Pain in Animals

Because animals are very similar in many ways to people, they experience some of the same problems. Recently researchers at the University of Leeds have learned that chemical triggers in the nervous system can malfunction making pain much more intense in response to certain stimuli. This is similar to the way humans suffer from long-term, chronic pain such as associated with neuropathies, arthritis and migraines. The chemistry involved amplifies the electrical signal to the brain which alters the sensation of pain.

With this new discovery, researchers may be able to find a better way to control pain in both humans and animals.

Author’s Note: What comes to mind is when our pets seem to have long-term pain that does not seem to represent the level of the cause of the pain. The pain is real, but seems extreme or continues after healing.

Do you really want a dog?

There are many reasons why people decide to get a dog (or any other pet). It is important to think it through before making a decision. Although this article focuses on dogs, it applies to any type of pet.

Consider the following:

  1. Do I have the time to care for a dog? Training, housebreaking, exercise, grooming and daily interaction.
  • Can I afford the cost of the dog throughout its lifetime? Costs include purchasing or adopting the dog, food, veterinary bills, grooming, spay/neuter, boarding, possibly fencing and space for the dog.
  • Do I have time for the extra housework a dog will cause? Some breeds shed a great deal, muddy paws, accidents.
  • Is it OK to have a dog where I live and will live in the future? Does my job require frequent moves, if I rent, am I allowed to have a dog, do I travel a lot, what about vacations?
  • Are any family members willing to help care for the dog? Are there family members who would be hindered by a dog running around the house?
  • Am I willing to make the commitment to care for the dog for its lifetime? Nothing is worse than abandoning a family pet, isolating the dog or neglecting its needs. Dogs are social animals and suffer mentally the same as a person would if they are neglected.
  • Be sure you understand the type or breed of dog that you want. Not all dogs will fit into your lifestyle or home. Know what training requirements, grooming, exercise, and medical issues that are involved with that type of dog.

If you decide to add a dog to your home, it is important to be educated about where to get the dog.

  1. Animal shelters or rescue groups

These are often the first place a person will look for a dog. Keep in mind that neither of these agencies may know the history of the dog(s) that they have for adoption. A dog that is housed in a shelter or rescue group will not behave the same as when it is adopted. It takes about six months for a dog to adjust to a new home. The first six months is the “honeymoon” period and the dog’s behavior may change after six months. Also keep in mind that some people do not tell the truth about why they have given the dog up for adoption. They believe that someone else will be able to fix the dog’s behavior issues. That being said, it is possible to get an excellent pet from these agencies.

  • Friends, neighbors, newspaper ads, pet shops or the internet

These are the riskiest places to get a dog. A good, quality breeder will not allow their puppies to be sold through these venues. Most breeders have waiting lists for puppies. The above-mentioned sources are often backyard breeders or commercial breeders who have little or no knowledge about breeding quality dogs. Pet shops and newspaper/internet ads often get their dogs from puppy mills where the dogs are bred at every heat, forced to live in horrible conditions, receive no socialization or handling by people, are not tested for genetic diseases, are malnourished, are not true to the breed and are often not purebred.

That means the dog may not behave or look like it is supposed to. The latest trend are designer dogs which are cross-bred dogs. These do not adhere to any standard and there is no proof other than a DNA test to ensure that they are the mix advertised.

Some of these sources will provide AKC or other types of “papers” with the dog but papers are often forged or misrepresent the dog they are issued with. No registry organization guarantees that the dog is a quality dog or even that it is pure. Often pet shops purchase their puppies from a broker who is a middleman. The price is inflated and the poor-quality puppy may cost more than a well-bred dog from a reputable breeder. The other disadvantage of getting a dog from these sources is that the seller is in the business of making a profit, therefore they will sell a puppy to anyone without discussing the characteristics of the breed or try to match the buyer with the right type of dog.

What about papers?

         Many people think that if the dog is registered that the papers ensure that the dog is top quality. The reality is that few dogs bred by quality breeders are show quality. Some breeders only produce working lines but even then, there is no guarantee that the dog will perform as expected. Some people can falsely report the number of puppies in a litter and then give an unrelated puppy registration papers. Unfortunately, there are registries that specialize in registering puppy mill dogs and dogs that did not have papers to begin with.

