Animal Health Foundation Blog

Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Pet Partners at Petco in La Habra

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Several AHF Pet Partners teams were at Petco in La Habra on Saturday, October 12th, CA to talk to people about Pet Therapy!

Team from Left to Right are:  Katy Trumbo and Delilah, Daleen Comer and Cloud the Dove, Ingrid Eck Pullen and Cody and Jane Horsefield and Kiss.

 

Owning a dog tied to lowering your risk of dying early by 24%, says science

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019

By Sandee LaMotte, CNN

Updated 2:40 PM ET, Tue October 8, 2019
“Our analysis found having a dog is actually protective against dying of any cause,” said Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr. Caroline Kramer, lead author of a new systematic review of nearly 70 years of global research published Tuesday in “Circulation,” a journal of the American Heart Association.
The review of the health benefits of man’s best friend analyzed research involving nearly 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
“Dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in all cause mortality,” said Kramer, an assistant professor in the division of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Toronto.
The meta-analysis found an even bigger benefit for people who had already had a heart attack or stroke.
“For those people, having a dog was even more beneficial. They had a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease,” Kramer said.

Dogs and surviving illness

separate study of more than 336,000 Swedish men and women, also published Tuesday in “Circulation,” likewise found people who owned dogs had better health outcomes after suffering a major cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke.
Heart attacks and stroke are the leading causes of death globally, according to the World Health Organization.
The benefit was highest for dog owners who lived alone.
“The most interesting part of this study was that people who lived alone actually seem to get the greatest benefit in both the heart attack group and the stroke group,” said dog owner Dr. Martha Gulati, who is the editor-in-chief of CardioSmart.org, the American College of Cardiology’s patient education platform.
“People who lived with a dog actually had less mortality than people living alone who didn’t have a dog,” said Gulati, who was not involved in either study.
Heart attack survivors living alone who owned dogs had a 33% lower risk of death compared to people who did not own a dog. Stroke survivors living alone had a 27% reduced risk of death.
“We know that loneliness and social isolation are strong risk factors for premature death and our hypothesis was that the company of a pet can alleviate that,” said study author Tove Fall, an associate professor of epidemiology at Uppsala University in Sweden.
“Single owners have to do all the dog walks and we know that physical activity is important in rehabilitation after a myocardial infarction or stroke,” Fall added.

Observational but significant

Both published studies were observational, meaning that researchers cannot prove that dog ownership was the direct cause of the increased life expectancy or the better health outcomes after heart attack and stroke; only a randomized clinical trial could answer those questions.
“Is it the dog or is it the behaviors?” Gulati asked. “Is it because you’re exercising or is it because there is a difference in the type of person who would choose to have a dog versus somebody who would not? Are they healthier or wealthier? We don’t know those things.”
The American Heart Association points to studies that found pet owners who walk their dogs got up to 30 minutes more exercise a day than non-walkers.
“There are studies suggesting that individuals who have dogs have a better cholesterol profile and lower blood pressure,” said Kramer, who is a dog owner.
“One study, my favorite, found just the effect of petting a dog can reduce your blood pressure as much as a medication,” Kramer said.
Other studies suggest dogs provide companionship and affection that can reduce anxiety and depression. That’s especially important after a major illness, such as a heart attack or stroke.
“We know that if you have depression after a heart attack, you’re more likely to have a poor outcome,” Gulati said, which is one reason so many hospitals have begun using therapy dogs for cardiac patients.
In fact, a number of cardiologists believe in the benefits of dog ownership so much they will actually prescribe a dog for their patients, if they believe the person can appropriately care for a pet.
“I know a lot of my patients often say to me after they have a heart attack or stroke, can I even take care of a dog? They worry because they don’t want to leave the dog alone if something happens to them,” Gulati said.
“But if possible, I always encourage them to get a dog,” she said, “perhaps an older dog who needs to be rescued and not a puppy that will be harder to manage.”

What’s the takeaway?

“While these non-randomized studies cannot ‘prove’ that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this,” said Dr. Glenn Levine, chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association’s scientific statement on pet ownership.
However, the AHA also says that pet ownership is a caring commitment that comes with certain financial costs and responsibilities, so “the primary purpose of adopting, rescuing, or purchasing a pet” should not be to reduce cardiovascular risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show dogs decrease stress and promote relaxation and impact nearly all stages of our lives.
“They influence social, emotional and cognitive development in children, promote an active lifestyle, and have even been able to detect oncoming epileptic seizures or the presence of certain cancers,” the CDC said.
Does that mean that even younger people benefit from having a dog?
“The overall understanding of cardiovascular health is that the earlier that we implement healthier behaviors, the better,” Kramer said. “So like walking, not smoking. And I think that maybe dog ownership is part of that.”

