, and a favorite toy. By consistently pairing desensitization through distance with the reinforcement of the concept that the fear trigger is a precursor to wonderful things, we can help our dogs to gain confidence and overcome anxiety.

AnxietyStefani Fortney has loved dogs for as long as long as she can remember. At the age of nine, she and her little Beagle mix, Puppy, learned obedience together for the first time in 4-H. As an adult, Stefani became a professional groomer, then later earned her accreditation (ABCDT) as a dog trainer from Animal Behavior College. She uses Positive Reinforcement training techniques exclusively. Stefani currently shares her home with her wife (Melissa), six dogs (Phaedra, Spectre, Mani, Fritter, Poppy, and Opus), and one cat (Pudge).

#Reptile care: 6 habitat items you must have for your snake

snake

Are you considering a reptile for a pet?  Check out our previous blog Reptiles make great pets!  Dr. Anna Coffin has many years of experience with reptile care especially caring and tending to snakes.  This week Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss all the basic needs for you and your snake.

Providing a proper environment is the most important aspect of reptile care.  In fact, it can make the difference between life and death with your snake. [Tweet “Providing a proper environment is the most important aspect of reptile care. “]

snake

This post is a sponsored post. Dr. Anna is being compensated to help spread the word about Reptile Ownership, but Dr. Anna only shares information she feels is relevant to her readers. petMD and PetSmart are not responsible for the content of this article.

6 habitat items you must have:

  1. Cage:  Size of the cage, an easy to clean, impermeable surface, and a secure lock are the most important factors when making decisions on reptile care for your snake.  Dr. Anna Coffin says that glass aquariums are inexpensive and meet all these requirements.  The hardest decision is getting a cage that is the right size for your snake.  Since most reptiles grow according to the size of their cage, it is important to have a cage that is big enough for your new snake to grow.  Knowing how big your snake will be as an adult can help you plan cage sizes.  If you get a cage too big, your snake may have a hard time staying warm.
  2. Substrate:  There are many substrate options to choose.  Whatever you decide it needs to be easy to clean and something safe for your snake.  Smaller substrate particles can be accidentally swallowed and cause intestinal blockage.  Because of this Dr. Anna Coffin likes to use reptile carpets. 
  3. Heat Source:  Reptiles are cold-blooded animals which means that their body temperature will fluctuate with that of their environment.  Dr. Anna Coffin says that temperature control is one of the most important aspects of reptile care.  They can get snaketoo hot, and thermal burns are frequent causes of veterinarian visits, especially with snakes.  Most reptiles need a heat source from the top and the bottom of the cage and a place where they can escape from the heat.
  4. Lighting:  Metabolic bone disease is a common reason that reptiles will visit their veterinarian.  Reptiles need Vitamin D to prevent broken bones and other metabolic bone disorders.  Providing them with an appropriate light source will help decrease this problem.  Metabolic bone disease is a rare condition for snakes because they eat live prey and get enough Vitamin D from their prey.
  5. Food:  Snakes don’t eat often. They’ll typically consume a meal only once a week or once every two weeks, but some snakes can go longer between meals.  Rodents, especially mice or rats are the most common and readily available food for your new snake.  Dr. Anna Coffin recommends feeding stunned live or fresh killed animals because it is more natural feeding for your snake, and your snake won’t be injured by the live animalFrozen animals can put your pet at risk for bacterial infection if they are not stored or defrosted properly.  What do pet snakes eat? contains more great information from petMD ® Reptile Center.
  6. Reliable reptile information:  As a new snake owner it’s important to have a reliable source for information.  Your local exotic veterinarian is a great source for information especially if your snake is sick.  Reptiles typically don’t show signs of illness until late in the disease process so if your snake is not acting normal call your veterinarian immediately.  For general snake and reptile care information, there is a great new source provided by PetMD Reptile Center.  All the information on this site has been reviewed and approved by a veterinarian.

snake, reptile care

Visit a PetSmart ® located near you or visit PetSmart online to purchase all of your reptile care needs.  Once you have these six habitat items, you are ready to enjoy snake. 

If you have an Ask Dr. Anna question you would like answered, please post them in the comment section. Stay up to date on all the latest by subscribing to my blog.  Also “like” me on Facebook.

Dr. Anna was born and raised in Guthrie, Oklahoma. As a teenager, Dr. Anna found her beloved pet dead on the side of the road left to die without any help. That was the moment she decided to become a vet and vowed to help other people and their pets. After a few years of practicing in New Hampshire, Dr. Anna became homesick and decided to return to Guthrie to be with her parents and five other siblings. Family and friends are a major part of our lives which is why we treat our clients at Guthrie Pet Hospital as family.  Dr. Anna and her husband do not have children but are very proud pet parents and, therefore, treat every four-legged friend as part of the family.

3 Grooming Tools Every Pet Owner Needs

grooming tools

As a pet owner, it’s important to take proper care of your pet and that includes taking great care of their skin and coat.  Stefani Fortney is the groomer at Guthrie Pet Hospital and this week she will discuss three grooming tools every pet owner needs.

We all want our pets to be happy, healthy, and comfortable. From the time we bring them into our homes, it’s our responsibility to provide our furry friends with the care they need to live the best life possible. Part of that responsibility is to care for their hygiene.

To provide that care, it’s important to keep the proper grooming tools on hand at home. Even if Rover takes regular trips to the groomer, you should have and use these grooming tools at home so your pet can avoid discomfort caused by matts and tangles, overgrown toenails, stickers, and unsightly eye boogers and poo clingers.

3 grooming tools that every owner should have at home:

  1. A brush appropriate to your pet’s coat type.
  • For slick-coated pups, the best option is a rubber curry brush to loosen dead hair, followed by a bristle brush to add shine to the coat.

grooming tools          grooming tools

  • For double-coated, fluffy, or long-haired dogs, opt for a wire slicker brush. It will penetrate more deeply through the coat, helping to remove undercoat and tangles

grooming tools

  • For the kitties, grab a special cat wire slicker with softer bristles that are made for a cat’s sensitive skin.

grooming tools

     2.    A metal comb that’s appropriate for your pet’s coat type.

  • For most dogs, a “greyhound comb” is the best option. It has one end that is fine, the other end medium spacing.

grooming tools

With this tool, you can remove eye gunk and booty danglers—as well as running it through Fifi’s hair to check for any tangles you may have missed in your initial brushing.

  • For larger pets with thicker coats, you’ll want to pick up a wide-tooth comb.

grooming tools

   3.    The last (but not least) grooming tool you want to keep around the house is a good set of nail trimmers or a nail grinder. While trimming or filing your pet’s nails at home can be intimidating, it’s important to keep those claws at a healthy length between trips tothe groomer or vet.

grooming tools                 grooming tools

If you keep these simple grooming tools at home, learn to use them correctly, and commit to regular at-home hygiene maintenance, your pet will thank you!

grooming toolsStefani Fortney has loved dogs for as long as long as she can remember. At the age of nine, she and her little Beagle mix, Puppy, learned obedience together for the first time in 4-H. As an adult, Stefani became a professional groomer, then later earned her accreditation (ABCDT) as a dog trainer from Animal Behavior College. She uses Positive Reinforcement training techniques exclusively. Stefani currently shares her home with her wife (Melissa), six dogs (Phaedra, Spectre, Mani, Fritter, Poppy, and Opus), and one cat (Pudge).

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