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  • Does Your Dog Have Anxiety?

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    The majority of dogs seemingly have little to worry about. With humans providing them with practically everything they need, it’s hard to imagine that dogs would have anything to cause them anxiety. We humans tend to think of anxiety as a human-only problem, the result of our daily stresses over matters such as our careers, our relationships, and our fears about the meaning of life. Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly common for dogs to feel anxious, too. Even though dogs may never have to worry about paying their bills, maintaining a marriage, or achieving complete satisfaction with their lives, they can experience nervousness that can affect their behavior.

    It’s important for dog owners to understand this, because anxiety can cause a number of problems for them and their dogs. A dog that has anxiety may have difficulty eating, damage the house when left alone, or pick fights with other dogs. Since no dog owner wants to deal with these types of behavioral issues, it’s vital for dog owners to understand the potential causes of anxiety in their dogs, how to prevent it, and what treatments exist.

    What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

    Anxiety can be the result of a fear, a dog’s personality, or age-related conditions. For example, one of the most common sources of anxiety in dogs is the fear of unfamiliar or unpleasant locations, such as a new home, or the vet’s office. Separation anxiety is another extremely common trigger, as dogs often don’t know how to cope with being left alone for extended periods. Older dogs may experience cognitive disorders as they age, leaving them confused and forgetful. This makes them more prone to anxiety.

    How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Anxiety?

    Any sudden change in your dog’s behavior may be the result of anxiety. In general, though, there are some definitive warning signs that can indicate your dog may need some help. Some of these signs can be glaringly obvious, but others might not be noticeable right away. Here are some of the most common behavioral changes that may indicate your dog is experiencing anxiety:

    • Destructive behavior. A dog that is feeling anxious may lash out at its surroundings in an attempt to escape. Your dog may try to chew through a door or rip furniture apart.
    • Housebreaking issues. Even if a dog is housebroken, it may urinate or defecate inside the house if it is feeling anxious. This behavior typically is associated with separation anxiety.
    • Repetitive behavior. Pacing around the room, overgrooming the same body part, or other repeated behaviors could be signs that your dog is nervous about something, especially if the behavior doesn’t seem to have any apparent purpose.
    • Aggression. A dog that snarls and snaps at other dogs or even people may be experiencing some form of anxiety. Growling and barking are telltale signs of aggressive behavior.

    How Can I Prevent Anxiety in My Dog?

    Although dogs can have anxiety no matter what, there are some steps dog owners can take that can prevent anxiety and give their dogs the coping skills they need to deal with stress. These include:

    • Obedience training. Giving your dog a foundation of strong obedience training can help create a stronger bond between you and your dog. Ultimately, helping your dog feel more secure.
    • Socialization. When dogs are often exposed to people and animals that are new to them, it can help them feel more at ease when they encounter different people and new situations in the future.
    • Learning to read body language. Your dog’s body language often is the first sign that it is experiencing anxiety, so it’s important for dog owners to learn to read it. If your dog has a specific type of body language when it begins to feel nervous, such as tucking its tail between its legs, excessive panting or drooling, it may be easier to identify the situations that are causing stress.
    • Avoiding stress. It may be possible to simply avoid the situations that cause your dog to experience anxiety. For example, if you know that fireworks cause your dog to experience anxiety attacks, it might be best to keep it inside on the Fourth of July.

    A dog’s life is often pampered with many products to make pets happy and comfortable. Yet even with the most doting owner, a dog may still experience anxiety. That anxiety can lead to serious behavioral issues unless they are addressed, so it’s up to dog owners to identify anxiety in their dogs and help them overcome it.

    Written by Stephanie N. Blahut

    Stephanie is Director of Marketing for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans. 

     

     

  • The Benefits of Adopting a Pet

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    This is it! There can only be one reason for you to be reading this and that is you want to adopt a pet! First off, lots of kudos to you for trying to read up before getting yourself a furry, scaly, or some other kind of fluffy companion! Want to know what the benefits of adopting a pet are? Then read on!

