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

August 6th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

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

August 5th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

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.

 

California’s New Pet Medication Compliance Law

July 25th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

What California’s New Pet Medication Compliance Law Means for Your Practice

Champion Pet Food Lawsuit Amended to include DCM and other concerns

July 25th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

Champion Pet Food Lawsuit Amended includes DCM and other concerns

The lawsuit doesn’t appear to be officially accusing Champion of causing DCM, but it appears to be opening the door for that potential in the future.

The original lawsuit against Champion Pet Food filed in March 2018 included claims of “negligent, reckless, and/or intentional practice of misrepresenting and failing to fully disclose the presence of heavy metals and toxins in their pet food “.

An amended complaint was filed in November 2018, adding “pentobarbital” risk to the lawsuit. Quoting the amended lawsuit against Champion: “It was recently revealed on information and belief that Defendants were knowingly, recklessly and/or negligently selling certain of the Contaminated Dog Foods from the DogStar Kitchens containing pentobarbital, a substance largely used to euthanize animals.”

And another amended complaint was filed in February 2019 challenging Champion Pet Food’s marketing claims of “regional” and “fresh” ingredients. This amended complaint stated: “It was recently revealed on information and belief that Defendants were knowingly, recklessly, and/or negligently selling certain of the Contaminated Dog Foods from the DogStar® Kitchens containing pentobarbital that was caused by cross-contamination that resulted from its supplier, MOPAC, an eastern Pennsylvania rendering facility belonging to JBS USA Holdings, Inc. (“JBS”), having accepted and processed euthanized horses in earlier production runs for other customers.”

This third amended complaint against Champion Pet Food includes the following two mentions of DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy):

“Additionally, on July 12, 2018, the FDA issued a warning that “dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients” were experiencing DCM, a heart muscle disease that results in an enlarged heart. “As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure.” Thereafter, on June 27, 2019, the FDA released a report of its investigation into DCM that disclosed Defendants’ brands account for 14.88 percent of reported cases of DCM in the past 5 years. Defendants were aware of the risk and the reported cases associated with the Contaminated Pet Foods from at least July 2018 and yet chose not to include any warning or link to the FDA investigation into DCM.”

“Yet, Defendants warrant, promise, represent, mislead, label, and/or advertise that the Contaminated Dog Foods are free of heavy metals, pentobarbital, toxins, BPA, and/or unnatural or other ingredients and would not pose a risk for pets developing Dilated Cardiomyopathy (“DCM”) by touting the Contaminated Dog Food as “Biologically Appropriate™” (a nutritional statement) and assuring the food represents an evolutionary diet that mirrors that of a wolf—free of anything “nature did not intend for your dog to eat.”

Other interesting issues of this amended lawsuit – but not fully explained in the complaint – are (item 166 found on page 76 – bold added):

“Defendants knew or should have known that the Contaminated Dog Foods did not have the ingredients, uses, and benefits described herein because:

They contain ingredients that are frozen, stored for years, and/or expired prior to manufacturing or composed of regrind kibble;

They are routinely manufactured with substitute ingredients not included in the Ingredient List, MeatMath®, or nutritional analysis;”

Lots of questions remain – unfortunately we’ll have to wait to see how this lawsuit unfolds for answers.

To read the full amended Champion Pet Food complaint, Click Here.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
Association for Truth in Pet Food

Coconut oil: The “good” saturated fat

July 25th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

Coconut oil: The “good” saturated fat

Angel Fund Provides Grant to Help Terrier Ralph Get Surgery on Hip

July 24th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

In October, 2018, Marta Kepes was out with her three dogs.  Ralph, a 14-year-old terrier mix, was coupled with one of the other dogs on a leash.   “Nothing unusual was happening and suddenly he let out a sharp yelp,” she said.  “His left rear leg was all twisted and he was in agony.  I’ve never seen any of my animals like that before.”

It was in the evening and she took Ralph immediately to Center Sinai Animal Hospital in West Los Angeles.  The doctor told her that Ralph’s hip had come out of its socket.  The doctor said the hip could be put back in the socket but it appeared that the ligaments were torn and that might necessitate surgery.  A surgeon, who could do the operation, was coming the next morning, the doctor said.

