A Social Puppy Is A Happy Puppy!

Courtesy of: Kaila

Did you know that socialization is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy?  It is also the first step in raising a well-behaved dog.  Proper socialization involves exposing puppies to as many new people, animals, stimuli and environments as possible during this time.  It should be done safely and without causing over­stimulation manifested as excessive fear, with­drawal or avoidance behavior.  The crucial time period for socialization with your puppy is the first three months of life.  Socializing your young puppy well means there is a better chance your puppy will be calm and accepting when he experiences these same stimuli again later in his life.

A dog that has not been socialized may become an epicenter in a storm of problems.  Some dogs may even become sick from stress, which can inhibit your ability to train them.  They can shed excessively and develop long-term health issues.  Stressed dogs can be aggressive, unpredictable, and unmanageable, all of which may lead to a dog that bites. Therefore it is very important that you make socialization a priority in your training. Turn each opportunity of meeting someone or something new into a positive experience that results in treats, toys and fun!

A Happy Play Date!

Here at Truro Vet we offer a FREE Socialization Class every Thursday night at 6pm.  We call it a Puppy “Party”.  These classes are drop-in supervised one hour play sessions designed to help young puppies learn valuable play skills.  Equally important, puppy owners learn the basics of dog body language.  This should be considered a good addition to enrollment in a well-run puppy class, not a substitute for classes.

Puppies must be under 16 weeks of age the first time they attend and must have had at least one set of core vaccinations one week prior to attendance (including Distemper, Parvovirus and Bordetella).  Puppies are exposed to a number of novel things to accustom them to a new environment and owners learn when and how they need to intervene in play.

You don’t have to be enrolled in other classes or be a client of Truro Vet in order to attend our Puppy Parties.  We want this important first step toward a well socialized dog to be available to everyone.  We also offer Puppy Classes which will continue to give your puppy great socializing opportunities. Here are a few other tips to help you out on your own:

  • Give a treat to each person that your puppy will meet and ask them to give it to your puppy.
  • Expose your puppy to lots of strange sights, sounds and situations.  This will help them get comfortable and familiar with them.
  • When you bring your puppy to class we can supply you with a socialization check list that has a variety of ideas.

If at any time during socialization the puppy becomes frightened (tries to run away, tucks his tail underneath flat against his belly, or attempts to snap at you) consider the following:

  • Do not coddle a frightened puppy. Unknowingly you are praising his uncertainty; he will feel as though there is something to be unsure about. This will worsen the situation.
  • Jolly him up with a silly voice, a treat or game.
  • If a situation is overwhelming to the puppy, back away until the puppy is relaxed again.
  • Start from this point and build up the pup’s confidence.
  • Gradually get closer to the stimulus that is causing the puppy discomfort.
  • Your ultimate goal is for your puppy to be confident and comfortable around stimuli that was previously scary to him.

Over time you and your puppy will become experts at meeting new people, seeing new sights and hearing strange sounds.  For more information or to sign up for classes, please contact us at 893-2341.

A BIG New Stimulus!


Does Your Bathroom Have A Door? – One Tech’s View

Courtesy of: Joye

Ok, I know the title is strange, but stick with me and you’ll see where I’m going.  This is the first in what will hopefully become a series of blogs about the way I see things at Truro Vet.  If you’ve met me, that might seem like a scary idea, but I promise to be nice most of the time!

Today’s topic is obesity in cats, which is certainly no laughing matter.  Over 50% of cats are overweight or obese, serious conditions that can lead to a number of diseases which shorten their life span.  Of course, discussing nutrition is at the core of any discussion about weight management, so I’m often called in when we have a tough case.  Sometimes the basic issue is simply lack of understanding and effective communication, so I always start there.

I’m now going to give you a sample conversation I might have with a fictional client.  I emphasize that this actual conversation has never taken place, and the client, “Mrs. Smith”, does not exist.  However, many of Mrs. Smith’s concerns are very real and the advice I (try to) give is what I would say to any client who presented the same issues.


RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician…that’s me!):  Good afternoon, Mrs. Smith, and hello Fluffy.  My name is Joye and I’m here today to start your appointment.  The veterinarian will be in to see you shortly.  I see that Fluffy is now 12 years old.  How has she been doing?

