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What’s the Big Deal About Cat Scratch Fever?

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We love sharing our lives with animals. In fact, few things compare with a good snuggle, and for many of us, the time spent holding and nuzzling a sweet, furry feline is life-affirming. Part of what makes this closeness possible is a proactive approach to disease prevention. Unfortunately, zoonotic diseases, or those that can be transmitted between animals and people, can make living in such close proximity dangerous. Cat scratch fever is one such illness.

A Thin, Invisible Line

Cats have the potential to carry various zoonotic diseases, including rabies, ringworm, toxoplasmosis, and more. A reasonable concern for most cat owners is cat scratch fever, or Cat-Scratch Disease (CSD). A bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae, CSD is a zoonotic disease carried by approximately 40% of all cats at some point in their lives. 

It would be one thing if owners saw obvious symptoms of cat scratch fever, but many cats show no signs of illness. Most carriers of the disease are kittens younger than a year.

How to Protect Yourself

Cats get infected with Bartonella by way of fleas, specifically through bites and flea dirt (feces). When flea dirt builds up around the feet and claws, or near the mouth, the chances of passing the infection to others increases. If a cat with the bacterium scratches or bites you, or licks an open wound, the Bartonella organism can enter the bloodstream and cause infection.

Signs of Cat-Scratch Disease in humans can include:

  • Redness at the site of the wound
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite

 While CSD can be mild enough to warrant little to no medical intervention, reactions can be more serious in young and immunocompromised people.

Either way, it is worth it to protect yourself and your family from problems associated with CSD. 

Good Kitty

Your cat benefits from an effective parasite prevention medication, and so does your entire household. Keeping them free of a flea infestation is an important precaution, but knowing that their medication can prevent CSD is an additional motivator. 

Furthermore, cat owners can protect themselves from CSD in these ways:

  • Wash cat bites or scratches right away with hot water and soap. 
  • Try not to handle unfamiliar cats, and if you do, be sure they don’t bite or scratch you.
  • Trim your cat’s nails regularly to minimize their scratching power.
  • Keep your house as tidy as possible to reduce any flea numbers.

While fleas can find even strictly indoor cats, it is proven that indoor cats have lower rates of problems related to fleas and other parasites. 

No More Cat Scratch Fever 

If you have any questions about your cat’s health, safety, lifestyle, and behavior, please give us a call at 425-882-7788 for our Kirkland location or 425-276-4100 for our Renton location. We’re always here for your cat at Eastside Veterinary Associates, and hope you and your cat can squeeze in a good, disease-free, snuggle soon.

senior pet arthritis

Keeping Senior Dogs on the Move with Arthritis Pain Management 

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Despite our best efforts, pets age. Unfortunately, with aging comes challenges and health conditions that we cannot entirely prevent. Eastside Veterinary Associates sees many senior dogs who suffer from joint pain and decreased mobility. Just because your pet is aging, though, doesn’t mean that we are totally helpless. There are many options for pet arthritis pain management that we have to offer your older animal. 

Arthritis in Senior Dogs

Arthritis can affect any animal of any age, size, or breed. Most commonly, though, we diagnose osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) in our senior dogs and cats.

Injury and normal wear and tear result in the degradation of the cartilage and inflammation with joints. Symptoms can include:

  • Lameness
  • Decreased physical activity
  • Lowered interest in activities like play and going for walks
  • Pain
  • Decrease in range of motion

While arthritis is a progressive disease with no cure, it is possible to slow its progression and manage the discomfort that comes along with it. 

Options for Arthritis Pain Management

When our veterinarians diagnose or suspect arthritis in a senior dog, the plan for treatment is often multi-faceted. 

