Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for August, 2019

When Is the Right Time for Euthanasia?

Monday, August 19th, 2019

Beau

My sister and her husband have a really old Schnauzer-mix named Beau. He might even be a real Schnauzer. He’s so old, it’s hard to tell! They took in Beau when a friend in distress couldn’t keep him. The friend had gotten Beau as a puppy when her son was 10 years old, and that son is in his late twenties now, so… Beau is old. He has limited vision, limited hearing, has had several strokes and can’t walk a straight line, and is growing increasingly incontinent. On his bad days, it seems almost cruel that he is being kept alive. He may stagger or not be able to get up, he acts like he doesn’t know where he is and is anxious, and he may just suddenly completely empty his bladder on the carpet while standing still, seemingly unaware he is doing so.

But on his good days, he runs up the hall with the rest of his housemates, eats with gusto, goes outside through the dog door and potties without assistance or a reminder to do so, and enjoys his time on the sofa and in bed with his human and canine housemates. So they are very much afraid that if they call the vet to make a euthanasia appointment on one of his bad days, and he’s having a good day on the day of the appointment, the vet may decline to euthanize, or the staff may make them feel like creeps! In fact, they feel sort of pre-emptively guilty about even just talking about “Beau’s time.” My sister and brother-in-law love Beau and want him to have a good end. But when is the right time?

Chaco and Lena

There is Chaco, one of my former foster dogs. She’s younger than Otto, but has two failing knees and severe arthritis, and her owner lacks the health insurance or budget to pay for two knee surgeries. Her declining mobility has contributed, it seems, to weight gain, which compounds her problems.

Another friend is in a similar position with Lena, Otto’s very first playmate and friend. She has had one ACL surgically repaired, and underwent “conservative management” when the second one tore; her veterinarian says her hips, too, are quite dysplastic, and would have benefitted from surgery. Both hips and both knees, too? Her very devoted owner, my friend, could not have possibly paid for four surgeries – nor could she have gotten or afforded insurance after the first knee injury and x-rays showed the hip problems. Lena is maintained on daily pain medication and various joint supplements, and my friend takes her for frequent drives to places where she can take short, gentle walks. My friend has also been shopping for some sort of wagon or cart she could use to take the 70-pound dog on walks, so she at least can enjoy the changing scenery and odors. Lena, like Chaco, is getting fairly crippled, but is in otherwise good health and appetite. How long can my friends maintain them in this condition?

How to know when to let them go

Super dedicated owners can provide hospice care for dogs, if they are physically and emotionally able and have an appropriate home and time to do so. We ran a great article about this in 2010; it holds up well today. But not everyone has a schedule and home that would permit, as just one example, helping a large non-ambulatory dog outside to potty several times a day.

Not unrelated: Between all my dog-loving friends, I am aware of exactly ONE DOG who died peacefully in his sleep.

I just went looking; here are some links for information on how to know when “the time” is right for euthanasia:

https://www/americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/euthanasia-making-the-decision/

https://www.petmd.com/blogs/fullyvetted/2009/march/ten-ways-you-know-its-time-euthanize-your-pet-6745

https://www.lapoflove.com/Quality-of-Life/How-Will-I-Know-It-Is-Time

When it is getting close to time to make an appointment for euthanasia, we have some other helpful articles to read. This one is by a long-time contributor to WDJ, trainer Lisa Rodier.

Also, trainer Jill Breitner’s article on what to ask before making an appointment for euthanasia and the companion piece to that article by Dr. Sally J. Foote are excellent sources of information about what you should know in advance.

Which Dog Is Relaxed?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Hilarious Guide To Dog Breeds That Will Help You Choose Your Next Dog

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

From:  BoredPanda

“I’ve been drawing comics since I was a kid,” Grace told Bored Panda. “I absolutely love animals, so that’s usually my focus! I worked as a supervisor at a doggy daycare for years and got to meet lots of dogs. The cartoon dogs featured in this guide are the breeds I met the most of.”

The artist has divided the series into three parts – big, medium, and small dog breeds, so no k9s are left behind. Great Danes? Check. Border Collies, Yorkshire Terriers? Yep. Pugs, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds? Yup. “Sadly, I haven’t met every dog in the word yet so that I couldn’t write about them all,” Grace said. “Although I stereotype them, all dogs are wonderful individuals, so I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite breed!”

