Canine parvovirus (CPV), commonly referred to as parvo, is one of the most serious viruses that puppies, adolescent and mature dogs can contract. Why? Because this potentially fatal virus is especially difficult to kill, is able to exist for an extremely long time in the environment, and is shed in very large quantities by infected dogs.
There are two slightly different strains of canine parvovirus: CPV-2a and CPV-2b. While both cause the same disease, CPV-2b is associated with the most severe form. Thankfully, however, parvo vaccines such as DA2PPC and DHPP afford dogs protection against both of them.
Direct contact between two dogs isn’t needed for the virus to spread. In fact, one of the most common ways for a susceptible (unvaccinated) dog to become infected is by ingesting the feces of an already-infected dog. But due to its environmental stability, this notorious virus can just as easily be transmitted through the paws and hair of an infected dog, an unsuspecting person’s shoes and clothes, as well as any surface or object that’s been unknowingly contaminated.
Infected dogs will usually become ill within six to ten days of exposure. The virus is carried to the intestine where it invades the intestinal wall, causing an inflammation, and although the symptoms may vary, severe vomiting and diarrhea are not only the first but also the most consistent and common signs of infection. The ailing dogs’ diarrhea will often have a very strong smell, may contain large amounts of mucus, and may or may not contain blood. Some affected dogs may also stop eating, appear listless and depressed, and run a fever.
While parvo can affect dogs of all ages, it most commonly affects unvaccinated dogs under the age of one. Puppies younger than five months are usually the most severely affected and the most difficult to treat. Any unvaccinated puppy who is vomiting, has uncontrolled diarrhea, or both, should immediately be brought to the vet and tested for CPV.
A fecal ELISA test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) is the most common way of diagnosing a dog suspected of having parvo, requires a fecal swab, and takes about 10 minutes. Although the test is accurate, a negative result doesn’t automatically rule out parvo in a symptomatic dog since he may not have been shedding the viral antigen at the time the test was taken. If this is the case, to err on the side of caution, he should be re-tested.
Sadly, there’s no treatment to date that can kill the virus once it infects a dog. And while the virus itself isn’t the direct cause of a dog’s death, it targets the epithelium of the small intestine, the lining that helps to absorb nutrients and provides a crucial barrier against fluid loss and bacterial leakage into the rest of the body. This leakage coupled with the intestinal damage, results in severe dehydration (water loss), electrolyte (sodium and potassium) imbalances, and an infection in the bloodstream (septicemia). If septicemia develops, a dog is more likely to die.
Therefore, the sooner emergency measures are implemented in a hospital setting, the greater a dog’s chances of survival. The first step involves reversing his dehydration and correcting his electrolyte imbalances through the use of an IV (intravenous fluid) drip containing electrolytes. In more severe cases, plasma transfusions may be administered as well. He’ll be given antispasmodic drugs to inhibit his diarrhea and vomiting along with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs to either prevent or control septicemia.
Fortunately, most dogs suffering from parvo will recover if aggressive treatment is started promptly -- before severe dehydration and septicemia occur. For puppies, however, if they haven’t improved by the third or fourth day of treatment, their prognosis is poor.
Vets everywhere strongly advise all responsible dog owners to protect their precious pets against CPV by having them vaccinated. Puppies will receive a parvovirus vaccination as part of their multiple-agent vaccine series, given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age. In some high-risk situations, vets will administer the vaccine at two-week intervals with an additional booster given at between 18 and 22 weeks of age. After that initial series of vaccinations, boosters will be required on a regular basis. If an approved three-year parvovirus vaccine was used, boosters should be routinely administered every three years.
With the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes, commonly called E-cigs, comes an increased risk of toxicity to dogs whose owners use them.
Marketed as smoke-free substitutes for traditional cigarettes, they’re shaped like a long cigarette, battery operated, and filled with a replaceable cartridge of E-liquid that contains a mixture of ingredients such as nicotine, flavorings, glycerin and propylene glycol. An atomizer heats the liquid, turning it into a vapor that is then inhaled while creating a cloud that resembles cigarette smoke (a practice colloquially referred to as “vaping”).
