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Living with Dogs & Children

photo of a blond happy girl with her chihuahuaMost children love having dogs as pets. Inviting a dog into the family home can actually be healthy for your kids. Studies have shown that when a dog lives in a home with young children, the children experience fewer respiratory tract infections, less incidences of ear infections and less instances of asthma diagnoses than children in pet-free homes.

Yes, children and dogs usually make for a great combination. But living with both species can sometimes be a challenge for the adults in charge. It’s important to be sure both canine and humans are protected and safe in that shared environment.

Training Your Dog

Dogs need to be trained. When you bring a pet into the home, that animal becomes a member of the family, and there are rules laid down so everyone can happily co-exist. If you live in Madison or surrounding areas in north Alabama, Whitworth Animal Clinic provides positive dog training sessions in your own home.

Dogs need to learn some basic obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, leave it, and come. This allows both adults and children some firm control over your pet’s behaviors. When a child is eating, for example, you’ll want your dog to obey the command “stay” or whichever word you’ve chosen so Fido isn’t tempted to steal food.

When your dog and young child are playing together, it’s wise to be present until you know your pet is trained to be gentle. Animals can get overexcited or disturbed when small children shriek and shout or pull a tail in play. Train your dog to get used to a variety of noises from when you first bring him home. For example, praise her and give a treat when you speak in a loud voice to her. Play a recording of children’s high-pitched voices as your dog is eating. He will then associate the sounds with something pleasant.

Educate Your Children

Teach your kids to respect their dog’s territorial limits. Remind them that dogs generally consider eyes staring into their own eyes to be a challenge. Have them learn that when the dog is playing with a toy and eating her meal, the child should not disturb things, come too close, or try to take either of these things away.

Children should also understand that dogs can act unpredictably when poked with a toy, pulled by the tail, or frightened. Your pet may put up with unexpected pinches and rough play now, but there’s no predicting when an aggressive reaction may occur. Teach your child to gently stroke your pet and involve children in the training process. You can begin by having them help teach the “sit” command.

Keep Your Dog Healthy

Whitworth Animal Clinic is a full-service center for pets. Veterinarian, Dr. Charles Whitworth, has been in practice since 1981, serving the communities of Madison, Huntsville, Decatur, and surrounding areas in north Alabama.

Whitworth Animal Clinic offers vaccinations, spay and neuter, and other wellness services for your pets. Veterinary cardiology, dentistry, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and many other medical issues can be diagnosed and treated at this facility. Pet boarding and grooming are also available.

Best Treats for Dogs

photo of a chihuahua dog eating healthy with a carrot in mouth Whitworth AnimalClinicHealthier Treat Alternatives

Dog owners enjoy giving their beloved pets treats for many different reasons. Some use treats as training incentives. People may feel compelled to give a treat to canine companions when they feel inclined to indulge. However, while there is nothing wrong with rewarding a pet, the type of snack chosen may not have the greatest health benefits. Dr. Charles D. Whitworth, DVM and his associate animal lovers from Whitworth Animal Clinic suggest that dog parents consider other options.

Healthier Alternatives

Commercially prepared treats come in all brands, flavors, shapes and sizes. Unfortunately many are also laden with fat, sugar, preservatives and empty calories. Various fruits and vegetables make a wonderful alternative. Consider apple or banana slices, a fresh strawberry or a piece of melon. Not unlike when we eat fruits, remove seeds and pits, which can pose a toxic hazard. A couple of baby carrots, green beans, or tomato slices are some of the different vegetables that are safe for dogs. Maybe a spoonful of yogurt now and then. Many dogs also enjoy popcorn without the butter or salt.

All of these options provide fiber, vitamins and minerals that traditional store-bought treats lack. Avoid grapes and raisins, as chemical compounds within these fruits can lead to kidney problems. Dogs should also not eat cooked vegetables containing garlic or onions. The root vegetables cause anemia by destroying red blood cells.

Individual canines develop preferences. Some dogs gleefully enjoy anything offered. On the other hand, finicky pets might only prefer certain fruits or vegetables. Have fun experimenting.

Homemade Treats

There are many recipes available for homemade dog treats. By making homemade snacks, you have complete control of the ingredients and can make alterations as desired. Look for recipes containing healthier ingredients. They might include cooked meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables and grains.