    Adopting a pet is a life changing decision and it is understandable that some people (including you!) may want to be truly sure before heading to the shelter, your friend’s house, or an animal rescue to meet your new best friend. Every person is different and the benefits of adopting a pet will not be the same for a child as compared to an adult. It is just the same as saying that adopting a goldfish is very different compared to say, adopting a horse.

    In the whirlwind world of pet adoption, some surprises may pleasantly sweep you off your feet so you have to be ready for that too. So yeah, what are the benefits of adopting a pet?

    We’ve interviewed hundreds of pet rescues and shelters all over America to get the best tidbits from the experts themselves and here they are, the benefits of adopting a pet in no particular order:

    YOU GET TO FEEL THE MAGIC OF THE MEET UP

    Have you ever experienced the magical feeling of being in-love? It is said that when you meet an animal for the first time and that animal has formed a connection with you, there is an explicable bond that forms and you just know, this animal is meant to be with you. The bond is also reported to be deeper when that animal is from a shelter or a rescue; maybe because you know that taking that animal as your pet means that you will be giving it a better live. Some describes the feeling as almost like falling in-love. Some describe it as some kind of paternal or maternal instinct that makes you want to take care of another creature and love it as your own.

    In the words of Star Paws Rescue Foundation’s Courtney Rheuban Ax, “There’s something about bringing home an animal for the first time, either from the shelter or the rescue, and watching them realize that they are home and spending the rest of their life happy and warm and loved and safe. The unconditional love you get back from that dog or cat is one of the greatest things you can experience.”

    But let’s not only focus on shelter or animal rescue pets here. Making room for another creature in your life is a gift in itself. Hope for Feral’s Ashleigh Kuhl sums the magic of the meet up as quoted, “Adopting a pet is the best gift you can give them. It is the gift of life. In return, they give you a lifetime of loyalty and love in their own unique way.”

    YOU GET TO BE THE RECIPIENT OF SOME TLC

    Lots of pet animals are very loving creatures, and we’re not just talking of the furry kind of fur kid. Nothing beats a wagging tail, a happy purr, some happy chirping, excited flapping, a swoosh of the tail, and some cuddling after a long day at work. Pet parents are reportedly healthier and are less stressed than people who don’t own pets so yes, pets are good for you, just as much as you are good for them too!

    In fact, the most loving pets are usually from shelters and shelters because they tend to be more appreciative of the love and care given to them. Keyria Lockheart, a volunteer at the Last Hope Cat Kingdom says that, “I have had many tell me they love shelter animals more than non-shelter because they seem to appreciate being out of the environment and into a loving home.” Surely, that’s a great motivation to adopt a pet, yes?

    YOU WILL SAVE A LIFE

    Let us inject a bit of unsavory honesty in this post – pet animals which do not end up in loving homes are destined for just one thing, a life of desolation in the streets or on their own and then ending in a lonely and slow death in some way or another. That’s very sad.

    Not many people can say that they helped changed another creature’s life but when you adopt a pet, you gift yourself with that opportunity. Esther Lyon from Wayward Paws says. “I think that the most useful information that potential adopters can know is that by adopting from a shelter or rescue group, you are giving a home to a cat/kitten that has never had one of their own.” We agree with her, but is it a one-sided affair?

    Pet owners often remark that one of the best benefits of adopting a pet is not just saving another creature’s life. You are actually enriching yours and in some cases, saving your own life. There are numerous studies which shows that having a pet has plenty of health benefits, and it’s not just physical too. Some people with mental conditions like anxiety disorder and PTSD and people with social awkwardness all benefit from having a pet. It’s better than conventional therapy!

    YOU WILL BE PHYSICALLY HEALTHIER

    Do you know that children who grew up in homes with pets suffer from less allergies? Yes! Growing up with pets can minimize the risk of developing allergies – and we are just getting started. Depending on what kind of pet you have, you are in for an array of benefits. For dog owners, they tend to become more physically active and thus, have lower risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. If they do happen to already have those conditions, having a pet like a dog can help them get more active and decrease their stress levels too. It’s not just dogs either. All kinds of pets will benefit you with their power to simply turn off your stress switch. It is like having your very own unlimited supply of antihypertensive and anti-stress tabs, for FREE!

