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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

By Dr. Kelsey Woolsey, DVM

Positive reinforcement is when a desirable stimulus is presented after a behavior is performed such that the behavior is likely to be repeated in the future. For example, a trainer gives a dog a piece of yummy hot dog right as it goes to lay down in its bed. The hot dog is the desirable stimulus which reinforces the behavior of going to the bed. The dog wants to receive more of the desirable stimulus so it is more likely to go to its bed in the future, especially if reinforcement of the behavior is repeated and practiced.

Simply giving a pet a tasty treat it likes is not positive reinforcement. A reinforcer, like a treat, has to be given immediately following a behavior. If that behavior increases in frequency over time, then positive reinforcement has occurred.

Common pitfalls that trainers run into are 1) inappropriate timing of the reinforcer, 2) selecting a reinforcer that is not appealing to the pet, and 3) inappropriate environment or emotional state of the pet.

  1. Reinforcer timing. The reinforcer must be presented immediately following the desired behavior. Take teaching a dog to sit, for example. As soon as the dog’s bum hits the ground, it is given a treat. If the trainer is slow and the dog gets distracted and stands up and that is when the treat is given, this will reinforce standing up, not sitting.

  2. Selecting a reinforcer. Luckily, many dogs are food motivated and not particularly picky about what food they eat. This is not true of all dogs and some other species of animal can be harder to reinforce. Here is another example. Let's say you are trying to teach your cat to jump up on a platform to be brushed. You tap the platform, he jumps up, and you offer a nice crunchy cat treat. He sniffs the treat, takes it in his mouth, but then spits it out and jumps off the platform. Now when you tap the platform he will not jump up anymore. What happened? The reinforcement being offered was not reinforcing to the cat. In this situation, the trainer needs to find a treat that is more appetizing to the learner. Affection can also be used as a reinforcer!

  3. Proper environment and emotional state of the pet are important to consider when training. Learning cannot happen when an animal is in a heightened state of arousal or fearful. A trainer is at the dog park working on commands with their dog but the dog is panting, distracted, anxious, and not engaging. This is likely because the dog is uncomfortable or fearful at the dog park and is not in an appropriate emotional state for learning. This same dog may do very well in the calm and quiet of its own backyard.

When properly implemented, positive reinforcement is highly effective and fun for the trainer (you!) and learner (your pet!). Get out there and start practicing!

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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

By Dr. Alissa Stichler, DVM

Gold Standard: Brushing teeth

It is recommended to use a canine or feline toothbrush as they conform to a pet's mouth and teeth. You can use a human toothbrush but you will probably find it difficult to manipulate in the pet's mouth. Never use a human toothpaste for a pet as these contain sudsing agents (people like to see foam when they brush their teeth) which are not meant to be swallowed in quantity. Animal toothpastes come in special flavors (chicken, seafood, and malt) in addition to the more human-appreciated vanilla mint and all are expected to be swallowed.

Finger brushes are available and are smaller for puppies and kittens.

Studies have shown that brushing three times a week was adequate to maintain healthy teeth and gums but daily brushing was needed to control existing gingivitis.

Do's and Don'ts of Brushing your Pet's Teeth

  • Don't use human toothpaste on your pet.

  • Do use a toothbrush without any paste at first so that your pet may get used to the object in the mouth before having to contend with flavor.

  • Don't attempt to clean the inner surface of your pet's teeth. Natural saliva cleans this surface on its own.

  • Do try to perform dental home care at least once daily.

  • Don't perform dental home care during the first week after a full dentistry in the hospital as your pet's gums may be tender.

  • Don't consider dental home care as an alternative to full dental cleaning if your pet has more advanced dental disease.

Other dental products

Dental Wipes, Rinses and Pads

Some animals, especially those with tender gums, will not tolerate brushing but are more amenable to disinfecting wipes or pads. These products will wipe off plaque deposits from the surface of the tooth and, though they lack the ability to pick food particles out of the gum socket, they are probably the next best thing to brushing and, like brushing, these products are best used daily.

