Happy Memorial Day from the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital !
Last year for Memorial Day we wrote a blog post about war and service dogs which you can read here, admiring War Dogs for their courage and sacrifice.
This year we wanted to share the story of a U.S. Marines Dog named Lucca, who received the highest military award possible for a service dog, the PDSA Dickin Medal, after she lost one of her legs while sniffing out bombs in Afghanistan.
Dogs like Lucca make huge sacrifices to help protect our human soldiers, and we are so so grateful to them for their amazing work.
Her owner,Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Willingham, said, “Lucca is very intelligent, loyal and had an amazing drive for work as a search dog. She is the only reason I made it home to my family and I am fortunate to have served with her.”
From the article:
Meet Lucca, a retired U.S. Marine Corps dog who lost one of her legs while hunting for homemade bombs in Afghanistan.
More than four years after she was reduced to three paws, Lucca was awarded a top military medal for the 400 missions she completed during her service.
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals — a British charity known as the PDSA — honored Lucca with its Dickin Medal during a ceremony at London’s Wellington Barracks on Tuesday.
The PDSA says the award is “the highest award any animal in the world can achieve while serving in military conflict” and has given it out just 66 times since 1943.
You may have heard news reports about the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV). While it is not currently a major problem in California or the U.S., we want to address news of the virus to inform and quell some of our clients’ concerns.
The first strain of CIV diagnosed in the world, H3N8, was identified in 2004 in racing Greyhounds at a track in Florida. A vaccine was developed for this strain in 2009.
Another CIV strain, H3N2, which affects dogs, and rarely cats, was diagnosed first in South Korea in 2007, and in the United States in the Chicago area in March 2015.
(H3N2 is NOT the same strain as H3N2v, the swine flu, which effects pigs and humans.)
It is not currently known whether the H3N8 vaccine works to prevent or lessen the symptoms of the H3N2 virus.
There have been no reports of dog flu spreading from dogs to any humans, so do not fear.
We currently have the H3N8 vaccine available at the hospital, but we do not recommend it to our clients, unless it is needed for your pets to travel (some states and countries require it). The dog flu currently does not pose a threat large enough in California to necessitate routine vaccination.
The DHPP vaccine, Bordetella vaccine, Rabies vaccine, and if you’re a hiker or desert resident, the Rattlesnake vaccine, are the inoculations currently recommended to keep your pup healthy and protected.
The doctors at the hospital are monitoring the situation with updates from the CDC and the American Veterinary Medical Association, and we will change our recommendations if the virus ever shows signs of becoming a larger threat.
SYMPTOMS of CIV
High fever, trouble breathing, loss of appetite, consistent dry or wet coughing, running nose, running eyes, lethargy.
Some dogs with CIV show no symptoms, but some can develop pneumonia and severe respiratory infections.
DOGS AT RISK
Dog who go to dog parks, stay in boarding facilities, or have daily visits in a dog-friendly office are more likely to contract CIV then dogs who are mostly indoors. This is especially true if you live in a state that has had a CIV outbreak, such as Illinois or Indiana.
Older dogs, sick dogs, brachycephalic dogs (Boxers, Pugs, Bulldogs, etc.), and dogs with a history of respiratory infections will be more susceptible to developing severe respiratory illness and/or bacterial infection as a result of contracting CIV.
The percentage rate of dogs who die as a result of contracting CIV is very low. Some estimates put it as low as 1%, some go as high as 10%.
HOW DOGS GET CIV
H3N8 and H3N2 are very contagious ! It spreads easily from surfaces, air, clothing, and shoe contamination, and dogs can spread the virus for up to 24 days, even if they do not show any symptoms. From the AVMA:
Canine influenza is spread via aerosolized respiratory secretions (via coughing, barking and sneezing) and contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes) and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The virus can remain viable (alive and able to infect) on surfaces for up to 48 hours, on clothing for 24 hours, and on hands for 12 hours.
