Canine Influenza confirmed in Jacksonville, Illinois

Dear clients,

We are writing to inform you of some news regarding the canine influenza virus H3N2. This is the viral strain that has been found in canines and felines throughout the United States in the past couple of years.  Testing performed at Cornell University has confirmed that several canines being housed at the PAWS shelter in Jacksonville, Illinois are carrying this virus. They are all being treated and are responding well to treatment at this time. These pets, and all others in this shelter, are being quarantined. There have been no reported cases outside of the shelter. However, due to the infectious nature of the influenza virus we urge pet owners to use caution when boarding or taking your pets to places where they may contact other pets.

As we have stated in previous messages, the H3N2 canine influenza virus can be spread by the sputum (saliva) of cats and dogs. There is no current data indicating that humans are affected by this strain, but they can carry infected saliva on their hands and clothes. There is a vaccine available for canines at White Oaks West Animal Hospital. To learn more about this vaccine and whether your pet is a good candidate please contact our office at 217-698-0280.

In most cases the canine influenza virus is treatable and does not cause severe long term affects if caught early. Young, old, and otherwise immunosuppressed pets may be more severely affected.  Please watch for signs of respiratory distress, sneezing, coughing, lack of appetite, and lethargy and contact a veterinarian if you think your pet has any of these symptoms.

White Oaks West Animal Hospital is asking any owner that has a pet exhibiting any of these signs to schedule an exam. We are also asking clients with pets exhibiting flu symptoms to have their pet remain in their vehicle upon arrival to the clinic. Our veterinary staff will come out and do an initial assessment of the pet in the vehicle to reduce potential contamination and exposure. From there a treatment course will be determined.

We are still planning to host our annual Pet Photos with Santa Fundraiser on Saturday, December 3th and ask that if you have a pet with any of these symptoms to refrain from attending and contact a veterinarian.

Thank you for taking the time to become an educated pet owner. For more information about canine influenza or the available influenza vaccine, please contact the clinic at 217-698-0280.

IT’S BACK: Canine Influenza is in Illinois Again in 2016

This spring, canine influenza is back and is affecting dogs from Chicago into the Bloomington-Normal area. There have not yet been any reported cases in Springfield, but we are taking precautions.

The dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. Two canine influenza viruses have been identified worldwide: an influenza A H3N8 virus and an influenza A H3N2 virus. It is the H3N2 influenza strain that has been identified as the current threat.

Canine influenza A (H3N8) virus is closely related to an influenza virus found in horses for more than 40 years. Experts believe this horse influenza virus changed in a way that allowed it to infect dogs, and the first dog flu infections caused by these viruses were reported in 2004.

Canine influenza A (H3N2) virus seems to have been an avian influenza virus that originated in Asia and adapted to infect dogs in 2007. In March 2015, this virus was detected in many dogs in Chicago and surrounding areas. The canine H3N2 virus reportedly can affect cats as well as dogs. This is the strain that has been identified in Bloomington this spring.

There is a vaccine available for both strains of the virus, but since the H3N2 is the strain that is currently causing problems, this is the vaccine that we are currently recommending and providing to our community. Pets that are boarding, going to be in contact with other pets, or traveling into the Chicago or Bloomington areas should receive this 2-part vaccination. It must be boosted 2-4 weeks after the initial vaccination is administered to ensure maximal protection for 1 year. It may be boosted annually thereafter.

The virus is spread through direct contact with an infected dog or cat, or by droplets from barking, coughing or sneezing. Those droplets also can contaminate food and water bowls, collars and leashes and other objects, according to the American Veterinary Association. For this reason, we are recommending that you keep your pet from exposure to other pets when possible until the threat passes. If you can’t avoid travel or contact with other pets, we are recommending the vaccination. To date, there is no evidence of transmission of dog flu viruses from dogs to people and there have been no reported human infections with the canine influenza viruses.

Signs of dog flu infection in dogs include cough, runny nose and fever, but not all dogs will show signs of illness. The severity of illness associated with dog flu in dogs can range from no signs to severe illness resulting in pneumonia and sometimes, but rarely, death in dogs. Most often, pets that receive proper medical treatment have moderate signs that last around 7-14 days. Tests are available to determine if a dog has been infected. CDC recommends that people concerned about dog flu in their pets speak to their veterinarian.