Arthritis pain management is based in a few basic areas:

  • Weight management—Carrying extra weight can add stress to already compromised joints. We may recommend a healthy weight loss plan to help your pet be more comfortable. 
  • Physical activity—Regular, gentle physical activity is helpful to keep pets mobile and comfortable. Be sure to keep a schedule of regular activity instead of large bursts of intense activity. Therapeutic exercises and treatment with a rehabilitation specialist can also be very helpful. 
  • Joint supplements/nutraceuticals—There are lots of options for dietary supplements that can potentially help with joint problems. These are often building blocks of normal cartilage, compounds thought to decrease the negative effects of inflammation in the joint, pain relief, and lubricant enhancers. They tend to work best early on in the course of disease. Commonly utilized examples are omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, poly-sulfated glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and, more controversially, CBD oil.
  • Pain medications—Pharmaceutical medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are often powerful tools for decreasing pain and inflammation and improving mobility for senior dogs. Other pain medications such as tramadol, gabapentin, and amantadine can also be helpful in individual situations.
  • Alternative therapies—There are other alternative therapies that include therapeutic laser treatments, joint injections, acupuncture, and pulse electromagnetic field treatments that may be helpful for some patients.

There is no single treatment plan that works best for every senior dog. Rather, it is best to assess the individual patient and determine a combination of therapies to achieve arthritis pain management and improve mobility. Our veterinarians will start with a thorough history, physical exam, and additional diagnostics based on the findings to tailor the treatment plan to your senior dog. 

We might not be able to cure arthritis or prevent aging, but we are here for you to help keep your pet as comfortable and happy for as long as possible. Contact us with questions or to start a treatment plan for your pet.

potty training a puppy

Potty Training a Puppy? We’ve Got You Covered!

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Teaching your puppy the proper place to go potty is immensely gratifying. Not only are you giving them tools to be more confident, but you’re controlling the environment you share with your dog. Of course, accidents are going to happen, and sometimes they’ll happen with a maddening frequency. When potty training a puppy, you have to go with the flow, and Eastside Veterinary Associates got some tips to help you start the process and reap the benefits.

Refrain Expectations

Potty training a puppy is not an experience to be taken lightly. Approaching it the right way can make all the difference to a young, growing, impressionable dog. An important chapter in their introduction to you, your lifestyle, and their new home, successful potty training ensures that your dog understands their place alongside their new people. What could be better than building confidence in your new best buddy?

Eating, Drinking, Going Potty

You can potty train a puppy at the same time as building their eating and drinking routines. Fixed meal times can increase the control of bathroom habits. 

A puppy needs a chance to go to the bathroom after every meal and each time they take a drink. Ideally, take them outside to their specified potty spot after play and nap times, as well, and at least every 30 minutes throughout the day. 

Waiting for Patterns to Emerge

You might notice that your puppy doesn’t always urinate or defecate when outside, but does so following certain events. It’s up to you to observe their behavior patterns closely and make accommodations that suit their needs. For example, your dog may only defecate upon waking up, or directly following a certain meal. 

Stay the Course

One of the largest barriers to effectively potty training a puppy is inconsistency.

Potty breaks should be at the same times every day, and must run like clockwork. Lead your puppy outside on-leash to the same place each time. Cue them with a basic command, like “go,” “time to potty,” or other commands you can repeat regularly. They’ll begin to understand what you mean. Try not to engage with them except for these specific words during this time.

If they go, immediately offer them a tasty treat and praise them for going to the bathroom. If possible, give them some fun off-leash play time in the backyard.

When They Don’t Go

If your puppy doesn’t go to the bathroom during one of their scheduled trips, bring them back indoors to a contained area. Don’t let them wait there for too long; chances are they’ll go inside if they aren’t led outside in 10-20 minutes. 

Once they begin to show success with your routine, you can open up their indoor world a little bit for supervised exploration. 

A Tip for Success

Mistakes are going to happen, but you should never scold or punish them for it. Stay as neutral as possible when they potty inside. Take them immediately outside and wait with them at their potty spot. They may not have to go anymore, and that’s okay. Simply return to the house and thoroughly clean up the mess in a calm manner. 

Potty Training a Puppy

Investing in a good crate, puppy pads, and a marker for their potty spot outside are all helpful. You can get an odor-neutralizing cleaner for when accidents happen.

If you have questions about potty training a puppy, give us a call at 425-882-7788 for our Kirkland location, or 425-276-4100 for our Renton location. Our team is happy to help!

