What Does Pain Look like in your Dog?

You are in the best position to look for subtle changes of behaviours that indicate your pet is in pain. If your pet is showing one or more of these behaviours he/she maybe hurting. By completing this assessment, you are helping us to identify possible painful conditions.



Please check all that apply:


  • Whining
  • Howling 
  • Whimpering 
  • Yelping 
  • Groaning 
  • Grunting 

Daily Habits:

  • Decreased Appetite  
  • Withdraws from social interaction 
  • Changes in sleeping (more or less)  
  • Changes in drinking 
  • Lapses in house training or struggles to get into the position 
  • Seeks more affection then usual 

Self Mutilation:

  • Licking one or more areas obsessively of his/her body 
  • Biting at one or more areas of his/her body 
  • Scratching a particular part of his/her body 

Activity Level:

  • Restless, pacing 
  • Repeatedly gets up and lies down; can’t seem to get comfortable 
  • Difficulty lying down or getting up 
  • Trembling, circling or lying very still 
  • Moves stiffly or slowly after exercise or sleeping/resting 
  • Less energy or activity 
  • Reluctant to move 
  • Less playful or willing to exercise 
  • Less eager to jump on furniture or into the car 
  • Difficulty in walking or running; particularly on wood or tile floor or stairs 

Facial Expressions:

  • Grimaces or vacant stare 
  • Glazed, wide eyed or sleepy 
  • Enlarged pupils 
  • Flattened ears 
  • Pants excessively at rest 

Self Protection:

  • Protects a body part 
  • Doesn’t put weight on a leg 
  • Limps 
  • Doesn’t want or avoids being held or picked up 


  • Hunched with hind quarters raised and front end down on the ground 
  • Lays on his/her side 
  • Walks with an arched back 
  • Nails worn unevenly or extremely long 

Please list any other changes that are note listed above:



What does Anxiety look like in your DOG?

Fear is a normal response that enables a living creature to survive danger. Anxiety is an abnormal display of fear that, if allowed to build, can cause aggression. Most fearful pets do not show aggression but if the source of fear is not addressed or removed, aggression is a natural outcome.

FEAR –> Freeze or Flight –> Fight or Aggression

Think about yourself and your fears, worries and anxiety. You might have fears of being alone, fear of thunder and lightening or maybe fear of crazy driver ahead of you in the road. These are natural to have but if you experience too much fear, anxiety and possibly aggression might arise. How many of us have sworn at that dangerous driver?

Identifying fear at the beginning and removing the source of fear can help prevent anxiety in the future.

Long term fear leads to anxiety and that has many health effects on our bodies. It doesn’t matter what animal you are, if you have a brain you can experience anxiety.

Not all fearful animals behave the same way and many times if the initial signs of fear were not identified then one might only see aggression. Remember aggressive animals were almost always scared before the aggression surfaced.

Subtle signs of a fearful dog are:

* Ears high and out to the side

* Tries to hide

* Hypervigilant – Watching every move and sensitive to fast motions

* Lip licking

* Panting (not too hot)

* Stops taking food

* Yawn and looks tired

* Moves slowly

Here are some examples:



Pets and Parasites: The Pet Owner Resource

Courtesy of Dr. Michelle

38717981707304716We know that choosing the right parasite prevention product for your pet can be overwhelming. These days, there are so many products to choose from.. pills and topicals.. products that get fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, and any combination of those! We are always happy to help you make an informed decision on which product is best for your furry family based on your lifestyle, risk, and desired method of administration. Here is a very simplified chart of the major products we carry and their main features. There are a few other products left off of this chart for simplicity sake, but may be mentioned to you in our office if we feel like it is the best product for your pet. Please give us a call (902)893-2341 if you have any questions about these products or would like one of our knowledgeable staff members to help make a recommendation for you.



Seasonal Allergies – Our Pets Can Suffer With Them Too!

