From Your Hometown Vet
When Good Dogs Act Bad How a Vet Deals With Behavioral Problems
With school back in session and families settling into the school schedule, I’ve been thinking a lot about that saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As a veterinarian and lifelong animal lover, I can tell you that this saying is completely wrong. Most dogs — and cats too — are capable of learning new things at any point in their life. The real trick is for us humans to not give up on them so soon. As a vet, two of my big priorities are helping clients with their pet’s nutrition and behavior. These are the fundamentals to help every pet enjoy happy, healthy lives. Of these two, a pet’s behavior is probably the most serious matter. Behavioral problems are the No. 1 reason why dogs end up in shelters. We love our pets so much, but it’s easy to fall out of love with a dog who keeps tearing apart your house or a cat who urinates on the bed every night. These habits are extremely frustrating, and they quickly make pet owners feel powerless. I try as much as I can to help pet owners address any behavioral issues so they don’t feel like their only option is to give up their pet. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your pet’s behavioral problems. A lot of people are embarrassed to talk about their pet’s issues because they are worried that their pet’s bad behavior will reflect poorly on them, or they’re afraid their veterinarian will shame them for being frustrated with their pet. The thing to remember is that vets are often pet owners too, and our own pets are far from perfect. I know what it’s like to love your pets but also be at your wit’s end trying to deal with them. My dog Lucy has severe separation anxiety. Mike brought Lucy home when she was just 4 weeks old after her mother rejected all her puppies too early. Lucy has been having aggression issues with our other dogs, which got much worse recently after Mike brought home two more strays.
Fortunately, there are a lot of resources to help correct behavioral problems. Lucy is on Prozac, which helps her calm down. There are quite a few medications and supplements that can help manage behavioral problems, but they aren’t a silver bullet. The
medication itself won’t magically make the problem disappear. You still have to put in the hard work with some serious training. If you’re struggling with behavioral problems in your pet, look for a trainer you trust, who can use positive reinforcement to help your pet overcome their issues. I’m not a trainer, but I have a lot of experience treating behavior problems. A few years ago, I attended a weeklong program put on by the North American Veterinary Conference, which was taught by a certified veterinary behaviorist. As a veterinarian, it’s my responsibility to help people have a good relationship with their pets, and offering help with behavioral problems is part of that responsibility. When we have a really serious case, I won’t hesitate to refer clients to another veterinarian who specializes in treating behavioral problems. The important thing is that pets are able to spend long, happy lives with their families. If your pet’s behavior makes you want to pull your hair out, know that you’re not alone. There are resources out there to help you and your pet work through the problem so you can go back to enjoying every moment together. –Dr. Brea Smith
Your Hometown Vet
Keeping the Kids in Tiptop Shape
Our advanced technological age, with its plethora of online platforms to connect people all over the world, is riddled with obvious benefits as well as unfortunate side effects. Nearly 60% of children ages 8–12 have a smartphone, so cyberbullies and online predators pose a legitimate threat. Parents now wonder what they can do to preserve their child’s safety without completely invading their privacy, and many have turned to Bark for help. According to Bark’s website, the app was created in collaboration with child psychologists, youth advisors, digital media experts, and law enforcement professionals to deliver a research-backed way of safeguarding families using technology. Once purchased, the app connects to 24 platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) to monitor text messages, emails, and social activity for signs of harmful content and interactions. When Bark’s algorithms detect potential risks, it alerts parents via email and text and sends them snippets of flagged content paired with recommendations from child psychologists on how to talk to their kids about it. Since its launch in 2016, Bark has scanned more than a billion messages from 2 million children and claims to have helped prevent dozens of potential suicides, school shootings, and bomb threats through its detection of problematic language. While the app’s claims are certainly advantageous, many parents wonder if they are infringing on their child’s privacy. According to Jasmina Byrne, a child protection specialist at UNICEF, the privacy concerns get exponentially worse if parents don’t inform their kids about the app. Other experts claim parents should let their child know they are using the tracking app, but, as a result, the children might feel forced to express themselves differently, which poses a threat to their online freedom. While there has yet to be 100% consensus among child psychology experts regarding parental smartphone-monitoring software, all seem to agree that if a parent deploys these types of apps, the experience can lead to better family communication if they let their kids know about it, and Bark might be the safest and least invasive option on the market thus far. Bark Lets Parents See Potential Online Threats to Their Kids How Does the App Work? What Do the Experts Say About It?
For National School Backpack Awareness Day
September is the first full month of the new school year for most students, and they’re likely to be armed with all the school supplies they could ever need! With everything required of them, kids need a way to carry their supplies to and from school. The most common means of transporting supplies is a backpack, and knowing how to manage a heavy backpack full of school supplies is vital. Sept. 18 is National School Backpack Awareness Day, and it’s the perfect time to take a look at how backpacks can affect a child’s physical health. Far Too Heavy Students have a lot to carry around, and it’s essential to distribute that weight evenly and not overpack. Heavier items, such as textbooks or binders, should be centered and placed in the bigger back pockets and lighter items stored in the front pockets. According to the Ameritech College of Healthcare, the total weight of the backpack should not be more than 10% of a person’s weight. The One-Arm Sling Many students like to wear their packs with only one strap over a shoulder if they’re in a rush. However, this can cause poor posture, pain, or injury, especially if the backpack is too heavy. Using both shoulder straps on the pack helps distribute weight evenly across the back, minimizing potential health problems. Using Shoulder Straps Correctly A backpack that sits too low on a person’s back can imbalance someone, forcing them to lean forward or backward to adjust, and cause back pain. Adjust the straps of the pack so it sits at least 2 inches above the hips and just below the shoulders, centered on a person’s back. Using a chest and waist strap will also help keep the pack close and secure to your body. These measures don’t only apply to students returning to school. Whether your family is planning a camping trip, hike, or a bike ride, knowing the proper way to wear a backpack will help your family avoid back pain or even injury!
