Settling your dog into a new home

So you are about to move house and concerned about settling your dogs into their new environment? Here's some handy tips on making the transition stress free and as safe as possible for your pet.

Dogs can sometimes be more difficult to settle into new routines, particularly those that have the run of the house or are used to more space. Taking your dog for walks around your new area, will give him/her both the mental and physical stimulation they need as well as familiarise them with their new surrounds. Walk your dog at least once daily, especially in the mornings before they are left alone. This will help reduce any excess energy that they have.

Avoid making a fuss of your dog when you arrive home and leave home. Your dog may interpret the fuss incorrectly, and begin to worry unnecessarily. You do not want him/ her to wait all day for an exciting event (ie. your arrival). If you get home and nothing exciting happens, your dog will start to think it is not the best part of his day and will stop pining for that moment.

Owners are often tempted to replace the dog or cat's bed when they move into a new home. If you can resist the temptation, provide them with a bed, toys, food and water bowl they are familiar with.

Barking, digging and more

Most dogs only bark, dig or develop destructive behaviours when they are bored so keeping your dog busy is the main priority.

Make sure your new home is safe

Before you let your pet into a new environment, do a simple check for the following:-

  • Poisons - check your shed, garden and shelves for anything left at 'nose' level. Also check the garden beds for any rat or snail poison left in the yard by previous owners.
  • Fencing - do a backyard check to make sure you have no escape holes.
  • Remove chewable objects - to prevent obstruction injuries (injuries that could choke or damage your pet's gastrointestinal system) remove suspect items from your yard. Disgard any old bones, small balls and anything your pet maybe attracted to.
  • Identification - Ensure your pet is wearing a collar, and has an identification tag with your new phone number. If your pet is microchipped, contact the relevant microchip registry to change your contact details. Finally contact your local council to update your pet's registration details.

If your dog is having trouble, or you know he or she may have trouble settling in, a calming pheromone dispenser may help considerably, please call your local vet to discuss this.

And just remember, patience, patience, patience... and you will enjoy your new home together in no time.

10 facts about dogs that you didn't know about

A man’s best friend and a common companion for many families and households, is the energetic and lovable dog. While you may think you know your dog pretty well, you’d be surprised to find out there are many little known facts about dogs that may explain part of their behaviour, habits or appearance.

Want to know more? Here are 10 little known facts about dogs:

  1. Dogs have been around for over 40,000 years

Your favourite pooch has had a long history, with archaeological evidence suggesting that dogs might have come from the wolf family up to 40,000 years ago. This is most noticeable for specific dog breeds like the German Shepherd who still seem to have a noticeable wolf like appearance.

  1. Not all dogs have pink tongues.

Nearly all but two breeds of dogs have pink tongues. The Chow Chow and the Shar-Pei are exceptions as they both have black tongues. How cool is that?

  1. There are more than 150 dog breeds, divided into 8 classes.

These include: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous dogs.

Determining dog types isn’t as simple as you thought! While we commonly distinguish dogs by their size, general appearance or hair length, it seems there is a lot more to it than that. There are approximately over 150 dog breeds, all with distinct physical, behavioral and mental characteristics.

  1. Dogs can hear amazingly well.

All dogs have amazing hearing that allows them to locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second. That means they can tell instantly when you are opening their dog food (or any other kind of food!) and will come chasing in no time!

  1. Dogs curl up to protect themselves (not to just look cute).

We love the look of our favourite pooch curled in a ball on the bed, couch or pretty much anywhere else, however it isn’t just to look cute! Dogs curl up as a natural instinct to keep themselves warm and to protect their vital organs when they sleep.

  1. Dalmatian puppies are actually born completely white!

They certainly didn’t teach us this one in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians! The gorgeous Dalmatian puppies are born completely white and they develop their black spots over time.

  1. Puppies can’t hold on over night.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot teach your brand new puppy to hold off from going to the toliet throughout the night, never fear it’s not your fault! Puppies actually have an inability to hold on until they are about four months old.  Although this may cause a little stress and havoc during the beginning, it is a lot less time than it takes to toilet train a newborn human baby!

  1. They can smell a lot better than you think.

We know our dogs love to sniff pretty much anything, especially when you take them somewhere new, but did you know that their sense of smell can be between 1,000 - 100,000 times stronger than the average human? That means there’s no fooling them when you have their bone or are hiding food, chances are they are smell it from a mile away!