The incubation period is usually two to four days from exposure to onset of clinical signs. The highest amounts of viral shedding occur during this time; therefore, dogs are most contagious during this 2-4 day incubation period when they are not exhibiting signs of illness. Virus shedding decreases dramatically during the first 4 days of illness but may continue up to 7 days in most dogs and up to 10 days in some dogs with H3N8 canine influenza. Intermittent H3N2 shedding for up to 24 days can occur.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
If your furry baby is showing signs and symptoms of CIV and you think your dog might have canine influenza, bring your dog to the hospital – before you bring your pet in, tell the staff if your dog has been coughing so we can determine if your dog needs to be brought in through another entrance and isolated.
There are two main types of tests, the PCR test, which involves simply swabbing your pets’ oral cavity (throat), as well as the serum test, which requires drawing blood. Currently, the PCR test is more reliable and is the hospital’s first choice when diagnosing CIV.
Treatment depends on the severity of your dog’s infection. Most dogs will not have severe symptoms, and keeping your dog hydrated with fluids and a long period of rest will be all your pup requires. Some dogs have more severe symptoms and develop secondary infections, in which case antibiotics and other medication may be used.
Currently, in California, you do not need to worry about CIV. We do not even recommend vaccinating for canine influenza at the current time. The best prevention is to stay informed, and be on top of your dog’s vaccinations and general health.
Woofstock 90210 has been rescheduled to Sunday, June 26 ! Bring your pups and get your fun on, you won’t regret it 🙂
Get ready for Woofstock 90210 ! Bring your pup and get your family picture taken at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital booth, and enjoy the dog agility demonstration, the pet talent show, and all the gourmet food trucks. Can’t wait to see all of our clients there !
Below is a list of breed-specific rescues in California, organized alphabetically by breed name.
Preference towards a breed or desire for a designer dog should never be a deciding factor when trying to decide between adopting or buying.
Adopting a pet, instead of buying one, ensures that an animal who’s already out there, waiting in a shelter or rescue for a loving home, finally gets the best thing she could ever ask for – a loving and happy life.
Adopting a rescue dog also helps the rescue or shelter organization you adopt from continue its work rescuing and caring for animals in need.
BREED SPECIFIC RESCUES IN CALIFORNIA, Listed by breed name
This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if there is another organization you know of or work for, please email us to let us know, and we will add it !
American Brussels Griffon Rescue Alliance and American Affenpinscher Rescue
Hanukkah may be over, but we still have Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve left in 2015! And no matter what you celebrate, the love we have for our pets is a universally celebrated tradition.
Keeping your pets safe over the holidays is easy !
Just being careful with unsafe items and leaving them out of the reach of curious paws can make all the difference.
Here are a few tips to make sure this holiday season is a happy AND safe one for your pets.
Menorah lights, Kinara candles, and Christmas votives are beautiful traditions, but keep them away from the tails and paws of cats and dogs.
Do not put lit candles in the way of roaming curious pets, and make sure to blow out any candles before leaving a room or the house.
The fringe-like fur of a tail can easily burn when swept alongside a lit candle, and a rambunctious dog can easily knock into a candle that is sitting on a low coffee table, causing a tablecloth or rug to catch on fire.
2) Holiday Plants
Poinsettias are toxic for pets. So are mistletoe, holly, holly berries, rosemary, and lilies. Lilies can also cause irreversible kidney failure in cats (lily nephrotoxicity).
Almost all holiday-themed plants should be kept far far away from your pets’ mouths.
The degree of toxicity depends on the weight of your pet and the amount of the plant your pet has eaten. If you suspect your pet has ingested an unsafe amount of a holiday plant, take your pet to your veterinarian right away.
Signs of toxic poisoning include vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, seizure, collapse, and unconsciousness.
3) The Tree
The tree ! Whether it’s real or fake, the tree is anything but safe for your pets. Especially for kitties. Kitties looooove to make trouble with the tree.
Keep lights high! Don’t let dogs and cats chew on low-hanging lights and give themselves an electric shock.
Use safe decorations – go for plastic instead of glass, in case the ornaments get knocked off the tree or end up between jaws – Plastic ornaments won’t shatter as easily.
Keep ornaments with string and whispy angel hair out of the reach of your pets as well, to prevent any chance of dangerous string ingestion. Read more about linear foreign body dangers in our previous blog post here.
