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Pet Sounds

Pet Sounds (17)

Thursday, 04 August 2016 16:14

Pet Dehydration / Noise Phobias

Written by

Listen as Dr. Mindy Cohan talks with Kathy about the keeping your pets hydrated, especially when it's hot out - and also how to care for a pet rattled by loud noises, like thunder. 

Heat Related Illness

The Philadelphia area has already experienced several heat waves this summer.  Heat and high humidity pose dangerous risks to both people and pets.   Dogs are susceptible to heat stroke when allowed to exercise on hot and humid days or when accidentally placed in a confined space such as an automobile.  A study found that the temperature within a vehicle may increase by an average of 40 degrees Fahrenheit within one hour, even on a relatively cool (70 degree) day. 

While all dogs can develop heat related problems when exposed to adverse conditions, some dogs are particularly susceptible.  Unlike people, dogs do not sweat to cool their bodies.   Dogs rely on evaporative cooling from the tongue, by means of panting.   Dogs with flat faces such as Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, Boxers and Boston Terriers are at a disadvantage when it comes to regulating normal heat balance.   Dogs that are elderly, overweight, have heart disease, or have laryngeal paralysis are also more prone to becoming overheated.

Animals with heat-induced illness can develop the following signs:

• excessive panting and drooling
• red or pale gums
• vomiting
• diarrhea
• weakness and collapse

More severe signs include vomiting blood and difficulty breathing.   All body systems (kidneys, liver, gastrointestinal tract, coagulation factors) can be affected by heat-induced illness.  If not caught and treated immediately, the patient can develop life threatening multisystem failure, sepsis, and deregulation of the blood clotting system. Seizures and coma may develop if heatstroke progresses resulting in cardiac arrest and death. 

If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, spray the pet with cool water or immerse in a cool water bath. Do not immerse pet in ice bath! Direct fans towards dog to further help with body cooling. Transport your pet to the nearest veterinary hospital. 

To prevent heatstroke:

• Never leave pets in a hot parked car.
• Provide access to water and shade on warm days.
• Do not allow dogs to heavily exercise on hot and humid days.
• Walk pets early in the morning of after sunset during the summer.
• Never muzzle dogs in hot environments, take caution with dryers used at grooming facilities

It is much better to prevent heatstroke than to treat it!

Noise Phobia

Although July 4th has passed, fireworks can still be randomly heard throughout the summer months and they are guaranteed New Year’s Eve. In addition to fireworks, pets with noise phobias can also be scared by thunderstorms, gun shots, backfires, construction, and motorcycles. While cats can be fearful of loud noises, dogs are more commonly affected.  

A phobia is “an extremely strong dislike or fear of something.” Examples of common phobias that affect people include heights, snakes, rollercoasters. Once fearful of an experience, it is difficult to overcome that fear in the future.  

Thunderstorms are different than other events merely associated with noise. Dogs often become fearful before the storm arrives.  Dogs begin to react when they sense a change in the barometric pressure or when they hear and see rain and wind. Both thunder and lightening associated with storms can dramatically affect dogs. Surprisingly, not all dogs with storm phobias are affected by loud noises and not all dogs afraid of loud noises are sensitive to storms. 

Noise phobias are not only stressful for the afflicted dog or cat, they can be very unsettling for the pet parent. Watching your pet in emotional distress is heart breaking. Pet owners often feel helpless when it comes to comforting an upset dog or cat. Common symptoms of noise phobia include:

• Pacing
• Panting
• Whining/barking/meowing
• Drooling
• Hiding
• Destructive behavior 

If your dog or cat is very fearful of loud noises or storms, consult your pet’s veterinarian. Suggestions can be offered to help minimize your pet’s anxiety. One strategy is avoidance. By avoiding the offensive stimulus, your pet will have nothing to fear. However, since we cannot control the weather, avoid neighbors who light fireworks, or prevent local construction, this is easier said than done.  

