Archive for the ‘Human-Animal Bond’ Category

Death of a Pet Can Hit Children Hard

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

 

By Serena McNiff
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The loss of a pet may be a child’s first encounter with death, and new research suggests no one should underestimate the psychological trauma that the loss can bring.

Previous studies have found that kids form deep emotional attachments to their pets and having a furry companion in your youth has been linked to greater empathy, self-esteem and social skills.

“The effects of pet loss were unique,” said study co-author Erin Dunn, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

To learn more, she and her hospital colleagues looked at a sample of more than 6,000 British children. Almost 9 out of 10 had owned a pet during their youth, and more than half had lost one during their first seven years of life.

Information was collected as a part a long-term study of parents and kids in Britain. When kids were 8 years old, their mothers filled out questionnaires about their youngsters’ mental health symptoms.

“For example, how often does your child feel sad, depressed or anxious — these are the kind of emotional and behavioral indicators that are used to identify and characterize children who might be experiencing some mental health-related challenges,” said Dunn.

The research team found that kids who lost a pet were more likely to have poor mental health. And the link held true after accounting for other distressing factors, including financial hardship, parental physical or emotional abuse, and physical or sexual abuse by anyone.

While a child’s mental well-being can be affected by many other adversities, the effects of pet loss “were not explained by these other hardships,” Dunn said.

And boys seemed to be affected more deeply than girls, the study found.

“The boys had more psychopathology symptoms — or a greater effect of the pet death, as compared to their female counterparts,” said co-author Katherine Crawford, who worked on the study while at Massachusetts General Hospital. She’s now a genetic counselor at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island in Providence.

Crawford added that the questionnaire used to evaluate well-being does not serve as a definitive diagnosis of any mental health disorder. But, she said, it asks “a lot of the same questions that one might when evaluating those mental health concerns.”

While the study did not examine how best to help a child cope with losing a furry friend, researchers suggested that being aware and recognizing a child’s emotions is a good start.

George Holden is chairman of the psychology department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He advised parents to talk frankly with their children regarding the loss of a pet.

“All too often parents think, erroneously, that if they don’t mention something, it’s better — it will go away,” said Holden, who wasn’t part of the study. “That’s absolutely wrong. It’s much better to directly recognize what’s going on, talk about it, and hear the child’s perspective.”

He also suggested being proactive and preparing a child for the inevitable if a pet is old or sick.

Struggling with the loss of a pet is entirely normal, Holden added, as they are often very well-loved family members.

Despite the emotional toll of losing a pet, researchers are not suggesting that parents avoid getting one.

Dunn suggested that further research should explore the “positive benefits of pet ownership because that kind of information would help parents in weighing the cost-benefit ratio of having pets.”

The findings were recently published online in the journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

More information

There’s more about coping with the loss of a pet at the American Veterinary Medical Association.

SOURCES: Erin Dunn, Sc.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, psychiatry, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Katherine Crawford, M.S., genetic counselor, Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, Providence, and former senior researcher, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; George Holden, Ph.D., professor and chairman, psychology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas; European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, online, Sept. 10, 2020

Last Updated: 

 

 

How to Disinfect Your Home Without Harming Your Pet

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

By Dr. Karen Becker for Mercola

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Since the COVID-19 pandemic, some people are more concerned than ever about keeping their spaces clean, but some may forget to read and heed warning labels on cleaners
  • The Pet Poison Helpline reported a 100% increase in phone traffic from panicked pet owners due to pets inhaling, ingesting or having skin contact with common but poisonous household cleaners
  • Bleach and ammonia are common cleaners that are potentially lethal to pets, but mixing them with other substances can make them even worse
  • Experts say highly reactive chemicals may be effective in killing bacteria and viruses, but that’s also what makes them respond to others, creating new toxic chemicals
  • While large dogs may also be affected, small dogs and cats are much closer to the source of toxins on the floor after cleaning, disinfecting or deodorizing, and may be increasingly harmed over time

Since the first warnings of the dangers of COVID-19 emerged, the U.S. has been inundated with advice from doctors, scientists and government officials regarding how people should behave to avoid contamination.

Besides the handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing that humans have been advised to practice, it only makes sense for pet owners to think about how to protect their pets’ sensitive skin, organs and nasal passages if you’re using harsh cleaners in your home.

But some have forgotten to read and heed the warning labels on cleaning and sanitizing agents, and pets as well as humans have been harmed because of it. Remember, a dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times greater than a human’s, and their chemical sensitivity potentially much greater (they don’t shower regularly to remove the accumulated chemicals).

In fact, since the first reports of what’s been termed a pandemic, Pet Poison Helpline has reported a 100% increase in phone traffic from panicked pet owners due to exposure to common household products that ended up injuring a vulnerable pet, from cats and dogs to birds, reptiles and numerous other exotic species.

Sadly, that can happen more easily than some people may think, especially when it comes to bleach, hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, observed Bluefield Daily Telegraph, based in West Virginia. According to Ahna Brutlag, DVM, a senior veterinary toxicologist:

“People are very concerned about their families during this COVID-19 crisis. That includes their pets. When we started receiving calls from panicked pet parents regarding possible poisonings related to COVID-19 cleaning fears, we felt we needed to educate the pet loving community on the safest way to do it.”1

Everybody wants their home to be clean, but harsh and even toxic chemicals are being used on a more frequent basis in more households, and accidents do happen. For example, someone with an open jug of bleach on the floor next to their washing machine might not realize how easy it would be to knock over.

Brutlag says if a dog or cat walks through the spilled substance, it could cause skin irritation since it can be absorbed so easily into their paw pads. But if the animal licked its paws while self grooming, the chemical’s contact with their delicate internal organs could lead to stomach irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and worse.