If your kitties love to climb the tree, make sure to anchor your tree to the wall, or give it a heavy, sturdy base, to prevent the tree from tipping over and hurting your pets or possibly causing damage to your home.
If your tree is REAL – keep cats and dogs away from tree water!
The tree water can contain insecticide, pine resin, and chemicals, everything your cat or dog should not ingest. The pine needles themselves are very dangerous for cats and dogs to digest – they can cause perforations or obstructions in the G.I. tract if ingested, and are toxic.
A couple of tips for keeping pets away from the tree:
Put aluminum foil around the base of your tree. The noise will alert you when pets are too close, and the noise itself may scare pets away.
Use a tree skirt to cover up tree water and the bottom portion of your tree.
Use strong citrus scents around the tree. Cats and dogs may not like these smells and may leave the tree alone because of them.
4) Holiday Foods
Chocolate and cocoa contain theobromine, which is toxic to both dogs AND cats.
Grapes and raisins are toxic for cats, dogs, and ferrets as well. Ingestion of grapes and/or raisins can cause acute (immediate) kidney failure in pets.
Excessively fatty foods (such as fat scraps from meats), foods with onions, foods with garlic, and foods with bones should not be given to your pets.
Foods with lots of fats and oils can upset your pets’ digestive systems. Onions and garlic, fresh and in powder form, can cause anemia in cats as well as dogs. Onion and garlic poisoning can have a delayed onset, so if you suspect your pet has ingested them, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Be mindful over the holidays of what leftovers and what treats you give to your pets. We all want our beloved animals to join in on the festivities and to make them feel like they are part of the fun, but let’s do so in a way that will not make them sick or compromise their health.
5) Alcohol and Caffeine
Toxic for your pets! Keep away!
6) Sugarless Gum and Candy containing Xylitol
Toxic for your pets! Keep away! Most sugarless gum and candy include xylitol as an ingredient.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic or poisonous, don’t wait ! Contact a a qualified pet poison hotline immediately, such as the ASPCA animal poison center at 1-888-426-4435.
Know the symptoms of toxic poisoning: vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, seizure, collapse, and unconsciousness.
Happy Holidays from the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital! We hope that no matter what tradition you hold dear, that you celebrate it with loved ones, good fun, good cheer, and lots of warm snuggles.
Photo credits :
Mountain Dog looking guilty in front of the tree photo:
Four pounds of courage! Yorkie Doodle Dandy! Angel in a Foxhole!
These are all nicknames for the infamous WWII war dog, Smoky, a female Yorkshire Terrier found in 1944 in an abandoned foxhole in the New Guinea jungle.
After trading a G.I. two Australian pounds for the small pup, American Corporal Bill Wynne, who would became Smoky’s lifelong companion, trained Smoky to parachute from tall trees, run telegraph wire through small pipes (sparing the soldiers this life-threatening work), walk tightrope, and eventually to become one of the first therapy dogs on record by comforting injured soldiers.
Smoky served in 12 combat missions in the South Pacific and was awarded 8 battle stars. The brave little Yorkie lived to be 14 years old, passing away in 1957. Her human, Bill Wynne, wrote a book about his experiences with Smoky titled Yorkie Doodle Dandy: Or, the Other Woman Was a Real Dog, published in 1996. Several memorials were built to memorialize Smoky’s service, including the one pictured at top at the Cleveland Metroparks in Lakewood, OH, right next to the location of her final resting place.
A big thank you to Smoky and all war dogs on this Veteran’s Day ! We appreciate you !
Gastric torsion, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), is an all-too common cause of concern for owners of large breed dogs.
Gastric torsion is also often (incorrectly) referred to as “bloat,” but bloat can occur without the stomach twisting – gastric torsion is an emergency situation.
Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, and German Shepherds in particular, are all at high-risk for this life-threatening and often fatal condition. Great Danes have a 40% chance of having gastric bloat in their lifetime – meaning, approximately 1 in 3 Great Danes will have gastric torsion!
Other breeds that are at high risk for GDV are Gordon Setters, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Weimaraners, Saint Bernards, Irish Setters, Standard Poodles, and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Basset Hounds are one of the few medium size dogs that are also at risk for GDV.
