Dog Paw Cuts and Scrapes: How to Treat a Paw Injury

Five things to do when your dog injures his paw pad.

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Your dog’s paw pads act much like the soles of sneakers, protecting your dog’s foot and cushioning each step. Paw pads are tough, but they can still be cut by sharp objects or worn off if your dog runs hard on rough terrain. What should you do when your dog cuts or tears a pad?

1. Clean the wound.
Gently flush the wound with water or an antiseptic, such as diluted chlorhexidine solution. If there is obvious debris, such as rocks or glass, remove it carefully. Don’t force anything that is lodged deep into the foot.
2. Control bleeding.
Apply pressure to the wound to stop any bleeding. Use a clean towel and an ice pack if available to encourage blood-vessel constriction. If only the outer layer of the pad has been worn off, there may not be much bleeding, but deeper wounds and punctures can bleed heavily. The time it takes for bleeding to stop will vary with the severity of the wound.
3. Evaluate the damage.
Minor paw injuries can be managed at home, but more severe ones require veterinary attention. Uncontrolled bleeding is an emergency – if your dog’s foot continues to bleed after several minutes of pressure, call your veterinarian and head for the clinic. Deep or jagged cuts may require sutures for optimal healing. Your dog may need to be sedated for sufficient cleaning of the wound if there is persistent debris, such as little bits of gravel, and something that is firmly lodged in the foot will need to be surgically removed. Your dog may also need antibiotics to protect against infection. If you are at all unsure, err on the side of a vet visit – your veterinarian can give you peace of mind and can give your dog the care he needs.
4. Bandage.
Place nonstick gauze or a Telfa pad directly over the cut. If available, a dab of triple antibiotic ointment is a good idea to prevent infection. This can be secured with paper tape. Then wrap your dog’s foot using roll gauze, Vetrap, or an elastic bandage. The bandage should be snug enough to stay on, but also needs to be loose enough to allow for proper circulation to your dog’s foot. You should be able to slide two fingers under the bandage. To prevent the bandage from slipping off, wrap all the way up to and including the next joint on your dog’s leg: carpus or wrist in front, hock in back. You can also place more tape around the top of the bandage.
Keep the bandage dry. Moisture provides an entrance for bacteria to get through the bandage and into the wound. You can use a commercial bootie to protect the bandage when your dog goes outside or just tape a plastic bag over it. Most paw bandages need to be changed daily, especially if there is still bleeding or a discharge present.
For minor scrapes that look like a rug burn, a liquid bandage can be used to cover the exposed nerve endings without needing a full traditional bandage. Keep the foot elevated while the liquid bandage dries, and don’t let your dog lick it.
5. Allow time for healing.
Your dog’s paw will heal faster if it’s protected until fully healed. Keep him quiet, and prevent him from running or chewing at the bandage (this may require the use of an Elizabethan collar). Even after your dog’s pad has healed enough that it isn’t painful to touch, it will still be tender and vulnerable to reinjury. Avoid activities that could damage the healing pad, or use a bootie to protect the foot. Healing time will vary depending on the size of the cut.

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The Ultimate Guide to What Dogs Can’t Eat

Dog Diet & Nutrition

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what dogs can’t eat

There are human foods that are completely safe for dogs and also foods that are dangerous and even potentially fatal. Many pet owners learn about toxic foods only after their dog has ingested something and started having abnormal symptoms.

Since dogs are naturally curious and have an amazing sense of smell, this combination often leads to them getting into purses, getting food off of counters, getting into trash cans, stealing food from grills, and sneaking food from plates. Other times, well-intentioned pet owners offer tables scraps or human foods without understanding that they are toxic.

Below, we will review what can’t dogs eat as well as list what is safe. It is important to have healthy alternatives once you know what is not safe.

 

Safe Food for Dogs

There are many human foods that are “safe” for dogs. However, dogs do not need human food. What dogs need is a good quality food formulated for the size, age, body condition, activity, or for any underlying medical problems they may have. Learn more about Nutrition for Dogs.

lab eat garden

Safe Treats for Dogs

The ideal dog treat is one made of good quality ingredients that is moderate to low in calories, consistent in ingredients (thus unlikely to cause stomach upset from bag to bag), very appealing to your dog, and safe. Higher-quality treats tend to be more consistently produced, so it is best to avoid discount and supermarket brands if possible.

There are also many human foods that you can feed your dog safely. By safely, I mean the foods listed below are not toxic to dogs. However, large quantities of any food or food given to dogs with sensitive gastrointestinal tracts can lead to problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, and/or pancreatitis. Treats should make up less than 5% of your dog’s caloric intake.

 

Safe Foods and Treats for Dogs

Human foods that are safe for dogs include those in the list below. These foods are considered to be fresh, seedless, shelled, sliced, peeled, and in some cases, washed, and/or cooked depending on the particular product. Butter and seasonings can create their own dangers.

Almonds

Apples – small amounts without the seeds

Asparagus

Avocado –small amounts without the seeds

Bananas

Blackberries

Blueberries

Broccoli – cooked or raw clean/washed

Brussels sprouts

Cantaloupe

Carrots – cooked or raw clean/washed

Cauliflower

Celery – cooked or raw clean/washed

Cheese

Chicken – cooked

Clementine

Cooked fish such as salmon

Cooked green beans. In fact, some pet owners give green beans to aid in weight loss. Learn more about the Green Bean Diet for Dogs

Cooked ground beef or steak

Cottage cheese

Cranberries

Eggs

Fish

Freshly cooked lunch meat

Iceberg Lettuce

Kiwis

Oatmeal

Oranges

Papaya

Pasta

Peanuts

Pineapple

Popcorn

Pork – cooked

Potato – raw or cooked plain or sweet

Pumpkin – cooked

Rice or rice cake

Shrimp

Strawberries

Spinach

Tangerine

Turkey – cooked

Yogurt

Watermelon

Tips for Giving Human Food as Treats to Your Dog

Treats are never a replacement for a good quality core dog food.

Consider low-calorie treats for dogs with weight control problems.

Give only fresh food. Moldy or rotten food can cause gastrointestinal upset.

What Dogs Can’t Eat: Foods Not Safe for Dogs

Any food in large pieces or chunks can cause difficulty chewing or swallowing and can be a choking hazard.

Specific foods that veterinarians commonly recommend NOT to give to dogs include the following:

Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, and Plums. Ingestion of large amounts of stems, seeds, and leaves of these fruits can be toxic. They contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include anxiety, dilated pupils, labored breathing, fast breathing, and shock. Small pieces of cleaned apple without the seeds can be safe.

Avocados. The leaves, fruit, bark, and seeds of avocados have all been reported to be toxic in some animals. The toxic component in the avocado is “persin,” which is a fatty acid derivative. Symptoms of toxicity include difficulty breathing, abdominal enlargement, abnormal fluid accumulations in the chest, abdomen, and sac around the heart, which can occur in some animals such as cattle and horses. The amount that needs to be ingested to cause signs is unknown. The biggest danger of avocado in dogs is the ingestion of the pit that can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Learn about the safety of avocados here.

Baked Goods. The products which are made with xylitol are highly toxic to dogs. Xylitol is a sweeter used in place of sugar primarily because it is lower in calories. Xylitol is also an ingredient in many different types of gums. It is in many products designed for people with Diabetes due to its low glycemic index. Xylitol can cause low blood sugar and liver failure in dogs. Learn more with this article on Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs.

Baking Powder and Baking Soda. Baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents. A leavening agent is a common ingredient in baked goods that produces a gas causing batter and dough to rise. Baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate. Baking powder consists of baking soda and an acid, usually cream of tartar, calcium acid phosphate, sodium aluminum sulfate or a mixture of the three. Ingestion of large amounts of baking soda or baking powder can lead to electrolyte abnormalities (low potassium, low calcium and/or high sodium), congestive heart failure, or muscle spasms.

Bones. There are many bones that aren’t safe for dogs. This can be due to the danger of them getting stuck or caught in the mouth, sharp splinters injuring the intestines, risk of constipation when passing relatively indigestible bone fragments, as well as possible bacterial contamination on the bone that can lead to illness. Learn more about The Danger of Bones.

