Tag: pheromones

Visiting the Vet doesn’t have to be Scary!

A-scared-dogWe’ve learned a lot about dogs and cats over the last 20 years including a lot about their behaviors. The truth is dogs are not people and cats are not small dogs. They have different preferences and respond differently to stressful situations.  Unfortunately, visiting the veterinarian is frequently considered a very stressful experience for both pets and their owners.

The good news? You don’t have to sacrifice care by skipping out on regular veterinary visits because of stress. There are plenty of ways for you and your pet to stay relaxed during a veterinary visit. As we work on becoming Fear Free Certified, we want to share some of these tips with you!

Fear Free visits start at home!

dogincardangerSocialization is key! Early, positive experiences can build a foundation of trust and help prevent fear from developing. Puppies should be enrolled in training and socialization classes. Dogs should be comfortable riding in the car, visiting new places and meeting new people. A combination of rewards, slowly acclimatizing your pet to car rides and, sometimes, anti-anxiety medications given prior to the veterinary visit can greatly reduce or eliminate anxiety associated with car rides.

Something most clients don’t think about is that it’s ok to come by, even when your pets don’t actually need any kind of care. In fact, we encourage it! We have several patients who stop by for nothing more than some love and a handful of treats. This allows us to bond with our patients and build trust.

Owners can also desensitize their pets to being examined by handling them frequently at home, rubbing their feet, ears and gums.

Pheromone & Supplement Therapy

Like most animals, dogs and cats use a series of scents and pheromones, or “chemical signals”. These pheromone signals are used to mark territory and convey a large range of feelings including anxiety and contentment. There are several products that mimic some of the “feel good” pheromones that animals give off.

feliway-electric-diffuser-48-ml-3Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the facial pheromone produced when a cat rubs its face on an object to scent mark. Meridian is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromones mother cats produce to reassure kittens. The calming pheromones from both of these products reduce the alarming sense cats can feel during stressful situations and help control those unwanted behaviors that stem from stress including aggression and inappropriate urination.

Adaptil-Diffuser_r7nexxAdaptil for Dogs works in a very similar fashion. Mother dogs communicate with their puppies through natural messages released into the air. These “comforting messages“are called Dog Appeasing Pheromones and they provide a strong signal of security and comfort to dogs of all ages.  Adaptil is available in several different forms: diffusers, collars and spray. In the event that an owner does not have Adaptil at home, we do have bandanas that have been pre-treated with spray in all of our exam rooms. Clients are encouraged to loosely tie one around their dogs’ necks while waiting to be seen.

1431-zylkene-newIn addition to synthetic pheromones, we also carry some supplements that have shown effective relief of stress in both dogs and cats. Zylkene is made with a milk-derived ingredient and it promotes calmness in pets. It often gives pets a calm feeling without causing sedation or drowsiness. Zylkene can be used for specific stress inducing events such as a visit to the vet, boarding, fireworks, thunderstorms and travel. Pets that are fearful may benefit from starting Zylkene one-two days prior to a known stress inducing event. It is also approved for long term, daily use.

Visiting the Clinic

pets-like-vetAll dogs entering the clinic should be on leashes and all cats should arrive in carriers. We try to make sure that all pets are moved into exam rooms quickly but if your pets are especially anxious, ask if you can wait in the car or even outside. In addition, ask our staff for a bandana that has been pre-treated with Adaptil. This can be tied loosely around your dog’s neck and will help him/her to relax some while waiting to be seen.

It is best for your pet to be hungry when he/she comes for his visit to a Fear Free veterinary clinic, since he will have a wide assortment of treats and toys available to reduce anxiety, distract and reward him while waiting, being examined and having treatments done. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pet’s very favorite treats and toys as well.

In the exam rooms, pets will appreciate a familiar slip-proof surface on the table. Both Feliway and Adaptil are used throughout the clinic in their various forms and are also used in our boarding facility.

