SAFEPET Ottawa fosters companion animals for
Women and their Children who need to exit from domestic violence into the
safety of local Violence Against Women(VAW)Shelters.
We are Veterinary Clinics, Fosters,
Behaviourists and sometimes your next door neighbour.
We provide necessary Veterinary intake and long
or short-term fostering for the duration of a woman’s stay in Shelter.
Upon exiting from Shelter, we re-unite owners
with their pets: so that they can move into a better future together.
In Ontario, 48% of women who should be exiting
from situations of domestic violence delay leaving-or do not leave at all. They
are afraid to leave their companion animal behind, lest it become their proxy
at the hands of the batterer.
Delay can be deadly. Please consider becoming a
No animal likes
to be restrained, but in order to care for your dog properly you will need to know a few restraining techniques.
Often we need to
restrain our dogs for their own good. We need to be able to groom them, trim
there nails, clean their ears, express anal glands, brush their teeth, give
them medication: the list goes on forever.
veterinarian needs to be able to examine your dog and someone needs to hold him
so your Vet can accurately determine your dog’s health.
A stressed dog
can be unpredictable and an injured dog even more distressed and difficult to
control. A dog in pain may bite, even his owner, unintentionally. So you need
to know how to restrain your dog for everyone’s best interest.
I will go over a
few methods of restraint. Remember, less restraint is always better. Stay calm
but be firm. Heavy restraint can cause your dog to struggle, escalating his
fear and further stressing the situation.
The neck hold is
the most common and reassuring restraint. This restraint stops the dog from
turning its head around and biting. This is a great hold for cutting nails if
nail trimming is a two person job. Cradle your dog’s head and wrap your arm
around his neck. Using the other arm give your dog support under his chest.
Petting and talking softly always helps the
dog to remain calm and to distract the dog from the task at hand.
When examining a
dog that is aggressive or disoriented a string muzzle may be necessary. A long
shoe lace will do. Simply loop the shoe lace or rope into a loop. Loop the
muzzle of your dog. You can wrap around the muzzle again then tie in a bow
behind his head. Use a bow not a knot for easier release. Some dogs can get so
stressed being muzzled that there gums may turn bluish or purple: if so, then
remove the muzzle immediately. Never muzzle a dog whose breathing is
The leg hold
starts off by laying your dog on either of his sides. Kneel on the ground
facing the back side of your dog. Leaning over the spine take hold of both the
front and back legs that are closest to the ground. Use your arm to lie across
the dog’s neck. This hold prevents your dog from being able to get up.
Another method of restraint for shorter
procedures is the pillow hold. This is a gentler form of restraint. The pillow
hold keeps the dog from turning around to bite while being examined
Does your dog love the vet? Do you love taking your dog to the vet? If
you both answer yes, great! Prevention of fear and stress in the vet hospital
is always the best, and you can use many of the tips in this article to help keep
you both less stressed. If either of you don't care for the vet, you are not
alone. According to the Bayer Veterinary Care Usage Study1, 38% of dog owners
feel their dog "hates going to the vet", and 26% of dog owners get
stressed just thinking about taking their dog to the vet. Although these
numbers are not as high as for cats, this still means a lot of you don't look
forward to your dog's vet visits.
The veterinary profession is recognizing the anxiety that our pets do feel at
the vet and the subsequent stress felt by their owners, and is in the process
of developing principles and standards for low-stress handling for all pets
during their vet visits. The American Veterinary Medical Association's Physical
Restraint of Animals Policy states: "The method [of restraint] used should
provide the least restraint required to allow the specific procedure(s) to be
performed properly, should minimize fear, pain, stress and suffering for the
animal, and should protect both the animal and personnel from harm. Every
effort should be made to ensure adequate and ongoing training in animal
handling and behavior by all parties involved, so that distress and physical
restraint are minimized. In some situations, [sedation] may be the preferred
method. Whenever possible, restraint should be planned, formulated, and
communicated prior to its application."
What this means for you and your dog is that many veterinary practices are in
the process of developing "low stress handling" techniques to help
reduce your dog's fear and hopefully your stress level.
Signs of fear at the vet's office
How do you know your dog is fearful or anxious at the vet? Some dogs tremble,
hide under your chair, or even growl, snap and bite. These are the easier signs
to see. The following categories can help you identify signs of fear in your
Fidget – This is the dog
that just can't seem to hold still. This is a sign of anxiety that may be read
as "rambunctious" or "playful" behavior. He may be pacing,
wagging his tail rapidly, or have his tail tucked. He may be panting heavily,
and his body will be stiff. He probably won't take treats. When pushed, he
often will try to avoid the veterinary staff or may start to struggle.