Courtesy of: Dr. Melissa



As much as we all love to feel the warmer weather every Spring, those of us with seasonal allergies can dread pollen season.  Did you know our pets can be affected as well? Dogs and cats exposed to airborne allergens from grasses/weeds/trees can get inflammation affecting their skin. This inflamed skin gets itchy and is prone to bacterial and yeast infections. If your pet is especially chewing at its feet, shaking its head, or scratching its belly, allergies are a possibility. The skin can look red, raw and moist when it is inflamed and/or infected. There can be a dark discharge in the ears or pustules/scabs on the skin. Pets can also be allergic to parasites like fleas, which are very common in the summer months. Effective flea control is very important in these animals.

The technical term for sensitivity to airborne allergies is Atopy. For the most part atopy is managed, not cured. There are many therapies used to control allergies, including antihistamines, topical shampoos and ointments, anti-inflammatories, supplements to enhance the skin barrier and diet trials. Medications like antibiotics and anti-fungals may be needed to control secondary infections. In chronic cases we can do allergy testing to find out what is making your pet react and use medication to de-sensitize them to those allergens.

144334862-giving-cat-bath-632x475If your pet is itchy, make an appointment with your veterinarian. If the problem is recurrent, keep a log of flare-ups. Sometimes these patterns can help us narrow down the causes. We will get a full history and complete a thorough physical exam to help identify what the problem is and make a plan to get your pet more comfortable. Follow up is also very important to keep flare ups under control. Please call us with your questions/concerns at (902)893-2341!

Here are some great resources on Seasonal Allergies:




Vaccinations – Why Are They So Important?


Courtesy of: Dr. Melissa

A very important part of preventive care for your pet is keeping them up to date on their vaccines. Many people ask us whey their pets need yearly vaccines when people get boosters much less frequently. At our hospital we follow the American Veterinary Association Vaccination Guidelines. These are based on studies to determine how long vaccinations are protective to our pets.  Puppies and kittens generally get three vaccines between 8-16 weeks of age, with a booster on all of these one year later. Core vaccinations are then given to all pets  separately on a rotating 3-year schedule. These vaccines protect against Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calicivirus. Some of our vaccines are given only to those pets whose lifestyle puts them at risk for specific disease, like cats that go outside, or dogs that live in rural areas. These are given yearly and include Feline Leukemia, Leptospirosis, Bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme.

The diseases we vaccinate for can be very serious, even life threatening. Some of these diseases can infect humans as well. For each pet at each visit, we do a complete exam. Along with their medical history, we determine the best vaccination protocol for them. For animals with serious vaccine reactions, or those that have other medical problems, we may adjust the protocol or even consider checking their antibody levels (titers) to help determine if vaccination is necessary. Although titer testing has historically only been available at specialized laboratories, we can now check some of these antibody levels in-clinic after a simple blood draw.

Serious side effects to getting vaccinated are extremely rare. Most commonly we see mild lethargy, low-grade fever and soreness at the injection site.  If your pet is due for an exam and vaccinations, or if you have any questions regarding vaccination or titer testing, please call us at (902) 893-2341!

Here are some great resources for you to check out:




Your Dog Hates The Vet? This One’s For You!

Courtesy of: Kaila and Dr. Gwen

Let’s face it…every dog is different!  For some of our patients, a trip to the vet is their favourite event in the day (not counting breakfast, lunch and supper, of course).  These dogs tear through our doors ready to greet everyone and have a fantastic time!  Then there are the other dogs…the ones for whom a visit to the vet is a terrifying event, causing stress and anxiety that often carries right through the rest of the day.  The big question is, how can we (both staff members and owners) try to help our dogs stay happy and stress-free while visiting the vet?

Here at Truro Vet we try to do everything we can to make your dog’s visit to the vet an enjoyable one; we want positive experiences and not negative ones. Coming to the vet can come with a lot of anxiety, not just for the dog, but for the owner as well. No owner likes to see his or her dog stressed out and worked up. Yet most of our patients love coming in. If yours is one of the poor dogs who does not love the visit, what can you do to make it at the very least tolerable and at the best (hopefully eventually) very fun?

