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December 2023

The First Important Command to Teach Your Dog

Wednesday, December 6, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Teaching your dog commands is a priority for so many reasons including safety. The American Kennel Club and written an article on the most important command to teach your dog and this command should be the first one taught. It takes an instant for a dog to see a bird, cat or squirrel and dart out into the street. You need one simple command to stop him in his tracks and have him return to your side. This command is “come.” Here is the entire article written by the Kennel Club that goes into detail on how to accomplish this.

There are so many important commands for your dog to learn, but the most important is “come.” It only takes a second for even the most well-behaved dog to see a squirrel and dart into traffic. A strong recall can be the difference between life and death.

Start with your dog on a leash walking at your side (it’s easier to get her to come to you when she’s already moving). Then, take a quick step back and say your pooch’s name, followed by “Come!” As you’re saying this, pull gently on the leash to turn her around and have her start heading toward you. Once she’s facing you, continue to walk backward, coaxing her toward you. If she needs gentle urging, use the leash. Never scold her for coming too slowly. You can make this fun for both of you by approaching it with enthusiasm, as if you were playing a game. Don’t ask her to come in an angry voice or when you’re mad, or she’ll start associating the command with negativity. Reward her when she comes with a treat (it helps to offer something extra special and/or continue to give bits of treats for a full 30 seconds to teach your dog how much of a reward he gets by following this command).

Dogs learn that performing commands is often a gamble. They may get a treat as a reward, they may get praise, or they may get nothing. Ensure your dog will listen to you when call “come” by letting him know that the command always means a big reward. That means not using the command when you want your dog to follow you into the bedroom (unless you plan on offering treats and lavish praise). Use a different command for a casual in-house recall, like “over here” or “place.” Break out the “come” only to practice and when it’s really needed.

Remember, pets are family!
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Adopt a Pet for the Holiday

Sunday, December 3, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

A mother and her daughters are at the pound to adopt a dog. They are petting the dog at the animal shelter.

Local animal shelters are filled with cats and dogs abandoned for one reason or another. It really bothers me how many people got rid of their pets for financial reasons yet maintain an unlimited cellphone plan and mindlessly text all day! The fact is that many people will not adopt an older cat or dog for fear that it only has a few years to live. Remember cats can live as long as 20 years, so if you adopt a twelve year old cat and if it’s in good health, you can have eight good years with it. Giving a second chance to an abandoned older cat or dog is a very rewarding experience. Perhaps with the up coming holiday season, you can really help the animal shelters and adopt a needy animal. If you cannot adopt a pet due to allergies or financial reasons, animal shelters could use old blankets, food or anything else that you can donate. Spend your money on cat toys or a pet carrier instead of paying for minutes to mindlessly text all day!

Remember, your pets count!

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A Checklist for Senior Cats

Friday, December 1, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Our cat Millie is almost 19 years old now. She has good days and bad days. Some days she’s more active, eats more and interacts with us more but there are some days that she’s quiet and doesn’t eat as much. This is to be expected as a cat gets older. Always make sure that her behavior are basically consistent. Ask yourself these questions;

Is she eating?
Is she drinking”
Is she going peeing and pooping normally?
Is she interacting with you like she normally does?
Is she in her normal sleeping spots or is she hiding?
Does she seem content and comfortable?

If any of these answers is “no,” I would take her to the vet for a checkup.

Pet MD has written an excellent article on how to make a home safe and accessible for senior cats.

Making a home safe for senior cats.

Remember, pets are family!

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Keeping Your Pets Safe during Holiday Parties

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

If you have a dog dasher or one who is particularly anxious during parties or when friends come over. Keep them in a quiet room in your house with the door closed. A soft bed with some water, treats and toys in quiet area and keep him content while your guests are over. Also, make sure to talk to your guests about how to best interact with your dog or puppy when they arrive.

Tell your guests that your pet is shy or afraid  and not to try to pet your furry friend until you introduce  them. If you have an indoor cat tell them not to leave doors open if they step outside or onto your deck or porch. There’s nothing wrong will gently advising your guests of your pet safety plan. You may introduce your dog when guests arrive then take him to his  quiet room before you sit down to dinner or get on with the party festivities. If your dog is a dasher, I would advise you to keep your furry friend in his quiet room before your guests arrive.

I would also introduce your dog to his quiet room a few days before your party or dinner. Let him explore his bed, toys and other things that will occupy him while you are entertaining.

Good look and keep your pets safe during this holiday season.

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Keeping your Christmas Tree Pet Safe

Sunday, November 26, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Well, The tree is up and this year, I have only one cat who is now almost 19. So I really don’t have to worry about her touching the tree or finding her sitting inside the tree like she did when she was young. If you have a dog or a cat, you need to take some basic precautions. I’ve written about a very bad experience that I had many years ago when I used to put tinsel on the tree. My cat at the time ate the tinsel and almost died. First rule of thumb, if you have a cat or dog, do not use tinsel or very thick garland. They will chew on it and it will get stuck in their intestines. Instead,  use thin garland, bows, ribbon etc. .  Second, place glass and expensive ornaments in the middle or top of the tree. My cats used to swat the ornaments. This could be dangerous if they knock them off the tree and break. The glass could harm but you and your pet. I put the inexpensive plastic ornaments near the bottom of the tree.

If you have a live tree, try to lure your pets away from it by having cat or dog treats on hand to distract them from chewing on the needles. The needles could get lodged in your pets throat.  Place decorations such as holly,  poinsettias and mistletoe in high sections.  The berries from mistletoe could cause your pets blood pressure to drop.

Remove strings and ribbons from presents under the tree. Your pets may think that they are toys. These items can cause your pet to choke.

Never use chocolate ornaments!

If you pet is a chewer, tape the electrical cords. Enjoy a safe holiday with your beloved pet.

