Why It’s so Hard to Cut Kitty’s Calories

By Dr. Karen Becker DVM


Estimates are that around 60% of cats in the U.S. are not only overweight, but obese. Owners of obese cats are often advised by their veterinarians to do the obvious — restrict the amount of calories kitty eats. However, this is apparently easier said than done, based on the low rate of compliance.
To try to answer the question of why it’s so difficult for cat parents to comply with recommendations to restrict how much their pets eat, scientists at Nestlé Purina Research set out to determine how much of an effect calorie restriction has on the feeding patterns of cats.
Specifically, “the objective of the present work was to better elucidate the impact of calorie cut-off on individual cat feeding behaviours, as well as on interactions between cats during food anticipation.”1
6% Reduction in Calories Has Dramatic Effect on How Cats Eat
For the study, the researchers assigned 80 domestic cats to two groups (40 per group) that were balanced for sex, age, weight, and body condition score. Cats being cats, several who “couldn’t adjust to their social group” were sent on their way, leaving 38 cats in the test group and 31 in the control group.
All the cats were fed the same commercially available diet on the same schedule. Canned food was the morning offering, kibble was served in the afternoon and overnight, along with very occasional treats. The test group of 38 cats was mildly calorie restricted (6%), which was accomplished by cutting off access to additional food when their allotted calorie intake was reached. All cats were monitored for 9 months, at which point the calorie restriction was ended.
The cats were free fed and typically consumed about 30% of their calories in the morning serving of wet food and 70% in dry food over the remainder of the day. However, the cats in the calorie restricted group quickly changed to rapidly consuming 70% of their calories in the first meal, leaving only 30% of their calories for the rest of the day. The cats in the control group, who continued to be free fed, didn’t change their eating behavior.
“While the control cats’ feeding behaviour remained unchanged throughout the trial, the study cats ate fewer but larger meals, came back faster to the food bowl after each meal, and ate their meals faster on the caloric restriction regimen compared to ad libitum feeding,” explained lead study author Séverine Ligout, PhD, in an interview with International Cat Care.
“However, one month after returning to ad libitum feeding, the study cats’ eating behaviours had returned to their baseline levels, showing that cats were able to readjust their feeding behaviours back to normal.”2
Calorie Restriction Also Increases Conflicts Between Cats
The researchers also observed an increase in conflicts between the calorie-restricted cats just before the first meal of the day. According to the researchers, it is likely linked to higher hunger and food motivation, since the cats have fewer calories to consume and they consume them faster, which leads to a longer period without food between the evening meal and breakfast the next morning.
The higher food motivation undoubtedly creates tension when several cats approach the food bowls for breakfast, leading to an increased likelihood of negative interactions. This behavior has been termed “irritability aggression” in other scientific studies and can be loosely compared to the hunger-driven irritability in humans known as “hangry” (a combination of hungry and angry).
“[The] conflicts consisted of avoidance of each other, one cat displacing another from a location by staring or approaching, lifting a paw in a threatening manner (i.e., as if to swat the other cat with its paw), and some cats actually made contact with another when swatting with their paws,” said Ligout.
“Thus, it looked like cats, just like us, are no strangers to the “hangry” (hungry + angry) feeling of hunger-driven irritability! Although no physical harm occurred during the study period, these interactions have the potential to impact negatively on the cats’ mental wellbeing and therefore welfare during the caloric restriction period, at least at actual feeding times.
These cats were housed in an enriched manner that allowed them to distance themselves from one another using space and physical structures, allowing them to avoid further conflict. In addition, their welfare was continually monitored throughout the study by veterinary professionals.”

Pet Parents Tend to Cave-in to Their ‘Hangry’ Cats
The researchers concluded that restricting the calories cats consume can change their feeding behavior significantly. Specifically, they eat larger meals faster, consuming their daily calorie allotment more quickly, which is outside the normal feline behavior of eating multiple small meals throughout the day.
So, while calorie restriction is a common strategy that humans employ when addressing feline obesity, from the cats’ perspective, it not only results in less food to eat, but also removes their sense of control over certain aspects of food availability and how much to eat.
Given that kitties like to feel in control of their living environment, it makes sense that they get “hangry” when their human attempts to restrict their food intake. According to the researchers, this leads to begging behavior, which then leads to lack of owner compliance.
Carnivores Fed Like Herbivores Results in Metabolic Confusion
Ideally, not allowing cats to free feed and become overweight is always the best advice when it comes to intentionally creating long-lived, disease-free cats. Cats, like other carnivores who remain well-muscled and lean throughout their lives, maintain innate metabolic flexibility when they’re at their ideal body weight and have periods of digestive rest in between meals.
Unlike carnivores, vegan animals (such as cows, goats and horses) need to nibble almost constantly to maintain their metabolic and physiologic wellbeing. The problem is when people feed their cats like goats, creating unhealthy and delicate metabolic butterflies that are prone to all sorts of health problems, especially when dieting.
As cats spend their days nibbling more and more, they can lose their ability to be sensitive to insulin and a variety of other metabolic hormones and end up with an overburdened liver and gallbladder and a sluggish and overworked digestive tract.
Many cats who nibble 24/7 lose their ability to effectively metabolize fatty acids at a normal rate, making them more metabolically fragile and prone to fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) if they skip meals. This is the exact opposite of how nature wired cats to be — resilient, athletic, stealthy hunters who stalk their prey and take long naps in between meals.
As guardians, we often unknowingly fail cats in all sorts of ways. We feed them far too much and far too often and we feed them ultraprocessed, high carb foods, which only fuels the problem. By the time we realize we’ve created hangry addicts, it can be really difficult to switch gears. If you find yourself in this position, working with an integrative feline veterinarian or health coach who can help you map out a strategic, safe and effective plan is the best approach.
Pro Tip: Encourage Hunting Behaviors at Mealtime
The researchers recommend strategies such as puzzle feeders and/or dividing food into multiple smaller meals to help mitigate “hangry” behaviors. This advice makes sense, as wild and feral cats are always on the move in search of their next meal.
Many domesticated cats, on the other hand, are free fed at the same location every day. The more you feed, the less interested your kitty is in “hunting” — which is good exercise — around the house. If the only time you see her in motion is when she’s walking to or from the buffet, she’s getting zero exercise.
My mom adopted two older, obese cats just over a year ago. We weaned them off kibble and onto raw food in a series of small steps and very slowly, so as not to create stress. They were free fed kibble their whole lives (hence the obesity), so first we transitioned them to scheduled feedings: 6 small meals a day. Then after a few weeks we reduced them to 4 meals and then 3 meals a day.
Next we transitioned them from dry to canned food (this took about a month), then weaned them from canned food to cooked commercial food (we used Smalls), then onto raw food. The entire process took over 3 months.
Lastly, we separated their daily food allotments into several small portions at dusk and dawn and placed them in different locations around the house for them to find (we feed them in separate parts of the house while they are “hunting” to make sure they don’t eat each other’s food). I recommend making use of indoor hunting feeders, which encourage natural feline behaviorsand provide mental stimulation as well.
Also consider putting food bowls or the hunting feeders at the bottom and top of as many flights of stairs as you have to encourage muscle-building exercise throughout the day.
A recent study suggesting cats may be healthiest being fed just once a day had many feline fanciers up in arms. If people suddenly cut meals for the majority of indoor, under-exercised, overfed cats all sorts of bad things can happen.
This study demonstrates the behavioral component of “dieting” cats and the correct assumption that the entire process of changing a cat’s food, food volume or feeding schedule is stressful and must be done very slowly (and patiently).

