Dental Care For Dogs. Poochplan. Dog Insurance 101

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Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning is often referred to as“dental prophylaxis” and falls under a preventative procedure. Nonetheless, when there is severe dental disease, dental cleaning is often termed “periodontal treatment.” This is simply called a “dental.” Before dogs undergo any dental treatment, they will need to have blood work done to determine if they are healthy enough to be anesthetized. Anesthesia is necessary for all dogs undergoing dental work.

Periodontal Disease

The most common dental condition affecting dogs today is periodontal disease. This disease causes the inflammation and infection of your dog’s gums and the supporting tissues of his teeth. Bacteria filled plaque and tartar (calculus) build up on his teeth, most especially beneath the gum line. Pockets then form beneath your dog’s gum line, resulting in food lodging in the pockets. The tiny bits of food that do remain on your dog’s teeth then become breeding grounds for bacteria. Your furry best friend then suffers from bad breath, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, gums that start to recede, and teeth that become loose with eventual tooth loss.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs that are over the age of three will develop gum or periodontal disease from lack of preventative measures.This can affect any dog breed; nonetheless periodontal disease is most common in Toy breeds. Although small dogs have the same number of teeth (42), identical to larger dogs, their teeth are crowded into a smaller area. Veterinarians recommend regular brushing as the best way to eliminate unwanted food residue, before it hardens to form the unsightly brown deposits commonly known as tartar.

Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal treatments include ultrasonic scaling, subgingival manual scaling, and polishing. For more severe cases of periodontal disease, the use of a canine dental specialist may be called for. In this case antibiotics are used, which entails cleaning your dog’s teeth, frequent brushing at home, as well as administering antibiotics for the first five days of every month. This dental regimen prescribed for your furry best friend, will decrease the progression of periodontal disease.

New Periodontal Treatments

A new treatment called Doxyrobe is also used today to treat periodontal disease. This comes in a gel form and is placed inside the socket to increase attachment. Doxyrobe comes in the form of a sustained –release form of doxycycline.

A new dental treatment, OraVet, is a gel that can be applied weekly in order to prevent the formation of plaque and unsightly tartar. Nonetheless, if your furry best friend’s teeth are in very bad shape, dental specialists may recommend bone grafting and guided tissue regeneration. Sometimes, for more severe cases, extraction is favored. In this case, your furry best friend will still be able to chew on his chew toys and eat normally. His mouth will be much healthier after the extraction.

Orthodontics

Orthodontia plays an important part in veterinary medicine today. Braces are used to fix misaligned teeth, so that dogs can chew normally and without pain. Orthodontics is the best way of dealing with a malocclusion. Instead of removing your dog’s teeth surgically, veterinarians carefully coax the teeth into position with braces. Your dog’s lower canines consist of a good part of his chin. They also help hold his tongue in place, and are used for grasping. Braces for canines look similar to human braces, nonetheless they require anesthesia to install, adjust, and to remove after a couple of months. Many pet parents think that orthodontic techniques are performed solely for cosmetic reasons. Canine orthodontics help to improve comfort, eliminate traumatic damage to the mouth, and also to improve function of the canine mouth if your pooch has a malocclusion.

Crown Reduction

The dental specialist will cut the crown, and expose the tooth’s pulp. A small portion of your dog’s pulp is removed, and the top of his tooth is then shortened and reformed. This is called a vital pulpotomy, yet can carry some complications.

This type of procedure needs to be carefully monitored with dental X-rays every year.

Ball Therapy

Sometimes your dog’s teeth can be moved into place in response to pressure being generated on his teeth. This is done as he chews a rubber ball for fifteen minutes, three times a day. Nonetheless, if your pooch does not enjoy chewing rubber balls, then this approach will be hard to use.

Endodontic Problems

Teeth that are broken or abscessed will most likely require root canal or extractions. These problems tend to be more common in larger dog breeds, and occur most frequently in breeds like the Shepherd and Retriever breeds. These larger breeds enjoy chewing on fences, furniture and outdoor objects, grinding their teeth down, and sometimes even chipping or breaking them. Ice cubes often contribute to teeth chipping or fracturing.

Symptoms of Dental Problems

Doggie Breath: If your furry best friend’s breath smells bad, have his teeth examined by your veterinarian and professionally cleaned. Nonetheless, this is not a substitute for brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.

