Money-Saving Tips for Traveling With a Dog – by guest blogger Nick Burton

As dog owners, our canine companions enrich our lives in many ways, and it can be heart-wrenching to set out on a trip without them. Luckily, we don’t have to say “bye” if we make the right preparations. If you’re a dog owner who is planning to travel, these money-saving tips will help ensure that you and your pup have the best experience possible.

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

Reserve a Pet Sitter

Traveling with your dog provides a great opportunity to spend quality time together in a new and exciting place. However, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to join you for every single activity during the trip. For the times when you must leave your pup behind for a bit, it’s important that they’re not alone, as it can cause them severe anxiety. That’s where a pet sitter comes in. Research area pet sitters that fits within your budget and can keep your dog company. Just make sure the person is reputable and trustworthy.

Pack All the Things

 The more stuff you pack for your dog, the more comfortable they will be and the less you will have to buy when you arrive at your destination. Be sure to bring along the essentials:

You can find many of these items for a good price from online retailers like Amazon. When you place your order, use a promo code for Amazon.com to knock the price down even more.

Strategize the Destination

Choosing a destination for you and your pup may take a little more work than if it was just you. Not only do you have to make sure it’s a place where you can have fun and relax, but you also have to consider your dog’s needs as well. Wherever you decide to go, make sure there are dog-friendly activities within a reasonable distance. For instance, if you plan on dining out quite a bit, you’ll want to make sure there are dog-friendly restaurants around. You also may want to look for open spaces where they can safely run and play. Dog parks and beaches that offer pet-friendly areas can be great options at no cost to you.

Strategize the Lodging

 Along with your destination, you’ll want to consider your dog’s needs as you choose the lodging during your trip. One of the easiest ways to do this is by searching online for pet-friendly hotels. However, if you already have lodging in mind (e.g., a hotel, bed and breakfast, vacation home, campground, etc.), you can contact the facility and ask about their pet policy. You can typically find pet-friendly places to stay wherever you go; you’ll just need to make sure you understand the rules. Once you’ve gone over the pet policy, be sure to abide by the guidelines so that you, your dog, and the other occupants can all enjoy your time.

Warm Your Pup Up to Traveling

Another budget-friendly way to plan your trip with your dog is to warm them up to whatever mode of transit you’ve chosen. For example, if you’re driving and your pup is not used to riding in a vehicle, take them for some short trips in your vehicle to break them in. If you’re flying or taking a train or bus, take them to the airport or station and let them see and smell the surroundings. Also, if you’re using a travel carrier, having them spend time in the carrier and lining it with some of their bedding before you leave can help them get comfortable with it.

Traveling with your pup can provide a lot of quality time together. Just be sure to hire a pet sitter if you have to leave your dog behind for an activity, and pack all of the necessary supplies. Keep your dog’s needs in mind when you choose your destination and lodging, and try to ease them into the traveling process. The extra time and effort it takes to plan a trip with your dog will prove well worth it when you’re enjoying a new place together.

NOTE From Sue: These tips can apply to any pet that goes traveling with you.

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Asthma and Pets

In a new study conducted by the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, if parents and children follow the NAEPP (EPR-3) guidelines for asthma control in children, pets and secondhand smoke does not increase their symptoms. This is important to those people who love pets because it means that a family does not have to get rid of a pet if a family member develops asthma.

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This is also important because if a child suffers from asthma, a pet can be a big comfort to them if the asthma interferes with other activities.

However, it is important to work with your health care provider and follow the NAEPP (EPR-3) guidelines. The study shows that asthma treatment is more important than exposure to elements in the environment.

Pet Health Insurance

I am often asked by clients if they should purchase pet insurance. This is a tricky question for several reasons however, I have a few suggestions that might help you decide if pet insurance is right for you.

 

  1. Can you afford the premiums. Most pet insurance policies are flexible as to the amount of coverage that you can carry, the deductibles and what they cover. To help make that decision you can consider the following questions.

 

  1. Is your type of pet prone to illnesses? Certain breeds of dog are more likely to have genetic illnesses than others. The same is true for cats and other pets. Will the pet insurance cover the illnesses most likely to affect your pet?

 

  1. What is your pet’s lifestyle? If you are active with your dog, horse or other type of pet, or if you cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, your pet may be more likely to have an injury.

 

  1. If your dog is a larger breed of dog, he may be more prone to inherited problems such as canine hip dysplasia which can be corrected with surgery.

 

  1. If your pet is prone to a certain disease or inherited issue, find out what treatment costs then compare it to the estimated years it will take for the illness to manifest itself and see if the insurance is worth the cost.

 

  1. Consider the life span of your pet. Most pet insurance rates go up as the pet ages. Some insurance will not cover your pet after a certain age. Of course the most likely time you will need the insurance is in your pets old age when coverage may not be an option.