Although their safety for humans hasn’t yet been determined, each E-cigarette cartridge contains 6 to 24 mg of nicotine, the equivalent of one to two regular cigarettes, while their enhanced flavoring and aroma make them highly attractive to dogs.
The dangers of ingesting E-liquids include gastrointestinal obstruction and nicotine toxicity, while chewing on the sharp plastic can cause oral trauma. According to petpoisonhelpline.com, “the ingestion of a single cartridge can result in clinical signs and potentially death for a dog less than 10 pounds.”
While many dogs will vomit naturally after ingesting E-liquids, the signs of toxicity are dose-dependent and usually begin within 15 minutes to one hour of ingestion. When large amounts are consumed, the effects can be life threatening, but even small amounts can induce symptoms. Without treatment, nicotine toxicity can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles and dogs may die, sometimes within hours.
If you’re a “vaper”, contact your vet immediately if your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms: tremors, weakness, stumbling and/or loss of coordination, depression, hyperactivity, lethargy, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, drooling, dilated pupils, diarrhea, seizures, collapse, slow or fast heart rate and/or cardiac arrhythmias.
Of primary importance is reducing the amount of nicotine in his stomach while keeping him alive until his body breaks it down. You may be instructed to induce vomiting if you saw your dog ingest the E-liquid and he’s alert. Do NOT use antacids as the stomach acid helps decrease the absorption of the nicotine. If his exposure was dermal (his paws or fur came in contact with any spilled liquid), bathe him promptly using a mild dishwashing soap.
If however, his symptoms are severe, bring him to your vet or to the nearest emergency clinic where his stomach may be pumped (gastric lavage) and repeated doses of activated charcoal or intravenous fluids used to reduce further nicotine absorption and enhance its elimination. A ventilator may also be used to assist with his breathing until the toxins are cleared from his system. If needed, other supportive care may include oxygen and seizure control medications such as diazepam (valium).
It’s said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you’re a pet parent who “vapes”, paw-lease do so responsibly. Besides cartridges, there are also E-juice bottles, and while childproof, your dog’s teeth may pierce the packing. To prevent any mishaps, when not in use, all supplies and accessories MUST be locked safely away and out of reach. It’s also best to “vape” in another room or in one that’s properly ventilated – for your sake as well as his.
Dogs may nip or bite for a variety of reasons. The following are the most common:
When these dogs bite, their likeliest targets are the ones nearest to them: members of their own human families. The expression “Let sleeping dogs lie” is never more true than in the case of an owner stepping over a dog napping in an inconvenient place or brushing one off a chair, couch or bed. Push down too strongly on a dog’s rump to reinforce the “sit” command or attempt to stare down a dog who seems oddly unsettled, and a warning bark may all too quickly be followed by a bite.
This response is usually directed toward strangers. Much like people, dogs are, by nature, fearful of unfamiliar and potentially threatening situations. In old cartoons and movies, it was always the postman who was at the receiving end of a bite. But, in reality, it can be anyone. Anyone the dog doesn’t know, anyone innocently “invading” a dog’s space, or anyone who seems particularly menacing. If a series of cautionary barks doesn’t fend off this perceived danger, a lunge and a bite may result.
Well-intentioned, but ill-advised attempts to break up a dogfight often cause the referee in question to be bitten. When two angry dogs are squaring off against each other, baiting, barking and air snapping, and a hand reaches in to seize a collar or a coat, either dog may suddenly whip round and lash out with his mouth at the “intruder.”
Even the sweetest and gentlest dog can -- if the pain is severe enough -- bite the hand that’s trying to help. Whether a novice owner, an experienced trainer, or a seasoned vet. Every dog has his own particular threshold and tolerance for pain. Cross it with a normally soothing touch or a tender pat of reassurance, and that nursing hand will need a doctor.
