Back to School

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School is just around the corner.  Regardless of the age of the student, back to school indicates a change in routine.  If your dog has been accustomed to his family being home all summer, this time may be a little difficult for him or her.  Here are some things you can do to help your dog adjust to the new schedule.

  • Morning exercise – A morning walk or round of fetch can help expend some energy, making your dog feel more relaxed. You could even do a morning training session.   Mental energy spent on learning and practicing can also help your pet stay calm during the day.
  • No drama – don’t make your exit a dramatic one. You don’t want to get your pet worked up before you leave.  Don’t make your departure a big deal.
  • Fun toy – Some dogs will get very bored once you are gone for the day. You can help alleviate this through fun toys.  We like food puzzle toys where dogs have to figure out how to get their breakfast out of the toy.  Toys like Kongs or other food hiding toys can provide entertainment for hours.  You can even purchase timed release toys to stretch the fun.
  • Doggie day care – If your dog is very stressed or cannot tolerate being home alone, we offer day lodging.
  • Evening walk – When you come home, remember your dog will be happy and energetic to see you! A walk or vigorous activity can help your dog settle down.
  • Routine – Most dogs really thrive from a consistent routine. It’s important to make exercise and walks a steady part of that routine.

We hope you and your dog find these tips helpful.  Happy New School Year from the My Zoo team!

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Identifying Fearful Behaviors

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In our last blog post, we wrote about keeping your dog safe during firework season.  Some owners since then have asked, “Well, how do I know if my dog is afraid?”    To answer this question, Dr. Katie will describe her own dog’s behavior before a storm rolls in.

 

Ruby is a 7 year old mutt I found while hiking 6 years ago.  She had been abandoned with a litter of puppies and was in very poor health, but now she is a happy and healthy part of the Darr home.  Ruby has been afraid of storms since the day I found her.  When the clouds first start rolling in, she starts restlessly pacing.   She goes to the front door and checks often (hypervigilance), but she spends most of the prestorm time seeking attention from a family memberOther signs Ruby displays are panting,cowering, refusal to eat, yawning, whining, ears pinned back, freezing, and shaking. Once the storm arrives and the thunder begins, Ruby runs and hides in the bathroom where she shakes and pants.   Other dogs can become destructive, run away, or injure themselves with self trauma.

 

Here are just a few signs your dog is scared.  For really bad storms, and holidays with fireworks, Dr. Katie uses a medication to help Ruby calm down.  There are many options available, and there is no “1 size fits all.”  Our previous blog post features some simple tips and tricks you can try to help your pet.  If you feel your pet needs a medication, please give us a call to schedule a consultation (573-875-3647).

Happy Independence Day from the My Zoo team!

 

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How to Avoid the Easter Bunny Blues

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Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Easter is a fun holiday with all the egg hunts, chocolate, flowers, and bright colors.   However, it won’t be so much fun if your pet ends up getting sick! So here are some quick tips for avoiding the Easter Bunny Blues:

  • Keep chocolate out of reach. Chocolate is toxic for many animals. So be sure it’s beyond their reach!
  • Watch out for xylitol.   Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, candy, vitamins, and sometimes baked goods.   It’s also toxic to animals!
  • Avoid the dangerous décor.   Baskets lined with that colorful plastic grass may be pretty but is dangerous if ingested!   Shredded paper based products are safer for your pets. If you hide candy in plastic eggs, your dog may find them and eat them (plastic egg and candy).
  • Flowers – This may be a surprise, but Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats. If you have a cat, be sure she cannot get to the flowers. Even the water in a vase containing Easter lilies is toxic!
  • Live animals do not make good gifts. Live chicks and bunnies may start out very cute, but caring for a living creature is a big responsibility. Consider a stuffed animals or chocolate bunnies, but remember to keep both out of reach from your pets!  When you bring a rabbit into your home, you are making a 10 year commitment to the care of that creature! Please consider carefully if a live animal is right for your family before bringing one home! Additionally, if you would like to give your family a rabbit, consider rescuing an older rabbit from a rabbit rescue or the humane society.
  • Here’s an article by the House Rabbit Society on Rabbits and Easter:  http://rabbit.org/easter-and-rabbits-do-not-mix/

Happy Easter!   We hope you all have a happy and safe holiday!

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The Labrador Retriever

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For many years now (since 1991), the Labrador Retriever has ranked as the most popular breed of dog in the United States.    So what makes the Labrador so popular?  This blog post takes a look at the characteristics of Labs.

 

Origins       

The Labrador Retriever breed has its origins in the early 1800s.     The first lab-like dogs were known as “St. John’s dogs” as they were in the city of St. John, Canada.   In the 1920s the St. John’s dog was brought to England for selective breeding.  Since they retrieved in the Labrador Sea, they were became known as “Labrador Retrievers.”

 

Appearance

Labs are large dogs (55 to 90 pounds) that come in 3 main colors: black, yellow, and chocolate.   Originally, labs were only black, but over the years yellow and chocolate colors have become acceptable.  Labs have a short, dense coat covering a muscular, strong body.  This characteristic coat is present on the tail as well and is said to look like an “otter tail.”  They have medium length muzzle and a broad head.  According to the breed standards, they should have “kind and expressive eyes.”

 

Temperament

Just as much as the appearance, the disposition of labs is a trademark of the breed.  Labs are supposed to be kind, outgoing, and eager to please.   They should not be aggressive toward humans or other animals.    In the right home, Labradors can make wonderful family pets.   As with any dog, appropriate training is a must.

 

Labrador Retrievers as working dogs

Labradors are considered a working breed.   As such they can be found hunting, tracking, retrieving, and detecting bombs/chemicals.   They also can be found as guide dogs, therapy dogs, and even as canine lifeguards.

 

Health issues

Labradors tend to be healthy, robust dogs, but they can have some health issues.   Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are 2 orthopedic issues that can be an inherited health problem for this breed.  Selecting a puppy from a breeder who screens for these issues can help minimize risk for orthopedic issues.  Keeping your Labrador a healthy weight by feeding an appropriate, balanced dog food is very important.  Labradors are known for being discriminant eaters and “getting into everything.”

One issue with Labradors that isn’t necessarily related to their health is their popularity can make them a target for thieves.    We can place a small microchip in your pet to help facilitate reunification if your pet accidentally escapes or was stolen.  While not a tracking device, these microchips are scanned for by veterinarians and shelters and can helps get your pet back to you!

 

 

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