Dogs can get a canine form of dementia — and it is very similar to the human version

If you have ever been close with a dog, the chances are that you have wondered what your canine companion might be thinking. As time goes on and your relationship grows — whether as a primary owner, a family member or an occasional visitor — you will probably ask yourself if the dog remembers you. Like our human friends and family, we would like to think that, even if we are not in the room, dogs still think about us.

Beagle Lies On The Floor In The House (Getty Images / Aleksandr Pobeda / EyeEm)

Scientists agree dogs are intelligent, emotional and capable of forming lasting relationships with humans. While there is robust debate about the extent to which this is true, animals like Bunny the “talking” sheepadoodle are able to communicate in such a sophisticated manner that they will even discuss their dreams.

The bad news is that, just like humans, dogs can develop degenerative nerve diseases which damage their minds. One illness in particular has a direct analogue in dogs: Alzheimer’s disease. Dogs, sadly, can develop a similar condition — and tragically, that might mean that your dog could suffer some of the same sad Alzheimer’s-like conditions, such as forgetting its close family, in its final days.

“Canine Cognitive Dysfunction [CCD] mirrors two key components of Alzheimer’s disease in humans,” Dr. Silvan Urfer of the Dog Aging Project and the University of Washington told Salon by email. It comes down to a peptide and a protein that will suddenly accumulate in your brain: Amyloid-beta 42 and hyperphosphorylated Tau (pTau). “While there are likely a few differences regarding the details of pTau pathology in particular, it is fair to say that CCD is the dog analog of Alzheimer’s Disease,” Urfer noted.

Dr. Elizabeth Head, a professor in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, told Salon in writing that in addition to developing these beta-amyloid plaques — one of the hallmark features of Alzheimer disease — the dogs also suffer like humans, in that neurons die. The synapses, or connections between neurons, are lost, and these are observed in humans who as they age suffer from cognitive decline.

“From a psychological perspective dogs may show signs of disrupted sleep patterns (e.g. up pacing at night), more vocalizing, [being unable to] remember how to signal to go out and may have trouble recognizing family members,” Head explained. “This can lead to more anxiety. From a physical perspective, there may be more episodes of incontinence but oftentimes other physical problems are ruled out with the CCD diagnosis (e.g. deafness, blindness, systemic illness).”

Indeed, the similarities between CCD and human dementia are so striking that researchers believe man’s best friend could actually help him find a cure for the debilitating ailment. There is a nationwide study known as The Dog Aging Project — which was launched by Cornell University, the University of Washington and the University of Arizona and funded by the National Institute on Aging — which exists precisely because scientists are intrigued by those similarities. They believe that learning more about how to help dogs with the condition can, in the process, provide research data that helps fight human diseases related to senescence.

“What we’re trying to do is find a better understanding of the disease in dogs and translate those findings to humans,” Dr. Marta Castelhano, director of the Cornell Veterinary Biobank and one of the involved scientists, told Cornell News at the time.

Until a cure for CCD exists, the sad reality is that dogs and humans alike who experience cognitive decline will be left to manage their symptoms to the best of their ability. When speaking with Salon, Urfer stressed that he is “not providing veterinary advice on individual dogs, as there is no vet-patient-client relationship here.” People who are concerned about their dogs should consult a veterinarian. What we do know for sure, however, is that causal treatments do not exist for CCD. All we know is that there are certain physical characteristics that make dogs more or less likely to be at risk.

“We know that bigger dogs have a lower risk of developing CCD than small dogs, and there is also some evidence that intact males have a lower CCD risk than neutered males, and that existing CCD progresses faster in neutered than in intact males,” Urfer explained. “This is interesting in that it also mirrors findings from human medicine that taller people are less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease, and that men who undergo anti-androgen treatment for prostate cancer have an increased Alzheimer’s disease risk.”

If your dog is healthy now, then the best thing to do is make sure they stay healthy. That can prevent CCD from developing. It is the exact same as the approach for homo sapiens.

“The best approach is always prevention – ensure good physical health (e.g. keep up with dentals), exercise, lots of social and cognitive enrichment, and a good diet, manage co-occuring conditions (e.g. obesity)  – just like for people!” Head told Salon.

Source: Salon.com

Affection from a dog really is medicinal, according to a new study

Dogs may also be a doctor’s best friend.

