Lynwood Veterinary Clinic
568 Metcalfe Rd
Ferndale, WA, 6148

reception@lynwoodvet.com.au
www.lynwoodvet.com.au
Phone: 08 9451 3575

Welcome to our March newsletter. This month it's all about behaviour! Behavioural training starts when we first bring our new family member home and introduce them to the rest of the family, and continues right through adulthood. We all want our pets to be happy, sociable and confident family members. To set them up for success, its essential that we use positive reinforcement and are consistent with our training, but also to recognise issues early on so they can be treated.

Some pets are naturally more anxious and these individuals may need extra support, such as consultations in the home with a behavioural specialist, supplements or even medications. Sometimes problems develop that owners put down to "being naughty" such as toileting inside, when in fact they may have an underlying medical cause.  

If we ignore small behavioural issues they become big problems which are stressful for the entire family, so if you have any concerns please come and ask us for advice.

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Contents of this newsletter

01  Mind your manners

02  Peanut's Wee Little Problem

03  Training tips

04  Destructive dogs

05  Sharpen those claws

06  Overcoming cat carrier stress

01 Mind your manners
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March is Polite Pets Month so there's never been a better time to get your pet to mind his manners!

So if you own a mischievous mutt or a crazy kitty, now's the time to ask for help. 

For specific advice about pet behaviour, we recommend you make an appointment with us to discuss the problem.Many people are surprised that behavioural problems are often caused by an underlying medical condition.

For example, a suddenly aggressive dog may be suffering from arthritic pain. Or a cat that is urinating outside of his litter box may in fact have underlying urinary tract disease. 

We also have lots of tools up our sleeve to help with behavioural issues - such as pheromone diffusers that can help your pet feel more relaxed. 

Phone us today - we can help your pet be on his best behaviour (perhaps not quite as good as Jesse the dog in this video).

02 Peanut's Wee Little Problem
Peanut

Peanut

Melissa, one of our senior vet nurses, has experienced firsthand the challenges of diagnosing and treating one of the most common feline behavioural issues - inappropriate urination. This is a probably the most complained about problem in multi pet households.

Peanut is a 3 year old sterilised female. She found Melissa as an anxious, stray kitten and has always been quite timid. When she was 9 months old, Peanut started urinating in unusual places like the bathroom and one of the bedrooms. We presumed it was behavioural as it started when Melissa moved house and many cats will urinate inappropriately when they are stressed.

Initially we started using a Feliway diffuser. Feliway is synthetic pheromone designed to help alleviate stress in cats and is helpful in many behavioural problems. However the behaviour continued…

We then collected a urine sample to rule out any medical problems such as a urinary tract infection or crystals in her urine. To obtain a urine sample at home, Melissa used a special type of litter in her tray called ‘Catrine’ which is designed to give the cat something to scratch in but not soak up the urine. The sample was sent to the lab and she was found to have urinary tract infection and struvite crystals. Peanut was very hard to medicate so she was given an antibiotic injection that lasted for two weeks and was started on a special Urinary prescription diet made by Royal Canin.

Overall with the antibiotics, Feliway and Royal Canin Urinary diet Peanut was a much happier kitty and soon stopped urinating outside of her litter tray.

As Peanut is quite a highly strung cat, she is still prone to occasional bouts of stress cystitis (this is inflammation of the bladder with no infection present) and the only sign of this is urinating inappropriately. In Peanut's case this will usually be in the shower recess or bath. She stays on Royal Canin Urinary as her sole diet to reduce the risk of urinary tract problems. A Feliway diffuser is used in her area of the house, where she spends most of her time away from the two rambunctious juvenile German Shepherds that she lives with.

03 Training tips
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If you have just brought home a new puppy, kitten or rescue pet, training should begin straight away. It is easy for a dog or cat to pick up bad habits quickly, especially when they are settling in. If you let your puppy sleep in your bed initially, this is where he will expect to sleep for the rest of his life and it may not be as fun when he grows to be a hairy, slobbering 20kg adult dog!