Some Cleaners Are Harsh, but Mixing Them Can Be Deadly

Bleach is potentially toxic on its own, but mixing it with many other cleaners can create noxious fumes. Potentially deadly combinations include bleach with ammonia, which creates chlorine gas; bleach with vinegar, which creates a chlorine gas so toxic it was used in World War I; and bleach with rubbing alcohol, says Vy Dong, professor at the University of California Irvine and head of the Dong Research Group.2

Alexander Lu from Dong Research Group notes that bleach is comprised of “highly reactive chemicals that make it effective at killing bacteria and viruses, but its high reactivity is also what makes it respond to other chemicals, which can result in new toxic chemicals.”3

While both toilet bowl cleaner and bleach are commonly used in the bathroom, they can be a lethal combination due to the fumes created. Use one or the other, and again, make sure you have good ventilation and that your pet isn’t in the room. Dong had this to say about various chemical combinations:

“Molecules are like people with their own personalities and how they behave depends on who they are around … unless you understand the personalities of all the molecules in your bottle, don’t try this at home.”4

They may seem tame in comparison, but even a combination of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar forms a chemical called peracetic acid, which is corrosive enough to break down surfaces, as well as being toxic.

Hand sanitizer can become a hazard because of its high alcohol content, Brutlag says. If an animal should swallow enough of it, symptoms could arise in as little as a half hour, necessitating a call to either the animal’s veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.

Rubbing alcohol, especially concentrated alcohol levels from 70% to 99%, may be good for cleaning, but mixed with bleach it turns into chloroform, which can cause unconsciousness, and chloroacetone, another tear gas. Both are described as “toxic and dangerous.”5


Many Cleaners Are Potentially Dangerous

Steps you can take to avoid problems include placing your dog in his crate (and your cat in a closed room) while using chemical-based cleaning products on your floors, bathrooms or laundry. But some might use such cleaners on the cages themselves. The ASPCA notes that it’s the dilution of bleach in water that’s important:

“Pet parents are often curious about the risks associated with cleaning their pets’ cages and toys with bleach. The bottom line is this: cleaning your pet’s cage or toy with a properly diluted bleach solution, followed by a thorough rinsing and airing out, is not expected to cause harm. If the odor of bleach seems overwhelming, open windows and use fans to air the room.”6

One reason pets are so susceptible to chemical odors is because their systems are more sensitive, so the level of exposure for them is much higher than it is for humans. Even if you have a large dog — and especially if you have a cat or small dog — they’re much closer to the source of the toxins that are on the floor. Breathing them constantly would be not only unpleasant, but increasingly harmful over time.

Other substances many homeowners with pets wouldn’t think twice about using include carpet deodorizers that are shaken or sprayed on and left to sit for a period of time before vacuuming. Pets can easily walk through the room and inhale it or get it on their paws, and ingest it secondarily to grooming.

One way to protect both you and your pets is to make sure you thoroughly wipe down any surface with pure water after using conventional disinfectants. I use a medical-grade colloidal silver product around my house (proven to address aggressive viruses and bacteria) to safely address bacteria and viruses without risk to me or my furry family members.

If you opt for conventional chemical cleaning agents with poison control warnings on the label, make sure you (and your pets) have plenty of ventilation. Further:

“While we’re stuck at home trying to sanitize everything in sight, it might be tempting to get creative with mixing household chemicals to try to get your home as clean as possible. However, mixing household cleaners can be dangerous due to the chemical makeup of the unique cleaners … It’s highly recommended to stick to using one household cleaner at a time per surface to avoid mixing chemicals.”7

Better yet, opt for only natural cleaning products in your home, here’s a link to a Facebook Live I did about effective and non-toxic household cleaning products you can feel good about using around animals.

If you are still using conventional chemical cleaning products and notice changes in your pets, don’t hesitate to call the Pet Poison Helpline8 at 800-213-6680, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for information regarding potential poisoning of all animal species.

Study: Dogs Understand Spoken Words Better Than We Thought

Friday, May 1st, 2020

From Healthy Pets

Mercola

By Dr. Karen Becker

https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2020/05/01/dogs-understand-spoken-words.aspx?cid_source=petsnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1HL&cid=20200501Z1&et_cid=DM521245&et_rid=862360194

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • New study results suggest that dogs understand spoken words even better than we thought
  • Researchers concluded that dogs recognize spoken words regardless of the speaker, and they do it instinctively
  • The study proves that despite previous assumptions, this spontaneous ability is not uniquely human and that dogs share this linguistic talent
  • Earlier research indicates that dogs hear not only what we say, but how we say it
  • Similar to us, our dogs use the left hemisphere of their brains to process meaningful words, and the right hemisphere to process vocal tones

The ability to recognize specific word sounds (e.g., vowels) in human speech is assumed to be a uniquely human trait. After all, small differences in sound frequencies can completely change the meaning of a word, for example, “had”, “hid” and “who’d,” or “mat”, “mitt”, and “met.” The sound changes between these groups of words are so minor that word recognition software often misinterprets them.

In addition, the sound of words changes depending on the speaker — his or her age, body size, mouth shape, and other factors. For all these reasons, many researchers have held the opinion that instinctive recognition of word sounds is uniquely human, and that animals such as dogs would need training, at a minimum, to develop the skill.

However, if you’re a dog parent or spend time around dogs, you’ve probably seen for yourself that dogs can and do learn words from one person and recognize those words when they’re spoken by someone else. I’d venture to guess the vast majority of family dogs recognize the word “treat” no matter who says it!

Study: Dogs Understand Spoken Words Better Than We Thought

Recently, a team of U.K. researchers decided to see if dogs are able to recognize the same little sounds (called phonemes) that make up words, when the words are spoken by different people with varying accents and pronunciation.1

The researchers chose words that began with an “h” and ended with a “d” but had different vowels —such as “had”, “head”, “hid” and “hood” — and that would also have no meaning to the dogs. The words were recorded by 14 female and 13 male speakers of varying ages and different accents, none of whom were familiar to the dogs in the study.

Each dog sat with his or her owner near an audio speaker while a sequence of six recorded words played with six seconds of silence between each word. The dog’s responses were videotaped.

Psychology professor and neuropsychological researcher Stanley Coren, Ph.D., author of the best-selling book “The Intelligence of Dogs,” in an article for Psychology Today, describes a likely testing scenario:

“One experimental trial might have run this way. The dog to be tested is presented with a string of repetitions of the word ‘had’ through the speaker. Suppose that in this instance the word was spoken by a woman.