Pet Parents Tend to Cave-in to Their ‘Hangry’ Cats
The researchers concluded that restricting the calories cats consume can change their feeding behavior significantly. Specifically, they eat larger meals faster, consuming their daily calorie allotment more quickly, which is outside the normal feline behavior of eating multiple small meals throughout the day.
So, while calorie restriction is a common strategy that humans employ when addressing feline obesity, from the cats’ perspective, it not only results in less food to eat, but also removes their sense of control over certain aspects of food availability and how much to eat.
Given that kitties like to feel in control of their living environment, it makes sense that they get “hangry” when their human attempts to restrict their food intake. According to the researchers, this leads to begging behavior, which then leads to lack of owner compliance.
Carnivores Fed Like Herbivores Results in Metabolic Confusion
Ideally, not allowing cats to free feed and become overweight is always the best advice when it comes to intentionally creating long-lived, disease-free cats. Cats, like other carnivores who remain well-muscled and lean throughout their lives, maintain innate metabolic flexibility when they’re at their ideal body weight and have periods of digestive rest in between meals.
Unlike carnivores, vegan animals (such as cows, goats and horses) need to nibble almost constantly to maintain their metabolic and physiologic wellbeing. The problem is when people feed their cats like goats, creating unhealthy and delicate metabolic butterflies that are prone to all sorts of health problems, especially when dieting.
As cats spend their days nibbling more and more, they can lose their ability to be sensitive to insulin and a variety of other metabolic hormones and end up with an overburdened liver and gallbladder and a sluggish and overworked digestive tract.
Many cats who nibble 24/7 lose their ability to effectively metabolize fatty acids at a normal rate, making them more metabolically fragile and prone to fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) if they skip meals. This is the exact opposite of how nature wired cats to be — resilient, athletic, stealthy hunters who stalk their prey and take long naps in between meals.
As guardians, we often unknowingly fail cats in all sorts of ways. We feed them far too much and far too often and we feed them ultraprocessed, high carb foods, which only fuels the problem. By the time we realize we’ve created hangry addicts, it can be really difficult to switch gears. If you find yourself in this position, working with an integrative feline veterinarian or health coach who can help you map out a strategic, safe and effective plan is the best approach.
Pro Tip: Encourage Hunting Behaviors at Mealtime
The researchers recommend strategies such as puzzle feeders and/or dividing food into multiple smaller meals to help mitigate “hangry” behaviors. This advice makes sense, as wild and feral cats are always on the move in search of their next meal.
Many domesticated cats, on the other hand, are free fed at the same location every day. The more you feed, the less interested your kitty is in “hunting” — which is good exercise — around the house. If the only time you see her in motion is when she’s walking to or from the buffet, she’s getting zero exercise.
My mom adopted two older, obese cats just over a year ago. We weaned them off kibble and onto raw food in a series of small steps and very slowly, so as not to create stress. They were free fed kibble their whole lives (hence the obesity), so first we transitioned them to scheduled feedings: 6 small meals a day. Then after a few weeks we reduced them to 4 meals and then 3 meals a day.
Next we transitioned them from dry to canned food (this took about a month), then weaned them from canned food to cooked commercial food (we used Smalls), then onto raw food. The entire process took over 3 months.
Lastly, we separated their daily food allotments into several small portions at dusk and dawn and placed them in different locations around the house for them to find (we feed them in separate parts of the house while they are “hunting” to make sure they don’t eat each other’s food). I recommend making use of indoor hunting feeders, which encourage natural feline behaviorsand provide mental stimulation as well.
Also consider putting food bowls or the hunting feeders at the bottom and top of as many flights of stairs as you have to encourage muscle-building exercise throughout the day.
A recent study suggesting cats may be healthiest being fed just once a day had many feline fanciers up in arms. If people suddenly cut meals for the majority of indoor, under-exercised, overfed cats all sorts of bad things can happen.
This study demonstrates the behavioral component of “dieting” cats and the correct assumption that the entire process of changing a cat’s food, food volume or feeding schedule is stressful and must be done very slowly (and patiently).

The Dog Scoot is not the Dance you want to See!

By Dr. Karen Becker DVM

 

The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Canine Anal Glands

Your dog’s anal glands or sacs are small and oval-shaped and sit just inside the rectum on either side of the anus at about the 8:00 and 4:00 o’clock positions. They’re located within the muscle of the anal sphincter and the tiny openings to the ducts aren’t easily visible along the anal mucosal junction.

The glands secrete an oily substance with a potent odor that humans perceive as unpleasant, to put it mildly. This fluid may function as a territorial marker in the world of canine communication, allowing dogs to leave personal biochemical information for other dogs to investigate.

When your dog poops, if the stool is of normal consistency, the oily fluid is expelled from the anal glands through tiny ducts and onto the feces. Anal glands empty from the pressure of the stool as it passes through the rectum and anus. This is a useful design of nature, but unfortunately, today’s dogs often have loose stools or irregular bowel movements that don’t provide sufficient pressure against the anal glands during evacuation.

“Scooting,” as the behavior is affectionately called, signals an itchy or irritated backside. Once in a great while, the problem is caused by tapeworms or other parasites in which case there are usually other symptoms such as weight loss, poor coat or skin condition, a distended or painful abdomen, or diarrhea.

You might also see worm segments near your dog’s anus, but other parasites that cause an itchy anus and an irritated rectum are microscopic and require a stool analysis for correct diagnosis.

Scooting can signal a problem like a perianal tumor or irritation caused by diarrhea or a perineal yeast infection, but most often the reason is an anal gland issue. Your dog is dragging or scooting her bottom across the floor to try to relieve the discomfort of inflamed, infected or impacted anal gland(s).