  • If you’re starting off with a new puppy, you are lucky enough to have a blank slate.  Bring your puppy to puppy parties. We notice a HUGE difference in the puppies that have come here for Thursday Night Puppy Parties because they are pulling their owner to come IN rather then go out of the building. We have dogs that attended puppy parties years ago and still love to come to the vet because they had so many positive experiences at the vets. Oh and did we mention they are FREE?
  • Bring your dog to Obedience Classes. This is great if your dog is too old to attend puppy parties; we have a variety of different classes for different levels that can help your dog associate the vet as a fun place full of positive interactions and treats.
  • Visit us just for fun – stop by and get some treats. Have your dog sit on the scale for some freeze dried liver, and get some extra love and attention from the staff. These fun visits that aren’t associated with anything negative can really help to make the next visit be not quite as scary.


Now for some “tricks” you can teach your dog at home to make vet visits less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved. If you don’t know how to get started with any of the below behaviors contact us about training.

  • Train your dog to LOVE a crate, even if you don’t use it at home (although we really recommend that you do).  If your dog is in for any lengthy procedure they will be crated. It is a lot less stress on your pooch if they already enjoy being in the crate when they come to the vet then having to learn about a crate when they are already scared or painful.

Meeghan and Bear love their kennel!

  • Train your dog to stand still and tolerate being handled all over. Practice some pushing on the abdomen, or an arm reaching over his back, picking up and stretching legs carefully, even holding him still for restraint. Don’t forget to get him used to you looking in their ears, eyes, and mouth.
  • Teach your dog to lay on his side. This is a great body position for examination of legs and belly, also great position to lay in for nail trimmings or radiographs (X-rays).

Indy playing "dead"

  • Make sure your dog is comfortable with having his paws held so that it isn’t a fight for the staff to trim his nails – causing your poor dog even more stress at the visit.

Even with all this preparation, some dogs are just plain worried about their time here at the hospital.  There are a few ways that we can work together to lessen your best friend’s anxiety before it even starts.

  • Book the appointment for the beginning of your vet’s work day or right after a lunch or dinner break. This will reduce the waiting time until the vet can see your pet. The less time to wait, the less time to worry.
  • Ask when you book the appointment that you be allowed to be directed right into an exam room, away from other animals that might upset your dog.  When you arrive, leave your dog in the car (if it is safe to do so) and notify the staff of your arrival.
  • Exercise your dog before the visit. It is harder to worry about things if you are physically tired.
  • Skip the meal before the visit and bring some of his favorite treats. A hungry dog can be distracted with food more easily then a dog with a full belly.
  • Gentle leaders or head halters offer your dog some comfort in the office if he is used to wearing one. If you don’t use a head halter then just use a regular collar and leash, preferably not a chain collar or leash. They make scary sounds and can get very tight on your dog’s neck, making the anxiety worse. Please never use a prong collar on your dog. They are inhumane and can cause permanent damage to the throat area.
  • Dogs have empathetic souls. They can read your emotions without even working up a sweat. Your scent changes if you are anxious and they know that you are worried before you even know about it.   If possible, have the calmest person in the family to accompany your dog. Calmness is almost as contagious as anxiety. If you can exude a calm attitude so will your dog.
  • A good thorough exam of your dog takes time. Anxious dogs need more time to adapt to the new environment. The examination takes longer too. Worried dogs prefer the slow but steady approach. Don’t pick a day when you are on a tight schedule. Set yourself up to be calm and relaxed yourself.

Despite all our best efforts, some visits to the vet are likely to go more smoothly than others.  Try not to let a less than perfect trip keep you from coming again.  In fact, a few visits just to come in and get weighed can help remove any negative associations, for both you and your dog.  If you would like information on happier visits for cats, please visit our blog “NOT The Happiest Place On Earth!”

If you would like more information about helping your dog love us as much as we love him, please give us a call at 893-2341.  We can’t wait to see you soon!


Getting A (Stress-Free) Handle On Your Pets!

Courtesy of: Ashley

One of the wonderful things about working at Truro Veterinary Hospital is the encouragement and opportunity all staff members are given to continuously learn.  Recently six of us attended a two day seminar with amazing Animal Behaviourist, Dr. Sophia Yin.

Dr. Yin became a veterinarian in 1993.  Soon after, she realized that more and more pets were being brought in to be euthanized due to behaviour problems.  In 2001 she graduated with her Masters in Animal Science from UC Davis and focused her studies on Animal Behaviour.  Sophia learned that “Every pet needs a human who can lead.  Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance – someone who gives clear signals,  rewards desirable behaviour as it occurs, removes rewards for inappropriate behaviour immediately, and sticks to the plan consistently until the new, good behaviour is a habit.”  Her knowledge of animal behaviour is widespread and watching her throughout the seminar was like watching Picasso paint…simply put…stunning!