Loss of Appetite: Dogs that have pain chewing, will have problems when eating. They may pick at food, andthen cease eating altogether. This may be indicative of periodontal disease.

Drooling: Your dog’s excessive drooling may be indicative of a painful dental condition, or something that is stuck inside a tooth. In this case, it is necessary to take your pooch to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Feeling Sickly: Oral bacteria from dental problems can enter Fido’s bloodstream, and can cause multiple health problems, some of them severe. Damage to the kidneys, heart, liver and lungs can also occur if dental treatment is not sought immediately.

Mouth & Cheek Pawing:

Check the inside of your dog’s mouth for ulcers and for inflamed, red gums. Be quick –dogs have limited patience when it comes to their teeth. Visit your veterinarian if the problem continues. Never ignore a dental problem, even if it seems minor. Most dogs tend to regain their appetite and zest after a tooth repair is made.

Oral Surgery

Oral surgery tends to be favored in cases where the removal of one or more teeth is necessary. It is also done to repair fractured jaws in dogs. There are many new pain relief drugs and techniques used by veterinarians today. Your furry best friend can undergo dental surgery with the minimal amount of pain and discomfort. Oral surgery is also required for dogs that have been diagnosed with oral tumors of the mouth and throat. This tends to occur frequently in alldogs. Radiotherapy and new surgical dental techniques are used for removing tumors, resulting in excellent results both cosmetically, and in prognosis. Nonetheless, oral surgery needs to be performed at an early stage of oral disease for best results. Have your veterinarian examine your furry best friend for non- cancerous masses that may be gingival hyperplasia, an overgrowth of your dog’s gums.

When all is said and done, regular brushing will pay off in the end, ensuring pearly whites, and a healthier dog.

Cost

Every pet will present with unique circumstances, and each pet parent will be faced with their pet’s unique dental needs. Dental treatment planning involves careful consideration of what dental treatment your dog needs, the use of diagnostic dental radiographs, and a complete understanding of your dog’s needs.

The cost of a professional veterinary dental cleaning will vary from one dental veterinary specialist to another. Costs will also vary depending on how much dental work your pooch is going to need. Canine dental cleanings generally tend to fall between $300-$750, depending on each individual case of dental disease and the age of your pooch. Additional costs will include extractions, special treatments like root canals and braces. Root canals can often cost the same as an extraction, because of the size of a dog’s tooth.

Prevent dental disease in your furry best friend. These diseases can lead to many health problems in dogs. Look after your dog’s pearly whites like your own. Every pooch deserves a comfortable and healthy “bite.”

For more on this article, visit:PoochPlan Pet Insurance

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Copyright © 2013

Does Your Dog Behave Around Guests? Petiquette Tips

 

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Increase Fido’s Chances of Success During The Holidays

Barking, anxiousness and excitability often occurs when we’re away from home visiting family and traveling with our furry best friends. “By the time they get to the hotel, their world has been turned upside down and they’re just trying to maintain as much of an even keel as possible. The best thing you can do for your traveling dog is to prepare well ahead of time, to desensitize them to the changes and experiences they’ll be dealing with while on the road. Overcoming anxiety and fear can be a tall order, especially if your dog has had a chance to practice and learn certain behaviors without modification. But since most behavior issues are borne out of anxiety and fear, it’s usually the best place to start in terms of helping your dog become a seasoned holiday traveler,” adds Stilwell.

The key to a dog that behaves well with guests is to plan ahead, she adds. “Work well in advance on your dog’s greeting behavior, and get him used to seeing new people in the house.”

Holiday Enrichment

“Dogs that enjoy being around people and have no aggression or behavioral issues don’t need to be put away,” says Dr.Nick Dodman, BVMS, Professor, Section Head and Program Director of the Animal Behavior Department, Tufts, Cummings School of Veterinary Sciences. He recommends using the Gentle Leader, Head Halter. “Aggressive or shy dogs need to be put away in another room away from holiday guests,” explains Dr.Dodman. You can keep Fido entertained with some interactive toys. Try adding some recipes that your dog will enjoy inside of the Kong. First course would be the top layer, second course, second layer, and third course, followed by dessert. He also favors the Squirrel Dude by Kong with freeze dried liver, or as a great source of fun, the Kong Wubba.No one likes being bored, Fido included.Dr.Dodman advises that if your dog is going to be left for an extended period of time in another part of the house, make sure that he has some Kong toys to keep him busy. His pet peeve, the holiday puppy! “Most holiday pups end up at shelters. The holiday puppy should be resting quietly away from all the guests, and should be in another room, where guests can visit if they wish, “adds Dr.Dodman.