Freeze – This is the dog
that often is described being "so good" at the vet because he just
sits there and lets the vet do whatever is needed. Signs of a dog that is
freezing versus really not minding what is happening: he is not wagging his
tail (often the tail is down or tucked under his belly), he does not look
relaxed, his body is not soft, and often you will noticed his pupils are
dilated. He probably will actually have a 'worried look' on his face with his
mouth held tightly shut. He won't take treats. His eyes will be scanning the
room. When pushed, he may try to get away. He often looks like he is saying
"just get it over with, would you?" You may also see a brief freeze
when a dog is shifting from comfortable to flight or fight.
Flight – This is the dog
who is already trying to get away from the veterinary staff as they enter the
room. He retreats when they approach, often under the owner's chair, or as far
away as possible from the staff. He may start to struggle when restrained, or
may simply freeze depending on his fear level and overall demeanor. This dog is
often trying to tell the vet to back off and he may be easily pushed into
Fight – This dog has
escalated and is now telling the staff or vet to STOP. He may be growling,
snapping, pawing, rolling over, etc. He often needs a muzzle for safety. He is
highly distressed (he doesn't want to fight). In the past, you may have heard
these dog labeled as "mean" or "bad". We now know they are
not mean or bad, they really are just afraid, they don't understand what we
want, they may be painful or all of the above.
A dog may start in fidget but escalate rapidly to fight. Or he may freeze and
stay frozen for the whole visit. It is important to read all of his body
language to get a real picture of what he is saying. If he is telling us to
stop and we do not, we may teach him to give harsher signals the next time. In
other words, we could teach him to be offensively aggressive instead of
defensive. A dog that starts off at offensive aggression (fight) may be
mislabeled as dominant in the exam room. He is really fearful, but has learned
in previous visits that softer warnings don't stop the unwanted encounters.
Desensitization and counterconditioning
How can you help your dog during his vet visits? First, read his body language
and ask your vet for help in doing this. If he is even mildly fearful, we then
want to develop an approach to help him early on, so his fear does not escalate
with every visit. The dog who freezes in one visit may turn into a fighter at a
An important thing to remember about any pet's fear at the vet hospital (or any
other situation) is that his emotional state is rooted in how he feels about
the hospital and what is happening to him. He can't help being afraid, just as
you cannot help being afraid when you are about to crash your car at high
speed. The longer we expose him to the fearful stimulus, the more likely his
fear will escalate, meaning he could go quickly from a freezer to a biter.
A primary way we approach helping pets at the vet's office by desensitization
and counterconditioning (DS/CC). DS/CC is a common treatment developed by
psychologists to help people and animals overcome fears and phobias.
Desensitization means exposing your dog to small doses of the situation or
thing that causes him fear (e.g. maybe just going into the parking lot of the
Counterconditioning means teaching him to have a positive feeling associated
with the feared situation. So when we drive our fearful patient into the vet's
parking lot, we give a delicious treat. We do this in small steps, pairing each
step with a treat that he finds especially wonderful. After we are successful
in the parking lot, we then go to the entrance, feeding all the way. In short
sessions over days, weeks or months, we gradually work our way to the exam
room, and exams. If at any point he stops eating, his tail drops, he 'looks
worried', we stop and start over where we were last successful. Some dogs go
much faster than others – it's dog dependent. Your vet can help you with this
process. More and more veterinary offices are offering "happy visits' to
help owners DS/CC their dogs to the vet hospital environment. Many positive
reinforcement dog training centers have classes to help you DS/CC your dog to
Most DS/CC is done with favorite treats (canned food, moist treats,
pieces of hot dogs, chicken baby food, braunschweiger, etc.). The act of eating
will automatically change his emotional state to a less stressed one. Rare dogs
respond more consistently to favorite toys. Many times DS/CC is paired with clicker
training. An important note when using DS/CC to fearful conditions –
watch his body language. When he starts acting less than completely comfortable,
stops eating or stops following simple commands, he is telling you he is too
aroused! Stop and go back to where you were successful.
The very best time to do DS/CC to the vet's office is the first visit, before
he knows to be fearful and when he is healthy and able to eat. Then if he
becomes ill or needs a procedure where he is not allowed food, he has already
been conditioned that the vet is not a terrible place.
Feeding should happen before, during and after exams and procedures. One common
misconception is that feeding 'rewards his behavior'. As mentioned above, fear
is not something he has control over. He feels it and we can't tell him not to.