This category is reserved for people who either don’t respect a dog’s boundaries or don’t understand that every dog has his limits. Thoughtless behaviors, inconsiderate overtures, constant pestering, poking or prodding – and the perpetrator will be punished with a bite.
PROTECTION OF “PROPERTY”
Dogs chosen by families either for personal protection or for the protection of their property may find themSELVES the unwitting target of their dogs’ over-zealous guarding. Trained to defend everything of value – from the family house and car to the family itself – from outside threats, some dogs will even “protect” one family member from another by biting the one they considers a threat. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are at greatest risk for dog bites. To minimize these risks, they should be taught to:
Report a strange dog wandering through their yard or neighborhood to an adult.
Never approach a strange dog.
Never approach an eating or sleeping dog, or a mother caring for her pups.
Never look directly into a dog's eyes.
Stand as still as a statue if approached by a strange dog.
Never scream at or run from a strange dog.
Roll into a ball and not move if knocked down by a strange dog.
Never play with a dog unless in the company of an adult.
To help reduce the incidences of dog biting:
All responsible dog owners must learn about and understand fully the complexities of canine behavior.
All responsible dog owners must obedience train and socialize their dogs – the sooner, the younger, the better.
All responsible dog owners must teach their children to respect ALL dogs, starting with the ones in their own homes.
It’s said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In the case of dog biting, however, a little knowledge is less dangerous than no knowledge at all.
For years, certain essential oils were considered safe for dogs and were often recommended for use in treating everything from stress and ear mite infestations to upper respiratory problems.
But recently, some studies have shown that essential oils can be toxic to dogs, whether taken internally, applied to their skin or simply inhaled. The liver is the organ most negatively affected, and unlike ours, dogs’ livers lack the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds found in essential oils.
A partial list of the essential oils to be avoided includes oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen and ylang ylang. If ingested or applied directly to the skin, these essential oils can damage your dog’s skin and even induce seizures.
Toxicity in dogs can either occur very quickly, following a single internal or external application or over a longer period of time -- through repeated or continuous inhalation of the essential oils. Either way, it can cause serious damage to the liver and, and in some instances, even lead to death. Should your dog accidentally ingest ANY oil, rush him to the vet immediately.
Aside from their toxic effects, the concentrated scent of essential oils can be very irritating, even overwhelming, to dogs because of their extremely sensitive noses. If you’re a dog owner who diffuses essential oils throughout your home, ensure there’s good ventilation for both your sakes, that you only diffuse small amounts for limited periods of time, and that your dog can retreat to a “scent-free” zone if the smell becomes overpowering.
Hydrosols, also known as “flower waters”, are often promoted as a more natural and safer alternative to essential oils. Less saturated or concentrated than essential oils, hydrosols are basically what remain after steam-distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers or herbs in water. With properties similar to essential oils, their aromas are often softer and subtler.
While hydrosols may be safer for use on human skin, they are still dangerous for dogs as the water can retain residual plant matter that can prove toxic if ingested or even inhaled. While some dogs can tolerate hydrosols, others are more sensitive to them. To be on the safe side, limit your dog’s access or exposure to them to minimize the risk of any health issues arising.
As dog owners, do you crave the feeling of your cherished canine companions’ kisses? Have you ever wondered why dogs lick faces? Should you worry about it or even stop it?
Did you know that human face licking evolved from wolf puppies’ instinctual habit of licking the mouths of adult dogs to prompt them to regurgitate partially digested food? This is the way they transitioned from suckling their mothers’ milk to eating partially digested food to eventually eating more solid food.
According to animal experts, one dog licking another dog’s face or a person’s face is
deemed normal social behavior that serves a variety of purposes. It can be an appeasing gesture that signals one dog’s deference to another or a signal to solicit more “social” information, and, where humans are concerned, it can be a sign of affection or an effort to elicit attention.