Bread Dough. The dough contains yeast which rises in moist, warm environments, such as in the stomach. After ingestion, the rising dough can expand the stomach and decrease blood flow. Fermentation of the yeast can be reduced to alcohol causing signs of intoxication.

Chewing Gum. Gums that are made with xylitol can be toxic. Learn more with this article on Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs.

Chocolate. Chocolate, in addition to having a high-fat content, contains caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to your dog in high amounts. Learn more about the specific amount of each toxin that is based on body weight in this article: Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs.

Coffee (grounds and beans). Dogs that eat coffee grounds or beans can get “caffeine” toxicity. The symptoms are very similar to those of chocolate toxicity and can be just as or even more serious.

Dairy Products. Human dairy products are not highly dangerous but can pose problems for two reasons. One is their high-fat content and like other foods with high-fat content, there is a risk of pancreatitis. The second reason is that dogs poorly digest dairy products since they lack the enzyme required to digest lactose. This affects some dogs more than others and can cause issues from gas to diarrhea. Small amounts of plain yogurt or cheese are tolerated by most dogs but it is probably safest to avoid dairy products altogether.

Diet Foods. Foods made for weight loss or diabetes may have the ingredient xylitol.

Fatty Foods. Rich and fatty foods are favorites of dogs. They often get them as treats, leftovers, or from getting into the trash. These fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can affect any dog but miniature or toy poodles, cocker spaniels, and miniature schnauzers are particularly prone. Signs of pancreatitis generally include an acute onset of vomiting, sometimes diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is often evidenced by the hunched posture or “splinting” of the abdomen when picked up. The dog may become very sick quickly and often needs intensive fluid and antibiotic therapy.

Grapes and Raisins. Ingestion of grapes and/or raisins can cause kidney failure in some dogs. Some pet owners feed grapes thinking they are a healthy treat or give a piece of a cookie with raisins. Aggressive, and sometimes prolonged, treatment may be necessary to give the affected dog a chance at survival. Despite testing, the reason for the kidney failure and the amount necessary for toxicity remains unknown. Learn more about Grape and Raisin Toxicity.

Onions and Garlic. Dogs and cats lack the enzyme necessary to properly digest onions which can result in gas, vomiting, diarrhea or severe gastrointestinal distress. If large amounts of onion or garlic are ingested or onions are a daily part of your dog’s diet, the red blood cells may become fragile and break apart. This is due to the toxic ingredient in onions and garlic, thiosulphate. Learn more at Why You Shouldn’t Feed Your Dog Garlic.

Peanut Butter. Some peanut butter manufacturers add xylitol to peanut butter, which is toxic to dogs. Learn more about Peanut Butter Toxicity in Dogs.

Rawhides. Like bones, rawhides can also get stuck in the esophagus or stomach of dogs, causing problems. There is also a risk of bacterial contamination. Although this is not human food, it is worth a mention with the goal to prevent your dog from getting sick. Learn more about The Good and Bad of Rawhides.

Table Scraps. Scraps, especially those that are fatty can cause gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis in dogs. Some dogs tolerate table scraps well but others can become very ill.

Best Treats for Dogs

When shopping for treats, look for the seal of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which publishes feed regulations and ingredient definitions.

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New Research Into Managing Chronic Inflammation In Dogs

Current medical science, in both human and veterinary fields, recognizes chronic inflammation as a key component in all disease.

In fact, every chronic disease we can name is essentially an inflammatory condition. This includes common ailments like:
Allergies
Asthma
Autoimmune disease
Cancer
Diabetes
Dementia
Heart disease
This means learning how to prevent and reverse inflammation will go a long way toward preventing or minimizing disease, as well as slowing the aging process and keeping our pets (and ourselves) healthy and more vigorous for a lifetime.

All About Inflammation
What is inflammation? It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

What is inflammation?
It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

This means that inflammation is beneficial when needed, but it can be disastrous when it remains in a chronic state. Chronic inflammation generates a constant supply of free radicals that overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses and ultimately damages the DNA. Free radicals are harmful because they create microscopic damage to the body’s cells. This damage is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what leads to the “aging” process, and is also what causes disease of every description.

At the root of inflammation and disease is oxidative stress. In fact, more than 200 diseases have been linked to oxidative stress, and research on this topic is mounting.

Yes, oxidative stress is a “normal” event that occurs in the body and contributes to the natural process of aging. But it’s the excessive and gradual accumulation of microscopic damage to cell membranes, DNA and enzyme systems that leads to dysfunction of the organs and the immune system. This causes the body to be more vulnerable to disease.

Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
The body actually produces these damaging molecules as a normal part of living, breathing, eating and digestion. As such, this ongoing process is normal and the body does need a certain balance of free radicals for healthy functioning.

But, free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.

Free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.

Of course, most dogs eat processed foods, drink tap water, and are routinely treated with insecticides to control parasites. They’re also exposed to fairly high levels of pesticides in the grass and the environment. The fact is, as technology and society progress, both pets and people are being exposed to more and more environmental and food based toxins leading to cellular damage. This helps to explain why cancers and degenerative diseases in animals and humans alike are becoming more common.

The consistent heavy burden of free radicals creates an imbalance. With too many free radicals (or too few antioxidants), the result is destruction of cell membranes and DNA. This leads to tissue and organ damage and a wide variety of chronic diseases.
New Research Into Managing Chronic Inflammation In Dogs
Current medical science, in both human and veterinary fields, recognizes chronic inflammation as a key component in all disease.
In fact, every chronic disease we can name is essentially an inflammatory condition. This includes common ailments like:
Allergies
Asthma
Autoimmune disease
Cancer
Diabetes
Dementia
Heart disease
This means learning how to prevent and reverse inflammation will go a long way toward preventing or minimizing disease, as well as slowing the aging process and keeping our pets (and ourselves) healthy and more vigorous for a lifetime.

All About Inflammation
What is inflammation? It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

What is inflammation? It’s the body’s response to injury, irritation or infection. This is normally a natural and healthy process. It’s what helps the body repair wounds and clean up debris resulting from injury or toxins.

This means that inflammation is beneficial when needed, but it can be disastrous when it remains in a chronic state. Chronic inflammation generates a constant supply of free radicals that overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses and ultimately damages the DNA. Free radicals are harmful because they create microscopic damage to the body’s cells. This damage is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is what leads to the “aging” process, and is also what causes disease of every description.

At the root of inflammation and disease is oxidative stress. In fact, more than 200 diseases have been linked to oxidative stress, and research on this topic is mounting.

Yes, oxidative stress is a “normal” event that occurs in the body and contributes to the natural process of aging. But it’s the excessive and gradual accumulation of microscopic damage to cell membranes, DNA and enzyme systems that leads to dysfunction of the organs and the immune system. This causes the body to be more vulnerable to disease.
Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
The body actually produces these damaging molecules as a normal part of living, breathing, eating and digestion. As such, this ongoing process is normal and the body does need a certain balance of free radicals for healthy functioning.
But, free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.
Free radicals are also produced in the environment all around us. In the form of sunlight, pollution, toxins in food and water, EMFs (electromagnetic frequencies) from wi-fi devices and cellular towers, and also importantly – from poor diets and heavily processed foods.
Of course, most dogs eat processed foods, drink tap water, and are routinely treated with insecticides to control parasites. They’re also exposed to fairly high levels of pesticides in the grass and the environment. The fact is, as technology and society progress, both pets and people are being exposed to more and more environmental and food based toxins leading to cellular damage. This helps to explain why cancers and degenerative diseases in animals and humans alike are becoming more common.
The consistent heavy burden of free radicals creates an imbalance. With too many free radicals (or too few antioxidants), the result is destruction of cell membranes and DNA. This leads to tissue and organ damage and a wide variety of chronic diseases.

