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Is your pet becoming less active, less playful, or desiring shorter walks? The following symptoms could be early signs of OCD, Arthritis or Hip Dysplasia.

  • Moving more slowly
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Weight shift to another leg
  • Personality change
  • Reluctant to walk, jump or play
  • Refuses using stairs or the car
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in behavior
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Lagging behind
  • Yelping when touched
  • Limping
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Archive for the ‘Older Dogs’ Category

Importance of Owning a Pet

Monday, November 4th, 2013

The American Animal Hospital Association undertook a survey of more than 1,000 pet owners which revealed that the companionship and affection of our pets play a much stronger part of our lives than most people realize.

This national survey was conducted by The American Animal Hospital Association using its membership rolls covering 39 states across the U.S. plus several provinces in Canada. Those who answered the survey were pet owners who had taken their pets to a veterinarian who was also a member of the AAHA.

One of the most interesting results of this survey was the answer to the question “If you were forced to choose between human or animal companionship if you were deserted on a desert island,” more than 50% of the pet owners surveyed would prefer the company of a family pet rather than another person.

I’m not quite sure whether this speaks highly of our pet animals or it reflects most people’s disenchantment with their fellow man.

The American Animal Hospital Association also asked pet owners about their day-to-day interactions with their pets. The results provide an interesting insight into how people are humanizing relationships with their pets.

Here are some of the more interesting survey responses from the 79% of the respondents who had a dog:

57% would want a pet as their only companion if deserted on an island;
80% selected companionship as the major reason for having a pet;
72% said that affection is their pets’ most endearing trait;
79% give their pets presents on holidays or birthdays;
33% talk to their pets on the phone or through the answering machine;
62% often sign letters or cards that include both their name and their pet’s name;
55% consider themselves a mom or dad to their pets;
94% believe their pet has humanlike personality traits;
50% thought their pet listened better than their spouse did;
34% said their pet enjoyed watching TV, mostly animal planet, followed by cartoons, then sports;
100% said they talk to their pet;
97% felt they knew what their pet was saying;.
78% speak for their pets, speculating on what there pet would say if it could talk;
63% acquired their dog when it was less than 3 months old;
50% did not have a preference for a particular breed of dog while 30% wanted only a purebred dog;
48% specially prepare their dog’s food such as heating it or preparing special meals for their pet.

So the next time someone in your family or a friend criticizes you for paying too much attention to your pet dog, show them these survey results, then sit back and ask them, “Now what do you say!”

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Separation anxiety in dogs occurs more often than most people realize and is not limited to just a few breeds, sizes, or ages of dogs. Separation anxiety is a dog’s panicked response to being left alone and if not treated and corrected, can eventually result in the deterioration of a dog’s mental and physical health.

Separation anxiety should not be confused with misbehavior. It’s a mistaken belief that when a dog digs up its owner’s garden or pees on the carpet, it’s simply seeking retaliation for having been left home alone. Sometimes the reason for this type of behavior is nothing more than boredom; but before dismissing the dog’s actions as bad behavior, you should consider whether the dog may be in a state of panic because you left the house and it suddenly found itself without the one person it loves the most.

Separation anxiety can also result when a dog suffers a traumatic experience, like a major earthquake or the death of a human or another pet in the same household. In a lot of cases, no single triggering event causes it. Some breeds are just genetically predisposed to separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety almost always includes one or more unacceptable behaviors when the owner is not at home:

* Destructive behaviors, such as chewing pillows or furniture, mutilating plants, or unrelenting door scratching;
* Constant barking, whining, or howling;
* Urinating or defecating in the house;
* Intense, persistent pacing around the room;
* Attempting to “escape” a room or dog crate to the point of self-injury.

Not all unacceptable behavior can be attributed to separation anxiety; in fact, most behaviors cannot. If the owner arrives home to find their dog chewing on a shoe or perhaps the furniture, in all probability the dog simply feels that what it is doing is enjoyable and since no one is home, the time is right for gnawing away uninterrupted.

There are several actions that indicate separation anxiety should be considered a serious matter:

1) The bad behavior occurs every time the owner leaves the house;

2) The bad behavior occurs only when the owner is not around;.

3) The dog visibly displays anxious behaviors before an owner even leaves the house. For example, the dog knows that when you put on a coat it means you’re leaving the house and starts pacing around the room and whining or howling.

Desensitization is a method that’s often used to treat a dog with severe separation anxiety and involves getting a dog accustomed to the owner leaving the house without taking the dog along. You’ll probably need to seek help from a veterinarian or dog trainer if you feel that desensitization would be the best treatment option. Be advised that it usually takes around eight weeks to bring a dog’s separation anxiety under control.

Separation anxiety in a dog has very little to do with the dog’s training or discipline. Its unwelcome behavior results from the severe panic the dog feels when its owner is absent. If the problem is not treated and eliminated, it can cause serious psychological suffering for a dog.