No Jumping!

“Most dogs jump on people through sheer excitement and because it is an effective means of getting attention,” says Victoria. “But some jump because they feel uneasy when someone new comes into the home, and jumping is an effective way to cope with that discomfort. The best way to stop your dog from jumping up is to ignore her while she’s doing it.”

Victoria suggests the following five training steps

1. Each time your dog jumps up at you, turn your back.

2. Do not look at, talk to, or touch your dog at any time. Fold your arms in front of you so that you become boring.

3. When he stops jumping, wait for three seconds of four paws on the floor, then reward the self-control with your attention.

4. If he jumps again, repeat the exercise.

5. Practice this with friends and family members for consistency.

Personal space

Not everyone likes dogs, and some are even frightened of them. Not every dog likes strangers either. In situations like this, it’s best to give everyone their personal space, and not force interactions. “To avoid an unpleasant situation, if you have visitors who are scared of dogs, the kindest and safest thing to do for all concerned is to put your dog in another room or contain him safely behind a baby gate,” says Victoria.

Is it the dog that’s scared? “Aggressive or shy dogs need to be put in another room away from holiday guests,” says Dr. Nick Dodman of the Animal Behavior Department at the Cummings School of Veterinary Sciences. Keep in mind that a stressed or reactive canine is much more likely to bite someone than a dog who loves being around people.

“Small dogs feel especially vulnerable because of their size, and feel the need to defend themselves from people who loom over them as they bend down to say hello,” says Victoria. “If you have a reactive dog of any size, use safe management techniques to avoid any issues. If you can’t contain your dog, tell your guests not to pay him any attention when they first come in. If the dog continues to be fearful, tell visitors to ignore him for the duration of their stay. This takes the pressure off everyone and gives them much-needed space.”

If you put your dog in another part of the house, away from the action, be sure to give him something to keep him occupied. If he’s going to be left in another room on his own for an extended period, advises Dr. Dodman, make sure he has some toys to keep him busy. Interactive toys, such as a Kong stuffed with healthy treats or food, are best.

Stop Begging

Begging at the table is a common complaint from dog parents, yet many consistently reinforce this unwanted behavior by giving treats from their plates.

“The best way to prevent begging is to never feed your dogs from the dinner table,” says Stilwell. “If you have a dog prone to doing this, get in his way.” Block his path with your body and say “back” while waving him off, but do not physically move him or yell at him. Blocking is how dogs control space with other dogs; by doing this yourself, you’re clearly communicating to him that you want your space while at the dining table.

“If you need to move your dog into another room, you will not be reinforcing bad behavior,” adds Victoria. “You will instead be moving him from temptation, and setting him up for success by not giving him the ability to practice the begging behavior.”

Dog-To-People Etiquette

“To avoid an unpleasant situation, if you have visitors that are scared of dogs, then the kindest and safest thing to do for them and your dog, is to put your dog in another room or contain him safely behind a baby gate,” adds Stilwell. Dog bites tend to increase during the holiday times, so you can virtually eliminate the potential of anything bad happening by managing the situation effectively, especially if you have young children visiting, advises Stilwell. “Small dogs feel especially vulnerable because of their size and feel the need to defend themselves from people who loom over them as they bend down to say hello. If you have a reactive dog of any size, use safe management techniques to avoid any issues. If you can’t contain your dogs, tell your guests not to pay them attention when they first come in, and during their stay if your dogs continue to be fearful. This takes the pressure off everyone and gives much needed space. Small kids can stimulate a dog’s chase or prey drive or can cause discomfort with their energy and noise level,” explains Stilwell.