ASTA ZAN TURMERIC AND RED ALGAE
Asta Zan combines natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that help fight joint pain, immune dysfunction and chronic health issues.
Breaking Free Of Free Radicals
Fortunately, the body is designed to help protect its cells from free radical damage. It has its own internal and powerful network of antioxidant enzymes for this. It also uses outside sources of antioxidants from nutrients found in foods. Antioxidants are compounds that react with and inactivate free radicals so they can’t cause cellular damage. In this way, antioxidants help to protect every cell, tissue and organ in the body.
With this knowledge, medical and nutritional science have started recommending consumption of (both food-based and synthetically produced) antioxidants in an attempt to combat oxidative stress. Over recent years, companies have added multitudes of antioxidant-based products to the market. Many of these are synthetic isolates of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene.
Unfortunately, antioxidants in the form of high-dose synthetic vitamin supplements are actually linked to more harmful effects than benefits.
By contrast, natural food-based antioxidants are known to help reduce the incidence of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. But the imbalance (or overload of oxidative stress) is difficult to manage with foods alone. Dietary nutrients have a limited capacity, because molecules of nutrient-based antioxidants (direct antioxidants) can only neutralize free radicals at a direct 1:1 ratio.
The good news is the body’s own internally produced antioxidants (indirect antioxidants) are far more powerful in counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals compared to food-derived antioxidants. The body actually makes antioxidant enzymes such as SOD (superoxide dismutase), glutathione, and catalase. These are exponentially more effective at scavenging free radicals because they deactivate millions of free radicals every second. This powerful antioxidant network is like the body’s own internal army that gets deployed when there’s a need to fight off any threats.

There’s no doubt that antioxidant foods and good nutrition can have a significant impact on health and disease. However, with expanding research we’re beginning to understand how we can use specific nutrients to promote successful aging and resilience to inflammation and disease.

Nutrigenomics – How Nutrients Affect DNA
Nutrigenomics is an exciting new topic in the field of health and wellness. It involves the study of how food nutrients affect the DNA and the activity of genes, especially with regard to the prevention and treatment of disease. This means that the presence of certain genes is not the only factor in the development of disease. Many other factors can affect the DNA and the expression of genes:
External factors (diet, exposure to chemicals and other toxins)
Internal factors (hormones and stress)
In other words, many factors can act upon the genes to ultimately influence both lifespan and healthspan.

Most of us know we can help our pets age more gracefully with early and proactive choices that promote resistance to disease. However, even with patterns of disease and chronic inflammation already present, we can now look to new ways of helping the body heal and repair. One way of approaching successful aging and minimizing chronic inflammation is to support health at a cellular (root) level.
This is where the emerging science of the Nrf2 pathway comes in.

The Pathway To Success
In the mid 1990s, researchers discovered Nrf2 (nuclear factor (erythroid derived 2)-like 2). Nrf2 is a DNA transcription factor that turns on the production of SOD, glutathione, and other internal antioxidant enzymes. The Nrf2 pathway has been referred to as the master regulator of antioxidant, detoxification and cell defense gene expression.
In essence, Nrf2 is a protein messenger that exists within each cell of the body and functions as the master regulator of the body’s own protection system. This means that Nrf2 is responsible for detecting cellular damage.
Once damage is detected, Nrf2 responds by signaling the DNA to produce powerful antioxidant enzymes, anti-inflammatory proteins, and detoxification or “stress response” genes. Therefore, the Nrf2 signaling pathway literally helps the body to heal itself. It’s even been called “a guardian of healthspan and gatekeeper of species longevity”.

Research has shown, however, that as the body ages, the Nrf2 activity begins to decline. Fortunately, it’s now known that activation of the Nrf2 pathway can be triggered by certain foods and herbs, and also by exercise and other lifestyle choices (such as intermittent fasting). This gives us an exciting new approach to addressing health and wellness at a cellular (root) level and also through the use of nutrigenomics.
Recent research has found that Nrf2 activation plays a largely protective, beneficial role in numerous diseases. This has led researchers to examine ways that we might harness Nrf2 activation using specific dietary supplements and medications. To date, several pharmaceutical medications that stimulate the Nrf2 pathway are being used or studied for the treatment of various diseases.
Luckily for those of us looking for a more natural approach, it’s now recognized that a variety of foods and natural herbs act directly upon the Nrf2 pathway. These include substances like sulforaphane (found in broccoli), turmeric, green tea extract and many others.

Promoting Nrf2 Activation
There are now specific herbal products that have been developed as dietary supplements to promote Nrf2 activation. It has been found that a specific synergistic blend of herbs can produce far more action than single doses of herbs.

A particular patented blend, created in a product called Protandim, contains 5 active ingredients (milk thistle, bacopa, turmeric, green tea and ashwaganda) that work to effectively reduce oxidative stress in humans by an average of 40 percent in 30 days.

This same synergistic blend was also created as a canine-specific product, now called Petandim, after demonstrating that it effectively reduced oxidative stress in dogs, as evidenced in blood tests and clinical results of improved mobility, flexibility and cognitive function.
In summary, as numerous diseases and degenerative conditions are linked to oxidative stress, affecting activation of the Nrf2 pathway allows a fundamental approach to affect and improve health at a cellular level. This is beneficial from both a treatment (therapeutic) and a preventative standpoint.
In fact, a 2015 scientific review article from Washington State University stated, “we may be on the verge of new literature on health effects of Nrf2 which may well become the most extraordinary therapeutic and the most extraordinary preventative breakthrough in the history of medicine”. The same researchers went on to say, “it is our opinion that raising Nrf2 is likely to be the most important health promoting approach into the foreseeable future”.

where to purchase Protandim

Video testimonials

How to Put More Life in

We all want to keep our dogs happy and healthy, and to give them the best possible lives. As a veterinarian, I want to tell you that nutrition plays a key role in making that possible. But with so many dog foods and “premium” brands to choose from, how do you know that you’re making the right choice when it comes to your dog’s food?
Recently I found a video by veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter and I was really impressed by what I learned from it. Dr. Gary Richter is the international bestselling author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide. Dr. Richter was also voted “America’s Favorite Veterinarian” by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation in 2015. He’s spent two decades at the forefront of pet nutrition.
In this video, Dr. Richter tells us that the best way to help your dog live a longer, happier, healthier life is through good nutrition. Unfortunately, the nutritional standards for dog food are very low, even if you’re buying a “premium” brand. Because of the way dog food is processed, it loses all of its nutritional value and you’re left with the bare minimum — only the minimal amount of vitamins needed to keep your dog from suffering from vitamin deficiency or dying. And dog food has no requirements for Anti Oxidents, Omega-3s, digestive enzymes, polysaccharides, or probiotics, all of which are very important to your dog’s health.
Because of poor nutrition, our dogs are dying before their time. In the 1970s, the average life span for a golden retriever was 16 or 17 years. Now the average lifespan for a golden retriever is about nine years. And did you know that more than half of all dogs over the age of 10 will get cancer? Watch the video to learn more.
As a result of poor nutrition, our dogs suffer from a number of conditions including:
Itchy skin
Allergies
Mushy poop that smells bad
Aching, inflamed joints
Low energy
Depressed mood
Cancer
Shorter life span
Watch this amazing video to learn what you can do in one simple step to give your dog the healthy nutrition he needs to live his best possible life.
“NRF2 Dog Videos” – Dog Testimonial Videos

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What to Know If You Want to Give Your Dog CBD

Is CBD a cure-all, snake oil, or something in between?
If you have spent any time researching cannabis for dogs, and specifically cannabidiol (CBD), you have probably found yourself wondering whether these products are safe, and even if they will offer any real benefits for your pained, anxious, or elderly dog.

The simple story about CBD is that there is no simple story about CBD. Though CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical derived from cannabis or hemp that won’t get people or animals high like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it still falls into both a medical and bureaucratic black hole where it can be nearly impossible to extract definitive information.

But we have done our best to stare into the CBD abyss and pull out as much as possible to help you decide whether it might be good for your dog. As you’ll soon see, vets are placed in a difficult position when talking about these products, but you will hopefully walk away from this article with enough information to help you make a more-informed decision.

Lost ball in cana
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol for Dogs — Quick References

Is CBD safe for dogs?

What issues does CBD treat for?

Are vets studying CBD for dogs?

Tips if you’re going to give your dog CBD

Other alternative remedies for dogs
CBD is derived from either hemp (the rope and fabric stuff) or cannabis (usually the recreational stuff). It can be easy to get, is purported to offer many health benefits for pets (and people), and comes in anything from pills and oils to specialty chews and treats. Often, you will find CBD in the form of an oil or soft chew that can be given orally, although there are other products like biscuits and capsules easily found online. Most importantly, unlike THC (CBD’s psychoactive cousin), it won’t get your dog high.