Dr. Yin spoke to a wide range of audience members, including pet owners, day care and kennel workers, groomers, veterinarians and veterinary staff.  She spoke at length about the “Earn to Learn Program” where pets (dogs AND cats, among other species) should learn to say “please” by sitting for anything they want.  This can be for something like putting on a leash, waiting for you to throw their toy, or sitting for attention.  Having your pet sit for attention also reinforces no jumping, and if your puppy learns to do this at a young age, it will become a habit before they are big enough to knock someone over!

Puppies start learning at a very young age when they are still with their mother and littermates.  They are like sponges in the sense that they soak up everything – including the bad behaviours we, as pet owners, don’t want.   They learn by trial and error – if they do something that works they will continue doing it.  Starting to train your puppy as soon as you introduce them into your family will not only start them off on the right paw, but show them what is appropriate and what is not.  Introducing your puppy to a wide range of objects and noises will give them more confidence.  For more information, visit our blog on socialization!  As pet owners, we must realize that every interaction with our pet is a training session.  Dr. Yin has published a book called The Perfect Puppy in 7 Days which portrays her own experiences training puppies.  She gives a step-by-step guide to start you off.  Kaila, our trainer, has also learned many of Dr. Yin’s techniques and will be happy to help you put them into practice.

One of the main reasons I wanted to attend Dr. Yin’s seminar was to learn how to better handle your pets while they are here visiting us.  Dr. Yin discussed techniques outlined in her book Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behaviour Modifications of Dogs and Cats.  In this lecture, she gave us pointers to help your pet love their visit or stay at our hospital.  She focused on Desensitization & Counter-Conditioning (learning by association) or Operant Counter-Conditioning (learning by trial and error) of pets for things like blood draws, exams and x-rays.

Counter-conditioning is when we put the pet in a new emotional state by pairing food (a pleasant experience) with an experience the pet may be nervous about.  This method may not be effective for all pets, however, especially if they are already very stressed about the experience before we get the opportunity to offer them food.

Operant Counter-Conditioning is using positive reinforcement paired with negative punishment.  Positive reinforcement means to reinforce (reward) something the pet has done in order to increase the likelihood it will happen again.  For example, when your dog sits quietly in her crate, a treat can let her know that you appreciate that behaviour and want to see it again.  Negative punishment involves removing the reward the pet is hoping for in order to decrease the chance that the pet will perform that behaviour again.  For example, when your dog jumps up for attention, leaving the room and providing no attention will reduce the chance that he will jump up the next time he wants attention.

Dr. Yin demonstrated some towel restraint techniques to use on dogs and cats that can reduce their stress level and that are safer for them and us.  However, the steps to helping your pet enjoy a visit to the veterinary hospital really start before they even arrive.  I learned some new tips and techniques to counsel owners that they can work on at home, such as getting your cat or dog used to a carrier or a muzzle.  Another tip that can make your pet’s visit pleasant is to give them lots of rewards while they are here.  That doesn’t necessarily mean treats.  Each pet is different in stressful situations so what works at home might not work at the veterinary hospital.  If your dog simply enjoys lots of attention, we can reward her by everyone (staff and owners) telling the pet they are a “good boy/girl” and providing plenty of pats and rubs.  If your dog likes toys then playing with them in the exam room while you are waiting can ease their stress level.  Not feeding your pet before his/her appointment and bringing their meal with you so we can hand it out to them could make it a good experience for them, as they may think “if I’m good I might get more food”.  All these tips don’t take extra time at all; just using what “wait time” you have wisely.

Dr. Yin uses “7 general principles of handling difficult dogs”, all of which I believe we do well here, but there is always room for improvement.  She reinforced the importance of being part of and providing a comfortable and safe environment, possessing the skills to know how to support each pet, and knowing where to hold and the degree of restraint needed for each individual pet.  All pets are individual and the protocol used will vary from pet to pet.  Knowing what works and what doesn’t will help us to be successful in making your pet’s next visit more positive.

