Thursday, April 20, 2017

6 Causes of Excessive Barking

Barking in addition to whining, howling and growling is a dog’s natural way of communicating. It can be characterised as a series of short, sharp sounds that tend to vary little in pitch. Barking being a natural trait is not considered a problem – until it becomes excessive that is. 

These six causes should help you understand why your dog may be a frequent barker.

happy dog


1. Attention 


If you find your dog barking for attention, you’re not alone. Attention can be one of the biggest reasons why your dog has decided to become a barking extraordinaire.

 This idea of attention barking is often seen as a cause and effect chain. “If I do this, I get that” is how your dog may think of it. For example, if they bark you come running over yelling or telling them to stop, giving them your undivided attention. It isn’t important to your dog WHAT you are saying, just that you’ve stopped what you were previously doing to come over. 

You have to remember that negative attention is still attention. 

Sitting dog



2. Boredom 


Dogs are active animals that need both physical and mental stimulation; some working breeds need it more than others. Two common solutions to ‘fix’ a bored dog is to buy tons of toys and let them out in the yard. Unfortunately even though they are both great solutions, without some training and interaction doing the above just won’t be enough. 

Dogs need to be motivated to run/play with toys, they won’t do it on their own for extended periods of time. 

bored dog


3. Fear 


Almost all dogs are afraid of something, whether it is the postman or the neighbour’s cat, and it’s almost never a problem. Sometimes however, your dog can be afraid of something they encounter daily and barking is how they deal with it. 

Animals have three biological mechanisms to deal with threats: 

Fight: May start with mild aggressive dog behaviour like barking and escalate to growling, snapping and biting.
Flight: The dog will try to escape and put as much distance as possible between them and the frightening subject/object.
Freeze: The dog will stay as still as possible in hopes whatever the threat may be, won’t see them.  

A majority of dogs don’t like to fight however if they feel trapped, like on a lead, they will go into ‘fight’ mode and start barking. This can scare other dogs away which will teach the scared dog that barking will keep them safe – continuing to do so when frightened. 

scared dog


4. Territorial 


Excessive barking may be in response to people, other dogs or other animals within or approaching their territory. 

This can include your house, surrounding areas and eventually anywhere you dog has explored or associates with you (i.e. your car & their walking route). Dogs can be territorial because they are more often than not bred to protect, however at times it may be an issue of training or learned behaviour. 

territorial dog


5. Excitement 


Dogs, much like people, tend to verbalise their emotions of excitement a lot. For example they may bark when playful and excited or when they anticipate excitement such as being given a treat. 

Excited barking can often be caused when coming in contact with other dogs, especially if the dog has limited opportunity to play with or see other dogs.  Sometimes, owners may also mistake excitement barking as aggression therefore not dealing with it correctly.

excited dog


6. Underlying Health Issues


Less common but still an issue, dogs can find themselves barking excessively if they are in pain or discomfort.  If a dog is faced with a health issue the only way for them to communicate is through barking.

sick dog


Hopefully these explanations help you pinpoint the real reason you pup may be barking all the time!

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Introducing Simparica: Works Fast and Lasts!

Simparica is a new innovative tasty chew for fleas, ticks, mange and mites that works fast and lasts, providing sustained protection all month long. It is used for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations and the treatment and control of paralysis ticks, brown dog ticks and bush ticks. Simparica is also effective for the treatment and control of ear mites, demodex mites and sacroptic mange.

Simparica Pack Shots

Simparica® Flea, Tick, Mites and Mange Key Benefits: 
  • Kills fleas fast before they can lay eggs, keeping your dog and your home flea free.
  • Kills ticks fast reducing the chance of illness and paralysis.
  • Cleans up mites reducing skin irritation and risk of infection.
  • Proven protection from reinfestation. Kills fast all month long.
  • Easy to remember. One chew once a month.
  • Proven protection for 35 days. So if you're a few days late you're still covered.
  • Safe for your puppy. Can be given from 8 weeks and 1.3kg.
  • Tasty chew that's easy to give with or without food.

Buy Simparaica

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Alpha Dog Myth Debunked – Why you Shouldn’t Train Your Dog That Way

Commonly emphasised by celebrity and TV dog trainers, dogs will only respect your authority if they see you as the “alpha” – a fearsome, dominating pack leader. 

Well, do we have some news for you (and your pup), this so-called “alpha pack leader behaviour” is actually, a myth. 

