diabetes

Diabetes Management: Causes, Signs and Tips to Help Your Pet Cope With The Condition

It’s hard to hear the news that your pet has diabetes.

The harsh truth is that dogs and cats develop diabetes just as people do.

You’ll have a few burning questions in your mind. What caused this debilitating illness in your pet? How do you know that your pet has it, and more importantly, how do you control it?

diabetes

Pets with diabetes can life a normal life.

Causes of Diabetes In Pets

Diabetes is frustrating, but will not inconvenience your dog or cat if you manage it. The first step to doing this is to understand its causes.

Obesity is a top trigger of diabetes. A pet which is overweight tends to have problems processing insulin.

Pets may also develop this illness if they are couch potatoes. If your pet does not walk or jog regularly, it’s likely to have problems processing Insulin later in life.

Also, studies show that diabetes in pets has links with autoimmune diseases. Pets with Lupus, Dry Eye, and Addison’s disease are likely to have it.

Signs that your pet Could Have Diabetes

How would you know that your cat or dog has diabetes? It would display the following signs.

1. Increased urination

First of all, your pet will start urinating more than usual because its blood sugar levels are high. They become so significant that the sugar deposits show themselves in your pets’ urine.

2. Weight Loss

Your pet will become thinner not because it eats less, but because the cells in its body don’t use the energy from the nutrients efficiently. It experiences weight loss though it takes in more calories.

3. Lack of energy.

The lack of nutrition will also make it tired. The fatigue happens because the body requires blood sugar.

4. Vision Problems

Pets with diabetes frequently develop vision problems as well. Improper processing of sugar heightens the chance of cataracts.

5. Weakness in the rear limbs

Also, your pet’s back legs may become weak. It may develop what’s known as the ‘plantigrade stance.’ Your pet will drop on its hind legs and walk on its back ankles.

6′ Urinary tract infections

UTIs are another common feature of this condition. They’re likely to happen as sugar in the blood builds up.

7. Kidney Failure

Finally, your pet may develop renal failure. Its kidneys can’t process sugar, so any excess will spill over into the kidneys and damage them.

Tips to manage a pet with diabetes

Diabetes is a tricky condition which requires careful and consistent management. Here are some strategies to make the task easier.

First of all, monitor your pet’s condition regularly. Doing this will help you note dangerous spikes and drops in blood sugar.

Make sure that your pet gets its regular insulin medication. There are insulin products specially made for pets. Get your vet’s advice on what these are.

Also, make sure that you feed your pet a proper diet. It should eat foods that minimize blood sugar fluctuations.

Another thing you can do to help your pet cope with this malady is to make sure that it exercises. Dogs are natural runners, while cats are star climbers. Doing either will help these animals stay in tip-top shape.

Finally, make sure that your pet gets its routine checks. This condition affects pets differently over time, so visiting your vet when it is time for a checkup will help your pet get used to prodding and poking.

If your pet has diabetes, take heart. A little common sense management will help it stay in good health.



To the dog park!

Les Chaffield CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

This post is written for This N That Thursday hosted by the lovely Two Brown Dogs And Ruckus the Eskie.

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Living in a country where space is a limited resource can be quite a challenge. The challenge is intimidating for dog owners whose dogs need a good stretch.

The dog park comes to, or we go to it for, the rescue.

Bringing a dog to the run for a little exercise and socialization certainly gives your dog a much needed boost. At the same time, there are many things to bear in mind when bringing a pet to the park.

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Benefits

Exercise

When you come home to find the door frame destroyed or the slippers chewed, it simply means that Fido needs a little more exercise and attention. A dog’s mind and body need to be stimulated, so a dog park presents many such alternatives for a sometimes hapless owner.

Socialization

Dog parks also present many opportunities for socialization. Like us, dogs too are social animals and love to spend time with members of their own species. Like children, dogs need the practice of reading another canine’s body language. The experience of getting to know other dogs they do not meet on such a frequent basis is readily available at the dog park.

Fun for pet parents

Dog parks are good fun for pet parents too. This is where pet parents get to socialize with other dog lovers and get a little exercise with their own and other dogs. They also get the chance to practice a little off leash training within a controlled environment.

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Disadvantages

Dog parks do not come without downsides. It simply means having to bear a few things in mind.

Socialization

While the dog park presents wonderful chances for socialization, it can, ironically, present a problem itself.

Shy dogs, like those of us who are a little shy, can be overwhelmed in a dog park, compounded perhaps by unpleasant experiences with aggression. They may start behaving aggressively out of fear themselves towards other dogs.

People problems

Subjectivity reigns when it comes to considering appropriate dog behavior. Some may believe that a dog is too aggressive when it starts to give friendly barks. Others may see playfulness as a sign of aggression.

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Which dogs should not be included in the dog park?

David Shankbone CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons

Not everyone is a good candidate for the park, so some of our canine pals, sadly, should not be included until they are ready. A dog should only go to the park if it is socialized, vaccinated and healthy.

