Does Saying Goodbye Help Prevent Dog Separation Anxiety?

By: Dr. Wailani Sung and comments by Diane Weinmann

Are you one of those dog owners who says goodbye to your pets as you walk out the door? Don’t be embarrassed—you are not alone.

 

Why do many dog owners feel the need to say goodbye or tell their dogs that they will be back?

 

Pet parents will say goodbye to their pets mostly because it is part of our human culture to notify our family of our imminent departure or to let them know when to expect us back.

 

But the question is, does your dog care if you do or don’t? Find out if it means anything to your dog, whether it actually makes things worse, and what you can do about dog separation anxiety.

 

Does Your Dog Need You to Say Goodbye to Him?

 

Research on dogs suffering from separation anxiety has indicated that dogs know well in advance when their owners are going to leave.

 

You may not realize that you are projecting your pending departure as you prepare to leave—well before you say “goodbye.” Most people will put their shoes on, grab their jackets, pick up a bag or purse and keys, and head towards the front door.

 

Some owners may put out special dog toys or treats for their dog right before they leave. These are all signals that tell your dog that you are going to leave.

 

Other pet parents will go through elaborate displays of affection such as hugging their dogs and/or kissing them and telling them they love them and will be back.

Animal communicators can tell you that your dog can read what’s in your head and that’s how they know you are going on vacation or to the grocery store.  Granted, picking up coats, keys and locking doors are outward indicators that you are leaving but for the most part, your dog can be sleeping in a bedroom on the bed completely away from visually seeing you perform these tasks and they will still know you are leaving—that’s how they miraculously show up as you are leaving the house!

 

Every dog’s reaction to their owner’s departure will vary according to their personality. It is not unusual to hear dogs vocalize after their owners leave. Some may whine, bark or howl briefly as the owners leave and, within a few minutes, settle down.

 

These dogs are exhibiting contact-calling behavior, which is a series of vocalizations some social species will use to try to contact other members of the group that may have wandered off beyond the immediate area. Dogs will typically demonstrate this behavior with barking or howling; it’s like they are saying, “Hello, are you there?”

 

Some dogs may even scratch at the door or run to the window to watch their owners leave.

 

The majority of dogs appear to tolerate their owners’ absence with minimal drama. However, 14-29 percent of the dog population may suffer from owner-separation-related distress.

 

For a dog with separation anxiety, making the departure and return greeting routine very exciting and dramatic may enhance the dog’s anxiety when they are all alone.

 

How to Know If Your Dog Suffers From Separation Anxiety

 

Most pet parents rely on signs that something’s amiss in their home—such as scratches on the door, items that are chewed up, or evidence of house soiling—to detect separation anxiety. If they do not see anything amiss, they usually think that their dogs were fine.

 

Some people may not find the house torn apart but may later hear from their neighbors or landlord that their dogs were vocalizing intensely when they first left or throughout the entire length of their absence.

 

If you are unsure whether your dog suffers from separation anxiety, record his behavior for 15-20 minutes after your departure using a device such as the Petcube Bites Wi-Fi pet camera or Pawbo+ Wi-Fi interactive pet camera. You can also use the camera on your computer or leave your phone behind to record their activity.

 

It is really important that you actually walk out the door, lock it, and walk or drive away. The dogs will know if you are just pretending to leave because they won’t hear the familiar indicators, such as your footsteps fading away or the start of the car engine.

 

Then you can review your dog’s behavior and show the recording to your veterinarian or a trainer or behaviorist. Dogs suffering from separation anxiety will exhibit the most intense anxiety and distress during the first moments the owners are absent.

 

Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs

 

If your dog does not appear to get upset after you have left, then you can continue to say goodbye to them when you leave.

 

If you have determined that your dog does get upset in your absence, it is best to seek professional help right away. They can help determine whether your dog is suffering from mild, moderate or severe separation anxiety.

 

Mild Separation Anxiety

 

Dogs that show some mild anxiety may be less upset if they receive long-lasting dog treats, like WHIMZEES Stix dental dog treats, or if they have to work for their favorite treats in a dog puzzle toy, like the Milk-Bone Active biscuit-dispensing ball.

 

Moderate to Severe Separation Anxiety

 

For dogs that exhibit a moderate to severe level of anxiety, it is best to downplay your departures by not saying effusive goodbyes or greeting them excitedly when you return home.

 

A board-certified veterinary behaviorist can provide a diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan that includes immediate management options, behavior modification exercises and the potential use of anti-anxiety medication, if warranted.

 

Other educated dog professionals, such as Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (CAAB) can also help but will not be able to make any recommendations regarding pet behavior meds.

 

Dogs that become so upset that they exhibit panicked behavior that may cause injury to themselves or damage the house might need prescription pet medication. In some cases of severe separation anxiety, injuries have included dogs breaking their teeth, pulling out toenails, jumping out of windows, or chewing holes through the walls.

