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Dr. Ruth MacPete: What I'm Thankful For


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Dr. Ruth MacPete divulges what she's thankful for this holiday season. For more from Dr. MacPete, find her on Facebook or at www.drruthpetvet.com!

While we should always be thankful for what we have, Thanksgiving serves as a good yearly reminder for us to acknowledge the things we are thankful for. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m dedicating my blog to the people and things I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for having a loving family that brings me joy and fills my heart with laughter and love. I’m thankful for my beautiful, smart daughter who makes me proud every day with her creativity, intelligence, and sweet nature. I’m thankful for my son who melts my heart with his hugs and kisses. I’m thankful for my husband who loves and supports me. I’m thankful for my parents for always being there for me when I need them. I’m thankful for my in-laws for all their help with the kids. I’m thankful for my friends for their love and support. And I’m thankful for my pets and for having the best job in the world.

Veterinary medicine can often be busy and stressful, so it is easy to see why vets sometimes forget that being a veterinarian is the best job in the world. It is truly a privilege to be able to use our years of training and expertise to help animals, and indirectly, the people who love them. Since all veterinarians are animal lovers, we are fortunate to be in a profession that allows us to help our animal patients directly. However, as animal lovers ourselves, we can appreciate the strength of the human-animal bond and the positive impact our work has on the pet parents who love our animal patients.

Which brings me to my final point: I’m thankful for my pets. My pets give me unconditional love, companionship, and so much more. When I come home from work their presence brightens my day. When I go to sleep, their warmth comforts me and helps lull me to sleep. Pets are a big part of my life and seem to fill the house with life. Sadly, this October I lost my cat Ling. Ling was a part of my family for nearly 15 years and was my me and my husband's first “child” together. He slept in my arms under the covers and woke me up with kisses. When my daughter was born he would sit on my lap to keep me company while I fed her in the middle of the night. He was a superstar of a cat who in his younger days would wow my guests with his fetching ability and outgoing personality. In fact, several of my friends got their own Siamese cat hoping to have a Ling of their own. One of them even converted from being a “dog person” to a “Siamese cat person” because of Ling. Losing Ling was incredibly difficult and thinking of him not being here still makes me sad, but I’m reminded of how lucky I was to have him in our lives for as long as we did. Ling gave us his boundless love and filled our lives with joy. I’m grateful that my kids got to know him, that he touched the lives of many people and that I had the pleasure of having such an incredible cat, friend and child in my life for so many years.

Enjoy the turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, but don't forget to think about the things you are grateful for this Thanksgiving.


A dog`s age in human years

It is a common misconception that one dog year is the equivalent to 7 human years. While this calculation seems to make sense if thought about momentarily, it doesn`t have the scientific proof to back it up. There are other values which allow us to better define the physiological development of a dog, which is not always comparable to a human.

On AnimalWised, we will show you know how dog`s age during their life. Although we remind you that no matter the age, the animal`s health is an important factor in determining how long they might live. Perhaps a boxer will live for 12 years (beyond its life expectancy) and a beautiful Maltese may pass suddenly when it reaches 7 years old (which is only around half its life expectancy). Keep reading this informative article to find out more!

Puppies and Young Dogs

Like human babies, a puppy is considered so precious as it is at an age of both discovery and vulnerability. For a young dog to develop properly, they need to be healthy and receive all necessary care.

But if we want to compare a dog`s start in life to that of a human, the considerations change as they develop. A 3 month old puppy could be comparable to a 3 year old human, but at 6 months the comparison would be closer to a human aged 10 years.

By the time a dog reaches the age of 12 months, its age equivalent to a human has reached 20 years. At the end of this adolescent stage, when a dog is around 2 years old, the human equivalent is 24 years.

This is a wonderful time for a dog (as it can be for humans) this is when a dog is at its developmental best and can fully enjoy life. As a dog owner, you need to take care and ensure your pet is making the most of their time, something which we humans can get a lot of enjoyment out of and improve life expectancy.

We must point out that the teeth will reveal the age of our dog. However, in the case of puppies it is even more important to know their age, more so than adults. This will tell us if they should drink milk or if they are ready to eat solid food.

Here are the notable changes in the teeth of puppies and young dogs:

  • From 7 to 15 days of age: At this stage puppies do not have teeth. They are guided by tactile stimuli because they have eyes and ears still closed. They have at this stage several reflexive or involuntary responses, pure stimulation. We will have the suction reflex which, when bringing something to your lips, will pick up and press as if it were a breast to get their food. In the case of the perineal reflex, it would be the mother responsible for activating it by licking. But, we can tap their anus to see that if they close and open without problems. The reflection of excavation is where they push any surface looking for the heat of their mother and her breasts.
  • From 15 to 21 days of life: Upper incisors (are 6) and fangs (are 2) of milk appear. Small breeds usually take longer. At this stage they open their eyes and ears. The reflexes disappear and they are already walking, looking for mischief and their food. They will still drink milk, but the teeth do not appear yet. They will have an absence of teeth until the 15 days of life, at which time the incisors and temporary canines or milk (between 15 and 21 days) appear. Then the rest evolve and the months of life will change by the definitive that are 42 pieces.
  • From 21 to 30 days of life: the lower incisors and fangs of the mandible appear.
  • From one month of life up to 3 months: here the wear of milk teeth or scratching occurs. Remember that baby teeth are finer and square than the definitive ones, which will be somewhat more rounded until they are drained or worn.
  • At 4 months: we will observe the eruption of the definitive central incisors, and will be present in both jaws.
  • Up to 8 months: definitive change of all incisors and fangs.
  • Until a year of life: all the definitive incisors have left. They will be very white and with rounded edges or "fleur de lis" as they are known. Also the definitive tusks are already found.

Adult Dogs

So far we have seen the equivalences between canines and their human companions up to the age of 2 years.

After two years where rapid growth occurs during its adolescence, each year is equivalent to around 4-5 human years. Thus a 6 year old dog would be considered around 40 in human years.

At this stage you might start to see symptoms of indicative of maturation such as increased serenity or some dental problems, but do not worry. A well cared for dog can continue to have a high quality of life for years to come.

Enjoying companionship, providing lots of exercise and teaching your dog various tricks will improve both quality of life and life expectancy. Remember to take your dog for regular vet check ups as their age advances. Especially if your dog is a large breed or has a genetic predisposition to disease.

Here are the notable physical changes within an adult dog`s teeth:

  • From a year and a half of life to two and a half years: We can see a wear or scratching of lower central incisors, which will begin to show a more square shape.
  • From 3 to 4 and a half years: their 6 lower incisors will become square, mainly due to wear.
  • From 5 to 6 years of life: the wear of the upper incisors by the scratching will be evident, ours is in the years prior to old age.
  • From the 6 years of life: you will see a greater wear of all teeth, there is more tartar and the fangs also become more square than pointy. They may also lose pieces, but it will depend on your dog`s food and lifestyle. From this moment the dog prepares to enter their old age, which begins at the age of 7.

Old Dogs

In humans, calculating life expectancy does not change intrinsically according to race. However, this is not the case with dogs as their breed and body type has a great effect on how long they are expected to live.

Some large dogs can live up to 12 or 13 years, so when a large breed dog has reached the age of 9 we can consider that dog to be in its old age. Besides being a big breed of dog, the pedigree of its breeding can have an impact on life expectancy as pure breeds tend not to live as long as cross breed dogs.

Instead, small dogs and mutts tend to live about 16 years or more on average, depending on their care, feeding and quality of life.

If we use life expectancy calculations which are specific to the size and breed of a dog, we see that small dogs (up to around 10 kilograms) which live to 15 years are the human equivalent of 76 years old. Large breed dogs (over 40 kilograms) at the same age are considered to be around 120 years old in human terms.

While it is pragmatic to consider how much time you get to enjoy with your beloved dog and make considerations for its older age, it is equally important to enjoy all the time you spend with them whatever age they might be. Caring properly for your pet every day is the best way to ensure your life together will last as long as possible.

Calculate Dog Years

This table will help you to calculate the approximate age of your dog in human terms, but to find out how to keep your dog as healthy for as long as possible, check out these other articles:


Excessive barking in dogs

Every dog barks. Even the Basenji, “the barkless dog”, can make some noise akin to a bark (though it`s more like a yodel). Essentially, barking is a dog’s version of talking. They bark to say hello, to say they want something –“Feed me!” – and also to let you know if something’s going on or when they don’t like something.

That said, some of our furry buddies are loud mouths and just love to hear themselves bark all the time. That kind of barking becomes annoying and stressful for the people and other pets in your house.Expecting a dog to never bark is like asking a person to never talk. In fact, trying to quiet a dog’s normal barking can be extremely stressful and confusing for the dog. Imagine if someone shushed you every time you asked for food or when you needed something or put a piece of tape over your mouth so you couldn’t talk!

Barking: What`s normal and what`s annoying?
Good barking is pretty easy to identify:

  • When people come into your dog’s space, knock on the door, drive into your driveway, etc.
  • Reaction to loud or unusual noises (horns honking outside, thunder, or construction noise)
  • Asking to go out or telling you, “hey, I’m hungry.”
  • A perception on your dog’s part that any member of his family is nervous, afraid, or in harm

Nuisance barking is also usually pretty easy to spot:

  • “I’m barking simply because I like the sound of my own voice and I’m not going to stop anytime soon.”
  • Barking when wanting attention of any sort – “you’re not paying attention to me, so I’m going to bark,” “you left the room, so I’m going to bark,” and “you’re talking to your husband, I’m going to bark.”
  • Barking because someone else barks and getting the entire pack into a barking frenzy

If your dog exhibits “good barking” tendencies and it doesn’t cause problems within your home, we actually don’t recommend discouraging it. In fact, alert barking can be a good thing, as can reasonable “request barking” (i.e., I need or want something). To ensure your dog’s alert or request barking stays in control, acknowledge it by going to your dog, making physical contact with a stroke on the head or back, and say “good dog.” This will your dog know that you heard and that he or she doesn’t need to bark again.