Unvaccinated puppies

Puppies which have not had shots should not take the trip to the park. They may easily contract worms and illnesses and allergies from other dogs.

Females in heat

These “ladies” will, of course, be the subjects of attention. If not prepared for a few puppies, do not bring them to a park.

Un-neutered males

Frisky gents, too, have to be thought about. Do not bring them to the park unless properly spayed.

Dominant or aggressive dogs

If owners know that their dogs tend to be aggressive, it is always best to avoid bringing them to the park.

Unsocialized dogs

Dogs less familiar with other dogs should not be brought to a dog park because they might not know how to play properly with other dogs. They might have some rude experiences!

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Features

David Shankbone CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons

 

Owners will want to consider the facilities a suitable dog park should contain and the environment within the park itself.   An ideal park should have:

  • Space for interaction

  • Secure fencing to prevent a distracted dog from escaping

  • Clean up stations for owners to clean up after their dogs

  • Water for drinking

  • Enough shade

  • A separate area for small dogs. They might be intimidated by bigger fellows, or conversely,

           frighten with their own aggressiveness.

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Other dog park tips

1. Go a few times without your dog to get to know the other     people and dogs who go there regularly.Be there a few times and on different days to get a clearer idea of who frequents the park and any potential problems that may occur.

2. Dress comfortably and remember a dog kit with water, a leash   or poop scooper for cleaning up after the dog.

3. Train yourself and your dog. Being aware of a bit of dog body     language may help one to know when a dog is scared,           aggressive or simply in the mood for fun. To help out a little, I       have provided an earlier article I have written on dog                 communication here.

At the same time, train Fido! A little bit of obedience training ] helps in a dog park and prevents stress as the dog would know  better how to behave.

WIth the holidays approaching, have a great time ahead with Fido!

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Stretching your dog’s mind

This post is written for This n That Thursday, hosted by the talented Two Brown Dogs and Ruckus the Eskie.

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Pet owners like ourselves would be familiar with this.

Bored Cloudy 1(1)

We have the same looks on our faces much of the time too. As it does with us, boredom sets into the minds of our animal friends as well.

People need to have their minds challenged in these situations, so it goes without saying that our canine friends sometimes need a mental stretch.

There are ways to occupy a bored dog at home acclimatize it to tasks owners may wish to give.

Challenging a dog’s mind can be fun for the dog, its owner and provide much needed bonding time.

redleash

Why we should challenge our dog’s minds

Cloudy 2 1

Boredom

If you have been tired of the same old, same old, imagine the feelings of  Fido who has no other tasks to occupy him. We still have the benefit of choice and daily routine to attend to, but this is a little different for dogs. Often restricted in terms of space and activity, they come to know one word.

Boredom.

They need a mental challenge, sometimes necessarily swift in coming, to stimulate the senses.

Behavior

If these senses are not properly stimulated, they manifest themselves in untoward behavior. Cloudy, my West Highland Terrier, gets a little miffed when she has nothing to do and “woffles”, putting her head between her paws. If she is left alone for too long, she starts chewing on slippers. Other bored dogs may even defecate all over, to the chagrin of hapless owners.

Exposure

Like many others, I love to travel, learn and be exposed to new possibilities, food and anything new that may stimulate the senses.

Our dogs feel the same way. This is why we find them sniffing the grass or bushes whenever they are out on walks. It is part of their process of self discovery.

redleash

How do we stretch our dog’s minds?

Cloudy woffling 1

To prevent potentially destructive behaviors, owners should take charge of their dog’s minds. If anything else, it helps with the preservation of furniture and slippers!

1. Teach Fido a new trick.

If the dog knows the basic sit, stay and heel commands, it may be time to move past that to new tricks. Consult a trainer for new ideas or research from books and the internet. It makes him less anxious and helps him become more relaxed around other dogs.

2. Play!

We find games fun and so do our dogs. Doggie boards and puzzles are a great way to challenge our canines. They love figuring out how they work. A kong toy with a treat within sometimes suffices to keep a dog occupied for a few hours while a board game can be fun for both the owner and the dog.

3. Run errands with Fido.

Where it is allowable, run errands with Fido. A trip to the mailbox or to withdraw money at the automatic teller machine allows him to experience many situations. It keeps the brain working as he slowly absorbs them.

4. Give your dog a job.

Dogs were originally bred to accomplish tasks like herding and hunting. So they get a little edgy when they cannot fulfill such duties. Take him for a walk, jog or swim. Allow him, perhaps, to carry a bag pack. Even a hearty game of fetch will suffice.

5. Socialize your dog.

Nothing does better for a mental stretch than socialization. The dog learns better how to socialize with other dogs and people and has his senses engaged.

6. Introduce new toys and rotate the old.

Yes, we cannot be always introducing new toys to our dogs for reasons of cost. So do so gradually, rotating the old ones as well.