NOT Fluffy...but Tigger, who was obese

Mrs. Smith:  Oh, she’s great.  She’s the sweetest cat.  I’ve had her since she was just a kitten you know.  She has always slept on my bed, but for the last little while she doesn’t seem to jump up anymore.  I guess she’s just getting old.

RVT:  Well, Mrs. Smith, 12 years really isn’t that old for an indoor cat like Fluffy.  Let’s have a look at her, shall we?  Oh my…Fluffy is a pretty big girl!  Let’s get her on the scale.  Fluffy weighs 7.5 kg…that’s 16 and a half pounds.  That is very large for a cat.

Mrs. Smith (proudly):  Ha, if you think Fluffy’s big you should see our other cat at home!  Our cats have always been very big and healthy.  Fluffy loves to eat and sleep.  I tell my husband we should have called her Garfield, she’s so lazy!

RVT:  Actually, it’s not really very healthy for Fluffy to be carrying around so much extra weight.  At her age, it can lead to some pretty serious health problems, like diabetes and arthritis.  I can see that she has some mats on her back too.  I suspect she’s not grooming as well as she used to, because she can’t reach or she is uncomfortable.

Mrs. Smith:  Oh dear, you don’t think she’s hurting do you?  She doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable at all.  I noticed the mats but I thought maybe she just got into some sap on the Christmas tree.

RVT:  Hmm…well, it’s March now, so I would really expect any sap from the tree to be long gone.  You mentioned that Fluffy doesn’t jump on your bed like she used to.  That might be related to her weight and potentially to arthritis.  I think it is important for us to put Fluffy on a diet to try to get her to start losing weight, as well as trying to increase her exercise through play.

Mrs. Smith:  A diet?  Oh, I couldn’t do that.  I just put the food out for Fluffy and Mitzy and they eat whatever they want.  Fluffy wouldn’t like it if she went to the bowl and it was empty!

RVT:  Eating her food in meals and eating a calorie reduced diet is really the best way to help Fluffy lose weight.  Cats can get used to eating meals and sometimes having an empty bowl, although they can sometimes develop new begging behaviours unfortunately.

Mrs. Smith:  I just know that Mitzy will eat all of her own food and most of Fluffy’s too.  She’s very pushy and loves her food.  I don’t think we will be able to feed them in meals, sorry.

RVT:  One good way to ensure that each cat gets their full meal (and no extras) is to feed them in separate rooms, with a door closed between them.  After 15-20 with their food, you open the door and remove the dishes.  Cats will learn to eat their meals on time, since the food won’t be back again until their next feeding.

Mrs. Smith:  Oh dear.  We can’t do that.  Our home is very open concept…I don’t have anywhere to put the cats to separate them.

RVT:  Does your bathroom have a door?  (while thinking “If it doesn’t, please don’t invite me over to visit!”) Several people I know feed one cat inside the bathroom and one in the kitchen.  Could that work for you?

Mrs. Smith (skeptically):  Maybe…

RVT:  Here’s the veterinarian now.  Once she has completed her physical exam, she and I will come up with a recommendation for the best diet plan for Fluffy and I’ll be back in to chat.


As you can see, Mrs. Smith is not really a big fan of all the changes I’ve asked her to make.  It’s obvious she loves Fluffy very much and wants to do what’s best, but I’ve asked her to significantly rearrange her life to help Fluffy become a healthier cat.  Hopefully by the time our visit is complete, she will be more open to trying some of my suggestions.

If your cat is overweight or obese, we would love to talk with you.  The process of weight loss generally follows the same basic steps.  Our first recommendation is often a calorie reduced diet, such as Calorie Control from Royal Canin.  Secondly, cats need to be fed a measured amount in timed meal feedings.  In households with multiple cats, this may mean with a door closed between them.  It is also great to increase their playtime, by buying toys that encourage them to move (such as laser pointers or treat balls).  Finally, coming back for regular weigh-ins to make sure we are having success is a key part of the process.

If you would like to know more about obesity in pets (including how to prevent the problem in the first place), please give us a call at 902-893-2341.