These registries help breeders that cannot meet the national registry requirements or have been banned from registering dogs because they are puppy mills. Papers on a dog are only as good as the information reported to the registering body, the registering body does not check the breeder or dogs.

Puppy Mills

         Some people do not understand that puppy mills exist throughout the world. All puppy mills operate under the same basic conditions.

  1. Dogs are bred indiscriminately without regard to health, breed characteristics, temperament, and physical type for the breed. Often the puppies are not pure. Many of these dogs are inbred for many generations causing severe health issues.
  • After a lifetime be being bred every six months in horrible conditions, such as overcrowding, poor shelter, living in their own waste, lack of good food, water and veterinary care, these dogs are killed when they cannot produce puppies.
  • Many of the puppies are shipped through a broker and suffer the stress of a long trip, often in the back of a hot or freezing truck/van, and suffer physical and mental health issues as a result.

Getting a purebred puppy

         Be sure to research the breed or type of dog that you want. Understand the physical aspects of the breed, (for example some breeds drool a lot), the health issues, exercise requirements, training requirements, and grooming needs.

         Once you have narrowed down the type of dog you want, find a good quality reputable breeder. Nationally recognized registries are a good place to start. Some breeds such as the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie have their own internationally recognized registries. Each country has its nationally recognized registry such as the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Canadian Kennel Club, and so on. Some states have a Federation of Dog Clubs which is another excellent source of information. (If anyone wants a free brochure that I have written about how to select the right dog and breeder please feel free to contact me for a copy).

         It would be to your advantage to hire a certified canine behavior consultant (iaabc.org) to help you evaluate a potential litter/puppy. It is true that puppies go through developmental stages, but a good behavior consultant can often pick out potential problems if any exist.

         Be wary if a breeder has multiple litters at the same time or the dogs live in a kennel and do not receive much attention. These breeders may keep their dogs in better conditions than a puppy mill, but the dogs are still neglected in a number of ways. Also avoid situations where the dogs are bred by people who put out a handmade sign advertising puppies for sale. There are religious groups who run puppy mills as a source of income.

Getting an adult dog

         Some people do not have the patience or desire to go through the first year of raising and training a puppy. The advantage of getting an older dog is that what you see is what you get for the most part. Many adult dogs are in need of a good home because of their owner’s situation, not because the dog has a major problem. Often breeders retire dogs after their show career and when they are too old to breed any longer. A good breeder may retire a bitch after two or three litters. That means that the dog is still young. A potential show dog that did not make it may also be available for adoption.

In many cases if a dog’s owner cannot keep their dog, they will return the dog to the breeder to be placed. And again, a shelter or rescue group may also have wonderful dogs for adoption. It is a great kindness to adopt a senior dog who may have been given up because the owner had to retire to a facility where they could not have the dog. This will ease the pain of separation for both the owner and the dog if the dog finds a loving home.

Contracts

         It is not unusual for a breeder or an organization to require that you sign a contract to purchase or adopt a dog. Make sure that you read the contract carefully and better yet, take it to a lawyer for review. Some commercial breeders will give you a bitch at no cost if you promise to let them breed the dog a number of times. Often the dog’s owner must pay for all of the expenses and then they cannot have a puppy from the breeding to sell to recoup the cost of birthing and raising the litter. What happens is that after the dog’s owner has met the required number of litters, they will breed the bitch themselves to make some money. At no time is the bitch evaluated to be worthy of breeding or are the puppies judged to be a good quality. It is simply a way to mass produce puppies and claim that they are “home raised.”

         Another clause in a contract may say that the breeder will withhold registration papers until the dog is either neutered or spayed. This is to ensure that non-show quality puppies are not bred. This is actually a good thing to promote the breeding of quality dogs only.