Impactions, Infections, Abscesses, and Tumors

When a dog’s anal sacs malfunction, it’s most commonly a problem of impaction. This occurs when the oily substance builds up in the glands and thickens and isn’t expressed, resulting in enlargement and irritation of the glands. Anal gland infections are usually bacterial in nature and cause irritation and inflammation. As the infection progresses, pus accumulates within the anal gland.

An anal gland abscess is the result of an unaddressed anal gland infection. The abscess will continue to grow in size until it eventually ruptures. My recommendation for these extreme cases is to infuse the anal glands with ozonated olive oil or silver sulfadiazine (diluted with colloidal silver).

Anal gland tumors, classified as adenocarcinomas, are usually malignant. Occasionally anal gland tumors cause elevations in blood calcium levels, which can result in significant organ damage, including kidney failure.

Other contributors to anal gland problems can include obesity where there is insufficient muscle tone and excess fatty tissue, certain skin disorders, and infections. But in my experience, the three most common causes of anal gland problems in dogs are diet resulting in loose stools, trauma to the glands, or the position of the glands.

Cleaning Up Your Dog’s Diet

The unnecessary carbohydrates found in commercial pet food are allergenic and inflammatory, especially to your dog’s digestive system. The last part of your dog’s digestive tract is her rectum, anus and anal glands, which tend to be excellent indicators of food-related irritation.

If your dog is experiencing recurrent anal gland issues it means there’s systemic inflammation present and the first thing you should do is address the most logical causes of inflammation, the first step being food. Eliminate excess inflammatory foods from her diet, including all sources of grains and legumes. Stop feeding any food that contains corn, potato, legumes, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy.

I also recommend ordering a NutriScan test to identify food sensitivities, followed by a novel diet depending on the results of the scan. When a dog is having a reaction to something in her diet, her body needs a break from that food. After determining her food intolerance(s), my recommendation is to introduce a novel diet to promote healing. This means transitioning her to a different food she isn’t sensitive to made up of ingredients her body isn’t familiar with.

Unfortunately, many dog foods claiming to contain “novel proteins,” don’t. In addition, pet food mislabeling is a widespread problem, so if you’re planning to go with a commercially available processed novel diet, be aware it will almost undoubtedly contain ingredients you’re trying to avoid.

The very safest approach, especially for the first few months, is homecooked meals that allow you to control virtually everything that goes into your dog’s mouth. Second best is a human-grade commercially available fresh food containing an uncommon protein, produced by a company you trust.

A common reason for sudden anal gland issues is an episode of acute diarrhea. If there is suddenly no pressure from firm feces to expel the contents of the glands, secretions can accumulate quickly, leading to scooting.

If your dog’s poop is frequently unformed, soft, or watery, her anal sacs aren’t consistently getting the firm pressure they need to empty on a daily basis and recurrent scooting may be seen. Feeding a nutritionally optimal, species-specific diet will address both food sensitivities and intermittent poor stool consistency.

Adding probiotics, fiber (for example, 100% canned pumpkin or slippery elm powder) and digestive enzymes to her diet can also assist in creating consistently firm stools. Address an episode of loose stools immediately with these suggestions and a bland meal to correct the bowel imbalance before it creates anal gland issues.

If your dog has regular episodes of diarrhea, you need to investigate the root cause as soon as possible. The most common reason pets have poop issues are problems with their food. You can find an in-depth discussion of food sensitivities and the havoc they can wreak on your pet’s health here.

Has There Been Trauma to the Anal Glands?

Many injuries to dogs’ anal sacs are caused by well-meaning but misguided groomers, veterinarians, and even pet parents. Many groomers are in the habit of expressing the anal glands of every dog they groom, as a part of “included services,” along with cleaning ears and trimming nails.

Routine expression of healthy anal glands is unnecessary, unpleasant for both dog and human, and potentially harmful, so if you take your pet to a groomer, make sure to mention that no anal gland expression is necessary. Over time, regular manhandling of these little sacs can interfere with their ability to function as nature intended.

Some veterinarians offer anal sac expression as an included service for pets who are being anesthetized for some other procedure. In addition, many veterinarians immediately express the anal glands if the owner mentions their dog scoots now and then. This approach doesn’t identify or address the cause of the problem, only the symptom.

And then there are dog parents who feel it’s in their pet’s best interest to express their anal sacs on a regular basis. Just as manually draining other glands in your pet’s body is unthinkable, expressing healthy anal glands can create problems.

If your dog is having recurrent or chronic anal sac issues, it’s important to identify the root cause rather than repetitively treating the symptom by manually expressing the glands.

The anal sacs are delicate little organs that can be easily injured through squeezing and pinching. They were designed to function optimally without assistance. Trauma to the glands causes tissue damage and inflammation, which in turn causes swelling. Swollen glands can obstruct the exit duct through which the fluid is expressed. If blocked secretions build up and thicken in the glands, it can lead to impaction and anal gland infection.

Sometimes, the Problem Is Structural

Certain dogs have anal sacs that are located very deep inside their rectums. As stool collects in the colon, the pressure should cause the glands to empty. But if a dog’s anal glands aren’t adjacent to where the greatest amount of pressure builds in her large intestine, they won’t express properly.

This is a situation that may require surgery to correct because the location of the glands is dictated by genetics.

Final Thoughts

If your four-legged family member is having anal gland issues, your veterinarian should investigate thoroughly to determine the cause of the problem rather than just treating it symptomatically by manually expressing the glands.

It’s important to try to re-establish the tone and health of malfunctioning glands using a combination of dietary adjustments, homeopathic remedies, and natural GI anti-inflammatories. Sometimes manually infusing the glands with natural lubricants or herbal preparations can help return them to normal function.

The goal should be to resolve the underlying cause and return your pet’s anal glands to self-sufficiency. If your dog doesn’t have anal gland issues, I recommend telling both your groomer and your veterinarian to leave these little glands completely alone to avoid problems down the road.

 

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3 Remedies for Upset Stomach in Dogs

Diane Weinmann's HOPE

Katherine Smith, DVM, CVA, CVSMT

 When you have an upset stomach, you probably reach for ginger ale or crackers to settle your tummy. But what should you do when your dog’s stomach is out of sorts?

Here’s some information about the causes and symptoms of upset stomach in dogs and tips for how to make your pup feel better with natural remedies. 

Common Causes of Upset Stomach in Dogs

There are many reasons your dog may have an upset stomach, though there’s one common cause: they ate something they shouldn’t have, says Kathy Backus, DVM, at Holistic Veterinary Services in Kaysville, Utah.

“Dogs are curious like kids; they’re always putting things in their mouth,” she says. “Vomiting and diarrhea are signs that a dog’s body is trying to expel something that shouldn’t be in their system. In a healthy dog, it’s a protective mechanism of the body that’s totally normal.”

