Leave it! by Dr. Jessica Cooper

Dogs are pack animals.  You do not need to “let them be their own person” and “express themselves.”  It’s not good for them.  They feel much more comfortable knowing where they stand in the pecking order of the pack, which needs to be below you.  I don’t care if you teach your dog any other command besides “leave it.”  This command can save their life.

What it needs to mean is: stop what you are doing and look at me.  Leave it.  Stop chasing after that squirrel into on-coming traffic.  Leave it.  Don’t growl at Aunt Bertha or that little kid.  Leave it.  Stop sniffing at that rat bait.  Don’t pick up that huge piece of dark chocolate I just dropped on the floor.  Leave it.  That skunk doesn’t want to be your friend.  And neither does the porcupine.  Or the copperhead.  Leave it.  I think you get my drift.  When you say “leave it,” all other aspects of your dog’s life need to cease and they need to be 100% focused on you.  You are the pack leader and you may be sensing danger or you may just need their attention.  It doesn’t matter what your reasoning may be, they cannot question it or doubt you. LEAVE IT.

How do you know if your dog is trying to be the leader of your pack?  They are ignoring your command to “come” and refusing to eat what you give him so that you offer him something else.  Who would eat Pedigree when you can get steak?  Small dogs pester until they are picked up, can choose to jump on/off furniture or even crawl under the blankets on people’s beds.  Larger dogs might paw at you until you pet them or jump up on you.  Sure, some of the behavior I’m describing sounds cute.  And it sure is funny when our new puppy growls at people when he’s playing, right?  When your dog barks at you, is he being cute?  When you tell him to stop, does he?  If he continues barking, he’s just yelling back at you.  Trust me, I know first-hand.  One of my dogs does that and it’s annoying and it’s a learned behavior that I have not been able to break him off since we’ve been “yelling” at each other for over 5 years now.  But you know what?  When I tell him LEAVE IT, he does.

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Rabbit Nutrition by Dr. Ashleigh Rhoades

The most important part of the rabbit’s diet is an unlimited supply of grass hay.  Grass hay provides essential fiber as well as proteins, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates.  Hay also provides some of the work needed to keep the teeth worn down due to all of the chewing the rabbit needs to do to break it down.  Hay should be kept in a box or hay rack and should always be kept available.  Grass hay is preferred to alfalfa hay because it is lower in calories and calcium.

Another important part of the diet is fresh, leafy greens which provide vitamins, mineral, proteins, and carbohydrates.  When introducing greens to the diet, do so one at a time every 3 days to make sure your rabbit is handling them well.  The amount of greens to feed is a maximum of 1 packed cup of green for each 2lbs of body weight daily.  Some examples of greens are:  dandelion greens, raspberry leaves, kale, mustard greens, collard green, beet greens, and cabbage.

Pellets should also be a staple of a rabbit’s diet.  Commercial pellets are designed to promote rapid growth, and weight gain.  Once a rabbit reaches adult size, I recommend that the amount of pellets being fed be cut down to 1/4c per 4lbs of body weight per day (Maximum).

Fruits and other vegetables should be considered more along the lines of “treat” foods and should only be fed in small quantities per day.  Feed healthy “treat” foods a maximum of 1 level tablespoon per 2 pounds of body weight daily.  Some examples of healthy treat foods are:  carrots, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, squash, tomatoes, papayas and mangos.

Make sure to speak to your veterinarian if you have any questions about the health of your rabbit.

Heat Stroke in Dogs by Dr. Eric Shreves

It’s that time of year when the temperature outside starts to rise, the sunshine is abundant, and our outdoor activities become a common place.  While outside, most of us will include our four-legged family members to enjoy the sunshine and warmth with us.

While we our outside enjoying the summertime, we must be cautious to monitor our pets to ensure that they are not getting overheated.  Heat stroke can occur in our pets due to excessive exercise, or just prolonged exposure to the elements.  Heat stroke can occur in any breed, but it is more frequent in long-haired dogs and short-nosed, flat-faced dogs known as brachycephalic breeds.  It may occur in any age dog, but tends to affect younger dogs more than older dogs.

Some of the symptoms of heat stroke that you will notice include panting, excessive drooling, increased body temperature over 103.0 degrees, bright red gums, vomiting and diarrhea, muscle tremors, black tarry stools, seizures, and a wobbly drunken gait.  If any or a few of the above signs are noted after being outside, seeking your veterinarian’s help immediately is critical.

Three tips on preventing heat stroke in your dog include:

1) Ensure that any dog that is outdoors has access to plenty of water and shade.

2) Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car.

3) Restrict outdoor exercise to the early morning and late evening when temperatures are cooler.

With just a little precaution and observation, both you and your pet can enjoy a great summer outdoors while minimizing the chances of heat stroke in your pet.  And most of all: Have fun!

Lily Toxicity in Cats by Dr. Virginia Kiefer

Happy Spring! With the coming of spring, we are seeing beautiful flowers and plants (and lots of pollen!) While these flowers and plants are bright and beautiful to behold, some can be dangerous for our furry friends. Specifically, I wanted to address Lily toxicity in cats, especially with Easter right around the corner.

Certain species of Lilies are highly toxic to cats. The species of Lilies that are known to cause toxicity in cats include the Easter Lily, Tiger Lily, Oriental Lily, Daylily, and Stargazer Lily. Ingestion of the plant can lead to kidney damage and kidney failure. All parts of the plant are considered toxic, and intoxication can occur with ingestion of less than one leaf. The toxic principle of the plant is currently unknown.

Initial symptoms (within the first 2-6 hours of ingestion) include gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, depression, loss of appetite). Symptoms may temporarily subside only to return within 12-18 hours as kidney damage develops. After 18 hours, kidney failure and death can occur.

Cats that have ingested lilies need emergency treatment, right away. Treatment consists of rapid decontamination (inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal), followed by several days of hospitalization on intravenous fluids to prevent kidney damage. With prompt and aggressive treatment, full recovery is possible; however, if treatment is delayed, varying degrees of permanent kidney damage will occur. If the cat is not treated, death usually occurs in 3-7 days.

The moral of the story- keep lilies out of reach of inquisitive kitties. (While lilies happen to be my favorite flower, due to my 3 adorable cats there will be none around my house either!)

In any case of a suspected ingestion of a potentially toxic substance by your pet, the best resource to call is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435.

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