         Be careful when reading a contract and look for empty guarantees. They will look something like this: “We guarantee that this puppy (fill in the blank).” There is no statement as to what the breeder will do if the puppy does not turn out as it was guaranteed. While it sounds nice on paper, it is an empty guarantee. Or the guarantee will require that you return the dog to the breeder for another puppy. The breeder knows that most people will be too attached to their dog to give them up, therefore they get out of their guarantee. If the dog develops a severe problem, would you want another puppy from that breeder? I would hope not. The bottom line is that no breeder can honestly guarantee anything about a puppy since genetics is not that exact and the breeder has no control about how the owner has treated or taken care of the puppy/dog. The breeder can guarantee that at the time you receive the puppy it is healthy. Make sure to take the puppy to a veterinarian within days after bringing the puppy home.

         Almost all shelters and rescue groups will require an adoptive owner to sign a contract that guarantees that the puppy/dog will be neutered or spayed and often, if you cannot keep the dog, that it will be returned to the agency that adopted it to you. This is a good thing.

Training the dog

         Regardless of how old your dog or puppy is when you bring him home, you should take him for training. If you have adopted an older dog, the training may not be necessary for the dog, but it will help you and your dog bond and learn to understand each other. Everyone handles a dog differently so your dog needs to learn about you as much as you need to learn about the dog. Puppies of course, need training. The best time to start a puppy is about two weeks after you bring him home. You can start teaching a puppy basic rules until he is old enough to go to a puppy kindergarten class. Do not wait until your puppy is six months old to start training. Even if you do not formally train your dog right away, your puppy/dog will be learning anyway and often he will make up the rules to suit his own needs and desires. 

With careful thought and consideration, getting a dog can be one of the most enjoyable things in your life. It would be wise to review this article each time you want to add a pet to your household. Feel free to ask me any questions.

Grooming products for dogs and cats

H.I.C.C. Pet has some very nice grooming products for dogs and cats. We all know how difficult it is to bathe most cats but now there is an alternate way to keep a cat’s coat clean. H.I.C.C. Pets has Cat Glove Wipes specifically made for cats that are double sided. One side is used for cleaning and the other for massaging. The formula on the glove is antimicrobial and deodorizing, is safe if the cat licks it and dries quickly. For dogs or cats that have hot spots or have wounds that are healing, H.I.C.C. offers a pet skin care spray that is also safe to use. They also offer a pet grooming glove that can be used on either dogs or cats. Check out their products. https://www.facebook.com/Hiccpetsupplies Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/groompetsbyhicc/

Always Something To Be Thankful For – No Bones About It by guest blogger, Vi Shaffer

Yes, times are tough right now. But there is always something to be thankful for.
So, on this Thanksgiving, why not give thanks for everything you have – regardless
of how little – instead of dwelling on what you don’t have? If you are missing
someone or something, be thankful they, or it, are or have been a part of your
life. Among the things to be thankful for, many people include their dogs or other
pets. Nevertheless, some people don’t like dogs for whatever reason(s) they may
have. But an individual doesn’t have to be a “dog person” to be kind to them and
recognize and appreciate all the ways they contribute to human welfare. Just
think of the service animals, detection dogs, patrol dogs, cattle and sheep dogs,
search dogs, and those dogs who give comfort or alleviate the loneliness of
others.

Yes, dogs come with needs, as does every living thing. Along with food, shelter,
and affection, caring for your dog includes protecting them from harmful things.
That brings up the double usage of “no bones about it” in my column heading.
Not all bones, whether cooked or uncooked, are good for dogs – especially bones
from turkey, chicken, and other fowl. Those types can cause choking, indigestion,
or obstructions in their digestive system, or worse – splinter and perforate the
dog’s organs.

As difficult as it is for some to ignore those sweet pleading eyes of a pooch while a
Thanksgiving meal is being prepared or served – don’t give in to them. Giving in to
their wants of nibbles may be unhealthy, and counter-surfers can be sneaky and
grab things they shouldn’t have. So be wary. However, you can include your dog
in the festivities with a Thanksgiving dinner – only not one the same as yours.
Instead, give them a plate with small amounts of boneless white turkey meat,
unseasoned potatoes, and vegetables – but no onions or stuffing/dressing. For
those dog lovers who want to give them dessert too – a small amount of
unseasoned pumpkin is good for them – but not that spiced pie filling, and do not
give them chocolate, things that have a lot of sugar – or anything that contains the
artificial sweetener Xylitol. Xylitol can be deadly for your dog!
Afterward, it might be tempting to scrape the scraps off all the plates into your
dog’s food dish – don’t. That also pertains to adding dark meat, the skin of the

turkey or chicken, or rich gravy to their kibble. Although your dog will gobble it up
and enjoy every bite – too much fat can cause stomach pain and digestive issues –
possibly serious pancreatitis.