Why Older Dogs Need Expert Vet Care

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Seeing that your aging dog receives regular expert vet care is vital in maintaining its good health. Regular checkups and preventive veterinary care can add years to the life of an older dog.

Many pet dogs are living longer lives due to early diagnosis of diseases and quicker treatments. Early intervention in a disease means the dog has a better chance of recovering and living a longer life. Most veterinary clinics and animal hospitals have special preventive care programs for older dogs. These programs may go under the moniker of “geriatric wellness programs,” or “senior care programs.” These exams usually include blood tests, urine tests, stool tests, and x-rays.

A dog’s health is partly determined by the health of its parents when conception occurred. The rest is up to the dog’s owner. A dog should have the necessary vaccinations, proper nutrition, good dental care, heartworm prevention, and other professional vet care during its life because all of these will have a direct bearing on a dog’s health as it ages. The healthier a dog is while growing up, the better its chances of being healthy as it grows older.

Appointments with a veterinarian usually include measuring the dog’s weight each visit. Any rapid or unexplained weight gain or weight loss is often the first sign of disease. Regular visits to the vet should be a part of every dog’s health care. It’s also very important to follow the vet’s recommendations on the proper feeding of older dogs. This helps ensure the dog is receiving the correct nutrition as it ages, and assists in preventing obesity which is one of the most common and preventable diseases in older dogs.

Older dogs should receive regular physical exams. How often these exams should be given depends a lot on the health of the dog; but older dogs, no matter their health status, should be examined by a vet at least once a year. Some older dogs who are diagnosed with health problems will need more visits with the veterinarian.

A physical assessment of the dog will include an examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and throat. A rectal exam is also a part of the examination of an aging dog. The veterinarian will examine the inner pelvic area, the lining of the colon, check the dog’s lymph nodes, and the prostate in male dogs.

The physical exam will also include checking the dog’s skin and ears for ticks, fleas, or mites. Heartworm prevention is another important treatment for dogs of all ages but more so for aging dogs. Heartworm medications are available at all pet stores so it’s not difficult to prevent this disease.

If a dog shows any warning signs of heart, lung, kidney, or liver disease, X-rays will need to be taken. When a dog grows older and is still healthy, an X-ray of its chest and abdomen should be taken in case the dog later develops signs of disease. An X-ray taken when the dog was in good health can be compared to a new X-ray and will be valuable in diagnosing any symptoms the dog exhibits.

Owners of senior dogs should understand that the immune system of an older dog is not as strong as it was when the dog was younger, so it’s imperative that an aging dog be kept up-to-date on its vaccinations.

The problem of trying to control an animal’s pain must be handled by the vet. There are medications available that can help relieve pain in older dogs and make their lives a little more comfortable.

Older dogs need expert vet care to help prevent disease and to diagnose any health problems that can be treated and cured with the proper care. A veterinarian is the best partner a dog owner can have for keeping their dog healthy and making its senior years pleasurable.

Dogs Help Seniors Stay Fit

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Dogs are a favorite pet for senior citizens and there is plenty of research showing that dogs help seniors stay fit by urging them to exercise. The way the dog does this is by insisting that it be walked every day or be joined in a game of catch the ball or frisbee. Dogs also encourage seniors to participate in other activities with them.

Walking is by far the favorite way for seniors to exercise with their dog. According to a poll by AARP, sixty one percent of people aged 65 or older who own a dog, exercise by walking their dog. What may surprise a few people is another statistic from the same poll: fifty four percent of people between the ages of 50 and 64 who have a dog also exercise by walking with their pet.

Of this same group of 50-64 year olds, forty two percent also play catch or toss a Frisbee with their dog as a fitness routine, while twenty six percent of the seniors aged 65 or older who own a dog, exercise with their dog in the same way. Other favorite ways of exercising that both age groups regularly do is jogging and wrestling. Yes, wrestling with their dog. Respondents said that they love to wrestle at home with their dog and also when they go to a park for exercise.

The frequency that dog owners exercise with their dogs varies substantially between the age groups. Twenty two percent of people aged 50 to 64 regularly exercise with their dog, while thirty three percent of the seniors 65 and older exercise with their dogs more than once a day.

The difference between the regularity of exercising with their dog may possibly be attributed to work responsibilities or more active social lives. Of those who don’t exercise every day with their dog, about seventeen percent exercise with their best canine friend two to three times per week. As for the slackers, fifteen percent say they never exercise with their dog.

Research seems to indicate that people who exercise with their pets are more likely to stay on a regular fitness program. Walking, jogging, or playing catch with their dog provides the same exercise benefits for both the person and the dog, helping keep muscles and joints flexible and aiding in controlling weight gain for both.