Among the animals Gogarty owns, there’s one pooch as well. “His Name is Huey, and he is an enigma. We have no idea what kind of breeds he’s comprised of!” Scroll down to meet the dog memes, and remember – even if some traits sound better than others, every dog deserves a to be a pet. Even if it pees all over your new rug.

More info: Instagram | Tumblr

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The Yellow Dog Project — Giving dogs their much-needed space

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

The Yellow Dog Project — Giving dogs their much-needed space

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
  • If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied to her collar, do not approach her, pet her or otherwise bother her in any way
  • The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is a global movement trying to popularize the use of yellow ribbons as a way to educate and alert people about dogs who need their space
  • Dogs wearing yellow ribbons may be rescue or shelter dogs who have behavioral problems, dogs in pain from recent surgery, service dogs in training or dogs who are fearful and anxious
  • If your dog is aggressive, a yellow ribbon is not enough of a warning or a substitute for proper training
  • Avoid approaching any dog you don’t know without first asking the owner’s permission — whether she’s wearing a yellow ribbon or not

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied to her collar, do not approach her, pet her or otherwise bother her in any way. While it’s a good idea to take this stance with any dog you’re not familiar with, The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is a global movement trying to popularize the use of yellow ribbons as a way to educate and alert people about dogs who need their space.

Yellow Dogs are not necessarily aggressive or dangerous, but might have issues with fear or be in pain due to recent surgery. If approached, such a dog could snap, growl or become anxious and stressed, which is what the yellow ribbon is intended to prevent.

The Yellow Dog Project identifies dogs who need space

The Yellow Dog Project was founded by Tara Palardy, a graduate of Animal Behavior College, in 2013 to support dogs who are anxious and may display reactive behaviors if approached. The color yellow was chosen for ribbons because it’s widely understood as a cautionary color.1

In addition to dogs who may be fearful or in pain, dogs wearing yellow ribbons may be rescue or shelter dogs who have behavioral problems they haven’t yet overcome. They may also be dogs in training to be work or service dogs. According to the not-for-profit Yellow Dog Project:2

The Yellow Dog Project seeks to educate appropriate ways to approach or make contact with a dog with permission of a dog owner only, whether or not a dog is a ‘yellow dog.’ They also seek to promote the use of yellow ribbons to identify yellow dogs needing extra space.”

The Project makes it clear that putting a yellow ribbon on your dog is not a way to mark her as a bad dog or a confession that people must stay away or risk getting bitten. Some people may avoid using a yellow ribbon for their dog for this reason, but doing so shouldn’t bring about embarrassment.

“Wearing a yellow ribbon is NOT an admission of guilt,” TYDP notes. “Dogs can have space issues for a variety of reasons and you are not the only person with a yellow dog. There are most likely many people in your community who are ‘hiding’ their pet issues rather than working on them. Be proud of your furry family member and the work you are putting into him/her!”3

A yellow ribbon is not a substitute for proper training

As the word gets out about what a yellow ribbon on a dog’s collar means, it may become more common in public places. However, if your dog truly is aggressive, a yellow ribbon is not enough of a warning or a substitute for proper training.

“If you have an outright aggressive dog, you must seek proper training from a qualified professional. This organization promotes the awareness of dogs who need space, but it is not an excuse for lack of training,” TYDP explains.4 If your dog has been abused, has fear aggression or territorial aggression, basic obedience training is important, but so is evaluating the dog’s history and environment to determine what may be driving the problem behaviors.

Behavior problems in dogs can almost always be traced to their environment, past or present, and may include the food they eat, the way they spend their time, the bond they have with their owners, previous training (or lack thereof), training methods and many other factors. Reward-based training is one effective and compassionate way to change unwanted behaviors in dogs, including some forms of aggression.

Always ask before petting

TYDP is a great idea to alert passersby that they shouldn’t approach your shy, nervous or recuperating dog. Your dog is a good candidate for a yellow ribbon if she behaves aggressively or acts timid, shy or skittish when approached by strangers or other dogs.

If you feel your dog could benefit from wearing a yellow ribbon, be prepared to explain its meaning to strangers, and also talk with your veterinarian, a positive dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist to help your dog work through any undesirable behaviors. That being said, for some dogs, a yellow ribbon may always be recommended.

It’s a good idea, however, to simply assume that you shouldn’t approach any dog you don’t know without first asking the owner’s permission — whether she’s wearing a yellow ribbon or not.

