Reinforcing Positive Behavior in Dogs from Adolescence and Beyond

Dog Behavior
Puppies typically enjoy playing with other puppies and may not demonstrate any problem behaviors toward any other dog.  Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians in Pekin, IL advise that in order to understand our dogs’ behavior toward other dogs, one must understand contributing factors toward the dog’s development from a puppy.  For example, a dog’s behavior will highly depend upon its environment- it may change depending on the circumstances and other individuals involved.

The reality is that the world is not divided into dogs who are “good with other dogs” and those who are “not good with other dogs”.  A particular dog can react aggressively if certain factors are present, just as any human can use verbal or physical aggression if instigated at various levels.  These interactions between dogs are determined by factors during upbringing such as the quantity of dogs involved/interacted with, the location, and the level of interactivity and the ages of the dogs.  Naturally, the behavior of each dog has an impact on all the others.

Lange Animal Clinic offers some guidelines to help adolescent/adult dogs behave and interact better with those around him/her:

  • Try to avoid overly-excessive play situations. It is the rare adolescent dog who can remain calm and play appropriately when surrounded by other young, excited dogs.  If your dog plays too roughly in these situations, remove him or her:  select quieter, less stressing surroundings for him.  Frequent the dog park only when fewer dogs are present, making sure that at least some of them are mature adults.  Well-socialized adult dogs are valuable park-buddies for “teen” dogs, as they can teach them appropriate behavior without causing harm.
  • Consistently provide interaction with your adolescent dog to well-behaved adult dogs. By definition, the phrase “well behaved” means the adult dog interacts well with young dogs but will interrupt unacceptable/rough behavior.  Adult dogs typically use eye contact and tall, still postures to discourage unwanted contact.  Interruptions normally consist of a quick, deep sound (not a confrontation) lasting several seconds.  If the adult dog does go after the adolescent, this is inappropriate and must be interrupted.
  • Continually enforce calm behavior. If you are taking a walk with your dog and are approaching a dog park or playgroup and your dog starts barking excessively, turn around and walk him/her away.  Leave the area or venue abruptly.  If your dog absolutely will not calm down, take him/her back home.  This may seem mean at first, but preventing your dog from this type of overly excited behavior will pay off in the long run.
  • Promote only desirable behavior with your dog. Keep in mind, behavior will strengthen with practice so be certain that your dog practices only positive behavior.  Dependent upon the activity, always question whether or not the behavior is helping or hindering your dog’s interaction with others.  Maybe going to the dog park is resulting in enjoyable and positive experiences in your dog or on the contrary- is it teaching Fido to chase and boss around every dog he or she sees?  Does leaving your dog in the backyard is permit him/her to bark at or motion aggressively toward people or other dogs walking by?  Be sure to choose new activities for your dog if his current ones are reinforcing bad habits.
  • Enforce calming techniques to your dog. Consider leashing your dog while you enjoy a movie and ignore him or her.  Should he or she jump on the couch into your lap, delicately move him or her away from you with the leash.   Wait until he settles quietly on the floor, then quietly praise him.  If he jumps up again, start over.  Practicing this “Settle” exercise regularly will teach your dog that calm behavior is the way to get your attention.

Reinforcing positive behavior in your dog at an early age will promote positive behavior later down the road.  Speak with a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian for more ideas on how to help with behavioral training in your pets.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Arthritis Conditions in Pets- Managing a Painful Condition

Dog Arthritis

It is perfectly normal for our dogs and cats to slow down a bit as they age.  But when they begin having difficulty walking or even lowering their heads to eat, they may be exhibiting signs of arthritis, a disease that can be debilitating but one that can be managed.

Pets who suffer from arthritis generally walk stiffly, limp or favor certain legs. They may experience pain when touched in specific areas or be hesitate to jump, run or climb stairs.  Cats with arthritis may sometimes have difficulty grooming themselves; thus ratted fur can be an indication of arthritis.

While it can be painful, arthritis can also be managed.  One method to treat is by having one of our veterinarians prescribe medications to help ease pets’ discomfort. There are some risks associated with long-term use of these medications, however, so pet owners should talk to a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian to make sure they understand how to administer the medications and what problems to look for.

In addition to medications, emphasis should be placed on having the pet perform low-level exercise. This can reduce the pain from arthritis, but be cautious as to allowing too little or too much movement or exercise.  Be sure to consult with a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian regarding the amount of exercise that would be ideal and which type would work best for a particular pet.  Additionally, pet’s that are overweight may be able to lose some pounds leading to reduced pain and reducing the risks of diabetes and heart disease.  Some arthritic pets may even benefit from physical therapy, such as swimming or walking on underwater treadmills.