As a precaution, pets that have reported upper respiratory symptoms are asked to remain in their vehicle until the veterinarian can assess the pet and determine the best mode of action.

If your pet is showing signs or you are interested in the H3N2 vaccination, please contact our office at (217) 698-0280.

New Year’s Resolutions for your pets: Ways To Help Your Pet Lose Weight

According to the latest veterinary surveys, over half our nation’s dogs and cats are overweight.

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Help your pet live longer and happier!!

This means almost 80 million pets are at risk for developing crippling arthritis, debilitating diabetes, catastrophic kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure and many forms of cancer. How can you slim down your super-sized pet, keep them fit and reduce their risk of developing many serious diseases? The answer may be easier than you think. Try these seven tips to trim excess pounds from your pet and keep them trim.

1. Calculate Calories

If you don’t know how many calories your pet needs each day, you don’t know how much to feed. And don’t think you can trust the bag; feeding guides are formulated for adult, un-spayed or un-neutered active dogs and cats. That means if you have an older, spayed or neutered indoor lap potato you’re probably feeding 20% to 30% too much if you follow the food’s instructions. Instead, ask your veterinarian to calculate the proper number of calories your pet needs each day. We have a special mathematical formula that we use to calculate this for you.

2. Measure Meals
A pet parent’s single greatest tool in the fight against excess weight is a measuring cup. Too many pet owners simply fill the bowl or “guesstimate” how much they’re feeding. Even worse, some pets, especially cats, are fed an “all-day buffet” that results from the “just keep the bowl full” feeding method. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention has done studies to show that feeding as few as 10 extra tiny kibbles of food per day can add up to a pound of weight gain per year in indoor cats and small dogs. After you calculate how many calories your pet needs, determine how much food you should feed each meal – and measure it.

3. Tactical Treating
First off, I’m not anti-treats. I am anti-junk treats. If you’re going to give your pets extra goodies, make ‘em count. Too many pet treats are what I call “calorie grenades” laden with sugar and fat blowing up our pet’s waistlines and destroying their health. Choose low-caloriehills metabolic treats, no-sugar goodies that provide a health benefit. I like single ingredient treats such as sweet potato, salmon, and blueberry bites or functional treats that provide a bonus such as helping to keep teeth clean or promote mobility. Whatever treats you give, be sure to count those additional calories. Many pet owners feed the proper amount of food but sabotage their efforts by adding one or two snacks throughout the day. As few as 30 extra calories per day means your pet gains over three pounds in a year.
Better yet, dogs don’t do division. Break treats into peewee pieces and divvy them out whenever your pet earns it. Be cautious of “guilt-treating” – the practice of giving your pet a treat because you feel guilty leaving them home alone. Instead, use treats only as a reward for good behavior. Pets (and people) need to learn to earn extra goodies.

4. Vital Veggies
As an alternative to highly-processed store-bought treats, try offering baby carrots, green beans, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, sliced apples and bananas or ice cubes. These naturally nutritious tasty tidbits are a healthy option for many dogs. For cats, try a flake of salmon or tuna when you’re feeling generous. While you’re at it, put down the potato chips and share a carrot with your pooch. You’ll both be healthier for it.

5. Hustle for Health
When it comes to living a long, pain-and disease-free life, research proves our most powerful partner is daily exercise. Speaking of partners, anyone with a dog has a built-in, no-excuse exercise buddy. For dogs, as little as 20 to 30-minutes of brisk walking is all it takes to boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and reduce many behavioral problems. For cats, try playing with a laser pointer, remote-controlled toy or ball of paper for 5 to 15 minutes each day. Do yourself and your dog a favor and commit to daily walks, rain or shine. The health benefits of walking extend to both ends of the leash.

6. Smart Supplements
A couple of supplements may help keep your pet (and you) fit and trim. Almost every dog, cat and person can benefit from taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement. These powerful fish oils pack a potent anti-oxidant punch that has been proven to help prevent and treat numerous diseases. In addition, they may help ease achy joints and perhaps encourage weight loss. L-carnitine has been shown to aid weight loss and promote lean muscle mass in some studies. I’ve been prescribing (and taking) l-carnitine for over 13 years and been impressed with the results. Ask your veterinarian if either (or both) of these supplements make sense for your pet’s condition.