When a dog licks his doggy housemate’s face or other spots on his body, it’s usually part of their grooming ritual. If a dog’s unable to reach his owner’s face, he may, instead, lick their hand, arm or leg as a form of endearment. A dog may try to lick a stranger’s face as a way of appeasing them and ensuring that they won’t threaten or harm him. And when a dog licks a child’s face, it can be a sign of affection or simply a way of wiping off some residual food.
For most healthy children and adults, the saliva from a dog’s licks poses no risk to intact skin. For those with compromised immune systems, however, it can pose a risk of infection by allowing bacteria to enter their skin through an opened and untreated wound such as a bite or a cut.
The five most concerning forms of bacteria are:
1. Capnocytophaga Canimorsus: this organism is carried in a dog’s mouth and causes a serious sepsis infection in people.
2. Staphylococcus Aureu: when transferred to people, this staph infection can have life-threatening consequences.
3. Ringworm or hookworm: both can cause painful and itchy infections or inflammation and even intestinal bleeding depending on the point of entry.
4. E. coli: potentially fatal, symptoms range from diarrhea and cramping to nausea and, at its worst, intestinal bleeding.
5. Salmonella: painful and unpleasant, it can cause nausea and vomiting, intestinal cramping and diarrhea.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s kisses, don’t let him lick your mouth and ensure that any minor cuts and/or open wounds on your skin are properly covered. Overly cautious? Offer him the underside of your chin instead, then promptly wash your face or apply an antibacterial sanitizing spray or gel to your chin. If you prefer to have him lick your hands, wash your hands later and use that same spray or gel on them.
Every pet owner’s worst nightmare is a serious illness or medical emergency and inadequate funds to cover it.
With veterinary bills ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, what’s a caring but cash-strapped owner to do?
If paws-ible, don’t panic. Instead, be prepared. Plan ahead.
The easiest first step is to open an “emergency expenses” savings account even
BEFORE your chosen companion puts one paw inside your home. Decide on a given
amount to be set aside – whether daily or weekly – and build it into your budget.
Example: By setting aside only $10 a week, you’ll save $520 a year. Within two
years, you’ll have saved enough money to cover most medical procedures. But
should your pet need a sudden and more costly procedure, you’re more likely to
receive help from others when they know that YOU’RE paying most of the bill.
A second option is purchasing pet insurance. An increasing number of insurance
companies now offer specific plans for pets, ranging from the most basic to the most
inclusive with monthly premiums to match each plan. Caution: Make certain to
“read the fine print” and to learn whether or not the company will work with the
vet of your choice.
For those unable to either save in advance or purchase pet insurance, being faced
with the possibility of a medical bill they can’t pay is devastating. And this, sadly, is
one of the reasons so many much-loved pets are euthanized. But there are solutions.
1. Speak with your vet and discuss the arrangement of a payment schedule until the
bill is paid in full. Many vets do offer payment plans to their regular and trusted
2. Contact local animal rescue organizations and ask for the names of any low-cost
veterinary clinics they might know.
3. Many veterinary schools offer medical services at discounted rates, and if you live
near a college or university, contact them to see if they have just such a program.
4. If it’s feasible, apply for a line of credit from your bank. There are also reputable
companies that offer loans to help cover medical emergencies, including those of
pets. (Note: Interest is charged in both cases and rates will vary).
5. Ask your family members and friends for help.
6. Use one of the more popular online fundraising platforms and start your own
fundraiser, bearing in mind that the more people you reach in your own social,
work and community circles, and the more original you are in drawing attention to
your plight, the greater your chances of success.
7. Apply for financial assistance from the specific funds, charities and pet assistance
organizations across the country. While their organizations’ budgets are limited and
their grants small, your chances of getting help increase if you’re disabled, a senior
or a veteran, or are living solely on pensions or on a low, fixed income.