Through vigorous research and studies over the years, it has been determined that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, consistency, and love.

So how in fact did this all come about? Keep reading to learn how the “alpha dog” was first discovered, plus why this mentality is not the answer for a healthy relationship with your pet.


Crying Wolf


An animal behaviourist by the name of Rudolph Schenkel spent much of the mid 90’s studying wolves at the Basel Zoo in Switzerland. Schenkel watched them for days, trying to understand what governed their social interactions.

He soon published his findings in a paper called ‘Submission: Its Features and Function in the Wolf and Dog’. In it, he wrote about the competition for status within a pack, where a male and female would emerge as “first in the pack”, and defend their social position as pack leaders. And with that, the idea of the alpha wolf was born.



It was later discovered that his entire paper was based on a faulty premise: the idea that a bunch of unrelated animals brought together in captivity would behave the same way they would in the wild.

A modern wolf researcher by the name of David Mech quoted, “Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps.” And according to his research, wild wolves actually live in family units that are particularly similar to those of humans. 

In his findings, he analysed that parent wolves guide the family’s activities and divide the “chores” between each family member. It’s only when the pups get older, that their social status is based on birth order, with the oldest at the top. 



What This Means for You and Your Dog


With the discovery that the so-called “dominance training” is based on a faulty science, leads to the question: Are the alpha roll approaches used by celebrity trainers wrong or ineffective?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal choice and what works best for one pet family, may not for another. 

However, what can be said is dominance tactics as mild as a quick smack on the flank, to those extreme as forcibly rolling your dog over on their side and pinning them to submit, in a sense really aren’t consistent with those in the wild. 

Dogs, and cats for the matter, are extremely instinctual creatures and when presented in a situation that they don’t quite understand, can a lot of the time lead to any form of response, positive or negative. 



So, when seeking a certain behaviour or action, why would it make sense to act in a way that your pet doesn’t understand? And wouldn’t it seem more logical to act in consistency with your pet’s natural instincts and work together as a team? 

As a matter of fact, most experts in recent times have advised that attaining a healthy relationship with your dog requires a focus on positivity and reinforcement. Or as the American Veterinary Medical Association says, “reinforce the desired behaviours, remove the reinforcer for inappropriate behaviours, and address the emotional state and environmental conditions driving the undesirable behaviour."  

For example, when training your dog give treats for good behaviour, and pay attention to your own behaviour – when you react to a naughty dog with attention, for instance, you’re inadvertently reinforcing that action. 

Try work on figuring out how to prevent your dog from being reinforced for the behaviours you don’t want, and reinforce them liberally for the ones you do want. And if you can do this, you’re well on your way to developing a relationship of mutual love, respect, communication, and communion that every pet owner hopes to have with their dog.


If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Could Your Pet’s Belongings Be Making the Whole Family Sick?

While you won’t catch a cold or a cough from your pet (or give them one for that matter), you may just be in for some other kind of troubles.

Keep in mind that the overall health benefits a fur-friend can bring to the family, certainly outweigh the bad. To learn more about how owning a pet can be good for your health, click here for more. 

But the question here is: Could your pet’s belongings be making the whole family sick?

From slobber covered dog toys, to dirty food bowls, and smelly dog beds – sounds kind of gross when you put it that way.

And in fact, some pet belongings are among the dirtiest items in your house, unless you have a soiled nappy lying around somewhere…

What’s worse is that neglecting to clean or replace pet products can result in a home filled with dirt, bacteria, allergens and parasites. 

So, if you’d like to learn how often you should clean your pet’s things, how they could make your family sick, and also when it’s time to throw things away, then keep on reading.  

dog in house

Bowls & Feeding Accessories


How often do you clean your pet’s food bowl? After every meal? Once a week? Once a month? Never?

According to a study by the National Safety Federations (NSF), pet bowls are one of the germiest items in your home!

Dirty food bowls that have been left out can attract all sorts or rodents that could put your pet and family at risk, plus they also build up with nasty bacteria that can really upset your pet’s tummy. 

To stop this from happening, it's best to wash your pet’s food bowl and water bowl daily with hot water and mild dish soap.

And if the bowls are dishwasher safe, simply toss them in.

During times when your pet’s bowls are being cleaned, it may be useful to have an extra food bowl and water dish on hand.