For patients suffering from pain in the emergency room, just 10 minutes with a four-legged friend may help reduce pain, according to a study published Wednesday.

The results support what dog lovers everywhere have long suspected — canine affection cures all ills — as well as provides a bit of optimism for patients and health care providers frequently grappling with strapped hospital resources in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There is research showing that pets are an important part of our health in different ways. They motivate us, they get us up, (give us) routines, the human-animal bond,” said lead study author Colleen Dell, the research chair in One Health and Wellness and professor at the University of Saskatchewan.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, asked more than 200 patients in the emergency room to report their level of pain on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 as the highest level of pain). A control group had no intervention for their pain, while participants in the other group were given 10 minutes of time with a therapy dog, and patients rated their pain levels again, according to the study.

Those who got the visit from the dogs reported less pain.

The study has a strong methodology, said Jessica Chubak, senior investigator with the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. Chubak, who was not involved with the study, noted that there is still a lot to learn about therapy dogs.

“The results of the study are promising,” she said in an email. “Our current understanding of the effects of therapy dog visits in emergency department settings is fairly limited. So, it is particularly important to have more research in this area.”

Dell hopes that research like this study means we can stop asking if therapy dogs are helpful in a medical context and start asking how they help and how to integrate them better with health care teams.

In the hospital

The emergency room experience might actually contribute to patients’ pain.

The bright lights, long waits, anxiety and focus on immediate, acute conditions can make the feeling worse, said Erin Beckwell, a dog owner who has experienced chronic pain for much of her life.

“It’s not a place that you usually get escorted to a comfy room that’s quiet and gives us any sort of specific interventions,” she said. “It’s often suggestions of things you’ve already tried, and then they send you home after a long time of distressing and anxiety-provoking, pain-filled waiting.

You may not come out feeling like you were even really heard.”

Some people have a misperception that utilizing therapy dogs can transmit disease and risk hygiene in a hospital setting, but Dell said there are ways health care providers can utilize them in sanitary ways to make the whole system operate better.

Mike MacFadden, a nurse practitioner based in Canada, said he sees a lot of potential in incorporating therapy dogs as part of a holistic approach to pain treatment in the emergency room, and that it could help everyone involved.

“Emergency service teams can feel conflicted and experience moral distress resulting from their inability to meet their own expectations for optimal care. With people’s experience of pain being multifaceted, we know that a multifacetedapproach is most beneficial to meet the needs of patients,” McFadden said. “The presence of a therapy dog not only has the benefits of supporting the patient’s experience, but I think it also serves as a comfort to the care providers.”

Hunter, a therapy dog, and his handler, Amanda Woelk, sit with Tyler Regier, 2, and his mother, Tina Regier, both of Overland Park, Kan., on Oct. 2, 2015, at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. (Allison Long/Kansas City Star/TNS)

In the home

Pain can be thought of as both a physical and social experience, said Michelle Gagnon, assistant professor of psychology and health studies at the University of Saskatchewan. Gagnon was not involved with the study.

Anxiety, depression, having support or being dismissed can all have an impact on how we experience pain, she said. It makes sense that spending time with a creature that brings you joy and doesn’t invalidate your feelings can help you feel better.

“The things that you can gain from pets and some of the positive emotions that could be elicited from having the pet around you I think could have an impact on the pain experience itself,” she said.

Beckwell said she has experienced it personally with her 10-year-old cocker spaniel, Reilly, as she has experienced arthritis and autoimmune disorders.

“I feel more in control of the situation and less panicked or anxious about the severity of my pain, the duration of my pain, those sorts of things when I have that unconditional support from my dog,” Beckwell said. “She will come in, and she has learned over the years when I’m in pain she can’t sit on my lap.

“I don’t need to tell her — she knows,” Beckwell said.

Source: CNN

How the presence of pets builds trust among people

Companion animals are a core part of family life in the United States, with 90 million American households having at least one pet. Many of us view pets as beloved family members who provide nonjudgmental emotional support and companionship during times of stress.

That’s not all. Research shows our pets can also strengthen our relationships and trust with other people. In addition, pets contribute positively to trust in our broader social communities.

Companion animals as social facilitators

As many of us know, animals provide an avenue for approaching another person socially, serving as a conversational starting point for connection. Pet ownership alone could be a source of shared interest and knowledge, even among people who may not have similar interests otherwise.