If your large dog is male, and is middle-aged or older, their risk for this condition increases even more.
Gastric torsion can occur in medium and small dogs, but it is very rare.
What is Gastric Torsion?
Gastric torsion is a life-threatening condition in which a dog’s stomach will dilate and then literally twist around and flip over inside the abdomen. This causes an increase in pressure in the abdomen due to the build-up of gases, blockage of blood flow to the heart and stomach, tearing in the stomach wall, and difficulty breathing. Without treatment, a dog will most likely die within 24 – 36 hours, sometimes much sooner. With immediate treatment (rushing to the vet as soon as symptoms are suspected), the rate of survival is increased, but unfortunately, cannot be guaranteed.
Will My Dog have Gastric Torsion?
There are a few factors that increase a dog’s likelihood for developing GDV. If your dog is a large breed, such as the breeds listed above. If your dog is a purebred. If your dog is middle-aged (about 7 years) or older. If your dog is related to other dogs that have had gastric torsion. These are all factors that will make your dog more inclined to develop this condition.
How Do I Know if My Dog Has Gastric Torsion?
If your dog develops these symptoms, it is time to RUSH to the hospital:
-Trying to vomit with nothing being produced, or Retching
-Chest and/or stomach is tight to the touch
-Whining or crying
-Sensitivity to moving or being touched
-Looking at his abdomen
-Standing with head down and legs apart, may be shaking
-Rapid shallow breathing
-Pale or off-color gums (dark red in initial stages of GDV, pale white or blue in later stages of GDV)
-Rapid heart rate
How to Prevent Gastric Torsion
Things you can do at home to prevent GDV are surprisingly simple!
-Feed your pup several small meals a day, instead of one or two large meals.
-Do not let your dog drink large amounts of water directly before or directly after eating.
-Wait at least ONE HOUR after your dog eats before permitting him to exercise or before introducing your dog to stressful situations – such as playtime, breeding, public interactions, bathing, etc. Stress and anxiety are considered to be major causes of the onset of GDV.
-Do not feed your dog very fatty foods – look at the ingredients on your dog food label. If oils are one of the first few ingredients, consider switching to a different type or brand.
Prophylactic Gastroplexy Surgery
A surgical way to prevent GDV from occurring is also available. Gastroplexy is a prophylactic (preventative) procedure in which the stomach is sutured to the wall of the abdomen, preventing the stomach from turning or twisting.
For females, this operation can be done during a spay, as no additional incisions need to be made. Our surgeon, Dr. Ford Suehiro, recently performed a prophylactic gastroplexy on a 6 month old female Great Dane during a routine spay, and she has recovered nicely.
For males, the surgery can also take place at the same time a neuter is performed, but an additional incision needs to be made to reach the abdomen.
If your dog does not need a neuter or spay, and you would like him to have a gastroplexy, this is of course possible, as gastroplexy is a routine surgery.
The recovery time for females and males after gastroplexy is 1 – 2 days.
Whether or not your pup should have a gastroplexy depends on their risk factors, such as the factors listed above – have the dog’s relatives had gastric torsion? Is your dog a purebred that has a high risk for gastric torsion?
If you think your dog would be a good candidate for gastroplexy surgery, and you would like to talk to Dr. Suehiro about the possibility of your dog having this procedure, please feel free to call the hospital and ask for a consultation. If your pup is at high risk for gastric torsion, a prophylactic surgery may be a smart move.
As a follow-up to our last blog post about preparing your pets for a newborn, we want to raise awareness about Dog Bite Prevention to make sure that your children are prepared for pets!
About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the U.S., and children are by far the most commonly injured group. Senior citizens, home service providers, mail carriers, and utility meter readers are also frequent dog bite victims.
There are approximately 70 million dogs living as household pets in the United States – and most of them are angels. But whether you have a good dog, a naughty dog, a difficult dog, or an excitable dog, it’s important to remember that ANY dog can bite. Most children, if bitten, are bitten by a dog the child knows, meaning a pet in the home, or the pet of a familiar person.