Old Dogs Don’t Die; They Can’t

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

From:  K9 Companion Dog Training
September 3, 2018 at 8:06 PM

Old dogs don’t die; they can’t.

They’ve merely run up ahead; they’re waiting for us just out of sight. Close your eyes late at night and you may smell his musky odor, or perhaps hear his snuffle from the next room. Pay attention and you may feel his nose on your hand or the back of your calf. When your final day comes, you can go on to meet him; he’s never left you and never will, and when you close your eyes for the last time, you’ll open them again to be met with his Bright eyes and wagging tail.

Old dogs don’t die, at least, not those dogs who take the biggest chunks of our hearts with them when they leave us. Those dogs are inextricably part of our souls, and they go with us wherever we are. Though we may not see them, we know they’re there because our heart is still beating; we still breathe, and those of us who have been truly touched by a good dog know our lives really started the day we met them.
Magnificent dogs don’t die. They shepherd our dreams and only allow the good ones through the gates of our consciousness. They watch over us much as they did in life, and that moment when we step just barely outside of death or disaster, it’s because they moved our feet or they stopped short in front of us as they did in life.

You see, a good dog is something only given to a few people. They are a gift from the universe and, though they’re with us only a short time, they never really leave us. They are loyalty and love perfected, and once we are graced with that sort of love we can never lose it. We merely lose sight of it for a time, and that is our fault; for how can love like that ever go away?

It can’t. It can’t, and it never will. For these brave souls trade their hearts for ours, and they beat together beyond sickness, beyond death. They are ours, and we are theirs, for every sunrise and every sunset, until the sun blazes its last and we once again join the stars.

By Leigh Hester,
K9 Companion Dog Training
Port Jervis, NY

Bogus ‘Service Animal Certifications’ Increasingly Being Sold Online

Thursday, September 19th, 2019
  • Service dogs or animals who provide mental, emotional or physical support have made it possible for people with disabilities to live independently, but now, there are websites advertising bogus certification for support animals
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) says support animals don’t have the same federal protections as service animals, and business owners may ask someone with a disability only two questions regarding their service animal
  • Some people purchase vests or certification to identify their animals as needed support without their animal having actual qualifications behind their label — in some cases simply to bring their favorite animal with them into public places
  • It’s often obvious when an animal is a bona fide service dog, such as when they’re guiding someone who is unable to see, is in a wheelchair or has trouble with stability or balance, but other times, disabilities aren’t evident
  • According to the ADA, there are regulations in place regarding service dogs, such as what to do if someone is afraid of or allergic to service animals, whether restaurants or theaters are exempt, and whether extra fees are allowed

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Service dogs or animals who provide mental, emotional or physical support have transformed the lives of scores of people, as they make it possible for people with disabilities to live independently. Since new laws have sanctioned the public appearance of service animals, the lives of their humans are far easier and less stressful, as Katherine Moore, who is legally blind, can attest.

“When you have a service animal it’s like you are one. When I put my hand on his harness it’s like an extension of my arm … That’s like putting a value on your freedom. How do you do that? How do you say what your freedom is worth? It’s worth everything.”1

Training for service animals is wide-ranging and extensive, which is why Moore says she’s able to live a full life, including working and commuting, just as she did before she lost her ability to see. One of the few organizations in Tennessee that specializes in service dog training, Smoky Mountain Service Dogs (SMSD),2 focuses on training dogs that will be used by wounded veterans. Mike Kitchens, chairman of SMSD, explains:

“Every dog that we have we will take to Harley Davidson and have them start up the motorcycles. We will take them to the baggage area at the airport. Revolving doors. They have to be so environmentally stable because the intent is for that dog to be able to accompany that veteran wherever he goes.”3

Other animals may provide emotional comfort, but they don’t necessarily fall under the same federal protections as service animals. In fact, Dr. Zenithson Ng from the University of Tennessee Knoxville’s College of Veterinary Medicine contends that emotional support animals are pets. They may alleviate symptoms of conditions their humans have, and even be designated by mental health professionals, but still, they’re not considered service animals. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA):

“While Emotional Support Animals or Comfort Animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan as therapy animals, they are not considered service animals under the ADA. These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities.”4

Bogus Service Dog Certifications: ‘There’s No Such Thing’

Where there’s a service, privilege or right, especially when it comes to animals, it seems there’s always people willing to bend the rules. It usually involves money, and selling so-called “service dog certification” to designate animals with qualifications they don’t actually have are no exception. Needless to say, the types of service and support animals are vast and can be confusing. Here’s a chart that summarizes all of the categories.

“It’s major issue for us because we see it all. We really do,” Kitchens says. “You can Google ‘service dog access’ and you will come up with multiple organizations that for $69.95 we will send you a service dog certification. Well, there is no such thing.”5 There’s also no national registry for animals who are designated helpers for humans, Ng says.