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Pet Safety at Thanksgiving Time

Wednesday, November 22, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

It’s Thanksgiving day tomorrow and there will be guests and lots of food. It’s important that you remember to remind your guests not to give the begging pooch any table scraps. Dogs could choke on bones and cats can get very sick if they are given any chocolate. If your dog is a “jumper,” it will be a good idea to keep him in a separate room while the guests are arriving. Make sure to keep your dog away from the door. He may dart out in all of the excitement. Keep these simple things in mind and you’re sure to have a great day. Happy Thanksgiving! Remember, your pets count! thanksgivingdosEdgewater Gold Radio-The best oldies!

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Cats and Newspapers

Saturday, November 18, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Funny cat at the hairdresser reading a magazine on white background. In a beauty salon.

It happens all the time, as soon as you start reading the newspaper, your cat jumps up and sits right on top of the section that you’re reading. When I had my cat Molly, I would encourage her to move, she got angry, and gave me a swat! I guess she didn’t like the fact that I was paying attention to the newspaper and not to her. Today with everything online, I would look at my phone and both my cats would do anything to get my attention. Meow, knock things off of a table, anything to let me know that they were not pleased. There’s really no answer to this question. Maybe newspapers just feel good but I think it’s because that your cat wants your attention.

Cats also like the way paper sounds. Put a paper bag on the floor and your cat will love going inside of it and making noise. So before you go out and spend lots of money on cat toys, consider a paper bag and don’t forget to let your cat read the “kitty” section of the newspaper or you may just get swatted, unfortunately, they can’t really sit on a cell phone, or can they?

Remember, pets are family!

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A Gentle Dog Massage

Thursday, November 16, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Chances are your dog would enjoy a good massage as much as you do.  Not deep muscle massage,that’s  a job for Physical Therapists at your veterinary clinic.  It’s more like a light, relaxing rubdown from head to tail, not to mention a scratch around the ears and tummy. Think about what feels good when you get a massage.  Do the same, gently for your dog.  Your dog will let you know if anything is tender and hurts. A frequent rubdown, even daily is a good way to know any changes in your dogs condition.  If it’s tick season where you are, it’s a good chance to do that important tick check as well. After his massage, give him a treat! He’ll really appreciate it. Remember your pets count!

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Types of Dog Aggression

Friday, November 10, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Dogs do not suddenly become prone to aggression.  There are some early warning signs to look for in your puppy. If your dog doesn’t want anything to do with people or growls at anyone who goes near his toys or food, this may be a sign toward aggression especially as the dog gets older. There are different types of aggression.

  • Territorial aggression
  • Dominant aggression
  • Fear aggression
  • Prey aggression

Territorial aggression – This is the type of aggression shown toward the mailman or someone entering the house or yard that does not belong there. Your dog thinks that the house and property are his. This type of aggression must be controlled at the very start. You have to be the “pack leader” not the dog. Some people think that leaving the dog in the back yard during the day is good for the dog. The fact is that most dogs will lie down and sleep all day waiting for the owner to come home. He’s a pack animal and he will wait for members of his pack to return. The dog could just as easily sleep in the house, dog kennel or a dog crate.

Dominant Aggression – Some people think it’s cute when a puppy snaps at your fingers if you go near his food or toy. What he is really showing is a form of dominance. This type of behavior must be controlled early on. There is a possibility that the pup could develop aggression toward family and friends. If it’s a small dog, it will be more of an annoyance than a problem but if the dog grows into a 120 pound Rottweiler, then you’re looking for trouble.

Fear Aggression –These are dogs that want nothing to do with strange people. They will bite, the minute the stranger turns his back. These dogs almost always have weak temperaments and bad nerves. They are also a product of bad breeding. Most of these dogs ended up in a pound or shelter not because they were abused but because of their aggression to begin with.

Sometimes obedience training will help. One thing you can do is have a friend meet you when you walk your dog. Then give the dog a treat when he sees your friend.

Prey Aggression – Some breeds of dogs are more prone to prey aggression than others. Your herding breeds have a great deal of prey drive. They will  chase anything  that moves. This can be disastrous if it’s an untrained dog that decides its prey is a running child. I once came across one of these dogs in a park. I was walking my dog and the owner had his dog off the leash. As soon as his dog saw me with my dog, he charged across the park and knocked both me and my dog over.

Always try to notice any signs of aggression at an early age. The problem could be corrected if it’s caught early enough.

Remember, pets are family!
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Detecting Doggie Heart Problems

Wednesday, November 8, 2023
posted by Jim Murphy

Veterinarian doctor conducts physical examination of dog oral cavity. Veterinary clinic services concept

Heart problems are life threatening and should be detected and treated immediately. There’s no time to spare ! There are several clues to look for to determine if your pet has a heart problem. They seem to slow down and can’t play or exercise anymore. Dr. Andrew Lowell is a Veterinarian at the Pender Veterinary Clinic in Fairfax, Virginia . He says that pets and humans have common heart symptoms. If humans feel lethargic, tire frequently and can’t run anymore, this can be an indicator that there is a heart problem.

Heavy breathing and continual fatigue are signals that your pet needs to go to the Vet and get checked out. Frequently, heart problems can be controlled with the proper pet medication. My pet began coughing. At first I thought that he had something stuck in his throat so I looked and didn’t feel anything. The coughing stopped but started up again periodically. My pet also became less active than usual. When I took him to the Vet, it was determined that he had a serious heart problem. I had several prescription pet medications that I had to administer several times a day. This prolonged his life for almost a year.

Make sure that you understand your Vets instructions when it comes to administering your pets medication. This is extremely important especially if you have several different medications to administer.

The bottom line is do not hesitate to call your vet as soon as you notice any change in your pets normal behavior.
Remember, pets are family!

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