Along with a pain management plan from one of our veterinarians, a pet owner can comfort their pets using soft bedding, gentle play, massages, and by grooming areas that are hard for pets to reach.  If necessary, provide access ramps to make it easier for pets to get up or down from higher places.

If you suspect that your pet may be showing signs of arthritis- be sure to contact a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian to be examined.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Inappropriate Elimination in Cats at Home

litter box

Inappropriate elimination (urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, and/or spraying) is the most common behavior problem of older cats but may also occur in cats of all ages. There are numerous causes for this behavior, many of them medical, so a cat who has inappropriate elimination should be examined by a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian. Laboratory tests may be required to be performed in most cases.

Contributing factors to inappropriate elimination

Medical conditions which result in an increased frequency of urination or defecation may be the underlying cause for this behavior problem. These conditions include: colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, kidney or liver disease, and feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). Medical conditions which cause pain urinating or defecating, or make it difficult for the cat to get in and out of the litter box, may also result in inappropriate elimination. Such conditions include arthritis, FLUTD, anal sac disease, loss of vision, and some forms of colitis. Treatment of these medical conditions may help to resolve this behavioral problem. In addition, using litter boxes with lower sides, placing the litter box in the area in which the cat spends the most time, and increasing the number of litter boxes may be helpful.

Stress can also be a major cause of inappropriate elimination in cats of all ages. Stressors such as moving, changes in routine, holidays, or changes in the makeup of the family can result in inappropriate elimination.  The veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic recommend that reducing these stressors or decreasing their impact on the household will benefit your cat (and probably you, too!). For instance, when moving, attempt to keep the cat in a quiet portion of the home when packing and during the actual moving day. At the new residence, confine your cat to a quiet room at first (probably a bedroom), placing her food, water, litter box and favorite sleeping material (bed, sweatshirt, etc.) in the room. Spend time with her in that room and feed her and clean the litter box at the usual time. Gradually let her become accustomed to the rest of the house.

Cats of all ages may develop an aversion to the litter box or substrate (material inside of the litter box). Some of the litters with a ‘perfume’ or ‘antiseptic’ smell may dissuade some cats from using them. Trying different types of litter including clumping litter, sand, newspaper, and no litter are things that could be helpful.

Litter box location may also cause inappropriate elimination.   Some cats may not like where a box is located. It may be located too close to their food or water. It may be in a high traffic area where they cannot have privacy. It may be in an area where they can be easily ambushed by another cat. It may be on a different level of the house than where they spend most of their time. In addition to trying various substrates, also place extra boxes around the house to see if box location makes a difference. There should always be at least one more litter box than the number of cats in the household.

Sanitary conditions may also be a factor as to why your cat is eliminating inappropriately.  Some cats are very particular. Some will not defecate in the same box in which they urinate. Others will not go in a box which has been used by another cat. Just as we do not like to use dirty bathrooms, neither do many cats. If the litter box is not cleaned regularly, they may decide to find a different bathroom.

Possible Solutions to Inappropriate Elimination

  • Have your cat checked by a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian for a possible medical condition, and start treatment for the condition if one exists. If the cat is extremely stressed, talk to one of our veterinarians about some medications which may help.
  • Place numerous litter boxes around the house. You do not have to use anything fancy: dishpans, large plastic containers, or other items may work just as well. Try a larger litter box, such as a sweater storage box; some behaviorists feel litter boxes are often too small.
  • Use different substrates including newspaper, clumpable and nonclumpable litter, sand, sawdust (not cedar), carpet remnants, and no litter at all. Use unscented litter, since many cats do not like the scented kind. If you find the substrate that your cat prefers is not the one you do, e.g., carpet remnants, try slowly converting the cat back to litter. Place a small amount of litter on the carpet remnants the first week, and if all goes well, use more litter each week until you can finally remove the carpet remnants from the box.
  • Try different depths of litter. Many people put too much litter in the box. Some cats like only a small amount.
  • Clean any soiled areas with a pet safe cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle which is specially designed for use on pet urine and stool. Regular detergents and other cleaners will not break down the urine or feces, and if the cat smells any urine or feces on a carpet or floor, the cat may continue to use that spot to eliminate. Nature’s Miracle does a great job dissolving odor causing compounds from urine or feces in the location where the elimination occurred. In some cases, the carpet or carpet padding may need to be replaced.
  • Feed the cat where she is inappropriately eliminating. Many cats will not urinate or defecate in the area in which they are fed.
  • Use upside down carpet runners (the ones with the spikes on the bottom), heavy plastic, aluminum foil, double-sided tape, motion detectors, pet repellents, or scat mats to limit her access to the area where she inappropriately eliminates.
  • Take your cat to the litter box frequently, and if she uses it, praise her, or even give her a treat.

