Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for the ‘Human-Animal Bond’ Category

A Service Dog is more than a vest

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Saying Goodbye; How to Deal with the Death of a Dog

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Dealing with the death of a pet can be the hardest thing many of us will ever do.

The link below helps you with how you can say goodbye.

 

Saying Goodbye: How To Deal With The Loss Of A Dog

Benefits of the Elderly Owning Pets

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

The link below is to an article on Caring.com about the benefits of the elderly owning pets!

https://www.caring.com/senior-living/assisted-living/benefits-of-elderly-owning-pets

More Pet Insurance Policies Are Being Sold. But Are They Worth the Cost?

Monday, January 7th, 2019
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES, JANUARY 4, 2019

YOUR MONEY ADVISER

The New York Times

By Ann Carrns Jan. 4, 2019

Americans are increasingly treating their pets as members of the family, feeding them gourmet food, paying for day care and throwing them birthday parties. Family sleepwear sets sold on PajamaGram.com even include matching jammies for the dog.

So it’s not surprising that an increasing number of “pet parents,” as they are known in the pet care industry, are seeking sophisticated medical treatments for their animals.

Enter pet health insurance, marketed as a way to help defray rising veterinary expenses and avoid “economic euthanasia” — the necessity of putting a pet down because the owner can’t afford treatment. More than two million pets in the United States and Canada (most of them in the United States) were insured at the end of 2017, up about 17 percent from the year before, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association.

But consumer advocates say that pet owners should make sure they understand how the policies work before buying them.

More than two-thirds of households in the United States own a pet, according to the American Pet Products Association. Americans spent about $70 billion on pets in 2017, including purchases of animals, food, veterinary care, medicines and other services.

“People are much more inclined to think of their animals like children, and treat them accordingly,” said James Serpell, a professor of ethics and animal welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance with the Consumer Federation of America, said pet owners should bring a healthy skepticism when shopping for pet insurance. Purchase of the product is “often motivated by a combination of love and fear,” he said. “So the buyer may be particularly vulnerable.”

Details vary by insurer and policy, but premiums for pet insurance typically depend on factors like the cost of veterinary care where you live and the age and breed of the pet. The average annual premium for “accident and illness” coverage was $516 per pet in 2017, while the average claim paid was $278, according to the pet health insurance association.

Jeff Blyskal, a senior writer with Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit group that rates services in major urban markets, said pet owners should compare policies with a critical eye. When years of payments are taken into account, he said, buying insurance could end up being more expensive for some pet owners than going without it, if their animal doesn’t require much care.

Pet policies typically don’t cover pre-existing conditions, Mr. Blyskal said, so premiums are generally lower when your pet is young and healthy. Even if you start early, though, you may end up paying more over time, he said, because some policies raise premiums as pets get older. This can increase costs substantially, he said, and cause owners to drop their policies as the animals get older — just when they are more likely to need the coverage. Industrywide, the average pet policy is maintained for three years or less, according to an insurer regulatory filing in 2016 in Washington State.

The expenses tied to pet health coverage usually include not only a regular premium but also other out-of-pocket costs, like a deductible — an amount that you must pay before insurance begins paying. Insurance may cover less than 100 percent of costs after the deductible, so you’ll still have to pay for part of the treatment. Some policies may cap payments, so ask if there’s a limit.

Rob Jackson, chief executive of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, said insurance could protect against budget-busting events costing thousands of dollars. (Healthy Paws said a pet’s age affects premiums at initial enrollment, and also as the pet ages.) The Healthy Paws website cites examples like Fridgey the Bengal cat, who had a $4,600 hip replacement, and Lupa the German shepherd, who needed $52,000 in treatment for tetanus exposure.

One way to pay lower premiums, and possibly get broader coverage, is to buy pet insurance through your employer. Eleven percent of employers in the United States offer pet health insurance benefits, according to a 2018 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, up from 6 percent in 2014. Typically, companies offer pet insurance as a “voluntary” benefit. It’s uncommon for employers to contribute to the cost of premiums, as they do with human health insurance. But insurers may give employees a break on premiums, or offer better coverage, because their marketing costs are lower.

Employees at Ollie, a specialty dog food company, receive a 15 percent discount on premiums from the insurer Healthy Paws, said Gabby Slome, a co-founder of Ollie. (Ollie also offers workers benefits like “pawternity” leave when they take a new dog home.)

“We had a strong belief that pets are a part of one’s family,” she said.