7. Cut Down the Carbs
Most of the pet dogs and cats I treat for don’t need a high-carbohydrate diet. Yet that’s exactly what most of us feed our pets. Many diets contain 60% or more carbohydrates when you analyze the food label. As a general rule, I recommend trying a higher protein / low carb diet first for weight loss in my patients. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before making any diet changes. Pets with certain conditions, such as kidney failure, may do better on a different type of diet.


dog body condition weightIt’s the responsibility of each of us to help our pets maintain a healthy weight. Just as you’d never walk your dog without a collar and leash or allow them to eat only pizza and ice cream (which many dogs would LOVE!), it’s up to pet owners to feed healthy, nutritious foods and treats and exercise daily. By using these seven simple suggestions, you’ll be on your way to your pet’s best – and healthiest – year yet!

Pictures With Santa Fundraiser at White Oaks West Animal Hospital a Huge Success

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Dr Greg Hurst and Winnie sitting with Santa

2015 Pet Pictures with Santa Fundraiser on December 19, 2014

White Oaks West Animal Hospital got into the Christmas spirit of giving. We hosted a fundraising event where we offered free photos with Santa as well as discounted pet microchip placement and toe nail trims. We were able to raise close to $900 in just 2 hours for BENLD Adopt-a-Pet Shelter!! Visit our Facebook page to see the complete album of all of the cute and cuddly pets posing with Santa. If you like us on Facebook, you will be notified about future discounted service events that we will be holding in the future.

Thanks to all who helped to make this event such a success! We look forward to next year. It feels great to give back to the community.

2015 Pics with Santa Kelsey Shures

2015 Pics with Santa Krystle Adams

2015 pics with Santa volunteer

1 Proton

3 Chavo

4 Bondurant 2

4 Bondurant 3

4 Bondurant 4

4 Bondurant

6 Libby Chestnut

8 Fred and George 2

8 Fred and George

9 Tully

10 Maggie Hood

12 Tucker Shook 2

12 Tucker Shook 3

12 Tucker Shook

13 Sophie Shook

14 Yadi Jennings

15 Ferris Shook 2

15 Ferris Shook

15 Suzie Shook

17 Mario 2

17 Mario 3

17 Mario

18 Keller 2

18 Keller

20 Lilly and Scout Farrow

Ozzy Taylor

21 Lenny Romanatto 2

21 Lenny Romanatto

24 Gus Jordan

25 Munchkin Bishop 2

25 Munchkin Bishop

26 Colt Huffman

27 Bodhi Long

31 SBinks and Jacoby Shures

32 Summer and Lucky Sullivan 2

32 Summer and Lucky Sullivan

34 Bosco Castaldo 2

34 Bosco Castaldo 3

34 Bosco Castaldo

35 Lucy Bingham 2

35 Lucy Bingham

36 Piper

37 Oldani 2

37 Oldani 3

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38 Dodd

39 Grace 2

39 Grace

210 Little George 2

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211 Himes 2

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212 McIntosh

310 Vicars

311 Zoe Evers

312 Kaiju 2

312 Kaiju

313 Antonacci 2

313 Antonacci 3

313 Antonacci

314 Chloe Hovey 2

314 Chloe Hovey

ANNOUNCING: Winner of the 2015 White Oaks West Pet Christmas Sweater Contest!!

2015.12.28 Diesl Watson 2

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WInner of White Oaks West Sweater Contest

We have tallied the results for the First Annual Pet Ugly Christmas Sweater contest and the winner is Diesel!! Diesel is 15 weeks old and can you imagine his surprise that he won?! He is a Shih Tzu that came in and modeled his sweater to the WOW staff! Congratulations Diesel

Thanks to all of the cats and dogs who submitted pictures. They were all very cute and difficult to choose from. We are looking forward to next year’s contest!!

White Oaks West Winter Warnings!!

Despite the popular misconception, fur alone is not enough to protect dogs from the elements. The fact is that, much like people, dogs have varying degrees of tolerance when it comes to temperature extremes. Even the hardiest breeds are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. Dr. Jason Nicholas from warns, “With hypothermia we worry about depressed temperatures affecting the normal function of the central nervous system (brain), as well as the pet’s ability to effectively circulate blood and breath. It’s this impaired ability to circulate blood (and thus deliver heat to the periphery of the body), as well as other factors, that can contribute to the development of frostbite. Pets can die from hypothermia and those that suffer from frostbite will deal with pain and may lose affected body parts.” Luckily, hypothermia and frostbite can be easy to avoid by taking a few precautions:

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White Oaks West Animal Hospital Stay Warm!!