Marta, who lives on a monthly SSI disability check, told the doctor about her financial situation.  “It is pretty grim,” she said in the interview. “I had three elderly dogs.  Ralph was the youngest.  So this was like, oh my god!  The prices of everything have skyrocketed in the last decade.  But I said, ‘Yes, of course,’ to the surgery.“

She said that Center Sinai had permitted her to carry a balance on bills for her animals, between $100 and $200, on which she made monthly payments, with the understanding that she would have to pay off the debt before incurring new expenses.  “I made it very clear that I would have to continue the same system with them to pay for the surgery,” she said. “The person who checked me out said that would be no problem.”

She brought Ralph back the next morning and met the surgeon, who told her she was very glad that she had brought Ralph in.  Marta picked up the dog later in the day.

She got a call after a day or two from the hospital and was asked how she planned to pay for the surgery.  She answered, she said: “I don’t have any other way to pay than the way I’ve been doing it.”

When she brought Ralph back for a checkup, the surgeon was there and berated Marta, she said, telling her that she would not have done the surgery if she had known that Marta could not pay for it on the day of the procedure.

But the person who manages accounts at the hospital told her not to worry about what had happened and asked if she would be willing to apply for a grant.  “‘Of course,” Marta replied.  Soon she was approved for a $1,000 grant from Angel Fund. The grant was matched by Center Sinai.

Marta was grateful for the help.  But about two months after the surgery.  Ralph started going downhill.  “I don’t think it was because of his leg,” Marta said.  But it was clear that he was near the end of his life, she said. She did not take him to a veterinarian because of the bills she owed.  She found a euthanasia service that would come to her home and put the animal down if she made a down payment.

Recently, she called the euthanasia service to come again to put down one of her other dogs.  Today, her household includes two cats and one dog, Stella, a dachshund who is partly blind.

“All of this is really tense for me,” she said through tears.  “Stella is really lonely now.”

When “things get calmer,” Marta said, she will “maybe proctor an older dog from a rescue group that would pay the medical bills.  That I can do.”

Marta said that she had lived on her own all her adult life.  She is 67 and once held a job.  But she has had back issues, including surgery, and has been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.  A few years ago, she lived in her car with her three dogs and three cats for about three years.

After she receives her SSI check each month, she goes to the store to buy supplies for herself and her animals and she sometimes will put some gasoline in her van – “a gas guzzler,” she said.  She does not drive often because of the high cost of gasoline.

 

Household Poisons to Keep Away From Your Dog

July 13th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

 — Sarah Archer

You might be emotionally ready for a dog to come into your life. Maybe you’ve done all the research and figured out what breed is most compatible for your lifestyle. You’ve even visited your new furry friend at a shelter and decided it’s time to bring them home. But is your home ready for them to arrive? Have you made sure that nothing poisonous is available for them to get into. 

Certain plants can be poisonous to dogs if eaten so it’s important to do some research on which might be generally bad to keep in the house. For example, azaleas or tulip bulbs are toxic for dogs and while you don’t think your dog would eat those things, they just might. You’ll want to check your yard for illness causing elements as well including, foxtails which can be very bad for dogs if they consume them. 

Household products you might not expect to have to worry about may make your dog sick if they ingest them. Dryer sheets, for example, and detergent in general needs to be stowed where dogs cannot get at them. In addition, for outdoor material, make sure you switch to fertilizers, weed killers, and ice melt products that are safe for animals. 

When it comes to human food, there are a number of items that are just fine for people but poisonous for dogs. In particular, caffeine and chocolate are pretty well known as making dogs ill, but other items like grapes, onions, and anything with the sweetener xylitol (which is in mints and gum) should be avoided for health reasons.

There are many ways to make sure a dog is comfortable in your home but securing your shelves and cabinets to be certain that they are not able to consume something that will injure them is a huge priority. Give some thought to how you will reorganize the house to make sure that they can never come in contact with something that will make them ill. 

If this seems at all overwhelming, there are some good sites that have checklists to help you make sure your home is one hundred percent dog ready. Look below some further tips from Your Best Digs on how to keep your furry friend safe on arrival.

 

Sarah Archer

Sarah is a Content and PR manager at Your Best Digs. She’s passionate about evaluating everyday home products to help customers save time and money. When she’s not putting a product’s promise to the test, you’ll find her hiking a local trail or collecting stamps in her passport. 

Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

July 12th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

BY  | OCT 1, 2016 | DOG BODY LANGUAGE

A paw lift is when one paw is lifted ever so slightly off the ground. It is different to a paw lift when stalking or hunting, which can be quite rigid; this paw lift can seem a bit more tentative. Depending on the rest of the dog’s body language and context, it is generally used when the dog may be feeling conflicted, anxious or anticipating something.