Whatever healthy treat you decide to use as a reward for your four-legged friend, the snack should not exceed 10 percent of the animal’s daily calorie intake.

Non-Food Rewards

Given the hectic schedules that we humans maintain on a daily basis, we may not spend as much time with our dogs as they would prefer. With this in mind, rewards and treats need not always be food oriented. Set time aside to spend special moments with your companion. Go for a walk or a run. The exercise does both you and your pet a world of good. Perhaps pamper the pooch with a little extra grooming time. As dogs love having our undivided attention, any time spent one-on-one will be as much appreciated as a food-based delight.

If having any questions or concerns, faithful dog owners living in Decatur, Huntsville, Madison and other surrounding locations in north Alabama should call the Whitworth Animal Clinic and arrange a visit with Dr. Charles D. Whitworth DVM. We are located at:

106 Rainbow Drive
Madison, Alabama, 35758
256) 830-1503

Secondhand Smoke Kills More Than Just Humans

photo of a guy smoking | Whitworth Animal Clinic The harmful effects that come from secondhand smoke are not limited to non-smoking humans; subjecting others with these noxious fumes not only can cause them a great deal of damage, but it can severely harm animals in proximity as well. Numerous pet owners do smoke around their animals and secondhand smoke is not a matter to be taken lightly. In an effort to protect the health of humans and animals alike, precautions and action must be taken.

If you are a smoker, and your animals are exposed to the fumes, you will be critically jeopardizing their health. Those of you that have been to Whitworth Animal Clinic have been introduced to the quality medical and surgical care by Charles D. Whitworth, DVM. We urge you to promptly bring any concerns you may have with your pets and secondhand smoke. We understand that you love and nurture your pets, considering them to be a member of the family. Letting Dr. Whitworth examine your cat or dog, and allowing us to answer any questions you may have on the matter, is paramount to your pets’ livelihood.

Animals like cats and dogs are physiologically similar to humans, so if something is toxic to us, it could easily be toxic to animals. People in today’s age have accepted that smoking is harmful to us; nearly 50,000 Americans have lost their lives due to smoking. But now, a growing abundance of research has proven even the smallest of inhaled smoke can also hurt your pets. Secondhand smoke exposure can cause them respiratory damage, nervous system damage, allergies, cancer, and nicotine poisoning. Considering these facts, it is a good idea to make an appointment with Charles D. Whitworth, DVM as soon as possible if your animals have been, or continue to be, exposed to secondhand smoke. The first step in finding a solution is to collect as much information about all the risks of smoking and secondhand smoke.

Whitworth Animal Clinic provides the highest quality of medical care and only wants the best for our patients. Secondhand smoke has been harming animals since first exposed and if this continues long term, the effects may be fatal. Owners must take responsibility and secure the happiness and prosperity of their pets by providing the healthiest environment possible. Refrain from smoking around your pets and schedule an appointment at Whitworth Animal Clinic to receive information, diagnosis and treatment; time is of the essence.

Cat Companions: Does your Cat Need a Friend?

photo of kitten licking the face of a white dog | Whitworth Animal ClinicCats are notorious loners. Yet despite their reputation, many cats thrive in and desire companionship from other animals.

Companions can provide mental and physical stimulation for cats allowing them to interact socially, promoting exercise, and providing a playmate. Often companions curb destructive behavior, and if the companion is another cat, they will both stay cleaner as they will groom each other.

While the benefits can be rewarding for cat and owner, there are many things to consider before introducing a new animal into your house. First, you must be ready for a second pet. Getting your cat a buddy may seem like a great idea, but it will be your pet to feed and care for, and initially at least, it will be more work for you.

If you are ready for the responsibility, then you should also consider whether your cat can handle sharing you and your home. You need to take your cat’s personality and temperament into consideration. Cats have various needs, and you should spend careful time considering those before making a decision. While you may want another pet, it may not work for your current furry friend.

Once you are ready to move forward, you will need to consider what kind of companion will be best. If you are adding another cat, you will need enough space and toys for both and plenty of time to help them adjust. Experts disagree on the best matches for cat pairs, but all agree an older cat will do best with cats that have a complimentary personality. Kittens and adolescents generally will find a way to get along. And of course, make sure if the cats are opposite sexes, they are spayed and neutered.