 

When the owners do not have other options, such as the use of daycare or a pet sitter, medication can sometimes help to decrease the dog’s anxiety so that they can tolerate being left home alone.   Also, holistic avenues should be explored such as Bach Flower Essence Rescue Remedy and essential oils such as Calm-A-Mile by Dr. Melissa Shelton DVM to bring relief to your pet!

 

The distress these dogs experience is a mental health crisis. The quicker the problem is addressed, the better the prognosis.

 

 

 

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Dementia Symptoms Increasing in Older Dogs

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Not many years ago, people with aging dogs focused only on keeping their pets healthy from the neck down, forgetting that such issues as weight control, possible arthritis and major organ support only go so far if their dog’s brain health is overlooked. Including your dog’s brain health in the overall picture is even more important as they get older, especially since more and more reports are emerging that show a “startling” number of older dogs starting to show signs of dementia.

According to veterinarian Melissa Bain, professor of Clinical Animal Behavior at UC Davis, canine cognitive dysfunction, or CCD, usually starts when the animals reach 9 or 10 years of age, and there are five typical signs that point to a dog’s cognitive decline:

  • Loss of house training or other previously acquired knowledge
  • Changes in sleep habits and reversed sleep cycles, e.g. sleeping all day
  • Failure to recognize their owners or other pets in the household
  • Anxiety in the form of excess panting, shivering, moaning and/or nervousness
  • A decrease in purposeful activity

Dog owners should also know about other signs to watch for. Witnessing certain behaviors may help you recognize something is happening with your dog’s cognitive abilities, especially if you’ve never seen them before. Examples that may indicate CCD, otherwise known as geriatric dementia, include:

  • Getting lost in the house
  • Getting stuck behind furniture
  • Becoming overly aggressive

Vetstreet1 notes other signs that indicate something might be wrong; such as noticing your dog staring at walls for long periods of time, repetitive behaviors like walking in a circle or pacing, changes in hearing and vision, and/or vocalizing at inappropriate times. My ancient Boston terrier, Rosco (over 18 years old in this picture), would often get “stuck” in the narrow space between the toilet and the wall and was unable to navigate himself out without assistance, a common sign of CCD in older dogs.

One of my friends has a 14 year old golden retriever who is just beginning to show signs of geriatric dementia.  He normally doesn’t leave her side—no need for a leash but just recently he wondered down the drive way and started walking down the sidewalk seemingly confused.  She called him and asked where he was going.  He seemed to come out of a fog, looked at her and realized he was leaving the yard then came back to her.  This is an example of the type of behavior you can experience when your dog begins geriatric dementia.

What Causes Canine Cognitive Dysfunction?

Helping your companion animals maintain bright, strong brain function throughout their senior years is even more important as you start noticing changes. If changes look as if they’re a mental or behavioral problem, it may actually be physical. Three main signs of age-related changes in dogs that cause gradual impairment stem from three main contributors:

  • Oxidative stress from free radical damage is physiological and impacts your dog’s brain tissue more than any other parts of their body, and can be evidenced both by decreased cognitive function as well as nerve disease, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
  • The formation of lesions on the brain may include nerve-damaging beta amyloid deposits, proteins that form “senile plaque” buildup that interferes with the transmission of brain signals.
  • Alterations in brain metabolism can diminish due to decreased availability of oxygen and energy, at least in part due to environmental stressors, including your dog’s diet.

Although human and canine brains are significantly different, they have remarkably striking similarities both anatomically and physiologically, and the way the diseases manifest themselves appear “almost identical,” Washington State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital explains further:

“More, dogs’ brains react to dementia treatments exactly as human brains do, making them ideal human dementia testbeds. As with human dementia, causes of CCD are not well known.

But accumulations of sticky proteins called beta-amyloid plaques around neurons, and the breakdown of neurons resulting in so-called neurofibrillary tangles, are considered leading causes. As in humans, both phenomena impact the brain by interrupting nerve impulse transmission.”2

Studies estimate that more than 60 percent of dogs between age 15 and 16 can show at least one symptom of CCD, but according to Bain, one reason more dogs have been showing signs of mental aging in recent years is simply because dogs are living longer due to advances in veterinary medicine.3

 

Danish Study: ‘Support’ Is Key for Dogs With CCD

A Danish study during which 94 dogs 8 years of age were investigated with a CCD questionnaire and observational sleep studies, subsequently published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, notes that vitamin E was investigated as a potential marker of CCD. The researchers reported:

“Four key clinical signs dominated in dogs with CCD: sleeping during the day and restless at night, decreased interaction, disorientation at home, and anxiety … CCD did not influence survival negatively. Small breeds did not show better survival than large breeds and there was no difference between sexes.