Typically, when the dog first hears this new word spoken by this female voice he would point his ears forward, or move toward the speaker, or flick his eyes in the direction that the sound was coming from, all of which are signs of attention and engagement.

“However, as other women with different accents repeat the word ‘had’ the dog loses interest indicating that he knows that they are all saying the same thing. On the other hand, when a female speaker in the sequence says a new word, one with a different vowel, like ‘hid’, the dog now perks up again, indicating that he noticed the difference. But when the next woman’s voice returns to saying ‘had’ his attention will again flag.”2

After evaluating the videotaped sessions, the researchers concluded that dogs recognize spoken words regardless of the speaker, and they do it instinctively.

“These results are significant because they confirm two important aspects of speech recognition in dogs,” Coren writes. “First, they can distinguish between subtle changes in vowel sounds that identify particular words. Second, dogs isolate the important word sounds from all of the changes in sound quality associated with different speakers.”

Lead study author Dr. Holly Root-Gutteridge, a postdoctoral researcher with the Mammal Vocal Communication and Cognition Research Group in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex made this observation in an interview with Sci-News:

“The ability to recognize words as the same when spoken by different people is critical to speech, as otherwise people wouldn’t be able to recognize words as the same when spoken by different people.

This research shows that, despite previous assumptions, this spontaneous ability is not uniquely human and that dogs share this linguistic talent, suggesting that speech perception may not be as special to humans as we previously thought.”3

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Dogs’ Brains Work Similar to Ours to Process What We Say

In 2016, researchers in Budapest published a study that looked at how dogs’ brains process human speech.4 They came to the conclusion that our canine friends listen not only to what we say, but how we say it.

The scientists discovered that when we praise our dogs, the reward centers in their brains perk up if the words we use match our tone of voice. These findings suggest the ability to process words evolved much earlier than was originally thought and may not be unique to humans.

According to Phys.org, the study shows “… that if an environment is rich in speech, as is the case of family dogs, word meaning representations can arise in the brain, even in a non-primate mammal that is not able to speak.”5

For the study, the researchers recruited 13 family dogs — primarily Border Collies and Golden Retrievers — who excelled at lying completely still in an fMRI scanner, facilitating analysis of their brain activity. The dogs were volunteer study participants, were never restrained inside the scanner and could leave at any time.

The researchers recorded a trainer’s voice saying certain phrases with varying types of intonation. In the recordings, the trainer praised the dogs using Hungarian words and phrases that in English translate to “good boy,” “super,” and “well done.”

The words were spoken in both an upbeat tone and a neutral tone. The trainer also used neutral words like “however,” and “nevertheless” that meant nothing to the dogs.

While the recording played, the researchers studied the scans for regions of the dogs’ brains that were differentiating between the praise and meaningless words, as well as praise and neutral tones of voice. They observed that the dogs used the left hemisphere to process meaningful (but not meaningless) words, and the right hemisphere to process vocal tones.

Per Phys.org, “This was the same auditory brain region that this group of researchers previously found in dogs for processing emotional non-speech sounds from both dogs and humans, suggesting that intonation processing mechanisms are not specific to speech.”

Lead researcher Attila Andics of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest explains:

“During speech processing, there is a well-known distribution of labor in the human brain. It is mainly the left hemisphere’s job to process word meaning, and the right hemisphere’s job to process intonation.

The human brain not only separately analyzes what we say and how we say it, but also integrates the two types of information, to arrive at a unified meaning. Our findings suggest that dogs can also do all that, and they use very similar brain mechanisms.”6

Processing Words Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Understanding Them

“One important thing is that we don’t claim that dogs understand everything we say, of course,” Andics told HuffPost in an email.7

There can be a difference between a dog processing words for their familiarity and actually understanding the words as we intend. As study co-author Adam Miklosi, head of the Family Dog Project told Scientific American magazine:

“‘Understanding’ is a tricky word. Studies using brain imaging technology cannot firmly say that the activation of a specific brain area indicates ‘understanding.’

“For sure, dogs in this study reacted to the meaningful words, that is, to those words that their owners often use when they want to attract the dog’s attention or provide a positive feedback for the dog. So in this sense our dogs recognized these words as familiar and probably meaning something good.”8

An important result of the study is that it demonstrates the left hemisphere of dogs’ brains processes meaningful words separate from the vocal tone. This suggests your dog may understand that “good dog” is praise regardless of the tone of voice you use when you say it, because he recognizes those words as meaningful vs. meaningless.

“We think that intonation is important,” says Miklosi. “Owners should learn how to praise a dog, and then use the same expression in similar way. Consistency in praising and in general in communication with the dog is important.”

The researchers suspect they would have similar results in studies of other domestic animals like cats and horses, as long as the animals had lived among humans. They hope this study and subsequent research can be used to enhance communication and cooperation between dogs and humans.

12 Games for Dogs to Keep Your Pup Entertained and Healthy

Saturday, April 25th, 2020
  • From ApartmentGuide
  • We have 12 games you can try playing with your dog
  • Stuck indoors? Try out the indoor games and puzzles
  • Looking to get some exercise in the yard? We’ve included outdoor activities as well

Similar to humans, dogs need their exercise to stay healthy. While walking your dog can be a good way to release energy, sometimes you don’t have the time or space to go on a long walk. In these situations, use these games for dogs to tire your pup out.

Whether it’s a sunny day and you can spend time in the yard or you’re confined to your small apartment, we have a variety of games for your pup. When playing, be sure to consider your dog’s size and age. Bigger dogs tend to have more energy and might need longer games. Small dogs may tire more easily. When considering age, older dogs are more prone to hurting themselves. This means you may want to choose games that are easier on their joints.

No matter your dog’s breed, size or age, we have twelve games for dogs to keep them healthy and happy.