We were shown the correct way to greet a dog.  It is best to approach scared dogs while standing with your back to them and offering treats.  Once the pet is calm, sit side-on (don’t bend over them) and let them come to you.  Keep your movements slow.  She demonstrated that when doing all of these things incorrectly, it can make you look like some alien creature from outer-space with a knife in hand…scary!  Videos and photographs were a big part of her seminar, and it reinforced my knowledge on reading body language with cats and dogs.

At the seminar, we got to see firsthand the importance of timing rewards correctly so you capture the correct behaviour.  Some people who attended brought their “pets with issues” so Dr. Yin could demonstrate techniques.  We learned the difference between the incorrect deliverance time and the correct one.  She demonstrated how using the correct deliverance time is crucial when trying to keep the pet’s attention when you are working with them.  Keeping your pet focused on you will make training far easier with your pet.  She spoke again of “being a partner in a dance”, and indicated that your posture when training can mean one thing when you want another.  Being aware of where your hands and arms are, bending at the knees, and your movement speed are all factors that will increase your success when working with your pet.

Dr. Sophia Yin has a wonderful website with lots of information and resources.  She has multiple books (I bought two!) and DVDs with LOTS of tips.  If you have the opportunity to purchase any of her resources or better yet, see one of her seminars in person, I highly recommend you attend.  I left with more knowledge than my brain could store and I will be using her references frequently!   If you would like more information, please contact us at 893-2341!

Special thanks to Dr. Gwen Mowbray-Cashen for providing us with this opportunity to learn, to Betty at Stay N Play Canine Centre for organizing Dr. Yin’s seminar in Truro and last, but not least, to Dr. Sophia Yin for opening my eyes further to the world of Animal Behaviour!

Our staff with Dr. Yin


A Tired Dog Is A Happy Dog!

Courtesy of: Brea

Many dog owners are surprised with the amount of energy their dog seems to have.  When dogs have too much built-up energy, they can display it in a number of unhealthy ways such as chewing, barking, and destroying anything they can get their mouths on!  My motto is “A tired dog is a happy dog” and it’s true!  There are numerous ways to help channel your dog’s energy in a healthy way.

Walking, running, or even bicycling with your dog is a great way to help burn off some energy. These repetitive movements strengthen your dog’s muscles and help to get them in shape.  Oh, and by the way, it’s great exercise for you too!  For people with really high energy dogs (like Cooper, my German Shorthaired Pointer), you can purchase this amazing invention- a backpack for dogs!  This gives the dog a real “job” to do. Whether you pack his own things inside, or add some weights, it amplifies the walk so your dog has to work harder thus burning more energy.  Remember to start light and gradually build up the weight.  Also, make sure you have an equal weight in both sides of the backpack.  As a general rule, the weight should not exceed between 15-30% of your dog’s body weight.  If you aren’t sure, remember to consult with your veterinarian to determine how much your dog should carry.

Cooper's backpack

If you have a dog like mine who doesn’t think he even belongs on a leash, there are many “off leash” activities that can really help burn off that energy.  Make sure your dog has a reliable recall (comes when called) so it is safe for both you and your dog.  Our Trainer, Kaila, will be happy to help you in this area.  One of Cooper’s all-time favorite things to do is go to the dog park.  He absolutely LOVES other dogs, and could spend the entire day there if I would let him.  Taking your dog to the dog park is a fabulous way to socialize them with other dogs, and people as well.  People enjoy when I bring my dog  there because he is SO busy, he really tires out the other dogs!  I assure you, your dog will sleep on the drive home.

Another favorite pastime of Cooper’s is going to the field.  Whether it’s playing ball or running around foolishly, he has a blast.  There are also many off-leash trails that you can take them to really burn off some steam.  Just be on the lookout for any wildlife you may encounter.  A reliable recall is a huge asset when your best friend comes nose to nose with a skunk or porcupine!  We particularly like to go to places that have water near them so he can swim.  Swimming is another exercise that is great for your dog.  Swimming is great for your dog’s joints and helps to cool them off on hot summer days.

