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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Bringing Home a New Puppy

Puppies are cute, cuddly, playful and bring great joy to people every day. There's good reason why people that dogs are a man's best friend. These amazing animals are loyal, loving, and will quickly become a part of your family; however, it is important to only get a puppy when you and your family is 100% ready. If you are thinking about adding a canine friend to your family, ask yourself these 5 questions to make sure that you are really ready.

1. Is Everyone in Your Household Onboard? A puppy can be cute, but also very destructive. They require potty breaks around the clock, months of house training, and can destroy a shoe in less than 60 seconds. Consistency is the most important aspect of a dog's training and everyone that lives in the home needs to be aware of that training plan and willing to help.

2. Are You Prepared for A 15 Year Commitment? Most dogs live 12-17 years. Do you have young children that want to grow up with a family dog? Are you prepared to take care of this dog if and when your children move out? Do you plan on moving frequently over the next decade or adding children to your family? There are many factors to consider when thinking about the long-term effects and questions that play into expanding your family with a dog.

3. Can You Commit to Training a Puppy? New puppies are a lot of work. They need to be let out every 2 hours, they need to be leash trained, housetrained, socialized, and taught their manners. This training is something you cannot take a break from or rely on anyone else for. You can hire trainers and go to puppy classes, but ultimately, it is up to you as the owner to follow through at home.

4. Can You Afford a Dog? Adding a dog to your family is like adding another child. You can have upwards of 15 years' worth of care to pay for such as veterinary visits, vaccinations, registration, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, and grooming, as well as maybe a dog beg, bowls, leashes, collars, and other accessories.

5. Do You Like Dogs? This may seem like a funny question to ask, but really think about it. Have you ever owned a dog before? Have you trained a dog? Do you believe a dog is man's best friend? Are you prepared to give up some of your own freedom to care for a dog? When you have a dog, this animal has to be a priority in your life. If you don’t like dogs enough to treat one like family, a dog probably isn't for you.

Grooming Services That Are Important for Dogs

Grooming is very important for your dog's health. There are certain grooming rituals that all dogs benefit from regardless of how long their hair is or if they have skin or nail issues. Training your puppy to become accustomed to grooming habits should start as soon as possible. If you wait too long to get your get used to basic grooming rituals such as brushing, ear cleaning and nail trimming, they may not tolerate these rituals later on. While long haired and short haired dogs will have varying degrees of grooming needs, all dogs must be trained to tolerate a few basic grooming practices.

Brushing should be a part of your daily grooming ritual with your dog. Regular brushing maintains the oils in a dog's coat, removes dead hair and skin, and helps keep the dog clean. Having a brushing routine also allows you to check your dog for skin problems, bugs, nail problems, teeth problems, and infection. Daily grooming is also very relaxing for dogs and most of them really grow to love brushing.

Nail Trimming is something that can be done by our veterinary office, by a pet salon, or even at home by you! If your dog's nails get too long they will have trouble walking and can strain their muscles and hurt their backs. Ingrown nails can also become easily infected and can be very painful for dogs. If you can hear your dog's nails clacking against your wood or tile floors, they are too long. A dog's nails should not touch the ground while standing. If you need assistance in learning how to trim nails without hurting your pet (if cut too short, the nails will bleed) call our office.

Bathing is recommended once a month for most dogs. Dogs do a pretty great job of keeping themselves clean, but a monthly bath keeps them smelling good and having a soft, shiny, coat. Dogs that spend most of their time indoors may be able to be bathed less frequently, while dogs that love a good roll in the mud on a rainy day may need to be hosed down more often. Make sure to use a shampoo that is made for dogs or a baby shampoo. Adult shampoos can irritate a dog's hair follicles.

Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears is another common grooming habit that all dogs should have done. Dog ears are sensitive and can get infections easily. It is important to check your dog's ears regularly for dirt, redness, and other irregularities. Clean them out with a cotton ball and an ear wash that contains no antibiotics, alcohol, or toxic materials.

These grooming rituals can be done at home or at our hospital. Whether you choose to do these rituals at home or let the professionals handle it, the best way to stay on top of your dog’s grooming is to schedule monthly appointments.

Notes on Training Your Puppy

That little furry bundle of joy you just brought home is loving his new family, playing, and hopping around, but then he stops to use your beautiful carpet as a bathroom, and continues to play like nothing ever happened. Along with potty training, using basic commands to make sure they should do something is very important, as it is likely for his safety, and makes for an easier life.

