Archive for August, 2008

Old Dogs
August 30, 2008

Last week’s blog These Old Bones, talked about something called Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in dogs – which is common in about 62% of dogs over the age of 10 years.

 

In further researching age related disorders of dogs, I found some very common traits of the older dog. 

 

            Separation Anxiety – Even if your dog has never experienced this, age can bring it on.  It can be due to a dog’s inability to cope with changes in his or her routine.  If your dog suddenly becomes anxious over separation from you, start to look at possible changes that have occurred – Did the kids just go back to school?  Did anyone’s time schedule change?  My dogs know my schedule better than I do and when I do change it, they can become a bit upset.  Did anyone start a job or retire from one? 

 

            Aggression or intolerance – Pain, vision loss, hearing loss, stroke (yep, they can have them) are all things that can bring about sudden aggression.  Let’s face it, when you feel poorly, you’re no happy camper.  Aggression can also come about with the addition of a new puppy into the home.

 

            Noise phobias – When a dog ages, you’d think they’re going deaf and would not possibly be afraid of noises.  Well, it can happen.  Your old dog is not able to easily remove himself from the source of the noise (due to arthritis etc) so he becomes afraid of it. 

 

            Decreased ability to handle stress – Things shake the older dog’s world much more easily than a younger counter-part.  Things that you would not think would cause an issue suddenly can, and can lead to incontinence among other things.

 

            Increased barking or whining – When your dog stresses out and can not get to you as easily as he could when he was younger (due to arthritis, etc) sometimes they will bark or whine more out of a panic.  Again, the inability to handle stress can make situations that used to be handled easily more difficult to tolerate.

 

 

            Nocturnal restlessness – I’ve noticed that both my 10 year old dog and even my 6 year old dog suffer from this.  Where before they used to both sleep through the night, it’s not uncommon for them to pace now (which, by the way, can be SUCH a joy while you’re trying to sleep!).  This can mean they need to go out more frequently or it can just mean they’re restless but you have to get up and check to make sure!  Jeepers.

 

So I’ve gone into more of the old dog stuff to help some of you understand why I tell you NOT to adopt a dog while your dog is going through his or her senior years. 

I get requests all the time for puppies or younger dogs by folks who have dogs over 10 years old.  They want a companion or a playmate for their older dog.  While I do understand the desire to get a new, bouncy, playful baby in the family, I do NOT think it’s appropriate while there is an aging dog there. 

The aging dog is an animal that requires special attention and understanding.  They’re at the time in their lives where they need you, their loyal, trustworthy, loving owner to help them when they’re in need.  They become afraid more easily, confused more easily and the thing they need the most is not a bouncy puppy but YOU, their caretaker.

 

So before you go thinking about adding a new one to the crew while you still have your old friend, re-read the issues they go through while they age.  There will be plenty of time for a new puppy, but not right now.  Sit on the porch with the old dog and let him know you’ll always be there for him.  Maybe some ice cream would help, too! (The dog told me to say that!)….

QUIET THAT POOCH!!!
August 15, 2008

There is nothing worse than trying to get some sleep and hearing a neighbor’s dog barking.  And now that the weather is going to start cooling off at night, people are going to be keeping windows open instead of leaving the air conditioning on.

So what do you do?  I can tell you from experience there is nothing more irritating than a barking dog – especially when it’s MINE!

So I did some research on the whys and how to stop this annoying habit.   First, we need to go into WHY pooch barks.  Well, it can be boredom, people walking by, a squirrel in the yard, strange noises, loneliness, alarm sounding, senility or just for attention.  What ever the reason is, there are ways to stop it.

 

First, try and find out WHY your dog barks – what triggers the response.  If your dog is, say, barking at something out the window, going up to it and saying “it’s ok” will mean very different things to you and your dog.  To you, it means “it’s ok – you don’t have to be upset and bark”… To your dog it means “it’s ok to bark your head off, I’ll come running and give you attention”… Comforting or giving attention to your dog while it’s barking is only going to be interpreted as a positive thing by your dog.  “If I bark, my person comes running and I get attention!”