Simply walking down the street with a dog can lead to significantly more social interactions than walking without a dog. Assistance dogs can also facilitate these interactions. One study found that individuals using a wheelchair were more likely to be approached when their assistance animal was present.

The presence of an animal can also enhance perceptions of trustworthiness and responsibility, which in turn fosters positive social interactions. Researchers found that people were more likely to help a stranger with a dog than one without a dog, suggesting that the presence of an animal conferred perceptions of trust.

For children, interacting with a pet can also provide an additional opportunity to practice positive social interactions and develop empathy and compassion. Recent research indicates that living with dogs is associated with better social and emotional skills for children. In our own research at the Tufts Pets and Well-Being Lab, we also found that teenagers with high levels of attachment to their pets were likely to have higher levels of social skills and empathy toward others than those without such attachments.

Pets and social capital

Research shows that simply walking down the street with a dog can lead to significantly more social interactions than walking without a dog. Photo: Shutterstock

Pets have also been shown to foster social capital in communities. Social capital is a concept that encompasses the broader community and neighborhood networks of social relationships, and the degree to which the community has a culture of helping others. The trust inherent in these connections can lead to better health and well-being.

Interestingly, pet owners have consistently reported higher levels of social capital in their communities than people without pets, both in the United States and internationally.

In addition to social facilitation, pets can contribute to social capital by strengthening social trust within communities. Neighbors may rely on one another to assist with animal care, which builds reciprocal trust. Pet owners’ use of shared spaces, such as dog parks or green spaces, can lead to better social relationships.

In spite of it, during the COVID-19 pandemic dog owners were more likely than those without dogs to go for regular walks outdoors, providing an opportunity for community engagement during a period of extreme social isolation. The presence of an animal has even been found to increase positive social interactions in the workplace.

While evidence continues to support the idea that pets foster positive interactions between people, animals are not a universal solution for creating trust. There is still a lot we need to learn about the interrelated relationships between pets and people.

Source: The Conversation

They’re on loan, make the most of it

Rosie, my special needs foster dog, went to her forever home on the 18th of February. She provided me with canine companionship in the weeks following Izzy’s death and, although I was happy that we found a good match for her, I was sad to see her go.

Two months is a long time to care for a dog, and during our time together Rosie showed me that not only was she misunderstood, but that she was clever enough to have learned how to live in a hearing world despite losing her own. (Rosie also told me one day in no uncertain terms that someone had bashed her – and more than once). Despite all her hardships, Rosie likes company and she still freely gives and receives affection.

Rosie

In the weeks since she left, I have reflected a lot about our dogs. I am still grieving the loss of Izzy, who was followed across the Rainbow Bridge by her friend Ben just last week.

Izzy and Ben, in their younger days, after an off-lead run

I have witnessed foster dog Pumpkin teach Rosie about living in a multi-dog household and Pumpkin has now moved to another foster home. And I am on the search to find my next forever dog because a Doggy Mom without a dog is never a good thing.

Rosie (top left) and Pumpkin learn to co-exist. Since Rosie was here first, she claimed the best bed in the house

We are indeed lucky to have our dogs.

The law considers our dogs to be property, hence the use of the term ‘dog owner’ is common. On reflection though, whether they are a foster or a family dog, they are not property. At best, they are on loan for a life that is far shorter than ours.

Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love; they depart to teach us about loss” – so the saying goes. In between, however, these loaner dogs teach us:

  • Never underestimate the power of a good nap
  • Drink water daily
  • Live in the moment
  • Regardless of your age, get out and play
  • The best things in life are free (these includes cuddles, kisses, walks and just being there for one another)

If you’re reading this, I hope you give your loaner dog a big hug and kiss and take an extra long walk today – for time gets away from us and they are gone too soon.

P.S. Rosie is enjoying her new forever home in Blenheim where she can run off-lead with her greyhound brother and lie in the sun every day

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Doggy quote of the month for March

Core strength could help dogs avoid knee injuries

Photo by Angel Luciano on UnSplash

Agility dogs lacking core strength from routine physical exercise and those participating in activities like flyball may be more susceptible to one of the most common canine knee injuries.

That knee injury is a cranial cruciate ligament rupture, which is equivalent to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear in humans.

According to a research survey documenting activity and injury odds of more than 1,200 agility dogs, just about any physical exercise seems to lower the risk of rupturing the ligament, but some exercises seem to increase the risk. In addition, the size and shape of the dog — and thereby certain breeds — were also found to be at higher risk.