Whether you consider your furry- best friend to be an indispensable part of your holiday planning or not, chances are that you’ve encountered some embarrassing moments. The good news is that by embracing your dog’s mindset, you can ensure more often than not that Fido will be well-behaved during the holidays. The key to success is to “ Plan ahead! If you know how your dog will be in a situation where they’ll be meeting a lot of friends and family members over the course of several days, work well ahead of time on their greeting behavior, and get them used to seeing new people come through the door. As with most dog training, a great goal is for you to make yourself and your environment ‘boring’. If the dog feels that’s it’s no big deal when the doorbell rings, or when a new person sits on their favorite couch, or when there are a lot of people around the dining room table, they won’t feel a need to respond. This will lead to a more peaceful holiday season for you and your dogs, “says Stilwell.

Throw A Holiday Tea Party For Pets

“The most important thing to remember is to be respectful of your guests. If you have a group of friends who are excited about bringing their pets to a holiday party, by all means enjoy the holiday season with your pet. However, if you are hosting a holiday party and you have a mixed group of people, some perhaps with pet allergies, it would be best to throw a separate holiday party and perhaps host a “Holiday Tea for Pets and Their Parents”, where you know that everyone would be open to pets being invited,” says national etiquette and modern manners expert, Diane Gottsman.Her pet peeves include “dressing your pet up in unsafe or uncomfortable holiday costumes, and subjecting your guests to pets that are not well-behaved.”

 

Again, the time to start teaching your dog “petiquette” is not when guests arrive. Start the training well in advance, preferably when the dog is young, and practice the lessons on a regular basis. That way, he’ll be on his best behavior for the festive season – and all year round. For more on the article, visit: Animal Wellness.

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Copyright © 2014 Claudia Bensimoun

Sunny Days. Skin Cancer and Sunscreen For Dogs. Can Your Dog Get Sunburned?

Sunny Days

Claudia Bensimoun

Pen name used for this article (Annette Cooper)

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Canine skin cancer

Research shows that dogs are just as prone to getting skin cancer as humans, with mast cell tumors being the most common. Although golden retrievers have an increased risk of mast cell tumors compared to other breeds, any dog can get skin cancer. Again, some breeds are more prone than others, especially if they have light skin or pink noses.

“Most dogs have pigmented skin,” says veterinarian Dr. Nancy Scanlan. “White dogs have pink skin, but most of it is protected from the sun by hair. Skin cancer from excess exposure to the sun most often occurs in two places: the noses of white dogs, or dogs with pink noses or white markings on top of the muzzle. Shortcoated dogs that enjoy sunbathing while lying upside down in the sun can also get skin cancer.”

• Mast cell tumors may be red, itchy and periodically swell up and then disappear. • Melanomas occur frequently in dogs. Those found on haired skin are normally benign; melanomas that arise in the mouth, gums, nails and toes are the ones to look out for.

Selecting a sunscreen

Before you start thinking you’ll have to keep your dog inside more, know that you can protect him from the sun’s harmful rays using sunscreens or specially-designed apparel. The muzzle and ears are the most common places to apply sunscreen. “It is impossible to use sunscreen on the nose itself because dogs will lick it off almost immediately,” advises Dr. Scanlan. “The top of the muzzle and the ears are easier to treat.”

When it comes to sunscreens, the key is to choose a product that’s safe and non-toxic as well as effective. Sunscreens don’t need to contain unhealthy synthetic or chemical sun fi lters, yet many do. Most dogs will lick the sunscreen after application, so you need something that won’t harm your canine if he ingests it.

• Never use a product that contains PABA, as it can be fatal if licked off.

• Also avoid sunscreens that contains zinc oxide; any ingestion could lead to hemolytic anemia in dogs (see sidebar for more ingredients to avoid).

• The Natural Dog Snout Soother (SPF 10) contains shea butter, kukui nut oil and vitamin E to offer snout sunburn protection and relief.

• Epi-Pet’s Sun Protector sunscreen is formulated especially for dogs and is fragrance free. It also contains tocopheryl, an antioxidant that promotes healing for burned or damaged skin.

• Natural sunscreens made for children can be used on dogs. Products include Aubrey Organics Green Tea Sunblock for children, with SPF 25, or Jasön Kids Natural Sunscreen with SPF 46.