    YOU GET TO HELP YOUR LOCAL SHELTER OR ANIMAL RESCUE

    All over the world, pet rescues and shelters are filled to the brim with pets who have no other place to go. We all know how life will usually end up for them if no one comes to make them a part of their family. Adopting a pet, no matter how small is a big help to the community.

    Just to give you a glimpse on what goes on inside a shelter or an animal rescue. Basset Rescue Across Texas’ Founder Anne Fifield says, “Opt to adopt. Yes, puppies are cute and cuddly. Who doesn’t love puppies? However, there are thousands of animals in rescues and shelters who need a home or they could be euthanized. Shelters get full and have to make room for the dozens more coming in every day. You would be saving a life by adopting. Rescues become full, too. If they don’t have an open place, they can’t bring more in. That means someone is going to lose their life”. Surely you don’t want that to happen right?

    YOU WILL HELP END PUPPY MILLS

    Let us just state that we have no problem with responsible breeders as the pets which ends up in shelters, streets, and animal rescues usually do not come from responsible pet breeders. Pets like that are often from puppy mills who do not care who the pet will end up with and do not care if the pets they are breeding are not from a sturdy or good line. Buying from a puppy mill or an unregistered breeder only means that more well-deserving pets end up not having a home and puppy mills will keep on mass producing living creatures who deserve to be treated better than just a product in an unregulated factory.

    YOU WILL GET A BETTER PET MATCH WHEN YOU ADOPT

    As can be glimpsed above, baby pets are cute and everyone loves them but the cuddly ball of fur you have now can become your worst nightmare if the pet turned out to be totally different from your expectations based on breed characteristics. It is why some people end up giving up the pet they got from an irresponsible breeder or puppy mill and why it is better to either adopt from a shelter or a rescue where the animal has been assessed for temperament and is more or less stable with how they are regarding mood and activity level. With just a little bit of getting to know each other, you’ll likely end up with a dear companion who would deeply appreciate you and won’t take you for granted.

    YOU WILL BE FRIENDLIER

    People who have pets come as friendlier and more approachable. If you’ve been to a park or just chanced to see some dog owners at the street, they tend to congregate and look like life-long friends, even if they have never met each other before. That’s because a common interest brings people together and everyone loves cute furkids!

    YOU WILL HAVE A BETTER LOVE-LIFE

    Lacking dates? You may want to adopt a pet too. Having a better love life is indeed one of the benefits of adopting a pet; however, you have to remember that getting a pet should be something you really want and not just a temporary thing to be a guy or girl magnet.

    Individuals who have pets are perceived as more family oriented, more responsible, and more caring – all sought-after characteristics when picking out a romantic interest. In fact, people often feel so strongly about pets that your ‘performance’ the first time you meet the pet of your romantic interest is among the top parameters he/she will gauge you with. That’s right, your reaction to his/her pet or to the idea of having a pet ranks right up there with meeting friends and family!!

    YOU WILL SAVE YOURSELF SOME SERIOUS MOOLAH

    Purchasing a pet can be very expensive, especially for certain animals and breeds. Adopting a pet from a friend who can no longer keep the pet, or adopting from a shelter or a rescue is way cheaper than buying one.

    Sure, shelters and rescues can charge a certain fee and review your eligibility before letting you take home an animal, but what is that compared to the cost of buying one? A fresh-from-the-breeders pet is usually a baby and hence, you will have to take care of immunizations, vet bills, training, and everything else the pet needs whereas adopting one from a shelter or rescue often means that the pet has undergone vet check-up, has been given immunizations if applicable, and is basically A-okay. You’ll often get free expert advice and help from staff who wants the pet to have a great life with you – how’s that for some serious good deal?

    San Diego Humane Society and SPCA’s Public Relations Program Manager Kelli Schry says, “There are many advantages to adopting a shelter animal. Adoption is a much more affordable option, and you know you’re getting an animal that has been assessed behaviorally and medically. Our staff knows the animals well, so we can be sure you’re set up for a successful relationship. At the San Diego Humane Society, your new pet is not your only new, lifelong friend! We are your resource for the entire lifespan of your pet, whether you need training advice, pet supplies, educational resources, we are here to support pet owners well beyond the point of adoption.”