“Balance exercises, wobble boards, anything that improves the core strength of the dog seemed to lower the odds of a ligament tear,” said Deb Sellon, a Washington State University veterinarian and lead author on the study published in BMC Veterinary Research. “We found fitness matters for dogs just like it does for people, and we haven’t shown that before.”

Sellon is also the founder of the university’s Agility Dog Health Network, which was accessed in the study. By using odds ratios, which is essentially a statistical risk assessment, Sellon and Denis Marcellin-Little, a veterinary orthopedic specialist with University of California, Davis, looked for trends in 1,262 agility dogs — 260 that tore the ligament and 1,002 dogs that did not.

In addition to balance and core strengthening exercises activities like dock diving, barn hunt and scent work are associated with a decreased rate of ligament rupture, too.

While regular activity, like swimming, playing fetch or frisbee, walking or running didn’t increase the risk of injury, it didn’t lower the odds either.

Surprisingly, dogs that competed more frequently in agility events and competed at a higher level on more technically rigorous types of courses were less likely to rupture their cruciate ligaments.

The only physical activities that increased the odds of injury were short walks or runs over hilly or flat terrain on a weekly basis, and many of those injuries were in dogs early in their agility career that lacked core strength from routine physical exercise or at times, rest days.

Training or competing in the new and popular dog sport flyball was found to be the riskiest activity of all activities evaluated in the survey. Agility dogs that also engaged in the sport of flyball were nearly twice as likely to rupture the ligament as compared to other dogs. Nearly 12% of dogs reported to play flyball ruptured the ligament.

The survey confirmed some long-standing and well-accepted risk factors as well. In particular, female dogs spayed before the age of one were almost twice as likely to rupture the ligament compared to dogs that were spayed after their first birthday. Sellon said this is believed to reflect the importance of hormones in developing strong ligaments in young animals.

Trends were also identified among certain breeds.

Survey results indicated Australian shepherds and Labrador retrievers were more than twice as likely to rupture the ligament. Rottweilers and Australian cattle dogs were more than four times as likely to tear the ligament.

Marcellin-Little speculates that could have something to do with the shape of the dog, and maybe its tail.

“Larger dogs doing agility tend to be less balanced, so it is not surprising a Rottweiler or Australian Shepherd may be at a higher risk of a rupture compared to smaller breeds,” he said. “The tail could also be a factor; the tail has been proven very important for cheetahs and you can imagine it has a role to play in the overall balance of the dog.”

Marcellin-Little said there is still a great deal of research that needs to be completed, but the survey gives veterinarians a place to start. 

“This research decreases uncertainty; it doesn’t bring certainty, but this one study could provoke thoughts and help us look at potential research areas to target moving forward,” he said. “That is the type of research that the Agility Dog Health Network is planning to support.”

Source: Washington State University

Dog faeces and urine could be harming nature reserves, according to new study

New research finds that dogs being walked in nature reserves contribute a significant amount of nutrients to the environment through their faeces and urine, which researchers warn could negatively impact local biodiversity. The research is published in the British Ecological Society journal, Ecological Solutions and Evidence.

Sign prohibiting dogs at one of the nature reserves. Credit: Pieter De Frenne

Significant levels of fertilisation

Researchers at Ghent University have estimated that each year dog faeces and urine add an average of 11kg of nitrogen and 5kg of phosphorous per hectare to nature reserves near the Belgian city of Ghent. The researchers say that the nutrients added through this neglected form of fertilisation are substantial and could be detrimental to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

The estimates for the amount of nitrogen being added by this previously unrecorded source are particularly significant when compared to the total levels of nitrogen being added across most of Europe through fossil fuel emissions and agriculture, which range from 5 to 25kg of nitrogen per hectare.

Professor Pieter De Frenne of Ghent University and lead author of the research said: “We were surprised by how high nutrient inputs from dogs could be. Atmospheric nitrogen inputs from agriculture, industry and traffic rightfully receive a lot of policy attention, but dogs are entirely neglected in this respect.

The researchers call for land managers, especially in low nutrient ecosystems, to emphasise the negative fertilisation effects of dogs to visitors, encouraging them to remove their dogs’ faeces. They also call for leash use to be enforced more stringently and the establishment of more off-leash dog parks to reduce the pressure on nature reserves.