• Veterinarian Dr. Douglas H. Thamm recommends using UV blocking sun shirts for dogs. This is a good alternative if you are unable to find a natural sunscreen. “Sunscreen is licked off after application, and toxicity after oral ingestion has not been well studied,” says Dr. Thamm. “Behavior modification such as keeping dogs out of the sun is the best preventative, but UV blocking shirts and suits for dogs are a good alternative as well.” Lightweight sun shirts are great for outdoor activities like swimming and boating and will keep your dog’s coat cool throughout the day. The PlayaPup UV Protective Rashguard Shirt, for example, is made from UPF 50+ rated fabrics to block 97.5% of harmful UV rays.

You can also take some simple lifestyle steps to help reduce sun exposure and minimize the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. Walk your dog in the early morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky, and make sure he has access to shade in your back yard, at your cottage or on your boat. Add in a non-toxic sunscreen for his muzzle and ears, or a UV-repellent jacket, and your dog will be all set for the summer! For more on this article, visit Animal Wellness.

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Woofs & Wags!

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Copyright © 2013 Claudia Bensimoun

Dogs Imitate Novel Human Actions and Store Them in Memory.A recent scientific study shows that dogs can learn to copy human behavior and repeat it later.

A recent scientific study shows that dogs can learn to copy human behavior and repeat it later.

Claudia Bensimoun

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Every dog watched their handler go into a wooden box. These dogs would then have to wait for one minute before going back to their starting position. They were then told to “Do it.” When they had to do the distraction action tests, the dogs were made to watch their handler do something they had seen before. Then they were led behind the screen, but instead of being commanded to “Do it,” they had to lie down, or fetch a ball. It was during these sessions that the waiting periods lasted from 30 seconds to 4 minutes. Fugazzi adds, “They can wait even longer but we really dont expect the owners to stay behind the screen for an hour!”

The dogs in this research experienced their longest breaks after watching a familiar action that included times that varied from 24 seconds to 10 minutes. The researchers observed that these dogs displayed their intelligence by correctly repeating the action that they had witnessed. This occurred even when a person other than the demonstrator had given them the command. This person was also unaware of which action the dog was expected to imitate. “The statistical results are very robust,” Fugazza notes, “and they show the dogs can do deferred imitation.”

Fugazza also says that dogs have declarative memory, which is long term memory about facts and events that they can recall. She describes how in one of her tests the owner, Valentina made her dog, Adila, stay and pay attention to her, always in the same starting position. Three randomly selected objects were placed on the ground, each at the same distance from Adila. Her handler then showed her the object-related action, like ringing a bell with her hand. While Valentina and Adila took a break behind the screen that was used to hide the objects, Adila was not able to see the object. They played ball or practiced a different training activity. Adila was able to do whatever she wanted – lie down, bark, or play during this break.

When the break was over, Valentina and her dog walked back to the original starting point and Adila was commanded to “Do it.” This time, the command was given by the owner and not a stranger, as in the control condition. After the command, Adila performed the action that had been previously demonstrated.

The studies demonstrate that dogs are able to reproduce familiar actions, as well as novel actions, after different delays; familiar actions that had taken place after intervals as long as ten minutes; and novel actions that had a delay of one minute. This ability had been demonstrated in different conditions, and even when the tested dogs had been distracted by different activities during their break behind the screen.

The researchers summed it up: “The ability to encode and recall an action after a delay implies that the dogs have a mental representation of the human demonstration. In addition, the ability to imitate a novel action after a delay without previous practice suggests the presence of a specific type of long-term memory in dogs. This would be so-called ‘declarative memory,’ which refers to memories which can be consciously recalled, such as facts or knowledge.”

Thanks for visiting.

Woofs & Wags!

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Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun

 

Links 

http://link.springer.com/journal/10071
http://abrionline.org/expert.php?id=91
http://familydogproject.elte.hu/miklosi_cv.html

Canine Connection: Study Explores How Dogs Think and Learn About Human Behavior.

New research suggests that the way our canine companions respond to the level of our attentiveness is linked to a combination of specific cues, context, and previous experience.

Claudia Bensimoun

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Photos courtesy of Dr. Monica Udell.

 

Udell and her team carried out two experiments and compared the performance of domestic dogs, shelter dogs, and wolves given the opportunity to beg for food, from either an attentive person or from a person unable to see the animal. The researchers wanted to find out whether the rearing and living environments of the animal, whether a shelter or human home, or the species itself (dog or wolf), had the greater impact on the animal’s performance.