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Employing your dog

Cloudy 3 1

A good mental stretch for a dog is to make him feel useful. Give him a job; he can be a little helper in many ways.

1. Choose something fairly simple for him to do, such as fetching newspapers.     He may even help out during walks and can carry a bag pack. Allowing him     to carry things in his mouth will

   also keep him from feeling frustrated.

2. Show the dog how to perform its task. Repetition will allow him to make           associations. When teaching him how to pick up objects, show him the           object and where it belongs. Do not repeat too often;stop when the dog           begins to lose interest or feels overwhelmed.

3. Treat him when he has made a good attempt at performing his tasks. Give       him several more  treats when he has got the task right.

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Work together with Fido to stretch both your mind and his. It is a rewarding experience!

Have a great week, all!

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The best dog breeds to live with in an apartment

 

Cloudy with bone on sofaA dog? In an apartment? Er………

It is easy to empathize with what goes on in an apartment owner’s mind when we mention the idea of a dog living with him. Many concerns abound.

For yes, not all dogs are not suited for apartment living. Further, size, of both the apartment and the dog, is a factor that very much comes into play.So is potential mess, which can be very much a reality.

Still, pet lovers yearn to have the company of a little dog. Their concerns would likely revolve around which breeds of dogs would be suitable for apartment life and how to use persuasive powers on landlords if they wish to accommodate a dog.

Why owners hesitate

These are obvious concerns, but I highlight them as a reminder that they have to be gotten around if there is to be a solution for hapless pet owners and their dogs.

And it is quite a shame if such obstacles were to deter apartment dwellers from owning beloved pets.

The size of the dog

The size of dogs might deter people from owning them outright. Some are unquestionably bigger, putting in place the fear that bringing a dog into an apartment would be a disaster.

What counts more than size is the dog’s temperament. Some smaller dogs, such as Jack Russell Terriers, are really active and need loads of space to run. Apartment living, for them, can be a concern.

The opposite may be true of gentler giant breeds, like labrador retrievers, which can be gentle, quiet and adapt well to life in an apartment. As long as exercise requirements are met, many large dogs adapt well to apartment life.

Space

Regardless of size, owners may be concerned about the amount of space available for a dog. The thought can be daunting, especially when a lot of furniture and such has to be factored in.

The solution to that would be to be rid of clutter and unnecessary objects.Create a little corner where the dog can be comfortable and teach him to recognize boundaries. There are other tips that can help apartment owners to accommodate dogs, which I shall share later.

Waste

I have to be honest and say that pet ownership comes with its icky side and a not so pleasant one at that. It can be extremely off-putting in small living spaces which one already finds hard to keep clean.

Establishing boundaries, again, can help a dog to get along with owners in small living spaces.

The best dog breeds for apartment living

Merianne Perdomo CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Merianne Perdomo CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons
A greyhound and a cat

 

Small or large, it is true that not all dogs are suited to life in an apartment, though that is more an issue of individual temperament.

There are, though, certain breeds that are pre-disposed to apartment lifestyles.

1. Yorkshire Terriers

Though more active, these little buddies do not require much space and feel comfortable wherever they are set to live. They bark little and adapt well to new environments.

2. French Bulldog

The practical demeanor of this breed makes them adaptable and ideal for apartment living. Although they bear traits of larger dogs, they are comfortable as long as they have a place in the apartment to call their own.

3. Maltese

Small, with a silky coat and no undercoat, the maltese does not shed easily. He also does not take a lot of space and is a quiet fellow who just loves his little space.

4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

A friendly fellow, it can deal well with other dogs or tenants of a rented apartment. It is calm and adaptable.

5. Boston Terriers

This dog is a faithful fellow who will go where his owner does. As long as he can be nearby, apartment life will suit him just fine.
6. Bassett Hounds

I have observed a lady who brings her Bassett to church. As she prays, the slightly bigger than medium sized fellow sits by her side, or quietly sleeps through the proceedings. He has become a regular feature for church goers on Sundays!

Indeed, the quiet fellow is suited for apartment life, only requiring a little attention now and then.

7. English Bulldog

Like its French cousin, the slightly larger fellow is comfortable in small spaces. A couch dog-tato, it prefers TV sessions to a walk in the park.

8. American Stratforshire Terrier

Quite dog friendly, this fellow gets along well with other dogs. It also forms a tight bond with its owner. As long as it is well exercised, It can be a good apartment dog.

9. Great Danes

No doubt, this dog is big. But his temper is even and he is trainable. He will not poop all over if well taught, though it your couch would be fully occupied once he jumps on it. He is friendly and non-aggressive to humans and dogs.

10. Greyhounds

Again, as long as it gets its required exercise, the greyhound is a great companion to have in an apartment.

Tips for living with a dog in an apartment

Ileana n CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons
An American Stratfordshire Puppy

Aside from setting boundaries for our dogs, there is a lot an owner can do to accommodate Fido in an apartment.

