Welcome to Dog Works Radio. So, I have an important question for you. Do you know what questions you should ask your vet doing a visit with your K9 buddy? As you may know, your vet is one of your most trusted advisors in building a better relationship with your dog. They are part of your team. Think of them as the athletic trainer or the team doc that advises you on important information to prep your pup for game day. Even if your pup does not compete in canine sports, it is still advisable that you consult your veterinarian before embarking on a new exercise routine or even trying to figure out the root cause of a behavior problem. But…did you know, many dog owners don’t know what questions to ask during visits with their vet. Well, today we are going to find out.
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On today’s show we are discussing 10 Questions Your Vet Wishes You Would Ask
Taking your pet to the veterinarian once or twice a year for a checkup is part of your job as a responsible pet owner. You know how to care for your pet on a day-to-day basis, but you don’t have the years of education and veterinary experience needed to diagnose and treat health problems. When you go to the vet, you can rest easy knowing that he will give your pet the attention he needs but, once you leave the office, it’s up to you to continue that care.
To ensure that your pet remains happy and healthy for as long as possible, you need to be proactive about his care and that means taking advantage of your veterinarian’s knowledge and experience. During each visit to the vet you should ask the following ten questions to make sure that you have a thorough understanding of your pet’s needs.
Is my pet a healthy weight?
More than 50% of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight and many pet parents fail to realize just how serious a health problem like obesity can be. A gain of even a few pounds can be significant and could put your pet at risk for chronic health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis.
Is my pet getting enough exercise? What type of exercise is best?
Exercise is important for helping your pet to maintain a healthy bodyweight but some pets have a lower ability to tolerate exercise than others. Brachycephalic dog breeds, for example (like Bulldogs and Pugs), have low exercise tolerance and may overheat easily with vigorous exercise. Your vet can tell you what kind is best for your pet and how much is appropriate.
Am I feeding my pet the right food?
The quality of your pet’s diet is directly related to his total health and wellness, so it is important that you feed him the best pet food you can consistently afford. It should be made with healthy, natural ingredients and free from artificial additives.
Is my pet up to date on vaccinations?
Discuss vaccination protocols with your vet as some are following newer guidelines, so ask your vet which shots your pet is going to need next and when he is going to need them.
Does my pet need flea/tick protection and which product should I use?
Dogs and cats should both be protected against fleas and ticks, even if you think that your pet won’t be exposed. Parasites have the potential to carry deadly diseases so it is worth protecting your pet with a monthly topical preventative.
Are my pet’s teeth healthy?
Many pet parents overlook their pet’s dental health which, unfortunately, leads most pets to develop some degree of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they are three years old. Your pet should have an oral checkup every six months and you should brush his teeth as often as you can.
Does my pet need a blood test or urine test?
Most veterinary checkups do not include blood and urine tests unless the pet is showing signs of some form of disease. It never hurts, however, to ask your vet whether one of these tests might be beneficial just to make sure your pet is healthy, especially for senior pets.
Is [insert behavior here] normal?
Cats and dogs exhibit some strange behaviors and they aren’t always easy for pet parents to understand. If your pet has recently started to exhibit an unfamiliar behaviors, it’s worth asking your vet to make sure it isn’t a sign of a developing health problem.
How can I better care for my pet?
The best question you can ask your veterinarian is how to be a better parent to your pet. There could be something simple that you aren’t doing which might be very beneficial for your pet but you’ll never know unless you ask.
When should I bring my pet back for the next checkup?
Regular veterinary care is the key to catching health problems in the early stages when they are still treatable. As your pet ages he may require more frequent trips to the vet to ensure he is maintaining good health.
The more questions you ask your veterinarian, the more knowledge you will gain and that can only help you to become a better pet parent. You need to do more than just ask the questions, however – you also have to put that knowledge to use in caring for your pet.
We are going to take a short break here and when we come back, we are going to give you some tips to keep your puppy’s biting in check
Bite-sized bonus episodes offer tips, tricks, breed profiles and approachable science. This week Michele is talking about keeping your pup’s biting in check.
An important facet of dog ownership is training. As soon as you bring your puppy home, you should begin training. On top of teaching your dog basic commands, it is also vital that they understand basic puppy manners, including how to behave in the home, what behaviors are appropriate, and what is not. One of the most common challenges new puppy owners say is, “My puppy won’t stop biting me and I’ve tried everything.” Puppies bite for all sorts of reasons, and often, this part of training is just as essential as teaching your puppy to sit and stay.
Getting started can seem a bit overwhelming. But the good news is that in most cases, puppy biting is completely normal and something that is entirely trainable with the right techniques and attitude. In this article, we’ll help you get started on the right foot. If you still have more questions after listening to this podcast reading this article, sourcing classes such as Alaska Dog Works’ Peak Performance Program, can help.
Why does my puppy bite me and how can I prevent it?