Talk to your vet about cold weather protection
Some medical conditions will worsen when it gets colder out, “one of the main ones would be arthritis,” according to Dr. Jason Nicholas. Arthritis might worsen in the cold months “because of the direct effect of the cold [which can cause] increased stiffness, and because the cold frequently brings icy/slippery streets and sidewalks.” Before it gets to be wintertime your dog should have a checkup. Having your dog checked by a veterinarian can help ensure that problems don’t worsen when the temperature drops. This visit is also your best opportunity to ask your veterinarian about winter care.
Know your dog’s cold tolerance
Although all dogs are at risk in the cold weather, some are better equipped to handle it than others. Huskies and other breeds from cold climates are certainly going to be more comfortable than other dogs, such as the Italian Greyhounds, when wading through a winter wonderland. Also consider that old, young, wet dogs or dogs with thinner coats are at a greater risk of getting hypothermia and/or frostbite.

Take shorter walks with your dogs
Winter is a great time to get closer to your pets. They want to be inside with you where it’s warm. Short, frequent walks are preferable to extended walks during this time of year. After that, it should be right back inside to clean the snow and ice from between their toes. This isn’t to say that you should stop exercising your dog when it gets cold outside. The winter is the perfect time to enter your dog into daycare so that he can burn off excess energy in a safe and social place. Don’t forget about playtime at home either. Most dogs would love to chase a plush toy through the hallways.

Beware poisons
Antifreeze is a common cold weather poison but not the only one to be aware of: road salt and rodent poisons are also used with greater frequency during this time of year. Even if you don’t use any of those products, an unsupervised pet could easily wonder into a neighbor’s yard and find them.
Dogs may also lick their paws after a walk. Every time you come inside with your dog you should dry his feet thoroughly with a towel to be sure he has not tracked in any dangerous chemicals. Also check him over for any injuries to the paws: cracks, cuts, or scrapes. These kinds of injuries can causepain and lameness. Use pet friendly deicing products on steps, walkways and driveways.

Keep your dog on a leash
Because dogs rely heavily on a strong sense of smell to figure out where they are, they can easily be lost during winter storms. Snow covering the ground will make their surroundings less familiar. Keeping your dog on a leash at all times – especially during winter storms – can help stop your dog from becoming lost. You may also ask your veterinarian about microchipping, just in case.

Try clothing layers for warmth
For small dogs in particular, sweaters are not a joke, they’re actually very important during the cold weather. Small dogs have a larger surface area for their body weight and benefit greatly not only from a warm shirt but also from booties.Editor-in-Chief for Pet Health Network, Jane Harrell, confirms that dog clothing is no laughing matter. “My adopted Italian Greyhound, Fiona, doesn’t love the winter cold so I bundle her up in a sweater, a winter jacket, leg warmers, a neck warmer and am looking into getting booties to help her weather the Maine winter.” If you do get booties for your dog, Dr. Nichalas urges that you make sure they’re well-fitted and have good grip to prevent causing slips and falls.

Don’t leave your dog inside of a parked car
This rule is also important during the summer; a parked car can quickly amplify the affects of extreme weather. During the winter it can act as an icebox and trap cold air inside.

Groom cautiously
It’s important to walk a fine line when grooming your dog during the winter.
Taking too much hair off will mean he has less to keep him warm; leaving too much on will make brushing more difficult and could lead to matted hair. Ask your veterinarian how often he recommends grooming based on your breed of dog.

Be sure your dog has choices when it comes time to go to bed
He should have comfortable spots in both hotter and cooler regions of the house. This will allow him to move around at night if he’s uncomfortable.

Dogs should always have access to water, even when outside
Never use a metal water dish outside in cold weather because your dog’s tongue can get stuck! (Think of the flag pole when you were a kid.) You can also consider purchasing a heated water dish (normally used for feral cats) so that your dog doesn’t have to drink frigid water or be challenged to get enough to drink from a frozen water source.
Your dog will also need to eat more during the winter because it takes more energy to keep warm; however, don’t make the mistake of feeding too much. Obesity carries health concerns of its own.

By following these precautions and seeking advice from your veterinarian you can give your dog a safe and happy winter season. Enjoy!

