Never get in the middle of a fight between pets

Published 4:35 pm Monday, November 28, 2011

By DR. FRED SELF / Veterinarian

A common occurrence this time of year is what is known as “the family reunion.”

Family reunions can be a lot of fun. There are people we have not seen for a while and usually there are good foods.

But along with all the good things associated with reunions can also come some issues that cause stress. Not all members of the family get along and maybe there is an off hand comment made about how bad Aunt Sally’s potato salad tastes.

Suddenly a fun family time ends up with hurt feelings.

In the same way pets that go to family reunions can get their feelings hurt. One pet wants to sit on the couch and that happens to be where another family’s pet wants to sit. Or maybe food bowls are too close together. Regardless of the cause, when tempers flare the results can be disastrous.

The instinct that takes over when pets fight is to rush in and grab a pet and try and pull them apart. This instinct can get you hurt. Never get in the middle of a fight. Instead, come in from behind or use some object to break up the fight.

If you have no objects to use to break up a fight, grab one of the combatants by the back legs or hips.

Once you have a safe hold on the end away from the teeth you can drag the fighters apart. Again this is not the preferred option. However, if you can pull the pets apart using the tail end of their body you are less likely to receive any wounds yourself.

Other better options to break up a fight may be location dependent. For instance, indoor fights can be stopped by inserting a stiff broom into the space between the fighters. Folding tables and chairs can also be used to insert between fighting pets. Large water guns will also provide enough distraction to stop a fight without damaging the house.

Fights outside can be stopped with other means. A water hose directed at the fight often works. A well-aimed fire extinguisher can disrupt a fight. Lumber or limbs laying in the yard can also be used to separate fighters.

The key to stopping any fight between pets is to split them up and then keep them apart. The most important factor in this process is to never get in the middle of the fight.

Dr. Fred Self is a veterinarian at Shelbiana Animal Clinic in Columbiana, along with Dr. Charles Thornburg. You can reach them at 669-7717.