  1. The Norwegian Lundehund is the only breed that has six toes on each feet.

The small breed is different from its furry friends as it has not five but six toes on each foot. How cute is that?

  1. Dogs have an amazing internal clock.

If you keep to a fairly regular schedule, dogs learn to know exactly when it’s walk time, eat and sleep time and when you’re due to get back from work.

Assistance Dogs in the Community

Pets and people go together like bread and butter, as much as we like to talk about enriching our pets’ lives with toys and play, the truth is the very presence of a dog can often enrich human lives. They are man’s best friend after all! Assistance dogs are living proof of this. When it comes to the elderly, disabled, or otherwise impaired, there’s nothing quite like an assistance dog to not only help out with basic tasks and chores but add quality of life and sociability to those in need.

Assistance dogs are a heavy investment. Disability services such as Guide Dogs Australia often require up to or more than $25,000 to train an assistance dog, depending on the particular training required. However, once trained assistance dogs can perform the following tasks:

  • Open doors
  • Pick up items
  • Do laundry/fetch other items necessary for housework
  • Alert bark to alert the owner of danger, guests or other things that require immediate attention
  • Help owner cross roads by pressing buttons at traffic lights
  • Pay cashier at stores

For providers of assistance dogs it often takes a long time to match up the right dog to the right person. Those companies that provide assistance dogs try carefully to match the personality and training the dog has undertaken to the personality and needs of the person needing assistance.

Types of Assistance Dogs

There are many types of assistance dogs.

Those specifically trained to aid the hearing or vision impaired. These dogs are specifically trained to use different alerts for sounds, such as touching (nudging) or licking in order to show the owner there is something needing their attention.

A mobility assistance dog can help with walking and/or pulling a wheelchair.

A dog specifically trained as an autism assistance dogcan use a technique such as deep pressure, i.e sitting on the child’s lap or chest, in order to calm them down, and to run after them if the child runs away. These dogs are best kept in a harness and in constant connection to their charge in order to keep the dog in the child’s mind as much as possible.

Assistance dogs can aid the impaired by providing greater freedom, independence and personhood. A valuable trait for those already struggling with mental and physical handicaps such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, autism spectrum disorders and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only do they make great carers, but assistance dogs can also be taken to hospitals, hospices and old folk’s homes, providing an affectionate and adorable treat for sick children, adults and the elderly.

A licensed assistance dog is granted public access rights, it is illegal to refuse entry to an identified assistance dog and any person/proprietor who does so can be charged, therefore assistance dogs are the perfect guide to take to appropriate social outings.

Guide dogs are well-equipped and trained to deal with emergency situations. Training allows them to navigate quickly through crowds, find emergency exits and bring medication to owners/patients. A guide dog can also be trained to calm down someone with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or another mental illness during a panic attack.

Pets in general, dogs especially, are known to improve sociability among communities, with many dog owners suggesting that they might not have met many people in their neighbourhoods without their canine on hand. The quality of life that comes with this kind of improved sociability is invaluable for those whose age, illness or mental difficulties can limit their interactions with others, time spent outdoors and time generally being active.

10 cat myths uncovered

While the myth that cats have nine lives was debunked long ago, there remain a number of old wives’ tales that continue to steer many cat owners in the wrong direction.

Myth 1. Cats always land on their feet

Fact: Cats instinctively fall feet-first due to their flexible spine and "superior righting reflex". However, this is not to say that a cat can’t be injured in a fall.

 Myth 2. Milk is good for cats

Fact: While cats love milk and will readily lap up a whole saucer, it’s not good for their health. Most cats are lactose intolerant and can’t break down the enzymes in cow’s milk. For a special treat, you can give your cat lactose-free milk occasionally.

Myth 3. Pregnant women should not own cats

Fact: It is true that some cats (especially those who actively hunt) carry a disease called toxoplasmosis, which can harm an unborn baby. Pregnant women can catch the disease from a variety of sources, including through accidentally swallowing the parasite through contact with cat faeces.  However pregnant women can still own cats; they just need to be vigilant about washing their hands after close contact and avoid handling kitty litter. Pregnant women should consult their doctor for a blood test for Toxoplasmosis as most of us have been exposed already and have immunity.