Great! Case closed, right? Well … not quite.

There is still a lot we don’t know about CBD. More accurately, we know pretty much nothing definitive about CBD because of the bureaucratic minefield that is the U.S. drug classification system. Under federal law, marijuana is a schedule 1 drug — putting it on the same level as LSD, ecstasy, and heroin. So it’s amazingly difficult to even study marijuana, and the THC and CBD it contains, for medical use. Cannabis-derived CBD is still technically illegal under federal law.

“But can’t someone just buy CBD products?” you might wonder to yourself.

That’s because the CBD in those products comes from industrial hemp, which is sort-of legal. (Hemp-derived CBD became “more legal,” and less murky, in the 2018 Farm Bill.) Many states allow people to grow (cultivate) industrial hemp, which includes little to no THC. Other states don’t let people grow hemp, but it can still be imported after being grown and/or processed in other states where it is legal to grow, or even from overseas. As you can see, while the 2018 Farm Bill made hemp and hemp-derived CBD “more” legal, it didn’t completely remove all restrictions. Here’s a slightly more detailed

To add another wrinkle, there is some debate about the effectiveness of hemp CBD versus CBD that comes from a THC-rich cannabis plant. How accurate that debate is is itself a matter of debate, as studying cannabis-derived CBD is extremely difficult to do because of the legal classification of marijuana (see above). Not to mention that the CBD supplement market, or any supplement market for that matter, isn’t exactly standardized and well regulated. So it can be extremely difficult to know exactly what is in a particular product (exactly how much CBD, or even if it contains any traces of THC), how it was made (ensuring that there aren’t any impurities or potentially-dangerous solvents left over from the extraction process), or whether it actually even does what it claims. So the whole “CBD for dogs (and cats)” question and market is quite a cloudy one … but thankfully it is getting better! (See further below for the responsible companies who are leading the charge, doing great clinical research and ensuring the safety, efficacy, and proper dosing of their products.)

Cannabidiol (CBD) Chemical Structure
Is It Safe to Give a Dog CBD?
Most vets will agree that you should not give your dog an intoxicating amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. There are plenty of reasons why, which you can learn about in “Marijuana, Cannabidiol & Dogs: Everything You Want (And Need) to Know.” The quick and dirty version is that dogs will not enjoy THC the same way you might (or do), and it can actually be dangerous. So is CBD better? Maybe. And that’s about the best information you’ll get out of most vets.

Because of its cloudy classification and constantly-shifting political winds, CBD creates a legal quagmire for anybody who wants to study or recommend its effectiveness as a medicine for animals. UPDATE: The results of some of the clinical studies done at different veterinary colleges have now been published, and the results are looking quite encouraging. See the links added below, but note that the studies were done using very specific formulations of CBD and since not all CBD oils/chews/etc. are created the same, it doesn’t mean you should just run out and get any old (or even the cheapest) CBD product for your pets. Below the new links, we’re also including links to the companies whose CBD products were used in the university clinical trials. This is not an endorsement or recommendation for these products, but just to help point you in the right direction to start your research, should you decide to try CBD with your pets.

Updated Links to Study Results:

Forbes article on the CBD and Dog Arthritis study done at Cornell University: https://www.forbes.com/sites/julieweed/2018/12/13/cornell-university-research-could-help-hemp-entrepreneurs-and-make-dogs-feel-better/#2f65985783c2

The actual published Cornell University CBD and Dog Arthritis study: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00165/full

Colorado State University release on the preliminary data from the (pilot) study looking at CBD as a treatment for Epilepsy in dogs: https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/preliminary-data-from-cbd-clinical-trials-promising/

CBS News story on the CBD and Epilepsy (pilot) study done at Colorado State University: https://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/07/16/csu-cbd-oil-dogs/

Here are the two companies that had their products tested in these clinical trials. These would be the two companies to look at first if you’re interested in finding CBD products for your pets. ElleVet Sciences is the company whose product was tested in the Cornell (dogs and osteoarthritis study), while Applied Basic Sciences Corporation (ABSC) is the company whose products were tested in the Colorado State University dogs and epilepsy (pilot) study.
What Conditions Does CBD Treat in Dogs?
In humans, THC and/or CBD have been reported to treat things such as:

Anxiety
Pain
Noise phobia
Nausea
Loss of appetite
Epilepsy
Inflammation

It’s not hard to find stories of pet owners who report similar effects after giving their dogs CBD oil or treats. However, the lack of published double-blind study for animals makes it hard to pull out real facts from the purely anecdotal evidence.

Do you give your pets cannabis/hemp products? If so, researchers want to hear from you! Help provide important information by filling out this anonymous survey from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Cannabidiol (CBD) Treats

Can CBD Treat Pain in Dogs?
As with other anecdotal evidence about CBD, you don’t have to look hard to find stories of dogs in extreme pain who purportedly found relief through CBD.

Many pet owners who praise the benefits of CBD will say that it helped reduce their dog’s pain and corresponding anxiety or immobility. These claims should not be discounted — nor believed blindly — on face value, but it’s one of the main reasons vets are so eager to study the possible medicinal uses of CBD (and marijuana in general) in pets.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Cornell University study mentioned above, we now have legitimate and valid scientific data to show that, at least the ElleVet Sciences CBD formula tested, does in fact provide significant pain relief to dogs with osteoarthritis.

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What Vets Think About CBD for Dogs
First the unsatisfying answer: Vets don’t have anything definitive to say about marijuana or CBD products for dogs because, as mentioned above, they have limited means to study the potential benefits and, more importantly, the potential for harm. Add to that the fact that a vet could face disciplinary action (even loss of license to practice) for discussing, recommending, or prescribing cannabis for their patients, and you can see why vets’ lips are collectively sealed on this touchy topic. At best, you might find a vet who will say that CBD probably won’t be harmful to dogs, and it may or may not offer any actual benefit. UPDATE: In September of 2018 Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2215 into law, making it legal now for California veterinarians to DISCUSS cannabis for pets with their clients. They still can’t explicitly recommend or prescribe it, but they can at least discuss its use.

CBD-pet-storeEven in states where marijuana is legal (under state law), vets can be held liable if they prescribe marijuana or CBD for a pet. Oddly, human physicians are legally protected if they prescribe marijuana, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and even pet store employees recommend and tout CBD-containing products for pets all the time. Thankfully, there has been a recent push by veterinarians to reclassify marijuana and CBD in order to study, discuss, and prescribe it responsibly and without legal repercussions.

Dr. Richard Sullivan of the AVMA, recently told Congress: “Clients are asking us, and it’s our obligation morally and ethically to address these cases. We need the research, and we need our national association to represent us at [the] FDA and get things moving. … We do need to be in the conversation.”

It’s not that vets think marijuana products, either THC or CBD, are a panacea to all health problems for dogs and other animals. Instead, the lack of solid information about these drugs has created an unregulated environment where many pet owners are simply running the experiments themselves, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

Dr. Diana Thomé is at least one vet who said she has seen more animals with marijuana (THC) toxicity. “Our clients come in almost daily asking us about the use of marijuana,” she explained to Congress. “Legally, I can’t tell them anything … other than to say I can’t advise them to use it.”

Without study, vets can’t say whether it’s safe to give any amount of THC or CBD to certain dogs, what it might treat effectively, what the suggested dosage might be, or any other information that could help reduce preventable harm.

‘I Don’t Care What Anyone Says, I’m Giving My Dog CBD’Hemp
It’s understandable that many people are frustrated by the ambiguity surrounding CBD and dogs. It often results in pet owners who go with their gut, especially when they think A) an existing medication isn’t working, or B) there are better, “more natural” alternatives. And this is equally frustrating for vets who can’t definitively say anything about it.

That being said, here are things to keep in mind when you give any unregulated, unstudied supplement to your dog.

Do Your Research: This is especially true if you are buying something online. Avoid falling prey to the marketing hype and unsubstantiated claims. Seek out impartial reviews to see what others are saying (it’s often helpful to read the most negative reviews first).

Conduct a little background research on the company: Have they been sued and, if so, why? Have they been penalized by the FDA for allegedly making false claims? Do they have a veterinarian on staff, or do they work with a veterinary school?