DIY puzzles for dogs

You’ve found the perfect pet-friendly apartment and now you need games to entertain your dog throughout the day. Luckily there are plenty of indoor puzzles for dogs that you can try out in the comfort of your home.

graphic showing dog doing a scent experiment

1. Scent experiment

Try out a scent experiment with your dog to test its snout. This can be played in a variety of ways. In the most basic version, you’ll hide a treat somewhere and have them find it.

Muffin tray tennis ball game

For this activity, you’ll need a muffin tray, four tennis balls and treats.

  • Step 1: Start by having your dog sit. Place a few treats in different cups of the muffin tray as they wait patiently.
  • Step 2: Instruct them to find the treats.
  • Step 3: Now that they are familiar with the game, repeat step one but this time put tennis balls over the treats.
  • Step 4: Instruct your dog to find the treats. See if they can sniff them out and figure out how to move the tennis balls out of the way to retrieve them.
  • Step 5: As your dog gets better at sniffing out the treats, set up some decoy tennis balls with no treats under them.

This game can last as long as you’d like it to. For variety, try changing which treats you are using or use a more difficult treat to gobble up like peanut butter.

graphic showing dog with treat dispenser

2. Treat dispenser fun

Give your dog a treat puzzle to figure out. You can either buy a treat dispenser like the popular Kong toys or make your own.

How to DIY a dog treat dispenser

For this project, you’ll need a water bottle, dog treats and a drill.

  • Step 1: Wash the bottle so that it’s clean and remove any labels.
  • Step 2: Drill a hole in the side of the bottle. The size of the hole will depend on the size of your treats. The hole should be a little smaller than your treats so they don’t easily fall out.
  • Step 3: Put the treats in the bottle and screw on the top.
  • Step 4: Give the treat dispenser to your dog and see how long it takes them to solve the puzzle.

Be sure you are supervising your pup when they play with this toy. If they manage to chew off the lid or tear through the plastic, you’ll want to take it away.

Active indoor games for dogs

Just because you are confined to your apartment, doesn’t mean your dog can’t release some energy. Try out one of these active indoor games to keep from going stir crazy.

graphic of dog playing hide and seek

3. Hide and seek

A fun indoor game to play with your dog is hide and seek. Have your pup sit and stay. Then go hide somewhere in the house. When you are hidden, tell them to come. When they find you, reward them with a treat.

graphic of dog racing up the stairs

4. Stairway race

Release some energy by having an indoor race with your dog. This is best for homes that have carpeted stairways to prevent any injuries. Have someone say, “On your marks, get set, go!” Race up the stairs and see who can make it to the top first. Have everyone in the family race in different heats to determine who is the champion.

Training challenges to try with your dog

While you might have taken a training class when your dog was a puppy, you may not have kept up with teaching them as they grew. Test their mental strength by practicing new skills and learning agility.

graphic showing hand signals for training dogs

5. Practice skills

Test your dog’s memory and obedience by teaching them some basic skills. These can include sit, stay, shake and roll over. Skills are good for a dog of any age to practice. Use their favorite treat as an incentive. Be sure to only reward them if they are successful in completing the action.

If your canine has already mastered these basics, try some more advanced skills. Some advanced dog skills include:

  • Play dead
  • Crawl
  • Kiss
  • Hug
  • Spin
  • Sit pretty
  • Bow
  • Leash

Practicing these skills will create a deeper bond between you and your pup as well as lead to them being more obedient.

graphic showing an indoor agility course

6. Create an indoor agility course

If you are practicing agility with your dog, you can make an agility course with basic home furniture. Learning agility can help solve dog behavior problems, improve their off-leash reliability, build your bond and gain some skills you can show off.

Make a scorecard and see how your pup would fare in a real competition. To learn more about agility, check out the American Kennel Club scoring guide.

Homemade dog agility course

Create your own agility course at home to learn these skills.

  • Weave: Set up laundry baskets in a row. Have your dog practice weaving in and out of them.
  • Jump up: Have them jump up on a chair or your bed. Practice with different heights.
  • Jump through: Hold up a hula hoop and have them jump through.
  • Under: Practice going under a few chairs that are lined up in a row.
  • Crawl: Get a box and open the ends. Have your dog practice crawling through.
  • Over: Rest a pole or broom over two stools. Work on their ability to jump over the pole.

infographic of games for dogs

Additional classic games for dogs

These are the games that your dog knows and loves. When you’re at a loss for what to play, try one of these classic games for dogs.

7. Clean up

If you have toys scattered throughout your apartment, clean up is the game for you. A game of clean up will entertain your pup as well as get rid of some of the clutter in your home.

Have them pick up one of their toys and lead them to the toy bin. When their head is over the bin, instruct them to “drop it.” Praise them with words or treats. This process may take a little longer for them to understand so be patient as they are learning. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a tidy space.

8. Fetch

Fetch is a classic for a reason. This game may seem repetitive to you, but to your dog, it’s endless entertainment. To play, throw a ball of some sort. Typically tennis balls work best because they fit in your dog’s mouth, can be thrown far distances and their color is easy to spot. Your dog will chase after it and return the ball, panting and ready for more.

Many play fetch with sticks they find in the backyard, but this can be dangerous. The stick can easily break down when chewed and the splinters can be harmful to your dog’s mouth or stomach. Be sure you are using soft, pet-safe toys when playing fetch.

photo showing dog with frisbee

9. Frisbee

Another crowd favorite is a frisbee. Frisbee is similar to fetch, but oftentimes your dog is content playing with it alone for hours. Since frisbees have rounded sides, they often roll away. This turns into a game of chase and then a wild battle until your pup comes out of it victorious.

There are two types of frisbees you can purchase. The classic plastic kind is durable, but be sure to keep an eye on how it’s holding up. Sharp teeth can cause the plastic to crack, making it dangerous for dogs to play with and humans to throw. Another option is to get a softer, cloth frisbee. These are good for dogs with more sensitive gums like puppies who are teething.

10. Water games

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than cooling off with some water games. Get sprinklers and attach them to the hose in your yard. Be sure you’re using a garden hose that is lead-free. If it’s been sitting out in the sun, run it for a little bit to clear out any bacteria that may have formed.