Even if the cats are a match, you cannot just bring a cat home and expect them to be best buddies. You will need to put the new cat in a separate room bonding with it and doting on your old friend separately. After a few days, gradually introduce the cats by leaving the door open. The cats will meet on their own time; don’t force it. Make sure you focus on your longtime friend, so he or she does not feel threatened. It can take up to a year for some cats to buddy up, so make sure you are in it for the long haul before bringing another cat home.

If it is a dog you want for your cat’s new friend, then look for either a puppy or a dog raised with cats. When introducing them, confine them to one room making sure your cat has plenty of space to hide. Also make sure you protect the dog’s nose as it is particularly vulnerable to scratches.

If you need help determining whether or not your cat is companion ready, contact Whitworth Animal Clinic. Located in Madison, Alabama, Whitworth Animal Clinic serves Madison, Huntsville, Decatur and other areas in north Alabama. Dr. Charles Whitworth has been treating cats and dogs since 1981, providing expert quality and personal care. Contact us today to make an appointment.

Is Your Dog Smarter Than You Think?

photo of a beagle in glasses studying old books | Whitworth Animal ClinicIt really does stand to reason why most people feel dogs are not intelligent. After all, dogs eagerly drink out of the toilet and consume rubbish out of the trash. However, recent studies have shown that dogs are much smarter than your think.

Heightened Domesticated Senses

Although, the common dog could not last in the wilderness like their wolf cousin, they are highly adept to communicating with humans. In fact, their social savvy has made them the most flourishing mammal on the planet aside from humans. Moreover, dogs understand a human’s physical and behavioral cues and can often interpret what is needed. For instance, a dog will respond with a wag of their tail or by tilting their head. And according to a post on The Guardian, research shows that dogs are better at interpreting cues more than chimps or human babies are.

Dogs are Smart Enough to Show Guilt

Most animals do not have the faintest idea what you are referring to when they are being reprimanded for doing something bad. However, dogs will actually look guilty when caught red handed. And even if they do not know what they are in trouble for, they will often look sorry and apologetic. As well, a dog will use this same “apologetic” tactic when you show disapproval or anger.

Extensive Vocabulary

Dogs actually have a very extensive vocabulary. They not only remember many words but they understand them. In fact, most dogs can understand and comprehend more than 1,000 words.

And as it happens, a few ingenious dogs know the names of numerous objects (hundreds to thousands).

Body Language

Sometimes a dog completely refuses to obey. But their disobedience is not due to stupidity but rather clever observation. In fact, dogs will often decide how obedient they want to be. For instance, if you command your dog to fetch while you are reading the daily paper chances are that your dog will not obey. This is because your body language shouts “lazy” and not too serious action. On the other hand, when you have eye contact with your dog and stand directly in front of them, your dog is apt to obey.

The small instance shows that your dog can distinguish the slight difference in your body language and knows when or when not to obey.

Learn Fast by Example

When put to the test without any example first, a dog will fail miserably. However, a dog can quickly solve a puzzle or challenge if you give them an example first. For instance, placing a favorite treat on the other side of a fence will be perplexing for a dog. But if you show the dog how to get to the treat by walking around the fence, they will quickly resolve the problem.

Intelligence, Diet and Health

We all know that diet is important for both physical and mental health. The same discipline also applies to dogs. And when the body is healthy, it functions at its best. Moreover, having regular check-ups ensures that your dog is in optimal health.

At Whitworth Animal Clinic, we have a fully equipped animal clinic that has numerous professional amenities like dog training, boarding and grooming. Some of the services include heart health, dentistry, geriatrics, dermatology and even emergency care if needed.

Whitworth Animal Clinic is located in Madison. As well, we serve the surrounding areas in north Alabama and Madison County.

10 Mistakes New Pet Owners Often Make

photo of a woman holding a beagle puppyHaving a pet can be fun and rewarding, but it also comes with responsibilities. Getting a dog or cat is a commitment that will last years, as these animals typically live for well over a decade. That brings us to the first mistake new pet owners often make:

1) They buy the animal on impulse.