1. Take it one step at a time.

Assimilate the dog slowly, moving the dog into the apartment for short periods then for longer ones as it get used to the idea. A sudden attempt to spend long periods in its new home would overwhelm any dog.

2. Spend time with Fido.

To improve its sense of security in its new home, spend time with the dog as much as possible. To prevent separation anxiety, go out for shorter, then longer periods of time.

3. Create space

Get rid of whatever is not needed to create space for the dog.

4. Watch the lighting.

Dogs are comfortable in natural light. Keep the environment naturally lit as much as possible

5. Establish a routine

As the dog will not be able to go out unless the owner takes it for a walk, it is critical to establish a walking routine. MIne go out in the evenings after work for the day is completed and it is always kept that way.

6. Hire a dog sitter

If work keeps the owner away from the apartment for long hours, it might be a good alternative to hire a dog walker or sitter. It allows the dog to have its daily stretch.

7. Get a bench

A little bench would help the dog look outside, since they love looking at moving images. Be careful to have windows grilled. I once had flexible Jack Russell who somehow managed to squeeze through a narrow opening in the window and escaped. Fortunately, we live on the ground floor.

8. Invest in a gate.

This prevents escapes whenever the mailman delivers or visitors arrive. It also helps the dog to recognize boundary.

9. Find a good trainer

A good dog trainer will help a dog sort out problems like excessive barking or aggression.

10. Adapt!

It is perfectly fine to play games in the apartment as long as modifications are made. Fetch, for example can still be played as long as the fall of objects is muffled by rugs and no fragile objects are around.

Life with a dog in an apartment is not difficult, albeit with the right dog and a few adaptations.

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Dealing with fighting dogs

 mekanoide,CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

mekanoide,CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

This post is written for This and That Thursday hosted by 2 Brown Dogs and Ruckus the Eskie.

New dog owners or perhaps owners of slightly larger breeds of dogs might be a tad frightened when their dogs suddenly start to roughhouse or greet each other with what seems like excessive growling.

What might be a little worse is if the dogs abruptly progress from rough housing to a full blown tussle.Breaking apart two dogs, especially if they are strangers to each other, can be frightening. Legal repercussions can result for owners and injuries, of course, may result for the dogs.

Little reminders about what starts dogs fighting may raise awareness and help in the prevention of such incidents. Knowing what to and what not to do in the event of a tussle between our furry friends can help to dissolve panic.

Understanding dog fights

tonylanciabeta, CC-BY-Sa 2.0 via Creative Commons

tonylanciabeta, CC-BY-Sa 2.0 via Creative Commons

Being aware of what causes dogs to fight might help owners take preventive measures to avoid such situations.

There are a number of reasons why dogs may fight, so bearing them in mind is always helpful.

The difference between fight and play

A newer dog owner may find it difficult to tell the difference between playing and fighting. A little bit of knowledge about canine body language in this area might be of assistance.

When a dog plays, he usually begins with a “bow”. A bow between canines is an invitation to play. If a little rough housing begins that way, there is no cause for great alarm. The dogs usually switch places as bottom and top dog, neither trying to dominate the session.

The rough housing is a little more than that when the dogs develop a tense stance and try to appear larger than the other. One would usually pin the other down and bites are hard enough to cause bleeding.

Why dogs fight

Food

This happens occasionally between my female terriers, Misty and Cloudy. One would try to steal food from the other, resulting in a few growls or snarls which is commonly known as “food aggression.”

Territory

Dogs may also fight over territory. Sleeping on a cushion that bears the scent of the dog who usually uses it may sometimes result in a little snarling.

Toys

As with food, a tussle over toys may result if one tries to steal the toy from the other. A note that when female dogs fight with males, it is often to gain a possession.

Insecurity

Dogs will get into a fight when they perceive that the other dog is a threat.

Dominance

A lower ranking dog in a pack might want to prove himself by initiating a fight. Older dogs might growl and younger ones to put them in their place. Misty sometimes does this to my younger West Highland Terrier Cloudy, who can be a handful.

Preventing dog fights

JoF,CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

JoF,CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Removing triggers

If food is a trigger, separate feeding areas for the various dogs in the household so that one will not abruptly grab food from the other who is possessive.

Such is also the case with toys and territory.

Behavior modification

Dogs that are sensitive to the sound of doorbells or to the presence of other dogs may benefit from desensitization training. As the name suggests, it is a way of lessening the sensitivity in the dog to the triggers for its untoward behavior.

It involves gradual exposure to the triggers until he is able to gain control of his reactions to the stimulus eg. the doorbell ringing.

Counter conditioning is another technique that is often used by trainers. It involves replacing the painful memories associated with the stimulus with new associations. A dog might have previously associated the sound of the bell with pain because someone who came through the door might have spanked him. A dog behaviorist will slowly introduce a new association to the sound of the bell, for instance, play.

Desensitization and counter conditioning can both be used to restructure a dog’s inappropriate behavior.