Set up the sprinkler in an area of your yard that needs some hydration. Turn it on and encourage your dog to jump over it with you. For more dynamic entertainment, get an oscillating sprinkler so your dog can chase it back and forth.

11. Soccer

A game for the whole family, soccer can be an excellent way to release some energy. Get a soccer ball and be sure it’s fully inflated. If a dog’s sharp teeth puncture it, your match will be over.

Familiarize your dog with the ball. Reward them with treats when they push it with their nose. Once they are comfortable with the new toy, try playing pass. Lightly kick the ball towards them and see if they can return it to you. Another option is to set up a goal (could be two sticks that serve as goal markers) and have your dog play defense.

photo showing tug of war

12. Tug of war

Your dog may naturally try to play tug of war with you with something you’re holding. To be sure they don’t destroy your couch pillow or shoelaces it’s important to give them an item they are allowed to play with. Create a tug of war toy with some natural cotton rope. Tie knots in the rope so your pet has something to grab onto.

Many pet parents are worried that this type of game will bring out aggression in their dog. To avoid this, be sure you are playing on your terms. Keep the toy stored out of reach and bring it out when you want to play. When playing, be sure that your dog never touches you. If they do, the game is temporarily over. This will teach them boundaries. In addition to learning these boundaries, they should know how to “drop it” when instructed to. If they haven’t learned this command, it’s a skill you should work on.

Spending quality time with your dog

Partaking in these games for dogs will create a stronger bond between you and your four-legged friend. Be sure to add these skills to your dog’s pet resume when moving to a new apartment.

Sources:

A Pet Owner’s Guide to Flowers and Plants

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020

BROUGHT TO YOU BY KREMP.COM

We love our pets! The family cat or dog is vital part of our family, and we do everything we can to help ensure that they have what they need. Pet owners need to be certain that they provide the correct food and preventative medical care. While pet safety needs to be a big concern around the house, one of the most common dangers for pets are with the plants and flowers that can be redily found in the home.

Most homes have various types of plants and flowers inside the home. These plants and flowers help brighten up a home and provide a decorative flourish. While the addition of plants and flowers in a home are helpful in making the house attractive, it can also be a danger to pets. Knowing which plants are non-toxic and which plants are toxic to your dog or cat is important for the continued good health of your pet.

There are a number of plants that are commonly found around the home that are toxic to animals. Some of the plants that should be kept away from the family pet include Lilies, Tulips and Azaleas. All of these plants could have an impact on the health of pets if ingested. Therefore, it is important that prevention of potential danger is very important.

If you have a home with pets, and you have flowers and plants, it is imperative to keep an eye out for the possibility of the animal being poisoned. Some of the symptoms that you should look out for include diarrhea, vomiting, weakness and not behaving as normal. If you suspect that your pet may have been accidentally poisoned, it is important to contact your vet as soon as possible. The early the treatment for the poison the better chance of getting them back to health.

To learn more about which plants and flowers are toxic and what to do in the event of a poisoning, please review the following information.

  • Poisonous Plants – Informative web page from Cornell University which provides information on which plants are poisonous to animals.
  • Animal Toxins – Listing of items that are considered poisonous to all animals.
  • Plants Toxic to Animals – Helpful database of plants that are toxic to domesticated animals.
  • Toxic Plants for Pets – In this page you will learn about the plants that animals should avoid.
  • List of Poisonous Plants – Useful article which contains a listing of plants that are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Pet Safe Gardening – Information from the Animal Health Foundation which offers ideas on having a pet safe garden.
  • Pets and Toxic Plants – This article from UC Davis discusses pets and plants that could be toxic to them.
  • ASPCA Information – Information on plants and flowers that are toxic and non-toxic to pets.
  • Keeping Pets Safe – Article from HGTV which offers ideas on how to keep pets safe from plants and flowers around the home.
  • Safe Indoor House Flowers and Plants – Helpful article from Better Homes and Gardens which provides information on plants and flowers that are safe for pets.
  • Signs of Poisoning – Useful information on how to tell if your dog has been poisoned.
  • Top Dog Poisons – This article informs dog owners about the top potentially harmful items that are poisonous to dogs.
  • Antifreeze Poisoning in Cats – Article which provides general information on how to determine if you cat was poisoned.
  • Poisoned Dog – In this helpful article you will find information and steps to treat a poisoned dog.
  • Treating a Poisoned Cat – Article which lists steps that can be taken to treat a cat suspected of being poisoned.
  • Poison Prevention Tips (PDF) – Publication which lists the top tips on how to keep your pet from being poisoned.
  • Pet Poison Prevention Tips – Information for pet owners on ways to prevent pet poisoning from occurring.
  • Poison Prevention Tips for Pets – Informative information on how to avoid pets being poisoned around the home.
  • Poison Prevention Publication (PDF) – Helpful brochure which provides pet owners with preventative measures to keep poisons away from pets.
  • Poison Control and Prevention – Information on how to keep pets safe from potential poisons.
  • Pets and Poisons – In this article from the American Humane Association you will find information on pet poisoning.
  • Pet First Aid – Red Cross information and class material on learning the basics of pet first aid.
  • Basic Pet First Aid – Useful information for pet owners which provides a basic understanding of first aid.
  • Pesticide Poisoning in Pets – Article which offers information on what to do if your pet is poisoned by pesticides.
  • Poison Information and Resources – Resourceful page with information about pet poisoning.
  • Pets and Poison – Web page which informs pet owners about the dangers around the home for pets.
  • Poison Safety for Pet Owners (PDF) – General information about poison safety from the University of Virginia.
  • Preventing Pet Poisoning – Information about pet poisoning prevention with outdoor pesticides.
  • Pet Poisoning Information – Helpful information about the basics of pet poisoning.
  • Plants and Household Products – Informative fact sheets with information about normal plants and products around the house that can be poisonous to pets.