Media reports and cultural prejudices will give the impression that certain breeds are more prone to attacking than other breeds, such as Pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, but there is little scientific evidence to support these claims. Little white fluffy dogs bite just as much as big square-jawed guard dogs, and any dog can do damage to a child.
Here are some great tips on preventing dog bites from the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), plus some other guidance from the staff at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital:
Tips for parents to help prevent children from being bitten by dogs:
– NEVER leave an infant or a young child alone with ANY breed of dog.
– Teach your children not to approach unfamiliar dogs or stick their hands or fingers through fences and gates in an attempt to pet dogs.
– Have your children always ask permission from the dog owner before petting any dog – and make sure the dog looks happy and calm before letting your child approach, even if the owner says it’s okay.
– Educate your children on dog body language – remember, most dogs bite out of FEAR, not aggression. Show your children videos and pictures online of dog body language – growling, curled lips, teeth showing, hair standing up on the neck and back, tail curled under the body, and trying to hide underneath objects- these are all signs that mean “stay away!”
– Don’t let your children run past dogs – dogs naturally love to chase and catch things, so don’t give them a reason to become excited or chase.
– Never let your children disturb dogs that are sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
Tips for dog owners to prevent your dog from biting:
– If you’re considering welcoming a dog into your home, don’t do it on impulse. Dogs take medical care, training, and love and attention. Improperly trained dogs, unsocialized dogs, neglected dogs, and dogs in pain are more likely to bite.
– If you get a puppy, play with him and socialize him early. Make sure to pet him and talk to him while he’s eating, so he gets used to physical attention while feeding.
– At ANY age, make sure your dog is properly trained – the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is absolutely incorrect. A dog who is properly cared for and trained at ANY age can become calmer, less anxious, and more submissive. Make sure your dog understands basic commands like “Sit,” “Stay,” “No,” and “Come.” If you need recommendations for trainers, please ask us here at the hospital – we’d be happy to give you names and information.
– Keep your dog healthy! Vaccinate your dog against rabies. Check your dogs’ teeth and ears regularly – these are places painful infections can hide, and dogs can’t use words to tell us they’re not feeling well! Dogs in pain are much more likely to bite then healthy dogs.
– Have your dogs neutered and spayed! According to current studies, neutered and spayed dogs are less likely to bite, as they are calmer and less aggressive. And as an added bonus, neutered and spayed dogs are less likely to run away from home.
– Be a responsible dog owner: Make sure your gates and fences are properly secured so that your dog cannot get out. Spend time with your dog and make sure she has plenty of exercise, and is mentally stimulated and tired by the end of the day. Dogs that are left in yards to fend for themselves all day and all night have a much higher chance of developing behavioral problems that can lead to biting.
– Watch your dog in all situations, and recognize her body language. The best way to prevent your dog from biting is to understand her behavior, when she is scared, and when she is in pain.
What to do if your dog bites someone:
– Get control of your dog immediately and restrain him. Take him away from the person who just was bitten and confine your dog if possible.
– Check on the victim’s condition, and if necessary call 911.
– Provide the victim with your personal information and information about your dog’s most recent rabies vaccination. If your dog has not had a rabies vaccination, tell the victim immediately because he/she may have to undergo post-exposure rabies prophylaxis.
– Consult your vet for advice on how to prevent your dog from biting in the future. Trainers, behaviorists, and, if necessary, medications, are all tools available for overly anxious or aggressive dogs.
What to do if you are bitten by your own dog:
– If your own dog bit you, confine your dog immediately and call your veterinarian to check on your dog’s vaccination records. Seek medical attention, especially if your dog has not had a rabies vaccination. If your dog has not been vaccinated for rabies, ask your doctor if post-exposure rabies prophylaxis is necessary.
– Take your dog to the vet to be examined. If your dog is in pain, or if your dog is sick, that may be the reason your dog lashed out. If physically your dog is healthy, but your dog still seems anxious and aggressive, talk to your vet about behaviorists, trainers, and medications available to help calm the dog.
What to do if you are bitten by someone else’s dog:
– Seek medical attention immediately. If the owner is there, ask for the owner’s personal contact information and their veterinarian’s contact information to check on the dog’s vaccination records. Ask your doctor if post-exposure rabies prophylaxis is necessary.