Remember to emphasize to your family members and guests, including children,
the dangers of giving your dog unsafe food.
It’s easy to be distracted by everything going on in your household, so if children
are present, for safety, it is wise to ask a specific person to keep an eye on them –
especially since kids tend to run in and out of the house playing. You don’t want
to spend your afternoon worried, walking or driving around looking for your pet
that escaped because someone left the door open – or got out of the yard
because it was frightened by all the commotion. It is also important that guests
who bring their dog make sure it is wearing a collar with contact information. If
possible, have them include your contact number if they are from out of town.
Too many dogs manage to get out and become lost when visiting at this time of
year.

In addition, children playing with your dog need watching so they don’t do
anything that will possibly hurt the dog or make the dog snap at them or worse.
And speaking of snapping – arguments have erupted between family members
and friends because of so many opinions in one place. From family matters to
football to politics – raised voices may put your dog in a protective mode,
believing you are being threatened. If that occurs, it’s wise to put your dog in
another room or his kennel where he is away from the ruckus and will feel safe.
That way, you can partake in the “discussions” or scream and cheer without
worry, and your dog will be relieved from the noise. Happy Thanksgiving.

Separation anxiety in dogs

Researchers have recently determined that separation anxiety is a symptom of various frustrations rather than a diagnosis. The key symptoms of separation anxiety are: destruction of household items, urinating or defecating indoors and excessive barking.

The team of scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK found that there are four main forms of distress when dogs are separated from their owners. These include when the dog wants to get away from something in the house, or they want to get to something outside. It can also be a reaction to external noises or events as well as simple boredom.   

A combination of factors such as the dog’s temperament and the type of relationship it has with the owner will determine whether or not a dog will develop separation anxiety.

Sue’s Note: Dog owners often create separation anxiety in dogs by making dramatic arrivals and departures from their home. It helps to prevent this problem by making arrivals and departures as calm and non-specific as possible. If a dog owner notices any of the behaviors listed above, do not wait to engage the help of a certified canine behavior consultant. The longer the behavior is allowed to continue the harder it will be to cure. Cats can also suffer from separation anxiety. To find a qualified behavior consultant go to iaabc.org

Because of the unique combination of issues that contribute or cause separation anxiety, diagnosing the problem is difficult therefore a dog owner should not try to solve the problem themselves or go to a dog trainer since this is not a training issue.

Dog’s eyes are different than wolves

Dr Kaminski and co-author, evolutionary psychologist Professor Bridget Waller, also at the University of Portsmouth conducted an interesting research project which found that dogs have a small muscle above their eyes that allow them to noticeably raise their inner eyebrow. Wolves do not have this ability. The purpose of this muscle is to allow dogs to better communicate with people. The expression that results makes the dog’s eyes appear larger and resembles the movement that people produce when they are sad. It also makes the dog’s eyes appear more infant like. People seem to want to look after dogs more when they exhibit this expression.

The researchers found that dogs will raise their eyebrows more when people are looking at them indicating that dogs are trying to communicate with people. This study illustrates how important and powerful facial expressions are in social interaction.

Working with animals can cause mental issues

It may be surprising to learn that veterinarians and people who volunteer to help animals may be at a higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and suicide.

Katherine Goldberg, DVM, LMSW, community consultation and intervention specialist at Cornell Health and Founder of Whole Animal Veterinary Geriatrics and Palliative Care Services has conducted a study to determine how and why this exists. She found that people who volunteer with animals are often confronted with the results of cruelty, and while they want to help animals, they are often faced with having to euthanize healthy animals due to a shortage of homes.

