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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking

My Dog Barks Too Much

It’s incredibly common for pet owners to find themselves saying this. Of course, it would be silly to expect a dog never to bark… that’s just like expecting a child never to talk! But just as some children have a lot to say, some dogs do too, and they bark excessively. 

In order to get your dog to stop barking, you must figure out why they’re barking so much in the first place. Once you’ve got a solid understanding, you can take the proper steps to treat the problem. 

Reasons Why My Dog Barks Too Much

Potential Situations

  • Alarm/Fear
  • Protective/Territorial
  • Loneliness/Boredom
  • Greeting/Playtime
  • Attention Seeking
  • Separation Anxiety

Type of Speak

  • Barking – Depending on the pitch and duration, a dog’s bark can indicate an alert, a sign of distress, a friendly greeting, or a way of telling others to stop what they are doing.
  • Howling – Remember, dogs descend from wolves. Howling is typically intended as long-range communication and can convey a variety of things, including guidance, warning, anxiety, and curiosity. 
  • Yelping – Yelping is often a loud, sharp, high-pitched noise and can mean several things, including sudden pain, surprise, or fright.
  • Growling – This will be more of an under-the-breath grumble and typically indicates irritation or displeasure but can also occur during play. The best way to tell is through body language.
  • Whining – While puppies most commonly use this, a lot of dogs will whimper and whine for attention to indicate that they need something, they are upset or stressed, they are in pain, or they’re so excited they just can’t contain themselves.

Train Your Dog to Not Bark

The Humane Society shared six helpful ways to stop dog barking but suggests that while it can be successful, it won’t happen overnight –for best results and to get your dog to stop barking, training and barking behavior practice sessions should be conducted long term.

  1. Remove the motivation: It’s likely your dog gets some kind of reward when they bark. Otherwise, they wouldn’t even do it. Figure out what they get out of it and remove it. Don’t allow your dog to continue the behavior. (i.e., if your dog barks at passersby in the front window, close the curtains or put the dog in another room.)
  1. Ignore the barking: If you believe the barking is for attention, ignore them for as long as it takes them to stop. Don’t acknowledge them – don’t talk to them, touch them, or even look at them, or you are just rewarding them for being so noisy. Once they’ve quieted down, reward them with a treat. Just remember, this method requires patience. (i.e., if your dog is barking while in a crate or gated room, turn your back and ignore them until they stop. Then turn around and praise with a treat.)
  1. Desensitize your dog to the stimulus: Gradually help your dog become accustomed to whatever is causing them to go off. Begin with the stimulus (whatever triggers them) at a distance — far enough away that they don’t bark when they see it. Give them treats, then move the stimulus a little closer. More treats. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving treats. You want your pup to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things (AKA treats!). (i.e., if your dog barks at other dogs, have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far away. As they start coming into view, begin giving your dog treats, then stop once they disappear from view.)
  1. Ask for an incompatible behavior: When your dog begins barking, ask them to do something incompatible with the behavior. You teach them to react to the stimuli with something else that inhibits them from barking, like lying down on their bed. (i.e., if someone is at the door, toss a treat onto your dog’s bed and command them “go lay down” or “go to your bed.”)
  1. Keep them tired: A tired dog is a good dog, so make sure your pooch is getting sufficient physical and mental exercise each day. The amount of activity your dog requires will depend on its breed, age, and health.
  2. Contact a professional: If you believe your dog is barking reactively or aggressively to other dogs, strangers, or family members, or if the above tips prove to be unsuccessful, consider reaching out to a certified professional dog trainer for help.

Additionally, the Humane Society recommends pet owners keep these tips in mind when training:

  • Avoid yelling at your dog to be quiet—it just sounds like you’re barking along with them.
  • Keep your training sessions upbeat and positive.
  • Be consistent so as not to confuse your dog. Everyone in the household must also apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can’t let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some of the time but not others.

The sounds our pups make can indicate a lot about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking, so on one side, it’s important to really listen to what they’re trying to say. On the other, it’s imperative that we learn the different behavior-curbing methods to maintain control over any given situation.

Poisonous Toads in Arizona

Pet Hazards: Desert Toads and Dogs

Desert toads and dogs and cats are a disaster waiting to happen. Every year we treat pets that have tangled with a poisonous toad. Understanding the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs is essential because toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary intervention and care. 

