Pet Tips

Training Your Pet

Kittens are taught by their mothers to use the litter box, but puppies need a little extra help with potty training. Many owners crate train their dogs, a process that takes some effort, but it is a reliable method of training your puppy.

A crate limits a puppy’s movement in your house while you are teaching him where you would like the puppy to relieve himself. Crates can also help when you are trying to educate your puppy about other house rules, like not chewing on the furniture or eating your favorite pair of shoes.

Crates come in a variety forms, including plastic, fabric and collapsible, metal. You can purchase a crate at most pet supply stores, but be sure to check with a clerk to ensure you buy the right size for your pet. Remember, Sammy, the 6-pound boxer-mix puppy, is going to grow into a large breed dog, weighing more than 50 pounds.

Crate-trained dogs think of the crate as their “safe place” and are happy to spend time there. Some dogs even rest in their crates when the crate door is unlatched and they are free to roam around the house!

For more information about training, visit our Pet Behavior page.


Why Spaying and Neutering is Important?

Every year, 22,000 animals in Northeast Florida end up homeless. No shelter has enough cages for all the unwanted animals in a community, but even if one did, no dog or cat should spend its life in a cage. Letting pets run loose is no solution either. Pets on the street face a certain, and often painful death. Most die of starvation, disease, or are hit by cars. Only by spaying and neutering and adopting pets from shelters will the pet overpopulation problem ever be resolved. At JHS, all pets are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

Pets that are not spayed and neutered face a higher risk of developing a variety of health problems. With each heat, unspayed females are more likely to suffer from mammary cancer, and they are more prone to ovarian and uterine cancers. Unspayed females are also more susceptible to infections of the uterus. Unneutered males have a greater risk of testicular cancer and prostrate problems.

Pets that are not fixed are also more likely to roam searching for a partner, so owners risk losing their animals and animals risk getting injured. They also may “spray” or mark their territory with urine to set boundaries. Many pets that are not spayed or neutered are also more likely to suffer from behavior problems, including aggression.

For a list of low-cost spay / neuter clinics in Jacksonville, visit our Directories & Links page.


The Importance of Veterinarian Care

It is very important to make sure your pet has proper veterinary care. Puppies and kittens should receive a series of vaccinations and deworming. These initial vaccinations are extremely important, so you should discuss the best schedule for your pet with your veterinarian. Puppies and kittens adopted from JHS will have their initial inoculations, but pet owners need to take their new furry friends to the veterinarian for their follow up care.

New owners should ensure their puppies and dogs get the following vaccinations:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Canine Distemper Virus
  • Canine Adenovirus-2
  • Rabies

Other recommended vaccinations for puppies and dogs include:

  • Canine Parainfluenza Virus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica

New owners of kittens and cats should make sure their furry friends get vaccinations including:

  • Feline Panleukopenia Virus
  • Feline Herpesvirus-1
  • Feline Calicivirus
  • Rabies

Other recommended vaccines for kittens and cats include:

  • Chlamydophila felis
  • Feline Leukemia Virus

Also remember that dogs and cats need to see their veterinarian at least once a year even if your veterinarian recommends a three-year vaccination schedule for your pet. You should discuss recommendations with your veterinarian to tailor a schedule to meet your pet’s needs.


A lot of pet owners do not realize that grooming their pet is not just about appearance, but is also important to the pet’s overall health. Good grooming includes regular nail trimming, brushing, bathing and tooth brushing. Professional grooming is also recommended for dogs with longer coats.

Nail trimming is an essential part of basic care for any pet, regardless of its size or breed. Nails that are left alone can get overgrown, causing the nails to get caught and torn off. Overgrown nails can also get so long that they grow into the pads on the bottom of the animal’s foot. This overgrowth can even lead to an abnormal formation of the foot or splaying of the toes. Many larger dogs, particularly dogs that are walked on rough surfaces, wear down their nails on their own. However, it is important to remember to trim the nails of the dewclaws that do not get this regular wear. Most small breed and indoor dogs and cats do not get this regular wear either, so it is essential that these pets’ nails are trimmed regularly. If you are not comfortable trimming your pet’s nails, you can always have them trimmed by your veterinarian or groomer.

Regularly brushing your dog’s coat is important. Longer fur can easily get matted if it is not brushed out. Matting will worsen over time and can eventually cause skin irritation, infections and even difficulty with regular movement. Mats can also hide skin problems, masses and parasites. If you have a dog with longer fur, it is important to take your pet to a professional groomer on occasion to keep the pet’s coat in the best shape. Professional groomers can also help brush out all of the excess undercoat. Additionally, regular grooming decreases the amount of fur the pet sheds, which is an added benefit for your clothes and your home.

Bathing and tooth brushing are two things pet owners often overlook. Bathing is important to keep your pet’s skin from getting too oily. This is particularly important in dogs that are prone to skin problems and allergies. For dogs with environmental allergies, regular bathing decreases the number of allergens that are on the fur. Pet owners should only bathe their pets once or twice per week because extra washings can dry out the pet’s skin.

Every pet owner should try to incorporate regular tooth brushing into their pet’s routine a few times per week. Many dogs, particularly small breeds, suffer from gingivitis and tartar. Regular brushing can help prevent these dental problems. Tooth brushing can also potentially decrease the frequency that your pet will need a dental cleaning, a procedure that requires full anesthesia.