German Shorthaired Pointers are not only great companion animals, but they were bred to be very versatile hunting dogs.  My boyfriend does a lot of hunting during the season, so they are involved in a hunting club called NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association).

Cooper's a hunting dog!

Many dogs were bred for a specific purpose, whether it’s hunting, herding, or racing. Giving your working dog a “job” by letting them channel their instincts toward what they were bred for is a great way to help relieve energy in a healthy way.  If you don’t provide them with healthy outlets, your dog can display these instincts in undesirable ways.  For example,  a border collie who is not stimulated enough and not given a job to do, could start nipping at your heels or herding small children.

Many people tend to only think of the ways to make your dog physically tired.  Just as importantly, you can actually make your dog mentally tired.  This can come in handy when your dog is recovering from a surgery and has to refrain from physical activity for an extended period of time.  If you’ve read my previous blog regarding Cooper’s experiences with the “cone of shame”, you’ll remember that this is how I made it through his neuter experience!  Stimulating a dog’s mind is very exhausting for them.  Training requires your dog to think a lot, whether it’s regular obedience, or just teaching a new trick.

Cooper's new trick!

There are also many types of toys that help to keep them busy.  One of my favorite is called a “Kong Wobbler”.

Kong Wobbler

I bring Cooper to work with me here at the clinic every morning.  He used to hate coming here until I started using this fabulous invention.  I screw off the bottom and place his breakfast inside. He has to move it around so his kibble can fall out of the small hole.  By the time he finishes his breakfast, he is tired again!  It takes about half an hour for my dog to get all of the kibble out.  Another toy that we use is a Rubber Kong with stuffed with cheese whiz or peanut butter.  We then put it in the  freezer and it makes a nice tasty cold treat for your dog.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I still have to tell you about my all-time favorite activity to do with my dog… AGILITY!

Cooper loves agility too!

I absolutely love agility training.  It is a fabulous way to spend time with your dog.  Agility will help to fulfill your dog’s natural instincts.  These courses are designed to replicate types of natural scenarios and fulfill the instincts of your working dog.  Running a course that involves many different types of obstacles will challenge your dog both mentally and physically.  This will help to strengthen muscles, improve coordination, keep him fit, and increase endurance.  Agility training helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog.  Your dog is dependent on you on the course and could not do it without you.  Leading your dog through an agility course will help reinforce basic obedience commands, improve communication, and improve your dog’s behavior outside of the agility course. Agility will also help you get in shape, too!  You will learn very quickly if you have a fast dog, you need to be fast on the course.  Take it from me!

If you have any questions about keeping your dog tired and happy, feel free to contact me at brea@trurovet.com or give us a call at 843-2341.  Also, Cooper and I spend lots of time at the dog park if you want your dog to get a good workout!

Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!

A tired dog is a happy dog!


Myth Busting: TVH Style!

Courtesy of: Kaila

I would like to clear up a few myths about dog training in this blog, as I see these myths in practice far too often. Even though positive dog training techniques have become widespread, “negative” or discipline-based training using physical force has become more common.  This is likely due to the increasing popularity of television shows that feature it.

There are many punishing and/or confrontational techniques used to control dogs (NONE of which we encourage or recommend) including: sharp leash corrections meant to cause discomfort; hitting or kicking the dog; applying electric shock; applying physical force to pressure a dog into a submissive down position; or the “alpha roll,” which forces the dog on its back in an apparently submissive position.  There are a variety of other techniques involving shouting, threatening stares or growls, use of water sprays or water guns, or grabbing the dog by the scruff of the neck or the jowls and shaking it.  How do you think these “techniques” make your dog feel?  They cause fear, stress and even pain.

Shock collars cause pain

Fear inhibits the ability to listen and learn.

For example, take your biggest fear; is it heights, spiders, or snakes? No matter what it is, now imagine yourself in that experience, whether it is falling from the CN Tower, or being locked in a room full of spiders or snakes . . . how well do you think you could LEARN something new while you are surrounded by your fear?  Chances are you aren’t going to learn anything because you are so stressed that you likely would have issues with listening and following instructions given to you – even to do something simple like write your name on a piece of paper.

Why then would we expect our dogs to be able to learn when they are in a fearful state of mind – a state of mind that we have created with one of the above listed “techniques”?