A few key questions addressing sleep-wake cycle, interaction, and signs of confusion and anxiety can be used as a clinical marker of CCD. Special attention should be paid to anxiety in dogs with CCD because it may be especially stressful to both dog and owner. Dogs with CCD seem to have a good chance of living a full lifespan if supported by the veterinarian and the owner.”4

Significantly, most veterinarians are becoming more aware of CCD and asking questions earlier rather than later in the lives of the dogs they treat, but some experts maintain that as many as 80 percent of older dogs have CCD that is both unrecognized and undiagnosed.5

How a Dog’s Diet Influences His or Her Health, Including Cognitive Health

Rather than assuming it’s an age-related cognitive issue, investigating the underlying cause of what appears to be CCD with the help of a professional veterinarian is important, especially if the dog in question is young, such as 5 or 6 years old.

To view the overall picture of your dog’s health, Bain says taking a look at their diet may be a significant key. I couldn’t agree more. She also notes, “There could be anything from hypothyroidism to urinary tract infections to blindness to deafness that all can mimic the signs of canine cognitive dysfunction.”6

These and other physical problems can be addressed to the greatest degree by providing a balanced, fresh food diet that includes “brain food” coming from omega-3 fatty acids, such as krill oil, MCTs coming from coconut oil and plenty of food-based antioxidants (only found in fresh fruits and vegetables), which are crucial for cognitive health.

You may also be surprised to learn that aging dogs require more rather than less protein, but it should come from quality sources and include a variety of living, whole, easily-digestible, moisture-rich fresh meats that are suitable for a carnivore. Animal meat should be the foundation of your healthy dog’s diet throughout his life.

In some cases, a species-appropriate diet for your dog is also about what should be eliminated. Unfortunately, many commercial dog foods are loaded with processed ingredients, such as refined carbohydrates that turn to sugar.

Also, eliminate grains, potatoes and legumes in your aging dog’s diet and pay attention to the amount of fiber your dog consumes, as it’s often just unnecessary filler, displacing crucial meat-based protein your aging dog requires. Additionally, the byproducts of high heat processing, known as advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, negatively impact the aging process and may play into premature cognitive decline.7

Needless to say, exercise and lots of time outside is also important for dogs of any age. It not only keeps their blood pumping, but keeps them limber and enhances detoxification. Additionally, one of the most important aspects of maintaining cognitive health in aging humans is social interaction, but it’s also true for dogs.

Exposure to other humans besides his or her immediate family is helpful, and being around other animals is beneficial for them, as well. Continuing mentally engaging exercises on a daily basis is also important, including fun nose work games and treat release puzzles.

One of the most important things for dog owners to do is work with an integrative or functional medicine veterinarian early on in the disease process. I was able to manage my dog’s age-related dementia very well because I addressed it immediately, as soon as symptoms became noticeable.

Proactive vets have been using nootropic supplements for pets (used to enhance memory and brain health) for years, including specific B vitamins, rhodiola, phosphatidylserine, lion’s mane mushroom and a variety of specific brain-supportive herbs.

 

Spaying and Neutering Dogs 101: Everything You Need to Know

Reviewed for accuracy on January 8, 2019, by Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM as seen on PetMD

Spaying or neutering is one of the most responsible ways dog owners can care for their pet. First-time dog owners are likely to have many questions about spaying and neutering procedures, from the risks involved to how much they will cost. Here are some answers to the most common questions that pet parents have about the spay and neutering process.

 

What’s the Difference Between Spaying and Neutering?

 

Spaying a dog refers to the removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs, while neutering refers to the procedure that’s done for males.

 

When a female dog is spayed, the vet removes her ovaries and usually her uterus as well. Spaying renders a female dog no longer able to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle. Typically, behavior related to breeding instincts will cease, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), but this is not always true for every dog.

 

The procedure is also known as an ovariohysterectomy (where both uterus and ovaries are removed) or an ovariectomy (where only ovaries are removed). Both surgeries are equally safe and effective.

 

When neutering a dog, both testicles and their associated structures are removed. This procedure is also known as castration. Neutering renders a male dog unable to reproduce, but any behavior related to breeding instincts, like humping, usually ceases—but not always, says the AVMA. This may depend on the age of the dog and other factors.

 

Alternative procedures, like vasectomies for male dogs (the severing of the tubes that conduct sperm from the testes), are available but not commonly performed.

 

Why Spay or Neuter?

 

Animal shelters around the country are filled with unwanted puppies and dogs. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that approximately 6.5 million animals enter the shelter or rescue system annually. Of those 6.5 million animals, only an estimated 3.2 million find their way out of the shelter or rescue and into a home.

 

Spaying and neutering reduces the number of unwanted litters, which, in turn, helps to reduce the number of unwanted pets or stray animals that enter shelters or rescues.

