Your pet is well under way with obedience classes. Vaccinations are done for the year or your pup is still on a schedule. The best part is that your veterinarian gave you the thumbs up! It’s time for your friend to have fun and socialize! Where to go? How safe is it? Are you ready? No matter where you take your pet, keep in mind that there is always a risk. Make sure your friend is comfortable and wants to be in the environment he/she is in. If you want to take your pal to get socialized, choose your area of play wisely. You don’t want to overwhelm your pup. You want a positive experience!
Meet and Greet!
We all want the ideal dog park. Friendly dogs playing with all types of new friends, owners who watch and monitor their pets and pick up after their pet, no dog fights, and a clean park. Here in Northern San Diego we are fortunate to have many dog parks within just a short driving distance. Make sure the park you go to is dog friendly and you go during designated times. Read the park rules and observe the park and see how the dogs are playing. Taking treats and toys is not recommended because it could lead to a potential dog fight. If your pup absolutely loves his/her tennis balls, take more than two. One park I went to had 3 buckets full of tennis balls for any pet that wanted one. No one was left out. How great was that!? You will meet other pet parents and get to know their pets as well. You can have an ideal park when pet parents work together and make the park a safe and clean one!
Let’s face it. Taking your dog to the beach is awesome and it’s fun watching your pet running into the waves and having a blast with his friends! A firm belief is that your pup must be well socialized and well behaved in order to go to the beach. You are dealing with such an open area! Your pal will encounter people who are walking their dogs on a leash, people riding their bikes, people playing Frisbee and people jogging. Dog owners need to keep a sharp eye on their pets while they play at the beach. There are some potential risks that you need to be on alert for: glass, garbage, stingrays, unfriendly dogs, sand or water in the ears, jellyfish, and more. Make sure you go to a designated dog beach area and look for the designated times and season you can enjoy the waves with your pal.
Doggie Daycares are a more controlled environment and all pets are checked for current vaccines and intestinal parasite exams. Most daycares have a socialization test your pup would need to pass in order to be in daycare. Most important, all pets need to be spayed or neutered. Once again, there are always potential risks. The best daycares would be groups of 12 dogs per yard/attendant and it is important also to group the yards for small and large dogs. If the daycare is held outdoors, adequate shade, doggie pools and lots of water around the yard is ideal and critical for those hot lazy days. The disadvantages for daycares could be the cost, parasites and disease. Once again, there is always a risk for potential dog fights. Ask your daycare if they have discounted packages for daily or weekly attendance and injury insurance.
Advantages for play groups:
Excellent source of social interaction, dog-people interaction, people-people interaction, great source of off-leash exercise for active dogs, allows dogs to get adequate physical and mental exercise, educational advantage and community advantages.
Disadvantages for play groups:
Dog fights, potential danger of aggressive dogs, intact dogs may create a problem, potential for parasites and disease, potential for lack of impulse control and over-excitement, small and large dogs mixed together at the same time for play and potential for injury, potential injuries from running/playing, people-people confrontations, fleas/ticks, etc.
Some people don’t understand the concept and will abuse the park, beach or other areas of play for dogs. They don’t pick up after their dog(s), leave their pet(s) unattended, and allow their dog to indulge in inappropriate behavior. In the event of a dog fight, do not panic. Take your pet to your veterinarian immediately. Bacteria can enter the wound and cause infection at a rapid rate. Bite wounds appear as gashes, usually around the neck or ear of a pet. Puncture/bite wounds can be very painful so be careful when touching the area. Bite wounds are easily disguised by your pet’s fur and they can develop into an abscess if they are not noticed right away. Broken branches, sticks and nails are common sources that cause punctures as well. An immediate trip to your veterinarian is necessary so that your pup can get treatment started right away.
The most important thing to remember when taking your energetic pup to a dog friendly environment: Watch your pet’s demeanor and see how happy she/he is to be there. Watch their body language and be involved. Keep your pet up on his vaccines and intestinal parasite exams. After a trip to the park or beach, towel dry or hose down your pup. Salt water and sand/dirt on his skin/coat can irritate the skin and/or ears. If you notice your pet shaking his head or scratching at his ears, licking paws, limping or anything unusual, a visit to your vet is recommended! Better to catch the problem right away than waiting for it to get worse. Have fun and enjoy your time with your companion and don’t forget to take selfies with each other and send them to Pacific Animal Hospital!
For the month of January we have been talking about new additions to your family, train your dog month, the importance of socialization and so much more! Also mentioned was making sure you have your pet on a routine schedule in regards to vaccines. Vaccinations are an important part of your dogs and cat’s health care routine. By vaccinating your pet, you help protect your family friend from various diseases that are contagious from other animals. Let’s start with:
DHPP: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo.
This vaccination for puppies start at 6-8 weeks old and is given every 3-4 weeks until your puppy is 16-18 weeks old. More than one vaccine is to be given. Sadly, there are many people that think one vaccine is enough and it isn’t. Parvo is a life threatening illness in puppies and highly contagious. Puppies need to get the entire series of DHPP completed. An adult dog can also come down with distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvo. Routine checkups and ensuring your adult friend is up on his vaccines is important!