As pet owners, we can take measures to minimize our pet’s fear. For example, when fireworks or storms are expected, keep your pets inside and play the television or radio at a loud volume to drown out the offending noise. Allow your pet to hide wherever it feels comfortable. Never scold a pet or try to make it leave a secure hiding location! 

During storms or fireworks, try to engage your dog in a playful game or obedience skill to redirect its focus. Nonprescription medications can be tried. There are pheromone products such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats that can be helpful. These products mimic the natural chemicals released by a nursing mother dog or cat and provide a sense of calm for pets. “Rescue Remedy” is a natural product that can also create a calming effect for stressed pets. A “Thunder Shirt” is a snuggly fitting coat that “hugs” the pet and gives a sense of security.  

If non-medication products do not provide enough stress relief, a veterinarian should be consulted to discuss medications for your anxious pet. There are many different medications that can be tried, but not all can resolve noise phobias. Some pets benefit from a multimodal approach. Finding the solution to a pet’s anxiety requires time and patience and often the best plan is discovered by trial and error.



Monday, 06 June 2016 21:06

Dog Bite Prevention

Written by

Listen as Dr. Mindy Cohan talks with Kathy about the preventing dog bites and more - plus how to have a safe Fourth of July with your dog!

Dog Bite Prevention

Every year more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs in the U.S. and at least 800,000 people receive medical attention. Most of the victims are children who will sustain both long term physical and psychological effects. Because of the prevalence and grave consequences of dog bites, “National Dog Bite Prevention Week” was established and takes place the third full week of May each year. 

While the majority of dog bites occur to a person’s face, most cat bites are localized to a person’s hands. Because there are so many joints within the hands, this location is not only extremely sensitive to pain, but also at high risk for infection. Cats have particularly sharp teeth and their mouths harbor many serious bacteria. Approximately one third of people bitten by a cat on the hand will require hospitalization and many need surgeries to address the wound and infection. Any person who is bitten by a cat or dog should seek medical attention immediately.

Studies have shown that the behaviors most commonly preceding a bite include bending over a dog and a person putting their face close to a dog’s face. Surprisingly, the study did not find actions typically thought to provoke a dog bite such as stepping on a tail/paw, pulling fur, scolding, or trimming nails to be high risk behaviors. 

The majority of dogs cited for bite incidents include primarily unneutered adult males and dogs of a moderate to large size.  Most bite episodes take place in the dog’s home or yard while the dog is off-leash. It is important to note that parents and dog owners are usually present when a child is bit. It is also important to be aware that small dogs can inflict serious wounds and that any dog, no matter how loving, sweet, or tolerant can bite. Any breed is capable of biting, and children are primarily bitten by dogs that they know. 

While some dogs can bite due to underlying aggressive tendencies, most dogs bite because they are scared and feel insecure. This is not the dog’s fault, but often due to improper socialization. Between the ages of 3-14 weeks, the majority of a puppy’s personality is established. This is considered the prime socialization age and it is critical that a puppy be exposed to other animals, people of different genders, ethnicities, ages, and sizes and be introduced to objects such as umbrellas, bags, and canes. Puppy classes are a great way to optimize socialization and minimize future fears. It is detrimental for an owner to scold or hit a dog that exhibits fear aggression as this will only make the dog more scared. 

Other factors that can provoke a dog to bite are resource guarding, pain, or other underlying medical problems. For example, dogs can feel threatened and defensive if they are approached while eating a meal, chewing on a favorite toy or bone, or resting comfortably in their bed or on furniture. Some dogs will not tolerate being pushed or moved off a sofa or bed. Dogs that are blind or deaf are more easily startled and can bite when caught off guard. Older dogs with arthritis may snap when a sore area is touched. Ear infections or other painful skin conditions can make dogs more irritable and likely to bite. If your dog has never snapped and has a personality change, take it to a veterinarian to be evaluated.