As mentioned above, both ElleVet Sciences and Applied Basic Sciences Corporation have at least had their products undergo double-blinded, placebo-controlled, university-run scientific study to prove efficacy and safety. These two companies would be a good place to start with your CBD for pets research.

Natural Doesn’t Mean Better: First of all, no marijuana or CBD product you might give your dog is natural. Apart from raw, unprocessed marijuana (which you should absolutely NOT give to your dog), anything you get has been processed or altered in some fashion. Second, natural things can be dangerous, too. For example, xylitol is a “natural” sugar-free sweetener, derived from sources like birch bark, but it is highly toxic to dogs.

Medications (either natural or synthetic) prescribed by your vet are prescribed for a reason: they have been studied, vetted, regulated, and well-documented. Your vet can also answer your questions about proper dosages, side effects, and when it might be time to go off a medication or try another.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True… Ah, the online CBD dog products. Sounds too good to be true, right? The CBD you get online comes from industrial (or “agricultural”) hemp that might have originated in your home state, or it might have come from overseas or another processing facility where the CBD was extracted through less-than ideal processes. There are several ways to extract CBD from hemp, but one of the quickest and cheapest involves using solvents such as butane and hexane, which can leave a toxic residue if not properly handled. That’s not to say all online products should be distrusted, but definitely do your research on the company, how they make their product, their claims, and what unbiased reviewers are saying.

Document It: Keep a journal of your dog before and for several days if you decide to use a CBD product. This will help you decide whether it’s having a positive effect. Better still, record video of your dog to document their progress, or lack thereof (this will help you overcome the flaws of human memory). Or ask your friends/family whether they’ve noticed any difference in your dog without telling them that you’ve been giving your dog CBD (the closest you’ll get to a blinded study).

Know the Warning Signs: As with anything you give to your dog — from chew toys to prescribed medications — it’s important to recognize when something isn’t quite right. If you notice these symptoms in your dog, it might be a good idea to check in with your vet. The following side effects have been reported by humans who took CBD, so do your best to translate them to dogs.

Dry Mouth: Your dog can’t tell you if they have dry mouth, but it’s safe to say they might increase their water intake. And increased thirst could also be a sign of other serious problems, such as antifreeze or rodenticide poisoning, or conditions like diabetes.

Tremors: Human patients with Parkinson’s disease have reported increased tremors at high doses of CBD. Tremors of any kind should be cause for concern in a dog.

Low Blood Pressure: If your vet notices low blood pressure during your next wellness visit, let them know that you have been giving your dog CBD. Until then, check whether your dog seems overly tired or lethargic.

Lightheadedness: Your dog won’t tell you if they’re feeling lightheaded, but they might seem disoriented or dizzy.

Drowsiness: Pay attention to your dog’s sleeping patterns to see if there’s any change.

Let your vet know about anything you give your dog. This goes for both legal and illegal substances. Vets aren’t obligated to report illegal drugs, unless they suspect animal abuse.

an alternative

When It Comes to Dog Training, Practice Makes Perfect

Anyone who has ever learned to do something physical – hitting a baseball, sewing a garment, driving a car, you name it – understands that you gain competence only through practice and repetition. At first, your movements and timing are clumsy and imperfect. You probably over correct, making crooked or zig-zagging seams or driving the car over the centerline bumps. But over time – and especially if you have some expert guidance – your movements become smooth and coordinated, and it seems to any observers that you’re a natural!
Ha! If only they could see you at the beginning!

training

Learning new skills is hard work – for people AND dogs
Now, think about learning something new with a partner who is also learning the same skill, such as a new dance or perhaps sign language. The difficulty factor goes way up!
It’s going to take a bit longer for the result to look smooth.

Now imagine that your dance partner or sign language conversation partner speaks a different language! If this is the case, all of your clumsy efforts require that much MORE patience, creativity, and humor with each other as you try to figure out how to communicate while simultaneously managing intricate dance steps or movements of the hands.

This latter scenario, you may have already guessed, is exactly what’s at play with new dog owners and their new dogs or puppies!

Every new owner wants their puppies or dogs to behave well – to stop doing uncomfortable or naughty things like chewing shoes, jumping on people, or barking at the leaves falling in the back yard, and to perform good behaviors on cue, such as sit, down, wait, and leave it. It adds quite a layer of difficulty to teach them to do what we want, in a language that is not their own, while we are simultaneously learning to use our posture and movements (body language!) for cues and the timely delivery of reinforcers!

Using markers and reinforcers
In the late 1940s, pioneering animal trainers Keller and Marian Breland started teaching other animal trainers to use a marker and the immediate delivery of a reinforcer to teach animals to perform behaviors. They found that chickens were a great species to use to help trainers learn the physicality of cues and reinforcement delivery – especially, the timing of the marker and reinforcer delivery, as well as the location and presentation of the both the cue and the reinforcer.

Chickens who were raised around people aren’t afraid of humans, they notice very minute differences in the appearance of things, they are very quick to react when they notice these differences, and they are very motivated by food to try new behaviors. They also don’t carry a lot of behavioral “baggage” along with them, resulting from living with sometimes-intemperate humans! They make amazing practice partners for anyone who is learning how to observe animal behavior and learn to change it swiftly and without force, and there is a long legacy of trainers who still use chickens to teach dog trainers how to refine and improve their training technique.

Don’t blame the chicken!
Another brilliant thing about using chickens to teach people how to train: people don’t get mad at chickens when they are failing to get the chicken to perform a specific behavior! They don’t tend to start calling the chicken “stubborn” or “spiteful” – or blame the chicken’s breed, origins as a “rescue chicken” or anything else. They are able to easily see that training the chicken is just a matter of presenting the training challenge to the chicken in a precise way that makes it easy for the chicken to do the behavior (or some approximation of it), for the behavior to instantly be “marked” (with the click of a clicker or a verbal marker, such as the word “Yesss!”, or the flash of a penlight, or what have you!) and be reinforced for it immediately.

They are also able to see that if they are late with the marker, or fail to deliver the reinforcer in a timely fashion and in a location that doesn’t pull the chicken out of the position the trainer wanted her in, that it’s impossible for the chicken to “get” the point of the exercise! They see that it’s their own clumsiness or bad timing, not the chicken being “bad.”

stop that get back here smile dog

Get a second set of eyes
If you are having trouble teaching your dog some new behavior, consider taking a little video of yourself as you work with your dog, or ask someone who you consider to be a good trainer to watch you. It might develop that you simply need a little coaching on how you are presenting the cue, or marking the desired behavior, or delivering the reinforcer. Strike that: It is undoubtedly a problem with one of those things, not that your dog is being dumb, lazy, or a non-native speaker of English.

Honestly, if you are motivated to learn how to more effectively teach your dog new behaviors quickly, sign up for a class or even just a private lesson or two with someone who is experienced with positive reinforcement-based training (and who does NOT use punitive, physical “corrections”). With a few pointers, you will be amazed at how quickly you and your dog or puppy will be happily speaking the same language as you dance through life together.

The Dog Nanny Website

7 Great tips for Apartment Living with a Dog

Who says you need a big house and a back yard to raise a dog? If you live in an apartment, many dogs are clearly more suitable and practical than others – for both the owners and the pups themselves.

right not allowed on furniture wink

 

You’ll agree, canines do make excellent housemates – no stealing that last bit of your absolute favorite ice cream dessert, leaving dirty clothes scattered on the floor and late night pumping music.

 

If you’re renting, be up front with your landlord.

When you start any tenancy, your landlord needs to be informed about existing pets. For dogs, some landlords do require your dog is a certain size/breed, so ensure you read the lease thoroughly beforehand. Don’t try and sneak in a dog, if your landlord doesn’t find out first, your neighbor certainly will and there’s no need to remind you of potential consequences.

 

Be realistic about the breed/size too (even if your landlord is relaxed).

While many dogs are perfectly suited to apartment life, there are several breeds which are completely unrealistic to keep in a smaller space like an apartment. High-energy dogs, like labradors and border collies will probably struggle in confined spaces, which isn’t fair on them. Their frustration and boredom could lead to destructive behavior like chewing of furniture etc.

