Thursday, February 12, 2009

Aggression in Dogs

Being bitten by a dog is what we find now and then. Such is seen mostly in aggressive dogs. Aggression in dogs is defined as a threatening or harmful behavior directed toward another living creature. This includes snarling, growling, snapping, nipping, biting and lunging. Dogs' showing such behavior is not abnormal; they are merely exhibiting normal species-typical behavior that is incompatible with human lifestyle (and safety). There are many reasons why a dog will act aggressively toward strangers or even his owner.

The first step, when attempting to find out why your dog is being aggressive, is to take him to your veterinarian. Some veterinarians will visit you at your home - but dogs tend to be more aggressive on "their" territory.

If there's no medical cause for the aggression, your veterinarian may refer you to a behaviorist, who will then obtain a full behavioral history and recommend therapy.

Even if treatment appears to be successful, you should always be on guard. The frequency and severity of aggression may be reduced but, in most cases, aggression cannot be eliminated completely. You must weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits. Remember, safety for yourself and people around you is the primary concern!


In the course of a veterinary examination, your veterinarian will determine if there is a medical reason underlying your dog's aggressiveness. For instance, a dog with neck pain may show aggression when pulled by the collar.
Once medical causes have been ruled out, your veterinarian will refer you to a behaviorist. At the behaviorist's, you'll be asked to answer many detailed questions regarding your dog's behavior. The session may last a couple of hours. An accurate description of your dog's behavior is necessary. Keeping a journal is helpful. You should note:

• What elicits the aggression
• How often it occurs
• To whom it is directed
• The specific behaviors
• The dog's postures at the time

Videotaping your dog's behavior is helpful for the behaviorist, but don't get hurt while making the video. Answers to the many questions asked can lead the behaviorist to establish the cause of the aggression, and then outline an individualized approach to its treatment. The behaviorist will also provide a professional opinion of the risk involved.
Aggression is influenced by several factors, including: genetic predisposition, early experience, maturation, sex, age, size, hormonal status, physiological state and external stimuli. Behaviorists use a classification system based on patterns of behavior and the circumstances in which they occur. This is done to determine the dog's motivation and the cause of the behavior. The classification is as follows:

• Dominance-related aggression is one of the most common types of canine aggression that behaviorists treat. The aggressive acts are directed toward one or several family members or other household pets. Dogs are pack animals, and they relate to humans as members of their own species and pack members.

• Territorial aggression is directed toward approaching animals or people outside of the pack in defense of a dog's area (home, room or yard), owner or fellow pack member.

• Inter-male aggression between adult males usually involves territorial or dominance disputes. Inter-female aggression occurs most frequently between adult females living in the same household.

• Predatory aggression is directed toward anything that the dog considers prey, usually other species, but sometimes any quick-moving stimulus, like a car or bike.

• Pain-induced aggression is caused by a person or animal that causes pain. It often occurs when a person attempts to touch a painful area or when injections are given.

• Fear-induced aggression occurs when people or animals approach a fearful dog. This is common when the dog cannot escape, and is sometimes seen when an owner uses severe punishment. Active, unpredictable children may also stimulate this type of aggression.

• Maternal aggression is directed toward anyone that approaches a bitch with puppies or in false pregnancy.

• Redirected aggression occurs when a dog that is aggressively motivated redirects the aggression from the source to another. For example, a dog that is barking at the door may redirect his aggression onto an owner that is pulling him back. Dominant dogs often redirect onto subordinates.


Treating aggressive behavior may involve a combination of behavior modification techniques (habituation, counterconditioning and desensitization), drug therapy, surgery (such as neutering/spaying), avoidance and management (such as leash or head halter). Each case is unique, and the success of treatment varies depending on the diagnosis and in accord with your capability, motivation and schedule.

Even with successful treatment, however, there is no guarantee that the aggressive behavior won't return. In most cases, the frequency and severity of aggressive behavior can be reduced but the aggressive behavior cannot be eliminated completely. The best that may be hoped for is to reduce the probability of aggression. You must weigh the risks of keeping an aggressive dog against the benefits.