These are…

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Eight Annual Rainbow Bridge Sept 15

A loss of a pet can be heart-breaking.  Many wish they had a way to honor and remember that relationship.  The eighth annual Rainbow Bridge Walk on Sunday, September 15, provides an opportunity for pet owners who have lost a pet to come and pay tribute to their pets and the love they shared.

Mike Kovack, Medina County Auditor, is sponsoring the event at Buckeye Woods Park, 6335 Wedgewood Rd. (State Route 162) in Lafayette Township in Medina, with registration starting at 12:30 pm and the program starting at 1 pm.  Admission is free.

“We encourage anyone who has recently lost a pet to attend the walk,” said Kovack.  “Each year over 100 people who have suffered the loss of a beloved pet have found this ceremony to be a powerful benefit.”

The walk over the bridge at the park symbolizes the pet’s walk to a wonderful new home after it passes away and awaits its reunion with its owner.  

“It is comforting for attendees to be with others who understand the loss,” said Char Arthur, founder and coordinator of the Rainbow Bridge Walk. 

Attendees should feel free to bring other pets, but they should be on a non-retractable leash at all times. The event features a short memorial service, a pet blessing, various remembrance activities and a one-mile Tribute Walk. 

This year’s sponsors are All Creatures Vet Clinic, Animal Medical Centre, Awesome Paws, Barberton Animal Clinic – Wadsworth, Biegel’s Plumbing, Excellence in Eye Care, Medina Vet Clinic, Metropolitan Animal Hospital, Tender Loving Care.

For more information, to complete the requested registration form, to submit an online tribute, or view a video of the event, please log on to www.rainbowbridgewalk.com.

Contact: Beth Kilchenman 

Phone: 330-725-9756

Email: bkilchenman@medinaco.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

 

Why do Dogs Hide their Bones?

 

 

Dogs descended from wild canids. According to a study published in Science in November 2013, our dogs derived from a wolf population in Europe that has since become extinct. Early dogs never knew where their next meal would come from so the stashing behavior evolved. Their sensitive noses would lead them back to the hiding places when they wanted a snack. Any food item that is in excess of hunger at the time is a surplus that must be saved and not wasted.

Because of their ancestral background, burying or hiding bones and other items is a typical dog behavior, like sniffing and tail-wagging.  Just like the wolf that they decended from, their behavior is instinctual and goes back millions of years. It’s a food-saving technique that all dogs today are born having an instinct for, just as their wolf ancestors were. Before being domesticated, this was often a necessary behavior for dogs/wolves to ensure that they’d have adequate nutrition at times when food was scarce.

Even today, canines in the wild (such as foxes) will kill a small animal, feed on it until only the bones remain, then bury the bones to hide them from other animals looking for food. If their next hunt isn’t successful, they can return to the hiding spot and feed on the leftover bones from the previous hunt. The marrow from bones is rich in nutrients and will usually be sufficient nourishment until the next successful hunting expedition.

You might wonder why dogs may also hide their plastic chew toys, which obviously have no nutritional value. The reason is that, initially, dogs don’t realize that the toy is not food, and their instincts lead them to hide the toy when they’re not chewing on it, hoarding it as if it were spare food. A difference between domesticated and wild canines is that domesticated dogs don’t generally retrieve items they’ve hidden or buried, since they are consistently fed and don’t need to return for the hidden item.

The first time I witnessed this hiding the food trait in my dog is when I gave him a marrow bone outside.  He only held it for a minute in his mouth, went to the base of a large tree and began to dig a hole.  Since he is not a digger by nature (not destructive to the flower beds or yard) I watched, fascinated, as he dug his hole and drop his bone in.  He immediately used his nose to cover it up, pushing the dirt back over the bone.  He then came right back to where I was sitting on the patio, obviously pleased with himself and wanted to be petted.  I brushed all the dirt from his nose and said “Well I guess that was a waste of money”!  Since then, he has performed this ritual twice so I don’t give him those kind of bones outside anymore—however, it was highly entertaining!

 

 

 

Dog With These 2 Undesirable Behaviors?

By Dr. Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

faith-on-couch

I think one of the most difficult concepts for dog parents to grasp when it comes to training their canine companion is that punishment is typically ineffective, and it’s often counterproductive. In other words, you can make your dog’s behavior worse using punitive tactics. As veterinary behaviorist Dr. Valarie Tynes explains:

“When punishment is used incorrectly, it will appear unpredictable and confusing, so many pets become anxious or fearful around the owner that administers the punishment.

When punishment is used in an attempt to train an animal that is already afraid or anxious, [the] fear and anxiety are likely to worsen and may lead to aggression“.1

According to Tynes, three important rules must be met for punishment (correction) to be effective:

1. The punishment must occur every time the unwanted behavior occurs

2. The punishment must be administered within a second or two of the inappropriate behavior

3. The punishment must be aversive enough to stop the dog from repeating the unwanted behavior in the future but not be so aversive as to frighten the dog

Unless your dog is physically tethered to you (e.g., you have him on a leash and the leash is attached to you in some manner), it will be extremely difficult to be on top of him when he misbehaves, and within a second or two of his mischief.

In addition, in my experience it’s the rare individual who can deliver “just enough” punishment to train a dog not to repeat the behavior without frightening him, or conversely, without teaching him to simply ignore verbal commands.

In other words, it’s easy to over-deliver or under-deliver punishment. If you allow anger into the equation, it can result in both physical and emotional harm to your dog. The flip side of the coin is punishment that’s so wishy-washy and non-committal the dog learns to simply ignore you. As Tynes points out:

“Meeting all three of these criteria can be difficult. That’s why punishment often fails to solve behavior problems and should not be the first training method of choice. Positive reinforcement training, in which animals are rewarded for appropriate behaviors, is safer and more effective.”

I absolutely agree with this, and can’t stress strongly enough the importance of positive reinforcement behavior training, not only to help your dog become a good canine citizen, but also to preserve and protect the close and priceless bond you share with him. 

 

Diane’s theory is catch them doing something good and reward them for that!  I love this method and it really makes you pay attention to your pet and how many times they are displaying good behavior vs bad.  So make time each day to catch them doing something good then praise and reward them for it showing them in your mind what they are doing that is so wonderful!  This could be as simple as being good while you eat dinner, laying down next to the cat without tormenting him, not jumping on someone, or coming when called.

Why Punishment Fails, Example No. 1: Couch-Loving Dog

Tynes offers two examples of why punishment usually doesn’t work. In the first, a dog who isn’t allowed on the couch is routinely found there by her owner, who reacts by yelling and waving a rolled-up newspaper at the dog each time the behavior occurs.

The dog’s response is to get off the couch when she’s yelled at, only to return when her owner isn’t around. As Tynes points out, because the dog still gets on the couch when the owner is away, she’s being rewarded some of the time for her undesirable behavior.