Since dogs cannot speak, it is important to be familiar with the many body language signals they can exhibit to indicate fear or stress. Signs that a dog is nervous and needs to be approached with caution include:

  •         Yawning
  •         Lip licking
  •        Tucked tail
  •         Ears pinned back
  •         Cowering
  •         Showing the whites of the eyes
  •         Intensely staring or avoiding eye contact
  •         Lips pulled back
  •        Growling
  •        Barking
  •        Lifting a paw/shifting weight away
  •        Panting
  •        Drooling

For families that have a furry child that precedes a human child, steps can be taken to reduce the dog’s anxiety when a new baby comes home and to ensure a safe environment for the newborn infant. First, the dog should master basic obedience skills such as “sit,” “down,” “stay,” and “come.” The commands of “leave it” and “drop it” will be important to prevent the dog from picking up baby toys, pacifiers, etc. The dog should be trained to feel calm and comfortable in a crate. The command “go away” is important as many dogs being approached by a crawling infant or walking toddler do not instinctively move away on their own. Commanding the dog to “go away” helps to keep both dog and child out of harm’s way. Families should set boundaries with furniture or the baby’s room well ahead of the baby’s arrival.

Many baby related items and sounds can be scary and stressful to dogs. It is important to desensitize the family pet by leaving items such as strollers, car seats, swings, and toys out for the dog to smell and explore. When the dog approaches and investigates these things, praise it and give the dog a treat. The sound of a baby crying or baby toys can be distressing to a dog not familiar with these new noises. Playing a recording of a baby crying while feeding treats or engaging you dog in a game of fetch can help ease the fear associated with novel sounds. 

For households with children that plan to add a new dog, parents must take measures to teach the kids to be kind and respectful of dogs. The videos from Jimmy’s Dog House provide great lessons for kids to watch with parents. Go to www.avma.org/dogbite  under the heading “May Brings National Dog Bite Prevention Week!” click on “watch the videos.” I suggest watching all of the video clips which will take less than ten minutes. 

Parents must remain vigilant in supervising infants, toddlers and young children with dogs at all times. Educating children is also critical and lessons must be taught starting at a young age so good habits are established early.

Tips for parents can be found at https://www.avma.org/public/Pages/Teaching-children-about-dog-bite-prevention.aspx


From personal experience, there is nothing more wonderful or special than the love and companionship of a dog. As a veterinarian, I have encountered many dogs that are not aggressive, but become terrified upon entering a veterinary office. The veterinary team has to be extra careful handling these patients that are prone to biting out of fear. Understanding and respecting a fearful animal is critical for ensuring the safety of people and pets. Adequate training and socialization of dogs, vigilance of parents and dog owners, and well educated children will help to reduce the number of dog bite incidents and minimize the devastating repercussions for both humans and canines. 

Thursday, 26 May 2016 14:24

Pet Sounds with Dr. Mindy

Click Below to Read & Listen to Dr. Mindy's Monthly Visits

Meet Mindy!

Mindy Cohan, VMD received her B.A. from Penn State and her veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Upon her veterinary school graduation, Mindy completed a one year internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City. Mindy was a proud member of the Kids Corner team from 1995 – 2006 and is thrilled to return. Always passionate to share pet health information, Mindy has also been a guest veterinarian on WHYY radio and on the local NBC television show, “10!” She has been a contributing author for Veterinary Technician magazine.

Recognizing the importance of the human-animal bond and the depth of attachment she and her clients felt towards pets, Mindy developed a strong interest in bereavement counseling. Mindy lives with her wife, Lauren and Jem, a dog they rescued in 2009. Mindy enjoys volunteering at Valley Forge National Historic Park, hiking with Jem, attending the theatre, and is passionate about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln.

Pet Sounds on Kids Corner is made possible with support from Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown.

For over 90 years, Elmwood Park Zoo has served as a destination for families looking to connect to the natural world. Its mission is to promote wildlife conservation and to inspire others to help preserve the planet’s biodiversity.

Did you know that jaguars have one of the strongest bites of any of the big cats? Only lions and tigers have a stronger bite. A jaguar’s bite is so strong that its teeth can pierce a turtle’s shell.


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