 

  1. Consider a personal savings plan to cover catastrophic health issues. If you take the projected life span of your pet and the amount of the yearly insurance fee, then multiply it, you will get an idea of how much the insurance will cost over the life of your pet. What you can do is set up a separate savings account and either yearly or monthly, deposit the amount that insurance will cost per year, and do not touch it for any reason. In all probability you will save enough money to cover any medical bills that your pet will have, especially if your pet is healthy into old age. If you do not need the money set aside for your pet by the time your pet passes, you will have money to put toward the new pet.

 

I hope I have given you some helpful suggestions. There is a good web site that can help you review different pet insurance companies if you decide that is the way to go.

https://365petinsurance.com/reviews/

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Non-invasive test for liver disease in dogs

Veterinarians at the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies have worked with medical doctors to develop a blood test that can detect early liver disease in dogs. They based their studies on the molecule miR-122 which is found in humans who have liver disease.

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Their studies showed that dogs have the same molecule as humans and the team has developed a blood test that can be used on dogs.

Professor Richard Mellanby, who is the Head of Companion Animal Sciences at The Hospital for Small Animals at the University of Edinburgh has stated that the blood test provides a safe, non-invasive way to detect liver damage in dogs. Research in dogs has helped human illnesses many times, it is exciting that human tests can now help dogs.

What is important is that the blood test is safer to use than biopsies which can cause complications and can be expensive. I hope they continue the research to develop a blood test for cats and other pets.

Aromatherapy calms horses

In a recent experiment by Isabelle Chea, a then-undergraduate honors student at the UA, and Ann Baldwin, UA professor of physiology and psychology, found that sniffing lavender calmed horses. However, the calming affect only lasted while they were sniffing the vapor.

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This is a good thing because the traditional method of calming a nervous horse is to use tranquilizers which remain in the horse after it is needed. However, sniffing the lavender can be used only when needed with no side or prolonged affects.

Professor Baldwin plans to try other scents and doses to see if they calm horses as well. I would love to see experiments on dogs and cats using various types of aromatherapy to calm them, especially for veterinarian visits.

Male fertility drops in humans and dogs

According to research by the scientists at the University of Nottingham, there has been a 50% reduction in male fertility globally, for both humans and dogs. The study shows that there are two causes. One is DEHP a common plasticizer which is found in carpets, flooring, upholstery, clothes, wires and toys as well as the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB). Although it has been banned world-wide, it is still found in the environment, including in food.

Another study shows that most of PCB 153 (90%) is ingested through food. The foods likely to have it are, fish and fish products, including fish oils which have the highest amount. Next are milk, eggs and dairy products and meat and meat products.

Another report has shown that foxes and deer also have the PCB’s and DEHP in their bodies. How did they get them? If wildlife has been exposed to PCB’s what about other animals such as cattle, horses, pigs, chickens, etc.?

At the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollution (POP), PCBs were classified as POP’s and precipitating countries agreed to ban all production of PCB’s and to eliminate them by 2025. But that does not help us today or those exposed previously.

What comes to mind for me are the “editable” products that are sold as a way to clean your dog’s teeth. Most do not advertise that they are 100% digestible. What are the non-digestible ingredients? Are they plastic or some similar product?

Many dog toys are made of plastic. How does this fit into the picture? What about other chew toys made for dogs? Do they contain PCB’s and other harmful ingredients?  These are all things to consider.

This is important information for the dog breeder who may experience a problem with the male dogs in their breeding program. It could be the answer as to why.

The good news is that scientists are working on a solution to solve the drop in male fertility rate and both dogs and humans will benefit from it.

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America’s first dogs

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have proven that the first dogs that lived in the Americas were descended from Siberian dogs, not wolves. These dogs came with their human counterpart as they migrated over the land bridge linking Siberia with Alaska.

According to the researchers few if any modern dogs are related to these ancient dogs. It appears that the dogs died out after people from Europe came to the Americas.

They also discovered “. . . that the genomic signature of a transmissible cancer that afflicts dogs appears to be one of the last “living” remnants of the genetic heritage of dogs that populated the Americas prior to European contact.”

This latest research brings up the question of the heritage of the Carolina Dog which claims to be descended from the original dogs that were brought to North America across the Bering Strait. It would have been interesting if the researchers included this breed of dog in their study.

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Carolina Dog – (internet free photo) These dogs come in a variety of colors but many are tan

Do animals grieve the loss of a loved one?

There are many people who have seen what appears to be a grieving process in their pet when a loved one, human or animal, dies or otherwise leaves the home.

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I personally have seen this in both my dogs and cats from time to time. There are no set rules about how a pet will grieve, but the owner or caretaker will see a change in the pet’s behavior.

