Category Archives: dog care

Dogs on Prozac – but not exclusively for best results

Dogs who suffer with separation anxiety become more optimistic when taking the animal equivalent of Prozac during behavioural treatment, according to the results of an innovative new study.

Led by researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, the research has for the first time revealed how the animals feel during the clinical treatment of behaviours associated with negative emotions.

Jess Cook signed up for the study as her dog Lexi would become so distraught when left alone in the house neighbours would complain about her howling.

Jess Cook and Lexi, photo courtesy of University of Lincoln, UK

Jess Cook and Lexi, photo courtesy of University of Lincoln, UK

For five weeks in 2013, Lexi, now seven, took two tablets a day in some butter. She also underwent behaviour management therapy, which taught her to cope better with being separated from her owner.

Miss Cook, who runs Like My Own Pet Care Services in Derbyshire and is studying for her MSc in Clinical Animal Behaviour at the University of Lincoln, slowly built up the amount of time Lexi was left unattended for. It proved successful and now she has come off her medication.

Canine separation-related problems – also described as separation anxiety or separation distress – are among the most common behavioural complaints of dog owners. But the issue of using psychoactive medication to help pets with behavioural problems is a widely debated one.

Treatment with psychoactive medication in parallel with a behaviour modification plan is well documented, but it is unknown if this is associated with an improvement in underlying emotion or mood, or simply an inhibition of the behaviour.

The new study, published in the peer-reviewed veterinary science journal BMC Veterinary Research, has thrown new light on the topic with researchers devising a method to evaluate animals’ emotional state when treated with fluoxetine – the active ingredient in Prozac for humans and Reconcile for pets. Prozac, the trade name for fluoxetine, is typically used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety in humans.

The researchers recruited dogs showing signs of separation anxiety, such as barking, howling, destruction of property and toileting when alone, and used a special behaviour test to determine if they were feeling ‘optimistic’ or ‘pessimistic’.

In the test, dogs were taught that when a food bowl was placed in one location it contained food, but when placed in another location that it was empty. The bowl was then placed in ambiguous locations, and the dogs’ response was assessed to determine whether they expected food (i.e. ‘optimistic’) or not (i.e. ‘pessimistic’).

The results indicated that when dogs were treated for separation problems using both a behaviour modification programme combined with fluoxetine treatment that they did become more optimistic, and as their mood improved so did the behaviour problem. The same results were not recorded for the control group.

Research lead Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine at the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, said: “For quite a while, I, like many others, have been concerned as to whether drugs such as Reconcile simply inhibit the behaviour and perhaps had no effect on the animal’s mood. With the advent of new methods to assess animal welfare, we were able to answer this question and were pleased to see that, when the drug is used within normal therapeutic ranges, the dogs do indeed seem better.”

“However, it is important to emphasise that animals were treated with both the drug and a behaviour modification programme – with both being essential for effective treatment. Using the drug does seem to bring about a rapid improvement in mood while the animal responds to the training programme. The reality is, whether we like it or not, there are animals who are suffering and we need to take measures to both prevent the problem but also manage it as effectively as possible when it arises.”

Source:  University of Lincoln media release

America’s pet friendly rental markets

Finding rental housing when you own a dog (or two, or more) is a big issue here in Christchurch.  Our housing market has done some very weird things since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 with sky-rocketing property prices and escalated rental costs (people getting their homes repaired move to temporary accommodation – paid by their homeowners insurance, adding to the competition for rental properties).

Those people who did not own their homes pre-quakes and were dog owners have been some of the most severely affected by the increases.

And so this article from Forbes Magazine caught my eye.  It’s about renting housing in the USA when you are a dog owner; the largest 25 property rental markets are compared.

Pet friendly rental markets

Three factors were used to rank the rental markets:

a) the percentage of landlords willing to allow pets (counted by reading the ads for rental properties)

b) the least expensive pet fees.  That’s a fee that you pay on top of any deposit because you own a pet.  Most fees are refunded when you leave the property in good condition.  Others are simply higher rents for pet owners that are non-refundable.  In Christchurch, pet fees, particularly in terms of higher deposits, suddenly appeared on many properties where there were none before.

c) and my favorite criteria:  a high concentration of pet stores and services.