 

These procedures also have specific health benefits that can help a dog live a healthier, longer life, and they may reduce behavioral issues. Spaying a dog helps prevent serious health problems, including mammary cancer and pyometra, a potentially life-threatening uterine infection, says Carolyn Brown, senior medical director of community medicine at the ASPCA.

 

Neutering male dogs helps keep them from developing testicular cancer, Brown says. Neutered male dogs are also generally less aggressive and less likely to stray from home. This helps keep them safe because they are less likely to get into fights or be hit by a car.

 

On the other hand, some diseases, like prostatic cancer and certain orthopedic conditions, are slightly more common in dogs who have been spayed or neutered. For most pet parents, however, the pros of spaying and neutering their dogs outweigh the cons.

 

When Should You Spay or Neuter Your Dog?

 

The traditional age for spaying or neutering a dog is between 4 and 6 months, although a spay clinic or shelter may safely spay or neuter dogs as young as 2 months old, says Brown. However, “each individual owner should discuss their specific circumstances with their personal vets,” recommends Brown. Several factors can influence the timing of spaying and neutering.

 

For example, a dog’s breed can make a difference. Research has shown that larger dog breeds tend to mature a little later than their smaller counterparts, explains Brown. An animal’s living situation may also be a consideration.

 

For example, a male and female from the same litter who are adopted into the same home should be spayed and neutered earlier, before the female goes into heat, Brown says. On the other hand, there’s less urgency to spay or neuter if the puppy is the only intact dog living in the house, she adds.

 

Most veterinarians recommend spaying a female dog before her first heat cycle. This varies but occurs somewhere between 5 and 10 months of age. Spaying before the first heat cycle greatly reduces her risk of developing dog mammary (breast) cancer.

 

For male dogs, adult size is an important factor. Small and medium male dogs are generally neutered earlier—around 6 months of age—while your veterinarian may recommend waiting until a giant breed puppy is a year or more before neutering.

 

But before a dog is spayed or neutered, it’s very important that the vet, whether at a private practice, a spay/neuter clinic or a shelter, give the animal a complete checkup to ensure he or she has no health issues, Brown points out. The pet’s owner should also provide a full medical history, because underlying conditions or current prescription pet medications could be relevant, she says.

 

Recovery From Spay and Neuter Surgery 

 

Dog owners can help their pets have safe and comfortable recoveries after being spayed or neutered by following some precautions recommended by the ASPCA:

 

  • Keep the dog inside and away from other animals during the recovery period.
  • Don’t let the dog run around and jump on and off things for up to 2 weeks after surgery, or as long as the vet advises.
  • Ensure the dog is unable to lick their incision site by using a dog recovery cone (popularly known as the “cone of shame”) or other methods, as recommended by the vet.
  • Check the incision every day to make sure it’s healing properly. If redness, swelling, discharge or a foul odor are present, contact your vet immediately.
  • Don’t bathe the dog for at least 10 days post-surgery.
  • Call the vet if the dog is uncomfortable, is lethargic, is eating less, is vomiting or has diarrhea.

 

Brown also recommends discussing pain management with the vet before the procedure is done to be sure that pet pain medication is sent home with the dog. Pain medication may or may not be needed, but it’s best to have on hand just in case, she notes.

 

A good way to gauge a dog’s recovery is that if the dog is comfortable and energetic enough to play, he or she is probably doing okay, says Dr. Marina Tejeda of the North Shore Animal League America’s SpayUSA based in Port Washington, New York.

 

However, a playful dog is not license to allow her to run around before she is fully healed. Feeling like her usual self is just evidence that your dog is on her way to recovering.

 

Is Spay and Neuter Surgery Risky?

 

Spay and neutering are common surgeries, but there’s always some degree of risk involved for animals undergoing surgery and with general anesthesia, according to the AVMA.

 

Dogs should be given a thorough physical exam to ensure their general good health before surgery is performed. Blood work may be recommended to ensure that the dog has no underlying health issues, says Dr. Tejeda. Liver and kidney issues and heart murmurs may require further investigation, she notes.

 

What Are Some Misconceptions About Spay and Neuter Procedures?

 

A number of misconceptions about spaying and neutering dogs persist. One of the most popular beliefs is that a sterilized dog will get fat. Not true, as long as dog owners provide the proper amount of exercise and dog food, notes Brown of the ASPCA.

 

Dogs do tend to need fewer calories (by about 20 percent) after being spayed or neutered, but changing their diet appropriately and keeping them active will prevent weight gain.

 

Another misconception is that spaying or neutering a dog will change a dog’s personality. That’s not true, either. “It shouldn’t change their behavior much at all,” Brown says. If anything, it may help stop unwanted behaviors such as marking in the house.

 

What Does It Cost to Spay or Neuter Your Dog?

