Eagleview Veterinary Hospital
A bike can excite some dogs and terrify others. Some dogs will gladly run alongside a bike while others would like to viciously destroy the bike until it can’t move anymore. And then there are the other dogs that are nervous and confused about the bike so they choose to run away from it in the opposite direction.
Having a fear of bikes can be dangerous for the dog and the bike rider. Often when a dog tries to attack a moving bike, they can end up getting hurt or the rider of the bike may end up crashing (which can lead to terrible injuries!). Sometimes the rider of the bike may even get nipped at or bitten by the fearful dog. It is a good idea to train your dog to be comfortable around bikes, especially in our town of Squamish, where there seem to be just as many bikes around as vehicles.
To train your dog to be comfortable around bikes, try the following:
Introduce your dog to a bike that isn’t moving and watch their reaction– then you will know how much training work you have ahead of you. Get your dog to practice sitting and staying next to the bike. Reward your dog with treats or their favourite toy.
Next, have someone slowly ride the bike around while your dog is on leash. Have them ride on the other side of the yard or street. Continue to practice obedience (sitting and staying) around the slow moving bike. Pretend that you don’t even notice the bike. Work on keeping your dog’s attention and reward calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy.
Once your dog is ok with the idea of a slow moving bike, practice walking your dog on leash in one hand while pushing the bike around with your other hand. Go at a slow pace and teach your dog that there is no reason to be scared of bikes. Reward your dog with food or their favourite toy when they are calm and relaxed around the moving bike.
When your dog becomes ok with the idea of a bike in motion, keep them on leash and have somebody ride by at a faster pace. Once your dog is able to ignore the bike, have them increase their biking speed. Your dog may be ok with the bike at a slow speed but may become agitated when the bike goes speeding by. Continue to reward calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy.
Purposely walk by strangers on bikes. Continue walking while keeping your dog’s focus and pretend like the bike isn’t there. If you are tense and nervous around the bike, your dog will pick up on it and be tense and nervous as well. The calmer you are, the better your dog will be. Don’t forget to reward calm behaviour with treats or their favourite toy!
Training your dog in new situations is not a quick process. Continue working with them as often as possible. Your dog’s behaviour will regress if practice is not maintained. Once your dog is completely comfortable around bikes, try taking them out on a bike ride with you! Just remember that all trails are shared and full control of your dog is necessary to prevent injuries to themselves or other people.
What can you look for as some signs of aging in your pets?
While some signs of aging in your pets are obvious (such as graying of hair or decreasing energy levels), there are other changes that may go unnoticed. Senior pets may look and act normally while coping with the following:
- Aching joints
- Tooth pain
- Loss of awareness for surrounding hazards
- Cloudy vision
These are common conditions that are associated with osteoarthritis, dental disease, cognitive dysfunction and the loss of hearing or vision.
What can you do for your senior pets?
Watch for subtle changes in your pet’s behavior or less interaction with your family, as this may signal an underlying discomfort in your pet.
It is a good idea to schedule annual physical exams that include complete geriatric bloodwork and a urinalysis. Early detection and prompt treatment of disease can significantly prolong and impact the quality of life for your senior pet.
What is the importance of a full geriatric blood panel?
Dogs and cats can often “hide” clinical signs of underlying disease and may not show signs of illness until the disease or disorder is well advanced. Testing blood and urine allows us to:
- Detect disease early
- Adjust treatment where there is underlying organ dysfunction
- Obtain baseline data
Puppy socialization is a very important part of a puppy’s first steps in life. Proper socialization can help eliminate behavior problems in the future and help develop a better bond between the puppy and your family. Socialization is the learning process that puppies go through to become accustomed to various things in their surroundings such as: people, other animals, different environments, etc. Be careful not to introduce your puppy to other dogs until they have been properly vaccinated. Your veterinarian will let you know when your puppy is ready to be around other dogs.