Millions of dogs go missing each year. Unfortunately, very few of them are ever reunited with their owners. Many of them become and remain strays. Others are taken to pounds or shelters, where they are all too often, euthanized. The luckier ones are saved by rescue organizations and ultimately placed in adoptive homes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Lately, an increasing number of conscientious dog owners have begun to rely on a dual form of protection for their precious family pet. Included in this “protective package” are visible forms of identification – ID tags -- and permanent ones -- microchips.
Pet ID tags are small metallic or plastic tags personalized with your name, address, and phone number, and attached to your dog's collar. These tags are as close as your nearest pet supply store or online vendor, and if your dog ever goes missing, will immediately identify you as the owner.
Microchipping is a simple and safe procedure. A veterinarian injects a microchip designed especially for animals -- the size of a grain of rice -- beneath the surface of your dog’s skin between the shoulder blades. Similar to a routine shot, it takes only a few seconds and most dogs don’t seem to even feel the implantation. Unlike ID tags, a microchip is permanent and, with no internal energy source, will last the life of your dog. Your dog must then be promptly registered with the microchip company (usually for a one-time fee), thus storing his unique, alpha-numeric code in the company’s database.
Whenever a lost dog appears at a shelter, humane society or veterinary clinic, he/she will automatically be scanned for a microchip. If there is one, the screen of the handheld scanner will display that dog’s specific code. A simple call to the recovery database using a toll free 800 number enables the code to be traced back to the dog’s owner. But in order for the system to work efficiently, all owners are cautioned to keep their contact information up-to-date.
The most complete microchips comply with International Standards Organization (ISO) Standards. These standards define the structure of the microchip’s information content and determine the protocol for scanner-microchip communication. They also include the assignment of a 15-digit numeric identification code to each microchip; 3 digits either for the code of the country in which the dog was implanted or for the manufacturer’s code; one digit for the dog’s category (optional), and the remaining 8 or 9 digits for that dog’s unique ID number.
As with anything else, however, problems can and do arise. Not all shelters, humane societies, and veterinary offices have scanners. Although rare, microchips can fail, and even universal scanners may not be able to detect every microchip. Accurate detection can also be hampered if dogs struggle too much while being scanned or if either long, matted hair or excess fat deposits cover the implantation site. And because there are an ever-increasing number of pet recovery services, there is, as yet, no single database that links one to the other.
Since no method of identification is perfect, the best way owners can protect their dogs is by keeping current ID tags on them, microchipping them, and never allowing them to roam free.
Whether your dogs have been “naughty” or “nice” this year, there’s no better time than
Christmas to show them how much they mean to you. From the tangible to the intangible,
consider celebrating the legendary Twelve Days of Christmas by wrapping some of these
suggestions in bright ribbons of love and “gifting” your dog with them:
1. Get your dog a large, personalized dog treat jar. Fashioned from clear glass, his name
will be emblazoned across the front in glittering letters and then filled with especially
tempting and delectable holiday treats.
2. Sweeten your conversation with “baby talk.” Since studies show that dogs understand
human language better than once thought, using a high-pitched voice coupled with words
your own dog recognizes will be welcome music to his most receptive ears.
3. Get your dog an oversized and especially soft blanket featuring his photo front and
center. Choose one in a color that complements his preferred doggy bed and have your
favorite photo of him printed on it.
4. Gaze deeply into your dog’s eyes. One way of expressing your love is through direct eye
contact. Take a moment, speak softly, pet him gently and stare into his eyes. Try raising
your eyebrows -- preferably the left one – and he’ll recognize this as an obvious display of
5. Get your dog an especially hardy KONG that’s shaped like a small tire. Ideal for rousing
games of fetch and tug-o-war, they’re guaranteed to outlast even the strongest chewer.
6. Rub his ears. Rather than patting your pup on the top of his head, rub him gently behind
his ears and watch his reaction. In all likelihood, he’ll melt into a puddle of pure doggy
bliss because rubbing a dog’s ears stimulates the release of endorphins, the hormones that
both relieve pain and induce pleasure.