If you catch your cat in the act of urinating or defecating outside of the box (or even using the digging motion), use a remote correction. This generally means doing something that will startle her. Tossing a pop can with a few coins inside of it and taped shut near the cat (but not at her!) may get her to stop.   It is best if she does not associate you with the correction, but thinks it ‘comes out of the blue.’

Do NOT punish the cat. Punishing the cat, including rubbing her nose in the soiled area will not help, and will probably increase the stress on the cat.  In some situations, it may be helpful to confine the cat to a small room with food, water, toys, bed, and litter box. Once she is using the litter box in the smaller area, gradually allow her into larger areas of the house.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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National Pet ID Week

dog microchip

To mark ongoing efforts to keep companion animals safe, the third week in April has been deemed National Pet ID Week.  The veterinarians at Lange Animal Clinic want to remind our clients of the importance of making certain that you take precautionary measures to ensure the chances of recovering your pet, in the event he or she gets lost, are better than not taking any important measures.

Approximately 10 million cats and dogs in the United States find themselves lost each year, with 6 – 8 million winding up in the shelter system. While only 2 percent of our feline friends who are in shelters without any form of identification are ever reunited with their human families, the American Veterinary Association reports that our purring pals who have a registered microchip are 21.4 times more likely to be returned home.

To increase your cat or dog’s chances of returning to the comforts of home if he or she becomes lost:

  • Make sure that your cat or dog wears a collar which displays an ID tag, rabies tag and city/county license along with your contact information.
  • Microchip your dog or cat and register that information in the national database.
  • Check to see that all of the information on your cat or dog’s license, ID or microchip is current. Especially when you move or change any contact information this is very important.

While many of our four-pawed pals may live inside the home, pet parents should remember that it only takes a moment for their cat to dart out the door and into unfamiliar territory. All cats and dogs, regardless of their living situation, should wear a tag or be micro-chipped.

Lange Animal Clinic has the ability to microchip your cat or dog.  The cost is only $39 and it is a fast, simple procedure.  No anesthesia is required.  Speak to one of the Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians should you have any questions regarding this procedure.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Ten Most Common Pet Toxins of 2014

toxic foods

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL handled more than 167,000 calls involving pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2014. Nearly 16% of those calls were from pet parents whose pets got into medicines intended for human use, putting this category at the top of the toxin list for the seventh year in a row.

Here are the 10 most common pet toxins of 2014 ranked in order of call volume:

  • Human prescription medications are most often exposed to pets, as mentioned above. The prescriptions that caused the most concern correlated with the most popular medications prescribed to humans.
  • Over-the-counter medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, attracted greater concern this year than in previous years resulting in approximately 25,000 calls. This category is exceptionally large, encompassing more than 6,900 different products.
  • Insecticides dropped to the third slot this year, comprising 9.1% of calls to the APCC (15,000 cases). These products can be very dangerous, especially if the label directions are not followed.
  • Household items were the cause for concern in more than 13,500 cases, especially paints and cleaning products.
  • Human foods are appealing to pets, especially dogs. Dogs can get into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and xylitol, a sugar substitute which can be life-threatening for animals. Approximately 13,200 cases involved human foods in 2014.
  • Veterinary medications made up 7% of total cases in 2014. Pet parents should be aware that chewable medications are very tasty and pets might ingest an entire bottle if it is not kept out of their reach.
  • Chocolate ingestion is very common. At the APCC, chocolate calls make up 6% of the total call volume—more than 30 calls a day! The darker the chocolate, the more potential it has to do harm.
  • Plants represent approximately 5% of the calls to the APCC and moved up a spot since 2014. Most of these calls involve cats and houseplants.
  • Rodenticides are made to kill mice and rats, but they can also kill pets if ingested. APCC handled more than 7,500 calls about rodenticides last year.
  • Lawn and garden products round out the top ten, accounting for about 2.7% of all calls. Many of these exposures occurred because people did not store lawn and garden products out of the reach of pets.

If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact a Lange Animal Clinic veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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FDA Warns Popular Topical Pain Medication Toxic to Pets

Fernpelt

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an official warning that topical pain medications containing flurbiprofen are dangerous to animals, even in tiny amounts. The warning was the result of several reports of household pets becoming ill or dying after the guardians used flurbiprofen topical pain relief formulations.

Flurbiprofen is a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat arthritis, joint pain, muscular discomfort and other aches. It was originally marketed as Ansaid® (Pfizer), then Froben® (Abbott), and is now widely available in generic form. It is similar to ibuprofen (Motrin® or Advil®), naproxen (Naprosyn®), and other NSAIDs. Flurbiprofen is commonly added to pain relieving creams and lotions, and that may be how pets, especially cats, are being accidentally poisoned.