Scott Liles, president and chief pet insurance officer with Nationwide, said half of Fortune 500 companies offer their employees pet insurance from his company. Nationwide’s employer-based plans now underwrite by species — canines vs. felines — but not by age or breed, Mr. Liles said. That means, he said, you won’t pay a higher premium if your pet is older, or if its breed is prone to certain illnesses, unlike policies sold in the open market.

Here are some questions and answers about pet health insurance:

Do some animals cost more to insure than others?

Cats are generally less expensive to insure than dogs. The average accident and illness premium in 2017 was about $45 a month for dogs and $28 a month for cats, according to the pet health insurance association. Because some purebred animals are prone to certain health problems, some insurers may charge higher premiums for them.

What if I can’t afford pet insurance?

Local animal shelters may offer basic services, like rabies vaccinations or spaying and neutering operations, at a discounted rate. The Humane Society of the United States lists groups that can help owners who can’t afford medical care for their pets.

Another option is to put money away each month — perhaps the amount of the premium you would pay — into a dedicated savings account so you will have some funds available for pet care if you need it.

What if I’m unhappy with my pet insurance policy?

Insurance products are generally regulated by state governments, so you may want to contact your state insurance commissioner about your concern. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers information about pet insurance and links to regulatorsin each state.

Correction: 

An earlier version of this article, using information supplied by Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, misstated how a pet’s age affects premiums for the company’s policies. The pet’s age affects the premium at the time of enrollment and as the pet gets older, not just at enrollment.

Hospice Care For Dogs

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

From iheartdogs.org

Animal Health Foundation Board Member, Dr. Alice Villalobos, is quoted in this article!

Hospice Care For Dogs: Is It The Right Choice For You & Your Pooch?

Hospice care for dogs is a relatively new concept. Sadly, the word hospice often carries a negative stigma. It reminds us of lonely, sterile rooms and the fear of impending death. In reality, hospice care can be a wonderful gift for terminally ill people and pets. Rather than focusing on invasive medical procedures, hospice provides physical and emotional comfort to end-of-life patients and their families.

hospice care for dogs

What is hospice care for dogs?

Hospice care is based on the philosophy that people and pets deserve to die with dignity. When a dog is suffering from a serious illness and a cure is not possible, hospice care provides a temporary alternative to euthanasia. The goal is to make their remaining days comfortable with pain medications, dietary strategies and human interaction.

Dr. Alice Villalobos is a world-renowned veterinary oncologist. She coined the term “pawspice,” which she describes as supportive care in evaluating and managing quality of life in the time leading up to a pet’s death.

“In-home ‘pawspice’ care is a wonderful next step,” Dr. Villalobos says. “It should be introduced as an interval between the thought and the final act of euthanasia, if the owner really feels that their pet still has a quality of life.”

Hospice care for dogs also allows families to come to terms with the impending loss of a beloved friend. In keeping a terminal pet comfortable, the human family members have time to come to terms with the situation. Hospice allows them to plan special moments with their dog, take family photos, and seek emotional and spiritual support.

Prepare for Your Dog Becoming Lost

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs

Saturday, January 5th, 2019

AHF Therapy Dogs help kids during school exams relieve stress

Tuesday, December 18th, 2018

 

8 Things Every Dog Owner Should Know When Their Pet Crosses The Rainbow Bridge

Sunday, January 21st, 2018
For WWW.LITTLETHINGS.COM by REBECCA ENDICOTT
artwork by Laura Caseley for Little Things

Unfortunately, it’s the nature of pet ownership to lose your beloved fluff ball. The average human will live eight decades, but a dog’s lifespan is much shorter.

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs live for an average of 10 to 13 years, depending on the breed.

That means that every human who welcomes a sweet pup into the family will have to eventually face the tricky proposition of losing a furry best friend.

There are lots of beautiful ways to memorialize your dog after he crosses the rainbow bridge, but that isn’t necessarily comforting in the days immediately before and after a pooch passes on.

In fact, it can be really hard to prepare for that moment.

That’s why we put together a list of important things all pooch-owners should know for the day their beloved dog dies.

#1: The Grief Will Hit Hard

#1: The Grief Will Hit Hard

You might be surprised by how hard you are hit by grief.

It’s easy to think that you will be able to cope with the death of your pet, but people often discover that they are just as devastated by the loss of their dog as they would be by any death.

Even though humans know intellectually that they’ll have to say goodbye to their beloved dogs eventually, it doesn’t make it any easier to face the reality.

#2: You Might Feel Guilty

#2: You Might Feel Guilty

Guilt is a totally normal emotion to experience as you’re processing your loss and grief, but people are sometimes taken aback by how strongly they blame themselves.

