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How to Battle the Back-to-School Blues: Study Up on Canine Separation Anxiety

Poppy, or as her family affectionately calls her, “Princess Poppy,” is an adorable little ball  of fluff. Definitely the household diva, Poppy the toy poodle demands her fair share of attention. After a fun summer packed with road trips, beach adventures, and lazy days by the pool, Poppy is in for a rude awakening as back-to-school activities kick into high gear. Poppy’s mom and dad are both high school teachers, while her two non-furry siblings are beginning their educational journey. How will Princess Poppy handle the desertion of her adoring subjects? Let’s find out.

“Ooo, what are these bright bags for? Maybe they’re my new sling carriers, so Mom can easily take me on her shopping trips. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a Puppachino…,” Poppy thinks to herself. “Oh, but they’re already stuffed full! There’s no room for me. Pencils, paper, folders, crayons—mmm, I do love crayons. I definitely tasted the rainbow that day, and the rug still has colorful stains to prove it.” 

Little does Poppy realize that her family is gearing up for the first back-to-school day, and she will be left alone at home for the first time in her short life. See if you can pick up on the mistakes her family members make when heading out the door.

The first day of school arrives. Chaos ensues. Poppy is used to a leisurely lie-in, with breakfast appearing later in the morning. As her family yells across the house about misplaced shoes, missing lunchboxes, and mismatched clothes, Poppy stares wide-eyed at her normally relaxed family. Her breakfast has been hastily tossed in her dish, and her water is running low. Too nervous with the commotion to eat, Poppy hides under the dining room table until her mom calls her. 

Oh good, Poppy thinks. We can go back to bed and wake up at a normal time later! But Poppy feels the leash clipped to her collar as her mom mutters, “We have to hurry—the bus arrives in five minutes.” Poppy is rushed out into the yard to take care of business, and hurried back indoors. 

“What happened to our walk around the block? Or our game of keep-away with my favorite stuffed bunny?” Poppy wonders. 

Poppy is disappointed with this change in her routine, but she hears a loud honk outside. Rushing to the window, she sees a giant yellow beast of a vehicle swallowing up the two youngest members of her family, while mom and dad wave a tearful good-bye. 

As the adults hurry back indoors to grab purses, wallets, keys, and jackets, Poppy is shuffled to the side. Before running out the door, her mom bends down and lovingly dotes on Poppy with kisses and baby talk for a brief minute. Then, Poppy is all alone. 

Poor Poppy had never been left alone in her short life. As a puppy born right before summer vacation, she has enjoyed constant attention from her family these past few months. Since it was summer break, someone was always home for comfort, or she traveled with her family. Princess Poppy’s world has been turned upside-down. 

When her family returns home from the first day of school, they are greeted with a disaster scene. The new leather sofa has deep claw marks gouged into the plush fabric. The curtains have been ripped from their hangings. There are multiple “accidents” scattered throughout the home. And, there is a message from the neighbor blinking on the voicemail, which says he heard barking and howling for the better part of the day. As they take in the destruction, Poppy rushes in, panting heavily and covered in slimy drool, and hurtles into her mom’s arms. As her entire family coos and fusses over her, Poppy finally begins to relax. Little does she know that this will be a daily occurrence.

Did you spot the ways Poppy’s family could have eased her into independence and knowing how to relax while alone? 

  • Lack of independence training — Poppy has always had at least one family member in the same room with her—she whines and scratches at the bathroom door if she’s shut out. She has not been taught to entertain herself or relax on her own. To teach Poppy independence, start small. Train her to lie on her bed at the opposite end of the room, contentedly chewing a treat. Walk around the corner, pause for five seconds, then return and praise Poppy for remaining in the same position. Gradually build up to extended absences, and Poppy will learn that remaining calm while left alone is an action that’s rewarded.

  • Over-the-top greetings and departures — To reassure Poppy that they love her, the family lavished her with exuberant departures and greetings. Instead, calmly exit and enter the home, ignoring an overexcited pet until she calms down. In time, Poppy will learn that it’s not a big deal when her people leave or enter her home.

  • Abrupt routine change — In Poppy’s mind, her family had abandoned her. She did not understand how to be alone and that her family was coming back. A gradual routine change that begins with brief absences and builds up to longer time periods similar to a workday works best.

  • No toys or treats — Poppy was given no special treats or toys to keep her occupied while her family was gone. Give her a long-lasting chew, food puzzle, or stuffed Kong to focus on rather than the fact that she’s alone.

  • Shortened exercise session — Lack of exercise can create several problems. A shortened walk may not give Poppy the time she needs to eliminate before being confined for the day. Plus, a bored dog can be a destructive dog, and Poppy needs time to burn off her energy before her family leaves.

Does Poppy’s situation sound familiar? If your dog is suffering from the back-to-school blues, we can help. Schedule a behavioral consultation with our team.