 

Keep up to date with vaccinations.

Many apartments with shared grounds are accessible to all residents, so it’s important to ensure they don’t have parasites or other diseases, especially with neighboring children around, too. Also, in the very rare occasion a dog bites (this is not often – or sometimes never – we realize) it’s vital to ensure you have proof your dog has been vaccinated.

 

Show your neighbors courtesy.

Typically, apartments house many people very close together, so you have to think about noise levels. A constantly barking dog isn’t going to be well received by neighbors, so you might need to consider some training or guidance from your veterinarian.

 

Daily leash time for your dog.

Without a back yard, you really must ensure she gets out at least once or twice a day for a walk in the local area, stretch their legs, get fresh air and go to the bathroom! So come rain, snow, sun or any other weather, be prepared for this. If you’re a full-time worker, consider a local dog-walking service, if you have a trusted neighbor that’s a real bonus.

 

Socialize and desensitize your pup.

Apartments are more often than not placed in urban areas, which can be noisy and busy – not to mention car and bicycle traffic and other animals. It’s a good idea to introduce him to the noises and environment slowly and calmly, so when they hear other dogs, a siren or car horn they don’t begin barking like crazy as it’s become familiar to them!

 

Indoor training!

When you first move, consider something like a ‘piddle pad’ where you dog at least has somewhere to use the toilet until they (and you) are used to daily visits outdoors. If you don’t live near the ground floor, this could involve several trips up and down elevators or stairs (a good workout for you, at least).

You may wish to consider adopting a toilet-trained dog, one that is a little older to make both your lives more convenient.

 

Above all, dog ownership requires a great deal of commitment, love and attention – when you live in an apartment, these are just some areas you need to consider first. Not living in a house is perfectly suitable for many breeds – you can create a very happy and loving home for them, just be aware of decisions and planning you need to make beforehand.

How to Tell Your Child About Putting a Dog Down: Dos and Don’ts………..

 

IN Loving Memory

Death and dying are two of the hardest facts of life to explain to children. Clients commonly ask veterinarians about how to tell a child about putting a dog down. Very often, the death of a family pet such as a dog is a child’s first encounter with this immutable law of nature. How we handle this event can have a far-reaching impact on our children’s understanding of death and dying.

Eleven-year-old Maria, for instance, was used to greeting her cat Feifel every day after school. One day, he didn’t appear. Maria and her mother found Feifel under a bed, breathing weakly. The veterinarian said Feifel had heart disease. He might be able to save him, but Feifel was 14 and suffered from several other age-related problems.

His quality of life would only grow worse. The most humane course to take was euthanasia. Later, her family held a memorial service, and Maria wrote poems about him.

Understanding Pet Death: An Informal Guide to a Child’s Psyche

At 11, Maria understood euthanasia and the finality of death. It didn’t make the grieving and sense of loss any easier, but she knew that all living things eventually die. After some time, she was able to remember her pet with more love than hurt.

But children younger than Maria often view their relationship with a pet as indefinite. They don’t understand that animals run on a different biological clock, or that illness or injury may make euthanasia the best option.

At all ages, honesty is the best policy, says Marty Tously, a bereavement counselor. “That means using the words death and dying, and explaining the permanence of death. You do it gently but without confusing what dying actually means.”

Tously is a counselor with the Pet Grief Support Service. She says that a child’s ability to understand what death means depends on his/her emotional and cognitive development, but she outlined the generally understood guideline of how children perceive death and dying:

Under 2: A child can feel and respond to a pet’s death, based on the reaction of those around him or her. A child picks up the stress felt by family members, no matter what the cause.

2 to 5: The child will miss the animal as a playmate, but not necessarily as a love object. They will see death as a temporary state – something like the way leaves fall off a tree in fall but grow back in the spring. As they perceive the trauma around them, however, they may regress in their behavior (e.g., thumb sucking).

5 to 9: Children begin to perceive death as permanent, but they may indulge in “magical thinking,” believing that death can be defied or bargained with. This is also the period when children recognize a correlation between what they think and what happens. For instance, a child may resent taking care of the pet and wish – however briefly – that the pet would die. If the pet then dies, the child is often consumed with guilt. Parents need to reassure children that they did not cause the pet’s death.

10 and up: Children generally understand that all living things will eventually die and that death is total. Understanding and accepting are two different things, however. They may go through the normal stages of grief that grownups do: denial, bargaining, anger, guilt, depression, and acceptance. (To learn about the stages of grief, see the story Coping with Pet Loss.) Or they may react in other ways:

Depending on the age, the child may regress (sucking their thumb or temper tantrums that they had outgrown).

An older child may withdraw from friends and family for a while. Schoolwork may suffer and they may seem uninterested in extracurricular activities.

Children may fear abandonment. If a pet can die, then they may reason that their parents could die as well.

Children often become intensely curious about death and what happens to the body. They may ask for details that you may find uncomfortable to explain. These are questions you should answer in a straightforward, gentle and careful manner.

How to Tell a Child About Putting a Dog Down: Do’s and Don’ts of Explaining Pet Loss

There are several do’s and don’ts. Treating this delicate topic poorly can scar children for life. Tously explains that the worst course of action is to lie (to say the animal went away) or to use confusing euphemisms, such as the phrase “put to sleep.” Children will eventually learn the truth, and lying can breed resentment and destroy trust between parent and child. “Later in life, when the child learns the truth, they’ll wonder what else the parent lied about,” she says.

Likewise, euphemisms can cause anxiety or confusion because children take what you say literally. “If you say a pet is put to sleep, the child may suffer sleep anxiety,” says Tously. She recalls one child who was told his cocker spaniel just “went away.” He awaited his dog’s return, and upon learning the dog had been buried wanted to unearth the dog. “If you say ‘God has taken your pet because he was special,’ the child may resent God, and fear who might be next.”

Be open and honest. This includes the pet’s health and euthanasia. “If a pet is terminally ill and needs to be euthanized,” Tously says, “the child needs to be told as soon as possible by the parent.” Again, avoid those tempting euphemisms that cloud understanding, such as telling a child the pet was put to sleep. Use the words death and dying to make your meaning clear. Some children want to be present during euthanasia and most will be very curious about the process. Tously says you should answer their questions. As for allowing the child to be present, some veterinarians are firmly against it; others say it depends on the child’s age and maturity.

Make sure the child understands what “dying” means. Explain that the animal’s body stopped working. Depending on your religious beliefs and what the child can understand, you might explain the concept of a soul. However, it is important for the child to know that the pet has died and will not be coming back.

Be available. Take time to allow your child to discuss his/her feelings about what happened. You may want to hold your own service to memorialize the pet and to say goodbye formally. Some people plant trees in a special spot in the yard, others bury the pet in a cemetery so the family can visit. Encourage your child to show his/her feelings by talking or writing about the fun times they had with their pet.

Show your own feelings. This tells the child that the pet was special and that they are not grieving alone. You can also encourage your child to open up, which can help the healing process.

Talk to the teacher. Tell your child’s teachers about the loss, so they will understand why your child is behaving differently.

Don’t blame the veterinarian. Some parents, especially those who fear explaining euthanasia to their children, find it easier to put it all on the vet. This is not only unfair to the veterinarian but potentially harmful to the child. He or she may grow up distrusting veterinarians and, by extension, doctors and other medical professionals. In addition, parents shouldn’t throw the responsibility of telling the children what needs to be done on the veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help the parent explain why euthanasia may be the most humane option, and answer questions the child may have. Parents often want to ease their child’s hurt by rushing out and buying another pet. Tously says this is a mistake. “The last thing you want to do is convey the impression that the pet – a family member – is replaceable,” she says. Wait until the child expresses an interest in another pet.

Children are very resilient, and they usually learn to accept their pet is gone. If a child persists with nightmares or seems unable to cope, however, it may be necessary to talk with a counselor.

The Dog Nanny Website

How to Handle the Loss of a Pet

Tips to Help You and Your Family Deal with the Loss of a Pet

MY Heart still aches

Pets become an important part of our lives, and losing them can be devastating. Every loss is different, and how a person responds is unique. Below we will share some ways people respond to the loss of a pet, provide some tips on how to better deal with the loss of a pet, and share some tips on how to best help support children and help them understand the loss of a pet.