Veterinarians are faced with the same circumstances as well as high college debts, lower income and clients who may question the cost of care for their pets and be suspicious that their veterinarian is trying to push services that their pet doesn’t need.     

Goldberg feels that veterinarian colleges should include courses to help veterinary students deal with the pressures of caring for animals.

Author’s Note: With the advances in veterinary care, at times it has become more difficult to determine how much intervention a pet owner should do for their pet. Like human doctors, veterinarians want to save the life of a pet and will offer all of the options available. What helps the pet owner decide is to evaluate what quality of life the pet will have after treatments. Veterinarians will help make that decision.  

Being in the Pet Care Business Could Help You Make a Lot of Money Each Month

guest blogger Brandon Butler

According to research, Americans spend an average of $100 on their pet each month. So, it comes as no surprise that the pet care industry is a profitable industry to be in, especially if you are thinking of starting up your own pet care business.

Check out Susan Bulanda’s blog  and website for more insightful content like this article.

Pick a niche business idea

There is a plethora of opportunities for entrepreneurs who want to enter the pet care business such as opening an e-commerce pet store, pet training, pet grooming, pet sitting, and much more. It is important to first decide on which business appeals to you and that ideally matches your strengths so that you have a great start.

image from pexels

Next, create a business plan

Creating a business plan is a vital step in establishing any business, and a pet care business is no different. It is a blueprint that details all the steps to get to where you want to be. Essentially, a business plan is your go-to plan that will involve all of the details of every aspect of your business. This will help you stay on course. Some of the details of a well-put-together business plan include your mission statement, the products or services you offer, your goals, sales and marketing objectives, your financial projections, etc.

Of course, one section of your business plan that’s going to require a fair amount of detail is the marketing plan. Moreover, you’re probably going to have to use many marketing channels and marketing tools to market your new business effectively. For example, business cards still work really well today (despite being around for decades) for marketing purposes. Business cards are also perhaps more memorable than email marketing because they are a tangible reminder of what you have to offer. With an online business card maker, you can customize your own business card using a premade template.

Getting the business basics in place

Creating a name for your business that is catchy, but that also speaks volumes about what you do can be a tricky thing to do. Also, it should be memorable enough so that your business instantly comes to mind when your services are needed. Next you have to decide on a business structure and start the filing process for that. You will need an EIN number, open a separate business bank account and apply for any licenses or permits if you need one.

Examine your financials

This can often be a complicated step if numbers aren’t your forte. However, it is vitally important if you need startup capital to achieving your business dream. That said, if you’re looking for additional capital, then a business loan isn’t your only option. Of course, you can also acquire start-up capital through other means such as bootstrapping, angel investors, venture capital, etc.

In conclusion, starting your own pet care business should be fairly given the high demand for pet care products and services. A genuine love for animals and a carefully thought-out plan will  make your new business venture a success.

Allergy shot for people allergic to dogs on the horizon

Researchers at the Osaka Prefecture University have identified potential candidates for those parts of the molecules that result in allergic reactions to dogs. If they develop this new finding, there could be an allergy shot to help people who otherwise cannot own or be near dogs enjoy dog ownership.

The long-range result may be that less dogs will be surrendered for adoption due to allergies to them and children may be able to grow up with that special companion.

The added benefit of this new discovery is that it could lead to other new allergy shots that will benefit people. Any progress in curing allergic reactions is a plus for overall health. Those people who suffer from allergies often suffer year-round. It is like having a constant cold. 

Pet Toys

Note: This article is my opinion, based on my experiences with many dogs, cats and birds.

Pet owners spend a considerable amount of money on toys for their pets. Toys are important for pets; they give pets something to do and, in some cases, build the bond between the pet and owner. While I will refer mostly to dogs, this article applies to all pets.

It is important to realize that there is no regulatory body for pet toys. What that means is that manufacturers can use whatever material they choose to make pet toys. Unfortunately, many of the products that are available are not safe, either because of a chewing or a toxic substance risk.

When picking a toy for your pet, you should consider the type of animal it is and what it likes to do. Dogs like to fetch, toss and chew and shred toys. This satisfies their natural hunting instinct. Cats like to chase, pounce, carry and sometimes tear up toys.