How to Make Your Own Pet First-Aid Kit

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As a responsible pet owner, we know you want the best for your furry friends, which means having what you need to help them in case of an emergency. A pet first-aid kit is an important accessory to keep in your house and might help you treat a serious pet injury enough so you have time to get to the veterinarian. The team at Eastside Veterinary Associates suggests the following for your pet first-aid kit:

Pet First-Aid Kit Basics

According to the Red Cross, one of the most important elements to include in your first-aid kit is a way to identify your pet. This includes a current photo and any relevant vaccination or medication records in case you and your pet get separated. Be sure to have your contact information listed clearly. If your pet has a microchip, make sure that your contact information is up to date so that you can receive the call when they find your pet. You should also have a comfortable and safe carrier, a collar and leash, a blanket or bed, and toys. A couple of travel bowls will make it easier to give your pet food or water if you find yourself far from home.

Guides on Basic First-Aid

Although we hope you never have to use them, it is a good idea to include guides on basic pet first-aid in your kit. These will have instructions on dog CPR, cat CPR, and other life-saving measures that will help you act fast in case of an emergency. These guides will also give you information on safely traveling with pets and what to do in case of a natural disaster.

Medical Supplies

No first-aid kit is complete without a selection of medical supplies that can help you stop bleeding, or address other injuries until you can get to your veterinarian. Be sure to include the following:

  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Digital thermometer 
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Towel

During an emergency, every second counts, and the team at Eastside Veterinary Associates hopes that these tips help you ensure pet safety even at home or on the road. When your pet needs more extensive veterinary care, we are always here to help. From wellness checks to surgery, we have a long list of veterinary services to keep your pets healthy. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call 425-882-7788 for our Kirkland location or 425-276-4100 for our Newcastle location.

dog in bath stinks

My Older Dog Reeks: Why Your Older Dog Smells

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Has your older canine companion become more odiferous in his golden years? Most dogs don’t exactly smell like roses one hundred percent of the time; after all, it’s their natural instinct to roll around in something smelly to mask their own scent. But if your dog stinks even after a bath, it’s time to sniff out the culprit of your dog’s pugent aroma.

At Eastside Veterinary Associates, we love helping your pets feel their very best. A thorough senior wellness exam can give us a deeper understanding of your dog’s overall health and reveal the causes of your dog’s distinct odors. 

Common Causes of Stinky Senior Dogs

If your dog stinks no matter what you do, a medical condition could be to blame. 

  1. Kidney disease in dogs occurs when kidney function becomes compromised. Your dog’s kidneys eliminate toxins in his bloodstream, so when they’re not working properly, these toxins build up and cause your dog’s breath to smell foul.
  2. Dogs diagnosed with diabetes can have breath that smells sugary sweet, or they can have breath that’s reminiscent of nail polish remover. 
  3. Dental or periodontal disease is a common condition in older pets. When tartar and plaque builds up in your dog’s mouth, it can lead to tooth decay, bacteria overgrowth, swollen gums, and, of course, halitosis. Brushing your dog’s teeth at home and scheduling regular dental exams can help. 
  4. Urinary Incontinence: Your older dog may experience loss of bladder control, which can cause urine to dribble onto his fur when he’s walking or even when he’s at rest. Incontinence can also lead to full-blown accidents. Frequent bathing can help control odor. 
  5. Arthritis and other health conditions can make it difficult for your dog to properly groom himself, which can cause his fur and skin to smell funky over time. Weekly shampooing or visits with a professional groomer can help. 
  6. Impacted anal glands are also common in older dogs. Your dog uses his anal glands for marking his territory, but when the oils become impacted in these glands, they emit a foul odor.
  7. If your dog’s flatulence can clear a room, it’s likely because his digestive system has grown more sensitive as he has aged. Talk with us about dietary adjustments that can help. 
  8. Infections: Allergies and dermatitis can lead to foul-smelling skin infections. Plus, ear infections and urinary tract infections can cause foul odors. 

Getting to the Root of the Odor

A medical assessment with a full physical examination plus bloodwork can help us diagnose any underlying medical condition or infection that could be causing your dog’s foul smell. Please contact us right away if you notice a foul odor coming from your canine or anytime you have questions about caring for your pet.