One of the most interesting findings was that wolves, like domestic dogs, are capable of begging successfully for food by approaching the attentive human. Both species (domesticated and non-domesticated) have the capacity to behave in accordance with a human’s attentional state. The study also found that both wolves and domesticated dogs were able to rapidly improve their performance with practice and when rewarded with treats, attention, and other positive reinforcers.

The researchers also found that all dogs were not sensitive to visual cues of a human’s attention in the same way. Dogs from the same home environment were more sensitive to visual stimuli from attentive humans, whereas dogs from a shelter were less sensitive to the same visual stimuli from attentive humans. Dogs with less regular exposure to humans performed badly on the begging test.

 

 

 
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                Photos courtesy of Dr. Monica Udell.

 

 

According to Udell and her team, “These results suggest that a dogs’ ability to follow human actions stems from a willingness to accept humans as social companions, combined with conditioning to follow the limbs and actions of humans to acquire reinforcement. The type of attentional cues, the context in which the command is presented, and previous experience are all important.”

Udell’s findings showed that our canine companions were more likely to beg for food from a person looking at them, as opposed to someone with their back turned or reading a book. Human- socialized wolves, however, did not beg from people that had their backs turned, but were just as likely to beg from a person that was reading a book, as someone looking right at them. Dogs living in a shelter had the worst performance outcomes. This study demonstrates that domestication is not essential for performance under all conditions and that our canine companions are sensitive to human attentional states in many different situations.

 

Dogs were likely the first animals to become domesticated and to have shared a close bond with humans over thousands of years. Therefore,the domesticated dog’s behavior has come under much scientific scrutiny. Most of the research by Dr. Udell and her team has been inspired by research in human cognitive psychology and suggests that our canine companions are in so many ways more human-like than any other animal species, including nonhuman primates. Behavior analysts add their expertise to the study of all canine behavior. This includes adding objective analyses of all experimental data and effectively integrating all new knowledge into the applied work with dogs.

Sources

http://phys.org
http://www.flagler.edu/news/current_news/2012-02-16_udell.html
http://www.psychonomic.org
http://www.moniqueudell.com
http://ans.oregonstate.edu/
http://www.biology.ufl.edu
http://blogs.voanews.com/science-world/2011/07/01/can-dogs-read-our-minds/
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/51549257_Theory_of_mind_in_dogs_is_the_perspective-taking_task_a_good_test
http://www.springer.com

Photos courtesy of Dr. Monica Udell.

For more information, visit:USDAA

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Woofs & Wags!

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Copyright © 2016

Out of Africa & Into Switzerland

Out of Africa & Into Switzerland. Dogs Allowed!

Claudia Bensimoun

 

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Komati Gorge Lodge Fly-Fishing & Wildlife Reserve

Recognized by its majestic cliffs, winding river, thorn bushveld and Highveld grasslands, it is less than three hours from Johannesburg on the Drakensberg Escarpment. Here you can enjoy modern accommodations with breathtaking scenes of natural beauty and wildlife. For more on this article, visit: Fido Friendly.

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Image Credits: Komati Gorge Lodge Machadorp, South Africa

 

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Copyright © 2016  Claudia Bensimoun

What’s Stressing Your Dog Out? Helping Your Anxious Dog Starts With Determining What’s Upsetting Him In The First Place.

 

Helping Your Anxious Dog Starts With Determining What’s Upsetting Him In The First Place.

Claudia Bensimoun

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SYMPTOMS MAY NOT ALWAYS BE OBVIOUS

The first step is to recognize when your dog is stressed out. Obvious symptoms include fearfulness, aggression or destructiveness, but other signs may not be as clear. You need to be tuned in to your dog’s personality and behavior so you’ll notice if he starts acting differently. Restlessness, hiding, excessive sleeping and other uncharacteristic behaviors can sometimes go unnoticed, especially if you lead a busy life and/or are out a lot.

Any unexplained change in the way your dog acts, even if it’s subtle, is a red flag. Start by taking him to the vet for a physical checkup to ensure he isn’t ill or in pain. If he gets a clean bill of health, then something in his environment may be stressing him out.

WHAT CAUSES STRESS IN DOGS?