People worry that perhaps there was something more they could have done early, they worry that they made the wrong decision, or that they missed a sign that their pup was in pain or unwell.

These worries are totally normal, but try not to let them take you over. At some point, you have to trust that you did everything you could for your sweet pup, and he loved you for it.

#3: Your Vet Will Be More Of A Comfort Than You Expect

#3: Your Vet Will Be More Of A Comfort Than You Expect

During your dog’s lifetime, the veterinarian is just the person who gives your pup shots and diagnoses infections.

After you pup dies, the veterinarian might become your best friend for a while.

That’s because vets see this kind of loss every day, and they often know exactly how to support and comfort a grieving pet parent.

Vets can also help you with details like figuring out how to lay your dog to rest; many vets offer cremation services and memorial boxes.

#4: Grief Can Spike Unexpectedly

#4: Grief Can Spike Unexpectedly

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

After you lose your dog, you’ll probably spend a few days mourning before slowly starting to feel better.

When that happens, it’s easy to think that the worst of your grief is behind you, though that often isn’t the case.

Sometimes, grief will reemerge as fresh and painful as the day your dog died. Know that the grieving process is long and complex, and let it take its natural course.

#5: You Might Have To Make The Choice

#5: You Might Have To Make The Choice

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

For many dog owners, the most difficult part of losing their pet actually comes before the pet passes on.

Many owners find themselves in the painful position of choosing to end the dog’s life, and having him put to sleep.

When you adopt a dog, you have to be prepared for the possibility of making this choice.

If your dog is elderly, in pain, and unable to comprehend what’s happening, it might be your responsibility to help him avoid unnecessary pain and suffering.

#6: It’s Worth Asking For Paw Prints

#6: It's Worth Asking For Paw Prints

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

After your dog passes away, your vet will usually offer to help with the remains, often by cremation.

Before that happens, you might want to ask the vet to take your dog’s paw prints for you.

Many vets are happy to help you through your goodbye by giving you one last memento of your beloved pup.

Even as you move on, having his paw prints is a lovely way to remember a loyal and beloved friend.

#7: If Possible, Be There

#7: If Possible, Be There

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

We don’t always have a choice in how our dogs pass on.

If it’s an accident or completely unexpected, you might not be with your dog at the end.

However, if you can choose to be with your dog, definitely do it, though it might be painful for you.

What’s important is that your dog will feel loved and unafraid with you by his side holding his paw.

#8: Remember, You Gave Your Pup The Best Life

#8: Remember, You Gave Your Pup The Best Life

Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Eventually, as the weeks and months pass, you’ll find yourself healing. You’ll never stop loving and missing your dog, but you’ll know that your pup is in a better place now.

Most important of all, you will know that, while he was here with you, you gave him the best life ever.

He loved you to pieces, and we bet he wouldn’t have traded one second of the life the two of you had together.

 

 

SERVICE DOGS AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS

Monday, September 25th, 2017

By Dr. Jean Dodds at Hemopet in Garden Grove, CA

Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals

Depending on where you live, many businesses are now increasingly pet-friendly such as clothing stores, hotels, pet supply stores, photography studios, etc. For people who use and need service dogs for medical purposes or assistance, this can be a blessing and sometimes a problem. Compounding the problem is the definition of what is considered to be a service animal.

According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) website, “A service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” [The new ADA regulations also contain a specific provision which covers miniature horses.]

Under the ADA, service dogs allow people with medical conditions or disabilities to function and participate in society such as going to movie theatres, the grocery store, work, restaurants, etc. A service dog may pull a wheelchair. Another example is that a service dog can help a person with epilepsy by detecting and then keeping the person safe during a seizure. Of course, many of us frequently see guide dogs for people with visual impairments.

Businesses and other entities do have rights that protect them if a particular service animal behaves in a way that poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or is not under the control of the handler.

Additionally, businesses can ask two specific questions about service animals – that do not violate or interfere with the civil rights of people with disabilities – and are then protected from litigation. The ADA website states:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog’s training, require that the dog demonstrate his/her task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.

Some states have regulations to protect people with disabilities that do not infringe on their civil rights. Colorado passed a law last year that imposes fines on people who misrepresent ordinary dogs as those specifically trained for the purpose of assisting someone with disabilities. California takes the law further. Service dogs must be registered with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which provides standardized identification tags. Anyone in California who falsely claims an animal to be a service animal can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for six months or a fine up to $1000 or both.

Fair Housing Act

Depending on the title within the ADA law, ADA is overseen by the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) – which is managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – defines assistance animals, “An assistance animal is nota pet. It is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person’s disability.” The FHA states, “Persons with disabilities may request a reasonable accommodation for any assistance animal, including an emotional support animal.”

