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  • Writer's pictureAngela Christou

... Chilli & Carlos ...

Written by: Ronny

I had the pleasure of pet-sitting Chilli (a 6yr of Maltese cross) and Carlos (a 16 week old Chihuahua) while their owners went on a sunny interstate getaway.

Their owners brought them a lot of toys, bedding and food so it was no surprise that the two of them settled in quickly and became part of the family almost immediately. Chilli loved being around people and proved to be very popular with her uniquely symmetrical markings and Carlos, of course being just a puppy easily won everyones hearts.

Being only a few months old, Carlos is still within his critical socialisation period so it was important to maintain his training and allow continual exposure to all sorts of people, animal and places to ensure he grows to be a well rounded sociable adult. This process provides them the skills to deal with life experiences. This also desensitises them to things that they could potentially find scary - which is particularly important for a dog of Carlos’ size. At the dog park, he met dogs of all sizes (mostly larger) and learned how to appropriately interact with others and what sort of play can be too rough. When raising a small breed dog, it is important to treat them as you would a larger breed. Picking them up or allowing behaviours that you normally wouldn’t can quickly create behavioural problems later in life. Puppy preschool is an excellent program that is offered at most veterinary clinics that allow puppies to socialise with each other within a controlled environment.

Carlos was already well trained for a puppy of his age, using puppy pads laid out for him with an (almost) 100% hit rate. When training a puppy always use rewards and treats to positively reinforce behaviours that are correct (toileting, lead walking, tricks). Punishment should be avoided as it can create fearful responses and damage the human-dog relationship.

The two dogs also came into the vet clinic with me where they greeted the patients and got to interact with many more dogs, as well as the clinic cat. Carlos learned that even though they were of a similar size, there is very much a hierarchal order and he soon kept a respectful distance.

Chilli came to us with a recent diagnosis of immune-mediated polyarthritis. This is a condition of dogs where immune complexes are deposited in the joints causing inflammation of the soft tissue that lines the joints called the synovium. This eventually weakens the structures within the joints and if left too long, can cause arthritis. There are many causes such as infections, medications or genetic predispositions however many causes are unexplained and an underlying cause is not always found (idiopathic). Fortunately Chilli was staying with a registered veterinarian so any potential complications with the condition could be managed early. Chilli was on prednisolone, an immunosuppressive anti-inflammatory, to help manage her condition and had a different exercise regime to Carlos who obviously had a lot more energy to spare. Despite her condition, Chilli remained the sweetest, most enthusiastic little dog I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with. We hope to see Chilli continue to improve and return to being a sprightly young girl again.

Written by: Dr Ronny Rao BVSc (Veterinarian)

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