Vet clinic tips: Avoiding those awful pet fights

Park manners are very important in avoiding pet fights. Photo by Julien Sister

Park manners are very important in avoiding pet fights. Photo by Julien Sister

Vet clinics see all kinds of injuries that might have been avoided with the right information and approach. Pet fights are one such situation. Nobody likes to see their dog or cat involved in a fight with another animal. But fighting pets aren’t just a distressing thing to see, they also have ramifications for your family pet’s health and state of mind.

Some can be serious in nature. Others can be more like the spats found between kids. No matter the situation, it helps to prevent pet fights than sort them out as they happen.

Here are some of the ways you can avoid pet fights and avoid time in vet clinics dealing with the aftermath. 

Socialise and train your dog

Dog fights involve biting and scratching. This can lead to bruising, abscess, bite wounds and punctures and scarring that damage and weaken the skin. These injuries can also get infected and lead to complications such as blood sepsis or need surgical resection. Dog bites are usually very nasty with extensive damage to the surrounding tissues. What we may see as only a puncture wound on the skin can in actual fact sometimes be very complicated as damage to the underlying muscle layer is involved.

Psychologically, a dog fight can cause your family dog great anxiety. They may suffer from stress, PTSD and depression. The wrong kind of dog fight can make your dog fearful of other dogs and pets, people and places.

Training and socialising your dogs is a vital part of your exercise regime. Being able to walk on the lead or play in a park with other dogs well gives your dog freedom. That freedom needs to be accompanied with your dog listening to you when you talk, call and command them.

Not all fights happen due to poor manners. But your dog’s good behaviour helps them avoid altercations with other dogs. Especially if you spot problems they don’t and can call them away from trouble.

A couple of tips you can keep in mind when socialising your dog are:

  • Make time for Puppy School and reinforce the training at home by checking out our puppy training tips
  • Take advantage of Fox Valley Animal Hospital’s doggy day-care. It’s run at our vet clinic in Wahroonga by trained animal healthcare professionals. So we can spot and help your dog or puppy overcome common social anxieties as they play because we know the signs
  • Make walks and time spent out of the house fun for your dog. Dogs suffer from anxiety and social issues, too. So watch for signs your dog is and isn’t comfortable in certain situations and plan your activities accordingly. And don’t be embarrassed if your pet seems to have an issue. Vet clinics are here to help, not judge, any issues your pet may have. Physical, emotional, mental or otherwise.
  • Avoid picking up smaller dogs to correct behaviour. This sends the wrong message because your dog may think they receive an all body pat and a hug for showing anti-social behaviour. This may heighten their aggressive attitude- and get them into hot water if they display it to the wrong dog


Remember good manners when exercising off-leash

We cannot overstate the importance of leash and off-leash manners. We’ve got some great places in Turramurra, Normanhurst and Westleigh to exercise your dog. And their success comes with a focus on doing the right thing when out and about.

Be mindful that even if your dog is the happy-go-lucky Mayor of the Park, other dogs may not be. Dogs with anxiety and histories of abuse can get overwhelmed from too much attention. Your happy-go-lucky dog may also feel like the over-excited, loud guy at a party to other dogs. He might accidentally rub other doggies the wrong way without you realising.

A dog who feels under pressure may growl, bite or fight. So consider the other dog’s temperament as well as yours.

Make sure your dog also has your attention. You wouldn’t go to the playground with small children and let them wander out of sight. So please don’t let your dog disappear at the park either. Things can happen quite quickly in a park or beach when two dogs become entangled in an argument. So always make sure you stay within reasonable distance of your dog in case they need you.

And forget about your phone or the social media notifications. Keep your eye on your dog at all times. Enjoy the time you spend together without the distractions.

No more feline fight club

Cats think nothing fighting with other cats. Most of this behaviour happens at night when you cat’s nocturnal hunting instincts kick in.

Cats can injury themselves by taking on the wrong adversary. Again, these bites and scrapes can lead to damage to the skin, bruising and broken bones. Complications like abscesses are extremely common and can lead to surgical intervention and antibiotics.

De-sexing your cat not only reduces the chance of unwanted kittens needing re-homing, it also helps reduce the desire to roam. Not only that, the desire to fight is reduced because the instinct to fight for a mate is non-existent. Cats also become less territorial as a result.

Vet clinics like ours see a lot of heartache that can be easily avoided by de-sexing cats. Please make neutering your cat a part of your cat’s healthcare plan for their health and safety.

Cat lock-in laws in effect

There is no real reason for your cat or kitten to roam alone at night. The risk isn’t only from fighting other animals. Cats can get lost, trapped in places and hit by cars without you even knowing. That time spent outdoors in the dark alone increases the chance of serious injury.

And there is our local Wahroonga wildlife to consider. Cats do pose a significant risk to birds and wildlife through hunting. They also put themselves at risk of residents who don’t want to see cats injure many of the birds and animals native to Wahroonga and Turramurra. These residents may use deterrents (or worse) to keep your cat from causing death and injury with the local wildlife.

Don’t put our wildlife or your cat at risk at these kinds of fights and altercations.

Always make sure you:

  • Keep your cat indoors at night
  • They wear a bell or similar device to alert potential prey and impede successful hunting
  • Don’t take matters into your own hands with the neighbour’s cat if they do hunt at night. There is no justification for baiting, trapping or sling-shotting another person’s pet. A conversation between people will solve it far less dangerously

If your cat happens to hurt the local Wahroonga wildlife, you can use this blog as a guide as to what to do next.

Avoiding the rough and tumble rumbles

You can’t avoid all pet fights, but you can reduce the risk.

We’ll be taking a look at what you can do for multi-pet households in a few blogs time because we know not all pets get along. And we’ll look at how to break them up as safely as possible for you and your pet when fights do occur.

But the place to start is by teaching your family pet the right sort of manners. Training and socialising helps. As does desexing and ensuring your pet is properly housed and contained.

Got any tips of your own? Share them below! If you need any specific advice on any of the subjects covered above, call our vet clinic directly on (02) 9489 4805. 

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.