Sometimes, it’s possible to easily observe a dog’s body language to understand whether it’s friendly, relaxed and open to being approached or frightened, stressed and not interested in interacting. Other times, a dog’s shyness or stress signals can be far more subtle and easy to miss. For instance, yawning and licking her lips are ways your dog may signal that she’s feeling stressed.

Further, many dogs dislike being petted on their heads, especially when it’s from a stranger. Yet, this is the way many strangers approach dogs they’re not familiar with. A far better option than approaching a dog in passing is to ask her owner if it’s OK to pet her. Even then, respect boundaries, let the dog initiate contact first and avoid invading her personal space.

12 Misconceptions About Service Dogs And Those Who Use Them

Monday, August 5th, 2019

12 Misconceptions About Service Dogs And Those Who Use Them

By Kaelynn Partlow, August 2019

Today, as dogs are being trained to assist with an increasingly wide range of conditions, more individuals are incorporating a four-legged helper into their lives. That said, there are still many misconceptions surrounding service dogs, including who can have them and what they do.

Here are 12 of the most common misconceptions about service dogs.

There is a very clear legal difference between the two, and they shouldn’t be confused. An emotional support dog is defined as an untrained pet who emotionally supports her or his handler. With a doctor’s note, support dogs are allowed to fly in the cabin of an aircraft free of charge and live in no-pets-allowed housing.

A service dog, however, is considered to be medical equipment, no different than a wheelchair or insulin pump. Service dogs must be specifically trained to do work or tasks relating to the mitigation of a person’s disability. Emotional support, comfort or calming effect do not count as work or tasks for a service dog.

2. Service Dogs Are Certified Or Registered After Completing Training.

While in the U.S., there is no such thing as a legitimate federal or state identification card or certificate that “proves” a dog is a trained service dog, many scam sites claim their products are not only legitimate, but mandatory. It is because of such scam sites that this misconception exists.

3. Service Dogs Are Only For The Blind Or Deaf.

This used to be the case many years ago, but things have changed. Today, service dogs are used by people with mental illnesses, autism, seizures, diabetes and countless other conditions.

Technically speaking, training never ends. Service dogs must be able to learn new things and adapt to their handlers’ needs as they change over time. Additionally, it is not uncommon for fully trained dogs to need a bit of touch-up on things they’ve already learned how to do. But initially, from start to finish, it takes about two years to train a service dog.

5. Service Dogs Work All The Time And Never Get Time To “Just Be A Dog.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth! Being a working service dog is arguably the best life a dog could have. They’re able to be with their handlers almost all the time, no matter where they go. They have a job and a purpose, and most get a higher quality of care than many humans.

6. Bully Breeds Can’t Be Service Dogs.

Any dog of any breed, shape or size can potentially be a service dog, provided they are healthy, have a stable temperament and can be trained to do the necessary work. Many “unusual” breeds make fantastic service dogs.

7. People With Service Dogs Are Lucky Because They Get To Bring Their Dog Everywhere With Them.

It’s understandable why someone might think this. However, people with disabilities certainly do not see it that way. The dog is there because the person has a condition that affects their capacity to perform at least one major life task. The dog’s purpose is to help the person be more independent.

The number of people who are fearful of service dogs because they think they’re there for drug detection is surprising. While the dog can probably smell drugs, service dogs and detection dogs are trained to respond to completely different things. The only person service dogs focus on is their handler.

9. It’s Okay To Pet A Service Dog If The Handler Isn’t Looking.

In the service-dog community, people who do this are called “drive-by petters.” They wait for the handler to look away, then pet the dog as they walk by. Not only is this disrespectful, it’s also distracting to the dog, who needs to be focused on working. In addition, most states have laws prohibiting interference with or intentionally injuring (or allowing another dog to injure) service dogs.

10. People With Service Dogs Want To Chat.

No, they don’t. They usually just want to, say, get milk and go home rather than indulge a stranger’s curiosity. Just because they have a dog doesn’t mean they want to share their life story with everyone who asks.

11. Businesses Can Require People With Service Dogs To Prove They Need Them.

According to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, staff may ask two questions: First, is the dog a service animal who is required because of a disability? Second, what work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

12. Businesses Are Never Allowed To Ask That A Service Dog Be Removed.

Just like people with disabilities, businesses have rights too. If a dog is out of control, acting aggressively or not house trained, a business can and should ask that the dog be taken off the premises.

The next time you see a service dog team out and about, ignore the dog and go about your business. It’s fine to offer a smile, but beyond that, do the team the courtesy of allowing them to go about their business as well, without distractions.