OraVet® Plaque Preventive Gel or Chews

These products address the convenience factor of pet dental care. Doing anything in a pet’s mouth daily year after year is a difficult habit for most people to establish. We have enough trouble taking care of our own teeth. Oravet is a wax-like substance applied once a week to the outer surface of the teeth with a swab (though it can be used even daily for pets with particularly bad gingivitis). Oravet prevents plaque from attaching to the tooth and provides a helpful mode of dental care on an easy to follow schedule. The dual-action approach of OraVet Chews doesn’t just clean teeth and freshen breath. It creates a barrier to help protect against plaque, calculus, and bad breath.

Dental Treats

For many people, doing anything inside their pet’s mouth on a regular basis is simply never going to happen. Fortunately, all is not lost: chewing on a proper dental chew daily can substantially reduce plaque and tartar by up to 69%. Chews should be used daily in order to achieve these results; occasional use is not going to be helpful and the dog must actually chew on the treat.

Dental chews must be the proper size for the dog in question to avoid a choking hazard and can have sophisticated additional ingredients. Examples include ingredients to prevent mineralization of plaque (i.e. hexametaphosphate in C.E.T. Dentahex chews) or to prevent future plaque attachment after current plaque is rubbed off (delmopinol in Oravet brand chews), and green chlorophyll to help with bad breath.

Considerations: Use your judgment with chew toys. A chew can be readily swallowed in a large chunk and lead to intestinal obstruction. A pet with diseased teeth may break teeth on a hard chew. Cow hooves and bones are not appropriate chew toys as they are too hard and readily break teeth.


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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

Updated: Feb 2

by Dr. Danielle Huff, DVM

How do you respond to an emergency with your pet? What do you do in the situation of your pet eating poison, laceration, abscess, or seizure? It is important to know how to handle an emergency situation and have a plan in place to quickly take action. Knowing these simple steps can make the difference between life and death.

First Aid Safety Tips for Pets

1. Keep a List of 24-Hour Emergency Veterinarians

In an emergency situation, every moment counts, and you need to contact an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. The last thing you want to do is waste time looking for an emergency veterinary hospital. Instead, keep a list handy on your refrigerator, bookmarked in your browser, or taped to the front of a file with all of your pet's information. We have two amazing emergency clinics that can take care of your emergencies:

Bend Animal Emergency Center and Specialty Center 541-385-9110

Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon 541-210-9200

2. Keep Calm

Keeping yourself calm will also help to keep your pet calm. Keeping your pet as calm and still as possible is important during an emergency, this will help keep your pet’s heart rate down and lower the stress and anxiety of handling and this is especially important if your pet has sustained an injury or trauma.

3. Safely Transport Your Pet

It is important to safely transport your pet to keep your pet safe to prevent further injury and to prevent your pet from biting you during the transport. When a pet is scared and in pain, even the sweetest and most loving pets are more likely to bite and snap even as a warning that they hurt. When available transport in a carrier or at a minimum use towels or thick blankets to keep your pet safe. If needed, ask veterinary staff how to help safely transport your pet to the hospital.

4. First Aid Kit

Always keep a first aid kit with basic supplies in your home. If you travel or hike with your pet, keep one in your car or with your travel bag. Keep a current list of all your pets medications and supplements in your first aid kit and bring a copy with you to the clinic so the veterinarian can avoid negative mediation interactions. (More to come in future blogs about first aid kits).

5. Poisonings

If your pet ingested something you are concerned may be poisonous, contact poison control. Have as much information on hand as possible to get the best advice. If possible, have the label on hand with the active ingredients listed, estimate the volume that your pet may have ingested, and know about when the ingestion may have occurred. Follow all advice given by poison control and if necessary, bring this to the veterinary hospital with you.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435*

Animal Poison Control Center: 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435)*

*There may be a fee for the phone call

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