Feline Friendly!

adventurecat-yuki-11-of-118-1024x768We get numerous calls every day from pet owners needing to reschedule their cats’ appointments because they are hiding or they can’t get them in their carriers. This is because most cats never see their carrier unless they are going to the vet and they have been conditioned to associate their carrier with scary experiences. Cat owners should find a place in the home where their carrier can be left out. Allow your cats to become familiar with their carrier.  A carrier that opens from the top as well as the front is ideal. Leave the door open so the cat can investigate and leave its scent on the carrier. Put treats and favorite toys in the carrier to encourage exploration. Make sure the bedding is soft, comfortable and stays in place when the cat moves. If the carrier you use is one of his or her favorite safe sleeping spots, your kitty will be much more likely to accept transportation in a vehicle and also will be happier once they reach the hospital.  Clients are encouraged to pick up a Feliway wipe prior to the appointment so that they can wipe their kitty’s carrier at home an hour or so before their appointments.

cat-vetOnce at the clinic, cats are moved quickly into our kitty exclusive exam room. We keep a Feliway Diffuser plugged in at all times to help create a naturally soothing environment for our feline patients and help them feel safer while here. Cats are welcome to explore the exam room and even climb the cat tree. We have plenty of catnip and treats at hand and also keep warm towels on hand for cats to curl up or hide under during their exams.

For kitties that require a little extra stress reduction, we have “Feline Fear Free” kits. These kits include a couple of doses of a tasteless medication that can be sprinkled directly on their food the night before and the morning of their appointments. This medication will help to relax them. In addition, the kits include a Feliway wipe for their carrier.

All cats that drop off for exams or boarding are kept in a separate area, away from dogs, and are given tents or boxes to curl up and hide in.

Sedation is not a last resort

stress dogWe will never struggle with your pet or hold him/her down in an uncomfortable position for any reason. This will only create a cycle of fear and distrust that will become nearly impossible to break. Once a pet is at the clinic, if it is fearful and won’t take a tasty food reward, even if hungry, it’s time to regroup. While a lot of people balk at the idea of sedating their pets, sedation with safe and effective modern drugs is ideal in many situations and is certainly more beneficial to the pets’ mental well being than being wrestled to the table or floor. Some pets may even need sedation for routine examination and that’s ok! Many pets are so psychologically damaged or fearful that they would benefit from sedation before they even leave home. Our doctors can work with you to create a stress reduction plan for your pet that meets their individual needs.

Clients are encouraged to bring their pets by for “happy visits” or desensitization exercises to prepare them for future handling without sedation. Even a very fearful pet can be taught to tolerate procedures with time and effort.

By: Tara Sansing

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Hey girl. I missed you sooooo I ate the wall…

Can you tell when your pet is stressed? Anxiety is a common condition that we hear about from clients time and time again. It can affect both cats and dogs and we see it at the clinic on a daily basis. Sometimes pets are stimulated by specific events such as a visit to the clinic, fireworks or visiting relatives and other times it may not be so easy to pinpoint the stressors. Even little things like running the vacuum may cause pets to pant and shake, panic or even act out in destructive ways. Like humans, pets may even experience physiological changes as a result of anxiety.

So what do you do when your furbaby exhibits signs of anxiety? Don’t worry! We know exactly how you feel because we’ve been there too! Thankfully, there are lots of ways to help our pets combat their anxiety.

Check out this personal account from one of our Kennel Technicians, Susan, and her experience with her dog’s anxiety over the years:

Cannon: A Story of Anxiety

by: Susan N.

I adopted Cannon in the summer of 2013 while my husband was deployed. I got him from a Craig’s list ad advertising a 10 month old Lab/Shepherd mix for $40. I was in love the second I saw his picture. I immediately messaged the owner to set up a meet and greet for the next day. At the meet and greet I was told he was destructive when he was left alone and that they kept him in a kennel most of the time because he was too rambunctious for their small child. I adopted him on the spot.