We can try to decrease his fearful feeling if he will eat.
Start as young as possible
If you obtain your dog as a puppy, this is the best time to start all his
socialization so he has less anxiety in new situations, including the vet. The
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's Puppy Socialization Position
states that during the first three months of life, "puppies should be
exposed to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as can be
achieved safely and without causing over- stimulation manifested as excessive
fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior." This includes the veterinary
hospital. The tips in this article can help minimize his fear at the very first
visit (e.g. feeding before, during and after exams and vaccines).
Here are some other ideas that can help you help your dog at the vet:
Be present – Many dogs
are more comfortable with their owners in the room with them. If you can, try
to be present for your dog's exam, blood draws or anything that does not
require sedation or anesthesia, or specialized equipment that cannot be brought
into the exam room. Of course, if you prefer not to watch such procedures, you
can leave the room and return and feed as soon as you can. Ask your vet to have
someone continue feeding while you are out of the room. Rarely dogs actually do
better away from their owners. If this is the case, you and your vet can make
adjustments to his handling plan.
Avoid the lobby – some
dogs become aroused with the presence of other dogs, too many people, etc. If
you see your dog become anxious (stiff posture, heavy panting, hiding, tail
tucked, growling, staring at other dogs), then ask to be put directly in an
exam room. If necessary, wait in a quiet area of the parking lot until a room
is free. Many patients start becoming aroused and overly excited in the lobby,
and this can spill over into increased arousal in the exam room
Use pheromones –
Adaptil® (formerly D.A.P®)
is an appeasing pheromone mimicking the properties of a pheromone released by
lactating female dogs. This pheromone gives the nursing puppies a sense of
well-being, has been found to reduce stress in puppies and dogs of all ages. It
comes as a spray, a diffuser and a collar. The collar is very convenient
because it goes everywhere with your dog, including the vet hospital or
Try the ThunderShirt.
Anxiety experts believe that constant gentle pressure on the torso has a
calming effect on the nervous system and may release calming hormones such as
endorphins and oxytocin. Some dogs relax at the vet with their Thundershirt. Be
sure to carefully test the shirt at home and also use favorite food treats
while introducing him to it.
Use a no-pull harness or
collar – These will allow you to have more control during the visit.
Don't punish – The AVSAB
Position Statement on the Use of Punishment for Behavior Modification in
states that punishment may result in increased fear-related and aggressive
Use a no slip mat or work on
the floor – Ask your vet for a no slip mat, or take one with you.
Make handling plans with your vet
Some dogs will never be comfortable at the vet, just like some people are never
comfortable at the dentist. In this case, ask your vet to work with you to
formulate a plan. The plan may include all of the above components, in addition
to the following:
Oral Sedation – very often,
especially for dogs with unknown history, you and your vet may wish to add in
sedation to help with the handling. Oral sedation prior to vet visits (even
happy visits) is often used as a component of the plan during DS/CC. Oral
sedatives generally need to be tested at home first, as some dogs may actually
become a little more agitated with some of these medications. Your vet can
instruct you on how to do an at-home test of a sedative medication.
Injectable sedation at the
vet's office – Some dogs are still very fearful despite all the above
preparations. Or they may not be allowed to eat due to a medical condition or
upcoming test or procedure. Ask your vet for sedation to be administered via
injection immediately upon arrival to the office to reduce your dog's stress
and possibly help him not remember his scary experience.
Stop the visit if able – If at
any point his fear has escalated to where you feel his fear is getting worse or
he cannot be safely handled for sedation administration without undue stress,
it's ok to stop the visit and make a better plan for the next time with your
vet. The more his fear escalates, the harder each subsequent visit will be. If
he is sick or injured and the visit must continue, you may have to do more work
to decrease his fear over the following visits.
Practice at home – talk to your
vet about things you might be able to practice at home, like touching the mouth
or ears, touching near his tail, touching his paws. Only practice this on the
advice of your vet if your pet has shown any resistance, such as pulling back,
growling, snapping, hiding, etc... at home.
training – for some pets who are fearful at the vet or other
situations, especially those who resist restraint of any kind, it can be a good
idea to teach them to wear a muzzle comfortably and for longer periods of time.
We use DS/CC for this training as well, usually pairing food with the muzzle –
ask your vet for more specific instructions. The muzzle allows your vet to use
the least restraint possible. Muzzle training can come in handy at home for
things like nail trims, and especially if your pet is injured and needs to be
transported quickly but may be trying to bite in response to pain or fear.