Disabled Woman Turns to Angel Fund for Help With Dog’s Heart Problem

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

In 2004, Galina Coleman slipped and fell at work not far from where she lived in Petaluma.  She had five surgeries for the injuries she suffered.  In the wake of that personal catastrophy and disillusioned with her marriage, she got a divorced and moved to Southern California.

Today, estranged from her former husband and two sons, she lives in Aliso Viejo and struggles to pay her bills. She was declared totally disabled in 2006 and lives on a Social Security disability check.

“I’m just really struggling,” she said.  “I’m in affordable housing.  My rent is $1,398 a month, which is ‘very affordable’ here. However, for me it’s just really, really difficult.  I’ve tried to get jobs but it just hasn’t worked out for me.  I have two senior dogs and a senior cat and I know they’re basically at the end of their lives.”

Late last November, her struggles came into clear perspective when Abby, her nearly 14-year-old Dachshund, appeared to be having a digestive issue.  “When I took her to a veterinarian, the doctor discovered a heart murmur. She thought it was pretty serious and prescribed medication for Abby after doing an x-ray,” Galina said.

Later, she took the dog to Dr. Lynn Sanchez, a veterinarian she said she likes and trusts at Garden Grove Dog and Cat Hospital.  Dr. Sanchez recommended an electrocardiogram to get a clearer idea what Abby’s problem was.  But Galina could not handle the cost.  She applied for an Angel Fund grant and was awarded $451, a sum that was matched by the hospital.

Abby got the electrocardiogram in late December – and with it some good news: the murmur was not as bad as originally suspected.  “Dr. Sanchez said that everything looked pretty good and prescribed three medications,” Galina said.  A week later, when she took Abby back for a recheck, two of the medications were discontinued.  “One of them was really hard on her kidneys,” she said, “so I was really glad to get rid of it.”

After another recheck early in January, the dog is continuing to take Vetmedin.  “She’s not in heart failure but has some damage to a mitral valve,” Galina said.

When Galina divorced, she took her animals with her.  “I have tried to help them on a piecemeal basis,” she said. “I’ve had to rely on charity.  They’ve all been in pretty good health but now they are at the point where that’s starting to change [because of their ages].”

Augie, Abby’s brother, is two years younger at 12.  Aurora, her cat, also is 12.  Galina believes that Augie will need a dental treatment soon.

“I’ve been given the blessing of having these animals – they are just truly a blessing for me.  I am their steward and I need to make sure they get whatever is needed to take care of them. I have to do that.

“Had I not been able to do this [echocardiogram], I would either have been giving Abby way too much medication or no medication at all.  It wouldn’t have been good either way.  it was going to be detrimental to her health one way or the other.”

Galina is grateful to Angel Fund.  “They really helped me out,” she said.  “It is a wonderful thing to help people because things can be so expensive.  I think it’s a really great thing for veterinarians to give back.  I admire them for doing that.  I think that’s what we’re all here for – to give back.”

She is thinking about moving with her animals to a place – perhaps New Mexico – where her disability check would go further.  She is 58 years old.

“I have ignored a lot of my life for these dogs.  But, in return, they’ve provided me with something,” she said.  That something is love and support.

The Dos and Don’ts of Crate Training

Friday, March 6th, 2020
Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker       March 06, 2020
  • I’m an advocate of crate training dogs, because done right, your pet’s crate serves as a secure, happy, restful place she visits throughout the day
  • The obvious first step in successful crate training is finding the right type and size crate for your canine companion
  • Step two involves turning the new crate into your dog’s favorite place to hang out (other than with you, of course!)
  • Finally, there’s a right and a wrong way to introduce crating to your dog, and it’s important to know the difference
  • Most dogs who’ve had a bad past experience with being crated can be patiently and successfully “reprogrammed” to view their new doggy den in a positive way

If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a big advocate of crate training. Whether your furry family member is a pup or a senior, providing her with her own cozy, private space has a number of benefits for both of you. For example, a crate can help not only with housetraining, but also car or plane travel, and overnight stays with friends, family, or at a pet-friendly hotel.

A health benefit of crate training is that dogs accustomed to spending time alone in their “bedrooms” are much less likely to develop separation anxiety or other phobias. Putting a puppy in her crate for a nap or some quiet time also helps her learn not to expect constant human attention, similar to the use of playpens for babies.

This strategy coupled with basic positive reinforcement obedience training will set the stage for a secure, balanced adult dog who is pleasant to be around, which is always the goal. To create crate-love in your dog, her space should be safe, comfortable, and relaxing, and she should associate it with only positive experiences.

How to Select the Right Crate

When you purchase a crate for your dog, the size is important. You want a space that’s not too big or too small. Your dog should be able to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably in it, but it shouldn’t be so large that he can easily use one end as his potty spot and the other end for sleeping and snacking. If you need to housetrain your dog, a crate large enough to have a bathroom at one end can actually slow down the process.

If you’re unsure what size crate to buy, talk to a shelter volunteer, your veterinarian or your breeder about what you want to accomplish so they can help you pick the right size. If you’re crate training a puppy, especially a giant breed, you’ll probably want a smaller crate initially and then a bigger one as he grows.

When you bring the new crate home, place it in an area where your family spends a lot of time — not in an isolated spot, or outdoors, or a high traffic location (which can be stressful), or where your dog will experience temperature extremes.

Make sure there’s nothing hanging inside the crate that could cause your dog harm, and especially while he’s still young and rambunctious, take his collar off before you put him in the crate so it can’t get hung up on anything. As necessary, disinfect the crate with either mild soap or vinegar and baking soda and rinse it thoroughly.

Transforming the Crate into a Delightful Doggy Den

Your canine companion will need something comfy to lie on in her crate, so bedding is a must. Depending on your dog (some destroy their beds, others don’t), you can choose a plush bed, a crate mat, or something in between. (If your dog is a persistent bed shredder, she probably needs more frequent or vigorous exercise and/or additional mental stimulation.)

You’ll also want to keep a fresh supply of clean filtered water in the crate. To keep the mess to a minimum, you can use a stainless-steel bowl that attaches to a side or the front of the crate. If you’ll be confining her to her crate for short periods, it’s a great idea to have food-stuffed or treat-release toys on hand to keep her occupied while she’s home alone.