He was rambunctious, to say the least. He was constantly on the move, pacing and coming back to me to lick my face and arms. He had no concept of personal space. He had just been moved to a new environment and was still a puppy so I did not worry too much about it. I was able to spend a few days at home with him without needed to leave him.  The first time I left him home alone was to run to PetsMart. I did not put him in his kennel. I came home to a GIANT mess. He had gotten into some of my school work and shredded it, there were scratch marks by the front door, and he had also had accidents in the house when he never had before. He greeted me at the door a bundle of energy, tail wagging, whining, jumping and licking. I think he missed me just a bit. I had owned dogs before and understood the concept of separation anxiety. I was not, however, very prepared to deal with it.

Sings of separation anxiety include destructiveness, excessive vocalization and house soiling. Cannon displayed two out of three signs. The hallmark of separation anxiety is that these behaviors occur immediately after departures. Additional signs occur when the owner is preparing for departure, such as gathering school work or grabbing keys. The dog needs to be with the owner as these things occur and follows people when they are home. Cannon was always glued to my side.

I did my research and began a plan to help my poor puppy with his anxiety. One out of every six dogs may suffer from separation anxiety.  Some dogs have anxiety so severe that cannot be left alone without injuring themselves. Dogs this severe should not be left alone. Some dogs benefit from being placed in a dog day care. Others will adapt to having a specific place to be confined when left alone, such a crate or a specific room. Cannon had a kennel but hated it. He would not even go near it. Due to his previous owners keeping him in the kennel so much he had developed a phobia of being kenneled. Luckily, I had a spare room for Cannon. (Spoiled much?) I placed his bed, food and water in his room. I would place him in the room and give him a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter and treats. I would gradually increase the amount of time he was in the room by himself. After some time, he began to think of his room as a happy place, a place to eat and get special treats. This managed his separation anxiety for the time being.

Other dogs with more severe cases may need the help of medications or Pheromone therapy. Adaptil is a synthetic pheromone product that mimics the pheromone that mother dogs put out when nursing. It sends out the signal that the dog should feel calm and relaxed. There are several medications that act as a calming agent or sedative. Zylkene, Flouxetine,Trazadone, Diazepam and Alprazolam are several such medications. You should consult with your vet to decide upon the right medication for your dog.

Fast forward several years. I added two more dogs and a cat to the household. My husband had gotten out of the army and it was time for us to move back home. After a twelve hour drive, we settled into our new apartment. Due to work schedules and lack of room we needed to get Cannon kennel trained. Utilizing the same strategies I used when Cannon first displayed his separation anxiety I managed to get him kennel trained. All three dogs began sleeping in their kennels instead of in the bed with us. Then the first rain storm hit…

Cannon was NOT happy with this. He barked and whined and clawed his way out of the kennel. Once Cannon was out of his kennel he was shaking and would not leave my lap. Cannon had developed thunder storm anxiety. This is not unheard of in dogs with an existing anxiety condition. Thunder storm anxiety is also common by itself.

Treating dogs with thunder storm anxiety is very similar to treating separation anxiety. Dogs may try to find a place to hide during a storm. Alleviating the symptoms of storm anxiety may be as simple as giving them a safe place to hide such as a kennel or a comfy corner of a room. Other dogs do well when distracted by a puzzle toy or working on obedience exercises. Thunder shirts may work for some dogs. Other dogs may require medication if their anxiety is severe. The medications for storm anxiety are the same as with separation anxiety. Talk to your vet to discuss the best course of action for your specific dog.

After talking with Dr. Kuecker & Dr. Richardson, Cannon now wears an Adaptil collar and takes Zylkene once a day. He stays in his kennel while I’m at work and is sleeping soundly through storms. It is such a good feeling to know that he has been relieved from his anxiety and can now enjoy life more without all of the stress that he was previously experiencing.

 

 

Why can’t we all just get along?!