Make sure you decide on a few ground rules early and stick to them. Short training sessions (up to five minutes) create routine and stimulate your pet’s brain.

Here are a few things to remember:

  • Be consistent
  • Always reward your pet when he is doing the right thing
  • Dogs in particular learn by positive re-enforcement; use treats, pats and a positive voice as a reward
  • Ignore any undesirable behaviour

Puppy Preschool is an excellent opportunity for your pup to learn some basic manners but, most importantly, socialise with other dogs his own age. Our senior nurse, Melissa, runs Puppy Preschool in 4 week blocks, usually on Tuesday evenings from 7pm. Your puppy will gain confidence with different doggy personalities making visits to the park in the future much more enjoyable. We can usually tell which of our patients have been to Puppy Preschool as they race in the door with a big grin to say hello to everyone.

Kittens and cats need lots of stimulation so providing a range of toys is important. Scratching posts and climbing poles are also an excellent source of entertainment. Or you could build your cat the ultimate maze!

04 Destructive dogs
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Dogs are social creatures and they form strong bonds with people. Having a furry best friend is, without doubt, the greatest thing in the world, but it is not uncommon for your pooch to feel anxious when they are separated from you.

Most dogs will adapt well to daily separation from their owners but unfortunately some dogs will become very distressed and even destructive, a problem known as separation anxiety.

Signs of separation anxiety include:

  • Barking, howling
  • Excessive chewing, digging and pacing
  • Destruction and scratching of barriers - near doors and windows
  • House soiling

In some cases dogs can seriously injure themselves and may severely destroy property. It can also be a very distressing problem for owners.

Tips to help reduce your dog’s anxiety:

  • Take your dog for a walk before you leave the house
  • Don’t make huge fuss when you leave your dog or when you return
  • Start small - leave your dog alone for only five minutes extending to twenty minutes then an hour, then longer
  • Leave your dog with plenty of stimulating toys, chews and mind games
  • Leave the radio or television on for company

Please don't hesitate to speak to us if you think your dog is developing separation problems. We will be able to work with you to improve the situation. 

05 Sharpen those claws
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Cats love a good scratch. Not only is it a good form of exercise but they get to sharpen their claws. Scratching also helps them to leave scent markers or a "calling card."

Unfortunately, some cats choose to sharpen their claws on furniture and think that the back of the sofa is just one giant scratching post. Obviously, their interior decorating is not always desirable!  

What to do if your cat is damaging furniture:

  • Place a scratching post right next to the furniture the cat is currently scratching
  • Praise and offer food rewards whenever your cat scratches her scratching post
  • Try offering a variety of scratching substrates; don’t offer just one carpeted scratching post - think cardboard, logs of wood
  • Deter the cat from scratching furniture by placing double-sided sticky tape on it. Many cats find the stickiness of the tape unpleasant

If you’ve tried all these recommendations and your cat is still “redecorating”, ask us for help. 

06 Overcoming cat carrier stress
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Getting your cat into a carrier can be a very stressful event and can put you off taking your cat to the vet.

In your cat's mind, nothing good really follows being shoved into a carrier. Dogs leave the house for pleasurable walks but cats are invariably taken somewhere a lot less exciting (i.e to see us!). 

Cats should be secured in the car, not just for their safety but also yours. 

Some tips for reducing cat carrier stress:

  1. Store the carrier in a part of your house that smells like home (not with moth balls or in the dusty garage). Give your cat the chance to rub her scent on the carrier
  2. Get your cat to associate the carrier with good things. Place food in the carrier or special treats. Close the door for a few minutes while she’s inside. Then use the same process when a trip to the vet is on the cards
  3. Cats are smart (“Hmmm, why does my owner have her car keys in her hand? That’s it, I’m outta here!”) so vary your cues and mix up your routine
  4. Bring a towel that smells like home to cover the carrier when you arrive here. Also - don't put the carrier down near a strange dog - it instantly creates stress
  5.  Ask us about Feliway pheromone spray to help your cat feel more secure and safe while in the carrier

We will happily recommend the best carrier for your cat - ask us for advice.