Trimming Your Dog’s Nails – A Step-By-Step Guide To Success

Courtesy of:  Ashley

Lots of pet owners cringe at the thought of having to trim Fluffy or Cujo’s nails.  Maybe it’s the thought of having to dress up in hockey gear to protect yourself, or the thought of “quicking” your pet and making them bleed that intimidates pet owners. Either way, with some training, most pets will allow you to trim their nails without a battle or injuries (on either side of the clippers).

For this discussion of nail trimming in dogs, I’m going to share our experience of teaching our four month old puppy, Brenley, to allow us to trim her nails.

Sondra and I are very lucky!  Brenley LOVES food, which makes training her for this process much more enjoyable for all of us.  We use her food as treats but if that is not enough you may need to find a treat that is of very high value to your dog and use it only for nail trims.  Hugo, our other dog (you’ll meet him in a future blog), prefers cheese as his ultimate treat of choice and he only gets it for nail trims.

We are using two methods to trim her nails, the nail clippers and the dremel.


Using the Clippers:

Teaching your dog a new behavior takes lots of time, patience and rewards.  Nail trimming, in particular, can be especially difficult because it can mean strange noises and staying still.  Below are the steps to help guide you and your dog in becoming a master nail trimming team.  Please take note:  depending on the individual dog these four steps could occur in a short (several minutes) or long (several days) time period.  Try not to push your dog too far past their comfort level; it’s better to take longer than you think you need to, than to do too much at once and risk causing your dog to experience unnecessary fear.

1.  We started off by handling her feet often.  Taking her paw in my hand, I placed my thumb above one toe and my index finger under the toe behind the pad.  Slightly pushing down with my thumb extended the toe nail out enough for us to see.  We started this procedure when she was sleeping, then when she was tired and lying down but not sleeping, and now we can do it while she is awake.  As we did this to each toe we were giving her treats, making sure she was enjoying the experience.

2.  Next, we introduced her to the nail clippers.  We started this procedure by letting her sniff and show interest in them.  As she did this we rewarded her with treats.

3.  Once she was comfortable with them, I started holding onto her paw in my non-dominant hand (in my case the left) and holding the clipper in my dominant hand (the right) while Sondra fed treats.  The more relaxed she became, the more treats she received.  Be careful not to give treats if your dog is pulling away as you would be reinforcing the undesirable behavior of pulling away.

4.  Once Brenley was relaxed and used to having the clippers near all of her feet, it was time to start trimming.  We started by trimming the tip off the nail.  By taking small amounts off at a time you are less likely to trim too short and cut the quick.


Using the Dremel:

Like training your dog for the clippers, the dremel takes time, patience and lots praise and rewards.

1.  As in step one in “Using the Clippers”, we got Brenley used to having her feet handled with lots of food rewards.

2.  We next introduced the dremel by letting her sniff and show interest in it.  Once she was comfortable with having it near her we turned it on, using treats to reward her good behavior.

3.  Just like step three in “Using the Clippers”, we started holding her paw and the dremel at the same time.  Next we started touching the dremel to her nails without it turned on, then with it turned on.  We were careful not to treat at the wrong time, only when she was giving us a behavior we wanted.

4.  After Brenley was comfortable with step three, we proceeded to dremel her nails.  This involved grinding the nail tip, making sure to go slowly and take a little off at a time to ensure we weren’t getting them too short.

The dremel

The “quick” is the supply of blood vessels to the toe nail.

It is much easier to see in white/clear nails than dark nails.  If the nail is clear, the quick is the pink area inside the nail.  You want to trim the toenail to within a few millimeters of the pink part.  However, if the nails are dark and difficult to see, you will have to trim small pieces off at a time and look at the cut area.  The cut area will change from black to a grey the closer you come to the quick.  Stop trimming when you see grey coloration.

If you cut the quick on your pet and make them bleed, they will be okay, but it can be painful.  It may mean you have to go back a few steps to get your pet comfortable with the idea of having their nails trimmed again.  To stop the bleeding there are some household items in your pantry that can help.  Place a small amount of cornstarch or flour in a Kleenex and hold it to the nail adding pressure.  If you are unable to stop the bleeding give us a call and we can help you.

A clicker can come in handy when training your dog for trimming nails; it sure helped us with Brenley!  If you are not sure what “Clicker Training” is, stay tuned to one of Kaila’s blogs coming soon.