Birds generally like to tear apart, peck and toss toys. Although many birds play with toys in various ways. I had a budgie who liked to “herd” plastic balls into a tight group.

When considering a toy for a pet, keep in mind that if there is a risk associated with the toy, the risk increases if the pet is small. This is because it takes less material to block their intestines and less toxins to make them sick or kill them. This is why a pet owner should carefully evaluate what toy they give their pet.

I feel that toys for dogs pose the most risks because dogs tend to chew and eat pieces of their toys more than other pets. Know how your dog likes to play with a toy before you pick one out for him. Some dogs will totally destroy a stuffed toy or a plastic one. Other dogs like to carry a toy around and will not destroy it. Many dogs are obsessed with getting the squeaker out of a toy that has one. My Parsons Russell Terrier is a squeaker killer. He will work on a toy almost endlessly until he gets the squeaker out. Then for the most part, he loses interest in the toy.

Puppies almost always chew a toy until it is destroyed and they are more likely to eat the pieces of the toy. For this reason, plastic toys are a higher risk for puppies. Regardless if your dog is a puppy or an adult, plastic toys in general are the highest risk.

Because dogs like to chew and destroy toys, they are less likely to play with the chew-proof variety of toy. Some of the nylon toys are coated with a scent and when the coating wears off, the dog loses interest in the toy. Stuffed toys pose a problem because the stuffing, which can be ingested and not digested. The stuffing in most dog and cat toys are fiber fill which is a form of plastic.

If a dog owner is going to give their dog one of the many products on the market designed to clean the dog’s teeth while they chew the toy, be sure to check the ingredients. Most dental chews for dogs are only 96% digestible. What is the other 4%? Some of these products have plastic in them to make them last longer.

Those chew products that are designed to be eaten, should break down in five to ten minutes when placed in water, if not, it is a high risk for your dog. These types of products can block a dog’s intestines. Because of a dog’s short digestive tract, these products do not have enough time to break down if they can break down at all.

This is also true of any rawhide product. I personally do not approve of any animal product such as cow hooves, pig’s ears and rawhide. These products are often treated with formaldehyde as a preservative. Many people think that rawhide comes from a butcher, but in reality, rawhide comes from a tannery. Also, keep in mind that any wild domestic canine does not eat bones, skin or hooves.

This is evident when you see a dead deer along the roadside. After everything, animal, bird and insect are finished feeding on the carcass, the things left are hide, hooves and bones. The main risks for letting a dog eat rawhide are contamination, choking hazard, and intestinal blockage. A number of pet related organization discourage giving dogs rawhide. However, dried chicken feet and antlers are a better alternative than rawhide, pig’s ears and cow hooves.

Rope toys are acceptable if your dog does not chew them and swallow the threads. The safest rope toy is one made of cotton instead of nylon. Cotton has a better chance of breaking down if it is ingested whereas the nylon will not.

Ness’s favorite toy, an old bowling ball

It is never a good idea to give a dog old shoes or slippers because of the chemicals used to make them. It is especially difficult for a puppy to understand that old shoes and slippers, and rawhide products are OK to play with but new shoes and slippers are not. Keep in mind that rawhide comes from a tannery and dogs have a very sophisticated sense of smell. Therefore, a dog of any age can smell the similarity between rawhide and other leather products, which include furniture, gloves, jackets and briefcases.

Bones are not a good choice for dogs either. Again, it is not natural for dogs to eat bones. Many of the “natural” bones have bacteria on them that can harm both dogs and people who handle them. Some of the stuffed bones that are treated can be safer for a dog who likes bones. The danger associated with bones are splinters from the bone and bacteria.

The bottom line is knowing your dog. If a toy becomes small enough to swallow it should be taken away from the dog. By knowing your dog’s play habits you will be able to decide what toy is safe for them to play with. The best toy is one that allows you to interact with your dog, playing fetch games, chase games or whatever your dog likes. If you understand your dog’s breed, it will guide you to selecting the right toy for your dog. All dogs can benefit from puzzle toys and treat dispensing toys. Also think outside the box, you never know what a dog will take a fancy to as illustrated by our dog Ness.