What you need to know about desert toads and dogs and the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs is a cautionary tale. As we’re coming into the monsoon season, the biggest monsoon-related hazard, for dogs especially, is the poisonous toads in Arizona. And when it comes to poisonous toads in Arizona in terms of things that’ll kill you, Arizona’s Sonoran Desert Toad is the second most deadly poisonous toad in the world! 

Poisonous Toads in Arizona

During the hot and humid summer monsoon season, Sonoran Desert Toads (also known as Colorado River Toads or the Bufo Toad (Bufo alvarius)) will begin to emerge from the ground and hop their way into desert washes. And like their namesake, Mr. Toad is not afraid to take a wild ride to seek out water, meaning they’ll hop right on into desert-adjacent suburban yards, pools, and roads. In fact, that’s where the majority of rattlesnake bites and exposure to Sonoran toad toxins occur!

  • Hazard: If you live on the edge of the desert, it’s likely you and your dog routinely walk or hike in the desert. Beware of Sonoran toads in the washes and surrounding areas or near standing water.
  • Solution: Avoidance training can help teach dogs to naturally steer clear of dangerous desert critters such as snakes and toads. Don’t let your dog drink from puddles or washes. Always carry plenty of water to keep everyone hydrated, even on short trips out.
  • Hazard: Toads will also seek out water, so your pool and the pet’s outdoor water bowl are the fabled oases in the desert. But the danger is no mirage. Be careful of where you place water outdoors. If your dog or cat comes in contact with a toxic toad, you’ll need to get to the vet, stat!
  • Solution: Watch your pet’s behavior outdoors. Dogs and cats will be fascinated by toads and their movements and will think it’s a great game to try to catch them in their mouths. Don’t let them! The toad’s slime contains toxins that can harm or kill them. Don’t handle toads without gloves, and wash thoroughly after any potential exposure. Give your pet’s paws a quick wipe with a wet paper towel when they come indoors to minimize risks.

Symptoms of Toad Poisoning in Dogs

Most desert toads are TOXIC to pets, and toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you live in a high-risk area, a little prevention is necessary. It could save you some pretty heavy heartache or the expense of an emergency trip to the vet. Understanding the symptoms of toad poisoning in dogs is essential as they’re observable almost immediately.

  • Severe drooling
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the mouth or eyes
  • Muddy red mucous membranes
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting of yellow fluid
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils, loss of coordination
  • Vocalization, seizures, collapse, and death

Symptoms of Toad Poisoning in Dogs – What To Do Next

  • Rinse your pet’s mouth out immediately! If possible, use a constant stream of clean water from a faucet or hose.
  • Call your veterinarian or the closest emergency animal hospital!
  • You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

Seek avoidance training for your dog and consider a refresher course each year. Not sure which trainer to pick? Ask your veterinarian or local animal hospital for a recommendation. Click here to find an AZPetVet location near you.

To learn more about Arizona’s frogs and toads, visit Arizona Game and Fish

[disclaimer] Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. 

When Is It Too Hot to Walk Your Dog

too hot for dogs

How Hot Is Too Hot for Dogs?

The first official day of summer is quickly approaching, but for us Arizonans, it feels as though it arrived weeks ago. Desert regions are known for having temperatures that exceed 100 degrees for a large majority of the year. But just because temps are high doesn’t mean your dog needs less exercise. Having pets in desert areas requires pet parents to take some specific precautions to ensure their pup stays protected, happy, healthy, and hydrated through the heat.

So how hot is too hot for dogs? Is walking your dog in the heat safe? We just might have the answers you’re looking for!

Walking Your Dog in the Heat

If you are someone who enjoys exercising with your dog, consider these tips:

  • Check the pavement temperature for dogs by pressing the back of your hand firmly on the sidewalk or asphalt for at least 7 seconds to feel if it’s comfortable for your dog’s paws – if your hand burns, your pet’s paws will, too!
  • Seek out cooler temperatures like early mornings before 9 AM or evenings after 6 PM
  • Avoid hot surfaces like asphalt or concrete as it can get too hot for dogs; instead, opt for grass or highly shaded areas
  • Pack a collapsible bowl and plenty of fresh water
  • Limit direct sun exposure, especially for those pups with shorter or little hair
  • Keep the exercise light and tolerable: avoid running, biking, or long-distance exercise
  • Bring cool, damp towels and place them over your pet in the instance of heat exhaustion
  • Consider purchasing protective dog shoes for summer walks and activities