Dogs on leashes and owners removing faeces have big impacts

In the experiment, which calculated the amount of nutrients dogs were adding to the environment by recording the number of dogs present in four nature reserves, the researchers modelled different scenarios including if the dogs were on or off leashes and if owners picked up dog faeces.

When the researchers modelled a scenario where all dogs were kept on leashes (legally required in all these reserves) they found that this reduced the fertilisation rates in the largest part of the reserves but strongly increased fertilisation rates in the small areas around paths. Over a year this input was as high as 175 kg of nitrogen and 73 kg of phosphorus per hectare.

Professor De Frenne said: “In our scenario where all dogs were kept on leashes, we found that in these concentrated areas around paths, nutrient inputs of both nitrogen and phosphorus exceeded legal limits for fertilization of agricultural land. Which is quite staggering as our study concerned nature reserves!”

In a scenario where dogs were on leashes, but all owners picked up their dogs’ faeces, the researchers found that this reduced fertilisation levels by 56% for nitrogen and 97% for phosphorus. This is due to dog faeces accounting for nearly all phosphorous being deposited whereas nitrogen is deposited equally by both faeces and urine.

Dog being walked on lead
In models where all dogs were kept on leashes, the researchers found that this reduced fertilisation rates in most of the reserves but strongly increased fertilisation rates in the areas around paths.

Increased nutrients a problem for nature reserves

The addition of nutrients to nature reserves might sound beneficial as these lead to increased plant growth, however, this mostly occurs in a limited number of nutrient demanding species that outcompete rarer specialists, reducing biodiversity.

“In many nature reserves, the management is specifically directed towards lowering soil nutrient levels to enhance plant and animal biodiversity. This can be done through methods like mowing and hay removal.” Explains Professor De Frenne. “Our findings suggest that the currently neglected inputs of dogs in nature reserves could delay restoration goals.”

Calculating nutrient levels

To estimate the amount of nutrients dogs were adding to the environment, the researchers first calculated dog abundance per hectare, per year, by counting dogs in four nature reserves close to the city of Ghent, Belgium. These counts were performed on 487 occasions over 18 months. They then performed a literature search of nutrient concentrations in dog urine and faeces to model different scenarios.

While this method meant that researchers could accurately calculate the abundance of dogs in the nature reserves, estimations had to be made based on the average dog and average volumes of urine and mass of faeces, as well as estimates of nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations.

The researchers say that their data could be improved by recording breeds of dogs, as well as their size, weight and the number of urine and faecal deposits, for instance, by asking owners. The researchers also suggest that georeferencing dog faeces and urine locations could further help to detect fertilisation ‘hot spots’.

Source: British Ecological Society

Doggy quote of the month for February

“The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be”

– Konrad Lorenz, Austrian zoologist

Let me tell you about Rosie

Rosie is my foster dog; she arrived one month ago exactly, on 17 December 2021.

Rosie is an affectionate black greyhound who has had three unsuccessful adoption placements. You see, Rosie is profoundly deaf.

She was not born deaf, but she became deaf through ear infections – and what appears to be lots of them, or at least ones that had unsuccessful or no treatment. Her ear canals are so severely scarred that about the only sound she has reacted to was the high-pitched loud squeal of my burglar alarm which I set off accidentally last month.

But there is a lot more you need to know about Rosie to understand her

Rosie doesn’t know she is special needs. She simply lives in a world where she sees people’s lips move but no sound comes out. She is reluctant to make eye contact with new people and so can easily misread their intentions. She responds to emotional energy very well; she seems to know when someone is smiling and wants to give her a pat; I always ask them to allow her to come to them which works well.

When Izzy died, she certainly knew I was upset and came in for lots of cuddles and reassurance.

She isn’t so sure of people wearing masks because masks cover faces and Rosie needs faces to read the situation. I have been deliberately taking her places where she meets people in masks and where I am wearing mine. She even came with me to the drive-thru vaccination clinic when it was time for me to have my Covid-19 booster shot; she barked anxiously at the face outside the window.

Mask-wearing will be part of our lives for a while and Rosie needs to live successfully in a masked up world so I will continue exposing her in a controlled manner to mask-wearing people so she can become more confident. Today, for example, we went to the local SPCA op shop which welcomes pets. The shop attendants and the customers were all wearing masks. We didn’t have any issues.