Your Hometown Vet
Turn Back the Clock How to Help Old Pets Feel Young Again
• Try not to move any furniture around. Pets memorize the layout of your house. If your pets are going blind, moving the furniture can make it hard for them to get around. Never underestimate the importance of bloodwork. It’s really important for senior pets to have their blood checked regularly. Pets can suffer from any number of health issues as they age; bloodwork helps veterinarians catch these problems early. Early detection is key to keeping pets healthy or minimizing the damage of the disease. Rethink their diet. Just like humans, senior pets have different dietary and nutritional needs than younger animals. For example, senior pets are less active, so they need fewer calories. If you feed your pet high-calorie food, it can cause weight gain and lead to other troubling health problems. Talk to your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your pet’s health. It’s difficult to think about a beloved pet getting older. At Leonard Animal Clinic, we’re here to help you take care of your pet at every stage of their lives. Give us a call at 903.587.2210 and let us help give your senior pet the care they need.
Pets are as different as people: Every dog or cat has their own personalities we grow to love. But one thing they have in common is that all pets get old. Senior pets need a different kind of care than younger animals, and giving your senior pet the right care can make a huge difference in their life span. Here are some ways you can help your pet live a longer, happier life. Do some interior decorating. Over time, bone and joint problems can make it difficult for senior pets to move easily. Help your senior pet live comfortably by making small changes around your house. • If you have hardwood floors, lay down rugs in high-traffic areas so your pet has proper traction. • Nightlights can help dogs and cats alike get around in the dark. • Elevate food and water dishes so older dogs aren’t straining their necks to eat. • Older cats will really appreciate a litter box with lower sides so they can get in and out easier.
PAWSitively Hilarious !
Cats can be notoriously picky eaters, which makes finding the right cat treat a challenge. Fortunately, we’ve found a recipe for homemade cat treats that will delight even the most finicky feline. Ingredients Food Hounds ! SIMPLE SALMON CAT TREATS
10 oz canned salmon
2 cups whole wheat flour
1. Heat oven to 350 F. 2. Pulse canned salmon (undrained) in a food processor until finely chopped. Combine salmon, egg, and flour in a separate bowl until dough forms. If dough is too sticky, add more flour. 3. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick and use cookie cutters to cut out cute shapes. 4. Transfer treats to parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until slightly browned. Remove treats from oven and let cool completely before serving. Treats can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Inspired by The Cookie Rookie
Your Hometown Vet
PRST STD US POSTAGE PAID BOISE, ID PERMIT 411
400 HWY 69 South Leonard, TX 75452
The No. 1 Reason Dogs End Up in Shelters
Do You Know Who Your Kid Is Talking to Online?
National School Backpack Awareness Day
3 Tips to Help Your Senior Pet Feel Young
Easy 3-Ingredient Cat Treats
Honoring the Canines of 9/11
The 4-Legged Heroes of Ground Zero
Honoring the Canines of 9/11
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, thousands of New Yorkers took to the streets to clear rubble, offer supplies, and search for survivors. It was a powerful act of resilience in a deeply trying time, and while most of the individuals helping with the disaster stood on two feet, more than 300 canines also answered the call to service. Dogs of all breeds and backgrounds, including search and rescue dogs, police dogs, service dogs, and therapy dogs, were brought in to help find and care for survivors in the wake of the destruction. They worked tirelessly alongside rescue crews as they searched through the debris. Search and rescue dogs and their handlers worked 12–16-hour days, searching for survivors and victims. They worked through dangerous conditions: Many dogs burned their paws as they dug through hot rubble, and both handlers and canines inhaled toxic dust. The task was both
physically and mentally exhausting for the dogs during their shifts. Some dogs that found deceased victims refused to eat or interact with other animals. Search and rescue dogs became increasingly stressed and depressed the longer they searched without any results, mirroring their handlers. It wasn’t uncommon for handlers to stage mock “findings” of survivors to keep the dogs’ spirits up. Fortunately, the sacrifices these dogs and their handlers made did not go unnoticed. Many dog owners were inspired to earn their search and rescue certifications after the events of 9/11, promising to aid in future disasters and hopefully lessen the impact of such catastrophes. After 9/11, various researchers conducted many studies examining the effect this kind of work has on animals, both physically and mentally. Many of these studies wouldn’t be possible without the AKC Canine Health Foundation, so if you’re looking to give back this September, visit them at their website to see how you can help: AKCCHF.org.
Your Hometown Vet
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