7. Get your dog a DNA test. Are you curious about your pup’s ancestry? Eager to know if
he’s a purebred or a marvelous mixture of two or more breeds? All it requires is this
simple test and all will be revealed.
8. Lean on your dog. Think of the many times your dog has pressed up against your legs or
leaned into you while you were sitting together. Seen as one of the ways that dogs seek out
affection – their version of a hug – return the sentiment and “hug” your dog back by
leaning into him.
9. Get your dog a gift basket of bacon flavored dog chews. While real bacon is a no-no, this
“sense-ational” substitute should keep his taste buds tingling and his palette satisfied all
10. Cuddle your dog.
With the holidays approaching, it’s time to think not only about celebrating, but also about dog safety.
To ensure that the season stays merry and bright, plan ahead and start early. Change the appearance of your home from everyday to holiday gradually, over a period of several days. This will allow your dog time to grow comfortable with everything from new or additional furniture and tabletop arrangements to wall and window decorations. To encourage your dog to view this as something positive, reinforce the sentiment by keeping him occupied with Kongs filled with cheese spread or peanut butter, or puzzle toys to puzzle over while you slowly transform the space around him. Maintain your dog’s normal feeding and walking schedules. Ensure that your dog’s “go to” place for security remains the same, unless you know from past experience that his doggy bed, crate or favorite blanket should be moved to a room far from the festivities.
Whether you’re hosting a single event or several, follow the same routine to minimize your dog’s potential uneasiness. Ask any unfamiliar guests and all of the children to calmly ignore your dog. Monitor your dog for any signs of anxiety or stress, and lead him to his “safe” place if necessary. On the other hand, if he appears relaxed and is eagerly going from guest to guest, provide them with some of his favorite treats so that they can keep him happily fed.
Be conscious of and careful about the greenery you bring into your home. The sap of the Poinsettia plant is considered mildly toxic, and can cause nausea or vomiting in your dog. Holly is considered moderately toxic and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, whereas mistletoe is severely toxic and can cause everything from gastrointestinal disorders to cardiovascular problems. Christmas trees are considered mildly toxic. Their oils can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling and/or vomiting, while their prickly needles are hazardous to your dog’s entire GI tract. Wherever possible, keep all plants beyond your dog’s reach, or else watch him carefully for signs of curiosity, interest, or the impulse to either lick or chew. To err on the side of caution, buy artificial plants instead.
Consider next the breakable ornaments and dangling tinsel, shiny ribbons, ropes of small lights and flickering candles. All eye-catching eye candy to curious canines – from noses and teeth to paws and tails.
Hang delicate ornaments higher on the tree and resist placing any in decorative bowls on low surfaces. Not only can dogs choke on them, but the sharp edges of any broken pieces can lacerate their mouths, throats and intestines. Drape tinsel higher on the tree as well, and keep ribbons on gifts underneath the tree to a minimum. If tinsel or ribbons are swallowed, they can twist and bunch inside a dog’s intestines, causing serious, sometimes
fatal, damage if not caught quickly enough.
Artificial snow is toxic and should be avoided at all costs. Lights, large and small, solid and flickering are another danger, not only because they are hot and breakable, but because of the electrical cords holding them together. If bitten, they can cause electrical shock if not properly grounded, and if frayed, they can cause severe lacerations to your dog’s tongue.
Place all lighted candles out of reach to reduce the risk of singed fur and pads, paws and tails, and lower the chance of them being tipped over, leaving burning wax everywhere or worse, starting a fire.
As appetizing as holiday fare is for people, it can prove agonizing, even lethal for pets. The most notorious offenders are:
Grapes: Although the precise substance which causes the toxicity in grapes is unknown (some dogs can eat grapes without incident, while others can eat one and become seriously ill), keep them away from your dog.
Onions and garlic: The sulfoxides and disulfides in both destroy red blood cells and can cause serious blood problems, including anemia.
Ham: High in salt and fat, it can lead to stomach upsets and, over time, pancreatitis.