Rosie has lots of energy. When the sun is up, so is she. Forget the advice that a greyhound is so placid that two, 20-minute walks per day are sufficient exercise. Rosie has been having two walks of at least 30-40 minutes each and cracks a good pace for the entire time. An hour’s long walk on the beach with greyhound Misty was not problem for her, either.

I gave Rosie a massage over the weekend (her first) and I can assure you that she has great muscle tone. For a girl who is now 6 years, 9 months old, she is in great shape!

Rosie would benefit from being adopted by a household with another dog who is well-settled and playful. Rosie likes to play (she has had several play dates and is enthusiastic about engaging with other dogs who are both off-lead and on-lead). A dog that could be Rosie’s mentor will give her someone to follow around and mimic. In my opinion, a chilled out dog who can teach Rosie the house rules will see her settle into a new adoptive home pretty quickly.

Meeting other dogs at the beach

Remember, though, that Rosie is deaf. She will always be deaf no matter how much training she receives. Rosie misses out on the low growls of dogs who are giving her a warning signal.

She doesn’t hear the children on the footpath who are coming from behind on scooters (startling her in the process). Whomever adopts Rosie needs to understand that they need to be her ears when they are out of the house – at all times. And when integrating into her new home, the dog:dog interactions will need to be supervised initially. Rosie doesn’t mean to be annoying, but she could be, in her enthusiasm to play.

Every greyhound needs a securely fenced section.

Rosie definitely needs one and always will. Off-lead exercise can only happen in securely fenced areas.

Rosie explores the section regularly throughout the day; the gate is always padlocked for added security

You may have heard that people who lose the their hearing seem to develop enhanced senses of touch, taste, smell, and sight. This is definitely the case with Rosie.

She is a sighthound. I can attest to the fact that Rosie triggers on all movement. So that is definitely cats, ducks, chickens, other birds, and rabbits. She also reacts to leaves, branches, pieces of rubbish and even my neighbour’s clothes on the line when they move in the breeze. Last week we were taking an afternoon walk along Papanui Road and the sunlight was reflecting off cars onto the ceiling of the shop walkway. Rosie startled at the reflections because it looked like something overhead was coming our way.

Consequently, it’s essential that anyone who walks Rosie does so with a firm grip of the leash and with it wrapped around their wrist. Always. And so that means that Rosie cannot be taken on walks by young members of an adoptive family. Adults only. Able-bodied ones, too. And please – a normal leash and not those horrible extension leads…

At my request, Rosie came with a lead that helps people know that she is a deaf dog. Her walking skills have improved considerably over the last month. She walks more calmly, mostly at my left side, although she will cross over the footpath when there is something interesting to investigate. Rosie is supposed to be a pet, not a competitive obedience dog and so I am happy to have her wander a bit. The important thing is that she has stopped tripping me up on walks with frantic zig-zagging in front of me.

If Rosie sees something of interest – like a neighbourhood cat – she will pull and rear up on her hind legs. Hold your ground and hold on tight. Rosie should always be walked in a harness for greater control and to avoid damage to her neck.

Rosie is a deep sleeper. All greyhounds sleep. Rosie sleeps more deeply than most. We know that dogs have a different sleep pattern than we do, but since Rosie cannot hear, it seems that she goes into a deep REM-like sleep more often. (This explains her energy levels when she’s awake – refreshed and ready to go!)

Greyhounds are known for their sleep startle – that sweet little greyhound can become a raving Cujo when wakened suddenly. In Rosie’s case, her risk of sleep startle is much greater. Therefore, I have developed a new habit of walking into a room with a good solid stomp of my foot. The vibrations will stir Rosie from her slumber.

The risk of sleep startle is another reason why Rosie cannot go to a home with small children, who are unlikely to remember the rules about engaging with a sleeping Rosie. Mature households only are needed as Rosie’s eventual adoptive family to keep everyone safe.

I mentioned earlier that Rosie is cuddly and affectionate. I have allowed her to sleep on my bed, particularly because she really wanted to snuggle and because she came one night to my bedroom at about 3 am when I was simply too tired to keep pushing her off the bed. Besides, I feel that since she has shown no interest in the sofa, she rightly deserves a chance to be a real pet greyhound and sleep on the bed.