Additionally, be sure to replace dishes and bowls if they are cracked, chipped, or scratched. This is not only a safety hazard, but also runs the risk of bacteria and grime building up in the crevasses. 

dogs eating

Beds & Blankets


Now for bedding, think about it, would you like to sleep in a dirty, smelly, damp place?

Probably not, and neither does your fur-friends.

Your pet’s bedding should be washed and aired at least one a week, as this rids all of the bacteria and allergens your dogs and cats bring in, plus gives your pet a nice clean and cosy place to rest. 

Cleaning you pet’s bed and blankets on a regular basis will also minimise odours and help to keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy, and cleaner for longer.

Wash your pet’s bedding with a mild, perfume-free detergent using the hottest recommended water temperature (in a load separate from your own clothing).

And if you notice any tears or other damage on their bedding, such as loose stuffing, this makes for a perfect breeding ground for fleas and other parasites, so it’s recommended to replace these items completely. 

dog on bed

Toys


Along with food bowls, pet toys are also among the top 10 germiest things in your home.

Your dog’s favourite squeaky toy can be a source of coliform bacteria (including Staph bacteria), yeast, and mold. Ew!

So be careful if you have young children around who like to put things in their mouths, as sharing Fido’s chew bone probably isn’t the best idea.

And if you or your family is handling your pet’s toys, ensure everyone remembers to wash their hands afterwards. 

This may seem very cautious, but pets can transmit a range of ‘zoonotic’ or animal-to-human diseases, especially if their parasite protection is not up to date. For a wide range of discount pet parasite protection products and pet supplies, visit www.VetShopAustralia.com.au.

To also help avoid germs spreading, rubber toys can be placed in the top shelf of the dishwasher to be cleaned. Alternatively, you can hand wash toys with hot water and mild dish soap or vinegar, or simply toss them in the washing machine on the sanitising cycle.

Make sure you rotate your pet’s toys regularly, and throw away any toys that are ripped or have stuffing or squeakers that are starting to come out.

Also, be aware that rubber toys that have been chewed to the point of having sharp edges should also be thrown away, as they could injure your pet’s mouth and stomach.

dog with ball

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.

Monday, March 20, 2017

How to Take the Perfect Photo of Your Pet in 5 Simple Steps

Can we all agree we’ve tried to take that perfect picture of our pet to share across social media, but failed miserably?

Fido sit, stay, don’t move ah! 

Taking a good photo of your cat or dog can be tricky; as most pets are not natural born posers… 

Not to worry, let us help you capture that Kodak moment with our 5-step guide to taking the perfect picture of your pet.

Step One: Work with Your Pet’s Personality


Some dogs are gentle, slow moving and calm; while others jump, lick and run laps of the yard. 

Consider what makes your pet unique and work on these qualities. 

For example, photograph your playful pooch during a game of fetch, or your cat that enjoys snoozing for hours, on a cosy blanket next to the fireplace. 

And try avoid encouraging your pet into unnatural situations; as showing their true personality always looks best.



Step Two: Ensure a Relaxed Atmosphere


Getting your pet to pose in a studio is not only difficult, but they probably won’t enjoy it either. 

In fact, most pets are more likely to relax and be their best selves in a familiar environment; at home, in the garden, or even the beach. 

Try make your little photo shoot fun for everyone, and ensure there is plenty of interaction and breaks. 



Step Three: Natural Lighting Works Best


For the most desirable lighting, try photographing your pet during the day and preferably outside. 

Also avoid using a flash, as this will not look as effective and can also frighten your pet. 

In additional to good lighting, you also want to consider the surroundings. 

An adventurous dog against the backdrop of a crystal clear beach makes for a pretty amazing shot.



Step Four: Get On Your Pet’s Level


Our best tip to you, is to get on your pet’s level. 

Kneeling down when photographing animals really does make a huge difference. 

Photos taken from a low camera angle will help make your pet the central focus in the final image.

Aim for the eyes and you’ll capture your pet’s unique personality. 

And if your pet is acting calm or a little sleepy, this is a great chance to get up close and personal. 

Most importantly, experiment! Try a close-up portrait or a fun action shot.

Another great tip is to take your photos with your subject off-centre, and have something interesting in the background.

Not only will this look nicely balanced, but your friends will think you’re a pro!



Step 5: The Winning Shot


Keep things simple, stay relaxed, and just have fun with it!