Only by using positive reinforcement will you train your puppy. They need to feel good when they do something they are supposed to do, not feel bad when they do something they do not even know is bad. Take the puppy to the designated potty area immediately after their accident in the house and keep saying the word potty. Use phrases like, "go potty outside,” and try to keep it short. It takes consistency. When you do take them outside, which should be very often, praise them when they potty outside, give them a treat immediately after. The routine will start to sink in sooner than later, and you will have a potty trained puppy in no time.

For learning tricks or commands use signs to signal a certain command. Try and physically roll them over, or when they sit, say "sit", so they associate the word with what they are doing. Use commands like stop, heel, and stay to ensure their safety while out on a walk or at the dog park.

Training dogs is all about consistency. Dogs are very smart, and they can learn far more than you think they can, you just have to put the effort in to do so. If you have any questions, please call our office!

Do You Need to Brush Your Pet's Teeth?

The short answer from your veterinarian in Ypsilanti is yes, you must brush your cat's or dog's teeth, but there is obviously a long answer here. The real question is why? It is not crazy to think that when those animals are out in the wild, there is not a fresh bottle of toothpaste or a nice electric toothbrush waiting for them on their kitchen sink in the woods. That much is certain. But, just like all animals with teeth, including humans, there is a large world of bacteria, infection, and other problems inside of mouths if there is not something to combat these issues.

But, My Pet's Teeth Aren't Dirty?

Your pet has a special ability to clean their teeth without using dental products. The saliva in a dog's or cat's mouth is different from a person's saliva. Their saliva is stronger and helps bring back essential nutrients to the enamel of their teeth, and also helps to break down food particles. The toys you buy them also work to clean their teeth. Most dog toys are designed to get in between their teeth when they chew, so it sort of is like brushing their teeth, just in a more unconventional way. Cats have a scratchy tongue that gives them the ability to brush with their tongue. That usually does a pretty good job of keeping their mouth healthy and clean.

So, I Should Brush Their Teeth?

It is a good idea to monitor your pet's oral hygiene. If they have toys that take the plaque off their teeth, then you can get away with giving them a treat that will help with bad breath, or to give them a specially made toy that is designed specifically for cleaning teeth. However, if you see any yellowing, black spots, or even notice your pet not chewing or eating much, then it may be caused by an oral related issue. Cleaning their teeth is the first step towards better health. When they are young, if you can, teach them that brushing is a good thing by rewarding them for letting you brush their teeth, it becomes easier to do. If you find that you cannot get rid of their bad breath by brushing or treats, then having a vet look into the matter may be warranted.

Animals do not need their teeth brushed every day. Give them something to eat or chew on that will do the work for you and them. However, once in a while, for instance, when you give them a bath, go ahead and clean them. This will greatly reduce the risk of infections and oral problems your pet may have if their mouth stays dirty. Call our veterinarian in Ypsilanti at (734) 485-1622 for more information


The Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Spaying or neutering your pet is essential for its health and general well-being. There is already an overpopulation of cats and dogs, so it is important to make sure that your pet does not contribute to overpopulation or stray pets. Unfortunately, about 3.7 million animals are euthanized at shelters each year. Not only does spaying or neutering help with population control, it also has a lot of surprising benefits.

Spaying females before their first heat cycle can help drastically reduce or even eliminate the risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer, while also preventing uterine infections. Neutering males greatly reduces their risk for perianal tumors, and prevents testicular cancer and enlargement of the prostate gland. Please call our office today to learn more about why it is essential to spay or neuter your pets.

Top Supplies You Need Before Bringing a New Kitten Home

Bringing home a new kitten is a very exciting time in any family's life. Preparing for a new kitten is not as easy as just going to the local pet store or rescue, picking one out and bringing it home. Preparing your home for the new kitten is vital to having a positive adjustment period for any pet. Our Ypsilanti vet has created a checklist to make sure you have everything you need!

List of items for new cat owners:
Cat litter, litter box and scooper, kitten food (make sure to ask what kind of food the kittens have been eating. Starting with the same food and slowly integrating the food you want to use is easier on a kitty's tummy.), bed, food and water dishes, collar with ID tags, flea medication (kittens can start flea treatments at 8 weeks old and must weigh 2 lbs or more), Toys, scratching post and treats!

The most important thing to make sure you have plenty of in your home, is love and support for the new kitten as she makes a transition into a new home. And make sure you take your kitten to our office for an exam and any vaccinations they may need!

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