Rosie is completely house-trained and she only barks when she is excited (such as when I am taking too much time to get dressed in the morning for our walk). I have had a pet cam running constantly for the last three weeks – she only whimpers a bit when I leave the house and then eventually settles on her bed for a deep sleep. She will sometimes go into the crate for a rest, but the crate is also strategically positioned so she can watch me in the kitchen from a safe distance.

In the interest of finding Rosie her forever home, I have begun working with Rosie on an essential cue – Look At Me. The Look At Me is the foundation for interacting with her handler so that she can then react to other visual cues which will be trained over time. I have already instituted her Come command, which is a vigourous tapping of my thigh.

We are perfecting her Look At Me and Come. Good things take time and I keep her training sessions short – only about 5-10 minutes each maximum. This ensures Rosie is set up for success. I am thoroughly happy to keep Rosie for as long as it takes until we find her the perfect match for her adoptive home and, in the meantime, we can continue our training and enjoy each other’s company.

Enquiries about adopting Rosie should be directed to Greyhounds as Pets.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Synchrony study unveils staggering findings surrounding lifetime cost of pet ownership

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A new Synchrony study, “Lifetime of Care,”1 has revealed that 7 out of 10 pet owners consider their pets family members; however, nearly half underestimated the lifetime cost of care which ranges from $20,000 to $55,000 for dogs and $15,000 to $45,000 for cats.* In addition, about half of all pet owners who believed they were financially prepared for unexpected pet expenses, were not, and would consider a designated financial solution for pet care.

This research,1 based off on findings from 1,200 pet parents and 100 veterinarians and confirmed by veterinary clinics, offers consumer insight into the cost of lifetime care for canine or feline ownership. Conducted on behalf of Synchrony’s pet and veterinary financial solutions—CareCredit and Pets Best Pet Insurance—the research covered an extensive array of dog and cat expenses (ie, first-year expenses, food and health insurance, end-of-life expenses, etc).

According to the American Pet Products Association,2 90.5 million US homes currently have a pet, and in 2020 itself, $103.6 billion was spent on pet care. The Lifetime of Care study1 displayed dog owners can expect to spend between $1,300 to $2,800 and cat owners approximately $960 to $2,500 in the first year alone.

“Millions of Americans choose to share life with a pet, yet the true cost of ownership has historically been incredibly vague. Our Lifetime of Care study serves as a helpful tool to prepare prospective pet parents,” said Jonathan Wainberg, senior vice president and general manager, Pet, Synchrony, in a company release.3

“We want pet parents to have a deeper understanding of what to expect financially, and knowledge of the flexible payment solutions that are available to help them manage the costs of care throughout their pet’s lifetime,” he added.

Amid the COVD-19 pandemic, it is estimated that 1 in 5 households4 gained a new companion animal. This data propelled Synchrony to promote the financial preparation options available to pet parents including pet insurance like Pets Best and credit cards such as CareCredit.

Together, CareCredit and Pets Best provide a complete financial solution as cardholders can pay at the veterinary practice using their CareCredit card, and then apply the reimbursement from Pets Best towards their CareCredit account.

“Veterinarians often see pet parents struggling to balance the care their pet needs with what they can afford,” said Peter Weinstein, owner of PAW Consulting, author and veterinary industry leader, in the release.3 “This new study provides us a comprehensive look at the true costs of pet care so we can arm our clients with the information and financial solutions they need to care for their pets for a month, year and an entire lifetime.”

View the entire Lifetime of Care study here. Learn more about CareCredit and Pets Best by visiting carecredit.com or petsbest.com.

* Includes initial costs, spaying/neutering, technology cost, and end of life expense (high). Low does not include health insurance, wellness plans, or other non-basic expenses.

References

  1. Lifetime of care study. Synchrony. January 2022. Accessed January 11, 2022. http://petlifetimeofcare.com/#page=1
  2. Pet industry market size, trends & ownership statistics. American Pet Products Association. March 24, 2021. Accessed January 10, 2022. https://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
  3. Synchrony study reveals pet owners spend as much as $55,000 during a pet’s lifetime. News release. Synchrony. January 11, 2022. Accessed January 11, 2022.
  4. ASPCA pandemic pet ownership survey. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. May 26, 2021. Accessed January 11, 2022. https://aspca.app.box.com/s/v4t7yrwalwk39mf71a857ivqoxnv2x3d

Source: dvm360.com