By exposing puppies to different situations in a positive or neutral way (before they can develop a fear of these things!), owners can reduce the possibility of future behavioral problems. The critical time to socialize a puppy is during the first 3-4 months of its life. If we are able to create less future behavioral problems with puppies, then we will hopefully see fewer dogs surrendered at the local shelters.
Attending a puppy training class led by a professional trainer is a great way for you and your puppy to learn together. The goal of socialization is to expose your puppy to as many different things as possible without overwhelming them. We want the puppy’s experiences to create positive memories for them.
- Familiarize your puppy with touch. Whenever possible, you should touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws and body. This will make it easier (for you and the veterinary team) to clean ears, brush teeth, trim nails and examine them in the future.
- Introduce your puppy to people of all different ages, sexes, heights and races. Once your puppy seems comfortable, allow other people to touch your puppy’s ears, mouth, paws and body. This will make your puppy more comfortable in the future when being handled by others at the daycare, groomers or veterinary hospital.
- Once your puppy is properly vaccinated, they can then be socialized around other animals. Be sure to introduce them to many different dogs in various public areas. You don’t want to do this too soon and expose your puppy to an infectious disease when their immune system is still developing.
Not to bore you with a long-winded, scientific write up about ears but here is a quick animal biology class review leading up to some simple ear cleaning instructions: Dog and cat ears have 3 major parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. Cats don’t seem to have nearly as many ear infection issues as dogs do. Dogs with large, floppy ears commonly have issues with ear infections. Some dog breeds have excess hair growth in and around the ear canals. Floppy ears and excess hair growth can lead to poor air circulation and buildup of moisture and wax, which creates a favorable breeding environment for bacteria. Dogs that spend a lot of time in the water are prone to developing ear infections. Dogs or cats with skin allergies may also have ear problems as part of the allergic reaction. Signs of an ear infection may include: redness, swelling, discharge, odor, excessive head shaking, excessive scratching or rubbing of ears.
The outer ear consists of the earflap (also called the pinna). The pinna funnels sound into the ear canal. Many dogs have ears that are folded over and cats have ears that sit upright. Unlike humans that have a very short ear canal, dogs have a long, narrow ear canal that makes almost a 90-degree bend as it travels to the deeper parts of the ear.
The outer ear canal is separated from the middle ear by a thin membrane called the eardrum (or tympanic membrane). The eardrum is very fragile and can be damaged if an ear infection is present. The middle ear consists of 3 small bones, an air filled cavity called the bulla and a thin tube leading from the bulla to the back of the mouth.
How To Clean Your Pet’s Ears
- Squeeze a moderate amount of ear cleansing solution into the ear canal.
- Massage at the base of the ear to distribute the ear cleansing solution throughout the ear canal (you can be quite rough at this point to loosen up all the waxy buildup and debris inside the ear). You will hear a “squishing” noise as you massage. Your pet will enjoy this part!
- Let your pet shake their head. Be sure to move your face back or else you may get some ear debris shaken into your mouth or eyes!
- Use cotton, Q-tips, tissues or gauze to wipe away any debris or waxy buildup from the inside of the earflap. To reach down into the ear canal it is best to put a tissue or gauze around your finger and then gently insert it into the ear canal. Your finger will not be small enough to reach down to the tympanic membrane (or eardrum). A Q-tip can gently be used to wipe the folds of the ear.
- Allow your pet to shake their head again.
- Reward them with a treat!
How To Administer Ear Medication Into Your Pet’s Ears
- Make sure your pet’s ears are clean and dry before instilling the medication so that is can penetrate into the skin instead of being stopped and absorbed by debris or waxy buildup.
- Pull back the earflap and gently insert the tip of the bottle or tube into the ear canal. Be careful with your cat’s ears – do not insert the bottle far into the ear canal.
- Squeeze the recommended amount of medication into the ear canal. You may need to hold your pet’s head still so they do not shake the medication out right away.
- Gently massage at the base of the ear in order to distribute the medication throughout the ear canal.