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet – Children vs. Adults

As adults, our understanding of death is very different from a child’s. The understanding and comprehension a child has about death depend largely on their age. Death may or may not be permanent in the mind of a child. Read this article for a good understanding of what children understand about death at different ages. Go to How to Tell Your Child About Putting a Dog Down: Dos and Don’ts. If you have pets and children, this article is a must-read.

As adults, our ability to deal with the loss of a pet can depend on many factors. These can include our prior experience with loss and death, other stressors in our lives, our individual relationship with a particular pet, and our family or social support network. There are many different ways a person can respond to the loss of a pet.

 

How People Deal with the Loss of a Pet

I’ve seen just about every reaction to the loss of a pet you can imagine. For some, the pet was their child or family member. They grieve deeply. Others have verbally told me “it was just a dog,” and that is that. No tears. No emotion. And I’ve seen every emotion in between.

Below are some reactions to the loss of a pet that stand out in my mind:

Hard being strong. Some individuals get their first pet as young adults, start a family, and find themselves losing a pet with their children. As they work through their own grief, they have to be strong for their family. Sometimes there is concurrent guilt as they reflect how their pet was number one for many years, then became a lower priority as life changed.

Suicidal thoughts. I’ve had clients tell me they didn’t want to live after the loss of a pet. This is just about the hardest thing to deal with. Anyone that considers self-harm or contemplates suicide must seek help from a professional. An excellent article that walks you through the stages of grief and support options was written by Bonnie Mader, who was the co-founder of a Pet Loss Support Hotline at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine

Guilt. A number of clients focus on guilt with the loss of a pet. Guilt can originate from thoughts that they were busy and believe they neglected their pet’s signs of illness until it was advanced. Or, it can have to do with limited financial resources to provide possible life-saving medical care. Some find it difficult to grieve properly due to their guilt.

Memorial. Many pet lovers place some of their grief and emotional energy in creating a memorial or tribute to their beloved friend. I’ve seen this in the form of a funeral (some quite elaborate), a photo album, and/or artistic creations such as a painting. Some find a special urn for the ashes and place it in a particular area in their homes and lives.

Save the ashes. Some clients find comfort in having their pets cremated and saving their ashes to be later buried with them or mixed with their own ashes. Several believe that this allows them to be together forever and provides comfort.

Silence. Some pet owners cope by not talking about their loss and trying to put it out of their mind. If I see them, their pet never comes up and if it is mentioned for any reason, they shut that conversation down with a quick topic change.

Lost. Some clients become somewhat lost and want to be alone. They avoid social activities and family functions.

Rituals. Over the years, I’ve had clients perform quite simple to elaborate rituals to mourn the passing of a pet, one client celebrates her dog’s birthday every year with a glass of wine, close friends, and a stroll through memory lane with a photo album.

Sadness. My first pet was named Aksual. He died unexpectedly when I was in college and to say I was devastated is an understatement. I still cry when I think of him and become sad. I’ve learned to box off those emotions, at least most of the time. Occasionally I see a dog that reminds me of him and an involuntary tear is shed. Feelings of loss and sadness are common and can continue for years.

Jewelry. Another way clients take comfort in this difficult time is to have jewelry made from their pet’s ashes. I frequently have clients show their special pieces of jewelry for pets that I have worked with. They have truly found comfort in knowing their pet is with them all the time when they wear their jewelry.

Fake strength. Some try to be strong, they may even say the wrong things, they may even be inappropriate with a joke or laughter, while being devastated by the loss of their special friend.

Many of these responses described can be categorized into the stages of grief that include anger, denial, depression, acceptance, and bargaining.

The Dog Nanny Website

What Causes Aggressive Dog Behavior?

Understanding why a dog displays aggression is the first step to effectively reducing and preventing it.

In a world where our canine companions are often referred to as our “best friends,” it’s a puzzle that so many dog-human communications (or should I say miscommunications?) result in behavior that we perceive as aggression – anything from a freeze (stillness), hard stare, growl, snarl, snap, or bite, all the way to a full-on attack.

If you asked your dog, he would likely say that these behaviors are just varying degrees of canine communication. He might also say, “My human made me do it.”

All these behaviors are natural, normal social expressions – the dog’s attempt to communicate something important. Usually, the mildest of the behaviors that people might recognize as aggressive – say, a soft growl – is not the first sign of a dog’s aggression. A growl is actually well along a continuum of escalating emphasis in canine communication. A dog who is uncomfortable will generally start trying to communicate his discomfort with much more subtle behaviors, such as avoidance, yawns, evasion of ye contact, lowered body posture, pulling ears back, and rolling on his back.

These behaviors are an attempt to resolve a situation without having to resort to serious aggression. Perhaps it’s a claim to a valuable resource: “I don’t want to share my bone!” Maybe it’s an expression of fear: “You’re making me very uncomfortable, please go away!” Maybe the dog is in pain: “That hurts, please stop!”

If the lower-key communications fail to accomplish their purpose, the dog may feel forced to escalate to more forceful or violent action (such as attacking and/or fighting) to get his point across.

Some or all of the mild, avoidant behaviors ordinarily precede the dramatic behaviors that most humans would recognize as aggression – yet most or all of these behaviors typically go completely unnoticed by many humans.

Alternatively, if these signals are ignored or misinterpreted, the human may respond inappropriately (“Oh, you want a tummy rub?”), forcing the dog to increase the intensity of his behavior and eventually escalate to serious aggression. Growling, snarling, snapping, or biting may seem like the “first signs of aggression” to many humans, but most other dogs (or experienced observers of dog behavior) would have recognized many earlier signs.

aggression

 

Why Are Dogs Aggressive?

When dogs display aggressive behaviors, it’s rare for humans to consider whatever the dog was trying to communicate. Instead, the behaviors are just considered unacceptable, threatening, and dangerous. Look at it from their point of view, though. Dogs are expected to just deal with all the situations they are put in (including many that annoy, terrify, or intimidate them) and to just get along with every dog or person they meet (including many that annoy, terrify, or intimidate them), without ever expressing their annoyance, fear, apprehension, or discomfort using their natural, normal canine communication tools.

We give them valuable resources – delicious food, delightful chew objects, comfortable furniture – and tell them not to covet those resources or protect them from someone who may try to take them away. If a dog does attempt to keep something for himself (with a growl or a snarl), he’s often punished. Dogs who try to communicate with normal canine language that they need more space, are annoyed or scared, or would like to keep something for themselves, are often labeled “aggressive.”

Consider this idea for a moment: Dogs are often forced to escalate – from mild growls, a stiff posture, and hard eyes to a lunge and a snap or worse – because we just don’t listen!

Granted, we can’t know for sure exactly what the dog is saying. As the supposedly more intelligent species, though, and with a better understanding of dogs, we can usually extrapolate something pretty close to the dog’s intent. And if we have an idea about what he’s trying to say, we can respond appropriately and take steps that will reduce the intensity of his communication, rather than forcing him to escalate.

The better we humans are at listening to and understanding “Doglish” the more our dogs will be able to communicate in ways that are less threatening to us while still succeeding in getting their needs and wants addressed.

Types of Aggressive Dogs

There is no universally agreed-upon scientific list of aggression labels. Various sources offer various names for different types of aggression, and those labels are constantly changing. There are, however, many commonalities. Below are descriptions of some of the most frequently seen presentations of aggression and the dog’s usual motivation for displaying each type.

For the purposes of this general discussion about aggression, I won’t be discussing specific solutions for each situation in which a dog might display aggressive behavior, but rather, the broad strokes of the most effective approach.

If you are challenged by your dog’s aggressive behavior, I strongly urge you to seek the assistance of a qualified force-free behavior professional who can help you create and implement an appropriate behavior management and modification program.

Fear-Related Aggression

This is by far the most commonly seen type of aggression, and one that humans often responds to most inappropriately. Generally, when a dog shows signs of fear and aggression, she is trying to compel those near her to move away; she needs more space to feel safe.