Some dogs have no problem with having their nails trimmed, while others take LOTS of time and patience.  If you would like a demonstration of everything I’ve written about, please call us to schedule an appointment.  Not all dogs will allow you to trim their nails.  Some are better without the owners in the room.  If you tried to trim your dog’s nails without success or you would just prefer not to do them yourself, please give Truro Vet a call (893-2341) and we can assist you.


To Brush Or Not To Brush?

Courtesy of: Kaila

I had worked at Truro Vet for almost a year when I got my puppy Indy, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.  By that time I knew EXACTLY all the things I was going to do to make sure that my puppy lived a long, happy and healthy life.  One of the health topics that stuck out most to me was dental care. I would see all sorts of dogs and cats of different ages and breeds and they all seemed to have the same issue at some point in their life – and that was bad breath. What simpler way to fix that than to brush your pet’s teeth!

Dogs (as well as cats) don’t often get cavities like humans do, but they are prone to plaque build-up, tartar and gingivitis, all leading to tooth issues and foul breath.  Keep in mind our dogs aren’t going to be the perfect little patients and “Say aaaahhhh” when your veterinarian asks when it comes time to clean those less-than-pearly whites.  A proper dental cleaning is going to require an office visit, pre-surgical bloodwork and for your pet to be put under anesthesia.  This is a very safe and common procedure but if you could delay the time between needing the dental work done – why not?!

So early on with my new puppy I started setting him up for success with this brushing thing.  It wasn’t a big concern right away because the teeth he had when I got him would fall out over the next few months, but I did want to have him ready for brushing by the time those adult teeth grew in.  I started with lots of handling of Indy’s mouth, getting him used to me holding his muzzle, and rewarding him with kibble and treats for not resisting.  I also would flip up his lips, and rub his gums with my finger.  In no time at all he was very accepting of this fun new “game” that resulted in him getting lots of rewards for being such a good puppy!

As he started to lose teeth I introduced the toothbrush and toothpaste, and again made it a fun “game” where he got to lick the yummy chicken flavored toothpaste off the end of the toothbrush or my finger.  We quickly built it up to him letting me peel back those lips like we had practiced many times before and now brushing his teeth with the brush.

I wanted to make Indy’s teeth brushing part of my daily routine with him so believe it or not – his tooth brush and toothpaste sit in the bathroom next to mine.  Every night after I finish brushing my teeth I brush his (and am very careful not to mix up the toothpaste – as I am not a big fan of brushing my teeth with beef flavored toothpaste!).  It is like his “bedtime” snack, and he is very used to this routine.  I have had Indy in my life for over 4 years now and have been brushing his teeth every night and we always get compliments on his gleaming smile as you can easily see from the picture below.

Photo courtesy of Photographer Robert MacLellan (see more great work at robertmaclellan.viewbook.com)

Brushing teeth can have beneficial effects even when you don’t start with a brand new puppy.  If you have questions about brushing or other dental care, please contact Truro Vet at 893-2341.  With a little work, your pet’s smile can be as big and bright as Indy’s!


There’s More Than One Way To…Pill A Cat!

Courtesy of: Ashley

Picture this, it’s deworming time and I have two flavored tablets to get into my boys.  Both of them have already come running into the kitchen because they think it is treat time.  Jasper, my boy who is a picky eater and doesn’t like much besides his food, seems like he should be a big challenge, right?  He looks up at me and I toss the pill onto the floor.  Within seconds it is gone!  Now for Mango, my cat who will eat anything and everything…except deworming pills.  He knows what I am up to and has boarded the first jet out of the kitchen.  I catch him just before he sneaks by security.  I kneel on the floor and place him between my knees.  I open his tightly clenched jaw just enough to slip the pill in past his tongue and wait until he swallows.

It might not sound easy, but in the past, Mango was much more difficult.  With some time and patience he improved.  I know from experience that pilling cats can be a challenge and you may need some suggestions.  Here at Truro Vet we have lots of experience pilling cats and have learned many tips that may help you be successful.  This will also reduce stress for your pet.  If my story doesn’t give you the right ideas for your cat give us a call at 893-2341 as we have more tricks up our sleeves.