 

The cost of spaying or neutering a dog varies widely by geographic area as well as the size of the dog. Petfinder reports that most animal hospitals charge more than 300 dollars for the surgery. A low-cost clinic may charge in the range of 45 to 135 dollars, but this varies by location.

 

But the proliferation of low-cost spay and neuter clinics makes it worth researching the low-cost options available in a given area. Organizations SpayUSA and the ASPCA offer searchable national databases to help dog owners find affordable spay and neuter resources in their areas.

 

SpayUSA offers vouchers that cover part of the surgery’s cost at participating clinics. Dog owners can also check with their local municipalities for specific low-cost and affordable options for spay and neuter procedures.

 

Dr. Tejeda points out that low-cost care provided by spay and neuter clinics does not necessarily mean the care will be less comprehensive than what a private practice provides. “Low-cost does not mean low-quality,” she emphasizes. Ask for a breakdown of the costs associated with your dog’s spay or neuter to get an idea of what is and what is not included.

 

 

By: Samantha Drake

 

STROKES IN DOGS AND CATS

By W. Jean Dodds, DVM on March 24, 2019

With the untimely passing of actor Luke Perry, awareness of strokes came into the spotlight. Can dogs and cats have strokes? Yes; they can. Here’s what you need to know.

Types

Just like humans, dogs and cats can have one of two types of stroke: ischemic or hemmorhagic.

Ischemic
Ischemic strokes are caused by a blood clot, called a thrombus, which forms inside one of the brain’s arteries. The clot then blocks blood flow to a part of the brain. However, unlike humans, its typically only involve the smaller blood vessels in pets.

An embolism is a small blood clot (or piece of atherosclerotic plaque debris in people) that develops elsewhere in the body and then travels through the bloodstream to one of the blood vessels in the brain.

Hemorrhagic Stroke
There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes: intracerebral and subarachnoid.

An intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain bursts and leaks blood into the surrounding brain tissue.

Subarachnoid strokes are typically caused by an aneurysm, which refers to a weakening of an artery wall that creates a bulge, or distention, of the artery. This type of stroke involves bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue covering the brain, known as the subarachnoid space.

Signs

The symptoms or signs of strokes are similar in dogs and cats. They are rare and usually occur in geriatric pets.

Cats

·         Abnormal eye movements

·         Altered mental status

·         Circling

·         Head pressing

·         Head tilt

·         Muscle spasms

·         Not using the legs normally

·         Seizures

·         Unequal pupil sizes

·         Unsteadiness when walking

·         Weakness

Dogs

·         Abnormal behavior

·         Abnormal eye movements

·         Abnormal eye positioning

·         Blindness

·         Falling to one side

·         Head tilt

·         Inability to walk or walking with an uncoordinated gait

·         Loss of consciousness

Causes

Cats

·         Brain tumors

·         Cancer

·         Diabetes

·         Heart disease

·         High blood pressure

·         Hyperthyroidism

·         Kidney disease

·         Liver disease

·         Lung disease

·         Vestibular disease

Dogs

·         Bleeding disorders

·         Cancer

·         Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)

·         Diabetes

·         Heart disease

·         High blood pressure

·         High and prolonged doses of steroids like prednisone

·         Hypothyroidism, severe

·         Kidney disease

·         Vestibular disease

Prevention

A stroke is usually caused by an underlying disease. The best preventative measure is to monitor the pet periodically in order to diagnose the disease before a stroke can occur. Disease diagnosis involves twice yearly check-ups in geriatrics and annually in younger pets , which includes routine blood, endocrine and urinalysis screening.

What to Do in the Event of a Stroke

If you think your companion dog or cat has suffered from a stroke, please take him or her to a veterinarian as soon as possible. As well, we recommend that you always keep the phone number and address of your area emergency veterinarian on hand for all pet related emergencies.

 

8 Fun Games You Can Play With Your Dog

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

We all love our pets but dogs seem to need a lot of entertaining, right?  No worries, you’ll have a lot of fun too if you play these games with them:

 

1. Play Frisbee fetch — If your dog loves to play fetch-the-ball, consider adding a Frisbee to the mix. Agile, athletic dogs can be taught to catch flying discs. It’s a good idea to start small, by rolling the Frisbee on the ground toward your dog. Once she’s picking up the disc as it’s rolled to her, try tossing it to her at a very low level.

If she’s able to catch or at least stop it in mid-air, you can gradually increase the height and distance you throw it. If the Frisbee seems to hold your dog’s interest and focus, you’ll can teach her to bring it back to you so you can continue throwing it for her.

2. Expand your dog’s vocabulary — With time, patience and lots of practice, most dogs can learn to associate certain words with certain objects. Here’s how to start. Give two of your dog’s favorite toys a name — something simple, like “ball,” “bear” or “baby.” Remove all other toys from sight to help him focus. Say the name of one toy and throw it so he can retrieve it. Do this a few times, repeating the name of the toy as you toss it. Then do the same with the other toy.