Macademia nuts: Within 12 hours of ingesting them, dogs can experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (increased body temperature), lasting between 12 and 48 hours. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
Bones: Whether rib roasts or lamb chops, turkey, chicken or duck, they all have bones. Thick ones and thin ones. Brittle, fragmented and splintered ones. Whatever the size, shape or texture, they all spell the same thing: danger. From throat scratches to stomach perforations to bowel obstructions. To safeguard against these painful possibilities, all leftovers, particularly bones, should be carefully wrapped and promptly disposed of.
Fat trimmings: They cause upset stomachs, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Alcohol: It’s traditional to celebrate the holidays with more alcohol than usual – in cooking and in drinks such as eggnog and fruit punch. For safety’s sake, keep these temptations (including partially eaten plates of food and half-empty glasses) out of reach of your dog to avoid intoxication and alcohol poisoning.
Chocolates: Although chocolate has long been taboo for dogs, most chocolates are wrapped in foil for the holidays. Now, not only can your dog get sick from eating the chocolate, the wrappers themselves can get stuck in his throat or cause problems as they work their way through his digestive tract.
Christmas pudding, cake and mince pie: Filled with potentially toxic raisins, currants, and sultanas, they are also made with fat and suet, and laced with alcohol -- from scotch and brandy to sugary liqueurs.
And so, with some strategic planning beforehand, you and your doggy dearest can be assured of spending the happiest and safest of holidays together.
Imagine handing out treats and name tags at the front door of your home for your new dog and your resident pets. Imagine happy munches and friendly woofs (and/or meows) as they blend and bond instantly and forever.
Then blink twice and remember that you are living in the world of reality and not in an ideal parallel universe. But armed with a set of realistic expectations, your reality may ultimately be just as ideal.
Introducing your new dog to the pets already in your home is a process. To succeed, you must start with a plan and a promise – to yourself -- to be patient. The process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (and in extreme cases, a few months).
To improve your chances of a happy blending of old and new, choose a dog as close as possible in temperament and activity level to the pets you already have. Dogs and cats are creatures of habit, and most dislike any disruptions in their daily lives and routines.
Some dogs are naturally more relaxed and more social than others. Some are more territorial and don't enjoy sharing at all. Unhappy with the arrival of a newcomer, they may demonstrate their disapproval by fighting with the perceived “intruder” or by marking.
Allow your new dog to adjust to you and to his new surroundings by keeping him in a separate room with his bed, food, water and toys for several days. Spend as much quality, comforting time with your new arrival as possible.
Maintain your other pets’ regular routines – from feeding and pottying to exercising, playing and together times – to reassure them that nothing has changed.
Since smells are of utmost importance to animals, get them used to each other’s scent as soon as possible. One way is through that most reliable standby: food. Feed your resident pets and your new dog on either side of the door to his room, encouraging them to associate something pleasurable with one another’s smell.
Once this has been successfully accomplished, walk your new dog slowly through your home, room by room, allowing him to become familiar with its sights, sounds and smells. Keep your other pets behind the closed door of his room to allow your new dog a sense of safety and privacy, while promoting a further exchange of scents between them. Repeat this several times a day for a few days.
Next, use two doorstoppers to keep the door to your new dog’s room propped open just enough for all of the animals to see each other. Repeat this several times a day for a few days. BUT remember! Every time you leave your home, leave your new dog in his room with the door closed.
Hopefully, when you’re ready to make the “formal” introductions, your patience and your animals’ pre-preparations will have paid off. And they will not only recognize, but also start to accept one another by what they see and smell.
Armed with the tastiest treats and most tempting toys, you can expect sniffing, approaching and walking away. Reward good behavior with praise and treats, but discourage bad behavior by promptly separating the offending parties and gently, but firmly correcting them.
Once again, patience is key. This too is a process, which may take time until the blending is successful, and your family is calmly and contentedly one.
If, however, certain problems persist, speak to your vet or consult a recommended animal behaviorist.