Impulsively buying the animal because you think it looks cute is usually a recipe for disaster. Do some research first. Learn about the pros and cons of various breeds. Siamese cats are gorgeous, but they are also often noisy and demanding. Fish and reptiles need special equipment and care to keep them healthy.

In a similar vein, consider your own lifestyle. Will your budget cover pet food and trips to the vet? Do you have time to take Fido to obedience school or play with Fluffy?

2) They don’t pet-proof their home.

As my late aunt once said, “Puppies chew, and kittens claw.” A new pet can unwittingly cause a lot of damage or end up in danger. Before bringing the animal home, thoroughly inspect the premises for things that an animal might chew or swallow like wires, plants or remote controls. Some authorities recommend getting on all fours to better see the home from an animal’s point of view.

3) They don’t buy the needed gear.

Skimping on the paraphernalia needed to care for an animal is always a mistake. If there aren’t any litter boxes, the cat will do their business on the carpet or in the bathtub.

4) They don’t correct bad behavior.

Young animals are adorable and everything they do seems to be cute. While a puppy jumping up on people may be cute, that type of behavior stops being cute when it’s a full-grown, 75-pound German Shepherd doing the jumping. The earlier an owner corrects bad habits, the easier it is on both humans and animals.

5) They don’t discipline the pet consistently.

This is most often a problem if the animal belongs to more than one person. Someone might not want their dog to sleep on the sofa, but their wife lets the dog sleep on the sofa. The result is a confused animal that misbehaves. The family members need to agree on some rules and apply them.

6) They don’t pay attention to the animal.

While some pets like goldfish don’t need a lot of attention from their owners, most pets do need some attention. A bored and lonely dog, cat, or bird will become destructive or otherwise misbehave.

7) They let the animal outdoors without supervision.

While fresh air and exercise is good for an animal’s health, the outdoors has dangers like cars and hostile animals. Keep your pet on a leash or otherwise under control when taking them outside.

8) They don’t pay attention to the pet’s medical needs.

Pets need to be taken to the vet, like the Whitworth Animal Clinic, at least once a year for medical and dental check-ups. They also need to stay a healthy weight; obesity is as bad for pets as it is for humans.

9) They don’t pay attention to the pet’s diet.

Feeding an animal at the table not only encourages bad behavior, it can also jeopardize the animal’s health. Some human foods, like chocolate, are poisonous to animals. Stick to foods designed for the pet.

10) They ignore unusual behavior.

Odd behavior often indicates a problem. A perfectly house-trained cat that suddenly starts peeing outside the litter box might have a urinary tract infection.

Did you just get a pet? The Whitworth Animal Clinic can help new pet owners learn how to take of their new friend.

References:

TODAY Pets & Animals | Uh oh! 10 mistakes new pet owners make

news.com.au | The 10 biggest mistakes pet owners make

Real Simple | The Top 10 Pet-Owner Mistakes

 

How to Reduce Your Cat’s Anxiety at the Vet

photo of vet calming a cat | Whitworth Animal ClinicUnlike dogs, cats are not as trusting and as affectionate. In truth, you cannot make a cat to do anything they do not want to do. And when it comes to going to the vet, it can be quite a challenge for pet owners. However, there are numerous ways to reduce your cat’s anxiety when visiting the vet.

Signs of Anxiety

According to Healthy Pets by Mercola, you need to think like your kitty. For instance, your kitty is naturally playful and a hunter. To reduce stress during appointments, have a playful toy available or a favorite food. Likewise, you can tell when your cat is full of anxiety when they try to hide. Allow your cat to hide during vet appointments by letting burrow under a towel or stay in his carrier may help to lessen stress levels.

The Healthy Pets article also recommended that you touch your pet on the head or neck and no other parts of the body. The light petting will help calm your kitty. As well, gentle touches and pets behind the ears will reduce fear anxiousness.

Early warning signs of anxiety include:

• Narrowing the eyes
• Enhanced sweating from the paws
• Distraught meowing, spitting, growling or hissing
• Arched back, flattened and lowered ears, jerking tail and paws close to the body

At this point, your cat may run and hide, may fight or can become docile and immovable. However, if your cat is ‘frozen’, it generally means they are very scared and anxious. But there are methods and techniques that can ease or eliminate the stress.