When Your Main Squeeze Needs Anal Gland Expression

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When Your Main Squeeze Needs Anal Gland Expression

Anal gland expression might not be the topic of choice in most social circles, but it is a very common issue in pets. Perhaps bringing the smelly, funky issue into the light could help prevent scores of cats and dogs from living through the discomfort of impacted or infected anal glands. That’s where we come in!

Get Ready For This

The anal glands are essentialy scent glands. Located exactly where you think they are (at the 8 and 4 position on either side of the anus, just below the skin), these glands help animals mark territory with a dark, strong-smelling fluid. During defecation, the stool puts pressure on the anal glands causing them to squeeze out the liquid along with the waste. This is naturally-occuring anal gland expression.

Potential Problems

Unfortunately, the sacs that hold the fluid don’t always empty, or the fluid becomes too solid to pass. This is known as impaction, and can become a hotbed for bacteria. This issue starts as minor discomfort but can quickly develop into full-blown infection if the pressure isn’t relieved.

Some animals may experience problems related to the anal glands more than others. Other factors can include obesity, skin infections, allergies, incontinence, skin mites, and hypothyroidism. We can work with you and your pet to get to the bottom of any underlying causes of frequent impaction issues.

Getting Involved

Owners of dogs that scoot their bums on the carpet or upholstery know that anal gland expression is imminent. Pets may also start to lick their rectum more than usual. Other signs include straining or crying when defecating, swelling around the rectum, and blood in the waste. These signs indicate that a pet needs help as soon as possible.

An anal gland infection must be cleaned out and treated with an antibiotic and pain medication. Left alone, a pet could face a ruptured abscess that requires emergency surgery and drainage.

Anal Gland Expression

The basics of anal gland expression involve manually placing pressure on the glands with a gloved finger inserted into the recturm. This process requires gentle handling until the gland is fully emptied. Expressing anal glands internally is usually performed by a veterinary team member whereas groomers usually apply pressure externally.

Frequent or unnecessary attention to this area can actually result in painful inflammation, scarring, and narrowing of the duct. In other words, if your pet isn’t experiencing problems related to their anal glands, don’t go there.

Part of the Puzzle

Anal gland expression may or may not be something you ever have to deal with. But we can assure you, the more you know about it the better. At Eastside Veterinary Associates, our doctors are experts at distinguishing anal gland issues from other problems, and advising of a treatment plan to help your pet.

If you notice symptoms of anal gland issues , please  call to schedule an appointment with our doctors at:

  • Kirkland: 425-882-7788
  • Newcastle / Renton: 425-276-4100

Our team is always happy to help you at Eastside Veterinary Associates.

Why Your Cat Needs to Knead

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Why Your Cat Needs to Knead

If you’re a cat lover, you’ve no doubt noticed your cat meticulously kneading the surface beneath her, whether it’s your bed, blanket, or lap. This adorable feline behavior is also known as “making biscuits,” and her eyes may glaze over in an expression of pure contentment while she’s doing it! 

At Eastside Veterinary Associates, we love helping your feline companions live their best, healthiest, lives. If you’re wondering what all the kneading is about, we’ve got some insights to help you understand this delightfully quirky cat behavior.

What’s All the Kneading About?

False claws for cats. The cat lies on the bed with bright false claws

From companion pets to pumas, kneading is an instinctive behavior seen in virtually every cat species. A definitive answer as to why they knead isn’t confirmed, but plenty of theories abound, including: 

  • It’s leftover behavior from nursing: Kittens knead their mother’s tummies to stimulate milk production, so when your cat displays this behavior, she’s likely recalling fond memories of bonding with her mother. 
  • She’s putting her pleasure on full display: Your cat may knead your lap to show her deep affection for you—drawing parallels between you as her primary caregiver and the birth mother who nursed her.
  • She’s marking her turf: Cats often communicate through scent, and her little paws are releasing her own personal scent markers as she kneads, sending a signal to other pets that your lap is hers!
  • She’s making a comfy bed: If you’ve ever wondered, “Why does my cat knead blankets?,” one explanation is that your cat’s wild ancestors had to knead tall weeds and grasses to make a spot for snoozing, and this behavior may have carried over into domesticated cats.
  • She’s caring for her claws: As your cat’s claws grow, she needs to shed the outer layers, and the process of repeatedly kneading may facilitate this.  