The vaccine can be given as early as 10 weeks old with a second vaccine given 3-4 weeks later. Then this vaccination should be given yearly. This disease can also be spread to people.
Bordetella (Infectious Tracheobronchitis) or “kennel cough”
Vaccinations start at 7-8 weeks old with a second vaccine given 3-4 weeks later, then yearly. If your dog is exposed to other dogs at all, this vaccine is very important.
Given at 3 months to puppies, then a booster is given 1 year later. The second vaccine is good for three years. Dogs are required by law to be vaccinated against rabies. This disease is also communicable to people.
FDVRC: (Feline Distemper Virus, Rhinotracheitis, Calici Virus)
The first vaccination is given at 7-8 weeks old and is given every 3-4 weeks until 16 to 18 weeks old. This vaccine is given more than once to protect your kitten.
FeLV: Feline Leukemia
FeLV is given as early as 10 weeks with a booster 3-4 weeks later; then yearly. Transmission is through infected saliva, tears, urine, bite wounds, mutual grooming and in pregnant females. It would be best to have your kitten tested for FelV when coming in for his first series of vaccines.
Given at 3 months of age to kittens, and then given yearly to adults. This vaccine is required by law.
At Pacific Animal Hospital our goal is for every pet to receive preventative care. We are the health care provider for our patients so it is up to us to take good care of them! Remember that while vaccinating your pets may have some risk, failure to vaccinate leaves your pet vulnerable to fatal illnesses that are preventable. Pacific Animal Hospital uses top quality vaccines from leading manufacturers in the veterinary medical biological field. If you have any questions or concerns with the safety and effectiveness of vaccines or any other topic regarding your pet’s wellness, consult with your veterinarian so they can give you the information on your specific pet needs. You may be wondering if your puppy can go to obedience school and/or socialize with other pets if they aren’t finished with their vaccination schedule? If you take some commonsense precautions while socializing your puppy, the risk of infection is quite small. Make sure to ask your trainer what his/her protocol is regarding checking new student’s vaccinations.
The Importance of Continuing the Process
We all want to ensure life-long protection for our beloved pets. Yearly or every 3 year vaccines (for dogs) are what is recommended. However, be advised that your own veterinarian may have his/her protocol and we advise you to follow your own veterinarian’s recommendations. As a pet gets older, one may think their pet is not at risk or vaccines are not needed. Young or old, all pets need to be vaccinated for their own protection and the safety of others. Pacific Animal Hospital has incredible Wellness Packages for all pets, young or old. We have several plans for you to choose from for your pet(s) that cover all of your pet’s yearly preventative care needs, and you can pay in flat monthly installments or all at once for even greater savings. What a wonderful gift to give to you and your pet! Protect their health and future by vaccinating your pet(s) throughout their journey of life!
Socialization for your pet is critical when growing up and throughout his or her lifetime. For any pet, it’s essential to get him accustomed to the common types of people, environments, sights, noises, smells, animals and most importantly, other dogs. Socialization is important to the welfare of your companion because it will provide him with the ability to develop skills and cope with new experiences in a positive way. It is extremely important during puppyhood but should not end there. As a responsible pet parent, reinforce social skills and continue to expose your pup to new social experiences throughout his entire journey of life.
There are lots of ways to socialize your pet and here are a few ideas:
Puppy Kindergarten or Obedience Classes
Outdoor community and dog events
Car rides – Go through food drive- thru’s, car washes. See how your pet reacts to new locations!
Hang out at the entrance of your neighborhood mall or plaza, grocery store – People will gather towards you because they will want to pet your pal!
Pet Stores, Outdoor Café’s. Dog Beach
As mentioned, these are just a few ideas. Always keep your friend under control, carry treats and keep it positive. Lots of positive and loving reinforcement! Don’t force your pet into anything he doesn’t want to do. Keep it light hearted and if your pal appears overly anxious or overwhelmed, keep it short. Most important of all, and we have mentioned this before, please make sure your companion is current or is in the process of getting vaccines. Most young puppies are not fully protected against the diseases we vaccinated them for until they’ve had all their puppy vaccines. In addition, puppy socialization classes offer a safe and organized means of socializing your young pup. Puppy classes should be held on surfaces that can be easily cleaned and disinfected. Ask your dog trainer what his/her cleaning protocols are, as well as documenting the student’s vaccination records. Take commonsense precautions and talk to your veterinarian to ensure you have covered everything. All pets in all types of training classes should be kept up to date on vaccines throughout their training class. Vaccines are critical for their well-being and health.
It is extremely critical to pay extra attention when taking your pet to the dog park. Keep an eye on your pet as pet parents tend to talk to other parents or are on their cell phones. Dog fights can happen quickly! Some dog parks have an area where you can observe the group of dogs playing before letting your dog off his leash. If you have a puppy, ask your dog trainer or log onto your city website and see where they offer puppy play at a neighborhood park. Some doggie daycares offer puppy play as well. Lifelong socialization is the best way for your friend to learn how to respond with less fear and stress situations. Your companion will be an overall happier and more balanced friend! With a well behaved and socialized pup, you can both enjoy your time together and love every minute of it!