Punishment is not successful at teaching behavioral changes.

Just imagine:

You have a boss that speaks another language and you don’t understand your job requirements. Every time you make a mistake, your boss slaps you.  Now add a little inconsistency:  sometimes you get slapped after a behavior and sometimes you don’t, so you never know which response to expect.  He also yells at you A LOT.  When he tries to teach you something new and starts yelling…do you work harder or do you just shut down in fear and brace for the inevitable beating?

In times of conflict, are you the type of person that becomes very quiet and basically melts into the floor, focusing on anything but the confrontation? Perhaps instead you get angry and defensive, even yelling back?  Like people, there are dogs that may fall into either category.  By using physical pain, and punishment animals become unwilling to try to learn for fear of failure, pain and oncoming punishment.  Some dogs shut down and go to their “happy place” while others may be pushed far enough that they lash back at you in defense.

Now let’s look at things from a positive reinforcement point of view.  This is type of training that we offer and promote at Truro Vet.  Not only are the dogs willing, but they are excited to show of all their behaviours when they are trying to learn something new.  They don’t have ANY FEAR of failure, because there is no discipline for a “wrong answer”.  Any undesired behaviours are just ignored.  It is much easier to train a dog that is willing and excited to learn than to train a dog that is afraid of making a mistake.

Back to your boss.  Now imagine a scenario where every time you worked a little bit harder at your job, you got a nice big bonus.  Perhaps every time you politely greeted a client you got rewarded with a candy.  You are likely to repeat these types of behaviours over and over – because you got positive results.  Who doesn’t like to have a bit of extra cash?  How about that candy reward for what you might think is a “simple” task – I LOVE candy (especially Skittles)!  You’ll likely also try to find out other ways that you can earn candy and bonuses, making you more motivated.  The same thing happens with our dogs; they are so highly motivated by the rewards we have to offer them that they work harder to get their next reward.

Happy training session!

If you have questions about various training techniques, be sure to contact us at 893-2341.  We would love to discuss ways that you can build your bond with your dog in a loving, positive manner.



Heartworm – Should You Be Worried?

Courtesy of:  Dr. Melissa

Most of us visiting a veterinary clinic regularly are familiar with monthly parasite prevention for fleas, ticks and intestinal worms. These are bugs we often see on our pets, and it makes sense to prevent them!  There are parasites that are more difficult to see however…and one of those is heartworm.  Although heartworm disease is not common in our area, many parasite preventives are effective against it, and for good reason!

Heartworm infection happens when an infected mosquito bites a dog or cat and deposits larvae.  These larvae become young adults, then migrate to the heart and pulmonary arteries.  Mature female worms release larvae (microfilariae) into the bloodstream which are then picked up by more mosquitoes.  It takes 6-7 months for this process to occur.  Areas with warm climates (ie. more mosquitoes) pose a much higher risk to pets, especially in the summer months.  It is endemic (very common) in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coastline, the Mississippi River, Australia, Japan and the Mediterranean.  Male outdoor dogs and sporting breeds are more prone to infection because of higher exposure to mosquitoes.  Although cats can be infected with heartworm, they are more resistant to the disease.

Most pets with heartworm show no symptoms, which means the only way to know is to test for it.  With a small blood sample, we can test for heartworm in our hospital in 10-15 minutes.  More specialized tests are needed in some cases.  Once the disease is mature and has progressed symptoms include coughing, exercise intolerance, weight loss, and collapse.  Heartworm disease can be life threatening, eventually causing right-sided heart failure.

It is much easier to prevent heartworm than treat for it.  Treatment is expensive with the potential for serious side effects, and permanent lung damage from the disease is common.

Animals in our area most at risk for heartworm infection are those who come from or travel to temperate climates.  For example, getting a dog from a rescue group in an area with heartworm, or traveling to Florida for the winter.  These pets should be on monthly preventives for heartworm, especially while traveling and for two months when they return home.  A heartworm test should be done each spring, especially if you have missed doses of medication.

If you have any questions regarding heartworm disease or parasite prevention in general, please call us at 893-2341!

Roxie gets heartworm preventative monthly, just in case!