Loyalty Matters: How You Can Save Money on Your Pet’s Next Veterinary Visit

At Peoria Area Veterinary Group (PAVG), we are extremely grateful for our clients. We have been pleased to offer our Loyalty Program, and would like to announce some changes that will become effective August 1. 

For every $100 you spend on your pet at any of our locations, you earn one PAVG Care Coin. Saving your PAVG Care Coins will allow you to spend them on the following rewards:

  • 3 coins: Free nail trim
  • 4 coins: Free parasite exam
  • 5 coins: 25% off your pet’s medical panel 
  • 8 coins: 25% off any laser therapy package
  • 10 coins: 10% off your total invoice
  • 15 coins: 15% off your total invoice

For example, if your bill is $325, you will earn three PAVG Care Coins. (Please note that because we do not keep running balances for each account, amounts over a $100 increment on individual invoices—$25 in our example—cannot be used toward your next coin.) 

Although the above procedures may not immediately come to mind when you think of veterinary medicine, we chose these rewards because we know they are important to your pet’s health and quality of life. Following are the benefits of these specific rewards and their impact on your pet’s life.

Free nail trims for dogs and cats

Toenail trims tend to be polarizing—pets either tolerate them or actively try to avoid them. Many owners find trims difficult to perform at home, so we are happy to help. Our trained veterinary team knows exactly how to calm your pet for nail trims, and we strive to make the experience fear-free so that each time your pet returns, he is more comfortable with the procedure. 

Maintaining toenail length is important for both dogs and cats. In dogs, long nails change the bone alignment in each toe. Their nails are meant for gripping while running and turning, but dogs will lose traction when their nails are too long because their feet become splayed. 

In cats and dogs, the toenails can become so overgrown that they curve around and puncture the paw pad directly behind the nail. This condition is extremely painful, especially because the pet has to walk on the injury. 

If you can’t keep up with your pet’s nail trims at home, please allow us to do them. We’d also be happy to teach you so you can trim his nails yourself.

Free parasite examinations for pets

Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, are transmitted to your pet when he is exposed to parasite eggs shed in the stool of other animals. Intestinal parasites can cause diarrhea, which may be bloody, vomiting, unthriftiness, electrolyte disturbances, and, if severe, sometimes death. Additionally, some canine and feline intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning they can be transmitted to humans. Let us ensure your pet is parasite-free by bringing him in with his fecal sample you have collected, or we can obtain one directly from your pet.

25% off your pet’s medical panel

Your pet may be the picture of health, but he still should have yearly blood testing. Annual blood work gives us a baseline for your pet’s major organ function, and his normal red and white blood cell levels. Knowing your healthy pet’s blood work results will help when he’s not well. For example, if your sick pet’s blood work shows an elevated liver value, we can compare that value to his results when he was healthy. Annual medical panels allow us to compare your pet’s health from year to year, as well as track changes over the year. We may be able to ignore a slightly elevated value on its own, but if his results from the three previous years show that the value has been steadily trending upward, we will know we should look more closely for reasons behind the elevation. 

Consistent annual medical panels provide the information we need to get ahead of small health problems before they become large health problems. 

25% off any pet laser therapy package

Laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment for pets with acute and chronic injuries. Therapeutic lasers use a specific wavelength of light to penetrate tissue and cause changes at the cellular level. Laser therapy usually takes five to 10 minutes per treatment, and we initially start with two to three sessions per week and decrease them as needed. 

Some of laser therapy’s many benefits include:

  • Decreased inflammation — Dilation of blood vessels increases the total blood circulation in the affected area and reduces swelling and pro-inflammatory prostaglandin production.
  • Decreased pain — Stimulation of the production of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers, and decreased nerve sensitivity result in less pain.
  • Accelerated healing — Light photons penetrate targeted tissues to accelerate cell growth and reproduction.
  • Decreased scarring — Decreased production of fibrous tissue results in less scarring.
  • Increased nerve function — Laser therapy speeds up nerve regeneration and aids nerve cell reconnection.

Laser therapy is helpful for painful acute and chronic conditions, including arthritis, hip dysplasia, neuromuscular diseases, soft-tissue injuries, and musculoskeletal injuries. 

We truly appreciate our loyal clients, and we look forward to seeing you and your pets. To learn more about our Loyalty Program, or to schedule an appointment to start earning coins, give us a call.

Help Us Select our “Final Fur!”

We originally believed we would be able to select just 4 pets to compete in our final facebook voting for March Wagness. We should have known better. Below is a list of our competitors, please select your 4 favorite photos. The photos with the most votes by Tuesday March 27 will be selected as our “Final Fur!”

Keep an eye on our facebook after that for final voting to determine our champion after head to head matchups!

Online Medication Diversion

Did you know?:  Online pharmacies are not permitted to purchase many prescription medications directly from manufacturers.

So how is it that you can find just about any medication on any major online pharmacy?

The answer:  Medication Diversion