– If the dog is alone, or if the owner ran away without giving you any information, it is important to contact authorities to help prevent this from happening to another person, possibly a child or a senior citizen. Tell the police/animal control department everything you can remember about the dog – size, appearance, location, and whether you’ve seen the dog previously.
Here are some links for more information and resources about Dog Bite Prevention:
In the spirit of our own Melanie Bellomo Shifflett having a baby, we wanted to share some tips from professionals on how to prepare your pets for a newborn.
If you are expecting a baby, it is a good idea to start thinking about ways to make the adjustment from your fur babies being the center of attention, to your human baby being the center of attention, a little easier on your pets.
Animals are emotional creatures, and can react with distrust, jealousy, and attempts at dominance, especially if they are not accustomed to being around infants.
These are all suggestions, and any new training methods will of course effect individual animals differently. If you are concerned with your pets reacting to your newborn in any aggressive ways, please consult an animal behaviorist for one-on-one training.
All sources slightly differ in approaches expectant pet owners should take – and we encourage you to read through as many sources as necessary, and to decide on the right methods for your pet.
Below are some general guidelines, as well as first-person recommendations from two recent mothers and gold star pet owners, Melanie and Liz, both of whom worked or are currently working at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital.
If your dog doesn’t respond to the commands “Sit,” “Stay,” “Lay Down,” and “Off,” it is time to sign up for an obedience class. Many are available in the Los Angeles area, from dog training centers like Zoom Room, to private trainers that will work out of your own home. We work with a few behaviorists and trainers at the hospital, and would be happy to give our clients recommendations. Your dog jumping on you or pulling on his leash may not be anything more than an annoyance right now, but with a baby in your arms, that sort of behavior can be downright dangerous.
Bring the new cleansing and care products that you will be using for your baby into the house early, and let your dog smell them. Sprinkle yourself with baby powder and baby lotion and let your dog smell these new products on you.
Leave baby blankets, carriers, strollers, and other baby items around your home so your pet gets used to how they look and smell, and is not threatened by them when the baby comes home and starts using them. Take your dogs for walks with the empty stroller, so she gets used to walking a little slower, and not pulling on you when you’re with the stroller. Also, the introduction of these new items will teach your pet that these are not for their playtime, and should be left alone. Make sure that your pet knows these new items are off-limits through repetitive, consistent commands like “Off” or “Down,” and of course using positive reinforcement for good behaviors.
Set psychological boundaries.
If your pet is used to being with you 24-7, sitting on your keyboard, lying on your feet, and snuggling in your bed, and you know that this will have to change once the baby arrives, start separating yourself from your pet slowly for short periods each day, and build up to more and more time. Put her in a separate room or outside. This is a good thing for your pet and she WILL get used to this separation. More importantly, getting your pet accustomed to time away from you BEFORE the baby arrives will mean that your pet will not focus on the baby as the cause of this separation and develop jealousy, like she might if the separation happens SUDDENLY when the baby comes home. This way, you can focus on your newborn without having to worry that your pet is not used to being away from you.
Set physical boundaries.
Before the baby arrives, designate a room or a section of a room as the “baby-zone,” where pets are not allowed. This way, you will already have a safe zone for your newborn when you bring your baby home. Once the baby is settled in, you should start letting your pet in that room only with direct supervision.
Make a plan for pet care during delivery.
Ahead of the delivery date, have a family member or friend commit to caring for your pets while you are in delivery. Have your pets’ food instructions, beds, toys, and veterinarian information ready to go, in case there is an unexpected event or emergency. If you set all this up ahead of time, you won’t have to worry about what will happen with your pets at the last minute.
Once your baby is home.
Make sure your pet is sitting and in a calm state before being introduced to your newborn. This may require that you greet your pets by yourself at first, because they will undoubtedly be anxious and excited to see you when you first come home, especially if it’s been a few days. If possible, have someone else hold the baby while you greet your pets first.