 

Ok – so you know what triggers the barking – now let’s try and stop it.  One of my dogs barks every time she hears someone walk by.  I have learned that yelling at her does nothing.  Taking her by the collar and moving her away does nothing. BUT calling her over and distracting her – actually disrupting the stimulus, DOES work!  She forgets why she was upset in the first place and it seems to break the issue.

 

Exposing your dog to a variety of experiences can break the dog’s anxiety over a situation.  If your dog, for instance, barks at people in a crowd, exposing the dog to people in crowds can actually help!  I knew someone who had a dog who was fearful of people and would bark at them when she walked the dog.  She actually carried a pouch of dog treats (the REALLY good ones) and when she came upon someone, would ask them to give her dog a treat.  She would have the dog sit by her side and only when the dog was quiet would she allow the treat to be given.  The message? People carry treats but only when I don’t bark at them!

 

If your dog goes nuts when someone comes over, start having a friend over to help work on changing this behavior.  It’s going to have to be repeated over time, so make sure your friend is on board!  Have your friend come over and ring the bell or knock.  Only when your dog can stop barking and sit can they come in and give the pooch a treat.  This takes a bit to do but it can be done!

 

The thing to remember here is that your dog is SUPPOSED to bark – He’s SUPPOSED to alert you to potentially dangerous situations, including strangers coming into your home, fire, etc., so to try and completely stop your dog from barking will be more stressful than it will be a good idea.  Allowing your dog to alert you for a few seconds is a good thing – really!

 

There are numerous products out there (like bark collars, citronella collars, etc) that claim to help stop a dog from excessive barking but I have to say, there is NOTHING like good old fashioned training.  Behaviorists are wonderful at helping solve issues such as barking.  Ask your veterinarian for the name of a behaviorist.  You will be amazed at the results!!!

Helping Others Help Their Pets
August 1, 2008

Every once in a while you hear about an organization busting its butt trying to help others in need. Well, a few weeks ago I found out about a really good one. 

 

We chatted not too long ago about donating pet food to local food banks to help folks feed their pets so they would not have to give them up because of rising prices of everything we buy.  And I have to say, many of you responded by donating pet foods and I thank you VERY much!  Let’s keep up this work!!!

 

So here’s another group, but with a different way to help.  So many times our Seniors have to choose between feeding themselves or feeding their pets.  Most times, they both lose.  The Kado Foundation was brought about to help in this situation.  Here’s their story…

 

The Kado Pet Foundation is a non-profit, 501c3, charity that helps low-income people who are either seniors (age 60 or above) or people who are in permanent hardship situations, usually due to medical condition(s).

 

The Kado Pet Foundation takes over the lifetime care of their animal companions so that they can stay in their homes with their families!  This includes, but is not limited to, veterinary expenses, food, litter and assistance with the care of the pets.

 

For those who qualify for the lifetime care program, and would like to have an animal companion, we help them adopt a pet in need of a home! 

 

There has been talk of seniors having to choose between food and medications and yet it is often overlooked that their pets need help, too!  Many times for them their pets come first.  Many people sacrifice their own health or well-being and the Kado Pet Foundation believes that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the companionship and many healthy benefits of having a pet.

 

The Kado Pet Foundation presently has more than 50 pets they’re providing for at this time.  As the word is spreading about Kado, the number of people contacting us has increased.  In the first week of June, we have found ten more pets that are in need of help!  The majority of pets that have come into the program have not been seen by a veterinarian in years, if ever.  Most need to be vaccinated and spayed or neutered.  Many need dental cleanings and some have ongoing medical issues such as hyperthyroidism, allergies, and kidney disease.

 

The Kado Pet Foundation has a web site that you can access.  Please go to www.helpforpets.org

to see what they’re doing.  They plan to have all of the “Kado’s Kids” and their stories on the site but it’s been hard to take the time to get that going as they’re constantly delivering food, etc., to those in need. 

 

If you would like to help, please get in touch with them!  Remember, if these animals have to end up in shelters, we ALL end up paying the price.  Won’t you help these folks keep their pets?  Thanks!!  Here’s their address and phone number, too….  The Kado Pet Foundation, P.O.

Box 303, Windsor, CT 06095 – or call at 860-688-5108….

 

 

And remember, too, that food banks across CT still need pet foods donated!!!