Now put both toys on the ground and say the name of the first toy. Each time he goes to it, reward him with praise and treats. If you want to make it more challenging, have him bring the toy to you for his reward. Repeat this with the other toy. When you’re sure your dog is consistently identifying the right toy by name, you can try expanding his vocabulary even further using additional toys or other objects.

3. Create a simple at-home agility course — Setting up an agility course for your dog and teaching her how to navigate it can be very mentally stimulating for her, and fun for you. Items to consider include a sturdy crate or stool, a chair to jump on or run under, a box with open ends to crawl through, a pole attached to two stools or boxes to jump over, a hula hoop to jump through and a disc or ball to catch.

Tailor the course to your dog’s physical ability, focus and attention span. Teach her to handle one obstacle at a time, and make sure to offer lots of praise, treats and other high-value rewards each time she conquers an obstacle. This should be all about fun, not work!

4. Play indoor hide-and-seek — Hide and seek challenges your dog’s obedience skills (so obedience training is a prerequisite for this activity) and provides both mental and scent stimulation. Here’s how to do it. Grab a few treats and give your dog a sit-stay command. Go into another room to hide, and once you’re out of sight, call him. When he finds you, reward him with praise and treats.

If you’ve taught your dog a find-it command that sends him in search of something, you can also play hide and seek with objects or food treats. To play, show your dog what you’re about to hide, and then do a sit-stay or put him behind a closed door so he can’t see you. Hide the object or treat, then go to your dog and tell him to find it.

Unless he’s a canine Einstein or has played the game awhile, you’ll probably need to give him verbal cues as he gets close to, or farther away from the object. You can also give physical hints by pointing or moving toward the hiding place until he catches on to the game. When he finds the hidden object or treat, be sure to make a huge deal out of it with lots of praise and a few additional treats.

5. Lead your dog in a stair aerobics session — If your dog is fully-grown (his joints are fully developed) and you have stairs in your home, this game is a good way to get his heart pumping.

Go to the bottom of the stairs and put him in a sit-stay. Throw a toy up to the landing, then give him the nod to go after it, bounding up the steps as fast as he can. Allow him to come back down the stairs at a slower pace, to reduce the risk of injury. Ten or so repetitions of this will get his heart rate up and tire him out. Stair exercise in conjunction with a device like Dr. Sophia Yin’s brilliant Treat&Train system can provide the foundation for an excellent winter workout program for dogs.

6. Turn on the water hose — If your dog isn’t afraid of spraying water or getting wet, on warm days you can turn your backyard hose into a fun chasing toy. It’s best to have a nozzle on the hose that shoots out a jet of water. Make sure the force of the jet isn’t too much for her and take care not to spray her in the face. This can be accomplished by standing a good distance away as you move the jet around for her to chase.

A word of caution: be sure to monitor your dog’s activity closely, since water from a hose (or sprinkler) is under pressure and she can ingest a great deal of it in a short amount of time, potentially causing water intoxication.

7. Bring out your dog’s prey drive with a flirt stick — Also called a flirt pole, it’s a simple pole or handle with a length of rope tied to one end, and a toy attached to the far end of the rope. You can buy one or create your own homemade version, just be sure to use regular rope and not flexible or bungee cord.

Flirt sticks appeal to the prey drive in dogs and they’re a fun way to exercise your pet in your backyard (or in the house if you have the space or your dog is small) without overly exerting yourself. The game is simple — just drag the toy on the ground in a circle, and your dog will chase and tug at it.

The flirt stick can be a fun way to help your dog with basic commands like sit, down, look, wait, take it, leave it and drop it. It’s also useful for helping him practice listening while in a state of high arousal and cooling down immediately on command.

8. Liven up your walks by playing find-it — On your daily walks with your dog, after she’s done her business and checked her pee-mail and the two of you are just strolling along, you can use the time to stimulate her mind. Give her a sit-stay, show her a treat and then place it on the ground out of her reach.

Return to her and give her a treat for holding her sit-stay, then give her the find-it command to get the other treat. Repeat this a few times, and then make the challenge a bit more difficult.

Place the treat under some leaves, behind a tree or on a rock. Stop at several spots as though you’re hiding the treat there but hide only one treat. If you’re playing the game off-leash, make sure you’re in a safe area, and don’t hide treats beyond your line of vision. Keep your dog in sight at all times.

 

How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Comfortable When Moving to a New Home

Written by:  Cindy Aldridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Moving can be stressful for people, but it can be even more so for dogs. The activities and sounds leading up to and on moving day can be frightening to dogs, so it is important to take the necessary steps to reduce his stress as much as possible and to prevent an accidental escape. When moving with a dog, there are steps you can take prior to the move and on moving day to keep your dog comfortable and safe.