Socialization

A dog used to both people and other dogs will tend to get less involved in dog fights. Bring your puppy on constant walks to get used to new people or other dogs. If the resource is available, basic dog training classes and puppy kindergartens can help the dog to get used to people and other dogs in the environment.

Do not allow aggressive wrestling.

Stop any wrestling among dogs if you notice that it has a potential to escalate.

Things to do and avoid when a dog fight occurs

Things to do when dogs fight

 Greencolander,CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Greencolander,CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Let it fizzle out.

A fight usually takes up a lot of the dogs energy so it usually fizzles out as fast as it starts. Let the dogs lose interest in biting each other before separating them.

Of course, this scenario should best be avoided.

Call your dog in a gentle tone.

If you notice that your dog’s rough housing is starting to get a little more than that, call your dog in a firm but gentle tone.

Carry a small umbrella

A little foldable umbrella can be carried around and popped open between two dogs that are fighting. It provides a surprise and blockage.

Squirt gun

If available, squirting water over fighting dogs might distract and break up the tussle.

Grab the top dog by the rear.

Do this only if water gun or umbrella does not work to stop the dogs fighting as accidents do occur.

Wait for the moment when one dog gets on top of the other. Grab the top dog by its hind legs and hold them off the ground. It shifts its drive and angle dramatically with a little distraction because something else-your hands- have gained power. It will tilt the dog and surprise him such that he will not think about attacking further.

Things not to do during a fight

Do not reach for the collar.

Do not try to pick a dog up in the event of a fight because you might be bitten.

In  dog fights, dogs will usually attack the neck areas. Do not reach for the collar area at this time because you might get mauled, especially when handling bigger dogs like German Shepherds or Rotties.

Do not scream.

It is frightening but the owner’s job at this point of time is to keep calm in the face of a dog tussle. It does not stop the dogs fighting and might instead escalate tension.

Conclusion

Dog fights should always be avoided but if a dog is in a middle of one, steps can be taken to stop it.

Above all, prevention is way better than the cure.

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Odd dog habits


For our weekly Wednesday link up, I would like to show some photos of my family’s dogs and some of their odd habits.

My mother’s dog, George, finding protection under the table.

Hiding behind the pillows

Misty sleeping upside down

Looking out of the window

Hiding in the closet


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A walk and contemplation


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For our weekly Wednesday photo link up, I took a walk to a nearby park with Misty and Cloudy. Cloudy was her usual jumpy self while Misty preferred to sit in contemplation.

Here they are on their daily walk, with Misty being the great thinker.

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A word for the “seeing-eye” dog


Guide dog 2 (2)This post is written for the Fabulous Pets Blog Hop hosted by PetsAwareNews. This hop which will be live every Thursday, so do feel free to link up with any articles or photographs you have about pets!

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“Allowing guide dogs with the blind is a right, not a privilege.’

The above quote was from a letter sent to the Today Magazine, a popular daily paper in Singapore, from Mr. Alvan Yap, an avid reader who raised concerns about public eateries in Singapore being allowed to decide if guide dogs be allowed on their premises, dependent on the comfort level of their customers. He expresses in the letter sentiment that this would encourage those running such eateries to become closed to idea of allowing these furry guides on the premises.

I definitely understand and echo these concerns.

Such a debate brings to mind that knowledge and education about what guide dogs actually do

is necessary to foster empathy and understanding for them, and those who require their companionship. Many are unaware of exactly how important these little heroes are to the visually challenged. They have no idea of what these animals actually do to provide help to those they guide.

The marrying of needs is required at some point. We cannot discount the concerns of those who manage public eateries or other public areas like libraries. A solution would be to find ways for them to get round the difficulties accomodate these necessary “seeing eyes.”

Why eateries and public areas reject guide dogs

Those who run public places do have valid concerns when rejecting guide dogs on their premises, so it is up to them and those who own these dogs to understand, and on their level, manage what causes these concerns. If all are willing, guide dogs, who will be there only for a short time, can blend into these public areas well.

Hygiene

The top concern of eateries and public areas that disallow guide dogs on the premises would be hygiene. Pets will need to defecate at some point, which is quite a source of consternation where eateries are concerned. Customers may also have allergic reactions to the hair of the dogs.

There is assurance that these animals are certified and deemed hygienic for entrance into an area like a cafe, which will likely not for really extended periods of time. If any customers are allergic to these animals, they can always choose to be seated where they are not in close proximity with them.

Fear

Dogs cause fear in people for various reasons. The comfort level of those who patronize public areas will be paramount for those who run them.

Yet again, if a person has a fear of dogs, he or she can choose not to sit near those who are handling them. A point to note is that these guide dogs are too well-trained to inspire fear. Besides knowing how to approach people in public, most of them will have calm and even temperaments.

Lack of interaction

Guide dogs are rejected in public areas because many have not interacted with them and do not know how well these fine creatures behave. Guide dogs are gentle companions which seldom have any aggressive tendencies.

Handlers can encourage people to interact with their dogs in controlled settings to help them understand how sociable these animals can be and allay their fears.