Accommodating Excessive Kneading in Cats

Kneading is natural, and positively adorable, but sometimes it comes with collateral damage in the form of torn blankets, furniture, and your clothes. Scolding is never the answer, but here are a few pointers to help make all that biscuit making more manageable:

  • Keep your cat’s nails trimmed or capped (ask us for a demonstration!).
  • Create a designated, thick blanket that she’s allowed to knead to her heart’s content. Spray it with a pheromone-based product to make it especially attractive to her.
  • If she starts to knead your legs or the sofa, redirect her attention with treats or a toy, and then offer her the opportunity to knead her designated blanket.
  • Keep her entertained with plenty of indoor enrichment so she’s ready to settle in sooner at naptime.

We’re Here for All Your Cat Needs

Keep your cat healthy and happy so she can make biscuits well into her golden years! Schedule a comprehensive wellness exam, and let us know if we can answer any other questions you have about your feline’s fascinating behavior.

veterinarian cleaning dogs teeth

3 Facts About Pet Dental Care Every Pet Owner Should Know

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Pet’s teeth and gums need just as much love and attention as our’s do, but oral health is an often overlooked facet of dog or cat ownership. Dog and cat dental care is an essential element of overall pet wellness, however, and your friends at Eastside Veterinary Associates want to make it easier than ever to give it to them. Here are some facts about the importance of pet dental care so you can be sure you can keep their teeth and gums in top shape:

 

  1. Dental Disease Is More Common than You Think

Most cats and dogs will have some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3, which means you have to start thinking about caring for teeth and gums early in their lives. Dental disease can manifest in many different ways, including:

  • Visible yellow or brown buildup on the teeth
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in eating or chewing habits
  • Pawing at the face
  • Loose teeth
  • Depression

 

If you notice any of the above in your dog or cat, you should schedule a dental appointment with your veterinarian. 

  1. Anesthesia Is Essential for Proper Dental Cleanings

Cat and dog teeth cleaning without anesthesia can be dangerous and not effective. Veterinarians use anesthesia when cleaning your pet’s teeth to ensure that your pets do not feel undue stress during the procedure. Anesthesia also allows them to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums, which will help prevent future issues with tartar and periodontal disease.

 

  1. Pet Dental Care Is a Team Effort

Although professional dental cleanings are hugely important, they alone are not enough to completely ward off all forms of periodontal disease. If you want to give your pets the best defense against infections in the mouth, you have to do your part at home, too. Talk to your veterinarian about the best kind of home toothpaste and brush to use for your cats and dogs to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Eastside Veterinary Associates are here to help you get the pet dental care your pet needs. From routine cleanings to surgery, our dedicated team will always do our best for your pets. We are proud to partner up with you for your pet’s health.

cat holding up paw

Frito Feet: Why Do My Pet’s Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

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Have you ever caught a whiff of corn chips when you are close to your dog’s paws? If so, you might wonder if you are imagining things. Chances are, you’re not! If you’ve ever noticed your pup’s feet are smelling like fritos, you’re not alone. This occurrence can be quite common, and is nothing to be concerned about.  

Dogs produce a variety of smells—some good, some bad, and some that remind you of corn chips! The team at Eastside Veterinary Associates is here to explain the phenomenon of frito feet, and why your dog’s paws may smell like corn chips. 

Funky and Frequent: Bacteria on the Feet 

Generally, the interesting smells that come from your dog’s feet should be nothing to worry about. The smells happen because a variety of bacteria and fungi come into contact with your pet’s paws on a daily basis. This is normal, because your pet’s feet touch all the microbes and various substances they encounter on the ground. The bacteria and fungi that remain on your pet’s paws and skin are responsible for the variety of smells that might tickle your nose. To make matters even more funky, dogs who lick their paws often can add even more bacteria to the equation. 