As much as we love our cats, it can be incredibly frustrating when they don’t get along with each other. One minute they could be fine, sleeping on top of each other & purring like crazy. Then the next something happened & now they’re tearing through the house hissing, spitting, & screaming at each other. The next thing you know, one cat is hiding on top of the fridge, things are knocked over, there’s tufts of fur everywhere, & the other cat has a cut on his face.

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But don’t worry, there’s hope! You may have read about Feliway before on here or heard us talk about it in the clinic. There’s a Feliway MultiCat available now as well. This could be the missing piece to finally eliminating the tension between your cats!

Feliway & Feliway MultiCat work in different ways:

Feliway works by imitating the Feline Facial Pheromone. This is what is given off when your cat rubs his face on the table, your leg, boxes, & so on. This is a “happy message” that promotes comfort & security to your cat. This is used more to deter unwanted behavior, such as inappropriate urination, that can be caused by stress or changes in the house.

Feliway MultiCat imitates the Cat Appeasing Pheromone. This pheromone is naturally emitted by mothers when their kittens nurse. This helps the cats feel safe & promotes a sense of harmony between all of the cats in the home. This is also great to use when introducing a new cat or kitten to your family.

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Signs of tension include fighting, chasing, obstructing or blocking another cat from a certain area, & staring. So if one cat doesn’t want the other to go to the kitchen, or they’re having intense stare downs that lead to them fighting throughout the house, you may want to consider trying Feliway MultiCat.

You can use original Feliway & Feliway MultiCat together if you’d like. Sometimes tension can cause unwanted behavior. Using the two different types of Feliway together can help in these types of situations.

Feliway MultiCat is only available as a plug in diffuser. Each bottle lasts up to 30 days & it runs continuously. The actual diffuser itself should be replaced every 6 months. The diffuser should be placed in an open space & covers about 700 square feet. Putting it behind doors, under shelving, in similar places can make it difficult to spread & work properly.

Starter Kits & Refills are available in clinic & online through VetSource. The goal with Feliway MultiCat is to help develop a strong, harmonious bond between your cats so that you don’t have to use the product long term.27459547_10154877923105666_4246769826786111965_n

Testimonial: “I’ve been using this for about a month now. I can tell that the fights between my cats are less frequent. I’ve just started my first refill & I’m very hopeful to see how things continue to go! I can tell the difference between my cats fighting & playing. I’m happy to report that there’s much more play now!”
– Ashley E. Receptionist at TLC Animal Hospital

If you have any questions, feel free to call the clinic! We’re happy to help & answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to read up more about Feliway & how it works, click here to go to their website.

By: Ashley Elliott

Making Your Cat’s Visit to the Vet More Feline Friendly

By Ashley Elliott

We all love our cats but taking them to the vet can be stressful for both cats and their owners! Trying to catch our feline friends and then get them into a carrier isn’t always a walk in the park. Here are some tips on how to get your cat to have a more enjoyable experience from the carrier to the clinic.

Getting your cat used to being around their carrier is the first step to reducing stress for both you and your cat when bringing them to the clinic. If the only time your cat sees the carrier is when you’re trying to catch them to take them to the vet, they’re not going to be too happy to see it. But if you keep the carrier out all the times, your cat will get used to it. If you don’t want to leave it out all the time, try getting the carrier out for about a week before your appointment.

Teaching your cat to love their carrier is the second step to make a trip the vet less stressful. This can be achieved by training your cat to associate good things with their carrier. Food is an excellent motivator. Just let your cat associate meals and yummy treats with their carrier. Start by feeding your cat right outside of the carrier. Over the next few days, slowly move the food further into the carrier. You’ll know that your cat is comfortable when they’re eating their food in the carrier without hesitation.

There are calming pheromone sprays, like Feliway, that can help as well. You can spray a towel, blanket, or even the carrier itself. Do this about twenty minutes before you plan on leaving the house.