Remember rule No. 1 above? “The punishment must occur every time the unwanted behavior occurs.” In this case, it’s not possible for the couch-surfing canine’s owner to be there to deliver punishment each and every time the behavior occurs, so the punishment doesn’t solve the problem long-term.

I’d venture to guess the vast majority of dog parents are in a similar predicament. Most people lead busy lives, and it’s simply not possible to keep an eye on the dog 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

In addition, punitive tactics delivered repeatedly have a way of escalating, because the dog parent grows increasingly frustrated that the punishment isn’t working. If the severity of the punishment increases, the dog may grow fearful of her owner, or a feistier dog may respond with growling or snapping.

Why Punishment Fails, Example No. 2: Jumping Dog

In Tynes’ second example, a dog greets people by jumping on them, and the owners’ response is to either knee the dog in the chest or kick him when he does it to them. As a result, the dog now avoids the husband because the kicking has caused him to be fearful. However, he still jumps on everyone else. As Tynes explains:

“Many dogs are highly motivated to greet people by getting close to their faces. In most cases, kneeing or kicking such a dog is less powerful than the dog’s desire to greet people by jumping on them.”

I think this is good information that can further your understanding of your dog’s motivation if he’s also a “jump greeter.” You know how some people greet everyone they meet with a big hug and a kiss? Seems there are dogs who are similarly inspired!

Back to the dog in the example — since not everyone he meets responds to his jumping with a knee or a kick (thank goodness), the punishment doesn’t meet rule No. 2 above: “The punishment must be administered within a second or two of the inappropriate behavior.”

It also doesn’t meet rule No. 3: “The punishment must be aversive enough to stop the dog from repeating the unwanted behavior in the future but not be so aversive as to frighten the dog.”

According to Tynes, this dog doesn’t always perceive kneeing as punishment, but rather often views it as reinforcement for his behavior because he’s getting attention (negative though it may be).

A Better Approach to Reclaiming the Couch

In the first example of the couch-loving dog, Tynes suggests blocking the dog’s access to the furniture whenever she’s home and unsupervised. A couple of options are crate training or confining her to another room in the house.

However, physically separating the dog from her beloved couch won’t teach her to stay off it, so I would suggest the crate or the separate room only while her owner is helping her learn what to do instead of getting up on the furniture.

Positive reinforcement behavior training is about showing your dog what you want her to do instead of the behavior you don’t want her to do. In this instance, the owner will need both a deterrent and an alternative behavior to teach.

An effective deterrent makes it uncomfortable for the dog to lie on the couch. Examples: a plastic cover over the couch (most dogs don’t like plastic), or one of those rubber carpet runners with the spikey side up.

Teaching the alternative behavior involves placing a comfy dog bed close to the couch, encouraging her with treats to lie down in it, and rewarding her each time she does. Once the dog learns to associate discomfort with the couch, and a yummy treat with lying in her own bed, the couch-surfing behavior should be gradually extinguished.

A Better Approach to Extinguishing Jumping Behavior

Kneeing a jumping dog or worse, kicking him as a form of punishment (or simply to keep him off you) is another example in which the dog isn’t learning a more acceptable behavior to replace the unacceptable one. In addition, you can cause injury to the dog and/or yourself using your knee or foot against him.

And there’s also the issue of unintentionally reinforcing the bad behavior because you’re paying attention to him when he jumps. This dog needs a replacement behavior that is equally motivating. Tynes suggests teaching him to sit to greet everyone. Sitting becomes the alternative behavior that gets rewarded with petting and/or a food treat.

While he’s being taught to sit to greet people, it’s important to stop reacting when he jumps on you. Turn your back, stand straight and ignore him. This is the opposite of what he wants (attention) and sends the message that you don’t welcome his exuberant jumping routine.

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training in 5 Simple Steps

The goal of positive reinforcement behavior training is to use very small-sized treats (pea-sized is good, and you can even use frozen peas if your dog seems to like them) and verbal praise and affection to encourage desired behaviors in your dog.

1. Come up with short, preferably one-word commands for the behaviors you want to teach your pet. Examples are Come, Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, etc. Make sure all members of your family consistently use exactly the same command for each behavior.

2. As soon as your dog performs the desired behavior, reward him immediately with a treat and verbal praise. Do this every time he responds appropriately to a command. You want him to connect the behavior he performed with the treat. This of course means you’ll need to have treats on you whenever you give your dog commands in the beginning.

3. Keep training sessions short and fun. You want your dog to associate good things with obeying your commands. You also want to use training time as an opportunity to deepen your bond with your pet.

4. Gradually back off the treats and use them only intermittently once your dog has learned a new behavior. Eventually they’ll no longer be necessary, but you should always reward your dog with verbal praise whenever he obeys a command.

5. Continue to use positive reinforcement to maintain the behaviors you desire. Reward-based training helps create a range of desirable behaviors in your pet, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence.

If your dog is displaying undesirable behavior and you’re not sure you can deal with it on your own, talk with your veterinarian, a positive dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist.  Additionally you can call me, Diane Weinmann, an animal communicator, to talk with your pet about the expectations of their behavior.

 Dog and Hand

Shock Wave Therapy for Pets

By Dr. Becker

shock-therapy

Recently a team of researchers at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, University of São Paulo, Brazil, studied the effects of radial extracorporeal shockwave treatment (rESWT) on dogs with hip osteoarthritis (OA).1 The study involved 30 dogs with bilateral hip OA (arthritis in both hips).

The dogs underwent three weekly shockwave treatment sessions on day one of the study, day eight and day 16. Their progress was evaluated using a special pressure walkway that allowed the researchers to measure peak vertical force, vertical impulse and symmetry.

The researchers also evaluated the dogs using a blinded visual analog scale. In addition, the dogs’ owners provided input on their pets’ level of physical activity, and the researchers collected follow-up data 30, 60 and 90 days after the first shockwave treatment.

At the end of the study, all three measures (peak vertical force, vertical impulse and symmetry) in the treated dogs had improved. The visual analog scale scores also indicated improvement in the dogs’ pain and lameness, and their owners reported improved physical activity levels and quality of life as well.

The study authors concluded that shockwave therapy has beneficial effects in dogs with hip OA. Further studies are needed to determine an ideal treatment protocol.

These study results confirm the conclusions reached in a 2007 Austrian study in which similar significant improvement in the same measures was seen in a group of 18 dogs with hip OA.2

Shockwave Therapy Explained

Many people hear the word “shockwave” and immediately think of an electrical jolt. But the shockwaves used in veterinary rESWT are high-energy sound waves (acoustic energy) that are directed to a target treatment area on an animal’s body.

The shockwaves trigger the body’s own repair mechanisms, which speeds healing and provides long-term improvement.