For a fee, there are dozens of websites that offer vests for dogs to wear that “certify” them as certified service, emotional support or therapy animals. There’s another reason why some people are willing to purchase vests without their animal having actual qualifications behind their label. WATE.com notes that for some, it’s also a way to bring their favorite animal with them into public places.

Ng, who’s a member of the steering committee on human-animal interaction with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), says the problem is a hot topic among personnel responsible for governing the situation due to what he terms as an “onslaught” of problems the AVMA has run into recently. He also notes:

“We are so lucky in this society to have this term of emotional support animal and … we really should designate that for the people who need them and the animals that are well behaved in public settings. So when people are taking advantage of the system that’s really hard, it’s disappointing.”6

Service Animals: Training to Perform Their True Function

The ADA acknowledges that it’s often fairly obvious when an animal is merely accompanying someone in a public place as a pet, or if it’s a bona fide service animal; you’ll know the latter is the case if a dog is guiding someone who is either blind or unable to see clearly, or helping someone who has trouble with stability or balance or is in a wheelchair. However, sometimes disabilities are not always visible to bystanders. The ADA, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, states:

“When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”7

Further, service animals are limited to dogs under Title II and III of the ADA, as of March 15, 2011.8 Local laws prohibiting specific breeds of dogs do not apply to service animals.

The ADA states that a “service animal” refers to any dog individually trained to do what is necessary to help someone with a disability, whether it’s physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or mental. It makes clear, however, that emotional support animals, comfort animals and therapy dogs are not in the same category: They’re not service animals. Similarly, the work service animals perform must be related directly to their human’s disability. In addition:

“It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and needs to have the animal for emotional support. A doctor’s letter does not turn an animal into a service animal.”9

ADA Facts Regarding Service Animals

An animal may or may not be wearing a special collar or harness. Some, but not all, are certified, licensed and/or have identification papers stating as such; however, they may not be carrying those papers with them. Most service dogs perform jobs most are familiar with, such as Seeing Eye dogs, seizure response dogs and those who alert people with hearing impairments.10

It’s important to note, though, that some local and state governments have special rules for people entering businesses or public places with support animals aside from service dogs, such as emotional support animals, so it’s best to check with these agencies to find out if such ordinances exist. From a page on the ADA’s website, facts regarding service dogs in businesses include:11

A service animal must be permitted to accompany an individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go and must not be segregated from other customers.

Even if an establishment has “no pets” signs posted, service animals, again, are not pets. Further, the ADA requires proprietors of “restaurants, hotels, retail stores, taxicabs, theaters, concert halls, and sports facilities” to change the wording in such postings to accommodate service animals needed by people with disabilities.

ADA rules supersede local and state laws stating that only guide dogs are admitted to enter a business to assist individuals with disabilities — so refusing to allow other types of service animals violates the ADA. That said, service animals must be under control, and they must be housebroken.

Businesses are not allowed to charge customers with service animals any maintenance, deposits or cleaning fees, even if such charges are in place for pets. However, if a service dog does damage in, say, a hotel, proprietors can charge the customer with the disability, but only if the hotel’s policy is to charge non-disabled guests for similar damage.

Taxi companies may object to a service dog accompanying a disabled person getting into their cabs, but refusing to pick someone up for this reason is also a violation, even if the taxi company is privately owned, and they can’t raise the fare.

Service Animals: Sometimes Other Rules Apply

There are dozens of situations regarding service animals in public places, and probably just as many exceptions. For instance, the care and conduct of service animals is the responsibility of the disabled person they’re with — the animal’s owner. Business owners aren’t required to provide food, care or a special location for the animal.

Arguably one of the greatest concerns people have about service animals relates to fear of the animal becoming a threat to themselves or their customers. But fear of animals, dogs included, or allergies to animals are not good enough reasons to refuse service. The business or government entity is expected to find solutions if employees, other customers or travelers are afraid of or allergic to dogs, such as allowing more or even a separated space.12

As for air travel, the rules are different. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) says airlines must allow both service and emotional support animals to travel in the cabin with the people they’re helping. True, the rules for the latter are getting more strict in light of a number of unfortunate animal incidents on flights.

For that reason, WATE News notes, people who want to travel with emotional support animals or psychiatric service animals may be required to supply specific documentation, including proof of their disability and why their animal is necessary, well before their trip.

People with disabilities who want more information regarding special circumstances, including air travel, may also want to check the provisions made under the Fair Housing Act, which can be found on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development site,13 as it includes specifications for service and emotional support animals.

Stages of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

From www.dogdementia.com

Don’t Shave Dogs in Summer

Tuesday, September 10th, 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.