White Oaks West will order Large bags of Dog Food as special order only

IMPORTANT-Dog Food, Science Diet, White Oaks West Vet, Vet, Veterinary For Client’s Purchasing Large Bags of Dog Food from White Oaks West Animal Hospital

Due to limited storage space and to guarantee freshness and availability of stock, White Oaks West Animal Hospital will be reducing the large bags of food inventory kept on hand.

Beginning August 31, 2015 all large bags of Hill’s food (>24lbs) will be available to you through special order only.

For your convenience, a food order will be placed every Monday with product arrival the following Thursday of each week. Please let us know by 6pm Monday if you would like us to order a bag and we will call you as soon as it comes in the following Thursday. We will still have the smaller bags available in case you run out and need something to get you by

Thank you for your understanding and please call with any questions 698-0280

Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

As August approaches, peak summer heat does too. While we still want you and Fido to spend time outside this summer, it’s really important to know how to do so safely.
Heat stroke, which is defined in veterinary medicine as a body temperature above > 103°F (39°C), is commonly seen in dogs. While it can occur in cats, it’s really rare. The higher the body temperature, the more life-threatening it is to your dog. As core body temperature approaches > 106°F (41°C), the sooner death can occur.
So, how do you prevent it? By recognizing these top 3 causes for it.

Leaving your dog outdoors in the sweltering heat without adequate water or shelter/shade.

Locking a dog in a car without adequate ventilation (this doesn’t mean cracking your windows open!).
While I’ll occasionally leave my dog in the car for 5 minutes, I lock my doors, turn on the air conditioner on full blast, and turn on my remote starter.

Exercising with a dog: Exercising with a dog when there is excessive heat and humidity – especially if your pet has an underlying medical problem predisposing them to heat stroke!
Most pet owners are smart enough to know that they shouldn’t be exercising with their pet when 90°F. However, sadly, I’ve seen dogs die at lower temperatures. The most dangerous temperature to exercise in? When it’s a blue, sunny day at 80-85°F. People often feel this is a “safer” temperature, when in actuality, it’s more dangerous.
Helpful little tip? If the humidity + temperature added together is greater than 150, it’s too hot.
For example: 80°F + 80% humidity = 160. Too hot to run!
If you want to torture yourself and run outside, go for it, but leave your dog at home! keep-your-dog-cool-summer-heatstroke-part-ii-465389533

Here are a few medical conditions that can put your dog at risk for heat stroke:
• Brachycephalic syndrome (e.g., a smooshed nose, smaller nostrils than normal, etc.). I’ll expand on this in a few weeks, but for you owners of Pugs, English bulldogs, Shih-Tzu’s, bullmastiffs, Pekingese dogs, etc., this means you! Basically, if your dog snores at night when he sleeps, he’s likely to have brachycephalic syndrome.
• Laryngeal paralysis (a cartilage problem that makes your dog breathe louder than normal at rest)
• Obesity (while we want you to exercise with your dog to help him lose weight, do so during cooler parts of the day like mornings or evenings)
• Heart or lung disease

Regardless of what the temperature or humidity is, always monitor your dog carefully for signs of fatigue or heat stroke. The sooner you notice these signs, the sooner you should stop any form of exercise, cool down your dog, and seek veterinary attention.

Signs of heat stroke include:
• Constant panting
• Dragging behind (e.g., in other words, on a leash lagging several feet behind you)
• Dry gums that feel sticky to the touch
• Dark red gums
• Vomiting
• Acting wobbly or walking drunk
• Collapse
• An elevated heart rate
• Feeling warm to the touch, with red, flushed skin
• Seizures
• Dark, concentrated urine
The longer heat stroke progresses, the more deadly to your pet. Other life-threatening signs to look for as heat stroke progresses include:
• Seizures or tremors
• Dark red-wine colored urine
• Bloody or black, tarry diarrhea
• Difficulty breathing
• A racing heart rate (due to arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms)
• Collapse
• Death

If you notice any of these signs, stop immediately and do the following:
• Call someone who can get their car and bring you to a veterinarian immediately
• Get your dog into the shade or to a water source so you can cool him down (e.g., ask a random person walking by if they have water and dump it on your dog’s head to cool him down).