The technology uses electrohydraulic technology to generate shockwaves. The high-intensity sound waves interact with the tissues of the body, leading to a beneficial effects including:

  • Development of new blood vessels
  • Reversal of chronic inflammation
  • Stimulation of collagen
  • Dissolution of calcium build-up

This activity creates an optimal healing environment, and as the damaged area returns to normal, pain is alleviated and functionality is restored.

When shockwave therapy is applied to areas of non-healing tissue, it may trigger release of acute cytokines that stimulate healing. Accompanying pain relief may be the result of increased serotonin activity in the dorsal horn (located in the spinal cord).

Conditions Successfully Treated With rESWT

In addition to osteoarthritis, shockwave therapy can be beneficial in treating a variety of other disorders in canine companions, including:

✓ Hip and elbow dysplasia ✓ Painful scar tissue
✓ Degenerative joint disease ✓ Chronic back pain
Spondylosis Lick granuloma
✓ Tendon and ligament injuries ✓ Sesamoiditis (chronic inflammation of bones in the foot)
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease ✓ Chronic wound care
✓ Non-healing fractures ✓ Trigger points
✓ Delayed healing fractures ✓ Acupressure points

Additional Study Results of rESWT in Dogs

  • Of four dogs treated for non-healing fractures, three had significant improvement in bone healing following rESWT treatment.3
  • In a study of dogs with distal radial fracture non-unions (a break near the bottom of the front limb, just above the wrist joint), all dogs that received rESWT showed complete bone healing after 12 weeks, while no dogs in the control group achieved complete bony union.4
  • In a study of dogs with lameness resulting from soft tissue shoulder conditions, 88 percent showed improvement after shockwave therapy, with no surgical intervention.5
  • rESWT was also shown to significantly reduce distal ligament thickening in dogs with inflammation of knee joints following surgery for a CCL rupture.6
  • Shockwave therapy has proved beneficial in promoting the development of new blood vessels at the bone-tendon interface of the Achilles tendon in dogs.7

Currently, there are only unpublished case reports on shockwave therapy for treating chronic wounds in small animals. However, based on its mechanism of action, rESWT may prove valuable in managing skin flaps and difficult and chronic wounds.

What to Expect During and After rESWT Therapy

The equipment used in rESWT can be loud, and the treatment can be uncomfortable, so some animals require sedation. Since shockwave therapy is often used in combination with surgery, some patients may already be anesthetized at the time of treatment.

Treatment time depends on the strength of the shockwaves and the number of locations being treated. A common dose is 800 pulses per joint, which can be accomplished in under four minutes. Animals normally begin to experience pain relief within about 24 hours of treatment. Depending on the condition being treated, other types of pain management may be necessary as well.

When treating musculoskeletal conditions, therapy is recommended every two to three weeks for one to three treatments or until symptom improvement or resolution is achieved. Wounds are usually treated once a week for as many weeks as necessary. With arthritis patients, rESWT is typically repeated every six to 12 months as needed. Shockwave therapy should be used in conjunction with physical rehabilitation to return patients to full activity.

 

shock-wave-therapy

Do you know how to Bandage your Horse?

Diane Weinmann's HOPE

There are right and wrong ways to bandage horses’ limbs, no matter the wrap’s purpose

By Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM

wrap-polos-on-horse

At some point nearly every horse, from the fine-boned, flashy Arabian halter horse to the cowboy’s sturdy, no-frills roping mount, will sport a wrap or bandage on one or more legs. Just because we see bandages around the barn frequently doesn’t mean bandaging and wrapping are easy, and that bandages and wraps are interchangeable and always appropriate. Before you reach for the nearest roll of Vetrap or grab that splint boot out of your tack trunk, look at some of the basic principles behind bandaging or wrapping equine limbs.

Owners commonly apply bandages to shield recent wounds or tendon or -ligament injuries, to protect during shipping or performance, and to prevent fluid accumulation in the limb (“stocking up”) during stall rest. Reid Hanson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, professor of equine surgery…

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Do you know how to Bandage your Horse?

There are right and wrong ways to bandage horses’ limbs, no matter the wrap’s purpose

By Christy Corp-Minamiji, DVM

wrap-polos-on-horse

At some point nearly every horse, from the fine-boned, flashy Arabian halter horse to the cowboy’s sturdy, no-frills roping mount, will sport a wrap or bandage on one or more legs. Just because we see bandages around the barn frequently doesn’t mean bandaging and wrapping are easy, and that bandages and wraps are interchangeable and always appropriate. Before you reach for the nearest roll of Vetrap or grab that splint boot out of your tack trunk, look at some of the basic principles behind bandaging or wrapping equine limbs.

Owners commonly apply bandages to shield recent wounds or tendon or -ligament injuries, to protect during shipping or performance, and to prevent fluid accumulation in the limb (“stocking up”) during stall rest. Reid Hanson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, professor of equine surgery and lameness at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, in Alabama, adds topical dressing application, immobilization, and support to this list. However, bandaging and wrapping, while useful, are not wholly benign. Improper application and/or use of an inappropriate bandaging material can do more harm than leaving the leg unwrapped.

Architecture of a Bandage

Bandage design varies according to purpose, but most bandages include the same two to three layers:

·         Topical dressing, which might be a liniment, medicated pad, ointment, or powder. These are generally used in horses with injuries or skin conditions.

·         Thick cotton padding such as practical (roll) cotton, layers of sheet cotton, cast padding, or fabric quilt or pillow wraps.

·         Compressive/securing layer such as stable/track bandage, Vetrap, gauze, polo wrap, elastic tape, or stockinette.

Of course, veterinarians might modify or augment this basic structure to suit particular circumstances. They might recommend adding splints or bandage casts to provide immobilization in the case of a wound in a high motion area or with a severe tendon injury. As for protection, owners might use Velcro-style shipping boots, single-layer devices that provide skin protection but little compression. In contrast, some wraps and boots intended for performance might provide focal protection suited to a particular sport.

And some might not look like a traditional or prefabricated bandage at all. For some wounds, such as those in areas that are difficult or detrimental to immobilize or where topical medication application is the main requirement, Hanson describes a minimalist wound covering technique known as the “Jolly method.” This technique uses Velcro tabs to secure a wound dressing and a stockinette tube as covering.

wrap-horse-hock

Bandage and Wrap Uses

Wounds Owners and veterinarians commonly bandage limbs to protect wounds and surgical sites. A bandage can prevent contamination, provide compression to minimize swelling, hold topical medications against the wound, reduce motion of the wound edges, and keep the exudates (pus) in contact with the wound.