Before the Appointment

For the most part, stress starts at home. Generally, your cat will hide or hiss at the carrier when you bring it out. This is because your cat knows that it will be making an unpleasant trip such as the veterinarian or a boarding facility. On the other hand, the carrier can be a pleasant experience for your cat. You can make it an enjoyable and safe place by adding new or favorite toys, special treats. you can also mist the carrier with pheromones.

The Car

Generally, the only time a cat rides in the car is when you take them to an unlikable place like the vets or the groomers. So when your cat sees the car it automatically associates all past experiences that were negative. Instead, try taking your cat for short rides that are a positive experience. As well, each time you go for a ride, increase the amount of distance. Over time, your cat will connect traveling with things that are enjoyable. As well, your cat will be less afraid of the car.

Is Your Dog Bored While You’re Away?

photo of dog demolishes clothes in messy roomAuthor Kristan Higgins once said: “When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad.”

Those of you who own dogs both big and small in Madison, AL or the surrounding areas of north Alabama understand this all too well. These gentle, amazing creatures give so much to all of us and don’t ask for a lot in return except for love, kindness, play time, and good food.

That’s why the pet professionals at Whitworth Animal Clinic say it’s important to always keep our canines safe and healthy, especially when we’re at work and any time we’re out and about, and they’re left at home alone.

Dogs love us so much, they can get bored quite easily when no one else is around for company. However, we can take several steps to keep our dogs relaxed and happy until we return home.

If anyone knows a lot about dogs and cats, it’s Dr. Charles Whitworth, DVM. He has been in the business for many years and has a wonderful reputation at his Whitworth Animal Clinic, serving the communities of Madison, Huntsville, Decatur and surrounding areas in north Alabama.

Dr. Charles Whitworth believes like most experts, that dogs can be fine alone if we take reasonable steps. According to NewsHealth.comexercising before you leave is a smart thing to do. Don’t head out the door, until you have given your pooch an active game of fetch or a nice, long, energetic walk. That will set up a great nap time for later.

Food dispensing toys are another excellent way to give your dog some distraction while alone. Most dogs enjoy pushing and trying to manipulate the popular Kong dispenser hidden with some yummy treats. This provides challenge and active engagement and a nice method to entertain your dog.

The staff and vet at Whitworth Animal Clinic want to remind you, separation anxiety can be a real thing, especially for puppies. Having around some amazing and indestructible chew toys are better and safer than an adorable young dog chewing at your electrical cords or taking a chunk out of your rug. These toys also keep your pooch’s teeth and gums healthy.

Let your dog enjoy the rhythm, too, because dogs actually enjoy music. A number of studies have shown that classical music in particular, can calm and soothe a dog’s nerves. A little Chopin and assorted piano masterpieces on a CD can keep your pooch relaxed with its tail wagging to the beat.

Whatever you do, be assured that Dr. Charles Whitworth and his knowledgeable staff are always there to help you raise and maintain a strong, healthy loving dog.

What Happens When Your Dog Licks you on the Face?

photo of a dog licking its owner's face | Whitworth Animal ClinicThere are numerous reasons why a dog licks your face. The biggest reason is for communication. A dog also licks when grooming and eating. Now the reason why a dog licks your face is quite apparent. However, the health issues involved remain unclear for numerous people. In truth, many believe that dog licks are just fine. Some even believe that the licks have far less germs than humans do. But quite frankly, a dog’s lick has more than just germs. Many specialists even claim that the lick is rather “deadly”. Rendering BuzzFeed Animals, both human and canine mouths are comprised of bacteria, and a lot of it.

The article resources DNews who is said to state that there are hundreds of species of bacteria in a dogs’ mouth but only about 16% of the bacteria overlaps with humans. In fact, some bacteria in a dog’s mouth are anti-bacteria resistant. Being said, if the bacteria is spread to a human it can be very difficult to treat.

On the other hand, the remaining 84% of the non-human bacteria can actually be harmful if allowed in the mouth. In fact, research has shown that the transfer of bacteria from a dog’s mouth to a human’s mouth can cause periodontal disease and gingivitis.

Pasteurella

One of the most misconceived notions is that your wound will heal faster if you allow a dog to lick it. However, letting a dog lick your wound can actually lead to Pasteurella. Although Pasteurella can be treated with antibiotics successfully, the bacteria can actually create the perfect environment for more serious infections.