 

Preparing for the Move

 

The stress of moving day increases the chances of your dog escaping, and your dog’s risk of running away increases when you first move into a new home. Before moving day, ensure your dog’s collar fits well, and ensure his tags are up to date with your name and current phone number. Have a tag with your new address handy too so that you can switch tags with the proper identification from day one. If you haven’t done it already, now is a good time to microchip your dog, which should cost you around $45.

 

Many dogs experience car sickness. Your dog’s veterinarian can prescribe medications and offer feeding recommendations to help lessen the likelihood of car sickness. Also, if you’re moving to a new state, ask about region-specific vaccines that your dog may need. Before you move, find a veterinarian in your new location

 

If you’re one of the millions of Americans making a long-distance move this year, locate pet-friendly hotels along your route and book rooms ahead of time. Also, when you make pit stops for yourself, be sure to give your dog a potty break and fresh water. Leash your pet before exiting the car and keep him or her leashed for the break.

 

While you’re probably feeling stressed from packing and preparing for the move, try to keep calm. Dogs can pick up on your emotions, so the more anxiety you show, the more stress your dog will feel. Maintaining your dog’s normal routine as much as possible will also help reduce his or her stress. These suggestions also apply to moving day.

 

On Moving Day

 

When moving day arrives, make sure your dog is secured in a crate or closed room until you’re ready to load him or her into your car. You can also ask a friend or family member to pet sit, hire a pet sitter, or board your dog for the day. One of the best options is to take your dog on a fun outing for the day. Hiring movers means you don’t have to worry about loading and moving all of your items. Instead, you can take your dog to the dog park or a nearby dog-friendly restaurant to hang out.

 

If you hire a professional moving company, inform them ahead of time you have a dog, as they may have policies regarding dogs. Many professional movers offer services that pack up your items for you as well, so they may be interacting with your dog. If so, they’ll need to know about your dog’s temperament. Sometimes, it’s best to keep your dog in a separate room or take him or her out while they work.

 

When the time comes to transport your pet, you’ll want to make sure he or she is restrained, even if your dog loves car rides and is normally obedient. Remember that moving day is stressful, so the anxiety can change his or her behavior. Also, never transport a pet in an open truck bed, car trunk, or storage area of a moving van.

 

Your dog will feel less anxious at the new home if you arrange his or her sleeping, playing, and feeding areas in a similar manner to the previous setup. Have plenty of treats and toys on hand to keep your dog distracted while you move in. Make sure the home has a wood fence to prevent your dog from escaping; average prices for a fence service in Cleveland are $2,103-$4,180.

 

The activities and sounds of packing and moving your home may cause your dog to experience anxiety. Your dog is also at great risk for accidentally escaping during the moving process. Fortunately, you can help reduce your dog’s stress and keep him or her safe and comfortable with a little preparation and thought.

 

 

 

Arthritic Pets

Arthritis in Pets

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Like humans, pets can and do develop osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). About 20 percent of dogs and cats of all ages suffer some degree of OA, including 1 in 4 dogs in the U.S.1,2 The risk increases with age, just as it does in humans. In fact, one study showed that more than 90 percent of kitties over the age of 10 have arthritis in at least one joint.3

Inflammation Is a Primary Source of Pain in Arthritic Pets

OA is a chronic inflammatory joint disease that causes pain, soreness, stiffness, swelling and lameness in pets. One of the most important ways we help dogs and cats with arthritis is managing their pain. As veterinary pain specialist Dr. Robin Downing explains it:

 “… [U]nmanaged (or undermanaged) pain leads us down a dark rabbit hole in which pain moves from a minor nuisance, to decreased quality of life, to unbearable suffering, and it can ultimately result in physical pathology that leads to death. In other words, it’s not an exaggeration to state that pain kills.”4

Inflammation is one of the pain-causing factors in arthritic pets, so decreasing it is of paramount importance in keeping your dog or cat comfortable and mobile. In addition, inflammation increases the risk for many other serious diseases, including insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease, kidney disease and decreased life expectancy.

Another disease associated with inflammation is cancer. Inflammation kills the cells of the body. It also surrounds cells with toxic inflammatory byproducts that inhibit the flow of oxygen, nutrients and waste products between cells and blood. This creates an environment in which abnormal cells proliferate.

Excess Fat Is a Primary Source of Inflammation

Unfortunately, most pets with arthritis are already, or become overweight, in part because they can no longer move around comfortably.

“The white fat that accumulates in overweight and obese patients secretes inflammatory and proinflammatory hormones that can enhance and amplify the chronic pain experience,” writes Downing. “For this reason, normalizing body composition — decreasing both the pet’s weight and the size of its fat compartment — is a critical component of any multimodal pain management strategy.”5

Downing makes the point that simply cutting back on the amount of food your pet eats isn’t enough, because while body mass will decrease, the fat compartment will remain (in proportion to the smaller body size). “In other words, a large marshmallow will simply become a smaller marshmallow,” she explains, which is why it’s necessary to feed a diet that allows the body to burn fat selectively for energy.

Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), calls excess fat an “adipokine storm” inside your dog’s or cat’s body:

“Adipokines are signal proteins produced by fat tissue,” says Ward. “Leptin, adiponectin and interleukin-6 (IL-6) are examples. We know adipokines cause or contribute to hundreds of harmful inflammatory processes throughout the body. Think of every fat cell as a little factory pumping out hundreds of potentially toxic compounds. Multiply that by millions or billions in an obese pet. The real danger of excess fat isn’t the fat; it’s the inflammation the fat causes.”6

Ward firmly believes inflammation is the biggest threat pets face today. Scientific evidence of the damage excessive inflammation causes to the body continues to mount.

I agree, and I think toxic fat combined with a toxic environment (lawn chemicals, flame retardants/PBDEs, vaccines, and flea and tick pesticides, to name just a few) plus malnutrition, courtesy of the processed pet food industry, is a 100 percent guarantee pets will suffer from at least one degenerative condition such as arthritis in their lifetime.

 

Processed Pet Food Is a Primary Source of Obesity in Dogs and Cats

Most integrative veterinarians, including me, believe processed diets are by far the biggest contributor to pet obesity. Most processed pet food isn’t biologically appropriate and contains exactly the types of ingredients that promote weight gain and inflammation in the body.

It’s also true that today’s dogs and cats are overfed and under-exercised, however, the first thing I scrutinize with any overweight patient is the type of food he’s eating. I look for things like the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the diet. Food high in omega-6 essential fatty acids and low in omega-3s (which is the case with most processed pet diets) is associated with inflammatory conditions.

Commercial pet food is also typically high in pro-inflammatory carbohydrates, including processed, high glycemic grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes or legumes, which contain lectins. If a pet is fed any dry food it’s a red flag, because all kibble contains some form of starch — it can’t be manufactured without it.

Arthritic Pets (and All Pets) Should Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All dogs and cats, especially those with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, should be fed a moisture-rich, nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet that is naturally anti-inflammatory, consisting of real, whole foods, preferably raw, organic and non-GMO. It should include:

High-quality protein, including muscle meat, organs and bone (protein coming from animal sources should make up more than 80 percent of a cat’s diet)
Low to moderate levels of animal fat (depending on your pet’s activity level)
High levels of EPA and DHA (omega-3 essential fatty acids)
A few fresh cut, fibrous vegetables, pureed
No grains or starches
A whole food vitamin/mineral supplement that meets the additional E, zinc, iron, copper, manganese and vitamin D deficiencies often found in homemade diets OR enough of these hard-to-source foods in whole food forms, daily
Beneficial additions such as probiotics, digestive enzymes and super green foods

Along with a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet, it’s important to practice portion control at every meal. For most pets, this means a carefully measured morning and evening meal. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats. You also need to know exactly how many calories your dog or cat should be eating per day. Use these calorie calculators to determine how many calories your pet should take in to lose weight or maintain his or her current weight.

Natural Supplements to Manage the Inflammation and Pain of Arthritis

Chondroprotective agents (CPAs) protect the joints and slow the rate of cartilage degeneration, and include glucosamine sulfate, collagen, MSM, eggshell membrane, perna mussel (green-lipped clam), Adequan and cetyl myristoleate.

Natural substances that can reduce or eliminate the need for painkillers in the early stages of arthritis include a high-quality omega-3 supplement (krill oil), ubiquinol, turmeric (or curcumin), supergreen foods (spirulina, astaxanthin), natural anti-inflammatory formulas (such as proteolytic enzymes and SOD), homeopathic remedies (Rhus tox, Bryonia and Arnica, for example), and Esterified Fatty Acid Complex (EFAC).

I have found CBD oil to be a very safe, long-term management strategy for chronic pain, and there are also Ayurvedic and Chinese herbs and nutraceuticals that can be very beneficial, depending on the animal’s specific symptoms.

Additional Beneficial Treatment Modalities for Arthritic Pets

Laser therapy Maintenance chiropractic
Assisi loop Underwater treadmill
Massage Acupuncture
Daily stretching

 

Dr. Becker recommends bringing your arthritic pet for a wellness checkup with your integrative veterinarian at least twice a year to review the status of her health, and to check the range of motion in her joints, the muscle mass she’s either gaining or losing, and to make adjustments to her protocol as necessary to ensure her quality of life is optimal.

Diane also recommends essential oils like Dr. Shelton’s New Mobility along with routine energy healing using healing touch for animals or reiki.  Diane has many clients that schedule weekly healing touch for animal distance sessions.   She has a cat client that she has been healing for years now and he is 21 years old!  Yeah energy healing!!!!