Although exudate triggers an “ick” response in many people, that yellowish slime serves a critical purpose in the healing process. “The exudate has all of the cytokines (cell-signaling proteins) that -produce healing,” says Hanson. Many horse owners “see exudate and assume (the wound) must be infected, and so they get their iodine scrub and clean it,” but Hanson cautions against this. By scrubbing a healing wound, “they’ve removed all the good juice that allows it to heal.”

Hanson prefers using an acemannan (an aloe vera derivative) wound cleanser that is gentle to the tissues. “You should not clean a wound with anything you are not willing to put in your eye’s conjunctival sac,” he notes as a rule of thumb.

Excessive swelling or motion of the wound edges can delay wound margin contracture, a major step in the healing process. A bandage that applies compression can help prevent fluid from accumulating in the limb in response to injury and reduce this swelling.

To reduce movement, however, the veterinarian might need to amend the basic bandage design. A standard soft wrap-type bandage often does not provide sufficient immobilization regardless of how thickly or firmly it is applied. Where immobilization is required, Hanson recommends using a splint or bandage cast.

For most limb wounds, Hanson suggests applying both a primary and secondary bandage. Once a veterinarian cleans and debrides the wound appropriately, Hanson recommends applying a medicated dressing (such as an acemannan hydrogel or calcium alginate dressing) as the primary bandage to promote autolytic debridement (use of the body’s own enzymes and moisture to liquefy and remove dead tissue). In most cases he will cover this dressing with a thick layer of padding and secure it with a wrap material. If the area requires immobilization he will then apply a secondary bandage, such as a splint or a semisoft bandage cast. Hanson prefers bandage casts over traditional hard casts because he believes they produce fewer complications, such as cast sores, and generally the horse can be sent home rather than having to remain in a hospital for monitoring.

Tendon or ligament injuries Wrapping legs with suspected or diagnosed tendon or ligament injuries has its pros and cons. A wrap can control swelling and provide some support to a leg with what Hanson refers to as a classic mid-tendon bow. “However, if the injury was the result of a bandage bow (caused by a too-tight or inproperly applied wrap), I probably would not use a wrap,” he says.

While these wraps generally do not require a dressing, pay attention to the bandage basics of using padding and applying even tension. Hanson does not believe placing a support wrap on an uninjured leg is necessary.

Julie Dechant, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, ACVECC, associate professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, comments that wraps alone do not give “enough support to provide true protection for tendon injuries. We certainly use (them), but in any severely damaged tendon a bandage alone is not enough support.” In these cases, says Dechant, a splint will most likely be required.

Shipping Owners can apply wraps and/or shipping boots to trailered horses’ legs both to protect the leg from trauma and provide support. Hanson notes that he sees horses arrive at the Auburn teaching hospital in one of two types of shipping wrap: the quilt and wrap type or a more modern shipping boot with Velcro closures. Overall, Hanson prefers the quilt and wrap style, feeling that it provides “support, compression, and protection.”

However, he notes that prefabricated shipping boots can provide more complete protection of the leg, covering the coronary band. “It seems that if someone was really concerned about protection, a combination of the styles might be best,” he says. “Bell boots that cover the coronary band are a nice addition to the (quilt and wrap) bandage if one is concerned with protecting that area from injury.”

Dechant believes that shipping boots are useful during travel, but owners need to be sure the boots fit well so they don’t trip up the horse. She agrees with Hanson that “if you’re only covering the cannon, (the boot or wrap) is not as useful in the trailer where the horse is more likely to step on itself.”

Dechant recommends getting the horse accustomed to having wraps or boots on his legs prior to shipping to avoid trauma from panicking in the confines of the trailer.

Confinement Owners can use standing wraps to minimize limb swelling in a stall-confined horse. Dechant says that “whenever standing wraps are placed, they need to be monitored daily and ideally reset at least once per day.” This way owners and managers can ensure the wrap is not tightening or loosening inappropriately and that no debris has worked its way inside the wrap, where it might cause a sore.

Performance Wraps, bandages, and boots are used in a wide variety of equine performance disciplines for protection and, in some cases, support. Dechant emphasizes the importance of clean, well-fitting, and situationally appropriate equipment. “It’s important to apply and use it in the intended manner,” she says. “Some wraps intended for performance are not meant for horses standing in the stall, where they may not have the same degree of blood flow.” Also, cautions Dechant, many performance wraps have less padding, so owners need to be aware of precise application with appropriate pressure.

Bandaging Demystified

Equine wraps and bandages are sort of like sushi: The menu of supplies is extensive, and everyone has an opinion about the “right way” to combine them. While it is true that inappropriate bandage application can cause as many problems as a well-applied bandage can prevent, following these common sense steps can result in successful bandaging:

1. Keep everyone safe. Preventing human injuries is just as important as treating or preventing equine ones. The person applying the bandage should avoid kneeling or sitting on the ground, says Dechant, and should instead crouch, ready to move out of the way if necessary. She also recommends having a competent handler hold the horse during the process. Bear in mind, too, that some horses initially resent wraps on the hind legs, especially over the hocks, so it’s best to apply these in an open area in case the horse kicks out.

2. Don’t skimp on the padding. “Insufficient padding is going to cause a bandage bow,” says Hanson. Padding should be clean, dry, and in reasonable shape, Dechant adds. Since the idea of the padding is to protect the leg, it’s important to avoid incorporating frayed bits of padding or fill that contains wrinkles or bunches–these can cause pressure points under a bandage.

3. Keep it even under pressure. Remember that “anything directly against the skin should not be applied with any tension at all,” Dechant says. But uneven tension in a bandage’s securing layers also can potentially cause tendon damage. “You want an even distribution of compression along the leg” with this layer, too, says Hanson.

“The key is to apply it firmly but not too tightly,” Dechant adds. If using Vetrap or a similar flexible bandage to secure the padding, she suggests applying enough tension to remove 80% of the wrap’s innate “wrinkles.” She also stresses the importance of overlapping layers of bandage by 50% to avoid having edges of the wrap material dig into the leg.

Using a neatly and tightly rolled bandage will ease application and reduce the need to pull against the horse’s leg and sensitive tendons to tighten the wrap. This will also help ensure the bandage is as smooth against the horse’s leg as possible to avoid uneven pressure.

4. Choose your own direction. Despite barn lore to the contrary, neither sources believe the direction a wrap is applied is critical. “Counterclockwise vs. clockwise is less important than technique,” says Dechant. “I don’t think the tendons care if they’re rolled to the outside or to the inside. However, each layer should be rolled the same (direction).” Hanson agrees with Dechant, noting that he hasn’t come across anything in literature to suggest wrapping in one direction or the other is superior. It is, however, important to be consistent in your technique and not to pull too tightly across the tendons.