Lack of exposure to a guide dog’s work

Those who run public areas will reject dogs in large part because they do not fully understand exactly what they do, which this article will go into in greater detail.

With greater knowledge comes greater understanding. If the scope of a guide dog’s work is properly documented, it would help many understand how well trained they have to be, and are. Governing authorities could step in to produce posters and pamphlets to outline a guide dog’s work. It promotes a more inclusive society.

Noise

Public eateries would reject guide dogs because they fear their customers being put off by barking noises.

Again, guide dogs are highly trained and know what to do at the right time. If anyone is uncomfortable around a dog, they can choose not to sit near it.

So, what exactly does a guide dog do?

smerikal, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

smerikal, CC-BY-SA 2.0 via Creative Commons

Guide dogs serve, literally, as the eyes of those who cannot see. A good guide dog “sees” and helps a visually challenged person walk ahead, turn sharp corners or navigate stairs. Here is a list of what it is they do., to promote better clarity.

  • They keep to the routes that their handlers are supposed to travel and are trained to ignore distractions like smells.

  • They maintain a steady pace for their handlers and are just ahead of them when walking.

  • They stop at curbs and intersections until told to proceed.

  • They move in directions given by the handler and stop on command.

  • They guide their handlers up and down stairs, and stop at the top and bottom until told to move on.

  • They bring handlers in and out of elevators, and to elevator buttons.

  • They are to lie quietly when a handler is settled and seated. (This is why there should  be no fear of their misbehavior or noise).

  • They help a handler board buses and public transport.

  • Obey set verbal commands

  • Disobey those that will be disadvantageous to their handlers.

Why are guide dogs important to those who need them?

Anneli Salo, CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons

Anneli Salo, CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Creative Commons

Guide dogs are absolutely vital to those who need them. Disallowing their presence equates disallowing and not being inclusive of someone who physically challenged or in need.

They ensure mobility.

Those who require “seeing eye dogs” need them because they enable simple moves from one location to another, something which the rest of us do easily. They help a visually challenged person move just a little further ahead and in many cases, more.

They ensure safety.

To reiterate just how well-trained these animals are, they are trained in selective disobedience. They are told disobey any of their handler’s commands if they can see that it brings them into the path of imminent danger.

A sensible animal like this would hardly be a hazard to those around him in a restaurant.

They provide companionship.

These dogs perform necessary functions, but are pets like any other when off duty. They provide the necessary companionship their owners and handlers need.

They can run simple errands.

Where necessary, these dogs can help their handlers run errands, if prior arrangements are made. They are able to go to stores, perhaps, with a little basket and list of things their handlers need. All the already informed store owner needs to do is to help to fill it up.

They provide independence.

They provide their visually challenged handlers with much needed independence. With their help, their owners can get to anywhere, at any time and very much do anything!

The “seeing eye” dog is a valuable companion to those who need him. Allowing him in public areas would be promoting  greater societal inclusion.


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Caring for an emaciated dog

 

ledpup, CC-BY-SA 2.0

ledpup, CC-BY-SA 2.0

Emaciation. A troubling health concern for both people and pets.

Emaciation becomes especially disturbing when it develops in pets that have otherwise been maintaining a healthy weight. Sudden loss of weight would indicate an immediate need for medical attention.

The causes of emaciation in our pets are many and varied. While finding the cause of a pet’s sudden lack of weight would help in determining the necessary steps to take that will help to literally cushion the problem, knowing how to put the weight back on a dog that is a little too bony will relieve pet owners of a worrying burden. A dog that is starving will need added attention from its owner that not only gives it help, but may save its life.

Symptoms of emaciation

Emaciation is defined as the loss of subcutaneous fat or adipose tissue. If too much of it is lost and the animal’s ribs and pelvic bone are easily visible to the eye, the dog is getting a little too skinny and emaciated.

Causes of emaciation in pets

The causes of emaciation in pets are varied and will always require veterinary advice. However, when a dog becomes emaciated, it is definitely serious and will require immediate care and attention.

Malnutrition

One of the greatest causes of emaciation in pets is a lack of nutrition. At times, it is the result of the neglect of owners in feeding their pets.

More often, it is the lack of a proper balance of nutrients. A dog may have excess calcium in its diet that causes its bones to grow too fast, particularly if the plates of its bones have not fused, making him emaciated.

Illness

The onset of illness may cause a dog to ignore its food and become emaciated.

Kidney failure discovered in its late stages would mean that a dog, aside from having pale gums, is suffering from gradual loss of muscle mass. Apart from experiencing vomiting, fatigue and lethargy, it could suffer from emaciation as well.

The symptoms of Addison’s disease also include vomiting and the dog ignoring its food. When such symptoms are noted, do pay an immediate visit to the vet.

Worms

Worms and other parasites in the digestive tract will eat what the dog is consuming and rob it of the nutrition it needs. That, of course, will cause a dog to become weaker and less fleshy than usual.