Home Care

If your dog is unpredictable, consider using a comfortable basket-style muzzle until you can get professional help. Until you receive professional help, avoid all interactions that trigger your dog's aggression. Do not attempt physical punishment. This can increase the intensity of your dog's aggression and may result in serious injury. Avoiding problems may involve:

• Keeping your dog confined in a separate room when visitors or children are present
• Housing or feeding your dogs separately if they are fighting with each other
• Removing objects like bones or rawhides that your dog may be guarding

Do not allow children to have unsupervised access to your dog. Children should be taught to avoid interacting with dogs that are eating, chewing on a bone, or resting. They should not be allowed to tease or hurt dogs.

Keep your dog on a leash at all times. In the home, you may want to attach a thin nylon leash on a buckle collar, which your dog can drag comfortably. This will give you safer control over him. Indoor leashes can be attached to head collars for even greater control. If your dogs are fighting, do not get in the middle. Interrupt the aggression using water, a loud noise, blanket or spray.

Management of such aggressive behaviour with ascertain safety of you and your pet.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Are you getting a new puppy home??

If you are getting a dog, most veterinarians recommend that you get your dog from a breeder. Choosing a breeder can be difficult.

To help you get the best possible pet from the best possible breeder, be prepared to ask some questions. The answers you receive will help you select the best and healthiest puppy.

Here is a list of questions to consider asking the breeder:

1. Are the puppies' parents "certified"? This means that certain breeds are often at risk for genetic conditions such as hip problems, heart problems and eye problems. Most of these diseases are inherited, meaning the disease is passed from parent to puppy. Many breeders will have their dogs evaluated and tested for that disease and ultimately "certified" by a veterinary specialist to be disease-free. Know about the breed and if there are any common genetic problems

2. What are the sizes of the puppy's parents? Know how big the parents are, to get a good idea of how big your puppy will be. Is that the size dog you want?

3. Ask to meet the dogs parents. If possible, meet the puppy's parents. Notice if they appear to be in good health and evaluate their overall temperament. Are they shy, aggressive, or well adjusted?

4. How have they socialized the pups? Have the pups been around other dogs or other people? Socialization is critical in puppies 6 – 16 weeks old. Proper socialization consisting of good experiences of a puppy with other puppies and lots of different ages, sizes and types of people will give you the best chance at having a well-adjusted dog.

5. What vaccines has the puppy had? How many shots has he received and when will the puppy be due for his next puppy shot?

6. Have the puppies been dewormed? All puppies are born with worms and routine deworming is recommended.

7. Have any of the puppies in the litter been sick? If so, what were the signs, the diagnosis and treatment?

8. What visits has the puppies had with the veterinarian? Have they been examined and declared "healthy"? If not, what problems have they had? Have they been on any medications?

9. What is their guarantee? What guarantee does the breeder give with their puppies? If the puppy is found to have a severe illness, what will they do? This is a difficult topic but one that is a lot easier to cover up front rather than later.

10. Recommendations? Ask the breeder for a couple references of puppy owners that they have sold within the past year. CALL them. Find out if the breeder was fair, if they were happy with their pups, and how any problems were handled.

11. What is the family history? Ask if the breeder has information about the breed line. For example, ask how long the dogs have lived and what they have died from. Write it down. This may be important for monitoring your pet as he gets older.

12. What is the breeder currently feeding the puppy? Regardless of what they are feeding, it is ideal to continue feeding the same food for the first few days at home to minimize the risk of gastrointestinal disturbances. If you choose to change the diet, do it gradually.

13. Health certificate. Ask the breeder if he will supply a health certificate for the puppy issued by his veterinarian.

Get your questions answered and feel very comfortable with your new puppy.
Proper and responsible breeding, appropriate health care and correct puppy socialization will make a big difference in how healthy your dog is and what kind of dog your puppy will turn out to be.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Importance of an Annual Physical Examination in Dogs

It's that time of year again. Time to take your dog to the veterinarian for his annual examination. But maybe you're thinking that you might skip it this year. After all, he isn't sick. Maybe you will just put it off until next year – what could it hurt?