The bacteria responsible for the yeasty, popcorn, or frito smells are known as Proteus or Pseudomonas. The odor can also come from the build up of sweat between your dog’s paw pads, toes, and fur. Things can get extra smelly when the balance between good and bad bacteria is off, or when other problems are thrown into the mix.

dog with frito feet

dog with frito feet

No Longer Corn Chips 

If the smell becomes overwhelming, hard to ignore, or takes a turn for the worse, it could indicate a bigger issue. Contact your veterinarian if your pet’s paws display any of the following issues: 

  • Odor, redness, or scaling 
  • A cut or abrasion that produces odor or puss  
  • An object lodged between the paw pad and the foot or toes
  • Inflammation on the feet or paw pad
  • Toenail infections 

The above can be symptoms of bacteria or fungi overgrowth, an infection, skin dryness, or more. Have your veterinarian team look at your pet’s paws to determine the cause of the odors,  and to come up with a treatment plan so your pet can get back to having happy feet. 

Keep Em’ Clean 

The best way to avoid funky feet odors on your pet is to maintain a regular hygiene routine. Wash your pet’s paws after hikes or long outdoor walks through various terrain, and inspect them frequently for bug bites, cuts, or irritation. Pamper your pooch with cooling paw wipes or balm to keep them clean and moisturized after outdoor time. You can also consider investing in some dog booties to help protect your pet’s paws from the elements and outdoor bacteria.

Pay attention to your pet’s licking habits, and check out their paws if they seem to be licking or chewing them more than normal. 

If you have any concerns about your pet’s paws or overall wellness, the team at Eastside Veterinary Associates can help! Give us a call at our Kirkland location at (425) 822-7788 or our Newcastle / Renton location at (425) 276-4100 to speak with our friendly and helpful team.

Preparing your dog for a new baby

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First off, congratulations! What an exciting time preparing for a new baby in your expanding home. Many owners worry about what their fur babies will think of their new human babies. Will they become anxious? Be jealous? Become fearful or aggressive? We can never predict how your dog will react, but there are many ways to prepare.

Start preparing early. Training should start WAY before you bring your new baby home. There are 3 main things that will be changing in your dogs’ life:

  • The “stuff”: Start setting up the nursery and baby stuff early. Have your dog used to the nursery being gated off. Set up family room toys, cribs, high chairs, etc so your dog is used to the extra furniture before the baby arrives.
  • The noise: Babies are loud! It may sound silly but play short clips of babies crying and talking to start exposing your dog to the noise. For noise sensitive dogs, start counter-conditioning by tossing them a treat when the baby cries. Reward the dog when they are calm and relaxed during the noise.
  • The time: Your fur baby will not longer be the center of your universe. Practice hanging out in the nursery, with your dog receiving a chew toy or special treat while you are preoccupied. This will help create a positive association while you are in the nursery, and also train your dog to entertain themselves while you are away. If your dog sleeps with you, have them sleep in their crate a few nights a week. Frozen stuffed Kong toys and Busy Buddy toys are great tools to keep your dog occupied.

Also step up your general training. Make sure your dog does not jump onto people, quickly goes into their crate when instructed, sits on command, etc.

Bite awareness. Any dog can bite with the right stimulus. Never leave your baby or toddler alone with your dog, no matter how trustworthy. Over 800,000 people are treated for dog bites per year, and over half of those are children, mostly under the age of 7. Bites are more likely to the face. 75% of kids bitten are familiar with the dog (i.e. family or friend’s dog).

Your dogs’ history. Has your dog been around babies or children before? How did they respond? How does your dog do with change? How does your dog react when disturbed while sleeping? If your dog has shown aggression or anxiety in the past, crate training, training with a basket muzzle, and creating safe stations for your dog with gated off areas or tethered areas are important for bite prevention. Also, do not hesitate to work with a veterinary trainer/behaviorist if your dog has aggressive triggers.

The first day. Have Mom greet the dog first when arriving home without the baby in hand. Once calm, have Dad or another adult come in with the baby. Do not force an interaction between your new baby and dog. Allow your dog to come up and sniff if they desire or be curious from afar. If your dog starts to become agitated, too excited, or aggressive, toss some treats or a toy toward them but away from the baby.  Your dog may need breaks with short supervised times of interaction at first.

Resources:

www.Familypaws.com

http://www.americanhumane.org/publication/pet-meets-baby/

Good luck, and as always, lets us know how we can help!

Dr. Coil