So, FHA is more all-encompassing to ensure fair housing for everyone. It covers people with disabilities who need a service dog to perform tasks and people who need animals (any type) for emotional support. It overrides “no pets policies” by landlords.

FHA provisions are also built in in case the animal may be considered a danger to others or property. Property owners – if the disability is not apparent – can ask for documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability. The law does protect civil rights because landlords cannot ask for medical records or the nature of the disability.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

Before we move on, we wanted to touch upon Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD), as approximately 15 states have statutory definitions of either disability or service dogs that are intentionally worded to exclude PSDs. If a person with a disability and a fully trained PSD qualifies under the ADA, they would still have regular protections under the ADA, but no additional ones provided by the state. These dogs are performing a specific task, such as:

  • Providing safety checks for, or calming, individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Sensing an anxiety attack and taking a specific action to help avoid the attack or lessen its impact.
  • Reminding a person with mental illness to take medications.
  • Preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation.

It is certainly sad that psychiatric disorders are considered “murky” or go unrecognized in this day and age.

Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was enacted to protect the civil rights and health of people with disabilities who use service animals, people with Emotional Support Animals (ESAs), and people with PSDs to be able to bring the animal into the cabin. This law falls under the aegis of the Department of Transportation.

For service animals, airlines can do the following:

  • Request the credible verbal assurances of a qualified individual with a disability using the animal.
  • Look for physical indicators such as the presence of a harness or tags.
  • Observe the behavior of the animal.

For ESA and PSD, airlines can request specific documentation and/or 48-hours advance notice that cannot be older than one year. It must state a mental or emotional disability that is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and a need for an ESA or PSD for air travel or at a destination. It must be written by a licensed mental health professional who provides care to the person, dated, with type of professional, and jurisdiction or state in which the license was issued.

Airlines are never required to accept snakes, reptiles, ferrets, rodents, and spiders. Additionally, they can refuse an animal if it is not properly behaved. However, an animal cannot be refused if it just makes the crew or other passengers uncomfortable.

Conclusion

Some people sadly take advantage of the ADA, FHA and ACAA.

Regarding ADA, three loopholes appear to exist in the federal law:

  1. The ADA does not require that service animals be certified or licensed. Certification could be considered a barrier to entry and therefore discriminatory.
  2. A service dog does not have to be professionally trained, but can be personally trained. A professional training requirement may be considered a barrier to entry.
  3. Some state and local laws define service animal more broadly than the ADA.
  4. We have to remember that “trained for a specific task” is not the same as well-behaved – and this is where the ADA standards can fall apart.

As noted above, businesses have certain rights. However, businesses are reluctant to deny access to misbehaving service animals or ask if the animal is a service dog because they may pose their questions poorly. Then, they could be prosecuted for violating civil rights. People with disabilities who use well-behaved and trained service dogs are becoming rightfully angry and upset when people are taking advantage of the law.

In addition to the life-saving, emotional and functioning assistance service dogs provide, we need to remember the cost and number of years it took to get the dog to be specially trained. For instance, the full cost to breed, raise and train a service dog to help a child within the autism spectrum can be over $20,000. A guide dog for a person with a visual impairment is around $50,000.

Today, people with well-behaved and trained service dogs are pointing to people with ESAs or PSDs for making life more difficult for them outside of the home and on public transport and planes. In fact, the Advocates’ Service Animal Proposal wants to limit the rights of people with ESAs on planes. But, it is not a problem created by responsible people with legitimate ESAs or PSDs. It is only people who take advantage of the laws, as they are harming the civil rights and protections others desperately need.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 92843

 

References

“Advocates’ Service Animal Proposal.” (n.d.): n. pag. United States Department of Transportation, 21 July 2016. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/P4.SA%20Advocates%20Proposal%20072116.pdf.

“Air Travel with Service Animals.” (n.d.): 189-92. United States Department of Transportation. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/AirTravel_with_ServiceAnimals-TriFold.pdf.

“Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA.” United States Department of Justice, 20 Jan. 2015. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html.

“Service Animals and Assistance Animals for People with Disabilities in Housing and HUD-Funded Programs.” (n.d.): n. pag. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 18 June 2017. https://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=servanimals_ntcfheo2013-01.pdf.

“Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals.” ADA National Network, 27 June 2017. Web. 18 June 2017. https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet.

“States Specifically excluding PSDs from State Definition of Service Dog.” Service Dog Central, n.d. Web. 18 June 2017. https://www.servicedogcentral.org/content/node/464.