Subscriber Archive

Dr. Nichol’s Blog – Feline Fear & Loathing in the Veterinary Clinic

November 28, 2017
Angry cat

When I met Sherman he was a sporty little black and white feline youth of about 8 weeks. During my first exam room encounter with him he stood up for himself. I respected his strength of character. I vaccinated and neutered Sherman, events that left our professional relationship unscathed. His family consisted of Bonnie and Rick, a couple of genuinely committed pet parents. Sherman was treated well everywhere he went. He was on his way to an excellent life. I encountered Sherman from time to time for the usual juvenile bumps and bruises. I always found him to be cooperative and enjoyable. His folks wanted only the best for him, making my job that much better. Then there was a job transfer to California. I really liked that little family; I was sad to see them go. One day, about 8 years later, I was surprised to receive an email…

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Dr. Nichol’s Video – Dogs, Family Gatherings Overwhelmed & Badly Behaved

November 21, 2017

Hey-it’s a holiday. Let the good times roll! Maybe not for everybody. Some pets get badly unsettled and engage in unhealthy and dangerous behaviors because they’re nervous or scared. The racket from people they hardly know, moving around in their house can be a major fear trigger. Anybody coming near a stressed dog can cause her to raise her lips, growl, and maybe lunge and snap. They can be quick as a snake. For overwhelmed dogs it’s all about fear and a sense of overwhelm. It might seem natural to manage potentially dangerous behaviors with a stern reprimand or even physical punishment. But startling or intimidating an already scared dog would worsen her defensive reactions. It would also damage her trust and the bond with her leader. Dogs can stay busy foraging. Nobody should ever approach, lean over, reach for, or stare at a reactive dog. Giving her the security…

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Dr. Nichol’s Podcast – Thanksgiving Hazards

November 14, 2017
Thanksgiving hazards for pets

Thanksgiving is great fun, isn’t it? Family, football, turkey, pie, beer. Hey – let the good times roll. Well, for you and me, sure, but maybe not for everybody. Badly unsettled dogs and cats may carry out some unhealthy behaviors. Watch for tense body postures around visitors or startling at sudden noises, hiding, freezing with ears flattened, the head low, and the tail tucked – these are important clues. Scared dogs may lick their lips and yawn. Stressed cats might over-groom. Pets need a break from the holiday action. Hide boxes for kitties and out-of the-way resting areas for dogs will make it easy for them. Playing music designed just for dogs, called Through a Dog’s Ear, can promote a calmer emotional state. Zylkene is a tasty supplement that’s helpful for mild to moderate anxiety in dogs and cats. There’s also a fast acting antianxiety gel called Sileo that’s given…

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Dr. Nichol’s Video – Lions & Tigers & Loud Noises in the Sky

October 31, 2017
Dogs Lightening Phobia

Dogs who freak-out during storms, fireworks, and airborne events like the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta have true phobias. There’s nothing logical about these fears. Just like humans with unfounded anxieties, these pets need special consideration. Hiding, trembling, and nervous panting indicate serious misery. Kindness is called for in big doses. These poor dogs are in survival mode, worried that their heads might explode. To make a serious difference for your dog you’ll need to be proactive. Watch the weather forecast so you can let her out to relieve herself before the aerial assault. A comfortable face covering, called a Thunder Cap, can make this easier by reducing your dog’s distance vision. An indoor mind-bending experience can be prevented by lowering the blinds and playing relaxing classical music. Or you can download scientifically developed music called Through a Dog’s Ear. It’s meant just for dogs. Most phobic dogs associate the electrical charges…

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Dr. Nichol’s Podcast – Halloween is Scary, Maybe Poisonous

October 24, 2017

Chocolate is Dangerous for Dogs Halloween is great, isn’t it? You can go incognito and so can your dog. And the snacks, oooh, they’re to die for, aren’t they? But if it’s a dog who indulges – even a little- chocolate can be fatal. Of the vast array of goodies consumed in mass quantities during the holidays, chocolate is certainly the most dangerous for dogs. Whether they devour one piece of candy at a time or raid the whole bag you have a medical emergency. Chocolate and cocoa products contain caffeine and methylxanthines, substances we humans handle with no problem. Dogs can die. Swallowed chocolate tends to form a big gooey ball in a dog’s stomach, making it slow to absorb. It doesn’t take much. Less than 1 ounce of milk chocolate per pound of body weight is potentially lethal for dogs. Baking (unsweetened) chocolate is far more potent; 0.1…

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Dr. Nichol’s Blog – Pugnacious Feline Pests – A ScareCrow will Prevent Intrusions by Neighbor Cats

October 17, 2017

A ScareCrow will Prevent Intrusions by Neighbor Cats Question: I have a spayed female cat who mostly stays indoors and but likes to go out in the evenings when it cools down. She has her claws and can defend herself but there are a couple of male cats who wander into her territory. Sometimes she lets them know that she wants nothing to do with them. However, there have been occasions where the angry, fighting, howling cat words are loud and scare me. So far, she has not been in an actual fight but if she ever was I wouldn’t know what to do to help her. My first tendency would be to yell (of course) and reach down to pull her to safety, though more than likely, if I did that, I would get scratched and bit as well, right? In the event of a cat or dog fight,…

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Dr. Nichol’s Video – Picking the Greatest Puppy for Your Life

October 10, 2017

Sharing your life with a great dog is a lot like any important relationship. Social skills matter.  Behavioral research understands this. Puppies do better in life if they stay with their mothers and litter mates until the age of 5-7 weeks. Picking the right breed is important too but remember that everybody is a unique individual; puppies aren’t appliances that roll off an assembly line. You’ll want to pay attention to the variation in temperament within each litter. I recommend first choosing the racy appearance of your shiny new dog. Then close the book on that breed and carefully sort through the applicants.

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Dr. Nichol’s Podcast – Freaked out by Strangers & Sick when Alone

October 3, 2017

The Mind-Body Connection is Big Lulu is a really sweet female Australian cattle dog and she’s mighty cute too. She’s 2 years old and she’s a big girl, weighing in at 50 pounds. Lulu lives with a very committed pet parent who will do whatever it takes for her dog’s well-being. That’s a good thing because this girl has faced a few serious challenges. Lulu had been adopted from a shelter just 2 months before she and I first met. An excellent new anti-itch medication called Apoquel was helping but Lulu wasn’t taking it consistently because it upset her stomach. She landed in my exam room because her behavior was scaring the daylights out of people. Anybody who rushed onto the scene could trigger this dog’s fear-related aggressive displays. “Scary monsters don’t belong here. Move to the next county and nobody gets hurt.” A panicked dog spews an explosion of…

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Dr. Nichol’s Blog – Children & When the Dog Bites

September 26, 2017

Kindness – on everybody’s part – is a key ingredient. In my work I see life lessons on the power of kindness every day. A few months ago a little girl and her big scared dog were students and they were teachers. The story of Buster the boxer, and the little girl who loves him, will have meaning for anyone who cherishes dogs and values kindness. Long before the arrival of their daughter, Shelly and Bill adopted Buster as a puppy right after they moved-in together. Buster went everywhere with his pet parents. They were an excellent family of 3. Then little Amber came along. When Amber was just one year old she got mobile and just thrilled in her mission of hugging Buster. Buster, frightened and wary of this rampaging little giggler, had no idea what he should do. Mostly, he tried to escape. One sad day Amber cornered…

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