Keeping the environment inside your dog’s crate comfortable is also very important. Depending on where you live, where in your home the crate is located, and your dog’s tendency to overheat, you might want to consider a crate fan (attached to the outside of the crate), or a small floor fan placed near the crate. The fan should provide good ventilation and keep your dog cool, without blowing directly on her — or she should be able to move away from it if she feels the need.

It’s also important not to place your dog’s crate in direct sunlight, too close to a heat source, or in a cold, drafty area of your home.

Something else you might want to try is covering the crate at night or to provide your dog with quiet time when she needs it. What I do with my dogs is drape a blanket over the back half of their crates to create a quiet, dark, den-like environment. My dogs use their crates as bedrooms — they go into them to sleep. If you decide to cover the entire crate, keep in mind it will cause the temperature inside to heat up, so you should make adjustments as necessary.

Getting Your Dog Used to His Crate

If you purchased a crate ahead of time and it’s there when your dog comes home, as long as he hasn’t had a bad experience with confinement in the past, it’s should be pretty easy to get him acclimated to his little den.

The first rule of crate training is to never, ever force your dog into or out of his crate, because you can end up with an unmanageable case of separation anxiety or a pathological aversion to enclosed or small spaces. The crate must represent a safe zone for your dog, so you never want to make his safe zone feel unsafe.

The second rule of crate training is what I call, “It’s all good,” which means everything about the crate is positive from your dog’s perspective. While you’re getting him used to his crate, everything he loves goes in there, and the door stays propped or tied open so he can freely investigate.

Put treats in and around the crate, along with treat release toys, chew toys, food puzzle toys — all his favorites. I also recommend feeding him in his crate with the door open. The goal is to have your dog voluntarily go into his crate because everything about it is positive and fun.

How to Handle a Case of Crate-Hate

If your dog is nervous or fearful due to a past bad crating experience, you’ll have to take things slower. A dog who has been crated as a form of punishment or locked in a crate for inappropriately long periods of time will need to be gently and patiently reintroduced to the crate.

Make sure to leave the door open (tie it open if necessary so there’s no chance it will close while he’s in there). Put food rewards around the outside of the crate and inside as well so he can get comfortable going in and out without worrying about being “trapped” inside.

Once you sense he’s comfortable inside the crate, feed him in there with the door open. Once he’s comfortably eating in the crate, close the door. Don’t go far and keep an eye on him. At some point he’ll realize the door is closed and he’s inside. Try to ignore any whimpering or barking. Once he’s calm, open the door and praise him.

When you start closing the crate door, leave it closed for very short periods of time (no more than a minute) so that he realizes he’s not “trapped” or being punished. In the meantime, continue tossing treats into the crate several times a day to reinforce the association between it and good things.

Once your dog begins associating good things with the crate and he’s feeling more comfortable in there, you can close the door for longer periods. Be sure to leave something fun inside such as a treat-release toy he can focus on. Don’t leave your house until your dog is completely comfortable in the closed crate while you’re at home. You can gradually extend the amount of time you leave him in the crate, providing he’s getting consistent, frequent trips outside to potty.

Once he’s comfortable being in a closed crate when you’re at home, you can begin taking short trips away from the house. If you need to leave your dog for longer than 4 hours, I recommend you use a dog sitter or a doggy daycare facility rather than crating him for long periods of time.

If you’re struggling with crate training, I recommend talking with positive dog trainer who can help you work through the problems you’re experiencing.

Pet-friendly fabrics and flooring make decorating a breeze for dog and cat lovers

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

Pet Connection

by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

By Kim Campbell Thornton  –  Andrews McMeel Syndication

 

We’re in the market for a new sofa, and my friend Tamela Klisura, an interior designer, is urging me to get one in a light neutral shade instead of the colorful patterns that I love — in part because they hide pet hair so well.

“It’ll get dirty,” I argued. Dogs will be napping on it all the time, after all.

Tamela, who has three dogs herself, pooh-poohed that.

“They have performance fabrics now that clean up really easily,” she says.

She’s right. You don’t have to buy furnishings that are the same color as your pug or Labrador’s fur — or the Holstein cow pattern I’d need for my chestnut-and-white cavaliers. If you’re considering buying new furniture, reupholstering what you have or putting down new flooring, you have a lot of options to help keep your home looking and smelling clean, even if you have multiple dogs and cats.

Many fabrics and carpets these days are made to withstand odors and stains from spills, dog drool, pet accidents or animals who simply need a bath, thanks to a moisture barrier that keeps liquids and other messes on the fabric’s surface instead of soaking in. They can even be safely disinfected with a product that knocks out pathogens including E. coli, salmonella, MRSA, parvovirus and canine distemper virus.

“Those Crypton fabrics are made for a variety of high use and abuse,” says commercial architect Heather E. Lewis of Animal Arts, a firm that designs veterinary hospitals, shelters and other facilities. “What I have seen as an architect is an explosion in the number of cleanable fabrics that are used in health care, and those fabrics are also appropriate for use in a home.”

Flooring and carpets are also more pet-friendly, thanks to advances in materials. Vinyl, for one, has come a long way. Rosemary George replaced her wood floors with commercial-grade vinyl. “It looks just like wood but holds up better and is impervious to accidents,” she says. Melissa Frieze Karolak has vinyl planks in her basement, “luxury” vinyl in one bathroom and old-fashioned linoleum in the laundry area. “I like them all, and so far they have held up well to our two dogs and three cats,” she says.

If you’ve ever wished that you could just throw large rugs into the washing machine, well, now you can. A company called Ruggable makes lightweight rugs that go over a nonskid pad. The low-pile rugs, which come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and patterns, are stain-resistant and waterproof. When they need to be cleaned, even the 8-by-10-foot size fits in a home washing machine.

“I have Ruggables and love the look, durability and washability,” says Marion Schuller, responding on Facebook to a friend who was considering buying one. “There is little or no padding, but the dogs like them and choose the rug instead of tile.”