5. Keep it clean. Shavings, straw, dirt, and moisture can irrate the skin and increase the risk of a wound becoming infected. Start with clean, dry materials and check the bandage frequently for damage, dirt, or moisture. To seal out debris, Dechant recommends securing the top and bottom of a disposable-type wrap with elastic tape such as Elastikon.

Take-Home Message

Bandages and wraps have numerous uses in the horse world but like many things, they can cause good or ill. Proper materials, application, and devices for the case at hand are all critical to safe and successful bandaging. Equally important is experienced instruction, as the information in this article can in no way replace a veterinarian’s experience and advice.

 

Service Animals Provide Help in Many Ways

 

 

service dog for blindService animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets; although they are loved by their owners just as much, if not more, than a non-working beloved fur family member!

The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

Service dogs help with performing a function for a person that is limited by a disability. Mobility issues, visual impairment (blindness), hearing impairment (deafness), seizures, diabetes, PTSD, autism, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), and other physical/mental disabilities.

Service dogs are dogs that have been individually trained to perform a specific task for individuals who have disabilities. The disabilities can vary greatly, and so do the tasks that the service dogs perform.

Service dogs can aid in navigation for people who are hearing- and visually impaired, assist an individual who is having a seizure, calm an individual who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and even dial 911 in the event of an emergency. Many disabled individuals depend on them every day to help them live their everyday lives. Consequently, these animals, when encountered in public, should not be talked to, petted or otherwise diverted from their tasks by well-meaning people. I know it kills me to not talk or reach down to pet a service animal to tell them they are doing a great job but when you think of how that interaction could affect the animal in their line of duty – I stop dead, walk away smiling and offer up a prayer instead for their health and diligence to their owner. Service dogs are under the protection of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Service dogs are protected under federal lawservice dog with cripple

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an individual with a disability is entitled to a service dog to help them live their lives normally. The ADA protects disabled individuals by allowing them to bring their service dog with them to most places that the public is permitted, including restaurants, hotels, housing complexes, and even in air travel. Any dog can be a service dog, and service dogs do not have to be professionally-trained. The important thing is that the dog is trained to be a working animal and not a pet.

Under the ADA, service animals must be harnessed, leashed, or tethered, unless these devices interfere with the service animal’s work or the individual’s disability prevents using these devices. In that case, the individual must maintain control of the animal through voice, signal, or other effective controls.

 

Identifying service dogs for the public

Service dogs are often identified by wearing a service dog vest or tag, letting the public know that it is a service dog; otherwise, their handlers will find themselves having to explain everywhere that they go that their dog is a service dog. Some businesses, such as airlines, prefer to see an identification card or vest that indicates that the dog is a service dog.

The Americans with Disabilities Act has a specific definition of a disability, and it states essentially that a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual.

List of Disabilities

A disability can take many forms, including bodily functions such as those of the neurological, respiratory, digestive, circulatory, and reproductive systems.

Here is a list of some disabilities that individuals may have that may be helped by having a service dog:

  • Mobility Issues (Including Paralysis)
  • Sensory Issues (Blindness, Hearing Loss, etc.)
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Cancer
  • Autism
  • Epilepsy
  • Bone and Skeletal (Such as Osteoporosis, Scoliosis, etc.)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Emotional Support Dogsservice dog for army

Emotional support dogs help individuals with emotional problems by providing comfort and support. Anxiety, depression, bipolar/mood disorders, panic attacks, and other emotional/psychological conditions. The law protecting this type of animal is the Fair Housing Amendments Act & Air Carrier Access Act. Emotional support dogs are dogs that provide comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform any specific tasks for a disability like service dogs are. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder/mood disorder, panic attacks, fear/phobias, and other psychological and emotional conditions.

Emotional support dogs are protected under federal law

Under the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), an individual who meets the proper criteria is entitled to an emotional support dog to assist them with their life. The FHAA protects individuals by allowing their emotional support dog to live with them (even when there are no pet policies in place). The ACAA protects individuals by allowing the emotional support dog to fly with them in the cabin of an airplane (without having to pay any additional fees). Any dog can be an emotional support dog, and emotional support dogs do not have to be professionally-trained.

A Medical Recommendation is Required

You are required to have a letter from a doctor or mental health professional recommending that you have an emotional support dog for your condition. You may be asked to present this letter by airline staff when flying or by your landlord when renting a home.

Identifying emotional support dogs for the public

Emotional support dogs are often identified by wearing an emotional support dog vest or tag, letting the public know that it is an emotional support dog; otherwise, their handlers will find themselves having to explain that their dog is an emotional support dog. Some businesses, such as airlines, prefer to see an identification card or vest that indicates that the dog is an emotional support dog.

List of Disabilities

An emotional support dog can assist with various kinds of mental and emotional conditions.

Here is a list of some mental and emotional conditions individuals may have that may be helped by having an emotional support dog:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Mood disorder
  • Panic attacks
  • Fear/phobias
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Suicidal Thoughts/Tendencies

Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs provide affection and comfort to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. All breeds are accepted. Therapy dogs are dogs that are used to bring comfort and joy to those who are ill or under poor conditions, such as those who have been affected by a natural disaster. Many people are able to connect with dogs and feel the love that they provide, and this has a therapeutic effect on them. Therapy dogs are generally very calm and well-behaved, so that they do not upset or make uncomfortable those around them. They generally do not have any special training and are not trained to perform specific tasks for a disabled individual like a service dog.

 

A doctor’s letter is not required to have a therapy dog. Since therapy dogs are not covered under any specific federal laws, permission would have to be given from each place that a therapy dog is to be taken. Many places are welcoming to therapy dogs if the dog is trained and obedient, does not pose a threat to others, can benefit those present at the facility, and does not adversely affect the facility’s operations.

As you can see whether they are a service, emotional or therapy dog, these animals provide an important job in many people’s lives.  They enrich the lives of those with disabilities and enable them to be contributing members to society.  God bless the animals and their role in our lives, they deserve our admiration and respect!

 

Summary of Basic Information About Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs

Copyright US Service Dogs 2013. All Rights Reserved. | US Service Dogs is not affiliated with the ADA or any government agency.

Service Dog Emotional Support Dog
General If you have a disability (a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual) then you are entitled to a service dog to do work or perform tasks for you If you have a mental or psychiatric condition, you may have an emotional support dog if it is recommended by your doctor/mental health professional.
Laws Protecting You Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Fair Housing Amendments Act Air Carrier Access Act
Partial List of Disabilities Mobility issues, visual impairment (blindness), hearing impairment (deafness), seizures, diabetes, PTSD, autism, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), and other physical/mental disabilities Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and other emotional/psychological conditions
Eligible Breeds/Sizes of Dogs All breeds and sizes are acceptable All breeds and sizes are acceptable

service dog with wheel chair