Unfortunately, even with aggressive supportive care and treatment by your veterinarian, heat stroke can be fatal. The problem is that the heat destroys the cells in the body, resulting in havoc. Even with aggressive IV fluids, plasma transfusions, antibiotics, cooling measures, anti-vomiting medication, anti-vomiting medication, anti-seizure medication, oxygen therapy, and 24 hour, continuous critical care monitoring, organ failure can still occur.
As treatment for heat stroke is expensive to you and costly to your pet, keep in mind that prevention is key when it comes to avoiding heat stroke.

Some preventative tips on avoiding heat stroke include the following:
• First, always check with your veterinarian to see if your dog is healthy enough – or a breed that is safe – to exercise with you.
• Avoid exercising in the midday sun, which ranges from 10 am – 3 pm. Remember, the head index is very high during this point.
• If possible, make sure to exercise in shade.
• If you’re near a body of water (e.g., water fountain, lake, stream, etc.), take the time to cool your dog down and allow him or her access to a drink while out.
• If you’re not near a water source, make sure to carry a water bottle or Camelback for your dog. If you’re running out for both of you, save that water you’re your four-legged friend instead!
• For you rollerbladers, keep in mind that your dog has to pace at a much faster rate than your walk or jog, so take it easy.
• Prevent your dog from becoming overweight to obese, as this predisposes your pet to overheating.

The easiest hint? When in doubt, STOP. It’s not worth losing your four-legged friend to heat stroke for you to keep in shape!

FIREWORK ANXIETY- Are you Ready for the 4th of July?

Think it’s too early to start thinking about fireworks and the 4th of July? Think again. It’s time to start prepping your dog now. Loud “BOOMS” in the sky start well before the holiday. In addition, it takes time to prepare and desensitize your pet.

Every year hundreds of pets throughout the country are lost or injured during 4th of July Celebrations. Here are a few tips you can follow to help keep them safe:

1. Food hazards on the fourth of July
The 4th of July is known for apple pie and BBQ’s, but even delicious holiday food can be hazardous for your pets. Keep your pets away from hot BBQ grills that can easily burn them, especially if they are tempted by what’s cooking on the grill. Animals should never have access to chocolate or alcohol. Bones, except for those specially treated and intended for canine consumption, should also be avoided. Poultry bones can splinter and get lodged in the gastrointestinal tract. Ham and beef bones can break teeth or cause intestinal obstructions. Though tempting, and always appealing to dogs, you should avoid giving your pet leftovers. Not only can this lead to obesity and encourage the annoying habit of begging, it can cause a pancreatitis attack. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas usually caused by fatty foods. It is a serious condition that can be fatal if untreated.

2. Keep your pets indoors for the 4th of July
Though most of us consider fireworks to be the highlight of the evening, many pets are terrified of them. The bright lights and loud noises can unnerve pets and frightened animals will often escape in order to get away. Runaway pets can become lost or get hit by a car. To keep your pets safe and stress-free during a fireworks display, be sure to keep them indoors, preferably in a secure and comfortable room. Give your pet his favorite toy or a new chew toy to keep him distracted. Turning on the TV or radio can also help drown out loud and scary noises outside.

3. Talk to your veterinarian about medications
If you have a pet that becomes very stressed or agitated by fireworks, despite your best efforts, speak with your veterinarian about medications that may help. There are a number of medications available to help decrease anxiety and relax your pet. Your veterinarian will determine which medication is appropriate. You can also try an over-the-counter product such as DAP® or Feliway® to help decrease stress in your dog or cat, respectively.

4. Collars, ID tags and microchips
All of your pets should have collars, ID tags and microchips, even indoor-only cats. A door or gate could be left open accidentally during 4th of July BBQ, or your pet could escape if he becomes frightened during a fireworks display. Collars, ID tags and microchips are the best way to ensure that if your pet gets lost, he will be returned to you.

5. If your pet gets lost
What should you do if your pet gets lost? Walk or drive around your neighborhood to look. Be sure to call out your pet’s name, but he may not come to you if he is frightened. Contact your local shelters and call nearby veterinary clinics as soon as possible. Make flyers with your pet’s picture and post these around the neighborhood, in local pet stores and veterinary clinics, and around retail stores with high foot traffic, like grocery stores.

Follow these tips so that you and your pets can have a safe and fun 4th of July!