According to Medscape, Pasteurella Multocida or P multocida is largely from an injury following an animal bite. Moreover, it is important that physicians are familiar with the associated microbiological oral flora of certain animals, especially cats and dogs. Although rare, many specialists feel that the bacteria is spreadable by saliva such as when a dog licks you in the mouth.

Concurring to Medscape, there are several Pasteurella species associated with dog and cat bites, like P multocida subspecies multocida, P multocida subspecies septica, Pasteurella stomatis, and Pasteurelladogmatis. But Pasteurella canis is linked only to dog bites.

In addition, people with certain diseases like chronic liver disease, diabetes mellitus, HIV infection, alcoholism, asplenia or other immunodeficiency illnesses are at a greater risk of infection. As well, treatment can vary according to the severity and type of infection.

A Healthier Animal

Despite all the potential risks, allowing your dog to lick you in the face on occasion really cannot do too much harm. However, it is highly recommended to keep your dog very healthy and make sure it has regular checkups with a vet. If you are concerned about whether your dog has pasteurella or other infectious bacterial diseases, consult with a specialist to put your mind at ease. That way you are rest assured that your pet is in tip-top shape.

Whitworth Animal Cinic

If you are unsure of your pet’s health and potential bacteria in their mouth, it is always best to have them see a specialist. In fact, you should never put off regular check-ups until the last minute.

If you live in the Madison or surrounding areas in north Alabama, Whitworth Animal Clinic is highly recommended by all types of animal lovers. Actually, Dr. Charles Whitworth is a licensed veterinarian who has been treating dogs and cats since 1981. And at Whitworth Animal Clinic, you can be rest assured that your pet will receive the best care possible.

How to Keep Your Pets Safe in Summer

photo of a woman and her dog in a pool | Whitworth Animal ClinicSummer is a fun time for you and your pets. Simply being able to get outdoors and enjoy the sunshine and good times makes everyone feel happier. Although your pets probably love the warmer weather, they can also be uncomfortable when temperatures turn hot and the air is saturated with humidity. Whitworth Animal Clinic in Madison, AL recommends you follow these tips for your four-legged friends when northern Alabama temperatures start heating up.

Never Leave Pets in the Car When Shopping

Even on a moderately warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise to dangerous levels. The Humane Society of the United States notes that on an 85 degree day, temperatures can reach over 100 within 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to leave your pet in the car with the windows open or with the engine running and the air conditioning on. Leave your pet at home in the summer when doing errands.

Pay Attention to Humidity Levels

Unlike humans, animals pant to cool themselves. When humidity levels get too high, they are unable to cool themselves efficiently. Heatstroke can happen quicker in humid conditions. Signs of heatstroke include heavy panting, glazed eyes, racing heartbeat, excessive thirst, fever, lack of coordination, profuse salivation and vomiting. Very old and very young pets are more prone to heatstroke as well as certain breeds and dogs or cats with short muzzles.

To avoid heatstroke, limit exercise and play on hot and humid days. Also provide plenty of water and make sure that you pet has a place to sit in the shade if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time.

Apply Sunblock

Even with fur, pets can suffer sunburn too. The top form of cancer in dogs and the second one in cats is skin cancer. Pets with light skin and short or thin hair are particularly prone. Ask Whitworth Animal Clinic to recommend sunscreen made specifically for pets. Similar to formulations for humans, pet sunscreen should be fragrance free, non-staining and should contain UVA and UVB barriers.

Increased Chance of Infections and Injuries

Because your pet is more active, we tend to see more infections and injuries at the clinic during the summer. Be particularly vigilant around lakes and streams with lots of vegetation and exposed roots. Avoid lakes and ponds with blue-green or scummy water as these have a high level of algae, which produce toxins that can make your pet sick if ingested or can infect a previously minor cut.

Also be aware of rip currents or rip tide in the ocean that can sweep away your dog in an instant. If you have a small dog, think about putting a life vest on her to help her swim in such conditions.

If your pet suffers any kind of injury or summer illness bring him into Whitworth Animal Clinic immediately. We provide a variety of veterinary services that will keep your pet happy, health and carefree for years to come.