Many humans assume that a dog who is fearful will choose avoidance rather than aggression – and in many cases, that’s a correct assumption. If, however, a fearful dog is trapped, or has been trapped in the past, she may take a “the best defense is a good offense” approach, especially if there is a history of punishment for her agonistic signals. Keep in mind that “trapped” can include being on leash, being followed and cornered when she tries to retreat, or simply feeling confined in a small enough space that she is uncomfortable (such as your living room).

To make matters worse, it’s natural for humans to try to comfort someone who appears afraid – but this is often exactly what the fearful dog does not want, especially from a stranger or from someone who may have punished the dog in the past.

The first thing to do with a dog who seems to be aggressing out of fear is to give the dog a little more room – to put more space between the dog and the suspected fear-inducing stimuli. Then, start putting a counter-conditioning and desensitization plan into place, with the goal of changing how the dog feels about the stimuli.

Pain-Related Aggression

Every animal control officer knows that when you go to pick up an injured dog that has been hit by a car, you muzzle her first, because pain can easily cause even the nicest dog to bite. Dogs who are in pain generally don’t want to be touched and may show signs of aggression in an effort to get people or other animals to leave them alone.

What many owners don’t realize is that even less obvious pain can be significant contributors to a dog’s propensity to bite. Arthritis, spinal problems, sore muscles, gastrointestinal issues – there are numerous “invisible” conditions that can cause or contribute to a dog’s aggressive behavior.

An aging dog with increasing arthritis pain may begin to growl at approaching children because she knows from past experience that they may fall on or try to play roughly with her. “You’re making me very uncomfortable,” she says. “Please don’t come any closer.” A protective parent, outraged that the family dog would growl at the child, physically punishes the dog, adding to her pain as well as her anticipation of punishment when children approach, thus increasing the likelihood of her becoming more aggressive toward children, not less.

A far better solution: Any time you suspect your dog may be experiencing pain – or for any senior dog, or any dog who hasn’t been seen by a veterinarian for a while – arrange a veterinary examination and consultation as soon as possible. Ideally, your veterinarian can diagnose a condition and prescribe medication to alleviate the dog’s pain. Also, if necessary, use some basic management tools (such as baby gates, crates, or locked doors) to protect her from the unwanted, sometimes inappropriate, attentions of children.

Play Aggression

There is a significant difference between aggressive play and play aggression. Aggressive play is normal and acceptable, as long as both dogs are happily participating. This can include growling, biting, wrestling, chasing, body slamming, and more.

When things go wrong, it turns into play aggression. This can happen when one participant becomes uncomfortable with the escalating level of arousal and tries to signal that she wants to tone things down. If the other dog fails to respond to her signals and continues to escalate, she may aggress in self-defense, in an effort to stop the action. While she is often blamed for starting the fight, it is, in fact, the other dog’s fault for failing to respond appropriately to her request to back off the level of arousal.

The first step toward a solution here is to make sure you are pairing compatible playmates, and monitoring the play, giving both dogs a cheerful time-out when arousal levels are escalating to an unhealthy level.

Possession Aggression

My clients are often surprised, but soon nod in agreement, when I tell them that possession aggression, also called resource guarding, is a natural, normal behavior. If you lock your house when you leave, you are resource guarding! It is also an important survival strategy. In the wild, if you don’t protect your valuable resources, you die.

There is a tragically flawed and arrogant belief among some humans that they have the right to take anything away from their dog any time they please. Some misguided trainers even encourage clients to practice taking their dogs’ food bowls away so the dog learns to accept it. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Our dogs should trust that we won’t challenge them for valuable items, and we need to teach our dogs a voluntary “Trade” behavior, so we can safely ask them to voluntarily relinquish something when we need them to do so.

Take time to convince your dog that more good things happen when humans are near their food bowl and other good stuff, rather than teaching her that you are an unpredictable threat.

Predatory Aggression

Although the result can be devastating for the victim of predatory behavior, this is not true aggression – it is simply grocery shopping. Food acquisition behavior involves a different part of the brain and different emotions from true aggression.

It can be a challenging behavior to modify, but it is possible, depending on the intensity of the behavior, and the ability of the owner to manage the dog’s environment to prevent reinforcement for the behavior. The person also must make a commitment to doing the behavior modification work.

Redirected Aggression

This behavior occurs when a dog is highly aroused, but thwarted from addressing the object of her arousal.

Fence-fighting is a classic example. Unable to reach the dog on the other side of the fence, the dog may redirect aggressively in frustration to her own canine companion on her side of the fence, or to her own human, who is attempting to intervene in the barrier conflict. To avoid setting up the conflict situation, management is important. If intervention is needed, do it from a distance, to avoid being the target of a redirection.

Social Aggression

This is today’s term for what used to be called, unfortunately and inappropriately, “dominance aggression,” as a result of a serious misinterpretation of canine behavior. This label applies to situations where there is conflict between the wishes of the dog and her human(s), often where the human attempts to physically manipulate or control the dog (the phrase “manhandling” comes to mind!). A classic example is the dog who growls or snaps when the human tries to pull her off the sofa or bed, or push her into a crate.

As the supposedly more intelligent species, we should be able to get our dogs to want to do what we want them to do, rather than physically force them. Need your dog to get off the sofa? Toss a treat on the floor. Teach her an “off” cue. Teach her to go to her mat on cue. Teach her to target to your hand, or to an “X” on the wall made of blue painter’s tape. There are lots of ways to invite your dog to move where you need her to without using physical force.

Other Types of Aggression in Dogs

This is by no means a complete list of the various aggression labels. Others in common use include protection aggression, maternal aggression, territorial aggression, barrier aggression, and idiopathic aggression. What you call the behavior is, in many ways, less important than how you interpret and deal with it.

If your dog displays aggressive behavior, get help from a qualified force-free behavior professional who can help you create and implement an appropriate behavior management and modification program. Modifying aggressive behavior can be challenging. Your behavior professional will educate, encourage, and coach you, and support you when you’re feeling discouraged.

As stated by a meme that has been making the rounds recently, “Remember, your dog isn’t giving you a hard time – he’s having a hard time.” Stay strong, stay positive, understand and empathize with your dog’s hard times, commit to a behavior modification program, and you will be best able to help her overcome her challenges.

What Are the Most Aggressive Dog Breeds?

Go ahead: Google “aggressive dog breeds” and see what you get. The lists will be all over the place, from wolf hybrids, to the Tosa Inu, to Bull Terriers and German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Boerboels… I could go on and on.

Most of these lists make the mistake of confusing size and strength with aggression. Still, the Schipperke (at just 12 inches and about 15 pounds) is listed on one insurance company blacklist, and I found the Basenji (16 inches and about 24 pounds) on another list. While large, powerful dogs are capable of inflicting greater injuries on a human, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the listing of any breed as inherently “aggressive.”

For sure, there may be some breeds that are more heavily represented in dog bite, mauling, and fatality statistics. There are a number of reasons for this. Some breeds get listed as “dangerous” a result of just one highly publicized event. After a woman was killed by two Presa Canarios in San Francisco in 2001, the previously little-known breed immediately began appearing on “aggressive dog” lists.

Some breeds are just big and scary-looking. Other breeds are present in greater numbers in the pet-owning population, and thus are more likely to be represented in general bite statistics. Then there is the whole question of breed-identification; these days anything with a big head is likely to be identified in bite statistics as a pit bull-mix, even if it’s a Boxer mix or some other big-headed breed. And even if it’s a Lab/pit-mix, it will still likely be listed as a pit-mix rather than a Lab-mix.

Finally, certain breeds and types of dogs may be more appealing to – and more likely to be adopted or purchased by – people who are drawn to the idea of having an aggressive dog and who therefore elicit and reinforce aggression.

Of course, if a Rottweiler bites you, there’s a good chance you’ll be injured worse than if a Pomeranian bites you, and the big dog will be perceived as more aggressive because he has the potential to inflict more damage. But aggression is about behavior, not size, potential, or breed.

Keep in mind that behavior is always a combination of genetics and environment. A dog representing a breed that has been bred for guarding, placed in an environment that reinforces aggressive behavior, will indeed, become very aggressive. But, placed in an environment that reinforces sociability, he may end up well-socialized and friendly. And a dog who has been deliberately bred for sociability can be placed in an environment that reinforces aggressive behavior and end up very aggressive.

The bottom line is: breeds are not aggressive or friendly, individual dogs are.