Never let your pet put his paws or teeth on your baby. Your baby should be the dominant one in the baby-pet relationship. Reward calm, submissive behavior with treats and praise. If your pet will not calm down, remove your pet from your immediate area until she calms down, or can be taken on a long walk. Hopefully that will not be necessary, as you want the baby to be a positive in the lives of your pets.
Always be present when your pet is interacting with your newborn. Never leave your baby alone with an animal, even a small one. Your pet may not be aggressive, but she may snuggle up to your baby for warmth or love, which could possibly suffocate an infant.
Have extra toys and playthings around to distract your pet from becoming too rambunctious around the baby. Rather than constantly reprimanding an energetic animal with “No,” “No,” “No,” entertaining toys can divert their attention in positive ways.
Once your baby is older and wants to start playing with your pets, protect your pets! Always teach young children to be gentle with animals and pet them nicely. Any rough jerks, tail pulling, or pinching could upset even a gentle animal, and lead to a dangerous situation.
Melanie’s Baby Story & Tips !
Before Melanie and her husband Michael brought home baby George, the pair already had their Shepherd mix Scout, their terrier mix Marsha, and a clan of 4-5 cats at home to take care of. Quite a group! And Melanie prepped all her pets with aplomb. She is a true pro. In Melanie’s words:
We started doing more walks and hikes than normal a couple months out. This just helped them feel more content in general and we knew that once the baby arrived and we were going to both be off of work that the walks and hikes were going to be possibly the only activity we would be able to participate in, aside from changing diapers. I know this is advised against usually because they say that once the baby arrives you have less time for your pups, but we knew the opposite would be true for us. So this was a special time to reconnect with our dogs and remind them that they’re special and help the transition when the babe arrived. The more secure they felt the better they’d do. That was our logic. And it seems to have really helped.
We started to make a couple areas of the house off limits. Normally they have the run of the roost, so we started getting them used to not being able to go everywhere they wanted at any time for any reason. So now the baby’s room is a “No-fly zone” and we keep the cats out of our bedroom, as well. This has helped keep things a little more sane and definitely more clean.
Speaking of cats, a couple weeks prior to our due date, we put them into boarding at the hospital. The reason for this was two-fold. ONE: we didn’t want to have to worry about coordinating their care once “D-Day” arrived and TWO: our cats are friggin’ angels when they come home from boarding. Super well-behaved, don’t pee on anything, extra loving, etc. We were trying to set up a situation where they would be so thrilled to be home that they wouldn’t even think twice about the kid. Which they didn’t. We blissed them out on catnip as soon as they got home and it’s been a love fest ever since. Maybe this method will be frowned upon, but guess what? It’s genius so get on board.
Pre-planning Pet Care:
We did not board the dogs and had family members on call to care for them when the big day arrived. THIS WAS SO IMPORTANT. Our labor and delivery became really complicated and George ended up in the NICU, leaving us gone from home and the dogs for an entire week. Having my mom and sister available to stay with them and walk them made a huge difference (for them and us!).
Help from Robots:
Lastly, and this has been one of the best decisions we have made as dog owners slash new clueless parents: WE BOUGHT A ROOMBA. Holy wonderful gift of joy. Not having pet hair covering our floors has been amazing. And not having to sweep twice day? Come on. That little robot has already paid for itself. Now we can feel good about putting George on his floor gym, etc., knowing that he won’t need to be pet hair-rollered within an inch of his life every time we pick him up.
I must say that the dogs were pretty skeptical of George the first few weeks. Didn’t really want to engage or come near him. But we continued to remind them (in doggy language) that they were still our babies and that they were loved). They now have become George’s little buddies and protectors. Just recently over the 4th of July holiday when my neighborhood became a loud scary boom-boom-room reminiscent of Lebanon circa 1983, our shepherd, Scout, glued herself to wherever George happened to be whenever the fireworks went wild. Usually she’s trying to hide in the cat’s covered litter box for shelter, so to see her be brave for her new pal was incredibly heartwarming.
Liz’s Baby Story & Tips !