Actually, delaying an annual physical exam can hurt. Annual physical exams are an important part of providing optimal health care and the best longevity for your beloved companion. Dogs age quickly and they are unable to tell us if they are feeling a little off. Remember, it may be one year in your life but that can be about 5-10 comparative years in your pet's life. A lot can change in that much time.

Sometimes, dogs can be ill for weeks and you are unaware of it. This may not be from a lack of monitoring or caring; your dog just hides his illness until it is so far advanced he has no choice but to show signs of disease.

Your veterinarian has special training and experience in detecting subtle illness in pets. Listening to the heart can detect murmurs. Increased lung sounds may indicate early illness. Abdominal palpation may reveal pain in certain areas, abnormal size and shape of various organs or even tumors. Checking out the eyes can detect early signs of cataract or other ocular problems. Ears may be in need of cleaning or medication. Dental disease may be detected as well as signs of allergies or skin problems. It's easier for someone who doesn't see your pet every day to detects lumps and bumps that you may not have noticed. Comparing annual weights, too, can determine if your dog is heading down the path to obesity or is slowly losing weight.

As a dog reaches middle to old age, annual physical exams become even more important. Certain problems that you may simply attribute to "old age," and just something you will have to live with, may be signs of underling disease and may be very treatable. Annual physical exams also give you an opportunity to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about your dog's health. Your veterinarian may recommend certain additional tests to determine overall health based on physical exam findings or may have suggestions for improving the quality of your dog's life. Remember, the primary goal for your veterinarian is to keep your dog healthy and provide the best care available.

A physical examination is a chance for your vet for a thorough exam which can pick up on a variety of illnesses and prevent potential catastrophic disease. By finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early, your pet will live a much healthier and longer life.

So, I believe everybody reading this article will automatically mark their calendars for a day. This day, every year is when you’ll be taking your pet for a check up. Let us make our pet feel that we really love them.

Rabies Vaccine Recommendations in Dogs


Rabies is a highly fatal viral infection of the nervous system that affects all warm-blooded animal species, including humans. The virus is most often transmitted from one animal to another through bite wounds. It then travels up through nerves, the spinal cord and eventually the brain. Once in the brain, the signs of rabies occur. Once the virus reaches the brain, death usually occurs within 10 days; it can take weeks to months for the virus to reach the brain, however.

Signs include:
  • Aggression
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Abnormal mental status
  • Seizure
  • Drooling ( the muscles of the throat are paralyzed and the animal cannot swallow)
Once signs of rabies develop, there is no cure and the disease is fatal. For this reason, reducing the potential risk of rabies in our companion pets is very important. It is so important that vaccinating your pet for rabies is required by law.

Each state has its own laws governing the frequency of administration of the rabies vaccine, but all agree that the first vaccine should be given around 24-26 weeks of age. A booster injection one year later is necessary. After that, laws vary and some areas require annual rabies vaccination. Other areas allow vaccine every three years.

In order to prove the pet was vaccinated against rabies, many areas require the pet to wear a rabies tag on his collar and for the owner to maintain a rabies certificate. Rabies vaccine is to be given according to the vaccine manufacturers recommendation, either subcutaneously or in a muscle. The vaccine should be delivered by a veterinarian or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.

The purpose of the rabies vaccination is to help your pet fight off a rabies infection if he should be exposed to the virus. The vaccine is not a cure for rabies and pets vaccinated against rabies can still become infected with the virus. After initial vaccination, it takes about one month before the peak levels of rabies antibodies is reached and the pet is considered immunized for rabies.

If you adopt an adult dog without an accurate vaccination history, initial rabies vaccine should be administered with a follow up vaccine one year later. After that, local laws regarding frequency of vaccination apply.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

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