Pets and medications

Cats seem particularly sensitive to NSAIDs such as flurbiprofen. For years veterinarians have warned cat owners to avoid Tylenol (acetaminophen) and never give your dog or cat aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs without consulting with your veterinarian first. Add flurbiprofen to that No-Try List.

What prompted this warning?

The FDA revealed that the guardian of two cats sickened by flurbiprofen had recently used a pain-relieving cream on the neck and feet. The guardian did not recall the two cats eating, licking or otherwise directly contacting the cream. These two cats developed kidney failure and fortunately recovered with veterinary care.

Another household had three cats that became sick and died, despite aggressive veterinary care. The guardian had also used a flurbiprofen-containing product prior to the cats developing clinical signs. All three cats eventually died and had necropsies performed, confirming NSAID toxicity.

Clinical signs of flurbiprofen and NSAID toxicity are severe and abrupt. Many cats will progress to critical condition within 24 to 72 hours of NSAID exposure. Dogs may also be affected by flurbiprofen and NSAIDs, although they appear to be less sensitive to developing life-threatening toxicity.

What are the signs of NSAID poisoning?

Clinical Signs of Flurbiprofen and NSAID Toxicity in Cats and Dogs include:

  • Decreased appetite and reluctance to eat
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Melena (black, tarry stools)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anemia
  • Increased thirst or urination

How can you protect your pet?

Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians in Pekin, IL urge the that if you use a topical pain relief product, it’s critical to keep these medications away from your dog or cat. If you apply a topical cream or lotion, avoid touching your pet for several hours and only after thoroughly washing. Be careful contacting couches, chairs and bedding with these preparations. Curious cats and dogs may lick residues and become poisoned. Cats may be affected by tiny amounts of flurbiprofen and there may be risk of continued exposure to tiny amounts over several days or weeks.

Our veterinarians have been seeing an increase in inadvertent poisonings from topical medications over the past several years. Hormone and testosterone gels, cancer medications, nicotine patches, topical steroids and pain treatments have all been reported to cause accidental toxicity in pets. This latest FDA warning reminds us that as we seek convenience and relief for ourselves, there may be unintended consequences for our pets. Treat your pain, but remember even our most seemingly safe medications may be deadly to our furry family members.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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Canine Influenza Information and Prevention

civ

Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) in the U.S. is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It  is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through direct contact, nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs of any breed, age, and sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.

Unlike seasonal flu in people, canine influenza can occur year round. So far, there is no evidence that canine influenza infects people. However, it does appear that at least some strains of the disease can infect cats.

Canine influenza symptoms and diagnosis 

CIV infection resembles canine infectious tracheobronchitis (“kennel cough”). The illness may be mild or severe, and infected dogs develop a persistent cough and may develop a thick nasal discharge and fever. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite, and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian.

CIV can be diagnosed early in the illness (less than 4 days) by testing a nasal or throat swab. The most accurate test for CIV infection is a blood test that requires a sample taken during the first week of illness, followed by a second sample 10-14 days later.

Transmission and prevention of canine influenza

Dogs are most contagious during the two- to four-day incubation period for the virus, when they are infected and shedding the virus in their nasal secretions but are not showing signs of illness. Almost all dogs exposed to CIV will become infected, and the majority (80%) of infected dogs develop flu-like illness. The mortality (death) rate is low (less than 10%).

Lange Animal Clinic veterinarians in Pekin, IL strongly suggest the following items to significantly reduce the spread of canine influenza:

  • Avoiding taking your dog to dog parks, social events, and boarding. Avoid interaction with other dogs to minimize the possibilities of being exposed to the virus. 
  • Isolating ill dogs as well as those who are known to have been exposed to an infected dog and those showing signs of respiratory illness.
  • Good hygiene and sanitation, including hand washing and thorough cleaning of shared items and kennels, also reduce the spread of canine influenza.
  • Use disinfectants when cleaning around the house and make certain to safely sterilize dog supplies such as food bowls, dog toys, and bedding.

There are vaccines against the H3N8 strain of canine influenza, which was first discovered in 2004 and until 2015 was the only strain of canine influenza found in the United States. However, a 2015 outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago was traced to the H3N2 strain – the first reporting of this strain outside of Asia – and it is not known whether the H3N8 vaccine provides any protection against this strain. The CIV vaccination is a “lifestyle” vaccination, recommended for dogs at risk of exposure due to their increased exposure to other dogs – such as boarding, attending social events with dogs present, and visiting dog parks.


For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at www.langeanimal.com.  

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