I have really been preoccupied with my Best Friends mom's death. Totally overwhelmed and honestly with the amount of rushing around that needed to be done, very busy. So the blog suffered I had no ideas or energy to post.
So everything was finished yesterday so we hopefully will get back on track.
Todays Blog is a easy reminder of the Ottawa Pet Expo If you go enjoy, Know thy dog will not be there this year, we are leaving on a plane tonight for Red Deer Alberta.
ew research into joint health compounds has finally paid off. On November 15th,
Dr. David Katz presented results from a new Clinical study on national TV. The
Clinical study conducted by a major university at the North Carolina Research
Campus shows that one joint compound can deliver significant, effective joint
In the double-blind
University clinical study, the specialty joint supplement Instaflex, when it
came to joint discomfort, significantly beat out the control group.
Researchers at the
North Carolina Research Campus concluded that Instaflex can deliver significant
joint relief. Study subjects experienced significant reduction in discomfort
during daily activities such as walking, using stairs, and lying down.
For those with knee
discomfort, the study found a significant decrease in stiffness, and an
increase in physical function during everyday activities including heavy
household chores, bending and walking.* The study also concluded that Instaflex
is safe to use, with no adverse symptomology or negative effects on general
Dr. David Katz discussing the results of the Instaflex Clinical Study on
CBS's the Doctors. (November 15th, 2013)
Instaflex compound includes proven joint ingredients such as Glucosamine, but
it's the fast-acting White Willow Bark Extract, Turmeric, Hyaluronic Acid, and
Boswellia Serrata Extract that provide the biggest kick.
once-daily dosage helps:
·Significantly relieve joint pain
·Improve mobility and increase
·Relieve stiffness, including knees
Instaflex is a
national sponsor of the Arthritis Foundation. It is also the top selling joint
supplement in specialty vitamin stores here in Canada, including GNC and Le
The clinical study
proves that Instaflex works. As the Doctor's discussed, it may take up to two
weeks to see significant relief from joint discomfort with Instaflex. As a
result the manufacturer is offering two-week samples of Instaflex today.
Pumpkin is very popular in human recipes but what about dogs and cats? Pumpkin can be great for dogs and cats as well and has several health benefits.
What kind of fruit weighs between 1 and 1,000 pounds, has a centuries-long world history, and is more useful today than ever? The magnificent pumpkin, of course!
Pumpkin is very popular in human recipes but you probably haven't thought about giving it to your pets. This vibrant fall ingredient can be great for dogs and cats and has a number of health benefits.
This versatile food has been important to mankind for centuries. According to the University of Illinois Extension Program, it's a crop that's worth over 140 million dollars annually in the United States alone. They should know; Illinois produces 90 to 95% of the pumpkins grown in the US.
Pumpkins have significant health benefits for people and pets so don't discount this amazing food as just a fall tradition. Canned or plain cooked pumpkin as well as pumpkin seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to the health of our pets.
Here are some of the health benefits of pumpkin for dogs and cats:
1. Combating dehydration: Pumpkin flesh is around 90% water, so a little pumpkin topping on a meal can combat dehydration resulting from moisture-deficient processed dry dog and cat foods. An additional benefit is improved digestion from increasing the gastric "juices" essential to proper gastrointestinal health.
2. Helping with Constipation: Fiber from pumpkin works in pets the same way it does in humans and can actually treat some gastrointestinal issues. A tablespoon or two of pumpkin can resolve symptoms in a few days if the gut is just a bit "out of order." Some cats may experience decreased colon activity as they age, resulting in constipation. The added fiber from pumpkin increases the bulk of the stool and the colon muscles react by moving things along.
3. Reducing Hairballs: By increasing the volume of waste in the intestine, pumpkin can help your cat digest and eliminate fur swallowed during grooming. This can reduce or even prevent the formation of "hairballs" that are eventually regurgitated.
4. Resolving Diarrhea: Yes, it works both ways! Pumpkin can soothe constipation but diarrhea can also be remedied with the addition of pumpkin to a dog or cat's diet. It is particularly effective if the upset is the result of colitis caused by a rapid food change or the ingestion of a new food. All it takes is a teaspoon for small dog or cat and a tablespoon or two for a medium or large dog of canned pumpkin in the animal's food.
5. Boosting Weight Loss: With 3 grams of fiber per cup, pumpkin can augment weight loss in dogs and cats. The fiber fills the tummy so your pet feels "fuller" sooner, meaning Pookie eats fewer calories overall.