If your dog nuisance barks, you should try to curb this behavior as soon as possible. The longer your dog does it, the harder it will be to stop.

Try to assess why your dog is barking. If it’s for an undesirable reason, catch him or her in the act and use a firm command like “no bark.” When the barking stops and your dog relaxes, shower him or her with praise.

If your dog gets caught up in the act of barking (sometimes dogs can really go into something like a trance when they bark), go to him or her and gently make physical contact so he or she pays attention (stroking your dog on the on the head, tapping on the shoulder) and then use the “no bark” command.

If your dog is a chronic and persistent barker, you can give your veterinarian a call and enlist some help. Also, a professional trainer might be able to give you some great suggestions specific to your dog and your environment.

Don’t punish your dog for barking. Even if it’s nuisance barking, it’s natural and your dog won’t understand why you’re punishing him or her for just being a dog. Always remember: stay calm, be patient, and show your dog lots of love.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.


How to teach your senior dog to use a ramp or stairs

It’s important to practice obedience work and techniques with senior animals, however it is also essential to train your dog to cope with the aging process. This includes both lifestyle modifications and the use of portable stairs and ramps, which help geriatric family pets get on and off elevated areas securely and quickly.

Stairs are useful when placed next to fixed resting areas, such as the bed or sofa. Ramps are portable and can fold up, makings them perfect for getting in and from the car. Pick ramps and stairs with an anti-skid surface area, which offers your dog’s paws something to grip and makes him less likely to slip or jump off the edge.

Use favorable support to teach your dog to use a ramp or stairs- this will make the experience more satisfying for your animal and will make him more likely to use these tools with self-confidence even when you are not around.

Car Ramp Training For Dogs

Ramps can be changed for height depending on the object they are resting on, makings it easy for them to be used at a more steady slope when first training. During initial training, practice by laying the ramp on a stable, flat area where it won’t move, such as in the lawn or on carpet. Teach your dog to follow a treat as you draw him throughout the flat ramp.

Treat him initially for putting one paw up on the ramp. Next, treat him for putting 2 paws up on the ramp. Progressively move the treat toward the middle of the ramp. As quickly as all four paws are up, reward your dog with treats as he follows your hand throughout the ramp to the other end. The objective is to have your animal follow the treat in your hand from one end of the ramp to the other.

If your dog jumps off the ramp, move him back to the beginning of the ramp and restart at a much easier level, such as treating him for smelling the ramp or putting up one paw.

Once your dog is following your treat-filled hand across the entire ramp, wean him off the treats by leading him with an empty hand. Reward your dog for any motion to follow your empty hand across the ramp. As soon as your pooch easily begins to follow your empty hand, reward him when he reaches the end of the ramp. If he only follows if you have a treat in your hand, keep the treat there, but reward with a treat from the other hand.

When your dog gets to completion of the ramp, have him reverse and return to where he started. Add a spoken command, such as “up” or “out,” a couple of seconds prior to you begin to direct him with your hand. Treat your dog for any motion on the verbal hint.

Once your animal has mastered the ramp on flat ground, add a small slope. Only raise the ramp a little at a time- if the slope is raised too quick, your dog might panic and leap off the edge or choose not to get on at all. Use your empty hand as a target for your dog to follow- this offers him something to concentrate on. With adequate practice, you should be able to get your pet to follow your hand up and down the ramp, with the occasional treat at the end for support.

Dog Steps For Car Training

When you’re training your dog to use stairs, be patient and go at his pace. Develop a path of deals with from the base of the stairs to the top and onto your couch or bed. As your dog investigates the treats, stand beside him and, with mild appreciation, drop deals with on the next stair or 2. You can also use a lure held somewhat out in front of your dog’s nose and benefit him for following it. Some animals may be comfy increasing the stairs however more careful returning down, so it’s important to practice both.

When your dog begins to use the stairs with ease, fade the deals with or food lure. Do this by including a spoken cue, such as “climb,” and toss a treat, or use an empty hand as a target to lead the dog up or down the stairs. Next, state your verbal cue and pretend to toss a treat. If your dog goes up or down the stairs, right away reward him with a treat put at the top or bottom of the stairs. Keep your dog motivated by rewarding him with appreciation, petting and the periodic treat.

With practice, your senior family pet will have the ability to use his senior-specific devices with ease, which will make the aging process less stressful for him.


Watch the video: PBS Special: Pet Owners Hotline with Dr. Lurie (May 2021).