Regardless of breed, all puppies explore the world with their mouths. On top of this, like babies, puppies go through a teething process that can last a few months. Many puppies are used to also playing rough with their littermates, where biting is often a successful way for puppies to get attention or instigate play with their siblings. Combine this with their need to explore, and this often leads puppies to chewing things they shouldn’t: furniture, shoes, arms, legs.
It is important to understand that your puppy isn’t intentionally being naughty. Puppies have an innate desire to bite and chew and we cannot just “eradicate” this urge. However, we can approach this by offering the puppy plenty of appropriate chew items throughout the day to relieve their desire to chew.
Most owners make the mistake of providing rope toys, squeaky toys, or stuffed animals. While these are fun toys, they do not actually encourage the puppy to chew on them, and oftentimes have bits that are easily torn off, making them a choking hazard.
So, what is a good chew toy for puppies?
Good chew toys taste good.
If you think about it, a rubber toy tastes like … rubber. No wonder your puppy would rather bite your leather shoe or arm! When picking chew toys for your dog, look for ones that have a lot of flavor. Our favorites are bully sticks, cow hooves, pig ears or yak chews. Always ensure your puppy is supervised when they are working through a chew toy, as you never know if/when a small piece could break off and pose a choking hazard.
That said, the more bitey your puppy is, the more frequently you should offer your puppy tasty chew toys as an alternative. Some breeds have a reputation for being extremely mouthy or predisposed to nipping and biting (for example English Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Labradoodles or Bernedoodles). If you have a puppy like this, you should aim to provide them with at least two hours of supervised chewing time a day.
What if my puppy still bites?
Try your best to be patient as you help your puppy work through the unavoidable biting phase. If redirecting their biting with a tasty chew toy doesn’t work, there are other tactics you can try to encourage more appropriate behaviors. These ideas include:
- Stuffing a rubber chew toy with your puppy’s kibble soaked in water or using wet food, To make them last longer, you can then freeze them to make a “pupsicle”. Puppies that are extremely mouthy can eat every single meal out of a frozen toy like this. While it takes a while to prepare, it will greatly reduce the puppy’s tendency to bite – because he can satisfy the desire to chew so well with his daily meals!
- When your puppy bites you during play, stop the interaction and ignore your puppy’s behaviors. By removing yourself from the situation, you are teaching your puppy that biting does not result in attention or engagement and instead, the fun is over. Don’t make a big deal of it, keep it as non-dramatic as possible. By doing this consistently, you should see an improvement in their biting behavior in a matter of days.
- Stop and redirect the inappropriate chewing behavior if you catch your puppy in the act. Whether it’s a shoe, a piece of furniture or even the drywall, quickly provide them with a tasty chew bone or toy to show them what an acceptable alternative is.
- Make sure your puppy is getting enough exercise. Often, a puppy may be more nippy if he/she hasn’t had enough physical or mental stimulation. Take your puppy out for some fresh air and a change of scenery; it can make a big difference in your puppy’s at-home behavior. Conversely, puppies need lots of sleep and downtime. If your puppy is overstimulated or overtired, you may find he/she expresses the need for rest by biting and nipping excessively.
Don’t be discouraged if your puppy continues to bite here and there despite your best efforts. It is perfectly normal, developmentally appropriate behavior for puppies until they are around six months of age.
When can I start training my puppy?
You should begin training your puppy the moment you bring them home. This includes teaching your puppy to stop biting, but also to familiarize them with other skills that will be crucial in the long term, like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ or ‘come’. Puppies begin learning from the moment they are born, especially when it comes to socialization and handling. Formal training of commands can start at around eight weeks, which is around when your dog is ready to come home.
Preferably, you want to get a lot of training done in the first few months that you have your dog. You want your dog to be well trained before they hit puberty, which often causes them to fly off the handle a little bit. Just like humans, dogs will go through a “teen” stage where they may act a bit more juvenile. Furthermore, what dogs learn in puppyhood is solidified once they become adults.
Waiting will only make your dog harder to train later. For this reason, we highly recommend that you start puppy classes as soon as your dog has their first few shots.
You can help your puppy through their puppy-biting stage through a range of different techniques, such as providing plenty of appropriate and tasty chew toys for your puppy.
With consistency, time and patience, your puppy will quickly learn that biting people or furniture is unacceptable, and that the urge to bite or chew should be satisfied with an appropriate chew toy instead. By providing a safe outlet for their instinct to bite or chew, both you and your puppy will be happier in the long run. For further guidance on how to train your puppy to stop biting, check out Alaska Dog Works’ Peak Performance Program!
For more training tips and advice, visit Alaska Dog Works.
Ok…lets press pause for a sec…maybe ask yourself, why did this resonate with me? What aspect of my relationship with my K9 buddy could I apply this to? And what am I going to do differently this week to make my dog’s training a little easier? Take time to mull it over, talk it out with a family member or trusted friend, put some ideas down in your training journal and then check back next week for our next episode. And, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode. So, reach out and DM me over on Instagram at firstpawmedia and let’s spark a conversation. Until then, keep going! You are doing great! It is time to create the relationship with your dog that you always dreamed of.
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