Thunderstorm Anxiety

storm_vpWe often tell animal owners the most common behaviors associated with thunderstorm phobia involve the “three Ps” – pacing, panting, and pawing. If you are really unlucky, your dog may add peeing to the list! Obviously, each dog is different in terms of the symptoms he or she may exhibit.

Below are some other characteristic behaviors, listed in approximate order of increasing severity:

• Trembling or shaking
• Restlessness
• Drooling
• Dilated pupils
• Seeking out humans – sitting close by, leaning or trying to climb on them
• Barking, whining, or howling
• Hiding in small places – under tables, behind chairs, in closets or bathrooms, in the bathtub
• Destructiveness – chewing walls or furniture, clawing at drapes, “digging” at floors, scratching woodwork
• Uncontrollable panic or anxiety, inability to stay in one place STARTING OFF ON THE RIGHT PAW-trying to escape – jumping through windows, digging out of yards, running away

One type of technique that may be used during storms to help eliminate fear in your animal is counter conditioning.
Counter conditioning involves changing your dog’s emotional reaction to a scary or unpleasant experience. Somewhere along the line, a thunder phobic dog has learned to associate the sounds, sights, and sensations of a thunderstorm with something bad; they have become conditioned to think that storm = bad stuff. Thus, as a storm begins to brew, the dog’s anxiety automatically kicks in – it’s not something over which they have control. Our job is to reverse that association, i.e., to counter condition the dog to think that storm = good stuff. To do that, you pair the scary experience (the storm) with something the dog really likes or enjoys. You can feed him super tasty treats, play a favorite game in the house, dance around and sing (presuming that would be pleasant for your dog!), or anything else that your dog typically enjoys. Partly you are distracting him from the storm, but more importantly you are teaching him that a storm predicts something fun or happy going on, not something scary.
Another way to help your animal through a storm is to modify the inside environment.

You can modify the dog’s inside environment to minimize the effects of what’s happening outside. Here are some ideas to try:

• Close curtains, blinds, or drapes to reduce the visual impact of the storm.
• Turn lights on, especially if the storm is occurring at night.
• Turn on the TV or radio (loudly) as a distraction or sound muffler.
• Provide some “white noise” to mask the sounds of the storm – this could be a high speed fan or one of the commercially available white noise machines sold to help humans sleep. You can even download apps for your smart phone that create white noise. (Check or White Noise from TMSoft for two examples.)
• Play music that is specially designed to reduce anxiety in dogs. Quite a few are available, such as: o Through a Dog’s Ear o Pet Pause o Pet Acoustics
• Keep a pheromone diffuser plugged in at all times, especially in the rooms your dog frequents most often. These products simulate the “appeasing” chemicals secreted by nursing mother dogs, thereby inducing a sense of comfort in dogs who breathe them in. There is no odor detectable by humans and nothing toxic about the product for your dog. The diffuser simply plugs into an electrical outlet and lasts for approximately 30 days. The same pheromone product is also available in a spray or as a collar worn by the dog. See the websites for D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) or Comfort Zone for more information.
Provide a “Safe Spot”

Many dogs seek out a small, out-of-the-way place on their own, and make a beeline for it as soon as a storm approaches. Often this is a bathroom, basement, walk-in closet, underneath a table, or behind a sofa. Interestingly, some dogs seem to derive comfort from lying on or near porcelain surfaces, perhaps because they instinctively know it provides some protection from static electricity. Thus, inside a bathtub or curled around a toilet are common spots thunder phobic dogs will retreat too. Rather than discourage this behavior, do all you can to take advantage of it. Build on your dog’s natural instinct to find refuge by creating or enhancing a special safe haven. Think of it as a “storm bunker” or your dog’s very own “hidey hole.” Ideally, this area should be one without windows or with covered windows. A basement area is often ideal, since there are few if any windows and it stays cooler in the summer. Remove anything in the “safe spot” that could be hazardous if knocked over by a frightened pooch and make sure the area is not so small or confined that the dog could get trapped – thus ending up more scared, rather than less. Give the dog access to his “safe spot” at all times since a storm may easily come up while you are away. Stock the area with some soft blankets and a favorite toy or two…anything that will provide comfort and positive associations. A radio playing may add additional comfort. Encourage your dog to use it whenever a storm is brewing and see if it makes any difference. Another option to help reduce anxiety is to massage your animal. Touch is a form of massage that can help reduce stress. Stroking and brushing your dog gently can be helpful too.