6. Supplementing Nutrition: One of the biggest benefits of pumpkin to pets and humans is its wealth of nutrition. Pumpkins contain carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin A (from beta-carotene), iron, folate, magnesium, zinc, selenium, niacin, vitamin E, manganese, copper, and protein. You do not want to overload your pet's system with these nutrients and trace minerals, however. This is not a case of a little bit being good and a lot being better.
7. Adding Antioxidants: Pumpkin contain antioxidants which help moisturize skin, helping your pet maintain a healthy and shiny coat.
8. Providing Essential Fatty Acids: In addition to antioxidants, pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids with similar benefits. Pets may consume the seeds raw (if they are fresh) or enjoy the roasted version which store better. Lightly coat the seeds with cooking oil and roast in a 375-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes for a daily treat your pet will love. Only offer a few seeds at a time to your pet (the fiber can cause a softening of the stool). Store the seeds in an airtight container or freeze them. Don't forget to roast some extras for yourself! If your pet is small you can grind up the seeds to ensure they are easier to digest and don't get caught in the intestine.
9. Controlling Parasites: Pumpkin seeds contain cucurbitacin, a possible anthelmintic that eliminates tape and roundworms. Additionally the seeds may inhibit the formation of kidney and bladder stones, and some studies have shown anti-inflammatory properties. The seeds may be ground up and added to food, but again, be conservative.
Don't grab that jack-o-lantern just yet though! Carved pumpkins are NOT something you want to feed your pets because mold begins rapidly growing inside them once the skin is broken.
The best pet-safe sources are fresh or canned pumpkin cooked with no additional spices added. Do not get canned pumpkin designed for use in pie as this frequently contains spices and other ingredients. Opt for pure, plain pumpkin. Plan on freezing cooked pumpkin and fresh seeds; they last about a week when refrigerated. Some pet shops will carry pumpkin specially prepared for pets with sweet potato or other fruits added for flavor and nutritional benefits.
Yes, many dog owners are familiar with the anxiety and nervousness pets get on occasion. They’re caused by a variety of factors, but are equally upsetting to all involved, no matter the cause. Because of the variety of causes, Gregory Tilford notes in The Animal Herbalist website (http://theanimalherbalist.com) that there is no one perfect herb that works for every dog. Each dog should be taken individually and the appropriate herb or herbs can be customized for him.
“Each and every herb has its own range of special attributes and medicinal properties that makes it unique among all others,” says Tilford. “Not all calmative herbs are alike.”
There are many calming herbs out there for pets, but here are three to get you started on your research:
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian root is a popular sedative and anti-anxiety herb for both humans and pets.
The smelly herb (akin to that of dirty gym socks) is also known as an anti-convulsive, and can be used in treating epilepsy. Tilford states in his Animal Herbalist website that while valerian can be soothing to many dogs – especially those with nervous stomachs – it is not suitable for every dog. Since valerian is considered a hot, warming herb, it is not recommended for dogs that run hot (for instance, itchy dogs hot to the touch with bright-red tongues).
If your dog will be undergoing a stressful event or trip, start administering five drops, three to four times a day, of valerian root in tincture form three days before the event (Herbs for Pets, Second Edition, by Gregory L. Tilford & Mary L. Wulff).
Though valerian is generally safe, large doses may cause digestive upset and it shouldn’t be used in pregnant dogs.
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Even though we’ve come to know chamomile as a household, go-to tea that works to soothe our nerves and stomachs, there are actually dozens of related species. According to Herbs for Pets, German chamomile is the most potent form, boasting benefits including healing wounds, expelling worms, and of course, as a digestive soother and sedative.
Because of its mild nature and multiple calming benefits, chamomile can serve as a go-to herb for your dog as well.
Use a glycerin tincture and administer in .25-.50 milliliters per 20 pounds twice daily directly into the mouth or in drinking water.
Though chamomile is considered very safe, some animals can be allergic, so start with very small amounts.
Oatstraw (Avena sativa)
Derived from the post-flowering tops of oats, oatstraw is another nervous system soother that’s easy to find and generally safe.
Oatstraw is a nervous system optimizer in that it can help calm nervous animals on one hand. On the other, it can stimulate the nervous system when given to debilitated pets, according to Herbs for Pets. It can also help with epilepsy, tremors and twitching.
You can purchase dried oatstraw at the health food store and brew it into a tea (one teaspoon in eight ounces of water) that can be mixed into your dog’s food. Dosing is two to four ounces of cooled tea daily for dogs. Reduce the amount given if excitability or vomiting occurs.