Xena’s New Year Resolutions

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Xena the German Shepherd Dog

Xena the German Shepherd Dog here!   Every New Year, people across the United States make resolutions – goals to accomplish over the next year.  Well I thought an intelligent German Shepherd Dog such as myself could set and accomplish some goals too!  My goals are excellent goals for any dog.  Here are my 2013 resolutions:

  • Stay up to date on my yearly vaccinations and annual exam.  Our vets here at My Zoo Animal Hospital take care of me and will make sure I accomplish this goal.  My older friends should also get yearly blood work to make sure organs are functioning well.
  • Stay fit and maintain a healthy weight.  I live with Dr. Debbie and she makes sure I always eat an appropriate amount.   You should be able to feel the ribs without excess fat covering, but not see them.  A dog with a healthy weight also has a noticeable waist when viewed from above and a tuck when viewed from the side.  Part of staying fit is getting adequate exercise.  For me, that means I get to run around on the farm.   For my city dwelling friends, ask your owners to take you for walks or play fetch or other games with you.  Walking is great exercise for both dogs and people!
  • Maintain mental health.  Training your pet maintains your pet’s mental health.  The vets here at My Zoo recommend teaching your dog basic obedience or new tricks.   One fun way to accomplish that is by taking a training class at a local facility.  Of course, we recommend keeping vaccinations up to date before attending any training class.
  • Stay well groomed.  Since I live in the country, I routinely have to get bathed.  When you bathe your dog, be sure to use a dog shampoo as human shampoo has a different pH.  After my bath, I get my ears cleaned with an ear cleaning solution.  I also stand still for a toe nail trim.  Some of my canine friends also have to have their anal glands expressed.  If you have a long haired dog, routine brushing can help prevent mats from forming.  Mats can really be irritating to the skin.
  • Stay parasite free.  I stay on flea and tick preventative year round, because you never know what the winter in Missouri will be like!  I also take heartworm preventative every month.  At my annual exam with a My Zoo vet, I am checked for parasites with a blood test for heartworms and a fecal exam for intestinal parasites.
  • Maintain good breath and a pretty smile.  Good dental care is very important for dogs.  Many dogs require yearly or twice yearly dental cleanings.  Brushing your dog’s teeth as well as giving your dog treats that are on the VOHC website (VOHC.org) can help reduce tartar build-up.  Maintaining a healthy mouth can improve overall health and longevity.

 

 

Well I hope all of you had a wonderful time bringing in the New Year, and I hope that my own resolutions will inspire my canine friends and their owners.  If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to call us at 573-875-3647 (573-875-DOGS).

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Mean Kitty

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So you just brought home your new kitty, and much to your surprise he’s attacking your hands and pouncing on your feet.  At first it was cute, but now it hurts!  So what can you do?  The first thing you should do is stop encouraging aggressive behavior.  This behavior in a kitten can lead to aggression as the kitten grows into an adult cat.  You should never intentionally encourage your cat to play with your hands or feet. If your kitten is biting your hands, refocus the behavior on cat toys.  Most kittens love toys so provide a variety.   You can even rotate them so old toys are forgotten then reintroduced.   Also if your kitten or cat is fearful, provide safe hiding places where he can get away from things he fears.  For example, a laundry room with a baby gate the cat can get over, but the dog cannot.  Other examples include shelves, ledges, or cat furniture where your cat can view what’s going on from a safe distance.

 

The next thing you can do is reward good behavior – like sitting quietly at your feet.  If you feed your cat meals instead of letting him graze all day, you can begin to use meals as a reward for good behavior.   So in the morning when your cat is waiting for his meal, wait until he politely comes and sits.  When first training this, reward as soon as your cat sits.   Reward the behavior (sitting in this case) you want multiple times during each meal.  So as long as he’s sitting politely, he intermittently gets treats.  Stop feeding him, if he reaches to grab his food or meows.   Once your cat politely sits every time he sees you get his food ready, you can add a cue word (i.e., “sit”) to the behavior.  In this way you can shape your cats behavior.  Reward good behavior.  Ignore bad behavior.

 

Even an old cat can learn new tricks.  There are many good books and resources available for training animals.  Check your local library for books on training or drop by and talk to us.

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