Another option is carpet squares made with solid vinyl backing. When vomit, urine or poop accidents happen — and they will — the affected squares can be pulled up and cleaned or replaced altogether.

Wall-to-wall carpets are also made now to resist depredations from dogs and cats. Some are treated to prevent stains from forming after spills or pet potty accidents, prevent urine from penetrating to the pad and resist soiling. They can be good choices for people with asthma or allergies who prefer carpet to hard-surface flooring.

Whether it’s furniture or flooring, homes are being designed around pets. “I think that’s cool and it makes it easier for busy families,” says Lewis, who has kids and pets. “I love to see that.”

Please don’t rush up to pet my dog!

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Dear parents,

I realize my dog is super cute. I know it is fun to watch her playing fetch with me and it drew your child’s attention when I walked by with my pup.

I am guessing that your family probably doesn’t have a dog right how and it appears from all the fuss I’m overhearing that your kids really want one. I applaud your determination to not get a pet until you really have the time for one. It is a very responsible choice to wait.

But here’s the thing, just because I’m out and about with my dog, doesn’t mean she is public property to be approached or touched. She isn’t that used to kids and in fact, isn’t all that comfortable with strangers in general. I bring my dog out for walks and to the park so I can spend time with her and we can enjoy the fresh air together.

I honestly don’t want to appear rude or say anything harsh to your kids, but if they rush up to her or try to hug her, it will make her nervous and I’m not 100% certain how she might react. It’s my responsibility to keep her safe in the world so I’d appreciate if you would simply admire and keep your distance.

I’m sure you would feel the same if I was excited and came rushing up to hug your kid because he was wearing such a cute outfit. Actually, I wouldn’t blame you if you called the cops on me if I actually did that!

But you see what I mean? Personal space is a big deal for both humans and dogs. Let’s just be mutually respectful of one another and simply smile and nod as we keep walking and pass by. I promise that if I wanted you to come say hi, I would invite you and your kids to come pet her. If I felt like interacting, I’d make it obvious, but if I didn’t issue that invitation, please keep moving or just ADMIRE from a distance.

Thanks for understanding and for helping raise your kids to understand that dogs need to feel safe too.

Sincerely,

A responsible dog owner

Ground, barriers broken at Temple Grandin Equine Center

Monday, February 24th, 2020
By 
Temple Grandin Equine Center
Temple Grandin, CSU’s world-renowned professor of animal sciences and autism advocate, speaks Monday, Feb., 10, at the ground breaking of the Temple Grandin Equine Center

Temple Grandin, the world-renowned professor in Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and autism advocate, didn’t have an easy road in life.

Far from it.

“High school was a disaster for me,” she said. “I was always getting picked on.”

She recalled the day she reached her breaking point when a student called her a derogatory term. “I chucked a book at her,” Grandin said.

‘Horses saved my life’

That incident got Grandin, now in her 30th year on the Department of Animal Sciences faculty, kicked out of school, but it also opened up a completely new world for her. Her new boarding school included opportunities to ride and work with horses.

“Horses saved my life,” she said. “I loved to ride them, and working in the barns taught me how to work. I fed them, took care of them and cleaned out nine stalls every day.”

It was fitting then, on Monday, Feb. 20, that CSU broke ground on the Temple Grandin Equine Center on the Foothills Campus. The new facility, adjacent to the B.W. Pickett Arena, will be home to what may be the leading equine-assisted activities and therapy (EAAT) research program in the world. It will serve children with autism, veterans with PTSD and seniors with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Two-phase project

The overall project, which includes two phases, is projected to cost $10 million. Construction on the first phase of the project, approximately $5 million – a 40,000-square-foot building featuring a riding arena, classrooms, horse stalls and space for CSU’s Right Horse program – will begin this spring. CSU has raised $4.7 million to date.

Temple Grandin groundbreaking
James Pritchett, interim dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, Temple Grandin, CSU President Joyce McConnell and Adam Daurio, director of the Temple Grandin Equine Center, prepare to dig in at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Temple was our inspiration, so it’s appropriate this facility be named in her honor,” said Jerry Black, head of CSU’s Equine Sciences Program and one of the project’s original planners.

The project first was envisioned in 2014, and planning and fundraising began shortly thereafter. Grandin not only consulted on the facility’s design, she has been a donor and tireless advocate.

Two Temple Grandin centers

The Animal Health Complex at CSU’s SPUR Campus at the National Western Complex in Denver will also include programs hosted by the Temple Grandin Equine Center. Programs at that location will focus more on outreach than education and research; the facility is slated to break ground in April.

When completed, the Foothills Campus center will elevate CSU’s already renowned EAAT program. The leadership team has already invested thousands of hours in research and practical application, reviewing every known equine-assisted therapy-related study from around the world.

“We are now considered the leader in researching equine-assisted activities and therapy,” said Adam Daurio, director of the Temple Grandin Equine Center. “This will be a place where individuals with physical, emotional and developmental challenges can heal, where therapists can treat, where students can learn, where scientists can research, and where horses can be studied, cared for, and advanced. Our graduates already are the leaders in many aspects of this industry.”

Becoming the world leader

Daurio said CSU’s current EAAT programming already provides services for 70 people per week, and has successfully launched three tracks of research. Students – both undergrads and those working on advanced degrees – do the bulk of the hands-on research and partner with licensed practitioners and certified instructors to host appointments for participating children, veterans and seniors.

Several key donors attended the groundbreaking, and CSU President Joyce McConnell told the gathering how proud she was of the program and the donors who helped make the facility a reality.

“CSU is a place that dreams,” McConnell said. “It doesn’t surprise me that we will be the best in the world. We need to tell everyone else we are the best in the world because we are cutting-edge, and we are pushing the boundaries. And when we push the boundaries because of the research we do, we actually get it out into the world, so this gets to spread far and wide.”

You can donate to support the Temple Grandin Equine Center. CSU hopes to launch the next phase of the facility, which will include a second arena, advanced clinical and therapy facilities, and administration offices in 2024.

Temple Grandin Center rendering