Companionship is the primary reason that people aged 65 and older decided to get a pet. Companionship was also the major reason people aged 50-64 chose to adopt a pet.

Taking care of a dog is not something everyone can do or is willing to do every day of their lives. Dogs come with a lot of responsibility for the owner. A dog must be fed regularly and always have access to fresh water. Dogs need a fenced in yard to play in or they must be taken for a walk at least twice a day to take care of their biological needs.

The cost of buying pet food, regular checkups by a veterinarian, and necessary vaccinations can place a heavy burden on seniors dependent upon Social Security for their retirement income. Sixty percent of people 65 and older and thirty seven percent of those between the ages of 50 and 64, say they don’t own a pet for these very reasons.

Animal Shelters: The Different Types

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Not all animal shelters are alike. Some shelters are operated by cities or counties and are supported by resident’s tax dollars. Animal Control Officers are usually the ones responsible for bringing abandoned or stray animals to these shelters. Some shelters are independently run and rely on charitable contributions to pay expenses. There are even shelters associated with national groups such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) which provides guidelines on operating the shelter.

Shelters also differ in the kinds of services they provide, which are usually dependent on their operating budgets. Unfortunately, many shelters supported by local taxes have small budgets. Other shelters supported by animal rights groups and ones that receive private donations, have bigger budgets and are able to provide more services to a larger number of dogs.

But no matter where the financial support for a shelter is coming from or the size of its budget, there are dedicated staff members and volunteers in every shelter who truly care about the welfare of the animals in their care.

There are many reasons animals end up in a shelter. Some pets are there simply because their owners can no longer care for them. Owners will bring their dog to a shelter for a variety of reasons. They may be moving and can’t take their dog with them; the dog may have serious health problems and an owner cannot afford to pay the costs; a family no longer has time for the dog because they have a new baby; or the family member who was the pet’s owner has gone away to college, or perhaps has died.

Some unfortunate dogs are brought to animal shelters because they are homeless or they were rescued from an abusive owner.

The extent of care an animal receives after being surrendered to a shelter depends on the shelter staff and the financial status of the shelter. Some shelters will do an in-depth evaluation which includes obtaining a history of the dogs health and its behavior in its former home, if it had a home. Most shelters have a part-time veterinarian on staff, or if they cannot afford it, will have vets who volunteer their time to help these defenseless animals. Dogs will be screened for different diseases and an assessment will be made of the animal’s temperament and behavior in the shelter. Shelters with budget constraints are able to provide only a minimal evaluation.

If you want to adopt a dog from a shelter, there are several steps you must take. These usually include filling out an application, choosing the right dog for you, signing a contract for adoption, and paying a fee. Some shelters have a waiting period of 24 hours before a dog can be picked up by its new parent or parents. The purpose of this “waiting period” is to give the adoptive parent or parents time to think about their decision and voice any concerns they may have about the dog they chose. During the waiting period, the shelter will put a ‘hold’ on the dog you have selected so no one else can adopt it while you are waiting for the 24 hour time frame to end.

If you do adopt from a shelter, it can be overwhelming to see the number of dogs you have to choose from. A dog’s size, temperament, age and sex are important traits to be considered when deciding on the “right” dog. Be aware that a caged dog does not always display the same behavior it would if in a home. Don’t do yourself a disfavor by overlooking the dogs that are quiet, scared, or very excited. Once a dog is in the loving environment of your home, the chances are excellent that you will have adopted the best friend you’ve ever had. The shelter staff should be able to tell you about each dog’s temperament and personality.

Many shelters will neuter and spay all dogs before they can be adopted. Smaller, less well-financed shelters may only be able to provide you with a certificate that will pay for a portion of the surgery. Most of the dogs will have been wormed and vaccinated before being put up for adoption.

In most cases there will be an adoption fee that has to be paid to the shelter and you will be required to spay or neuter the dog if it has not already been done. If the dog has had any health problems while at the shelter, you may be asked to help pay some of those costs. This will be different at every shelter.

Some shelters will offer a trial period or “trying out” period to let you take your chosen dog home and see how it behaves in the new environment. It’s very rare that you’ll take home a dog with serious behavioral or medical problems. These things are usually discovered while the dog is still in the shelter.

Adopting a dog from an animal shelter can be incredibly rewarding. Most adoptive dog parents say they are happy that they were able to save the life of a wonderful animal by giving it a new and loving home. The sad fact is that between 4 and 6 million dogs and cats are euthanized in animal shelters every year. Every shelter is filled with dogs who were wonderful, loving pets and will continue to be great pets once they become a beloved member of its new family.

Animal shelters provide an invaluable service by providing safe havens for pets and matching them up with new, loving owners. Adopting an animal from a shelter can be a wonderful experience. If you’re looking for a new “best friend”, a shelter is a great place to find the right dog for you.

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