    *Source Courtesy of HomeoAnimal

     

  • Pet Obesity on the Rise for Sixth Straight Year

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    One of America’s most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, and statistics show that pet owners should share that goal with their dogs and cats. Data from Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reveals that pet obesity is on the rise for the sixth straight year. In 2015, Nationwide members filed 1.3 million pet insurance claims for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, equaling a sum of more than $60 million in veterinary expenses. The boost in total obesity-related claims signifies a 23 percent growth over the last three years.

    Similar to their human counterparts, excessive body fat increases the risk of preventable health issues and may shorten the life expectancy of dogs and cats. Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 585,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Below are the results:

    Most Common Dog Obesity-Related Conditions Most Common Cat Obesity-Related Conditions
    1.    Arthritis 1.     Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
    2.   Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease 2.    Chronic Kidney Disease
    3.   Low Thyroid Hormone Production 3.    Diabetes
    4.   Liver Disease 4.    Asthma
    5.   Torn Knee Ligaments 5.    Liver Disease
    6.   Diabetes 6.    Arthritis
    7.   Diseased Disc in the Spine 7.    High Blood Pressure
    8.  Chronic Kidney Disease 8.   Heart Failure
    9.   Heart Failure 9.    Gall Bladder Disorder
    10.  Fatty Growth 10.   Immobility of Spine

    “Obesity can be detrimental to the livelihood of our pets,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “Pet owners need to be aware of the quality and amount of food or treats they give their furry family members. The New Year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets and begin to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid excess weight gain. Scheduling routine wellness exams with your veterinarian is the most effective way to get started on monitoring your pet’s weight, particularly for cats.”

    In 2015, Nationwide received more than 49,000 pet insurance claims for arthritis in canines, the most common disease aggravated by excessive weight, which carried an average treatment fee of $295 per pet. With more than 5,000 pet insurance claims, bladder or urinary tract disease was the most common obesity-related condition in cats, which had an average claim amount of $442 per pet.

    Below are simple steps you can take to help regulate your pet’s weight:

    • Avoid feeding your pet table scraps.
    • Keep a consistent diet by monitoring the amount of food you give your pet.
    • Regulate the amount of treats you give your pet.
    • Establish a healthy and fun exercise schedule.

    *Consult your veterinarian to best determine your pet’s weight loss protocol.

    *Source courtesy of Pet Age

  • How to Put the Brakes on Pet Car Sickness

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    With summer travel right around the corner, many of us plan on hitting the road with our pooches for a little summer fun.  However, for some four-legged family members, road trips can mean upset tummies.

    Queasiness in the car is not just a human problem. Dogs and puppies do sometimes experience motion sickness on car rides.  Unfortunately, car sickness can make any kind of pet travel a distressing ordeal for both dogs and their families.

    Car sickness doesn’t have to be a serious or lasting problem for your pet. With the right treatment, it can be mitigated, or even stopped altogether.

    There are several causes of car sickness in dogs and puppies. The most common include:

    • Immature ears. In puppies, the ear structures that regulate balance aren’t fully developed, which can cause them to be extra sensitive to motion sickness. Many dogs will outgrow car sickness as they age.
    • Stress. If traveling in the car has only led to unpleasant experiences for your dog – to vet exams, for example — he may literally be worried sick about the journey.
    • Self-conditioning. If your dog experienced nausea on his first car rides as a puppy, he may associate car rides with illness, and expect to get sick in the car.

    Car sickness doesn’t look like you might expect it to in dogs, and you might not even realize that this is the challenge you’re dealing with. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

    • Inactivity/lethargy
    • Restlessness
    • Excessive/repetitive yawning
    • Whining/crying
    • Hyper-salivation (drooling)
    • Vomiting

    If your dog is suffering from car sickness, symptoms will typically disappear within a few minutes after the car comes to a stop.

    Fortunately, there are a number of different methods available to help prevent and/or treat canine car sickness.