Here are a few examples of situations where a dog may offer a paw lift:

  • This was an observation of a dog that had not been socialized much with people. She was not comfortable approaching and was quite fearful. She would create space; her body was low and hunched over, her tail curled under, and her mouth was closed. Tension was seen in her face muscles and her eyes were quite wide. Her head was turned away and her ears were scanning and listening for sound, alternating between being back and then to the side. Along with the body language, she lifted her paw a few times while standing in this tense pose. The paw lift, along with all the other body language, paints a picture of a dog that is fearful and feeling very uncertain in this situation.
  • One dog is approached by another dog. The approaching dog walks into the other dog’s space, standing quite close, with a stiff square body, head held high and ears slightly forward; his whole body seems stiff when moving, and he gives a bit of direct eye contact. This approach is a bit too direct and it seems to unsettle the other dog; it is difficult to walk away as she tries to keep her eye on the dog that has approached and taken space so quickly. She does a slight head turn and a paw lift. She is showing she is uncomfortable with this interaction.
  • A person is asking a dog to sit. This is taking a while and the dog does not seem to be responding. The person tries to lure the dog into a sitting position, moving his hand closer to the dog’s head. The dog takes a step back and does a paw lift. The dog may feel a bit of pressure and be uncomfortable with the person’s hand moving into her space along with this unknown request to sit.
  • A dog is sitting and observing his guardian, who might be preparing something. As the dog watches with wide eyes and ears forward, he does a paw lift. This dog may be anticipating something and showing a bit of discourse in trying to figure something out.
  • There is a loud, sudden noise. The dog freezes, his eyes widen, his ears go up and are alert, and he does a paw lift. The sudden noise was unsettling; he shows his discomfort by doing a paw lift whilst he tries to figure out what the sound was.

These are just a few examples; there may be many more. Start observing to see if you can notice any paw lifts in different contexts. As discussed below, interpretations such as the above examples should not be attempted without careful observation and consideration of all aspects of the situation.

What is meant by stress?

When I mention stress, this does not necessarily imply negative emotion. I mean stress in the physiological sense. So certain body language signals can mean the dog is feeling some sort of emotional discourse. This discourse could range from positive to negative emotion. Both excitement and fear could have similar effects on the body, with various hormones being released and activating the sympathetic nervous system. The dog may be feeling uncomfortable/fearful or it could also be excited about something. When analyzing stress in body language, it is worth noting the frequency and intensity of the various body language signals.

A few notes to consider when observing dog body language:

Observation before interpretation

Interpretations should be offered only once you have observed the complete interaction and taken note of the wider picture. To offer an unbiased interpretation of the body language, observe and take note of the situation, taking into account the dog’s whole body, the body language signals, and environment first before offering an interpretation. List all the body language you see in the order that it occurs; try to be as descriptive as possible without adding any emotional language. For instance, saying a dog looks happy is not descriptive and would be seen as an interpretation rather than an observation.

You could, however, list what you observe: ears to the side, eyes almond shaped, slight shortening of the eye, mouth open, long lips, tongue out, body moving loosely, body facing side-on, tail wagging at a slow even pace at body level.

From the observation, I could interpret that the dog seems relaxed or comfortable. I still prefer to say relaxed rather than happy, as I feel you will truly never know exactly what the dog may be feeling on the inside emotionally. It is quite likely the dog may be feeling happy, but I prefer to comment on how the dog is behaving in response to the situation rather than presuming internal emotional states.

The importance of viewing body language within context

Interpretations can vary depending on the context. It is possible for certain body language to be used in different contexts and have subtle differences in meaning within those contexts. Individual body language signals should not be observed in isolation; the wider picture should be considered. Take note of what the dog’s body as a whole is saying. Keep in mind each dog is an individual with varying skills and experiences. What may be typical for one individual may not be for another. In order to observe body language in context, consider the following: the situation, body language signals, the body language expressed by all parts of the dog’s body, environment, and individuals involved. It is worth noting how the body language changes with feedback from the environment or the other individuals interacting.

 

How Do I Exercise My Overweight Cat?

July 10th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation
https://www.kittywire.com/exercise-overweight-cat/

How Do I Exercise My Overweight Cat?

 

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?

July 8th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?