Caring for an emaciated dog

If you have rescued or adopted a dog from an animal shelter and it appears emaciated, there are a few steps that can be taken to ensure its proper care.

Create a chart that records the progress of its health.

A chart which records the dogs weight will be extremely helpful for owners to keep track of a dog’s weight and other aspects of its health, especially if it is ill. Include columns for recording its weight,its temperature, amount of food administered and any medication that has been administered. Include an estimated normal weight on the chart

Record its temperature and weight.

Make it a point to do this daily as a record of the dog’s progress towards its normal weight.The dog should be moving towards its expected normal body weight. A record of its temperature will enable owners to determine if their dogs are ill.

Give it a physical exam.

If a newly rescued dog has been welcomed into the home, a thorough physical exam is in order. Feel all areas of its abdomen. Stand or kneel at the dog’s hip and, while facing forward, place the fingers of the left hand along the left side of the dog’s abdomen. Then, pass the right hand under the belly. Finally place the fingers of the right hand opposite to the left fingers. Gently bring the hands together, probing and pushing various areas along the abdomen to reveal important information.

If the dog does not wince or reflect any pain during this process, it probably does not suffer from any digestive worms or illnesses that strike the abdomen.

Check its gums regularly.

If the gums are pale, they would be indicative of illness. They should be turning a healthy color as the dog returns to its normal weight.

Observe the dog’s ability to drink.

Non interest in drinking would indicate a high possibility of illness and dehydration. Pinch a fold of the dog’s skin to see how hydrated it is. In a hydrated dog, the fold of skin should snap back immediately. In an emaciated, dehydrated dog, the skin will show poor elasticity and take a longer time to return to place.

Pay a visit to the vet to get the dog hydrated as soon as possible.

Gradually, the dog’s body will mobilize the reserves of glucose stored in its liver.

Putting on weight on an emaciated dog

Renourishing an emaciated dog will take time, a little patience and a few supplemental boosts to its diet.

Feed it small meals throughout the day.

Switch your dog’s diet to high quality puppy food or a growth formula to stimulate an increase of muscle mass. Feed it to the dog at roughly 6 hours apart.

Augment the food.

Add healthy foods to the puppy food to encourage weight gain. Supplementing the food with rice or pasta will augment the complex carbohydrates needed. Sauces for dogs, available at some pet food stores, may help to make the food more palatable.

Determine its calorie needs

Dogs will have a Resting Energy Requirement. Do this by weighing the dog. A small dog of about 10 pounds requires about 450 calories. Its medium sized counterpart of about 45 to 70 pounds will need about 1200 calories while big dogs over 70 pounds will need to take in about 1800 calories a day. ‘

An emaciated dog needs a little assurance and motivation to start eating. With a little time and patience, it should develop more muscle mass daily and start getting back on its feet. What is important is a little tender loving care!

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Keeping your dog fit and making him sporty!


Exercising your dog 1

From left, clock wise: A dog performing the Fetch Tease, Jogging, Playing Ball and finally, a little fetch.

These days, it is really heartening to find dog owners putting that special emphasis on their pets. Dogs, especially sedentary, better fed ones, may suffer from a “pudgy problem” if their owners are not regular in giving it exercise. About 35% of pets these days are overweight and such obesity increases the risk of other health conditions like diabetes, respiratory problems and heart disease. Dogs become obese for the very same reason we do – too many treats! Owners will be amazed at the simple and more “sporty” ways to get their dogs fit and healthy.

Exercising your dog very much involves exercising yourself as well. It reaps dual benefits for yourself and him!

Now why should we put Fido through a little bit of physical training?

Exercising with your pet boosts your moods.

A well exercised dog is a happy dog. After releasing pent up energy, he is usually more cheerful and game for anything. This extends to his owner as well. Exercising always gives one the chance to release pent up negative energy!

It is not uncommon to see many dog owners going for regular jogs with their pooches. Both dogs and owners usually radiate much positive energy!

Exercising with your dog lowers your blood pressure.

Exercising with your dog will lower your blood pressure and keep you in great cardiovascular shape.

Exercising with your pet motivates you to exercise as well.

Your pet will usually bug you to go on exercises with him. This will ensure that you keep to your own exercise routine!

Cloudy, my West Highland Terrier, usually bugs me to take her out on jogs in the evening. I have no need to set up reminders to exercise, because she is there to tell me that it is time!

Reduces instances of odd canine behavior.

When dogs are not exercised and restless, they usually have an increased tendency to do silly things like dig or find something to chew. With their pent up energy released, they will certainly do so!

 

 

Exercise decreases the chances of indigestion.

Exercising your pet facilitates its digestive system and decreases chances of constipation as well. This is also true of his human owner!

Exercising prevents depression.

Exercising releases endorphines, much in the same way laughter does. If you observe yourself after a round of exercise, your mood is usually much better. Endorphins act as analgesics, which decrease the perception of pain. It develops a happy owner and pet!