Pavement Temperatures for Dogs: Things You Oughta Know

  1. The sidewalk on a hot day in AZ can easily reach temps upwards of 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Even dogs with calloused pads will begin to feel discomfort/pain at around 120 degrees.
  3. Burning and tissue damage will begin at 140 degrees after only one minute of contact with the hot surface!
    • If it feels like 77 degrees outside, the asphalt temperature is likely 125 degrees.
    • If it feels like 86 degrees outside, the asphalt temperature is likely 135 degrees.
    • If it feels like 87 degrees outside, the asphalt temperature is likely 143 degrees.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a common response to long and short-term exposure to temperatures that are too hot for dogs. Dogs are unable to sweat to regulate body temperatures, so they pant to cool themselves off. Unfortunately, this is not the most efficient way to cool down. If a pet gets too overheated and can’t cool down this way, they risk heat stroke. Signs to look out for include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Fast/heavy breathing
  • Salivating
  • Fatigue
  • Disorientation/uncoordinated movement
  • Muscle tremors
  • Collapse 
  • Reddened gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 

Getting out and enjoying some quality time with your pup is completely possible and easily managed as long as you follow a few common-sense guidelines and remain mindful of your surroundings and aware of your dog’s needs. If you’re still unsure of best practices when it comes to exercising your pup in the desert heat, contact us at AZPetVet and we will help guide you through!

How to Read & Understand Pet Food Labels

pet food labels

Understanding Ingredients on Pet Food Labels

Taking care of pets means understanding ingredients on pet food labels, knowing what to look for on pet food labels, and why the ingredients matter. While most of us scan the basics of the packaging, labels are cluttered with information and small print, so it’s not always easy to tell what’s most important. All claims on pet foods are required to be truthful, and every product must undergo regulatory scrutiny and approval on federal and sometimes state-by-state levels before it ever lands on retailer shelves. The front of a package must include brand and product name, species the food is intended for, and the quantity statement. It will often feature bright logos, graphics, and enticing photos or illustrations. The back and side panels will contain a variety of other information, including the food label and nutritional breakdown. Here’s a simple guide to reading food labels that can help take the guesswork out of pet food and treat purchases.

Guide to Reading Food Labels

All pet food labels follow the same basic format, but they can still be confusing for many customers. Once you know the most important things to look for, you’ll be able to choose the right foods and treats for your pet. If you’re not sure what food is right for your pet or if they have particular conditions or special needs like weight control, always consult with your veterinarian.

What Must Be on Pet Food Labels

  1. Product and brand name, species, and/or other unique identifiers. Many pet owners will base their buying decision on a specific ingredient their pet likes, like chicken, beef, or salmon. Most brands will try to highlight that particular ingredient in the product name. 
    • Words to watch for on pet food labels: AND, WITH, flavor, and descriptive qualifying terms like dinner, entrée, feast, stew, or platter. Each of these differences correlates to percentages of ingredients by weight or volume. These words tend to signal smaller primary and individual ingredient quantities, so understanding ingredients and how they are listed and described is essential.
    • The 95 Percent Rule: In order to name a product that includes a specific ingredient, i.e. Savory Chicken Dog Food or Salmon Cat Food, the food must contain 95 percent of the named ingredient by weight and must be at least 70 percent of the total product when added water is factored in. 
    • The 25 Percent Rule: Products named Chicken Dinner for Dogs, Salmon and Sweet Potato Entrée, or Lamb and Vegetable Stew, for example, must contain at least 25 percent of the product (not counting the water for processing), but less than 95 percent. In this case, the product name must include a qualifying term, such as dinner, entrée, or platter. When counting added water, the named ingredients must comprise at least 10 percent of the product. If more than one ingredient is included in a “dinner,” the combination of the named ingredients must total 25 percent of the product and be listed in the exact same order as found on the package ingredient list.
  2. Product weight, liquid measure, or count, depending on the food formulation. Savvy pet food purchasers know that these measures will vary by the type and density of the product. These are included in metric measures by law. If you’re not sure if a particular food or treat is worth the price tag, do a cost-per-ounce or cost-per-pound comparison between your choices. It’s OK to choose something in the middle range.
  3. Guaranteed Analysis: Specifies the number of specific nutrients from crude protein to crude fat to moisture, vitamins, and minerals and any added flavors or ingredients. Guarantees for other nutrients may be required to support any claims made in labeling (High Calcium Formula or other benefits). These can include voluntary guarantees for other nutrients. All guarantees must be given in a particular order, specified units, and as a minimum or maximum, depending on the nutrient.
  4. Ingredients listed in order of highest weight to lowest. Understanding ingredients is easy but can get more complex if you really dig into the details of “defined names” for added flavors and colors. By law, the ingredient making up the highest percentage of the total weight is always listed first, followed by the next highest, and so on. All ingredients used must be GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), approved food additives, or otherwise sanctioned for use in animal feeds (i.e., as defined by AAFCO, a pet food industry regulatory body). Ingredients must also be declared by the correct AAFCO-defined name if it exists. If not, the “common or usual” name customers might expect must be used.
  5. Nutritional adequacy statement. These must be backed by professional lab testing that confirms the food provides a certain level of nutrients suitable for consumption. These may also include values for the appropriate life stages (puppy/kitten, adult, senior, weight control, etc.).
  6. Feeding directions and guidelines by weight range. Feeding frequency must also be clearly stated. All pet foods labeled as “complete and balanced” for life stages or general use must include feeding directions stating “Feed (XX amount of product) per (weight) of dog/cat” per day. Feeding directions are optional for treats, but all must be labeled as snacks or treats.
  7. Manufacturer name and address. This may also include a general number for customer service contact. If someone else makes the product for the company, the words “manufactured for” or “distributed by” will be included before the address.