The western cities of San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Oakland and Portland topped the list.

Sadly for dog lovers, the survey revealed that landlords are much more tolerant of cats than they are of dogs.  And the larger the dog, the harder time you have when renting.  Only 4% of landlords were prepared to allow large breed dogs like a St Bernard.

What this information reinforces is that dog ownership costs money.  If you are considering adding a dog to your pack, spend some time considering your income and life situation before making the commitment.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pet Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that 1 out of every 4 dogs develops cancer?

Cancer is a devastating  diagnosis which many owners will face (and I speak from personal experience; I’ve loved and lost 2 dogs to cancer plus provided palliative care support to other dogs diagnosed with the disease).

The month of May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month.

Like humans, dogs are subject to a higher cancer risk because of genetic and lifestyle factors.  Good nutrition, exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight are as good for our dogs as they are for us!

In this video, Dr Gerald Post of the Veterinary Oncology Center in Connecticut talks about prevention, early indicators of cancer, and diagnostic tests.

There is a growing body of research into canine cancers and new treatments are being developed and tested.  This means that treatments such as chemotherapy exist for dogs when previously nothing could be done.

If you type the word ‘cancer’ into the search box on this blog, you will see a number of articles about dogs and cancer.  I regularly read new articles about cancer and treatments because I’m interested in the subject and I want to offer my customers the best possible advice and support when working with their veterinarian and others in their dog’s healthcare team.

Please feel free to share your canine cancer story by posting to this blog – so that others can learn from your experience.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Dry Dog, Wet Dog

Serenah Hodson is an Australian pet photographer.  She’s just done a series entitled Dry Dog Wet Dog.  She says,

‘Dry Dog Wet dog came about with washing my own dogs. Their personalities change when they know it’s bath time. So I decided to create a series of the different looks and not only personalities but the difference in look from groomed to wet. We get such great texture on the dog when the hair is wet. Some dogs look completely different when wet and this was the joy I wanted to capture.’

Here’s a few of Serenah’s photos and  you can follow her on Facebook to see more of her work.

Garfunkel-Dry-Dog-Wet-Dog Casper-Dry-Dog-Wet-Dog Bones-Dry-Dog-Wet-Dog Henri-Dry-Dog-Wet-Dog

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The basics of animal behavior

Nikolaas Tinbergen, who lived from 1907-1988, was a scientist who developed four basic questions that would explain animal behavior; he ultimately won the Nobel Prize for his work.

If you get involved in animal advocacy or rescue work, it helps to have some understanding of animal behavior.   The ‘4 Questions’ help us to understand why an animal is exhibiting a behavior.  Some published resources call these Questions ‘the Four Whys…’ (although the questions aren’t always phrased as a why)

1.  What is the function of the trait, or why does it exist?

2.  What is the phylogeny, or evolutionary history, of the trait?

3.  What is the cause of the trait?  Regardless of history or function, there is likely to be a physical basis for the behavior.

4.  How did the trait develop?  This is where you consider how the animal interacted with its environment and surroundings over time.

Barking dog

So, as a simple example – let’s consider barking.  Barking exists as a form of communication that augments physical body language.  So that’s the function question answered.

As far as evolution is concerned, it is probable that early dogs had different vocal sounds which developed into the barking we know today in the wide range of dog breeds.

The cause of barking is the passing of air through vocal chords – much like in humans.

And how the trait developed…well this is connected to domestication and how dogs could communicate with the canine and human members of their pack.  Animal trainers learn to distinguish the different types of barking and help to pass this knowledge onto their clients.

Most dog owners can also understand the differences in their dog’s barking.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Dogs and taxes

It is the 15th of April – Tax Day in the United States.  The deadline that comes around all too quickly, a date when every US resident must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.  Most states also have state tax returns that must be filed today, too.