Since you’re going to the vet, chances are your cat is going to get some vaccines. Towels may be used during the exam to help comfortably restrain your cat. You can train your cat to get used to this at home. You can also train your cat to get used to having their skin handled similar to how you trained them to like their carrier. Associate treats or food with light handling of their skin.

Now that your cat isn’t running away at the sight of carrier, it’s time to go to the vet! If you’re not able to go into an exam room right away, try to keep your cat away from scary situations in the waiting room. There are all sorts of strange smells and sounds in waiting room that could make your cat anxious. Try to keep other animals away from the carrier. Other animals may want to investigate the carrier, but this could upset your cat. You could cover the carrier with a towel to help prevent this.

Once you’re in the room, let your cat get used to their new surroundings. Open the carrier door and let them investigate. Don’t dump your cat out of the carrier or try to pull them out of it. This will just upset your cat and set a bad tone for the rest of your cat’s visit. Most carriers can be disassembled or opened in different ways. You can also use treats or catnip to make your cat feel more comfortable in the room.

Training your cat to love their carrier and helping them get used to being handled will help you and your cat have a more enjoyable, stress free visit to the clinic.

Stress Reduction Through Synthetic Pheromone Therapy

By Erin Fitzpatrick-Wacker

All pets can experience some form of stress throughout their lives. Luckily for cats and dogs, there are some veterinary alternatives available to help ease their stress.

For cats, there are 3 options available: Feliway Diffuser (covers 750 sq. ft. for continuous coverage for one month), Feliway Spray (spray areas for direct coverage 10 minutes before needed), and Meridian Collar (high pheromone concentration that travels with patient and lasts 30 days).

Is your cat scared of unfamiliar situations or sounds, worried during travel, scared or nervous while riding in the car, anxious during grooming or boarding, scared of new furniture or a new home environment, afraid of a new pet in the household or maintaining multi-cat households, damaging or scratching furniture or walls, afraid of meeting new people or new babies, scared during veterinary visits or hospitalization visits, or inappropriately marking areas with urine? If your cat falls into any of these categories, Feliway or Meridian might be a good choice to help adapt to these challenging situations.

Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the facial pheromone produced when a cat rubs its face on an object to scent mark. Meridian is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the pheromones mother cats produce to reassure kittens. The calming pheromones reduce the alarming sense cats can feel during stressful situations and help control those unwanted behaviors that stem from stress. Your cat doesn’t have to be showing symptoms of stress to enjoy the benefits of stress reduction that these products can offer.

Feliway studies show that it reduces house soiling by 57%. Be sure to contact your veterinarian about improper urine marking, since this could be a sign of something besides stress.

For dogs, there are 3 options avaiable: Adaptil Diffuser (covers 750 sq. ft. for continuous coverage for one month), Adaptil Spray (spray areas for direct coverage 10 minutes before needed), and Adaptil Collar (high pheromone concentration that travels with patient and lasts 30 days).

Is your dog one to hide from loud noises (fireworks), afraid of meeting new people or going to a new place, destructive when left alone, scared or nervous while riding in the car, afraid or noisy during the night, anxious during veterinary visits, unsettled during puppy training classes, anxious during grooming or boarding, scared of a new leash or the crate, or stressed during any new situation? If you dog falls into any of these categories, Adaptil might be a good choice to help adapt to these challenging situations.

Stress can be the main cause of destructive behaviors, fearful behaviors (barking, cowering, biting), or even house soiling. Studies show that it is essential to minimize stress in the first year of puppy growth to optimize their growth and socialization potential.
Adaptil studies show that it reduces excessive barking by 70%, reduces destructive behavior by 86%, reduces house soiling by 67%, and reduces night time troubles for new puppies for 68%.

Sometimes Adaptil, Feliway, and Meridian alone aren’t enough to help ease the stressful situations that life places in our path. If that is the case, contact your veterinarian for alternative and additional choices.