Remember, marketing for pets is very similar to that of people, and everything on pet food labels is carefully worded and designed to attract the buyer’s attention. Since pets don’t have wallets and they can’t really shop for themselves (unless it’s helping themselves to enticing treats or toys in open boxes at lower levels at the pet store), it’s up to each pet owner to choose the best foods and treats to meet the dietary needs of their pets throughout their lifetime. If you’re still unsure how to read pet food labels and choose the right food for your pet, consult with your veterinarian.

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartworms & How to Protect Your Pet

heartworm prevention

What Is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a very serious disease found in ferrets, cats, and most commonly dogs. If untreated, it can result in severe lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and in some cases it may be fatal.

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, which spreads through a mosquito’s bite. The mosquito serves as the intermediate host, meaning the worms live inside the mosquito only for a short period while becoming infective and able to transmit heartworm disease. The next time this mosquito bites an animal, it will transfer the larvae into its bloodstream. The animal will then serve as the definitive host, which means the worms mature into adults, mate, and even produce offspring while living inside the animal. 

These worms often nestle into the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of the infected animal, hence the name “heartworm” disease.

  • Mature heartworms can live for up to 5 to 7 years in dogs and 2 or 3 years in cats.
  • Every mosquito season puts animals at increased risk for developing the disease or growing numbers of worms in already infected animals.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartworms in Dogs?

In the early stages, many dogs will show only few symptoms (if any at all) and the severity depends on several things: 1) how many worms are residing inside of the dog (worm burden), 2) how long it has been infected, and 3) how its body is responding to the presence of the worms. The dog’s activity levels also play a role in the severity of heartworm disease and when the symptoms are first noticed. 

Inactive dogs, recently infected dogs, or those that have low worm burdens may not show obvious signs, whereas dogs with heavier worm burdens, active dogs, or those that have been infected for a long time will often show more obvious symptoms.

Some signs of heartworm disease can include:

  • Mild, persistent cough
  • Lethargy/avoids exertion
  • Fatigue after mild to moderate activity
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

As the disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and/or a swollen tummy as excess fluid builds up in the abdomen. Dogs can also develop sudden blockages of blood flow in the heart, leading to cardiovascular collapse. This is marked by the sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, and dark, bloody or coffee-colored urine usually requiring prompt surgical intervention.

What Are the Symptoms of Heartworms in Cats?

While most heartworms do not survive to the adult stage in cats, it is possible. Both outdoor and indoor cats are at risk, and the signs can be either very subtle or very dramatic. 

Some symptoms displayed by infected cats may include:

  • Coughing or asthma-like attacks
  • Lethargy
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Occasionally, an infected cat may have difficulty walking, experience seizures or fainting, or suffer from fluid build-up in the abdomen similar to that in dogs.

How to Prevent Heartworms in Your Pets

The best treatment is prevention, and fortunately, there are many FDA-approved preventative products available today. However, all of them require a veterinarian’s prescription so scheduling an appointment is the first step toward preventing heartworm disease. 

The most common products are given on a monthly basis either orally or as a topical liquid applied to the skin by the pet owner. Another option is an injectable product, administered just under the skin every 6 or 12 months by a veterinarian. Additionally, some preventative medications also contain effective ingredients against certain intestinal parasites (hookworms and roundworms).

Year-round prevention is the best option to help ensure the safety of your pet. Contact us at AZPetVet to schedule a preventative care exam and we can help you decide which options are best suited for your pet!

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.