Tax the big dogs

Have you ever considered what your dog and taxes have to do with each other?

Unfortunately, unlike human dependents, our dogs are not tax-deductible.  So, please don’t try this on your tax return.

In New York state, however, officials and animal rights advocates have filed a state bill that would give anyone who adopts a pet from a New York animal shelter a tax credit of $100, or $300 for up to three animals per year.

The bill is sponsored by Kevin Parker, a state senator from Brooklyn, and would cover all domesticated animals offered for adoption.  City Councilwoman Julis­sa Ferreras, from Queens, introduced a resolution backing the bill, which would make New York the first state to grant such a credit.   In New York State alone, shelters can care for up to 8 million dogs and cats each year; about 3 million are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them.


 

In terms of deductions, as I said earlier – don’t attempt to deduct your dog as a dependent.  It will only cause you tax troubles.

But, there are some dog-related expenses that are deductible:

1.  If you need a guide dog because you are visually impaired or for hearing assistance, you can deduct the costs of buying, training and caring (food, grooming, veterinary care) for your guide dog as a medical expense.  The same holds true for dogs trained to help you with any other diagnosed physical or mental condition.

2.  If you use a dog in your business, such as for security purposes, the cost of keeping the dog healthy – as with a guide dog – can be considered a legitimate business expense that is deductible.

3.  If you have to move house, pet relocation costs are also deductible as part of your overall moving expenses.

4.  Some people earn money from their dog-related hobbies – things like competing in dog shows, for example.  If those hobbies result in an income, you have to declare it.  But, the expenses you incur for pursuing your hobby are also deductible – provided that total of these expenses exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before deductions.

5.  If you volunteer for a pet-related charity, and the charity is a registered 501(c)(3) adoption center, you can deduct mileage you incur for working on behalf of the shelter.  If you foster a dog and costs like food are not fully reimbursed – these are deductible too.  It helps if the organisation you are working for provides you with a letter acknowledging your volunteer work on their behalf.

6.  Some owners set up pet trusts to protect and care for their pet after they pass away.  Trusts have tax advantages in terms of tax deductions.  But, it is important to have a lawyer who understands your local estate planning laws to help you with the set up of your trust.

Really, with any tax-related matter it is best to seek professional advice and remember to keep good records!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Sources:  New York Post, Bankrate

 

 

 

How scrap metal could help a dog in need

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker's surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker’s surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Seven-year-old Tucker is a Blue Heeler-Boxer mix who needs surgery to remove a piece of plastic that has embedded itself in his tongue.  His owner, Rejeanne Asselin, said she needs to come up with at least $800 to pay for his medical bills.

Since Asselin lives on a disability pension, her fixed income leaves little room for spending on Tucker’s medical care.  So, she is appealing to her local community of Fort Erie, Ontario, to donate any scrap metal, copper, aluminum, pop cans and beer bottles that can be recycled and exchanged for money that will help pay the vet bills.

“It might not be much but it all adds up in the long run,” Asselin said.

“Everyone has scrap metal, or these kinds of things lying around the house. Every little bit helps.”

Asselin first noticed something was wrong with her “good companion” in January when he wasn’t eating or drinking very much.  It took her until February when she had saved enough money to take him to the vet for an exam.

At first, the veterinarian thought Tucker might have cancer. After he was given some antibiotics and pain medication, Tucker was sent home. The swelling in Tucker’s mouth eventually went down and upon further examination from the veterinarian, it became clear something was embedded in Tucker’s tongue.  It’s likely some type of plastic.

The foreign object can’t be removed until Asselin comes up with enough money to pay for Tucker’s treatment.  He is still on pain medication but is having difficulty eating and is restricted to soft food.

“He is my protector, my guardian and my family.  You can tell he’s in pain.  But, Tucker is a very sweet dog.”

Anyone with scrap metal or other items in the Fort Erie area is being urged to  call Asselin at 905-871-6005 .

Source:  Fort Erie Times