It helps a fearful dog build confidence and trust.

A dog which is usually fearful learns to develop trust in his owner after bonding with him through a jog or round of exercise.

This is true of Cloudy. She usually does not trust or come quickly when called, but jogging has helped her to realize that her human owners are there to benefit her and give her a happy life.

Exercise promotes healthy rest.

Exercise will make the dog tired after a session, which means that he will have a good rest soon after! This reduces any instances of canine stress as well.

Most importantly, it is the key to weight control.

Exercise keeps a dog’s weight in balance, just as it does for us. For both dogs and owners, this is true!

Exercising your dog 2

From Top Left, Clockwise: Agility exercises for dogs, Bikejoring courtesy Tolvocoughlin, Scootering viz Ashleigh 290, Canincross viz Kroston and Skijoring via Heathera Skido. All pictures CC-BY-SA, via Creative Commons

Simple ways to exercise our dogs

Exercising your dog can be done in many ways, from a regular jog to more complicated agility exercises and dock jumping. There are indeed many things to do, so pick an activity that suits you and your canine friend!

 

Bring your dog for regular jogs!

One of the obvious things owners can do is to bring their pets for regular walks or runs at different intervals during the day. Cloudy enjoys the runs owe go on regularly mmensely, always looking back to see if my other older Schnauzer, Misty, is following behind. The excitement in her little puppy face is really evident, especially so when you first put the leash on her and she returns completely satisfied and ready for a nap. Walking your dog or running him a few times a day is really good for very young or old dogs as it increases their metabolism.

Watch out for an overly excited dog though. Dogs are usually so happy on jogs that they may yelp loudly and wake up the whole neighborhood if too excited! It usually. happens to Cloudy, who usually barks and yelps when on a jog. It took some time for her to unlearn that behavior, with a bit of reward and reinforcement.

Bring them out to dog runs and let them socialize with other dogs.

Another form of exercising dogs is to let them exercise with other dogs. Bring them out to dog runs or dog parks. Dog runs not only provide a great place to exercise, they allow your dogs to socialize with each other. I bring Cloudy to a place known as Next, a pet-friendly mall in Singapore which has a roof terrace with a dog run. She yips and gambols, totally enjoying herself.

The Fetch Tease for Abs

The Fetch Tease for Abs is an exercise which benefits both you and your dog. It involves a regular sit up and tossing your dog’s favorite toy as you reach the top. You do ab crunches; Fido does dances!

 

Squatting

Try squatting and playing with your dog. As you squat, tap him with his favorite toy, moving around as you do so, only allowing him to grab it if he catches it successfully when you tap him. This tease-filled game is fun way for both you and Fido to enjoy some exercise.

Dog Racing

What about racing with your dog to pick up his favorite toy? The dog usually wins (they are much faster than us) but this is a great way to motivate your pet to move about. A jolly form of physical exertion.

Stair climbing

Climb stairs together with Fido. This is a great way for both of you to work off your breakfasts. Widen your stance and skip alternate steps as you get familiar with the exercise. This is challenging and provides a fun workout.

How about getting your canine more involved with sports and exercise?

Some forms of exercise require you and your dog to be prepared with a bit more training, but are definitely not complicated. These are some fun, more advanced forms of exercises for your dog to try!

Agility Exercises

Many owners and their dogs usually find it challenging and a whole lot of fun to put their dogs through their paces on agility equipment. Canines usually have loads of enjoyment on the Table or going through a Tunnel.

Such equipment is available at Next, near the dog run I bring Cloudy to. She absolutely enjoys scrambling through the tunnel. It channels her excess energy elsewhere!

Canincross

This is the sport of cross country running while attached to a dog. Again, it requires a canine harness, waist belt and a flexible line. A competitive sport, the first world Canicross championships were held in Ravenna, Italy in 2002.

This is a good way to get dogs involved in sport. It is suitable for those who already jog with their dogs to take things a level further!

Bikejoring

This is a fun form of exercise where a dog or team of dogs is attached to a towline and runs in front of a cyclist. Requiring a little training and coordination with your dog, make sure he is comfortable with the towline and pulling you before trying this. The equipment required will be a waist belt, a harness and a flexible line.

However, this is an enjoyable form of exercise for both cyclist owners and their little canines!

Dog Scootering

This again involves pulling. This time, the dog pulls their owner on a kick scooter! A canine harness is of course needed, but this exercise incorporates a bungee cord to absorb the shock of inertia on takeoff or stopping. This is a whole lot of fun for anyone who loves their ski scooter and their dogs too!

For the winter – Skijoring

Owners may be stuck for an exercise activity for their canines during the winter months, so Skijoring is a wonderful activity. Again requiring the usual canine harness, waist belt and line, this is enjoyable for dogs who simply love to pull owners on a pair of skis. Canines can be very strong. They can easily get owners moving in the snow!

All in all, get creative with the ways you exercise with your pet. You will reap countless physical benefits, and so will he.

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