Liz Rose, a consummate dog lover and experienced dog owner, former tech at BHSAH, and all-around magical human being, had her very young bully/Staffy/Catahoula Leopard Dog, Joon, at home before she and her husband brought home baby Rose. Her pre-planning skills, intelligence, and foresight into the needs of her pet, as well as what her own needs would be, are enviable and admirable. From Liz! :
We tried very hard to make the space for the baby before she came home. You really want to work on preparing them for the new dynamic and new social hierarchy. I made it a priority to have all the energy calm and clean, with good vibrations for all. Juggling is really hard, but doable. Get your dog exercised and loved and he/she will not feel jealousy.
Getting your Dog used to Babies:
We played newborn crying sounds on YouTube to get Joon less spooked and more acclimated. I also had friends bring their babies over to get Joon used to being around them. And we also tried to carry a doll around and give it attention.
Before the baby arrived, we spent time in the nursery, rocking in the chair and not letting Joon sit on our laps in there. We worked on making some general boundaries everywhere.
I also trained her really intensely while walking her on a leash, encouraging her to stay calm and close to me, and not letting her pull. Keep training the dog and encouraging them to sit and keep their manners.
Pet care Preparations:
Once the baby comes, a new Mom isn’t going to be out and about the first 1-6 weeks. Have a dog walker on call and a doggy daycare situation set up, and even fun boarding care set up to use if necessary.
Make sure your dog’s had all the necessary interviews and paper work submitted before the baby arrives. We sent Joon to doggy daycare 3-4 days a week initially, so she could come home feeling really great (she loves it there). We wanted a healthy transition for her from only child to new sister!
Stock your House with Necessities:
Make sure you have a lot of extra treats and dog food at home, because it’s hard to get to the market with the new baby.
I really worked hard on the transition. I trust Joon with the baby 100%, but it’s always still a good idea not to leave a pet alone with the baby, until your child is a little older.
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and your tips, Melanie and Liz! And congrats on your lovely new bundles of joy.
Here are a few links that will give you advice on how to prepare for your baby. Some of the tips may seem extreme, like carrying around a toy baby, or playing tapes of baby sounds on repeat for your pets, but they can work ! And nothing is too “over the top” or silly when it comes to protecting your newborn and making the lives of your animals happier. When the babies are happy, Mom and Dad can relax more as well.
One of our esteemed veterinarians, Dr. Maie Takahashi, recently went to a flea seminar with the flea expert, “Dr. Flea” himself, Dr. Michael Dryden, who recommended a new product for flea and tick treatment – NexGard !
NexGard (afloxolaner) for dogs is a once-monthly beef-flavored chewable tablet that treats both fleas AND ticks, which is unusual for an oral flea medication – typically, oral flea medications do not treat ticks.
If you’ve been wanting to switch to an oral flea medication, but have been staying with topicals because you want tick protection for your dogs as well, this medication could be your glass slipper!
Specifically, NexGard treats and controls infestations by the Black-legged tick (also known as the Deer tick or Bear tick), the American Dog tick (also known as the Wood tick), and the Lone Star tick.
For fleas, NexGard kills adult fleas once they bite (exactly like Comfortis and other oral flea medications), which stops the life cycle of fleas and controls flea infestations. All adult fleas on your dog are killed within 24 hours.
NexGard also has a lower occurrence of vomiting and nausea than other oral flea medications, like Comfortis.
Dogs and puppies over 8 weeks old can take NexGard. We carry 3 sizes in stock at the animal hospital – 10.1 – 24.0 lbs, 24.1 – 60.0 lbs, and 60.1 – 121.0 lbs. If you have a dog that is smaller than 10 lbs and you want to try NexGard, we can special order the smaller size for you. The smallest size available is 4.0 – 10.0 lbs, so your little angel needs to weigh at least 4 lbs to take this medication.
Also, NexGard has not been evaluated for use in pregnant or lactating dogs, and should be taken with caution by dogs who have a history of epilepsy.
The most commonly reported side effects of NexGard are vomiting, dry/flaky skin, diarrhea, lethargy, and lack of appetite.
If you have any questions about NexGard, please ask your vet ! You can also see all the other types of flea medications we carry at the hospital in a previous blog post HERE.
NexGard is made by Frontline Vet Labs, a division of Merial pharmaceutical company.
(Tick line drawing on home page by Pearson Scott Foresman / Wikimedia Commons.)