    1.  Increase His Comfort Level
    • Turn your dog so that he faces forward. Motion sickness is related to the brain’s ability to process movement. The less blurring movement he sees out the window, the better he might feel.
    • Keep your dog as close to the front seat as possible (but not in the front seat). The farther back in the car you go, the more you sense motion.
    • Opening the windows a crack. This brings in fresh air, which is soothing, and helps reduce air pressure.
    • Avoid feeding your dog for a few hours before a car trip.
    • Transport him in a travel crate. A crate will limit his view to the outside, and will help to keep any sickness he may have confined to a small space.
    • Keep the temperature low. Heat, humidity and stuffiness can exacerbate car sickness.
    • Distract him. Toys, soothing music, or just hearing you speak may help calm and distract a high-strung dog.
    • Take frequent breaks. Getting out for fresh air or to stretch your legs can help him feel better periodically.
    • Exercise before your car ride.
    1.  Reconditioning  For dogs who have negative associations with riding in cars, reconditioning could be the answer. Reconditioning does take time and patience, but it really can help relax your dog.
    • Drive in a different vehicle.  Your dog might associate a specific vehicle with unpleasant memories.
    • Take short car trips to places your dog enjoys. This will replace negative associations with positive ones.
    • Gradually acclimate your dog to the car. Start by sitting with your dog in the car while the engine is off each day for a few days.  When he seems comfortable, let it idle. Once he is used to that, drive slowly around the block. Gradually progress to longer and longer trips until your dog seems comfortable driving anywhere.
    • Offer your dog treats, or offer him a special toy that’s just for car rides. This will make the car a fun and rewarding place to be.
    1.  Medication While motion sickness can be helped in natural ways for some dogs, there are cases in which medications is the only option. There are both over-the-counter and prescription medications available, including:
    • Anti-nausea drugs: reduce nausea and vomiting.
    • Antihistamines: lessen motion sickness, reduce drooling, and calm nerves.
    • Phenothiazine: reduces vomiting and helps sedate the dog.

    Caution: Always discuss any medications you plan to give your pet with your veterinarian to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to take them, will be given the correct dosage, and won’t suffer any adverse effects.

    1.  Holistic Approach  Holistic treatments are another way to go for dog parents. They really can be effective, and are worth trying.  Some common holistic choices include:
    • Ginger. Ginger is used to treat nausea. Try giving your dog ginger snap cookies or ginger pills at least 30 minutes before travel.
    • Peppermint, chamomile and horehound naturally help calm the stomach and nerves of your dog. These are available in pills and teas.
    • Massage can help sooth and relax your pet before you travel.

    As with other medications, always discuss any holistic remedies you plan to give your pet with your vet to ensure that it’s appropriate and the dosage is correct.

    In short, with some patience, training, or the right medications or holistic treatments, you and your dog will be able to ride safely and happily together anywhere you need to go!

    *Source courtesy of TripsWithPets.com

    About TripsWithPets.com
    TripsWithPets.com is the premier online pet friendly travel guide — providing online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets.com for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets.com also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel gear.

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Your Pet Outside

    Autumn is upon us and the weather is finally cooling off! The mid-summer heat may have made outdoor excursions intolerable, if not impossible. Now that the weather is less hot and humid, you may find yourself in a position where you can share the outdoors with your pets and provide them with additional physical and mental enrichment.

    Infographic Pets Outside 2

    Please keep in mind that the great outdoors can also be stressful for a small animal that hasn’t been outside before. By starting off with short intervals outside, your furry companion will be able to better adjust to new sights, sounds, and smells.

    That being said, being outside can be a great opportunity for animals to exercise and explore. Your pet will greatly benefit from the physical, mental, and nutritional enrichment of being able to relax in their natural environment while engaging in behaviors such as grazing and foraging. Once proper precautions have been taken, your pet will undoubtedly enjoy the fresh air as much as you do!

    *Source courtesy of Oxbow Animal Health

  • 5 Alternatives to Leaving Your Dog in the Car

    Bringing your dog with you while you run errands can be quite fun. But during summer, it can be a daunting task as the temperature begins to rise. The summer months can be quite harsh, especially on your pets. That’s why it is important to keep the car ventilated and your dog hydrated as to avoid heat exhaustion. These five alternatives can help to keep your pup safe during the hot months.

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    *Source Courtesy of Petfinder