Numerous things can make your dog feel anxious and fearful, and not all may be factors you would consider stressful yourself. So again, you need to be observant and pay attention to how your dog reacts at certain times or in particular situations. “Dogs have an increase in stress hormones when life is uncertain,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, BVMS, MRCVS, adding that the following situations are among the most stressful for dogs:

• Going to the veterinarian • Being left alone at home • Loss of a canine companion • Separation from the family • Introduction of a new animal • Moving house • Children returning to school on Monday or after holidays

There are many additional causes of stress, and how your dog reacts to them can vary depending on his temperament. For example, the noise and upheaval of a home renovation project might not affect a laidback animal at all, while a more sensitive one might start displaying stress-related behaviors such as hiding, whining or pacing.

Once you have determined that your dog is experiencing stress, and what the causes are, it’s time to do something to help alleviate his fear and anxiety.

LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

While some sources of stress can be eliminated or minimized, others cannot. Veterinary visits and bereavements are just two stressful situations that usually can’t be avoided. However, there are ways to help your dog react to these events in a healthier manner.

“If we want to support ‘good’ stress response in our dogs, I believe the best method is a holistic approach that considers all the factors – major and minor – that enable a ‘good’ versus a ‘bad’ response,” says dog behaviorist Karen Rosenfeld.

“To understand how we can best support ‘good’ stress response, we need to consider factors that contribute to stress reactivity. These include inherited and acquired traits, environmental influences (animate, inanimate), previously conditioned behavior, communication, diet, physical and mental health, psychology, emotional intelligence and physical capacity.”

By addressing as many of these factors as possible, you can help your dog learn to cope with stressful situations in a less fearful way.

COMBATING STRESS WITH DIET

Ensuring your dog stays in good overall health is one important way to help him deal with stress. A proper diet is key.

“If his food does not support good gastrointestinal, glandular and brain function, the ability to cope with stress is adversely affected,” says Karen. “Real food (not highly processed), combined with herbs and nutraceuticals, form the basis of a diet that supports good physical, physiological and mental health. Add some real meat and bone broth to your dog’s food, especially if you are feeding him a dry diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are also important.

Choose a fish oil sourced from wild-caught fatty fish, or use organic hemp oil.

“Coconut oil in combination with turmeric is another valuable addition. Include a good source of vitamin C and look after your dog’s gastrointestinal flora by adding some plain organic kefir, yogurt or fermented vegetables to his daily diet. Raw unpasteurized honey is also a good source of prebiotics and probiotics, while fresh pureed papaya is an excellent source of digestive enzymes.

“You can also consider adding some dog-safe foods that are high in tryptophan, such as pumpkin seeds, bananas, eggs, turkey, and kelp.”

HERBS AND HOMEOPATHY CAN HELP

A variety of homeopathic remedies and herbal tonics can help calm overly stressed dogs. “They are best used as secondary support in combination with a proper diet and behavioral mentoring,” says Karen. Work with an integrative or holistic veterinarian when choosing an herbal or homeopathic remedy for your dog, since his individual situation and needs have to be taken into account.

“Organic chamomile and ginger are two readily available herbs that can be added to food in tea or powder from,” adds Karen. Flower essences, in particular Bach Rescue Remedy, are another simple and effective way to help your dog de-stress.

EXERCISE AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT

Regular physical activity is one of a dog’s most basic needs. “Exercise minimizes stress,” says Dr. Dodman. “Dogs should run, swim, or participate in aerobic exercise like flyball or agility. Exercise has both calming and mood-stabilizing effects.”

Dr. Dodman also suggests creating an enriched environment for your dog. Helping to keep him busy, engaged and mentally stimulated can calm negative stress reactions. Consider adding the following to your canine companion’s environment.

• Interactive toys • Dog TV • Windows with a view so he can watch birds feeding or squirrels playing • Food puzzle toys

If you have a dog with a nervous or fearful temperament, either because of his breed or because he was abused, neglected or improperly socialized, positive training and behavior modification might need to be added to his de-stressing regimen. It’s also vital to assess your own stress levels since dogs are very intuitive and will respond to how you’re feeling in any given situation.

By taking the time to pinpoint and understand your dog’s stress triggers, and using a well-rounded approach to improving his response to these triggers, you can help him deal much better with life’s ups and downs. For more on this article visit Animal Wellness.

 

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