Myth 4. Garlic keeps worms and fleas at bay

Fact: There is no scientific evidence that garlic prevents worms or fleas. In fact, garlic can actually cause anaemia in cats.

Myth 5. Cats eat grass when they’re sick

Fact: Grass is a natural laxative for cats, as it contains enzymes that cats can’t break down. Eating grass in small amounts is a safe and natural way for cats to regurgitate unwanted bones, feathers and furballs in their digestive tracts.

Myth 6. Butter on the paws keeps kitty from getting lost

Fact: If you are moving house, rubbing butter on your cat’s paws will do nothing more than provide a brief distraction. You can also consider using Feliway pheromone diffusers.

Myth 7. Cats can eat dog food

Fact: A regular diet of dog food can be extremely dangerous for your cat as it does not contain essential nutrients that your cat needs, such as taurine and arachidonic acid. Taurine deficiency can lead to blindness and heart disorders, and arachidonic acid can lead to dry, scaly skin. If your cat has a habit of eating the dog’s food, try to feed your cat and dog in separate areas at the same time and remove any leftovers.

Myth 8. Cats must be six months’ old to be desexed

Fact: With modern anaesthetics, most cats can now be safely desexed earlier. Check with your veterinarian about the best time to do this.

Myth 9. A cat with a bell will not catch birds

Fact: Cats are clever animals and learn quickly how to move so the bell doesn’t ring.  Some research suggests cats with bells are actually better at catching prey as they learn to move with more stealth.

Myth 10. Cats don’t need companionship

Fact: This is entirely dependent on the individual cat. Some cats are more independent than others but generally all cats need some companionship.  If you lead a busy lifestyle and spend long hours working it is advisable you have two cats, so they can keep each other company while you are out.

Welcoming an adopted pet into your household

Visiting a shelter, rescue home or a veterinarian to adopt a new pet is an exciting time for any new pet owner. There are so many things to think about when welcoming your new pet into your family, so we have picked five of the most important things to consider:

1. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared for the new pet

Prior to bringing home your new pet, discuss with your family any changes that may need to take place as well as committing to a consistent approach to training, using positive reinforcement and acceptable boundaries and rules for your new addition. This important step will prevent frustration and confusion and will also setup your new addition for success.

Here's a few things you might want to discuss and allocate responsibility to:

  • Feeding times and location - including a daily ‘treat budget' so your new addition stays trim and terrific
  • Exercise and playtime
  • Training (use positive reinforcement and a consistent approach for everyone )
  • Water - daily bowl change
  • Medication or prevention treatment e.g. providing regular doses of flea/ heartworm/ worming treatment
  • At home healthcare - checking teeth and providing dental care such as brushing teeth or feeding dental chews where required, checking ears and eyes and any other problem areas.
  • Grooming (such as brushing and washing)
  • Litter removal and disposal
  • Laundry for clean bedding
  • Veterinary care schedule (for regular check-ups and vaccination boosters)

2. Patience and persistence

When it comes to training and getting to know your pet's new personality and behaviour, patience is the key. It is possible to train an older pet but you will need to be persistent and positive!

3. Pet proof your home

If you are bringing home your first pet, you will quickly learn to be cautious of leaving things lying around the house. A chicken sandwich left on the kitchen counter may soon be your pet's next lunch. We recommend checking your home, garden and shed for potential poisons which could harm your pet. Also, check your fence and gates for escape routes as well as the fence height for dogs that are able to jump.

4. Go slowly when introducing your new pet to friends and family

t can take several weeks for a pet to relax in a new environment. It is a great idea to keep cats in a secluded room with all of his/ her goodies (toys/ scratching post/ litter tray) until he/ she is familiar with their new surroundings. Socialisation is important, but take it slowly for older pets.

5. Consider more than one pet 

In particular cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction which can be provided by having two cats. Similarly if your dog is left at home whilst you are at work during the day, another pal is a great idea. In saying this, every pet is different and some pets are more than happy to be left at home alone.

Finally, congratulations if you are already on a journey of pet adoption. No doubt your pet will bring you many moments of joy and become your new best friend. If you have any questions about adoption or how to care for your new pet please contact our pet health care team.