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Some signs are:

Panting, pacing, whining, fidgeting, weight loss due to a loss of appetite, becoming clingy when the pet was not that way before, wanting to touch another pet or person more than normal and a general sad behavior. I have had pets look for the lost companion, and generally mope around the house.

I have had more than one dog bond with another dog only to have to re-home the dog or the dog dies. Some people let the pet that is alive see the dead pet. They claim this helps. In my case I have often replaced the pet that passed.

The most dramatic incident that I have witnessed was something that I still cannot explain. Our Rottweiler Dempsey, had hip dysplasia and seemed to be in quite a bit of pain. I called our veterinarian and arranged to pick her up on my lunch hour to take her for x-rays. When I took her out of the front door, our Border Collie, Ness,  did something he never did before or after that incident. When I closed the front door, he threw himself at the door and screamed in a way I had never heard a dog do. I was puzzled since I had taken the Rottie to the groomers on a number of occasions in the same manner, picking her up on my lunch break and taking her for a bath, especially the time she got skunked. So the Border Collie had experienced this before.

Unbeknownst to me, she had very bad bone cancer and upon examining the X-ray, the veterinarian called me at work to tell me what he found. Her thigh bone was completely perforated, and the cancer had spread, so we decided she needed to be put to sleep. How did the Border Collie know? He was not the same after losing his buddy.

About a year later, we picked up another puppy that a friend had brought for me from France. We had the Border Collie with us at the airport when we went to pick up the new puppy. As my husband carried the puppy to the car, the Border Collie gave him a look that would have killed. It was as if the Border was saying, “How could you bring another dog here.” The story had a happy ending because it did not take long for Ness  to accept the puppy and they became fast friends.

What makes it difficult is that we cannot explain to the pet what has happened and why. We have to let them work out their grief in their own way and in their own time.

What we can do to help our pets when they grieve is to be there for them. Try not to change their routine. Let them cuddle if that is what they need. Give the pet extra play and exercise if possible. And in some cases a new companion may be the answer.

It is important to understand that all animals have feelings similar to ours. They understand that someone is missing. In cases where there is a sudden death of a person, the pet may not realize that they are gone right away. This is true if the person spent days away from home due to work or regular vacations. In time the pet will realize that the person is not coming back. That means the caretaker(s) of the pet, or the family left behind must keep an eye on the pet to watch for signs of grief which may not show up right away.

If the family is grieving the pet will react to that and it may be difficult to tell if the pet is grieving or reacting to the emotions of the people around him which can make his own grieving stronger.

There is no easy answer or solution to the problem of pet grief. Although it is a common phrase that is true, time will help, time will heal.

Maternal separation affects rat’s brains and changes adult behavior

Associate professor of psychology Christopher Lapish at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science has shown that if a baby rat is taken from its mother for 24 hours when the baby is nine days old, it changes their behavior as adults.

The study showed that there was memory impairment and less communication between brain regions as well as other neurological changes in the rat’s brain. Rats that were separated showed significant behavioral, biological and physiological, brain abnormalities in adulthood.

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The findings in this study have a bearing on humans as well. According to co-author Brian F. O’Donnell, professor of psychological and brain sciences at IU Bloomington, “children exposed to early-life stress or deprivation are at higher risk for mental illness and addictions later in life, including schizophrenia.”

This research is also supported by the findings that if kittens are taken from their mothers before they are weaned, they tend to show more aggressive behavior as adults. I know that children who are taken from their mothers at birth and put up for adoption have a higher rate of attachment disorder as a result.

Because rat brains have similarities to human brains, this study can lead to further findings. It would be interesting to study the behavior of all animals that are bottle fed by humans and even those that are fostered with a different mother to see if there are differences in their behavior from those that are raised by their birth mother.

Sexually Transmitted Disease in Dogs

The canine transmissible venereal tumor is spread in dogs worldwide through breeding as well as biting and licking the infected area. Professor Ariberto Fassati of UCL (University College London) has discovered that the disease is related to a single common ancestor, making it the same in all dogs. Professor Fassati also discovered that the dog’s immune system can cause the cancer to regress spontaneously or within a few weeks after only one radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment.

Professor Fassati found that the healthy cells around the tumor were vital in causing the regression of the cancer. What is very exciting about this finding is that canine transmissible venereal tumor is very similar to various human cancers such skin cancer, bone cancer, and certain blood cancers. His research may lead the way to better treatments for humans.

“There are two key messages of our study,” Fassati says. “First, we should not focus on the cancer cells only but also understand the importance of normal tissue around the cancer in promoting rejection. Second, we must be able to induce the production of large amounts of certain chemokines to attract loads of immune cells to the tumor site.” His research may lead the way to better treatments for humans.

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