Encourage plenty of action with a selection of toys and treats, as this will allow for a range of different shots.

And most importantly, aim to harness your pet’s natural spontaneity and instinct. Your dog might suddenly do something funny, so be alert and ready to capture the moment. 

Overall, your little photo shoot most likely won’t turn out quite as you imagined, but you’ll soon see that this makes for some super cute photos, and some memorable moments shared with your best friend.

Happy snapping!



We’d love to see our tips put to use. Share your perfect pet photos on our Facebook page and they could be featured in monthly newsletter that's sent out to over 40,000 pet families!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Every Man and His Dogs

A children’s book on how dogs that nobody wanted became the most amazing dogs of all was launched last week at the Noosa Festival of Surfing.


In collaboration with Sup Dog OZ, VetshopAustralia and Growl Towel, the children’s book about surfing dogs was well received by families who had copies signed by surfer and dog trainer Chris De Aboitiz.


Every Man and His Dogs is a true story on how Chris De Aboitiz has turned unwanted dogs into the most famous surfing dogs in the world. The book is now available for sale for $24.95, postage included.


Click here to order your copy!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Everything you Need to Know if Your Dog Eats Chocolate

As most pet owners are aware, chocolate can be extremely toxic to dogs.

If your dog does consume chocolate, depending on the type, amount consumed, and your dog’s weight, could make for a serious medical emergency.

That being said, no matter how much your dog has eaten, there is no need to panic.

Learn why chocolate is so toxic to dogs, the signs of chocolate poisoning, and what steps you should take if your fur-friend gets their paws on your Cadbury chocolate block.

Sad dog with chocolate

Why Chocolate is Toxic to Dogs


Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both which can speed the heart rate and stimulate the nervous system in dogs.

The risk of your dog becoming sick if they eat chocolate all comes down to the type and amount of chocolate, and also the weight of your dog.

Basically, a big dog such as a Lab is going to be able to tolerate a lot more than a small dog such as a Pug.

However, even the smallest amount of dark chocolate can be lethal to any sized dog.

A general rule to follow is the darker chocolate, the greater the risk.

To help you understand better, here is a list of common types of chocolate in the order of theobromine content and greatest risk of toxicity.

1. Straight cocoa powder
2. Unsweetened baker’s chocolate
3. Dark Chocolate
4. Milk Chocolate
5. White Chocolate

To calculate the expected toxicity level in your dog if they have eaten chocolate, use the helpful guide below:


Signs Your Dog Has Chocolate Poisoning


The greatest risk about chocolate toxicity, is that the signs of poisoning usually don’t appear until 6-12 hours after they have eaten it. And at this point, can make it very expensive and difficult to treat.

That is why it’s SO important to keep any chocolate in your home out of your dog’s reach – especially when you’re not home.

In the unfortunate case that your dog steals your Cadbury block off the coffee table, in the midst of an epic battle between Harry and Voldemort during your Harry Potter movie marathon. And you only notice right after Harry finally defeats the Dark Lord. Although not ideal pooch has just devoured half the block, at least you’re able to act quickly and give your pet the best chance of survival.

In the unlikely event that you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate while you weren’t home, look for the following signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Increase urination
  • Tremors
  • Elevated or abnormal heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Collapse or death

Sick dog

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Chocolate


Regardless of how much your dog as eaten, or the type of chocolate, you should ALWAYS call your veterinarian immediately.

That way you can explain to the vet your exact circumstances, and from there they will be able to recommend to you the steps you need to take for your individual situation.

If your dog has only eaten a few squares of milk chocolate, they might just recommend that you monitor your dog for the next few hours, and call back if you notice any changes in their behaviour.

If your vet is concerned or you are worried for your dog, they will likely get you to bring your pet in and they will induce vomiting and possibly give them a few doses of activated charcoal. This works to move the toxins out of the body, without being absorbed into the bloodstream.

And for more severe cases, your vet may provide supplemental treatment, such as medications or IV fluids, to resolve the effects of the poisoning, and may need to monitor your pet at the clinic overnight.


Vet and dog

Overall, if your dog does eat chocolate the most important thing to remember is not to panic.

Remain calm and ensure your dog is comfortable first and foremost, before taking any further steps.

And when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call your vet and they will happily guide you through.

If you’d like more vet approved pet health advice, sign up to our monthly newsletter here, or visit www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Pet-Health.